Information and Communications Technology Policy
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is vital to the development and wellbeing of all who live, work and play in South Africa. It enables us to contribute to, share in and benefit from the opportunities of a dynamically networked world. It is the nervous system that opens up new horizons as it:
- connects people to education, jobs, opportunities and each other;
- sparks innovation in product and enterprise development;
- enables citizens and government to interact effectively;
- ensures that the economy has the tools to better interact with customers locally and abroad;
- facilitates the provision of basic services such as education, health and policing; and
- supports the creative and cultural activities that define us.
“ICT is a critical enabler of economic activity in an increasingly networked world.” National Development Plan, 2012
South Africa is uniquely poised to become a leader in ICT for Development (ICT4D) and delivering solutions to challenges that inhibit Africa and the developing world. We also have the talent, insight and experience to develop, produce and deliver world-class innovative products and services on a global stage,
Technological advances continue to break down traditional boundaries between people, businesses and nations by making it easier to engage, to exchange information, to transact and to deliver services. Those nations that fall behind on a technological level will be increasingly left out of the loop as they become, by comparison, too cumbersome and time consuming to interact with. They risk being excluded from the interconnected world community.
To position South Africa as a healthy, effective, enterprising nation we must use ICT to:
- Educate every child and adult to fulfil their potential as engaged citizens;
- Ensure that the ICT infrastructure, the devices that access it and the services conveyed on it are affordable, competitive, reliable, efficient and readily available;
- Incentivise and regulate the ICT market to ensure affordable and competitive provision and access to these communications networks, tools and services throughout South Africa;
- Incentivise and encourage development of ideas into internationally competitive, marketable products and services, job-creating entrepreneurship and business opportunities throughout the country;
- Deliver citizen-centric services that address everyday needs including health care, education, government transactions and interactions;
- Provide platforms for communication between all who live in South Africa;
- Facilitate and protect efficient and profitable commercial activity both locally and abroad, and
- Engage with citizens in the formulation of policy and developing systems that continually improve government responsiveness to their needs
For South Africans to trade, collaborate, participate, educate and entertain, our ICT infrastructure and services must provide reliable high-speed, real-time, on-line interaction over multiple networks in an international working environment that supports the transmission of vast volumes of data to and from South African users, transmits bandwidth hungry multi-media content and supports the big data needs of multinational enterprises whose information processing needs cross national boundaries, time zones and regulatory regimes.
To give all South Africans access to the benefits of such services, the DA will rely on both (i) a market-driven approach in which we create an enabling environment for the delivery of ICT infrastructure, services and content by the private sector, and (ii) a developmental approach in which the state will play a role in facilitating access to infrastructure and services in under-serviced areas and promoting content that serves developmental needs.
The level of state involvement in promoting universal access to ICT services will be determined by the maturity of the market, the level of competition and the extent to which universal access has been achieved.
Towards 2029: The DA’s 5-Point “Jobs” Plan for Economic Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity
“We are not yet free… We have merely achieved the freedom to be free.” – Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (1995)
For too many South Africans, the political freedom achieved in 1994 has not been matched with economic freedom. The fact that one out of every four South Africans does not have a job is the clearest and most devastating expression of this lack of economic freedom.
The unemployed are unfree. And so we need to prioritise jobs as a passport to freedom.
Unemployment fuels poverty and inequality. Currently, more than four out of every ten South Africans live below the poverty line. Ours remains one of the most unequal societies in the world.
The legacy of apartheid casts a long shadow. It continues to hold back many black South Africans from enjoying equal access to economic opportunities. It is one of the main structural causes of poverty and inequality. That is why the DA supports measures to redress the legacy of the past, provided they broaden opportunities beyond an elite band of beneficiaries and promote growth and jobs.
Yet, even in spite of the legacy of apartheid, we should be much further down the road towards economic freedom. Since 1994, one of the biggest obstacles in our way has been the failure of the economy to create enough jobs. High levels of unemployment fuel poverty and inequality. In fact, they are the root cause of almost all of our overlapping economic, social and political problems.
According to the Centre for Development and Enterprise, by some measures, South Africa’s unemployment crisis is the deepest in the world. Almost no other country in the world is as bad at creating jobs as South Africa. In developing countries like India and Mexico, on average, 60% of adults are employed. In South Africa, the figure is around 40%.
Our unemployment rate is 26% under the “narrow” definition of those actively looking for work, and 36% under the “expanded” definition that includes discouraged jobseekers. This is extremely high by international standards.
Youth are the worst affected.
Statistics South Africa calculates the unemployment rate among youth between the ages of 15 and 24 at 63%. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Risks report, South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 in the world, along with Greece and Spain, at 50%.
According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, our overall unemployment rate is substantially higher than those of Brazil and Russia (6% each), India (9%), and China (4%). Although it is roughly the same as Greece’s (25%), our unemployment rate comes on the back of five years of tepid economic growth, whereas Greece’s comes on the back of five years of economic recession.
No country can create jobs or include more people in the economy without economic growth. This insight informs The DA’s Plan for Growth and Jobs, first published in July 2012, and updated in 2014.
Our Plan aims to create the conditions for the South African economy to grow at 8% by:
- Providing policy direction and coherence on the economy;
- Managing public money better;
- Increasing investment and savings;
- Supporting redress measures to broaden participation in the economy; and,
- Boosting trade with other countries, especially our African neighbours, so that businesses can grow and create jobs.
The extent to which people are able to use the opportunities available is dependent on how easily they are able to move around their towns, their cities and their country. Apartheid left South Africa with a fragmented spatial framework that institutionalised salient aspects of race-based disadvantage. When individuals cannot move around freely and easily, their access to economic opportunities is impaired.
South Africa has a well-developed road network, but it is deteriorating, particularly outside metropolitan areas and national roads. Our rail network is also extensive but poor management of this sector means there are fewer and fewer trains. Taxis are cheap, but often unsafe and poorly controlled. The subsidisation of buses has not kept pace with inflation, and the state of subsidised bus services is rapidly deteriorating. Thus individual life chances and national goals are both constrained. A DA government will work to address these constraints and create a seamless, well managed and affordable transport network.
South Africa’s abundant natural resources and the variety of its cultures and local traditions gives it unique appeal as a tourism destination – truly offering a “World in One” to local and international tourists.
The tourism industry has the capacity to create various types of employment opportunities on a large scale – from the most specialised to the unskilled. It is labour intensive, has low barriers to entry for prospective entrepreneurs, it can contribute significantly to the economic potential of rural areas and has strong backward and forward linkages that create economic opportunities in the broader economy.
Current estimates indicate that the tourism sector contributes around R309 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) – 11% of GDP. One in every eleven South Africans is involved in the tourism industry. Tourism employs more people than the mining and automotive industries, contributing around 10.3% to total employment in 2012. In 2012 more than 21.5 million domestic tourists spent around R100 billion, with international visitors spending R84 billion during their travels.
It is conservatively estimated that 1 new job opportunity is created for every 16.1 international tourist arrivals.
The tourism industry can therefore be a key contributor in delivering an Open Opportunity Society for All, to grow the economy, to create jobs and to promote social equity. By bringing South Africans from different backgrounds into contact and conversation with each other, tourism can also play an important role in reconciliation.
South Africa should be the number one tourism destination in Africa and one of the top 20 tourism destinations in the world.
The DA believes that South Africa’s attractiveness as a tourism destination, the competitiveness of our tourism industry and its potential as a vehicle for reconciliation can be boosted by:
- Establishing a macro-economic environment that is conducive to investment and growth;
- Encouraging greater involvement by entrepreneurs and prioritising tourism in support programmes for small business development;
- Supporting the tourism industry with research and information that can help them tailor their products and services to market demands;
- Putting in place the necessary transport and other infrastructure to connect visitors to tourism sites;
- Clarifying the roles of tourism industry stakeholders and maintaining platforms for constructive interaction; and
- Promoting tourism as a career choice and facilitating skills development to ensure that the industry has access to the human resources it needs to succeed.
The most fundamental challenge facing South Africa today is that too few people are employed. The DA believes that high barriers to entry in the labour market exclude millions of South Africans from accessing employment opportunities.
The DA believes that high barriers to entry in the labour market exclude millions of South Africans from accessing employment opportunities.
These barriers relate to two things: (i) Our country’s inflexible labour regime, and (ii) the failure of the education system to equip South African job-seekers with marketable skills.
Labour policy must balance the protection of workers rights with the need to build greater flexibility into our labour market to make it easier for businesses to create jobs. If this balance is not achieved, labour policy is protecting the employed at the expense of the unemployed.
Labour policy must balance the protection of workers rights with the need to build greater flexibility into our labour market to make it easier for businesses to create jobs.
Labour policy on its own will, however, not be sufficient to create the number of jobs South Africa needs to establish a truly inclusive economy.
Appropriate labour regulation must be accompanied by an economic policy that stimulates growth, an education and skills development system that empowers job seekers for labour market participation in a changing global economic landscape and social policies that facilitate access to job opportunities. Our labour policy will therefore be implemented in the context of our broader economic platform, the Plan for Growth and Jobs as well as the DA’s policies on basic and higher education.
In an Open Opportunity Society for All government will strive to create circumstances that allow each and every citizen that so wishes to be skilled for labour market participation and to actively participate in the economy in accordance with his or her desires.
The energy sector plays a dual role in growing economies. It contributes to growth and creates jobs through the activities involved in extracting and distributing energy to the economy, and it underpins growth in the rest of the economy as a key input in nearly all goods and services1.
In fact, since the industrial revolution, economic growth in countries around the world has been closely correlated with an increase in the utilisation of energy.
“Energy is the lifeblood of the global economy – a crucial input to nearly all of the goods and services of the modern world. Stable, reasonably priced energy supplies are central to maintaining and improving the living standards of billions of people.” (World Economic Forum, 2012)
In South Africa, the development of our economy has historically been driven by what is termed a Minerals-Energy complex, where cheap electricity has facilitated the exploitation of our country’s vast mineral reserves. Cheap electricity was in fact one of South Africa’s major competitive advantages in the past and as a result we have built up an extremely energy intensive economy.
Historic underinvestment in energy infrastructure has both (i) undermined the affordability of electricity in South Africa, and (ii) created a situation where our economic expansion is constrained by insufficient and unreliable electricity supply.
In addition to these challenges, the energy sector is overly reliant on coal for its primary feedstock. This has devastating consequences on our local and global environment. South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions are on par with that of highly developed economies and our per capita emissions are amongst the highest in the world. In addition, our current overreliance on coal has led to a number of local environmental problems such as Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and local air and water pollution.
South Africa is thus in a situation where it simultaneously needs to:
- Contain escalating energy prices;
- Expand energy generating capacity; and
- Reduce our reliance on coal, which has historically allowed for the generation of relatively cheap electricity in South Africa.
Economic Inclusion Policy
The 1994 democratic transition was a foundational step in creating an open political society. It was a time when the freedoms denied to the nation’s majority under apartheid were first brought to life and then confirmed in a globally admired Constitution.
Yet the goal of finding economic inclusion remains as elusive today as it was in 1994. The legacy of past discrimination and the reality of lost opportunities over the last 20 years continue to leave many South Africans excluded from economic opportunities.
The legislated denial of opportunities to the nation’s majority is reflected in high levels of poverty, persistent inequality and an economy unable to reach its potential because it excludes a large part of our population.
Along with most, the DA believes that measures to redress the injustices of the past are necessary. This is reflected in the core values underlying DA policy and our approach to government, in which we focus on Reconciliation, Redress, Diversity and Delivery.
We must consider how, in the light of our country’s history of discrimination and entrenched inequality, we can best achieve maximum economic inclusion within a reasonable time frame.
Some redress measures have universal support. Most people agree that sustained economic growth is essential to create job opportunities and that excellent education is needed to enable people to improve their lives. This is why, in government, our top empowerment priority must be to fix public education and create jobs through economic growth.
The question is whether the government has a role to play in economic inclusion beyond creating conditions for growth and improved education.
The controversy around this question often focuses on the tool that was chosen to encourage businesses to support economic inclusion, and specifically the process of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), the preferential procurement framework that supports it and the way in which it has been implemented.
There is growing agreement that empowerment which focuses primarily on the transfer of ownership in businesses has done little to change the economic circumstances of the majority of people disadvantaged by apartheid. South Africans are becoming increasingly frustrated with empowerment efforts that have facilitated the transfer of lucrative shares to a small number of politically connected individuals who have become very rich without starting new enterprises, adding new value, or creating new jobs. The current approach to empowerment has not yet helped to overcome the real obstacles to black advancement in South Africa.
The groundswell of discontent at the enrichment of a small elite to the exclusion of others necessitated significant changes in the manner in which BEE is approached. The government sought to re-brand the programme as Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE), and introduced a scorecard to stimulate investment by the business community in a broad range of empowerment measures, including skills development, enterprise development and social investment.
The DA believes that the B-BBEE scorecard provides a framework of incentives that would facilitate economic inclusion and help to redress apartheid’s legacy.
Our approach hinges on one simple question: Does an empowerment initiative broaden opportunity for disadvantaged people? Or does it seek to manipulate outcomes for the politically connected? We support empowerment that broadens opportunity. We reject schemes for crony enrichment.
Our policy on economic inclusion is based on these principles:
- Without the expansion of opportunities, inclusion is relegated to a zero-sum game in which the empowerment of some individuals or groups come at a cost to others. The DA believes that to have an inclusive society, government must focus its policy interventions on expanding economic opportunities and creating jobs through growth.
- Economic growth requires policy certainty, clean government, excellent education, appropriate skills-training, effective health care, and the reliable and efficient delivery of other basic services. This means government has a central role to play in creating conditions to achieve rapid, sustained economic growth and laying the groundwork for redress.
- To achieve meaningful redress, economic outsiders must be empowered to take up available economic opportunities. In addition to providing excellent education and access to basic services, this means that the government must work to ensure that entrepreneurs have access to the information they need to make informed economic decisions, that they are able to build up a capital base to leverage in economic activity and that they operate in a regulatory framework that protects and promotes their interests.
- We recognise the need to promote economic inclusion with a specific focus on previously disadvantaged individuals who faced legislated and institutionally organized exclusion.
- As outlined in the DA’s Plan for Growth and Jobs, targeted interventions can be used to overcome economic inequality, including direct support for job creation, broadening ownership by distributing shares in state-owned enterprises to ordinary South Africans, promoting charitable giving by reforming the tax system and promoting transparency in executive pay.
- The business community can play a pivotal role in promoting economic inclusion and broad-based economic empowerment. We support the use of an appropriate empowerment scorecard linked to the procurement system as a tool to promote business practice that supports economic inclusion and broad-based economic empowerment.
- We support an empowerment framework that rewards economically inclusive and true broad-based empowerment. To achieve this, we believe the scorecard must be amended to ensure that empowerment passes the test of broadening opportunity. The scorecard must bring about empowerment that: (i) is genuinely broad-based; (ii) promotes economic inclusion; (iii) recognises business contributions to education and skills-training; (iv) encourages the growth of new businesses; (v) supports job creation; and (vi) introduces what is known as ‘equity equivalents’ to encourage a range of positive contributions to economic growth and opportunities for all.
Our approach to empowerment will help to overcome the legacy of race-based exclusion without entrenching ‘race’ as the determining factor of our future, so that we can build an open opportunity society for all. In this, we retain our vision of a non-racial society whilst recognising the need for a transitional phase in which race-based redress is used to overcome the racial legacy of apartheid.
The success or failure of our redress programme will be measured by the opportunities that have been created for black advancement, such as equality of education, improved literacy and numeracy, decreased inequality, poverty reduction, youth employment, participation in the jobs market, and the expansion of ownership in the economy.
Agriculture is a fundamentally important part of the South African economy. Although it contributes less than 3% to the country’s GDP it accounts for almost 10% of the country’s formal sector employment.
“There are signs that world leaders are beginning to understand that agricultural development is a prerequisite for the development of a country’s economy.” – Prof Patrick Wall, University of Dublin
The contribution of the agricultural sector to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has decreased from 9.1% in 1965, to around 3% in 1994 and less than 2% in 2012.
The significance of agriculture is enhanced by its large linkages with other sectors. This means that growth in agriculture leads to growth in other areas of the economy. Physical output in the agricultural industry increased from around 18 million metric tons in 1975 to 28 million tons in 2006. This absolute increase in volume, though not visible as a direct contribution to GDP, has played a significant role in the development of the country’s manufacturing sector. Approximately 70% agricultural outputs are used as intermediate products by the food, beverage and textile sector.
Agriculture is also a major earner of foreign exchange. South Africa is still a net exporter of primary agricultural products, exporting agricultural, fisheries and forestry products to the value of more than R60 billion in 2012. The country is, however, increasingly an importer of processed agricultural products, with specifically the import of processed meat and fish products increasing significantly and the overall gap between imports and exports continuing to decrease.
South Africa also has potential for the meaningful expansion of agricultural production if the potentially arable soil in communal land in high rainfall areas in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and Mpumalanga can be brought into full production. This can significantly enhance the contribution of the agricultural sector to job-creating growth.
As it is one of very few sectors that can employ large numbers of unskilled labour, the National Development Plan marks agriculture as a key job creator, proposing that it can create close to one million jobs by 20304. Whilst agriculture has historically been a major employer, that role is diminishing. Calculations by the South African Institute of Race Relations show that the agricultural sector has shed 331 000 jobs over the past 12 years, with the number of farm workers declining from 969 000 in 2000 to 638 000 in 2012. Agriculture will thus lose its capacity for job creation if the growth of the sector is not supported.
Agriculture has a number of features that make it a unique catalyst for development and poverty reduction. These features include its role in stimulating economic activity, supporting livelihoods and providing environmental services. GDP growth originating from the agricultural sector is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth originating from other sectors of the economy.
Making agriculture more effective in supporting growth, creating jobs and reducing poverty requires a favourable socio-economic climate, adequate governance, sound macro-economic fundamentals and supportive policies.