Ellipsis: National Infrastructure Plan 2050

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has published a draft National Infrastructure Plan 2050 for public comment.

Draft National Infrastructure Plan 2050

The Draft NIP 2050 includes a section relating to digital communications. We have set out below the table showing elements of the plan relating to digital communications and the steps to be taken to achieve the objectives of the Plan:

Strategic element 2050 Vision – how it will be done
High speed broadband is universally accessible
  • High speed broadband will be available in underserved areas and affordable and accessible to low income communities.
  • Investment in last mile connectivity, mainly through a complementary mix of wireless broadband technologies, targeting rural and underserved populations
  • Lessons from SA Connect and Universal access initiatives will be reviewed to improve delivery and impact in future
  • There will be better coordination of infrastructure projects to leverage complementary resources (such as roads or electricity)
Government services and buildings are digitally enabled
  • All government buildings will be connected with high speed broadband, have sufficient services to make the broadband usable (LAN, WAN, equipment).
  • All government buildings will offer access to free wifi for low income users.
  • Government will implements the National e-Strategy and e-Government Strategy and Roadmap (2017). There will be clear role identification and approaches to ensure interoperability and data sharing
  • Universal access and public sector connectivity will rely on government as procurer and regulator and not as implementer. The Western Cape and Tshwane offer two different examples.
  • There will be transparent monitoring and evaluation of digital services in the public sector.
Regulation is enabling of competitive and universally accessible broadband
  • ICASA’s regulatory capability will benchmark to the best globally.
  • The appointment of ICASA regulators will be transparent, with clear criteria and a committee containing critical stakeholders
  • ICASA will be held accountable for the quality of regulation with respect to spectrum, pricing, infrastructure sharing and similar
  • There will be a robust model for wholesale data services which is effectively regulated
Public sector capacity is strong and can drive the required policy agenda
  • Government capacity to design and procure digital infrastructure and services projects will be technically sound.
  • There will be commitment to institutional stability, good governance, and appropriate capacitation in senior appointments.
  • There will be attention to leveraging state infrastructure from non-ICT SOCs to enable faster deployment of broadband
Private sector participation in achieving universal broadband access is prevalent
  • The model of delivery increasingly leverages a vibrant private sector participation and blended financing. It is envisaged that R30bn to R80bn will be raised to finance the roll-out of government broadband and services in the medium term.
  • There will be special vehicles promoting blended finance in public broadband infrastructure. Inter alia, these provide incentives for de-risking private sector investments in rural areas and accelerating broadband delivery in peri-urban areas; demand-side schemes for subsidizing low-income consumers’ communication costs; and innovative use of unlicensed spectrum (Wi-Fi, TV whitespace).
  • The allowable period for public procurement of telecoms and digital services will be lengthened, to enable private provision in ways that also deliver services to underserved communities monetized over 10-20 years.
  • The PPP framework will be strengthened as discussed in section 4 of the NIP 2050
Partnerships are strong and there are Centres of Digital Excellence promoting a growing knowledge base on delivery and innovation Globally, governments and regulators struggle to keep up with fastmoving digital trends and this is also so in South Africa. Meaningful sustained partnerships and knowledge forums will be leveraged and engage government, business and other stakeholders in a focused practical manner. These will enable governments and regulators to keep up with fast-moving digital trends and also contribute to strengthening private-public cooperation and joint learning. There will be a number of formations that could service this need such as the Presidential Commission on 4IR (PC4IR) and/or the Public-Private Growth Initiative (PPGI).
The ICT skills base is robust The ICT skills base will be continuously improving, creating an e-savvy nation and offering sufficient support to private and public investments. Some of the priorities include: 

  • Connecting all schools by 2023, with supportive digital services in the school and in the cloud, and free WiFi to low-income households nearby.
  • Centres of excellence supported to innovate in digital teaching and learning methodology from school to PSET. ICT training need to be core in teacher training curriculum and in ongoing professional development.
  • Stronger partnerships between vocational training and industry to ensure relevance of curriculum and pathway into digital apprenticeships and workplace learning.
  • The causes of poor throughput of high-quality ICT graduates identified and addressed
  • Opportunities to unemployed youth to gain digital literacy and related vocational skills created and act as significant channel to work
  • Critical technical skills to operate and maintain digital infrastructure will be developed and available in South Africa
  • There will be innovation in the ICT industry and testing of newer cost effective technologies for broadband penetration
  • There will be enhanced links to international Accelerator Programmes through ICT organisations like ITU and GSMA to boost the youth e-readiness.
Top priority SIPs SIPs

Expand broadband coverage to all households and schools by 2020 – No 15.

SKA and MeerKAT – no 16

Space Infrastructure Hub – SANSA – No 22

Digitising of Government Information – no 30

SA Connect Phase 1B Programme – no 35

Priority projects to augment the list of SIPs

  • to be augmented upon strategy finalised as listed in the ‘3-year action steps’ below
3-year action steps
  • Digital migration will be concluded and Spectrum will be released in 2021/2. Digital migration must take place before relevant spectrum is auctioned and/or paid for. Spectrum auction will be done with careful attention to competition objectives.
  • Policy will be concluded for rapid deployment of electronic communications networks and facilities in 2021/2
  • Executive leadership of government departments, entities and regulator responsible for digital delivery will be stabilised and appointed according to capability.
  • Review of approach to wholesale regulation and service provision will be done by 2021/2. The wholesale regulatory approach will be evaluated – whether a Wholesale Open Access Network (WOAN) or alternatively promoting competition through stronger wholesale regulation and obligations tied to spectrum allocation and/or spectrum set-asides to encourage access by operators with less access to capital.
  • Arrangements required to enable private participation in public interest digital delivery will be in place by 2022/3. Most importantly, this will include special purpose vehicles to promote blended finance and procurement rules that enable long term partnerships, such as the proposed Broadband Fund.
  • 80% of public buildings, especially schools, health facilities and police will be connected by 2023/4, in line with the targets of Government’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).
  • High speed broadband will be available and accessible in every community by 2023/4. There will be consideration of free-basic data for low income users, similar to that for water and electricity.
  • SIPs reviewed in 2021/2 to include:
    • E-enablement of all government buildings. Inter alia, this includes:
      • At least 80% of schools are connected by December 2022.
      • Local and provincial government broadband and related ICT initiatives are streamlined and rationalised, with clarification of mandates, roles and responsibilities.
      • The model for public-private partnerships is progressed with material impact on delivery. Government will identify three top priority pilots where PPPs are used to introduce overarching digital modernisation. Examples include policing, health, education, water or smart cities.
  • Digitisation of government services – to be scoped and projects identified, funded and augmented into the SIP
  • Data centre strategy finalised in 2021/2
  • Satellite communications strategy finalised in 2021/2. Implementation begins 2022/3.
  • SKA regional digital roll out strategy finalised in 2021/2.
  • Consideration of Smart City policies

Sourced from: Ellipsis. View the original article here.