Minister of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), Siyabonga Cwele, recently revealed his plans for South Africa’s ICT sector and his prioritisation of developing South Africa’s broadband infrastructure.

During the budget vote address on July 16th, Cwele said continued deployment of the country’s broadband infrastructure will bridge the divide between rural and urban areas.

According to Cwele, the forthcoming year will be characterised by “focused attention on infrastructure rollout, the creation and acceleration of the expansion of eGovernment services, the coordination and streamlining of public entities in the sector, as a well as a reconfigured department which will ensure policy and regulatory certainty within the ICT sector”.

Cwele’s plans are a continuation of former minister Yunus Carrim’s national broadband plan, SA Connect, which aims to have 100% broadband penetration by 2020.

“In the current financial year, R20 million has been allocated for the finalisation of the first phase of the broadband plan,” said Cwele. This is out of the R1.59 billion that has been allocated to the DTPS Department.

“By the end of this month, the business case will be finalised that seeks funding to connect 580 clinics, 4,444 schools, 182 police stations and 572 other government offices in the medium term.”

Cwele added that the National Broadband Advisory Council was a “critical platform” for engagement between government, private sector, academia, and civil society.

Developing South Africa’s broadband infrastructure and ICT sector is essential precursors to the implementation of a nationwide eHealth network. Such a network will be vital in the rollout of National Health Insurance (NHI) and in ensuring continuity of care.

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