are learning form the best. The payments of social grants through the postal network has brought convenience and even dignity to many of our people because of the extensive network of the Post Office, across more than 1000 outlets. As we speak, Postbank is developing its strategy - so, the strategy exist, which will be unveiled in the next few months. This will enable it to compete in the market while focusing on its immediate responsibilities to ensure financial inclusivity. We are getting there; "ukukhawuleza" [speeding up] is our approach now.
The Banks Act did not previously allow state-owned entities to hold bank licences. This has since been amended, and paved the way for the licensing of the Postbank. During the current financial year, we will amend the Postbank Act to align it with the Banks Act. The department has already delinked the assets of the Postbank from those of the SA Post Office.
It is safe to say we are in the process of concluding the regulatory framework for the first state-owned bank in the democratic dispensation. [Interjections.]
Kuya sheshwa la.
The corporatisation model of the Postbank will ensure that we progress to q state-owned bank which will fulfil both economic and social transformation mandates, serve the unbanked and underbanked, offering accessible, simple, and affordable banking solutions to our people. So, hon Mokoena, we have a roadmap.
The postal market is undergoing critical changes impacted by the rapid pace of technological advancements. Throughout the world the traditional mail volumes are in severe decline, which necessitate a complete rethink of the role of the Post Office. In South Africa, the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper already recognises the strategic role of the Post Office in the changed market and ever-changing technological environment. In this regard, the Post Office will launch on e-commerce platform which is being implemented jointly with the Universal Postal Union, UPU, a United Nation agency for postal services. Last year we committed to partner with the UPU to make Sapo one of the three hubs in Africa.
I am pleased to report the increased co-operation with regional operators to enable trade and logistics solutions in the region and internationally. In addition to e-commerce, the department will work with the Post Office to redefine its mandate in the
roll-out of e-government as set out in the White Paper. The diversificafion of the mandate of the Post Office follows on government's financial investment in the Post Office over the last three years. This will also enable the Post Office to digitise its network by connecting all post offices to high- speed internet.
As we continue to focus on the digitisation of the postal network, Sapo will continue to roll out addresses to assist government to comply with what is called the Tlokwe ruling of the Constitutional Court. In the past two years the department has supported the Post Office with funds to roll out addresses and about 4.9 million new addresses have been introduced, far exceeding the original target of 3.5 million.
This assisted the IEC, greatly, in preparations for the 2021 local government elections. As the ANC, we are ready for local government elections. The roll-out of these new addresses will enable the recipient communities and households to participate in the economy, and over and above that, it gives our people a sense of belonging.
To sustain the postal network, government has reinstated the Universal Service Obligation Fund and dedicated Rl,5 billion over a three-year period. This is important considering the huge cost of sustaining a postal network. Due to the successful implementation of this project of R50 million funding from the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, and an additional R35 million grant was approved to support the development of the national address database envisaged in the national ICT policy. The focus is for the coming year to obtain approval on an amendment to our legislation that approves the data custodianship for addresses. The socioeconomic conditions that are faced by women, youth, and people with disabilities, remain at the centre of our programmes and policy framework - rightfully so.
In the 2Ol8-l9 Budget Vote speech, the department committed to host and implement programmes targeting women, children, people with disabilities, and our SMMEs. We hosted the National ICT Accessibility Symposium in Mafikeng where over 225 persons with disabilities were in attendance, and where the outcome of the symposium was a heightened awareness amongst the attendees of
what is available to them in the ICT sector. And I am glad that Mme Masingita Masunga is also in our mist and she will be carrying our message through. It also provided an opportunity for the sector to showcase what innovations and technologies are available in South Africa to support persons with disabilities. We are passionate about the use of innovation and technologies that support and empower persons with disabilities.
As with anything, there is a negative side to technology. As such, the protection of children is a key priority for the department. We hosted the Child Online Protection Programme, providing support to the Web Rangers programme, which is a national digital literacy initiative to equip young people between the ages of l2 and l7 to empower themselves and their peers to be safe online. The programme reached just under 1 500 young people across the country, equipping them to be web rangers in their respective schools, with the idea to catalyse the awareness and behaviours of safe online activity. The schools social media policy, which previously only focused on the restriction of cellphone usage in schools, has now been
expanded with a priority on policy changes, to include aspects of cyberbullying, sexting and sexual grooming.
The department has implemented the e-parenting programme across all nine provinces, with just under 500 parents to date. We are calling on all political parties to also join hands with government in some of these programmes because it is important for our parents to understand all these things.
The department will be implementing the digital inclusion awareness programme in 2019-20, on the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for four components of society, namely women, youth, children and people with disabilities. This will include the Young Women and ICT Dialogue in August 2019, with a focus on the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution - all of you on my left are invited.
South Africa is currently a member of various international organisations such as the International Telecommunications Union, World Intellectual Property Organization, as well as regional and continental formations dealing with the sector. Our
strategic focus is mainly around the creation of a fair and equitable global communications environment, harnessing the value of strategic resources such as the radio frequency spectrum, as the Minister has spoken to, and universal standards.
As I conclude, I would like to say that all these initiatives constitute elements of a dream of the South Africa we want, and the actions we are going to take to make those dreams a reality. I started out my speech today by quoting Nelson Mandela, and I want to close with a famous Madiba quote on this Mandela Month: "A winner is a dreamer who never gives up." "Malibongwe!" [Let it be praised!]. "Siyaqhuba!" [We are advancing!]. [Applause.] [Interjections.]