Digital Focus Second Edition - October 2013 ∆ Issue 2
May/June 2013 | Issue 7
Rethinking satelite ADOPTING solutions THE SAAS MODEL Innovation and service delivery INNOvATION fOR sERvIcE DELIvERy
competition trends MUDDLED MIGRATION
Infrastructure AchIEvING RURAL for all bROADbAND
INfRAcO PRIORITIZEs RURAL bROADbAND
Broadband ISAAC MAREDI
The art of policy making THANDO MjEbEzA
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Editorial Dear readers and contributors,
elcome to the second issue of what promises to be a great magazine for the Whoâ€™s Who in the ICT sector. We came with the idea to establish Digital Focus to lighten the policy and regulatory space. Our lives in our various capacities and positions in society depend on a portfolio of good policies. Indeed policies and regulations are influenced by real trends on the ground. These are consumer behavior, technology and market changes. In order to be meaningful to our readers, we will deal with all these issues in a way that takes the sector to the next level. Digital Focus should allow us to introspect in the quest to build a viable and sustainable ICT sector that responds to the needs of all citizens, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid. In this edition, we look again at broadband policy making. It is not possible to think of putting together an edition that does not mention broadband. Quite impossible, it
is. South Africa needs a giant leap to catch up with the best in the world. To do this, the country should develop a comprehensive broadband policy that pays equal attention to both supply and demand side issues. For example, we cannot talk about promoting network coverage when we are not sure about access to receiver equipment or gadgets. Also, policy should be clear on the complimentary roles of various technologies. Technology neutrality is aimed at encouraging innovation to meet the demands of the growing number of consumers. Digital Migration is another critical challenge of our time. A big country like ours cannot fail to develop good DTT policies and regulations. There are many skilled South Africans throughout the value chain. We will dedicate most of our next edition to Digital Migration. It is time to think about Digital Broadcasting in a much more holistic way beyond Digital Terrestrial Television. South Africa stands to benefit more from looking at other technologies such as media services over the Internet Protocol. This is no to say that we should abandon DTT. No. But we have every reason to think about the future in the long term. Good policies also seek to create a better world for future generations! Indeed, there are many issues to talk about than we can ever exhaust in however many editions of one magazine. We will continue to improve our offering as we receive feedback from you, our readers. It is your product make the best of it.
Digital Migration is another critical challenge of our time. A big country like ours cannot fail to develop good DTT policies and regulations
Neither the magazine, the publisher or the editor can be held legally liable in any way for damages of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from any facts or information provided or omitted in these pages or from any other statements made or withheld by this publication. Opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Saitnews (Pty) Ltd.
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Second Edition October 2013 ∆ Issue 2
Contents Broadband in a nutshell.............................................. 6-8
Broadband: Learning from the best will ease our roll-out campaign
Broadband: Learning from the best will ease our roll-out campaign...........................10-11 The doublespeak of concurrency is irksome..........................................12-13 Stick for wayward behaviour...............................14-15 Game Changer?.........................................................16-17 Celebrating 10 years of mdda.............................18-21 Broadband access augers well for nationwide connectivity.................................22-23 Unisa unveils new science hub............................24-25 Getting high on cannabis.............................................. 26 Decisions based on fact the new world order.......................................28-29 Introducing iGauteng..............................................30-31 Hello, Mr President ................................................32-34
E-Learning takes firm root in Gauteng............36-37 CSIR introduces world’s first digital laser............................................. 38 Indigenous knowledge systems take positive strides to accelerate growth..............40-42
Unisa unveils new science hub
P22 Broadband access augers well for nationwide connectivity 4 › Issue 2
P24 Decisions based on fact the new world order
Hello, Mr President
INNOVATION Technology for the 21st Century Government
GovTech 2013 will explore the myriad of ways in which emerging technologies such as cloud computing, mobile devices and social media can be deployed to improve service delivery across all spheres of Government. Join us as we share ideas to enable support for implementation of the public sector ICT agenda for service delivery.
GOVERNMENT COLLABORATION PARTNERS
Issue 2 â€š 5
Broadband By Staff Reporter
Broadband in a nutshell
Developing a good broadband policy for SA is crucial
or years hitherto, South Africa has been trying to develop a comprehensive broadband plan to increase the uptake and usage of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) throughout the country. According to the Broadband Commission, good policies are a requirement towards the attainment of universal access to electronic communications services, including broadband. South Africaâ€™s experimentation with broadband policy includes initial attempts by the then Presidential National Commission (PNC) in the mid-2000s to develop an Information Society and Development (ISAD) plan, and the publication of the first Broadband Policy in 2010. Both the ISAD plan and the 2010 broadband policy were not implemented for reasons including the mismatch between these policies and the existing laws at the time. There were also instances of severe institutional weaknesses placing constraints on the capacity of the state to develop cogent policies. On policy alignment, the 2010 broadband policy was largely limited to defining the download speed at 256 kbps, and was pointedly silent on its relationship with the Electronic
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Communications Act (ECA) which deals with the entire electronic communications services sector. Understandably, existing laws should not constrain new policy thinking; provided it is always clear how new policies find nexus with the prevailing legal context. This may entail amending existing legislation to be in line with new policy thinking. Policies, as statements of intent, should inform and shape legislation. Related to this, there has always been a need to clarify the position of broadband policy within the overall ICT policy environment. Is broadband an isolated policy process, or whether it forms an integral part of the broader ICT or electronic communications policy environment? Answering this question is particularly important in the South African context considering that the Department of Communications is currently undertaking a substantial review of the existing ICT policies with expectations that the new policy environment will result in the overhaul of the Electronic Communications Act, ICASA Act and the Broadcasting Act. At the same time, the government is undertaking a review of the 2010 broadband policy, which as stated above, has not been implemented.
Digital Focus is of the view that broadband, which refers to high speed Internet networks, is at the heart of the convergence between telecommunications, broadcasting and information technologies. Therefore the whole notion of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) or electronic communications services is a by-product of technological convergence. Convergence enables the transmission of voice, data and video over a single network or infrastructure. In this regard, it follows that there should be no difference between broadband policy and electronic communications policy. Flowing from this context, the next
question deals with the desirability of policy makers and regulators defining the speed or quality of broadband, or whether it should be left to the market. It is expected that the private sector will prefer that this issue be left to the electronic communications service providers. In our view, this will make sense in countries that have achieved reasonable nationwide coverage. For a country like South Africa, characterised by skewed distribution of infrastructure and services, this responsibility cannot be left to the whims of the market forces. At the very least, policy makers should give a clear guideline of the minimum broadband speeds that should act as a national benchmark for
urban as well as rural areas. Without clear policy interventions, it will not be possible to bridge the divide between citizens. Yet, achieving universal access to affordable, high quality services remains the main rationale for policy and regulatory intervention. In its first report published in 2010, the Broadband Commission suggests that there is no universal download speed; each country should select its own download speed among various options. For the purposes of the on-going policy discussion in South Africa, we reproduce the different download speed estimates suggested by the commission.
Simple web page (160kb)
ITU home page (750kb)
5 MB of music track
20 MB video clip
CD/low quality movie (700 28 hours MB)
DVD/high quality movie 1 week (4GB)
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National Broadband Network
Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative
The Digital 21 Strategy
Next Gen National Broadband Network
Digital Britain Implementation Plan
The National Broadband Strategy
Across the world, various countries have made significant strides to promote access to high speed Internet networks. Above, we also reproduce some benchmarks from countries that have recently embarked on state-led national broadband plans:The next stage in the policy process deals with the identification of supply-side and demand-side measures. According to another report published by the Broadband Commission in 2013, supply side measures include: • promoting investment and competition • spectrum licensing • Promoting infrastructure sharing and public private partnerships • reducing the cost of infrastructure and • other policies that increases inclusive broadband availability. A consistent, long term approach to these issues is needed in both policy and the legal framework. In the South African context, there are also issues related to the role of the private and public sectors. At issue is the extent to which the public sector should play a role in ensuring universal access to communications services. In other words, should the role of the public sector be confined to addressing market failures? Whichever way this debate goes, within the public sector, policy should also harmonise overlapping mandates among state owned companies and agencies. To date there are more than five state owned enterprises in the ICT sector. At the national level, Sentech and Broadband Infraco have been licensed
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to provide similar services. Another national entity, the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) has been confined to self-provisioning within government; it does not provide downstream services to consumers. Recently, according to the Draft Broadband Policy, government is looking at repositioning Telkom; a partially state owned listed company, as a leading player in the provisioning of broadband access. Although the draft policy does not provide a rationale for this about turn, it is likely that government still believes that Telkom’s extensive fixedline network and the rollout of its Next Generation Network (NGN) can still contribute to the attainment of universal access. However, conferring exclusive powers to a particular entity comes with profound policy and regulatory implications when one considers that the current legislative environment in the form of the ECA does away with the granting of exclusive rights. There are also some crucial lessons from the early days of Telkom’s fixed line monopoly and managed liberalisation era that should not be forgotten. The liberalisation of telecommunications has been largely responsible for helping South Africa and many countries to substantially increase mobile penetration rates while lowering the cost to communicate. A competitive broadband sector will likewise play a significant role in increasing broadband penetration and lowering the cost of access. In addition to the national services, various provinces and municipalities are rolling out their own services with little co-ordination between each other and the national entities. This uncoor-
dinated approach is contrary to government’s stated policy goal to position South Africa as a global leader in the uptake and usage of ICTs. On the demand side, the Broadband Commission report mentions:• Increasing access and the affordability of devices • Positioning government as a model user of ICTs to provide services to citizens • Increasing ICT skills • Promoting local content and applications and • Ensuring consumer protection and empowerment. Until these issues are sufficiently addressed, the uptake of new communications services will remain sluggish in many parts of the country, especially in poor urban and rural areas. Addressing supply-side and demand-side measures is at the cornerstone of a comprehensive national electronic communications policy. A good broadband policy should be accompanied by a rollout plan with clear delivery targets, as well as monitoring and evaluation indicators. It should also be benchmarked against global best practices while ensuring that network infrastructure and broadband services can benefit from future technological advances. After years of uncertainty, South Africa cannot afford further delays. In order to create a stable and predictable policy and regulatory environment, the Broadband Commission places emphasis on effective policy leadership with the necessary will and capacity to identify short term and long term policy goals. Building consensus with all stakeholders, especially the ICT industry, will also be critical.
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Broadband: Learning from the best will ease our roll-out campaign High-Throughput-Satellites (HTS), the answer to connecting underserved and rural areas in South Africa
he lingering question of how to increase broadband access in rural and underserved areas will no doubt continue to be the biggest issue for policy makers as efforts are stepped up to finalise South Africa’s broadband policy. Many other policy makers in the rest of Africa will no doubt face the same question. For the most part, South Africa’s major telcos and ISPs have carved out the more lucrative urban markets across the country and embarked on an ambitious rollout plan to upgrade their networks to increase coverage and support faster broadband speeds by deploying 3G/ HSPA/LTE radio protocols. For its part Telkom has been digging street pavements to bring fibre closer to the cabinet to support faster ADSL services of 20 and 40 Megabits per second. Neotel, Infraco, DFA, FibreCo and other operators are also frantically deploying fibre in many of SA’s large cities and towns. Despite this increase in fibre rollouts, a chronic lack of infrastructure sharing is resulting in high capital expenditure and duplication of infrastructure. As a result of this, terrestrial and metro fibre capacity remains astonishingly expensive to lease. This has now become the major stumbling block to bringing fast and affordable broadband services to many consumers in urban areas. On the face of it, it would appear that urban consumers are beginning to benefit from faster and more affordable broad-
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band services brought about by cheap submarine cable capacity and intense competition. The question that remains though is how to bring connectivity to the other 40 - 50% of South Africa’s population who reside in sparsely populated rural and semi-urban areas. So far, these areas have had to rely on spotty GPRS and EDGE coverage. To compound the problem, pricing for broadband access by mobile operators does not correlate with rural disposable incomes. Many commentators see the delayed Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) migration process that will free up spectrum in the 800 MHz band as the panacea for rural connectivity. The actual solution will be somewhat more complex than initially envisaged. It is important to recognise that to accomplish government’s policy objective of reaching 100% broadband access in a developing country like South Africa will require a multi-pronged approach. Both the private and public sector will have to co-invest and share infrastructure to adequately address supply constraints. It is also crucial to recognise that rural and semi-urban areas will require different solutions and policy interventions compared to urban areas. While the business case for fiber and LTE deployments may be stronger in densely populated urban areas with higher disposable incomes, the same will not be true for small towns and rural markets. Most importantly, it is crucial to realise that there will be no silver bullet or sin-
gle technology that will accomplish this feat. In this regard, it is worth looking at some examples of more developed countries with better infrastructure and how they are addressing the issue of underserved areas and universal access. Recent developments in a number of markets like the US, EU and Australia seem to suggest that High Throughput Satellites are emerging as a solution that can bring affordable connectivity to areas that will not be reached economically by terrestrial fibre or wireless networks. Back in 2006, a study by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US found that 7% of households were completely un-served. Another 18% of households in the US were under-served by terrestrial broadband services. This prompted Viasat Inc., then a satellite ground terminal manufacturer based in California to diversify its business and buy a satellite broadband business called Wild Blue and build its own next generation satellite. In October 2011, Viasat launched the most powerful high throughput satellite (HTS) in the world to space with a total capacity of 140 Gigabit per second. Some interesting figures coming from Viasat’s recent financial results suggest that around 40,000 subscribers per month are signing up for the EXEDE satellite broadband service that offers 12 Mbps service on the Viasat-1 satellite. The Viasat-1 satellite which entered commercial service in early 2012 has managed to sign up close to 480,000 subscribers. By using a combination of spot-beams, frequency re-use and a next generation ground network, Viasat-1 delivers 100 times more capacity than traditional geo-stationery satellites. This has completely changed the economics of delivering broadband over satellite from in orbit costs of around $223 million per Gbps to just below $3.5 million per Gbps. By using smart caching and IP acceleration techniques, the Exede service is able to offer near DSL performance that gives customers a fast and affordable broadband service in remote areas. High Throughput Satellites combined with Ka-band today delivers a highly efficient and competitive broadband offering to un-served
A very practical approach to accomplish this could be for policy makers to consider giving Broadband Infraco a policy mandate to partner with the private sector to finance the construction of a high throughput satellite payload… and underserved markets. The EXEDE service has been so successful that Viasat has already signed a contract with Boeing to build Viasat-2, a second generation satellite that will double the capacity of Viasat-1 with 300 Gbps capacity and lower in-orbit costs well below $1 million per Gbps. Australia has also recently decided to invest in two high throughput satellites to help cover 7 percent of their population that will not be covered by the country’s ambitious $40 billion National Broadband Network. Another interesting project that seeks to deliver connectivity to underserved areas is the recently launched O3b network. Its medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite network will provide low latency and high-speed connectivity to emerging markets. O3b’s network takes a different approach from that of Viasat and Australia’s NBN satellites by providing large IP Trunking capacity to ISPs and telcos in rural and underserved areas. If we benchmark South Africa against the US and Australia, it becomes clear that South Africa will likely find that 25-30 percent of its population will not be adequately covered through terres-
trial fibre or wireless networks even after an extensive national fibre rollout that some has estimated will cost R100 billion. It thus becomes crucial for policy makers to begin thinking of policy interventions that will look at ways to close this gap. The cost efficiencies and global coverage that is offered by next generation spot-beam satellites will become very useful in the technology mix that will enable the delivery of 100% broadband penetration. This kind of national infrastructure investment will require a public private partnership to finance and operationalise. A very practical approach to accomplish this could be for policy makers to consider giving Broadband Infraco a policy mandate to partner with the private sector to finance the construction of a high throughput satellite payload that would offer over 300 Gbps in capacity to be used to connect all rural and underserved areas in South Africa. The government could help make the business case for such an investment stronger by signing off-take agreements to utilise the bandwidth capacity that will be offered by this powerful satellite and use this to connect rural schools, clinics, police stations, municipal offices etc. The private partners would tap debt and equity funding and bring operational expertise to build, launch and operate such a network. Over 100 spot beams would instantly cover South Africa’s 260 municipalities with more than 2.5 Gbps of capacity per municipality. More than 1 million premises made up of schools, libraries, clinics, police stations, post offices, households would be instantly connected to a service that offers well over 12 Mbps per site. At a cost of around R6 billion, this satellite will cost only a fraction of the R100 billion that is projected to cost us to connect the whole country to broadband internet. Valoyi is CEO of Mavoni Telecoms. Mavoni Telecoms is rolling out broadband services in underserved areas. Mavoni recently partnered with O3b Networks to deploy the first Ka-band Medium Earth Orbit satellite service in South Africa connecting municipalities in underserved areas.
Issue 2 ‹ 11
opinion By Fungai Sibanda
THE DOUBLESPEAK OF CONCURRENCY IS CONTENTIOUS The jury is still out on whether concurrent jurisdiction between the competition authorities and sector regulators is an unnecessary duplicity, writes Fungai Sibanda
oncurrent jurisdiction in competition regulation is a common feature of the South African legal system arising in different forms. For instance, the Constitution of South Africa would confer concurrent powers on provincial and national spheres of government with respect to various functions such as public transport, tourism, trade, housing, and gambling and consumer protection, among others. Concurrent jurisdiction also arises between regulatory bodies as set out in their respective legislation. This article concerns itself with the latter type of concurrency, specifically concurrency between the Competition Commission on the one hand and sector regulators on the other. The Competition Act No 89 of 1998 established the Commission with the mandate to, among others, investigate anticompetitive conduct and evaluate mergers and acquisitions in all sectors of the economy. The Competition Act applies to all competition activity within or having effect within the country. Soon after establishment in 2000, the Commission was confronted with a hostile takeover in the banking sector between Nedcor and Stanbic which would test its powers. As with most hostile takeovers, the target firm is likely to resist or try to stave off the approach. In this instance, Stanbic raised a jurisdictional defense, arguing that the transaction had to be approved by the competition authorities, since it is an act
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not subject to public regulation. Nedcor on the other hand saw this as a delaying tactic and argued that the transaction was subject to the Banks Act No 94 of 1990 only and had to be approved by the Minister of Finance and the Registrar of Banks. Stanbic lodged an application in the High Court seeking an order declaring that the transaction should be considered by the competition authorities. The High Court ruled that section 3(1) (d) of the Competition Act excluded the transaction from the jurisdiction of the competition authorities since it is an act subject to public regulation. Stanbic was granted leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). The SCA dismissed Stanbic’s case with a majority judgment concluding that the transaction was expressly exempt from the Competition Act due to section 3(1) (d) thereof.
This led to an amendment of the Competition Act which sought to reinforce the authority of the Commission over competition matters in regulated sectors. Section 3(1) (d) was deleted through the Competition Second Amendment Act of 2000. Section 3(1A) was inserted into the Act and it states that: “In so far as this Act applies to an industry, or sector of an industry, that is subject to the jurisdiction of another regulatory authority, which authority has jurisdiction in respect of conduct regulated in terms of Chapter 2 or 3 of this Act, this Act must be construed as establishing concurrent jurisdiction in respect of that conduct.” The management of concurrency between the Commission and sector regulators is governed by section 21(h-
j) and section 82 of the Competition Act. In that regard, the Commission went about concluding memoranda of agreement with various regulatory authorities, including ICASA, the Registrar of Banks and the then national electricity regulator, among others. As fate would have it, soon after ‘clarifying’ the jurisdiction question through a legislative amendment the competition authorities were presented with a second test, indicating that the amendment was far from being a failsafe measure. In May 2002 the South African Vans Association (SAVA), a number of internet service providers and other value added network service providers filed a complaint with the Competition Commission regarding alleged anti-competitive practices on the part of Telkom, involving price discrimination and abuse of dominance. Another complainant, Omnilink also filed a complaint with the Commission against Telkom in August 2003, alleging that Telkom had engaged in prohibited price discrimination. The Commission combined these cases in its investigation and found that Telkom had engaged in prohibited price discrimination, refusal to deal and exclusionary conduct. The matter was referred to the Tribunal on 23 February 2004 for adjudication. However, before the Tribunal could hear the matter, Telkom filed a High Court application challenging, among other things, the jurisdiction of the competition authorities and arguing that the conduct complained of was subject to the jurisdiction of ICASA, the sector regulator. According to Telkom, the concurrent jurisdiction envisaged by section 3(1A) was “in so far as” the Competition Act applies and in this case it did not apply. Telkom also put forward a procedural argument that the Commission did not comply with the requirements of its Memorandum of Agreement with ICASA and that the referral was made outside of the timeframe allowed by the Act and without the necessary consent of the complainants. The High Court ruled in favour of Telkom but only with respect to the procedural aspects of the case, finding that … No pronouncements were made on the jurisdictional question. The Commission was granted leave to appeal
the ruling before the Supreme Court of Appeal and Telkom cross appealed the jurisdictional issue. Meanwhile the Electronic Communications Act No. 36 of 2005 (the ECA) was promulgated. Chapter 10 of the ECA contains various provisions that empower ICASA to prescribe regulations to deal with competition challenges in the sector. Section 67(9) of the ECA purported to abrogate the Commission’s powers in the sector by stating that: “Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Competition Act applies to competition matters in the electronic communications industry” During the drafting stages as well as in the formal public hearings in parliament the Commission had lobbied strongly for the substitution of the term ‘subject to’ with ‘despite’ in the relevant provision. The Commission argued that the term ‘subject to’ rendered the Competition Act subservient to the ECA in the electronic communications sector. In other words the Competition Act would only apply to the electronic communications sector to the extent that the issue under consideration is not covered by the ECA or the regulations so prescribed. In 2008 the Competition Act was amended and the DTI used the opportunity to clarify the jurisdictional issue further. Parliament passed the Competition Amendment Act No 1 of 2009 (Amendment Act), the schedule of which contains a consequential amendment to section 67(9) of the ECA, seeking to delete the phrase “subject to” and replacing it with the term “despite”. This section of the Amendment Act, however, together with the rest (apart from the market enquiry provisions) is still awaiting proclamation by the President. The Supreme Court of Appeal, in the Competition Commission/Telkom matter noted that the Commission’s jurisdiction may by legislation, be removed entirely from a particular industry, be retained or may continue subject to certain reservations as under section 67(9) of the ECA. The Commission, through its advocacy arm should guard against the removal or conditional exercise of its powers in certain sectors of the economy.
Whilst the SCA ruled on 27 November 2009 that, among other things, the competition authorities have the required jurisdiction and are also the appropriate authorities to deal with the complaint referred, it should be noted that this ruling was based on the operation of the now repealed Telecommunications Act No 103 of 1996 on which the initial complaint referral was based. It is still possible that the Commission’s jurisdiction could be challenged based on section 67(9) of the ECA, unless the consequential amendment contained in the Amendment Act becomes operational. Concurrent jurisdiction as a principle may be desirable; however, it is the implementation thereof that poses a challenge. Respondents will always look for a loophole in the law in order to avoid or delay taking responsibility for their action. Complainants on the other hand often would like to approach an institution that appears sympathetic to their case. When they are unsuccessful they are likely to then approach another institution. Such forum shopping may pit one agency against another. Concurrent jurisdiction requires coordination and close cooperation between and among agencies. Part of the coordination would be for purposes of cross-referrals such that when a complaint is received it will either be deal with by the receiving agency or refer it to another. Rather than collaborate, there is always a temptation for regulatory agencies to compete. In the end, corporate culprits get away with unscrupulous conduct while society as a whole loses. Recently the concurrent jurisdiction debate has arisen within the consumer protection space. The Consumer Protection Act is quite clear that the National Consumer Commission on the one hand and sector regulators and provincial regulators on the other hand share concurrent jurisdiction on consumer protection matters. It will do the NCC well to ensure that it concludes the MOAs as envisaged in the CPA and avoid some of the pitfalls that have caught the competition authorities unawares. Sibanda is an economist with Hekima Advisory and a former Icasa councilor.
Issue 2 ‹ 13
opinion By Mulalo Ratshisusu
STICK FOR UNDUE
BEHAVIOUR Telkom settlement ushers in new competitive terrain for ISPs, writes Mulalo Ratshisusu
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n what is arguably a ground-breaking outcome of an abuse of dominance investigation by the competition authorities since their inception, the Competition Tribunal on 18 July 2013 confirmed a settlement agreement between Telkom SA SOC Ltd (Telkom) and the Competition Commission (the Commission). The settlement marked an end to a series of complaints to the Commission by Internet Solutions (Pty) Ltd, Verizon (Pty) Ltd and the Internet Service Providers Association, the first-tier internet service provider (ISPs) in South Africa, covering the period between January 2005 and December 2007. Following an investigation, the Commission established competition concerns that are, in the main, threefold: first, Telkom charged excessive prices for high bandwidth national electronic communications transmission line (HBTL) and international private leased circuit (IPLC), second, Telkom set prices for Diginet access lines, HBTL, IPLC and IP Connect at levels that precluded cost-effective competition with its retail services for internet access and IP virtual private network (VPN) services, and third, Telkom engaged in anti-competitive bundling of IP VPN and internet services products with its Diginet and ADSL access services. In essence, Telkom was engaging in an anti-competitive conduct that raised the costs of ISPs and other licensed operators (OLOs) in direct competition with its wholesale, retail internet access and IP VPN services, which conduct is prohibited for a dominant firm within the realm of the South African Competition Act. Having agreed to pay an administrative penalty of R200 million for engaging in anti-competitive activities, Telkom also committed to implement pricing and structural remedies intended to introduce fair competition between ISPs/OLOs and its wholesale and retail business. The remedies are structured as follows: ß Transfer Pricing Programme with respect to IPLC, HBTL, IP
Connect and Diginet services to apply to OLOs and Telkom Retail. This pricing scheme will be designed such that Telkom Wholesale levies non-discriminatory prices per unit for equivalent services for common components to its own retail businesses and OLOs, that is, the prices for equivalent services must be the same. For non-common components between Telkom’s retail business and OLOs, prices will be capped at cost plus a reasonable allowable return. ß Telkom Retail will implement a Retail Pricing Policy to regulate the mechanics of setting its retail prices for IP VPN and internet services in a manner that ensures it covers its own costs. ß There will be a separation between Telkom’s wholesale (IPLC, HBTL, IP Connect and Diginet services) and retail businesses (IP VPN and internet services) to give effect to the contemplated Transfer Pricing Programme, to be governed by a Code of Conduct. In addition, Telkom has agreed to reduce prices of the affected wholesale and retail products in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 financial years, and cap the 2017 and 2018 financial years’ prices at the 2016 level. The price reductions will be structured such that the bulk - at least 70% - occur at the wholesale level and the remainder (capped at 30%) at the retail level. The rationale for the allocations contemplated for wholesale and retail price reductions is to stimulate competition at the retail level and also prevent Telkom from any potential unfair undercutting of OLOs. These price reductions will, according to the terms of the settlement agreement, yield a gain of at least R875 million to OLOs and end-users of the services covered in the remedies. Telkom has also agreed to roll-out strategic points of presence in the public sector in 2014 at its own cost. There is not much detail in the settlement
agreement as to the extent of such rollout and the level of investment envisaged. The remedies imposed on Telkom are quite complex, particularly with the proposed transfer pricing regime. It will be incumbent upon the Commission to judiciously monitor their implementation to ensure the intended benefits to the OLOs, and ultimately the consumers, are realised. To this end, Telkom has committed to provide a transfer pricing statement to the Commission that will set out the prices for the affected products to its retail business and OLOs. Equally, the affected stakeholders and the general public are also well-positioned to monitor the impact of the pricing regime, at least, in the internet services space. Whilst there appears to be no obligation for the OLOs to pass on the price reductions to their customers, being businesses and individual consumers, it is expected that the cost-advantage should stimulate competition between OLOs, primarily in the internet services and IP VPN space at the retail level. The remedies should have a significant impact in the telecommunications sector if OLOs play their part, that is, innovate and compete. The intervention by the competition authorities through this settlement has the potential to increase the level of competitiveness in the telecommunications space. OLOs will be afforded space to compete fairly particularly against Telkom which owns the “factory” that provides network services to OLOs, through its wholesale and network divisions. An intervention of this kind demonstrates the complementary nature of the functions of the sector regulator, in this instance the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, and competition authorities. More notably, competition is enhanced and consumers benefit. Mulalo Hardin Ratshisusu is the Executive Director: Hekima Advisory e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Issue 2 ‹ 15
FOCUSED PERSONALITY By Staff Reporter
Game Changer? F
ormer member of the Portfolio Committee on Communications, Rubben Mohlaloga, is ICASA’s newest councilor, having joined the authority in August 2013 to serve a four year term of office. Until recently, Mohlaloga was an official of the Department of Communications, making him the most rounded person in the communications policy environment. He has served in the communications committee, the policy division of the Department of Communications and is now at the Regulator. Digital Focus took time out to speak to Mohlaloga and went straight to the core of the issues. As a former member of the portfolio committee on communications, which exercises oversight on ICASA, how do you feel about your current responsibility? This situation helps one to reflect broadly. The legislative environment, Parliament, oversees the regulator, ICASA. Now, one has the opportunity to experience the impact of the Parliamentary oversight on the regulatory environment including the efficacy of the institutional framework and whether or not that has helped in enhancing the work of the regulator. The DOC is currently working on the ICASA Amendment Bill. I think the experience one has from both the DOC and Parliament will help in the discussion on the Bill. The same goes for the pending amendment to the Electronic Communications Act - the amendment Bill has already been tabled in Parliament. Do you still see issues the same way you did during your tenure at both the com-
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mittee and recently at the Department of Communications? I guess it’s a dialectical thing. There is consistency in my view on the need for an independent and responsive regulator, while, on the other hand, there should be robustness in the development of policy and legislation. There will always be a mutually reinforcing kind of creative tension. However, national interest should always drive one’s view, including the need to appreciate public policy concerns and the views of lawmakers. As a rounded person who worked for parliament, the policy maker and now the Regulator, you are expected to have these issues at your finger-tips. What is your comment? As I said, I am privileged to have served in those capacities and appreciate the confidence that the Portfolio Committee on Communications and the Minister of Communications have expressed in assigning me this responsibility. That should help me to contribute in addressing whatever concerns there are in the regulatory environment. Indeed this heightens expectations. With the support of the portfolio committee, the communications department and the sector as a whole, we should be able to achieve our mandate. What do you think are the priorities of the sector in the next five years? There are a number of key issues that need to be addressed. Firstly, Digital Migration needs to be implemented without delay. South Africa has been running on the same spot with regard to this project and the 2015 deadline for countries to conclude their migration programmes is around the corner.
Secondly, universal service and access to broadband remains a critical priority for government and the economy as a whole. Thirdly, the cost to communicate needs to be confronted head on; in this instance, the scope should include the costs of accessing broadcasting services, especially the pay-tv market as well as access to postal services. And lastly, skills development and transformation need to be taken to the next level. The ICT policy review process being undertaken by the communications department is important as it will shape the policy, regulation and business eco-system for the next 15 years or so. It will have serious implications for the legislative and institutional framework of the Regulator, in particular, as ICASA will be expected to implement a new Integrated ICT policy. Do you think there is enough policy making and regulatory skills in South Africa? What is it that we need to do to continue developing the country’s key personnel in the policy and regulatory environment? As a country, are we investing enough in skills development? Well, for some time now, there have been skills development initiatives, such as those established by Wits and UNISA although the latter has since collapsed. I believe we could do more and I hope one of the new envisaged universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape will focus on skills development for the ICT sector broadly. There is a need for a coordinated effort to drive skills development for the sector. Government’s own initiatives such as the National Electronic Media Institute (Nemisa), e-Skills Institute and other initiatives
looking into this matter by considering various models to fund the Regulator. How far is SA doing to position the communications sector as a tool to foster regional integration? Should government support the private sector to access new markets as part of its diplomatic relations? What measure of checks and balances should be put in place? I think in a sense we are a shy hegemony, regional power. Though various reports indicate that we are currently the biggest investor on the continent, I think we could have done better. There is still scope to do more. If you look at our mobile operators and broadcasters, they have a huge footprint on the continent and I think they need to be supported further without any imperial, domineering agenda. But they must try to ensure that they help overcome the digital divide on the continent. In the recent past, we have seen collaboration between governments and operators to rollout the undersea cables and the same model can be extended to other areas. Collaboration can be extended to critical areas and projects like Digital Migration. At present, countries on the continent are at different levels of progress regarding the rollout of Digital Migration. Government should support broadcasters that are helping other countries to implement their Digital Migration plans. need to be more ambitious in their training targets; they also need to be more aligned to ensure that they achieve high input and impact. Will the Authority ever succeed in lowering the cost of communications? At what point will you say we have achieved? What is the benchmark of what constitute good or bad? We have no choice but to succeed in doing that. This matter has been on the national agenda for a while; the glide path to reduce the cost of the call termination market from R1.25 to around R.40 has been implemented but the tariffs charged on consumers are still high. Consumers have not realised the benefits of that. Only one mobile operator has attempted to shake the market through competitive pricing, but, still, the costs remain high. We have to ask whether the current model of regulating
retail rates through wholesale interventions is a correct one. The jury is still out on that one. Does ICASA have enough resources to regulate the ever-expanding sector? It would seem that while the sector keeps growing, ICASAâ€™s budget remains largely unchanged. No. The Budget of the Regulator is equal or less than what a single operator would budget in a year for litigation against ICASA. ICASA operates in a very litigious environment such that if the Regulator does not have sufficient money to defend its decisions, that will pose a problem. There are certain legislated processes that the authority should undertake in its regulatory work and those processes need resources - both financial and human. It is encouraging that the DOC is
A lot has been done since 1994 regarding. What still needs to be done before we can say that the sector is fully transformed? I think a lot still needs to be done. I think the demographic profile of licensees can be improved, especially in the core areas of their operations. Operators need to increase the implementation of their Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) requirements. A passionate response by operators is needed. This should and has to happen, even if it means the Regulator intervening through licensing conditions. Are you here to stay, or do you still have ambitions for political leadership? Well, I have a four year term of contract, which I am committed to see through. The rest will be left to the relevant authorities within and outside government.
Issue 2 â€š 17
FOCUSED ORGANISATION By Staff Reporter
CELEBRATING 10 YEARS OF MDDA
he Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) is a statutory development agency for promoting, supporting and ensuring media development and diversity, set up as a public/private partnership between the South African Government and major print and broadcasting companies to assist in (amongst others) developing community and small commercial media in South Africa. It was established in 2003, in terms of the MDDA Act No 14 of 2002 and started providing grant funding to projects on the 29th January 2004.
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The Agency started its operations in the financial year 2003/4, with first funding decisions from a Board meeting held January 2004. A relevant and reliable platform for communication is essential for the effective functioning of a consultative and participatory democracy. Access to communication and information empowers citizens and assists in defending and advancing the country’s democracy. The MDDA provides financial and non-financial support to community and small commercial media. It creates opportunities for communities to engage with,
and become part of the knowledge and information industry and speed up economic growth and transformation. The Agency ensures that rural communities have access to all media including radio, television, online, mobile and print services. And promotes responsible journalism and that our media is transformed to reflect South Africa in every respect. It supports and creates an enabling environment for media development and diversity. It’s been 10 years and we are celebrating a lot of achievements in pursuit of our mandate.
Achievements Since its formation, the MDDA has achieved some major milestones including the awarding of grants to the amount of R251 million to 496 projects, with 2021 people trained, the provision of 247 bursaries to different radio and print media, and the receipt of unqualified audits since its establishment. Projects supported are spread in every District Municipality and in all 9 provinces of this country. A number of research reports aimed at providing insight on media in SA are available on the MDDA website, www.mdda.org.za . From a leadership, management and governance perspective, the Agency has just received a clean unqualified audit report 2012/13 financial year from the Auditor General of SA (AGSA), making it the 10th unqualified audit opinion. Transformational impact in the 10 years In the last ten years, we have seen increased available support for media development and diversity. There is, more than ever before, more Community and Small Commercial Media newspapers and magazines published in indigenous languages, owned by diverse media owners and communities. There is increased listenership of community radio to more than 25% of the total radio listenership. Community television has grown in numbers and viewership. Almost every District Municipality has Community and Small Commercial Media, in the form of community radio and/or newspapers, magazines, etc. The environment for growth and development of a diverse media is more enabling with the birth of MDDA, its advocacy and lobbying, enabling regulatory environment created by ICASA, reduction of tariffs for community broadcasting signal distribution by SENTECH, discounts provided by printers for Community and Small Commercial newspapers and magazines, discounts provided by Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) for Community and Small Commercial newspapers and magazines, easily available research and information regarding media landscape in SA through the MDDA website and increased support for the MDDA agenda by the mainstream broadcasting industry. Print media industry contin-
Messages from key stakeholders: Message from the former Minister in the Presidency, on the 10th anniversary of the Dr Essop Pahad The MDDA has played a significant role in empowering media practitioners in the areas of community radio and small commercial media outlets With a limited budget and resources the MDDA has funded more than 439 projects and trained more than 2000 people. As the Minister responsible for setting up the MDDA, allow me to congratulate you on your 10th anniversary and pay a special tribute to the CEO Lumko Mtimde and the rest of the staff for a truly remarkable performance. We need more and more alternative media owned and run by and for communities. Message from the former GCIS CEO (1998 – 2006) Joel Netshitenzhe As we mark the 10th anniversary of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), we will necessarily go back to the formal mandate of the Agency to assess the body’s impact. The facts speak to a transformative initiative that has profoundly contributed to flourishing community and small commercial undertakings in print, radio and television. As a consequence, millions of South Africans are able to access information, education and entertainment about their communities – and as actors rather than just recipients of wisdom from on high. Giving voice to the voiceless is a long-term undertaking which requires on-going commitment and ingenuity on the part of policy-makers and practitioners alike. Ensuring that all aspects of the Agency’s mandate, including authoritative research on trends regarding the content and platforms of media discourse is a challenge that will require continuing MDDA capacitation. Added to this is the need fully to appreciate the rapid development of information and communication technologies and, with it, the mushrooming of new platforms of societal discourse. Contained in the genesis, growth and creative resourcing of the MDDA are qualitative attributes with profound resonances for the nation’s endeavours today. These include the philosophy and praxis of partnership between the public and private sectors, in what can be characterised as a unique manifestation of social compacting, in the media space. Sacrifices had to be made for the common good, informed by the appreciation that, as community and local media activism improve, so does active citizenship find practical expression. As the assault on aliteracy and social passivity find traction, so do interest in, and audiences for, the established media expand. Democracy and social development are thus immeasurably enriched. Congratulations to the MDDA Team and the broader family of partners that have ensured the success of this novel enterprise.
Issue 2 ‹ 19
ued supporting MDDA but reduced their contributions. The promotion of media literacy and the culture of reading have increased. Acknowledgement and appreciation of excellence in the Community and Small Commercial Media through the MDDA/Sanlam Local Media Awards, thereby encouraging skills development and growing expertise. Easy to use toolkits produced and published by MDDA in specific skills areas like Marketing and Advertising, Corporate Governance, etc. MDDA’s handholding mentorship and coaching programmes implemented, in line with its developmental approach, which assist, empower and capacitate projects. These are just but a few interventions through MDDA that have impacted positively for media transformation in the last decade. MDDA has had visible impact on each of the 7 objectives of the MDDA Act. In addition, the Agency has had a clean audit record, receiving unqualified audit reports from
Focus in 2013/14 One of the biggest challenges facing
May you continue to grow as an organisation as you play a meaningful role in the media space of this great country.
the AGSA since inception, attesting to sound leadership, financial management and good corporate governance. The greatest challenge remains transformation in the print media space. This sector remains dominated by a few in the mainstream, referring to the print products consumed on a daily basis and is available in only the English and Afrikaans languages. The other greatest challenge is the sustainability of Community and Small Commercial Media, there is a need to ensure that the advertising cake is shared by all and distributed in a manner that supports media diversity. Major projects ahead The MDDA is working on some key research including reflecting on the past 10 years and the media diversity index, among others. The outcomes will help shape the agency’s programme for the future. This is in addition to the
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production of toolkits like Corporate Governance for Community and Small Commercial Media, Advertising and Marketing, etc. One of the major projects is the establishment of the Online Booking and Monitoring System, which is aimed at improving and professionalising access to advertising income and complying with reporting and accountability. It is hoped that this project will contribute to the sustainability of the Community and Small Commercial Media sector. The future is largely going digital for broadcasting, mobile and online media will dominate the landscape once access to affordable broadband is available to all. All this provides an opportunity for the creation of a diverse media landscape with diverse views, opinions and sources of information available in all languages.
South Africa today is that some local government communicators do not realise the importance of using relevant communication platforms. It is not unusual to find an advert about a local meeting, in a national newspaper. There is a need for such communication to be conducted in the local media, and in the language spoken by the local people. Nationally also you do find limited understanding of the difference between Community and Small Commercial Media versus local media owned by the mainstream media. As a result, adspent meant for Community and Small Commercial Media is spent in the mainstream media against the country’s commitment to promoting media diversity. We will continue to engage Government communicators, create awareness on the role and importance of Community and Small Commercial Media, the need to communicate in languages spoken by the consumers and
the need to use media consumed by the targeted audience. The Agency will continue with its capacity building interventions, skills development, mentoring, coaching and hand holding, grant funding support, advocacy for media diversity, research and technical advice. This year also sees focus on supporting presence of Community and Small Commercial Media online, in preparation for the future. Applications for MDDA support will also be done online by those who have access to internet. It’s a year of celebrating achievements, success, taking stock of challenges ahead and plan for fast tracking media transformation and media diversity. Thought for the next 10 years Knowledge and information is power. Media is power. No democracy can be sustained without media freedom, independent media, diverse media and access to a choice of media and information by all its citizens in languages of their own choice. Realisation of MDDA outcomes • Ownership, control and access to information and content production by communities. • Enhanced ownership and control by independent and diverse media entrepreneurs. • Strengthened, vibrant, innovative and people-centred and diversified media. • An environment and capabilities that deliver MDDA value products and services. • A well-known, valued and reputable brand. • Enhanced governance and accountability standards of the MDDA. • A strengthened, growing and protected MDDA funding base. Disclaimer: Information for this section is supplied by the selected organization or company. Due to limited space, we reserve a right to edit submissions. Here profile organisations and businesses that are making ground breaking contributions in the use of technology to empower those at the bottom of the pyramid.
Messages from key stakeholders (continued): Message from the SABC CEO Ms Lulama Makhobo
Message from former Board Chairperson (2003 – 2007)
SABC pays tribute to the MDDA as it celebrates its 10 Year Anniversary The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) as a funding partner sends its heartfelt congratulations to the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) on reaching the milestone of 10 years as an organisation, which serves the public at large The SABC as a public service broadcaster, shares an affinity with the MDDA, as our core mandate is to serve the diverse communities in South Africa, through media services they can access. To this we say continue with your great work of amongst other projects, training South Africans in the media field and providing support to small commercial and community media. As the SABC, we pledge our continued support to develop great initiatives such as the Community Media Awards and our support of community radio and television. May you continue to grow as an organisation as you play a meaningful role in the media space of this great country.
Khanyi Mkhonza The MDDA was founded on the backbone of research based on the experiences of many community radio stations, newspapers and magazines that were forced to shut down when foreign funding diminished after the founding of the democratic government in our country. The new democracy brought with it a lot of changes in the media landscape. On the footsteps of the closure of many community and small commercial newspapers such as The New Nation, Weekly Mail and a few others, community radio was finding a voice in several communities around the country. Legislation that had not been geared towards this organic growth of radio had to find interim measures to support this growth. As a result, the Broadcasting Act of 1999 included, for the first time in the country and in the continent, the definition of community radio. The Independent Broadcasting Act (predecessor to Icasa) had to develop a legislation regimen for the licensing of the new community radio players. Nearly a decade into the democracy, the MDDA had to play catch up with the growth that had overtaken its establishment. Its major task was not only to support existing community voices but to inspire the reestablishment of old voices that had been forced to shut down due to lack of funding, as well as the growth of new voices in the media landscape. We congratulate the MDDA on its successes in confronting this mammoth task. In the 10 years of its existence, we have seen not only a rise in the number of new community as well as small commercial but also a sustainability of existing entities. We have also seen a growing interest in this media sector by government thanks to the efforts of the MDDA. Indeed, the efforts of media activists like Tshepo Rantho, Chris Gutuza, Nicollette Tladi, Bonga of Radio Maritzburg, Maleka of Soshanguve community radio and many others, have not gone to waste.
Message from Deputy Minister of Communications, Ms Stella Tembisa NdabeniAbrahams, MP It gives me a great pleasure to congratulate you on your 10 year anniversary. MDDA has grown considerably in the past ten years. Operating with limited resources while, at the same time reaching out to build community and small commercial media throughout the country and thus ensuring that ordinary South Africans, irrespective of their geographical location, have access to information in their regions and beyond. I take my hat off for you for clean governance and this is attested by the 10 years of unqualified audit reports. All of this clearly demonstrates the firm commitment of the MDDA leadership and team to the ICT space. Congratulations once more!
Message from former Chief Executive Officer (2003 – June 2006), founding CEO Libby Lloyd The establishment of the MDDA ten years ago was the first step to realizing the dream of many to make real the right of all South Africans to inform and be informed, to hear and be heard. The achievements of the media initiatives supported by the MDDA over the past ten years – and the impact many of them have had on their readers, audiences and communities – have more than justified why it was so important to set up such an agency. Congratulations
Issue 2 ‹ 21
Connectivity By Steven Maubane
Steven Maubane learns that with state-of-the-art technology, a new state enterprise is mandated to see to it that â€Ś
BROADBAND ACCESS AUGERS WELL FOR NATIONWIDE CONNECTIVITY
ccess to broadband is now without question a fundamental requirement for businesses, people and even more importantly, the country as a whole. To implement Acts and strategies for South Africa, Broadband Infraco (BBI) was established to handle relevant matters as a separate entity. It will however work very closely with government. According to the company, the Broadband Infraco Act, No 33 of 2007, was promulgated on 8 January 2008 and came into effect on 1 February 2008. The main objects and powers of BBI are to expand the availability and affordability of access to electronic communications, including but not limited to underdeveloped and under-serviced areas, in accordance with the Electronic Communications Act and commensurate with international best practice and pricing, through the provision of a myriad electronic network communications services. Currently BBI is the only stateowned company with the mandate to bridge the digital divide and roll out strategic broadband infrastructure.
22 â€ş Issue 2
Broadband in the country follows guidelines and regulations with regards to the roll out plan. BBI says it has plans to conduct Needs/Demand analysis for broadband services. According to the company there are significant broadband infrastructure gaps all over South Africa including in the three most developed provinces such as the Western Cape, Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal. Gauteng for instance has underserviced pockets such as Metsweding; Sedibeng and the West Rand. BBI will conduct network engineering master plans to determine design philosophy and funding requirements. The roll-out to its 37 underserviced areas will go strictly as determined by its licence. With all nine provinces each at different levels of development, this will have an impact on how quickly the rollout of broadband will be implemented. BBI states that every province has a unique provincial ICT development strategy. It does however work with each one of the provinces in trying to create a consistent rollout strategy and method. A process led by the national government is
currently underway. The Department of Communication (DoC), via the Strategic Infrastructure 15 (SIP 15), is to extend 100% broadband to all households by 2020. SIP 15 analyses broadband deprivation per province and prioritises areas for roll-out attention. BBI says it is working with all public and private organs that require broadband services, including provinces and municipalities. At present it is not rolling out to both the Western Cape and Limpopo but is in discussion with the relevant authorities to assess needs and capacity to roll-out. BBI and the Limpopo provincial government have signed a memorandum of understanding linked to major network upgrades in the northern ring (Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces). BBI is governed by policies which come from different clusters of government, like parliament which gazetted the Broadband Infraco Act. Other policies include the Public Finance Management Act, Companies Act, and the Draft National Broadband Policy and Information and Communications Technology Policy, both of which emanate from the DoC.
Finally BBI is also governed by requirements as set out by its shareholders – the Department of Public Enterprise (DPE) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). To achieve what it has set out to do, it would be impossible for BBI to operate in silos. It has therefore seen the wisdom to work very closely with other state enterprises. Word from BBI is that it collaborates with such companies as Eskom, Transnet and SITA. “We will also work with all other SOC’s within the DPE portfolio and beyond.” The DoC and Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) are legislative bodies which BBI works with in executing its mandate and license”. The roll-out and implementation of broadband nationwide has many beneficial aspects to the country on different levels, as evinced in enterprise efficiency and productivity – business performance improvement, growth and cost efficiencies. Access will be redefined. Access from a basic smartphone alongside what’s available using a laptop or desktop with an uncapped fixed-line connection can’t be compared. It may be possible to start and run a small business from a basic Android smartphone, but there are limitations to what can be achieved with mobile access alone. Africa will continue to find novel ways of getting the most out of mobile but the situation is far from an ideal. With regards to Government, broadband benefits are evident in the prevalence of e-government applications and services and their impact on government efficiency, such as service delivery. “Broadband provides access to a wide range of educational opportunities and resources. It encourages e-learning experiences throughout the country. It has the ability to provide an educational platform which transcends geographical and financial challenges often experienced in South Africa”. It also has an impact on the country’s health care system. “Broadband can facilitate provision of medical
care to marginal and underserved populations through remote diagnosis, treatment, monitoring, and consultations with specialists, thereby encouraging telehealth and tele-medicine. Broadband also has the potential to reduce distance between patients and medical institutions because information is readily available when needed. This would lead to an automatic improvement in the quality of life”. Investment in broadband, especially in rural and underserviced areas, helps to reduce the digital divide between these and more developed regions. The digital divide can be reduced by ensuring that under-served regions enjoy similar levels of broadband connectivity and information as their urban counterparts. BBI’s network capital expenditure to deliver on its mandate is on-going, the company says. It is busy with conversion from Synchronous Digital
to the existing 10Gb/s link and will be scalable in multiples of 40Gb/s to address current and future capacity requirements”. BBI adds that the Northern Ring extends from Gauteng to Polokwane via Soekmekaar and Tzaneen towards Hoedspruit then to Nelspruit. The ring then closes on the last leg from
the Northern Ring will rival the Golden Triangle as the nervecentre of major transmission connectivity in South Africa at 480 GB per second
Hierarchy (SDH) to Internet Protocol (IP) as the latter is the latest technology. Broadband Infraco is also presently investing in upgrading its telecommunications infrastructure in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. “The project is called the Northern Ring Capacity Upgrade Project and will cover both provinces. The scope of the project involves deployment of new state-of-the-art 40Gb/s technology for transmission of telecommunications services over fibre optic cables. The network architecture has been designed to be resilient, hence the new (40 Gb/s) link will run parallel
Nelspruit via Ngodwana, Belfast and Witbank back to Pretoria. Another link from Polokwane to Broadband Infraco’s International Gateway to Zimbabwe in Beitbridge (Via Makhado and Musina) is also part of this project. Once completed, BBI says “the Northern Ring will rival the Golden Triangle as the nerve-centre of major transmission connectivity in South Africa at 480 GB per second. It will herald the next wave of integrated provincial backhaul networks, linking several layers of connectivity by establishing core Points of Presence (POPs) in district municipalities, extending fibre and radio networks across provinces”.
Issue 2 ‹ 23
Science and technology By Steven Maubane
UNISA UNVEILS NEW
SCIENCE HUB In perfect harmony, technology and education unite to break new ground at posh science facility, says Steven Maubane.
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ducation plays a vital role in any country’s economy. Millions are spent from pre-school right through to higher education to make sure there is enough supply of skilled workers, ranging from semiskilled to high the high end of the human resource supply chain. The role of universities to this end cannot be emphasised enough. South Africa has a fair share of universities in each province except in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. But the picture is about to change as both these countries have been assured of the establishment of these institutions of higher learning. As you read this, the Sol Plaatje University is taking shape in Kimberley. University of South Africa (UNISA) recently launched its Science Campus in Florida, west of Johannesburg. Through this dedicated campus, the university aims to meet the educational and train-
ing needs of its science students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Dr Engela van Staden, Chief Director of Academic Planning and Management Support at the Department of Higher Education and Training says the department has partially funded the infrastructure improvements on the campus. “The purpose of this campus is to provide face to face interaction for programmes that stipulate a practical component. Therefore the expectation is that graduates will be produced with more relevant skills and improved quality”. The campus comprises of 12 individual buildings, which include laboratories, student administration, general administration and a cafeteria. According to the university, the Science Campus will be a centre for innovation and a resource to advance science and research at the national level.
Science and technology
The university adds that “in the world of today, science and technology, with innovation as a close ally, play an increasingly important role to spur and sustain economic growth and socio-economic development. Widely considered to be the building blocks for long-term economic growth, science, engineering and technology play a pivotal role to transform the economy of a developing country such as South Africa into a knowledge-based economy”. The Campus will be home to UNISA’s two primary science colleges: The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and The College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET). CAES has the potential to make a positive impact on Africa’s skills landscape with its range of programmes from the ‘green sciences’ that promote sustainable environmental management to animal health, agricultural management, horticulture, geography, life sciences and consumer sciences, which focus on food, clothing, nutrition and hospitality. The College also aims to advance science and research. It adds that at present the higher education sector is responsible for more than one third of the country’s research and development initiatives and UNISA is committed to contributing its fair share in terms of research projects and output. When applying for admission, prospective students look for the best pos-
sible facilities and teaching methods. The College says what makes it different to others is that UNISA as an ODeL (open distance e-learning) institution presents a great solution for closing the gap between science education supply and demand, both in South Africa and throughout the continent. The very nature of ODeL makes it possible for students to enrol for science-related qualifications wherever they are. A university’s accomplishments can be judged by student success through graduation and their impact in their respective fields of work or study. Dr van Staden says the biggest change the department would like to see through the Campus is “a better quality of graduate that is relevant to today’s ever challenging work place”. Itumeleng Setshedi, a recent graduate with a Master’s degree in Life Sciences says study at UNISA has been empowering. She started off at the university as a student and is now employed as a junior lecturer. “The opportunities presented to me have been life-changing. Coupled with the great amount of networking I have done at a number of conferences, this can only advance me further in my chosen career.” Marole Maluleka is studying towards a BSC Honours degree in Chemistry. Maluleka says the new campus has brought everyone who is studying within the related disciplines an opportunity to interact more. “Since the Engineering and chemistry students were on
different campuses, I think our coming together on one campus will enrich us a great deal. Students will definitely benefit from the state-of-the-art equipment on campus.” Interaction with lecturers will also be simplified, says Maluleka. “Travelling around to find the relevant lecturer did prove time-consuming and expensive before. The new lab will improve the quality of teaching and give the students an added advantage.” The College also hopes to play a role in improving people’s lives. “With a variety of programmes offered in the fields of agriculture, the university is investing in the success of its students and attracting more people to study in these fields. The college has strong ties with industry and government. Students have the opportunity to gain invaluable skills working on projects run in collaboration with these and other partners.” UNISA has increased its African student population to close to 70%, leaving no doubt that it is also contributing to the transformation of the South African higher education landscape. “Students come from around the world. This year the university is celebrating 140 years of shaping futures and of being shaped by its partners, stakeholders and the worldwide community it serves”. According Keneilwe Tselakgosi, the Science Campus will provide both staff and students with the best facilities. Tselakgosi is studying towards a Master’s degree in Life Sciences.
Issue 2 ‹ 25
Technology By Staff Reporter
HIGH ON CANNABIS
Detecting illicit drug plantations from the sky is the latest trick up the sleeve of law enforcement
he lucrative market for cannabis or marijuana, as it is widely known in South Africa, has led to these plants being grown in neighbouring countries such as Lesotho. This has created added complications to the tasks of law enforcement and border control agencies. Several means of identifying or tracing cannabis have been used and research now indicates that remote sensing technology may hold the key to successfully detecting cannabis cultivation zones across a landscape. Cannabis is the most prevalent illicit drug used in South Africa and the market for this substance continues to expand, fuelling cannabis production. In Lesotho, income from cannabis or ‘matekoane’ as it is called in SeSotho, has in fact become one of the Mountain Kingdom’s top three sources of income. Various methods have been used to detect cannabis. In the case of remote sensing, airborne hyperspectral surveys are used to detect the spectral signatures of the cannabis plant canopies and thus show up cultivation sites. The CSIR research study, funded by ARMSCOR, started with the Hyperion image (i.e. high resolution
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image captured in spectral bands) of a cannabis plant collected from the Roosboom area near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal. The image was pre-processed to prepare it for the classification process, including processing to correct for bad lines and striping in the image. The next step was to do the atmospheric correction and convert Hyperionderived radiance values to apparent reflectance. The image was then geo-referenced to get it into a common reference datum and projection. A cannabis classification approach was performed, based on a pixel-oriented classification approach. The accuracies were determined through a pixel-to-pixel comparison and expressed as overall producer and user accuracy. It demonstrated that hyperspectral images do have a huge potential to discriminate between cannabis and other vegetation types. The next step is to acquire hyperspectral imagery from airborne surveillance of known cannabis sites and acquiring cannabis spectral signatures via fieldwork in the RSA/Lesotho border area, taking into consideration different stages in cultivation and strands.
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Issue 2 ‹ 27
business intelligence By Steven Maubane
DECISIONS BASED ON FACT THE NEW WORLD ORDER SAS Institute champions data collection in an age where governments increasingly fall under the scrutiny of performance monitoring by their own citizens. Steven Maubane reports.
overnments across the world are moving more and more towards accountability and transparency as performance becomes a key determinant for success. Kroshlen Moodley, General Manager of Public Sector and Utilities for SAS says it is now of importance for governments to look at how they are performing and to show their commitment to the election promises. “Accountability is all about visibility across the spectrum in the public sector. When there is visibility, the people are able to look at the government in a more positive light, particularly when services are delivered and infrastructure improves, especially at the local and municipal level.” The planning cycle is an important aspect of delivery; the focus that goes into planning sets the tone for the mandate that each individual department needs to achieve. “Historically, in governments around the world there is generally a disconnection between the planning and the actual implementa-
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tion of the programmes that have been identified.” Moodley says evidence-based decision making is a key component within the public sector: “Evidence-based decision making in the public sector using data is going to be crucial in terms of unlocking public sector value. I see it as a key in terms of transformation because we are now moving away from making decisions on gut feel only to making those decisions using actual data and information about specific areas in our country to make policy decisions on how we can move to improve those areas.” Regardless of the skepticism that Census reports have attracted in the past, we have an indication of what we looked like in 1996; Moodley adds. “When we look at all that data of where we were back then and where we are today, we gain a better view of what type of situations are people facing in different provinces. We have a better understanding of the plight of, for example, child-headed households, and
so on and so forth.” The Census is conducted to provide government with a realistic view of the population in the country and where services are lacking. According to Moodley, the National Planning Commission that was established in 2009 was instrumental in putting down the 2020 vision. “The vision was mainly for government to see where it stood at present and where it needs to be in the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. These go hand in hand with reducing the levels of unemployment, sustaining the economy and improving education.” In terms of data collection and the dissemination thereof, Moodley says it differs from area to area as it is dependent on the sector that is being looked at: “We have the Department of Social Development, for instance, which has social workers collecting data on a regular basis, which is based on the number of clients they see. What they do with this data at the end is crucial.” SAS places a greater premium on
Kroshlen Moodley, General Manager of Public Sector and Utilities for SAS understanding the collected data, Moodley adds: “At SAS we also have a big interest in the social media as currently they remain is one of the best ways to reach more people. The marketing sector made very good use of social media to improve on who they want to target with their new products by focusing on online behaviour and getting insights on customer trends.” “I think access to mobile phone and other gadgets should be the primary source of communicating back to the citizens in terms of what you are doing.
If only governments could learn from the likes of Barack Obama, who used the social media networks to target minorities and win a second term in office. I believe the mobile platforms are the most powerful tools that can change the views and sentiments of citizens about their government.” “This is how SAS as a company is trying to get to a position of assisting government through using data and analysis at a social level to help them predict where there could be areas of social unrest, like service delivery protests.”
This way government will improve on the turnaround time of intervening in the affected areas and make sure that the correct messages are put across and commitments made are followed upon. The area of education in the country, with its many ills, also needs particular attention: “SAS has done some work in the educational sector. We have realised that focus on education is key. What we want to emphasise is the collection and analysis of data for each province. What you find is that the provinces that utilise supplied local data and analytics are much more successful in terms of insuring that there is an overall improvement and pass rate in their areas of jurisdiction.” Asked how data collection could help reduce migration and encourage people to remain in their areas, Moodley says the matter is due to the lack of industry in the rural areas. “I think the phenomenon of rural to urban migration will only continue. But all of that is due to the lack of development in rural communities.” Moodley says entrepreneurship also needs to be encouraged from school level through relevant curricula. On its website SAS states that governments worldwide are facing similar challenges: declining tax revenues, requirements for maintaining high levels of service and unprecedented demands for increased efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability. Utilising SAS to manage government data, public agencies can increase efficiencies in tax collection, combat fraud and maximize public services for their citizens. Moodley says SAS is a global player that has been in business for the past 37 years. “SAS started in South Africa around 2008/2009, focusing on outcome-based evaluation. The public sector is our second largest client after the banking industry. Social media analysis is definitely going to grow in the future. “I see more of the analytics being adopted by other companies in future; I also see new models of analytics being implemented. There will definitely be more focus on how to make analytics more user-friendly and more applicable among the communities,” Moodley says.
Issue 2 ‹ 29
advertorial By Mandla Nkomfe, MEC for finance in Gauteng.
he Gauteng Provincial Government is taking things a step further by moving from e-Government to m-Government. This has been sparked by the impact mobile devices have made to the technology sector. Governments all over the world are daily seeking innovative ways to connect better with their citizens. Being aware of the mobile revolution that is taking place, it seems through mobility the battle is slowly being won. The recent #GautengICTSummit2013 has proved true the notion that mobile devices are making it easier for citizens to connect amongst themselves. And therefore this has presented an advantage for Governments. The traditional means of accessing information through, going physically to Government departments or having to access the Internet from a computer will soon be a thing of the past. The summit is the second since the reestablishment of the Gauteng Department of Finance to solely focus on improving the ICT capabilities in the Gauteng department. This comes as the provincial exco realized the negative impact inadequate ICT infrastructure has on service delivery. To this effect a Gauteng ICT Strategy was developed to also address the digital divide that exists amongst citizens in general. As to deliver comprehensive ICT products, the citizens who are end users need to be adequately prepared and trained. Amongst the 2012 summit, Mobility was discussed as a means to bridge the challenge of accessibility. Many millions of citizens have access to cell phones. Five years ago, the average number for cell phone ownership globally was 12%. By next year it is estimated that the number would have more than tripled at 37%, according
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Mandla Nkomfe, MEC for finance in Gauteng. to a survey by the GSM Association (GSMA). Today 12% of South Africans own a smartphone. It may not seem like much, considering that these devices are becoming more of a utility than a luxury to the ordinary citizen. It is a great place to start for government to improve service delivery to the countryâ€™s population. The 2013 summit was then themed and crafted in line with expanding this Mobility phenomenon. Amongst the partners where SAP, HUWEI, Cloudseed and Telkomsa who are all major drivers in Mobility in South Africa. To date a number of studies have been conducted by subject matter expects such as the IDC (International Data Corporation), which demonstrated that the use of mobile devices is going to be adopted globally. Actual data figures from Vodacom, MTN and Cell-C have shown that there has been a phenomenal adoption of cellular
technologies in South Africa. In contrast only a few people have access to desktop computers, more so in government where the majority of government employees do not have access to desk computers. And in all these instances, most of these employees have access to cellular phones. This is also prevalent amongst many citizens. The use of these smart devices will alleviate some of the reasons that compelled citizen to travel to town in order to execute a request for a government service. The ICT Summit 2012 resolved that e-Government was slowly been phased away because citizens still faced the challenge of interacting with the services. The Gauteng government has introduced numerous solutions as part of its e-Government Strategy. These included ERP and SRM services to standardise and increase supply chain
management functions; the Gauteng Portal (Gautengonline) has managed to fuse all Gauteng department service into one platform. This has become a gateway to accessing all Government information in Gauteng. Another example, previously job seekers in Gauteng would converge at 78 Fox Street one of the departmental buildings in order to submit application forms for jobs advertised by one government department or another. This function has been moved to the internet and made available by creating internet kiosk in certain government buildings. By putting the e-Recruitment application on the mobile platform, then job seekers need not even go to a kiosk or internet cafĂŠ to apply for an advertised government post. However whilst these services have been made available how citizens access these information was still a challenge. The Gauteng Government is already in the process of developing mobile applications which will be available
for citizens in the coming year. These will support the following segments: Government to employee, Government to citizen, and Government to business. Amongst the services focused to citizens will be: a school, hospital locator which are GPS enabled, issue reporting, e.g. reporting of potholes by citizens, emergency reporting, electronic recruitment, school results notification, application for permits, transport schedule (e.g. Gautrain link) and traffic fines payment (link). Whilst businesses will be offered services such as supplier self-registration, invoice submission and business opportunity reports just to name a few. To date the Gauteng Department of Finance has implemented various ICT projects to bridge the digital divide. Amongst others was the migration of the Provincial Datacentre to a Cloud environment, in collaboration with business partners. Further, the Gauteng Provincial government will shortly be implementing the e-Learning solution
to all Gauteng public schools, coupled with the deployment of 80 000 tablets devices with WiFi and 3G connectivity in over 2200 public schools from January 2014. In addition, the Gauteng Provincial Government will soon finalise the appointment of a service provider to implement phase one of the Gauteng Broadband Network. This project will offer limitless and affordable Internet access initially to Provincial Government Departments, followed by Gauteng residents, and will go a long way in reducing connectivity costs. The Gauteng Provincial Government anticipates that through high bandwidth connectivity, service delivery challenges may soon be a thing of the past. The objective of Gauteng becoming a Globally Competitive City Region will be realised, and will effectively improve the Provinceâ€™s capacity to contribute to Continental development initiatives, and to realise the objectives of the BRICS community.
Issue 2 â€š 31
Telecommunication By Eugene Morokolo
HELLO, MR PRESIDENT Armed with a hotline to the country’s Number 1, Citizen X is taking full advantage of the open channels of communication, writes Eugene Morokolo
ntroduced amid rising public service delivery protests in 2009 throughout the country with a budget of over R20 million a year, the presidential hotline expected to be bombarded with tons of calls from unsatisfied citizens. According to the Presidency the hotline registered over 4 000 valid queries within the first week of operation. Now in its fourth year, with a claimed resolution rate of 94%, the hotline has so far received 172 291 queries and complaints. Armed with 15 call centre agents for each shift, the Presidency admits the hotline has many challenges ahead. “ We need to strengthen all levels of government complaint systems – often a focus is placed on investing in call centres and complaint systems by government departments with little attention to ensuring that sufficient resources and monitoring is in place for investigate complaints and provide feedback to
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Issue 2 â€š 33
complainants,” says Harold Maloka, spokesperson for the Presidency. Maloka says the Presidency wants to improve the use of the hotline complaints information for planning and budgeting decision-making by government. “We have started to analyse the database for key sectors, for example all complaints related to Education, so as to produce analysed information about what aspects of the business of Education citizens complain about most. This information we will make available to the relevant departments as we believe this will assist them in targeting improvements to their business.” Though Maloka reiterates the importance of the hotline, he says sometimes citizens, through what he calls “forum shopping”, make the resolution of complaints difficult. “Citizens would lodge a complaint in many complaint systems at the same time – this leads to major inefficiencies as many different agencies and departments will be investigating the same complaint at the same time.” The Presidency says government business is complex and they are continuously looking for ways to improve the manner in which they interpret and classify the complaints of citizens. “We have to update the training of call cen-
risk that government may be hasty in recording cases as resolved, whilst neglecting the quality of the resolution that we provide to the complainant. To date we have surveyed the views of more than 8 800 users of the Hotline and 57% rated their satisfaction levels from ‘Good’ to ‘Fair’.”
We are not aware of any similar system in the world, where a citizen can contact the President to draw his attention to service delivery issues.
tre agents regularly so that they understand which department the complaint should be referred to and we have to update the IT system to better classify the complaint so that the information captured is clear and detailed.” In its on-going quest to improve its service, Maloka says the Presidency has started an intensive focus on conducting satisfaction surveys – calling a sample of citizens with resolved complaints, to ask them their views about the service they received. “There is a
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Harold Maloka, spokesperson for the Presidency.
Though the Hotline has its own challenges, Maloka is quick to point out that not all is doom and gloom. According to Maloka, overall, the Hotline has revealed that citizens need avenues to voice their concerns and queries – without providing these opportunities for people to voice their concerns, government may make assumptions about how well or not it is doing. “There are many instances where a citizen complaint about one issue, for example, struggles with access to a social grant, that
resulted in a team from the Office of the Premier, the regional Home Affairs, SASSA and Social Development working together to provide a basket of service for the family including social worker support, food parcels, IDs, grants and school equipment support for the children.” Through this collaboration between different departments, officials who would not normally work together build constructive working relationships that will impact positively on other citizens who are in the same situation. According to the Presidency, the hotline is a world first and it shows how the citizens value it, just by looking at the number of calls the hotline receives. “We are not aware of any similar system in the world, where a citizen can contact the President to draw his attention to service delivery issues. In the telephone surveys done as well as radio-phoneins about the Presidential Hotline, the feedback is always that citizens value this easy access”, Maloka says. In his 2011 State of the Nation address, President Jacob Zuma said the hotline had facilitated payments in excess of R270 million to small enterprises. The Presidency says it is of the view that complaint management is a strategic matter and should be viewed as such by all government departments by reporting regularly to Cabinet on the performance of the Presidential Hotline. “We aim to ensure that the leadership of departments provides oversight of complaints management. Over the last two years, the good improvement in the performance of the Hotline is an indication of the high-level attention that complaints are receiving in departments and provinces.” When the President and Ministers plan their detailed public participation processes, they at times draw on the Presidential Hotline information to guide them as to where to go and about the nature of the concerns of citizens in different parts of the country. The Presidential Hotline has received some milestones but whether these have changed the lives of the people remains to be seen.
Issue 2 â€š 35
Technology By Eugene Morokolo
Round two of getting the province fully online proves a success as …
E-Learning takes firm root in Gauteng
hen the Gauteng provincial government cancelled the tender for the provision of e-learning services for the Gauteng Online project earlier this year, over R1 billion had already been spent on the project. In August the project underwent a strategic review and its name was then changed to e-Learning Solution to reflect the core objective of the initiative. The Gauteng Online schools project intended to build iLabs in schools and provide learners and teachers with connectivity. The renamed project has been awarded to both Huawei, which is to provide the hardware and Cloudseed, for network. While GoL was a turnkey solution offered by a single service provider, the e-Learning Solution will have structures such as Huawei Technologies providing all the tablets, each public school receiving 44 ten inch devices, a total of 88 000 tablets procured and the tablets will remain the property of the Gauteng Provincial Government.
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In terms of connectivity Cloudseed will provide the core network which will comprise of WiFi and 3G connectivity to all 2 200 provincial public schools. The company has been awarded a two-year contract but thereafter, the service will be insourced and provided by the Gauteng Broadband Network. Though the department has done the review on the project, questions surrounding the awarding of the network part of the tender to Cloudseed have been raised. Mandla Nkomfe, MEC for finance in Gauteng said the conditions for awarding the contract and stringent clauses put in place were to avoid problems experienced in the past, especially with Cloudseed. “We are aware of the challenges that confronted Cloudseed in the past but the difference with this tender is that they are not providing turnkey solution like previously; they are only a network provider and Huawei will provide hardware.” The department says with the current system 3G is not available only as back-up but that this time around we will have Wi-Fi and 3G.
Nkomfe further says that punitive clauses have been put in place with regard to non-performance. One of the clauses is that the Uptime of the network should be 95 % and anything less than that would be seen as non-performance and therefore payment would not be made. “Payments will only flow after satisfactory delivery has been met by the suppliers,” the MEC warns. More than 1.4 million learners in public schools in the Gauteng province are now said to have access to the cutting-edge technology of the Internet delivered through the Gauteng Online infrastructure. According to the department, this consolidates the project’s status as the largest Cloud Computing initiative in the African continent and one of the biggest e-learning programmes in the world. The project is one of the provincial government’s key ICT initiatives aimed at transforming Gauteng into a Smart Province. It was initiated to provide computer literacy to leaners and support the delivery of quality education by creating a sustainable e-learning environment in the classrooms so as to bridge the Digital Divide. In 2012, the Gauteng provincial government reportedly spent R1.3 billion on the Gauteng Online project. According to the provincial government, the total budget for the initiative which was first announced in 2000 is R2 billion over a five-year period. According to the department, GoL is currently operational in 1 562 schools in the province. The number of learners with GoL User IDs, Passwords and e-Mail addresses has reached 800 000, while over 40 000 educators in the province are connected to the network.
The MEC says though the department would have liked to supply each learner with a tablet but it has since proved to be impossible. “The provincial government cannot afford to supply a device to each leaner. So in future we will look at the ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) method which we think will be helpful. The amount of money to be spent on those 40 tablets per school is already too much and the department simply does not have the money” Nkomfe explained. The MEC also explained that the department has learned lessons with the previous model of leasing out equipment instead of buying them and said the department does not wish to make the same mistake “We have learned our lessons from the current model of operating lease, and after investing considerable amount of money after five years the provincial department has nothing to show for it, that is why we
Mandla Nkomfe, MEC for finance in Gauteng.
decided to purchase outright so the department will have assets.” In addition, traffic across the GoL network continues to grow and millions of Internet page requests are delivered to Users every week. “The figures demonstrate that the provincial government understands and appreciates the opportunities provided by the Internet and the impact that e-teaching, e-learning and e-education have on enhancing the delivery of quality basic education.” However with the significant advances in technology and the inclusion of curricula into the ICT environment, the physical computer laboratory (GoL’s delivery method) has become obsolete. Today computer tablets are the globally preferred method of disseminating information and curriculum content. Contacted for comment Huawei said it will not disclose any details until the project is finalised. It could only say: “Huawei is proud to be part of the E-Learning Solution for Gauteng. Huawei is committed to the enrichment of lives through communication and firmly believes in educational progress, with the aim of achieving quality education across communities. Together with the Gauteng Provincial Government, we look forward to a successful partnership which will further cultivate the educational system of South Africa.”
Issue 2 ‹ 37
Science and technology By Staff Reporter
CSIR introduces world’s first digital laser Researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have developed the world’s first digital laser. This innovation is regarded as a milestone in laser technology and could spur future laser-related innovations.
he team has shown that laser beams can be digitally controlled from within a laser device. Their findings have just been published in the renowned journal, Nature Communications, issue 4, no 2289, 2 August 2013. There is hardly a domain of our modern life which does not benefit from some form of laser technology. The domains range from devices for laser lighting displays in entertainment to office equipment such as laser printers, DVD players at home, barcode scanners in the shops, surgical technology in hospitals or devices to cut and weld industrial materials in factories. “This groundbreaking development is further evidence of the great potential we have in scientific innovation – that the world’s first digital laser should come from our country is testimony to the calibre of scientists that South Africa has,” says Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Derek Hanekom. Laser devices normally consist of mirrors, energy (light) and a casing containing a medium, for example crystal or glass. The medium changes the frequency of the light to create a laser beam with the perfect characteristics for these different applications. In conventional lasers, the shape of the light that comes out is either not controlled at all, or a single shape is
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selected by expensive optics. For example, when a medical doctor undertakes surgery, the beam must be appropriate for precision-cutting. Alternatively, the laser light can be shaped after exiting the laser using a spatial light modulator – a liquid crystal display (LCD) that can be digitally addressed with grey-scale images representing the desired change to the light. The CSIR team has demonstrated for the first time that this can all be done inside the laser. “Our digital laser uses the LCD as one of its mirrors that is fitted at one end of the laser cavity. Just as with LCD televisions, the LCD inside the laser can be sent pictures to display. When the pictures change on the LCD inside, the properties of the laser beams that exit the device change accordingly,” says Prof Andrew Forbes, leader of the mathematical optics research group. The researchers have shown that this allows a purely digital control of what comes out of the laser (laser modes) in real-time, hence the name ‘digital laser’. “We showed that by sending an appropriate picture to the LCD, any desired laser beam could be created inside the laser device. This is a significant advancement from the traditional approach to laser beam control, which requires costly optics and realignment of the laser device for every beam
change. Since this is all done with pictures, the digital laser represents a paradigm shift for laser resonators,” says Forbes. In a ground-breaking experiment at the CSIR’s laboratories in Pretoria, the team programmed the LCD to play a video of a selection of images representing a variety of desired laser modes. The result was that the laser output changed in real-time from one mode shape to another. “The dynamic control of laser modes could open up many future applications, from communications to medicine. Our device represents a new way of thinking about laser technology and we see it as a new platform on which future technologies may be built,” says Forbes. CSIR Researcher Sandile Ngcobo, who conducted the breakthrough experimental work as part of his PhD studies, believes the significance of the research is to demonstrate the ability within the CSIR to lead innovation in this field. “I believe the digital laser will be a ‘disruptive’ technology. This is technology which may change the status quo and which could create new markets and value networks within the next few years or decade. The research into the digital laser continues. It adds to the CSIR’s strong track record in the development of laser technology in mathematical optics,” says Ngcobo.
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Issue 2 ‹ 39
Indigenous knowledge systems take positive strides to accelerate growth
n an effort to promote the role of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) in the country, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) created a national office for IKS in 2006. This followed the adoption of the IKS Policy by Cabinet in November 2004. The National Indigenous Knowledge Systems Office (NIKSO) seeks to pro-
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mote and develop research, development and innovation in IKS for improved quality of life. NIKSO’s activities support the DST’s goals by focusing on the development of the innovation capacity of IKS in the National System of Innovation through enhancing knowledge generation and developing appropriate and unique
All these efforts are focused on providing an appropriate regulatory and policy environment, interfacing IKS with other knowledge systems
human capital for related fields. All these efforts are focused on providing an appropriate regulatory and policy environment, interfacing IKS with other knowledge systems, and providing an appropriate accreditation and certification system for indigenous knowledge (IK) holders and a bioprospecting and product development plat-
form. Commenting on the achievements to date, Prof. Yonah Seleti, the Chief Director of NIKSO, cited the establishment of IKS Research Chairs in Traditional Medicines and Knowledge Systems at the Universities of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) and South Africa (UNISA) and Walter Sisulu University. The key
objective of the chairs is to interface IKS with other knowledge systems, with a special emphasis on research, development, innovation and knowledge production. Thus far, the UKZN Research Chair has established an African Traditional Medicines Laboratory, which is contributing to the South African health system through research in HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, cancer and diabetes. “IKS promotes the role of IKS in national research and development programmes aimed at strengthening their contribution to science, technology and innovation,” said the Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom. Success is further evidenced by the establishment of IKS laboratories in an initiative known as the IKS Lead Programme at the Medical Research Council. The programme was established to promote IKS through research and development by making it a valued health model in the global environment and also to redress health traditions, which until now have neglected health research priorities and issues. Reinforcing the importance of having laboratories for advancing IKS through research, Prof. Seleti said the DST had, over the years, successful-
Issue 2 ‹ 41
ly partnered and supported biosciences laboratories at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the University of Pretoria, the University of the Witwatersrand and the Agricultural Research Council. Masterâ€™s, PhD and postdoctoral studies are supported in these laboratories. These activities are part of bioprospecting and product development consortia, namely, African Traditional Medicines, Cosmeceuticals (the combination of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals) and Nutraceuticals (products derived from food sources that provide extra health benefits). In the past seven years, the consortia have been working on over 20 products for priority conditions like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and diabetes.
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The cosmeceutical flagship has successfully patented four products – antihair loss, anti-wrinkle, skin tone-evener and a sun-screen. These products are ready for commercialisation. Leading cosmetics industries in South Africa and internationally are eager to add these to their product range. The nutraceutical flagship has over seven indigenous vegetable products whose nutritional contents were determined and ready for commercialisation with both local and international food manufacturers. The product range includes three indigenous health teas rich in antioxidants and other health benefits. In addition to the other policy instruments, the DST’s National Research and Development Strategy also recognis-
es IK as one of the scientific areas where South Africa has a competitive knowledge advantage. In line with this strategy, the DST’s goal of interfacing our indigenous philosophies and methodologies with those of modern science will hopefully contribute to the development of a unique set of graduates, committed to developing the social, environmental, cultural and economic health of communities. It is within this context that the Department has identified curriculum development as key to mainstreaming indigenous knowledge on the educational landscape. This is what informs the development and registration of the four-year Bachelor of IKS degree, covering a range of streams. Science, technology and innovation are key to the
realisation of the policy imperatives of IKS in Human Resource Development. The first intake of twenty students was registered this year at North West University. The University of Venda will commence registration of students in the 2014 academic year. This commitment reflects the importance that the government places on the need for continued investment in developing youth. Another notable achievement is the development of the National Recordal System (NRS). Launched in May 2013, in Moruleng, North West, the NRS is the region’s largest initiative, using cutting-edge technology unique to South Africa to document and record IKS. This knowledge is collected at grassroots level and is a valuable resource to help improve our understanding of how local and indigenous communities can empower themselves and manage their own development. The knowledge gathered from local and indigenous communities throughout the country will be catalogued, validated and used by researchers in innovations that will benefit, firstly, the communities themselves, and, secondly, the National System of Innovation and society as a whole. Substantial work has been completed over the past four years. The NRS comprises five IKS Documentation Centres (IKSDCs), which serve as hubs to facilitate the documentation of IK in rural and local communities in five provinces (Limpopo, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and the Free State). These entries include claims on food security and African traditional medicines. It is envisaged that by 2015/16 all nine provinces will host an IKSDC that will facilitate the capturing, cataloguing, validation, preservation and dissemination of indigenous knowledge in participating communities Minister Hanekom has expressed confidence in these initiatives, saying that indigenous knowledge innovation and technology will increasingly influence the pace of development and determine the economic strength of countries, especially of developing countries.
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