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06 October 2017
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
South Africa’s telecoms minister Siyabonga Cwele wants to put plans for a national fibre network strategy to the government by the end of the year.
At the same time Cwele is
continuing with plans for some of the country’s
wireless spectrum to be reserved for a wholesale open-access
Cwele, speaking in a media interview at the FTTX Council Africa
conference in Cape Town, says he wants to "coordinate and
facilitate deployment of infrastructure to reduce costs
He wants to ensure property owners and local authorities allow
the construction of fibre networks "and do not see network
operators as cash cows" by charging excessively, but see them
"as instruments of development, as instruments of creating
smart cities and social well-being".
Cwele said he wants to put the new policy to South
Africa’s Cabinet by the end of this calendar year.
Most of the policies he wants to implement "won’t
require further legislation", he said in the interview with
South Africa’s TechCentral.
Meanwhile South Africa’s Council for Scientific
and Industrial Research (CSIR) is completing its strategy for
Woan, he said, and will brief Cabinet on what he called "an
extraordinary measure to help us boost growth in the economy"
by the end of 2017.
"We’ve still got 22 million people who are not
using the internet," he said. "You have to come up with a more
The development of this strategy, to reduce the cost of
spectrum, is why Cwele’s department is taking the
regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South
Africa (Icasa) to court. Icasa wants to auction spectrum but
"we should not look at making huge profits from spectrum
sales", said Cwele. "Organs of state shouldn’t be
taking each other to court."
Cwele and the government want more participants in South
Africa’s wireless market. "The current operators
are not the only people," he said in the interview.
Opening the conference, Cwele said the government has run a
pilot project to connect government offices in rural areas and
to "stimulate uptake by local business and communities". The
government is "planning a public-private partnership to connect
the rest of the country as soon as we complete the feasibility
study, financial modelling and sustainability of the project.
We hope to call for the request for proposals for this
megaproject by the end of the current financial year."