South African National Broadband Forum

At a Glance:
What is it? The South African National Broadband Forum is an attempt to establish affordable broadband access as a national strategic priority in South Africa.
  • created an online petition for a national strategic framework for a broadband strategy
  • established a web2.0-enabled feedback mechanism to facilitate public comment on the draft national broadband policy
  • met with representatives of the Department of Communications to present comments and feedback on the draft broadband policy
What I’ve been saying My initial post about the SANBF
What others are saying See extensive news coverage below.
What’s coming in 2010?
  • we continue to seize opportunities to put broadband on the political agenda
  • we explore the possibility of bringing policy-makers from Brazil, India, Malaysia to compare national broadband investment strategies in high-level workshop
Where to find out more Visit for more information.
Over the last five years, developed countries have taken steps to invest in broadband as a driver of economic development. In South Africa we have pursued a number of strategies to promote affordable broadband. While these have yet to deliver, we are on the cusp of major broadband infrastructure roll-out.

A 2009 World Bank report has analysed the impact of broadband on growth in 120 countries from 1980 to 2006, showing that each 10 percentage points of broadband penetration results in 1.21% increase in per capita GDP growth in developed countries, and 1.38% increase in developing countries. Investing in broadband is an investment in economic growth and development.

Broadband is not only an issue of high-speed networks, it also provides a platform for interactive technologies that enable ordinary people to produce, share and distribute content on the Web. These technologies are likely to become as ubiquitous on mobile devices as they are on the internet. This poses challenges and opportunities for local content industries to generate and distribute content for a broadband world.

Broadband can help South Africans face the challenges posed by rapid climate change through providing opportunities for economic growth in ways that have a smaller ecological footprint, and by helping citizens and communities, researchers and advocacy groups access and exchange relevant information. Development of new broadband infrastructure can play a powerful leadership role by making use of renewable energy sources from the outset.

Broadband can also help facilitate e-citizenship and e-governance and enhance relations between citizens and government to build and strengthen our democracy.

Broadband internet has enormous potential for strengthening community voice in public debate and decision-making and in maintaining transparency and accountability by government.

Broadband enables an array of interactive, participatory, skill-building opportunities for young people, which are completely aligned with outcomes-based education – it teaches learners how to be critical, analytical, communicative, and how to work in a group.

Without access to affordable broadband, South African youth are faced with unequal access to the opportunities, experience, skills and knowledge that will prepare them for full participation in the economy.

Broadband penetration in South Africa lags behind countries with a similar level of development such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Turkey. South Africa has fallen into fourth place in internet penetration in Africa, which is a shocking position for the continent’s biggest economy.

One of the reasons for this is that there hasn’t been a coherent policy framework to guide the development of broadband. The election of a new government on 22 April 2009 provided an opportunity to look at the policy framework with fresh eyes and to consider the inter-related components needed to develop a coherent national broadband strategy.

National Broadband Strategy in the Press

Broadband Policy: Your input needed – MyBroadband – 23 September, 2009
National broadband policy a top DoC priority – MyBroadband – 12 June, 2009
Broadband plans more ‘complicated’ – – 14 May 2009
New govt should take fresh look at broadband policy framework –
Engineering News – 21 April
Internet petition calls for open telecoms – Neotel News – 21
April  (Neotel have deleted this article)
Broadband ideas for new minister – – April 21
New Broadband Policy Framework – Africa News – April 20
Broadband on agenda for new government – – April
4 Mbps broadband for all – – April 17
Internet access should be priority for new government –
IT-Online  – April 17
Forum aims for national broadband access by 2014 – Business
Call for a National Broadband Strategy for South Africa on
SANGONeT’s press release
Shuttleworth Foundation press release
APC Press Release on launch of draft framework for a national
broadband strategy for South Africa