Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele has stated plans to fast-track the government’s National Development Plan (NDP).
The minister made the remarks during Telkom’s annual South African Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC), this year held at Fancourt in George, Western Cape.
The oft-quoted NDP spells out the government’s vision for broadband and infrastructure rollout, and Cwele in his SATNAC speech highlighted some of the elements needed.
“We need to work together to move South Africa forward, and the NDP underscores the importance of infrastructure investment in meeting our developmental objectives as a country,” he said.
He also detailed that government has a plan of action to make broadband delivery faster.
“We have established a broadband war room that will fast-track the rollout of South Africa Connect, the country’s broadband policy,” said Cwele. “The broadband war room brings together all the departments that are responsible for the broadband.”
The news will likely be music to the ears of South African citizens, businesses and government institutions, as the NDP hasn’t exactly been running at full tilt.
Last year in October it was revealed that the NDP had failed to connect any of the 2 268 institutions that the government planned to bring online due to the fact that the necessary infrastructure hadn’t been installed.
The government also came in for some flack earlier this year when the DA lambasted it in parliament for the lack of progress with the NDP.
Cwele says that the NDP is the government’s affirmation that it’s planning to realise the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT).
“This [IoT] revolution will bring enormous benefits to those who will harness and actively participate in it, while punishing or disciplining those who choose to ignore or resist it. We hope this conference will prepare us as a nation to fully exploit the IoT for the benefit to government, business, civil society and indeed all our people,” Cwele said.
“The people must adapt. This revolution will not only change what we do but also what we are. It will change consumer patterns and change our notions of privacy and ownership.”
He added that the benefits for IoT are numerous, but it does come with some dangers.
“It will yield safe and rewarding jobs but there could be a risk of greater inequality and unemployment,” said Cwele. “It is believed that in [the] future, talent more than capital will be a critical factor in production.”
“We must shape a future that will work for South Africa, and the annual SATNAC conference is part of that. I believe this conference is one of the tools of empowering our young scientists and technicians to help us to embrace this revolution.”
Cwele added that more women need to enter the world of ICT as well, and challenged the tech sector to be more inclusive.
“I encourage the sector to pursue similar partnerships with institutions of higher learning and target mostly young women. As a country, we are not benefiting sufficiently from the influence of women in the sector because there are so few of them,” he said.
“We all need to do more to create an environment that enables women to fully participate in the sector – across the entire value chain. I believe this can be a powerful catalyst for radical transformation and open up new opportunities for women and the country.”
“Our country needs to be bold and have intuitive minds to grow,” he added.