State companies, small businesses must be global players in ICT, says minister

The South African government was working to position state entities and small businesses as global players in the field of information and communication technology (ICT), according to telecommunications minister Siyabonga Cwele.

“Our priority focus is to demonopolise the electronic and manufacturing sectors [to] help us to create platforms for our State-owned companies (SOCs) and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMES) to emerge as global ICT players and to achieve equitable distribution of ICT networks, products and services,” Cwele said on Friday.

“This Commission will be inclusive to ensure that all stakeholders such as labour, other civil society formations, business and academia are part of the evolution of our policies and strategies which will ensure their buy-in. The process to do this is at an advanced stage and will be concluded soon,” said Cwele.

“Currently in South Africa we have prioritised the roll-out of infrastructure, in particular through our SA Connect Broadband Plan, and through the development of a WirelessOpen Access Network.

“Our intention is to ensure that everyone has access to Broadband at affordable prices. To do this, we intend to produce aspects of the broadband infrastructure networkfrom cabling to end-devices locally.

“We are also looking to license high demand spectrum to enhance new services. This includes rolling-out 5G networksin our country.  This network infrastructure will be critical to our development and I believe will help us in our national investment drive which is being led by president Cyril Ramaphosa,” he said.

Cwele also encouraged “our BRICS friends” to partner with the country to expand infrastructure roll-out in Africa. “As a continent, we are still faced with gaps in cross-border connectivity as well as intra-country broadband rollout.

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