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CEOs to work with govt to roll out fibre in rural areas

By Mish Molak­eng

Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cers in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions indus­try have made a com­mit­ment to work with gov­ern­ment to roll out fibre in rur­al com­mu­ni­ties and con­nect com­mu­ni­ties to the inter­net grid.

This as Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Dig­i­tal Tech­nolo­gies Min­is­ter Stel­la Ndabeni-Abra­hams and sec­tor CEOs signed the Indus­try Stake­hold­er Prin­ci­ples of Excel­lence. The pact was signed at the Fibre Optic Con­fer­ence in Sand­ton, Johan­nes­burg on Tues­day

Work­ing with gov­ern­ment and oth­er stake­hold­ers, the indus­try lead­ers have com­mit­ted to, among oth­er things, strive to achieve dig­i­tal inclu­sion, ongo­ing invest­ment and con­tri­bu­tion to job cre­ation as well as ethics in doing busi­ness

“We envis­age that sec­tor col­lab­o­ra­tion will sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the time to deploy broad­band infra­struc­ture and ser­vices while min­imis­ing dupli­ca­tion of infra­struc­ture. We also believe that the indus­try will play an inte­gral role in assist­ing gov­ern­ment to realise its pol­i­cy aspi­ra­tion of increas­ing broad­band speed from 10mbps to 100mbps,” said Ndabeni-Abra­hams.

Fibre forms one of the key pil­lars which will estab­lish the next gen­er­a­tion of con­nec­tiv­i­ty and is a crit­i­cal enabler for the 4IR.

“Today we know that fibre is poten­tial­ly the most crit­i­cal com­po­nent of all telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions infra­struc­ture. We have come to realise that with­out fibre we will not enter the 5G race,” said the Min­is­ter.

Andile Ngca­ba, Pres­i­dent of the FTTX Coun­cil Africa, said they were look­ing for­ward to work­ing with gov­ern­ment in deploy­ing fibre to rur­al com­mu­ni­ties

All over the con­ti­nent peo­ple are look­ing to broad­band as a means of income. Tech­nol­o­gy is fast reshap­ing the world and it has the poten­tial to change every­thing, peo­ple, busi­ness, com­mu­ni­ty and the nation.

The Min­is­ter said: “Our job as lead­ers is to respond to ensure that we make dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion a real­i­ty. This is an impor­tant task and as indus­try we must find ways of mak­ing this hap­pen and this includes our capac­i­ty to work togeth­er to iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties in the tran­si­tion we must make.

“This indus­try has the poten­tial to aid in the eco­nom­ic growth, dynamism and inge­nu­ity Africa needs. A key part of the solu­tion is star­ing us right in the face—unleashing the eco­nom­ic pow­er of the dig­i­tal world.”

The depart­ment has estab­lished a vir­tu­al Rapid Deploy­ment Coor­di­na­tion Cen­tre (RDCC) with the objec­tive of coor­di­nat­ing and ulti­mate­ly accel­er­at­ing the infra­struc­ture deploy­ment process to enable sus­tain­able and envi­ron­men­tal­ly sound deploy­ment of crit­i­cal broad­band infra­struc­ture and to ensure rapid deploy­ment of ICT infra­struc­ture to sup­port gov­ern­ment pro­grams.

Ndabeni- Abra­hams said the Deploy­ment Coor­di­na­tion Cen­tre will work in col­lab­o­ra­tion with that of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor ini­tia­tives.

“As gov­ern­ment, our role in all of these excit­ing trends is that of an enabler; from a pol­i­cy, leg­isla­tive and reg­u­la­to­ry per­spec­tive. With these instru­ments we seek to coor­di­nate and facil­i­tate an inclu­sive growth that ben­e­fits all the mass­es of our peo­ple.

“To this end, it gives me great plea­sure to advise you that the depart­ment has made sig­nif­i­cant progress in its aims to sup­port indus­try in achiev­ing its goals,” the Min­is­ter said.

The 4IR her­alds sig­nif­i­cant social, polit­i­cal, cul­tur­al, and eco­nom­ic upheavals that are occur­ring at an unprece­dent­ed pace.

“How we engage with the 4IR tech­nolo­gies is there­fore para­mount and as lead­ers in the indus­try, we have the unique oppor­tu­ni­ty and respon­si­bil­i­ty to give it struc­ture and pur­pose.”

There­fore con­nect­ing munic­i­pal­i­ties to the inter­net remains a pri­or­i­ty for gov­ern­ment.

Ear­li­er this year, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa estab­lished the Pres­i­den­tial Com­mis­sion on the 4IR, which is man­dat­ed to advise gov­ern­ment on 4IR poli­cies, devel­op a frame­work for imple­men­ta­tion of a mul­ti-sec­toral 4IR strat­e­gy; and coor­di­nate, mon­i­tor and eval­u­ate mul­ti-sec­toral ini­tia­tives that will posi­tion South Africa as a glob­al­ly com­pet­i­tive play­er in 4IR.

The Min­is­ter said she was pleased to note that a num­ber of sec­tor lead­ers have heed­ed the call to serve as com­mis­sion­ers or are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the tech­ni­cal work­streams in the Pres­i­den­tial Com­mis­sion on the 4IR.

The Fibre Optic Con­fer­ence brought togeth­er over 1000 indus­try lead­ers across the con­ti­nent to explore the world of fibre and 5G, as well as the impact on the indus­try and the oppor­tu­ni­ties it holds for Africa —

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