12 February 2024, City Hall, Cape Town

Madam Speaker, Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula,
President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Matamela Cyril
Deputy President Paul Mashatile,
Colleagues in the Executive and Members of Parliament during this Joint
Premiers of our Provinces,
Members of the media;

Most importantly, the people of South Africa who celebrate 30 years of democracy this year.

Allow me to commence my debate by commemorating today as it is a day set aside to recognise World Radio Day. Our history is closely linked to this medium, it has for decades promoted culture and diversity while remaining most accessible to our people.

When the President delivered, what I would pronounce as the most blissful State of the Nation Address in the absence of our rowdy neighbours on Thursday evening, he demonstrated that South Africa is a much better country than what it was in 1994.

We are essentially Tintswalos, all of us.

The ANC-led government has accomplished much in its pursuit for a peaceful, united, non-racist, non-sexist, and democratic state. This has, in many ways, created a conducive environment for each one of us to thrive and exercise freedom of speech even in this Parliament today. But to those who wish to deny this truth. The voice of Tintswalo in you testifies against you.

The African National Congress has fundamentally altered the socioeconomic conditions of our people.

Mr President,

The phenomenal connectivity and internet penetration from a mere 21,1% in 2011 to a staggering 79% in 2022 has elevated our people in this rapidly changing world which is driven by digital technologies. Mr Yamkela Mgugudo, an entrepreneur selling chicken in Mount Ayliff in the Alfred Nzo District, a district declared the poorest district in South Africa, experienced significant growth in his business after being connected to affordable broadband by Lockshin WiFi, a local ISP participating in the rollout of the government broadband project called SA Connect.

A practical case in point is the community of eMaxesibeni (Mount Ayliff) in the Umzimvubu Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape, where we recently connected the surrounding villages to the internet at an incredibly affordable rate of R5 a day per 1 Gbps, and as little as R250 a month on an unlimited package.

Because of the real impact this connectivity has had in the lives of our people, we want to connect rural and township areas in the following manner:

  • 5.5 million Households enabled by 32055 WIFI Hotspots in the next 3 to 4 years.
  • 1.5 million Households enabled by 8415 WIFI Hotspots by December 2024.
  • 747 000 Households enabled by 4250 WIFI Hotspots by the end of THIS financial year.

Madam Speaker, we can report that to date, a coverage of 361 000 Households which has been enabled by 2502 WIFI Hotspots has been achieved.

The work that has been done and will continue being done will involve 76 Internet Service Providers which are SMMEs. This will result in 4500 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs and opportunities downstream.

Madam Speaker,

The dawn of this democracy birthed opportunities for telecommunications, and today, it is a multimillion-rand industry because of this ANC-led government.

We are happy to report that we have completed the most important part of the Digital Migration process. We have freed the spectrum above 700MHz for use by mobile operators. It is that spectrum that will connect public institutions and deploy 4G and 5G throughout our country.

Working with the private sector thus far all 8 Metros have been connected to fibre, and we are expanding to more towns.

We have as part of our implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on 4IR, embarked on several digital infrastructure projects to ensure transformation through access in a changing world.

Cabinet approved the Next Generation Spectrum Policy for economic development on 25 November 2023.

Working with our mobile operators, we will connect over 21 878 public basic education institutions, health centres and clinics, public libraries, and offices/ residences of traditional leaders to the internet, over the next 3 years.

4G Connection is expanding to township and rural areas under the democracy ka Tata Rolihlahla Mandela.

ICT is a great equalizer. Everyone in South Africa must and will access modern digital technologies.

A digitally disconnected South Africa automatically removes itself from participating in the global community of the future. The social and economic impact of which will be catastrophic. Mr President,

Through the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), we have developed a National e-Government Portal (www.eservices.gov.za) with 92 digitized government services. This past year, the digitised services have attracted utilization of close to 900 000 logons, with over 1.4 million registered users. 5

The KZN eRecruitment App is an example of how government is utilizing modern technology to engage with citizens digitally.

Fellow Compatriots,

Work has begun to enhance critical processes of SITA to improve
efficiency in a rapidly digitising world. To this end, a specially directed
intervention in the form of the SITA Ministerial Task Team dedicated to
fast-tracking procurement backlogs has begun. SITA is in the process of
meeting all clusters and provinces to resolve all their urgent ICT issues.
In pursuit of cyber security and a continuously improving security posture
for our government, SITA has built an in-house Security Operations
Centre Capability that is fully operational.

Madam Speaker,

The research results of the PC4IR in 2019 revealed that 75 million jobs
will be disrupted by technology, whilst 133 million digital jobs will emerge.
It is against that background that we are intensely engaged in a skills
development revolution.

An essential part of a transformed digital economy is creating an
enabling environment for our youth (aboTintswalo) as the primary
inheritors of our digital future.

Through NEMISA and its partners, 77220 young people have been trained
in various digital skills and technologies.

These are real numbers, real people, and real impact!

Mr President,

In the 2023 SONA, you reported to South Africa that work is underway in establishing a State-Owned Commercial Bank. We have since completed the legislative process by enacting the South African Post Bank Limited Amendment Act.

I am happy to report stability and seamless performance at the bank which are critical factors for grant recipients. As a result, Postbank still services close to 5 million grant beneficiaries, and close to 3 million other customers.

In total, Postbank serves close to 8 million customers, making it an admired institution by most banks in the world. This means that the relevance of Postbank to South Africa is critical.

Postbank is on track with its banking licence applications, but we must never overlook the current licences that the bank already possesses.

These are the Financial Service Provider (FSP) licence and the Designated Clearing System Participant (DCSP) licence, both of which give the bank the authority to not only issue cards, but to sell loans, take deposits and sell insurance.

It shall therefore always be remembered that, although the full banking licence is critical, Postbank, is authorised to sell the products that are critical to its mandate of financial inclusion which is in line with the that of the envisaged State bank of SA.

Postbank, for the first time in 9 years, has appointed a permanent CEO with over 15 years’ experience in banking, it has also filled other critical posts (such as the Chief Information Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Company Secretary and Chief Audit Executive positions) in recent months.

We are happy with the progress made thus far and therefore urge all fellow South Africans to open a PostBank Account, today!

Fellow Compatriots,

Measures to save the South African Post Office (SAPO), to protect livelihoods and accessibility of postal services are on track. The Business Rescue Plan was adopted by more than the required 75% of creditors on 07 December 2023.

The Business Rescue Practitioners are in continuous engagements with labour to ensure a smooth transition towards some of the proposals of rescuing the business.

Madam Speaker,

Working with our Members of Parliament, progress has been made to turnaround the fortunes of our public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

The new Board continues to carry out its fiduciary duties, having just appointed a vibrant young woman as its CEO. Other notable executive appointments at SABC are of the Company Secretary, the Chief Financial Officer and Executive For Sales.

We also wish to give South Africans more good news, the SABC Plus platform is the biggest free to air OTT Platform in Africa with over 1 million subscribers and on the 7th of February 2024, it made history on streaming with over 1.2 million views when Bafana Bafana played Nigeria during the Africa Cup of Nations.

Madam Speaker,

The naysayers would have us believe that investors have lost appetite to invest in South Africa.

Yet, under this ANC-Led government, our investor-friendly policies have made it possible for the landing of a plethora of submarine cables on our shores which make South Africa a digital hub thus attracting investment in data centres, digital infrastructure and cloud services.

The latest being Microsoft investing in a new data centre. These are investments into the future economy of South Africa.

A vote of confidence in any measure!

Mr President,

The Communications and Digital Technologies space is thriving under the ANC led Government.

This 6th Administration has taken the telecommunications and digital technologies space to new heights, and we can only do better upon our return.

To borrow your words comrade President, Sizawbuya!!

I thank you.