Communications Minister hails Huawei collaboration in South Africa

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South Africa’s Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies has hailed enhanced industry collaboration with tech companies such as Huawei in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at Huawei’s online Better World Summit this week, which is exploring how to boost the world economy, Minister Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams detailed how South Africa has united with technology giants to boost the country’s connectivity and accelerate its digitalisation agenda.

“We have come together and worked with the industry - all the big companies like Huawei and those that are involved in device manufacturing – to see what innovations and software solutions can be provided to the people of South Africa, to contribute towards the fight against COVID-19,” said Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams in her Embrace Digital South Africa presentation.

South Africa has introduced more policy directives around communications investment, technologies and spectrum to enable better remote control for learning and working during Covid-19, so that productivity can continue to thrive in the country.

“The first thing we did to ensure that we promote remote learning and working was to award more spectrum,” she added. “We understood that there would be more data traffic and people would be frustrated so we provided interim measures in terms of spectrum, which the industry welcomed,” the minister said.

In April the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) issued emergency new frequency spectrum – 700MHz, 800MHz, 2300MHZ, 2600MHz and 3500MHZ – to the country’s telecoms operators on a temporary basis to expand their network during the lockdown.

While the temporary spectrum licenses expire on 30 November, the Minister confirmed the process to allocate permanent spectrum was on track to occur by December and will introduce a hybrid model in releasing high-demand spectrum (HDS).

“This release of HDS has become a focal point to stimulate economic recovery in South Africa as is reducing infrastructure barriers to entry to increase competition, with the issuance of 5G licenses in sight. “I did say we want to turn things around and the foundation of rolling out the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the issuance of 5G,” the Minister said.

South Africa’s carriers have made great strides in investing and commercialising 5G with Vodacom’s 5G launched in May, MTN in July, followed by the most recently rain’s standalone 5G network in Cape Town, which is Africa’s first of its kind.

The Minister concluded, “I know most countries have developed their 5G policies and we are finalising South Africa’s now. I invite participants to come and invest in South Africa. We are open for business. We look forward to bridging the digital divide through new technologies and collaboration to build a better world.

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