South Africa plans own satellite
June 9, 2022
By Colin Mann
South Africa is ready to launch its own satellite to enhance the reach of broadband connectivity in the country, according to Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minster of Communications and Digital Technologies.
Speaking at the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2022 in a Partner to Connect session, she told delegates that South Africa was implementing a Broadband Connectivity drive through a programme called South Africa (SA) Connect, whose goal of is to ensure that all South Africans have access to the Internet by 2024.
Four initiatives drive the programme, she advised.
“One: The Social Obligations linked to the successful auction of the spectrum which did not only raise U$ 1 billion for our national fiscus but the mobile operators will spend not less than R17 billion (equivalent to 1.3 billion US dollars) to connect all public schools, health facilities, public libraries, government service centres and traditional authorities by end June 2025,” she stated.
“Two: Connecting Government by ensuring that outstanding government sites are connected by end March 2024, this target is critical for our programme to digitalise government. The digitalisation programme aims to have 80 per cent of our citizen-facing services to be online by 2025, with government planning to go paperless by end March 2023,” she reported.
“Three: Connecting Communities by connecting over 33,000 community Wi-Fi hotspots that will provide Internet service to more than 5.8 million households. With the rapid growth of Wi-Fi in complementing and off-loading mobile data traffic from fixed broadband, there is a growing need for the ITU to consider more protection of spectrum use for Wi-Fi services, including possible licensing of Wi-fi spectrum. The broadband connectivity programme will be implemented through emerging and Small and Medium Enterprises such as Internet service providers, wireless access providers and mobile virtual network operators. Our intention is to create a new technology industry. For this programme, the South African government will invest over US$161 million (R2.5 billion) over a 36 months period,” she confirmed.
“Four: Satellite for communication services to enhance the reach of our broadband connectivity, South Africa is now ready to launch its own satellite. The satellite will address both media and broadband connectivity objectives and will entrench our technology and data sovereignty,” she asserted.
According to Ntshavheni, the SA Connect programme will be complemented by a robust programme to modernise the nation’s networks in partnership with industry, which entails the full deployment of 4G and 5G networks by 2025. “To enable this, we will shut down 2G and 3G networks over the same period and this financial year, we will commence with the prohibition of the importation and distribution in South Africa of 2G devices,” she advised.
In conclusion, she said the most fundamental requirement for a digital world is access to broadband connectivity by all, irrespective of geographic location and economic standing. “South Africa is fully committed to this, and it is for this reason that we seek your support for the re-election to the ITU Council and the Radio Regulatory Board.”