Developing the Western Cape broadband strategy

04 May 2015

Broadband is seen as a strategic enabler for all sectors of the economy. It enables the transmission of data across the globe, improved communication and the ability to transact almost instantaneously. Unfortunately, this kind of infrastructure is not widely available in South Africa and where it exists, it is often unreliable and very costly. This has been recognised and acted upon by National Government who, through the Department of Communications, have hastened to bring the National Broadband Policy to completion in December 2013, through the ratification of South Africa Connect. African Ideas was appointed as Strategy and Readiness Advisors to assist and guide the Western Cape Government in shaping the strategic plans for both the infrastructure and value added services.

The Western Cape Government's initial response and first project action was to develop a policy position paper as a consultative document. This document was developed by African Ideas CEO, Nirvesh Sooful. This set out a proposed policy position about what the Western Cape Government (WCG) could do to spread telecommunications infrastructure and affordable access to communications for business and society, and to make sure that this contributes to the Province’s social and economic development goals. Unanimous support was received for the prioritisation of the development of a well-functioning, robust, affordable and accessible broadband infrastructure for the Province of the Western Cape. Upon consultation, there was a strong view that “less talk and more action” was needed, and the WCG contracted African ideas to guide the development of the strategic framework and the implementation plan.

The profound findings of the position paper research can be summarized in the following paragraph:

"A growing economy must connect people through transport and technology. We have to learn from places like Kenya where an ICT revolution is driving strong economic growth. To emulate this, we are developing a telecommunications strategy, based on a fibre optic network infrastructure that connects government, citizens and the economy to improve productivity and access to new markets. The World Bank has calculated that the economy of a developing country grows by 1.38% for every 10% increase in broadband penetration. We cannot afford to get left behind."
Provincial telecommunications infrastructure Position Paper, 2010

The broadband framework / strategy created for the WCG by African Ideas is based on international best practice frameworks and indicators. The strategic framework is premised on the notion that a catalytic and robust telecommunications environment needs to be created which will drive co-ordinate and integrate action across three (3) programmatic themed areas, namely Connected Government, Connected Citizens and Connected Economy with three (3) key objectives which are the development of infrastructure, ensuring the readiness to be able to utilize the infrastructure (skills and services) and driving usage of the infrastructure and services.

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