Arthur Goldstuck has written a thoughtful piece on the newly appointed South African Minister of Communications, Siphiwe Nyanda, and his new deputy Dina Pule. He does a good job of highlighting their key strengths and weaknesses.
Based on their lack of experience in the telecom sector, much will depend on who they choose to be advised by. Good legal, economic, and technology advisors could make all the difference. I think this will make the campaign for a national broadband strategy all the more important in terms of getting a clear message from civil society through to the Department.
Optimistically, one might argue that neither Siphiwe nor Dina have “history” with the incumbents. This might bode well for real change.
Certainly, empowering ICASA to move more quickly and decisively on things like interconnect fees would be a great first step. Please, let us have a well-funded, fully independent regulator.
Worth considering also are the other key overlapping ministries that will have an impact on telecoms. The Department of Public Enterprises (Barbara Hogan) would be an obvious one although she may be too busy saving SAA to afford much time for ICT infrastructure.
But most significant I think will be the new planning ministry. If broadband is ever to take off in South Africa, it will need to be recognised at the level of an integrated national economic strategic plan. If that can be achieved, then I think there is hope for the DoC to move forward with a mandate for change.’