Government needs to review its policies and legislation on Information Communications Technology (ICT) to ensure that all South Africans have universal affordability and access to communications services.
Yunus Carrim wants SA's ICT policies to be more inclusive. Image: GCIS
Government also needs policy and legislation reforms to ensure that it is not left behind in terms of telecommunications, broadcasting and broadband technologies.
Speaking at a conference on the national integrated ICT policy Green Paper, Communications Minister Yunus Carrim invited conference delegates to make comments on the Green Paper. He also invited members of the public to do the same when public hearings resume on Friday (7 March) for a six-week period.
"As pointed out already, the rapid development of technology as well as the creation of a hyper-connected society brings with it the risks of creating additional inequalities between the haves and have-nots," said Carrim.
"With technology evolving at an exponential pace and becoming integrated into so many aspects of our daily lives, it is vital that the right ICT policies be in place to ensure that progress brought about by technology does not leave the poor behind," he added.Green Paper
He said the government needs to respond to this challenge by ensuring that poor people reap the benefits of technological improvements and that they can afford these communications services.
The Green Paper - a draft document that allows for public consultation on policy proposals - will lead to the formation of a White Paper, which will provide a framework for major amendments to ICT legislation.
The Minister said that connectivity and technology were vital for economic growth as these would reduce the cost of doing business and lead to job creation.
He said that the new policies must be located within the context of the New Growth Path and the National Development Plan (NDP).
The NDP states that by 2030, ICT will underpin the development of a dynamic and connected information society and a vibrant knowledge economy that is more inclusive and prosperous.
"Statistics SA (Stats SA) reported in 2012 that ICT contributed 6% to the country's gross domestic product," Cassim said.
He said global financial institutions, like the World Bank, had published a positive outlook on economic growth for the African continent, more particularly sub-Saharan Africa, but said this developed relied on governments investing in economic infrastructure, with a focus on reliable connectivity.
"Better government co-ordination in terms of integrated development of infrastructure is critical in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth by 2030," he said.