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South Africa seeks utility classification for broadband

January 31, 2022

By Chris Forrester

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is being urged by the government’s Economic Advisory Council to designate the provision of fibre broadband as a utility in order to ensure access by the nation’s poor and more rural parts of the country.

The president is expected to make a ‘state of the nation’ speech on February 10th.

“Go where there is no fibre,” the Council has stated. “There is a need to prioritise areas with limited communal and household access to connectivity, which are primarily the poorer municipal areas in many of the country’s rural provinces.”

The Advisory Council says that by designating fibre as a municipal service would allow private participation via a public/private scheme and where the private sector did not find an installation profitable. “This could also possibly be a revenue source for municipalities,” the Council stated in its note to the president.

“There is also scope in these areas, within the roll-out and under the auspices of the Presidential Employment Initiative, for the ‘design’ of municipal-level public employment programmes to have an embedded digital economy element, such as training work seekers in digital networking, backend Wi-Fi management, and portal and design skills,” added the Advisory Council.

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