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.