Hon Chairperson, hon Minister of Communications, Mr Roy Padayachie, hon colleagues in the Cabinet, hon members of the portfolio committee, all hon members, senior managers and staff of the Department of Communications, the newly appointed Director- General, Ms Rosey Sekese, leadership and management of state-owned enterprises, SOEs, captains of information and communications technology, ICT, and the broadcasting and postal industries, civil society leaders in the ICT sector, my comrades and friends, fellow South Africans, it is exactly 14 days since we celebrated the World Telecommunications and Information Society Day with the theme: "Better life in Rural Communities with ICTs".
I am glad to have participated in this in Tzaneen, where they were designing a concept of rural connectivity. I thank the Tzaneen people for acting as hosts. We celebrated the day itself in Atteridgeville, with the learners, educators and industry leaders, where 2 000 people gathered. It was indeed a marvellous day to celebrate this event.
Six days ago, on 25 May, we celebrated Africa Day in building a better Africa. Through the African Telecommunications Union we will continue to pursue issues related to Internet governance and the accessibility, affordability and availability of the electronic communications network and services in Africa. Therefore this Budget Vote No 27 comes at a most exciting moment in our country, and particularly in the ICT sector.
With the power of fixed and mobile broadband abundantly available through landed international cables and fibre optic cables in our country, we will improve government's ability to provide quality basic services by connecting Thusong Services Centres, regional offices, schools and health facilities in pursuance of our ideal society of a connected people. We will do this so that Ms Tsebe from North West no longer complains!
As the Minister said, our theme for the 2011 Budget Vote is "Taking technology to the people in the service of the people". It is relevant and not a slogan, as it responds to government's developmental trajectory and the International Telecommunication Union, ITU's, World Telecommunications and Information Society Day's theme of working to build better lives with ICTs.
This theme directs us to channel our efforts towards implementing the department's envisaged Vision 2020 and achieving government's Medium-Term Strategic Framework priority of building sustainable livelihoods, so that we will help in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, as we approach our anniversary as a free and democratic South Africa in 2014.
In 2009 we ranked 34th in the world in fixed-line telephony, with over 4,3 million fixed-line connections. Today South Africa is one of the fastest growing mobile communications markets in the world. As of 2009 there were over 46,4 million mobile users. The country ranks 26th in terms of mobile subscriber numbers.
Findings by World Wide Worx in 2009, representing individual users, show that mobile communication in South Africa has reached 50 million connections. This confirms that South Africa's cellular market enjoys robust growth with market penetration of about 100%.
The technology of the 3G and the 2G plus is unfortunately still something we need to look at in the rural areas, as the hon Zille said. The 2G plus still gives people what we call EDGE and GPRS. However, you will wait forever just for a computer to open or to Google. It happened to me while I was in Tzaneen. I wanted to pay for my services and I waited for 15 minutes on the 2G plus.
The deployment of the 3G in the country ought to be taken seriously by the industry and everybody involved. We must ensure that all our people receive the same technology, as the world is also preparing for a long-term evolution of 4G. We must ensure that we also enjoy those benefits.
An increase in the number of undersea cables linking South Africa to the rest of the world, plus the introduction of the smart cellular phone, has seen a shake-up in local Internet access, with the number of South African Internet users passing six million, which finally breaks through the 10% mark in Internet penetration for the country.
Regarding broadband access, we are not doing well as a country compared to other middle-income countries and compared to those in North Africa, which are ahead of us. While mobile broadband has bolstered broadband access, growth remains relatively poor and not adequate to push international broadband ranking indices. It is estimated by the World Summit on the Information Society that South Africa is far behind with regard to broadband and Internet usage compared to other developing countries.
Concerning radio and television, 94% of the population has access to radio, while 84% has access to television. In bridging the existing divide in our communities, we will continue to roll out low-power transmitters, taking into account the digital migration.
We also envisage that the advent of the digital migration will close the access gap, by providing TV access to all South Africans between 2013 and 2015. Here I also want to urge the content developers and independent producers to pause and look at the whole changing environment of the explosion of TV. They must ensure that they are ready to provide us with content, otherwise we will end up with Bollywood and Hollywood third-grade movies dominating our market and with less and less South African content. They must stand up and prepare for 2013.
The SABC and e.tv will have between 18 and 27 multichannels. Unless the content producers and independent producers focus on readiness, those channels might run empty. The department should mobilise and organise them to get themselves ready so that the migration is not only about technology but also about the content that we will enjoy. If we don't attend to this issue, we will lose the battle of ideas. I am confident that these applications and services will help us as a nation and the developing world in particular to get closer to reaching the MDGs of ending ignorance and accessing information that will empower our people.
We have a responsibility to connect the remaining 21 000 schools throughout the country, of which the majority are in rural areas. We have connected only 7 000 of the 28 000 schools. There are 21 000 schools outstanding. Fortunately, plans are under way to bring in e-schools connectivity. Director-General Sekese says you were led in this particular area. I hope you will still be available to see the fruition of the e-school connectivity.
Plans are also beginning with other Deputy Ministers, as they are involved in the e-school connectivity, to ensure that e-health is also in place and that all clinics are connected so that the national health insurance will find infrastructure ready for it to be rolled out.
Another area of e-skills is to ensure that our people are e-skilled as far as the use of technology is concerned. The qualifications that we need for future workers should be ICT-focused and related in the main, so that they can also contribute to a knowledge-based economy.
With regard to the roll-out of infrastructure, we need more money, as the strategic plan of the department states. We need about R75 billion for us to be able to roll out the infrastructure. What I am referring to is also known as the info-structure, as identified in the New Growth Path. It has been identified as an economic enabler and therefore we need to ensure that the country is highly connected.
The roll-out of the ICT infrastructure requires an integrated approach from both private and public sectors. The national and provincial governments and local municipalities must work together to ensure that we roll this important element out together.
South Africa is a developmental state and government will intervene to address market failures. In this regard we call upon the industry to co- operate and collaborate in pursuit of common objectives, as universal access to ICT has spin-offs for inclusive economic growth, job creation and development.
On cyber crime and cyber security, the advent of the Internet and the new information and communications technologies didn't alert us to the possible threat of cyber crime. ICT is a transversal tool for interacting and intersecting in every major societal activity and government has the responsibility to enact laws and regulations to protect its citizens from any possible threat.
I trust we are all aware that the Internet knows no boundaries. Allow me to share with you the kind of common crimes that are committed on the Internet: credit card fraud, virus dissemination, software piracy, net extortion, phishing, spoofing, hacking, cyber impersonation, pornography and denial of service. All of these need strong laws and strong Internet governance.
Fortunately, the Cabinet has developed a document that will be engaged with during this financial year. We hope this will bring the discourse to the public and to Parliament to ensure that we are able to move our country in the right direction in terms of the laws.
With regard to persons with disabilities, the ICT sector generally is not performing well in meeting the 2% target of employing persons with disabilities. Building an inclusive information society also calls for the ICT sector to ensure the usage of sign language, subtitles and closed captions in service provision, and we wish to urge all broadcasters to maintain the service.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, recently organised an event to which the chair of the portfolio committee alluded and we hope that those resolutions will be engaged with and implemented.
Regarding the small, medium and micro enterprises, SMMEs, the youth, and women in the ICT, we will continue to support businesses of the youth and women in ICT in accordance with the Preferential Procurement Policy, as part of the programme of our department and government. We will have to ensure that these sectors and the small and medium businesses are supported.
We take pride in the fact that women are now beginning to take the leadership in our state-owned entities. The appointment of Ms Pinky Moholi as the chief executive officer, CEO, of Telkom is most welcome. [Applause.] The chairperson of Sapo, Ms Vuyo Mahlati, and the CEO, Ms Motshoanetsi Lefoka, are also women in leadership who need to be congratulated. [Applause.] Malibongwe! [Let it be praised!]
Tomorrow, 1 June 2011, marks the beginning of the last month of the implementation of Rica. We accordingly call upon all South Africans to register their details with the relevant mobile service providers. Failure to register will result in people's phones being switched off, thus reducing the progress we have made in promoting universal access to ICTs.
Let me indicate upfront that 30 June 2011 is D-day for all SIM cards, be it for mobile phones, laptops or other devices. This also includes traffic lights for those municipalities that are using SIM cards. No extension will be granted. We have already met with the industry and told them that there will not be any extension. Take it upon yourselves to go and Rica. Municipalities working with the South African postal service will ensure that every household has a physical address. Our humble gratitude goes to municipalities that have begun implementing this project together with the SA Post Office. We hope that all South Africans will end up having a postal address and a physical address in all municipalities. Currently, one of the challenges to Rica people is the fact that people don't have addresses.
In conclusion, I believe we are in agreement that we of this generation of people have the responsibility to ensure universal access. I imagine each one of you being retired and at home, or in your villages where you have retired. I imagine you sitting under a tree or in your own private space, with your laptops, tablets, iPads and smart phones, chatting with each other, kilometres apart, and unwinding and looking at prospects for future ICTs for our people.
I wish to thank the departmental staff, SOEs, civil society and industry players for welcoming me warmly when I was appointed to this portfolio. I am humbled by the induction that you provided at the time.
Most of you have also realised that I wasn't and I am not a novice. I have listened and will continue to listen to our councillors as we shape the sector.
I wish to thank my family, especially my wife, Constance Bapela, who is sitting in the gallery and who has recently been appointed as the Speaker of the biggest metropolitan council in South Africa - the City of Johannesburg. [Applause.] Working together, we will build better livelihoods.