Cyril Ramaphosa To Set Up Digital Commission, Allocate Spectrum

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has explained the importance of technology for the country in his state of the nation speech on Friday night, mentioning efforts he will be undertaking in order to promote tech as a means for building the South African economy.

The interim president said he would be establishing a commission to focus on enabling South Africa to benefit from opportunities presented by rapid advances in information and communications technology, according to Techcentral.

Ramaphosa is the current president of South Africa as a result of the resignation of Jacob Zuma on Feb. 14 following heavy pressure on the statesman to remove himself from office due to a series of corruption scandals and allegations of state capture.

The successful businessman took office a day later, following a vote of the National Assembly.

As a result, Ramaphosa was entrusted with giving the state of the nation address in parliament, and he took advantage of the platform to discuss various matters, among them spectrum allocation for mobile operators and a focus on information and communication technology.

Cyril Ramaphosa talks tech

The politician made it clear that he believes the prosperity of South Africa and its people is directly linked to the country’s ability to take full advantage of rapid technological change.

“The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, some are even beginning to talk about the fifth industrial revolution, and this means that we urgently need to develop our capabilities in the areas of science, technology and innovation,” Ramaphosa said, according to IOL.

He went on to say that a “digital industrial revolution commission” would be established with the aim of putting South Africa “in a position to seize the opportunities and manage the challenges of rapid advances in information and communications technology.”

The new Digital Industrial Revolution Commission will soon be established, in partnership with the private sector and civil society.

Mobile operators in South Africa have been requesting the availability of spectrum for some years, as a means to providing faster and more wide-spread high-speed data services, and Ramaphosa addressed this request within his speech.

“The drive towards the digital industrial revolution will be underpinned by the availability of efficient networks,” he added.

“We will finalise our engagements with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the allocation of spectrum reduces barriers to entry, promotes competition and reduces the cost to consumers.”

As part of his address, Ramaphosa mentioned the success of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope in the Karoo as an example of South African innovation.

“Our SKA project where our scientists and our young people are just excelling beyond any imaginable limit is already demonstrating to all and sundry across the world that South Africa and South Africans are well attuned to innovation and technology,” the president said, according to ITWeb.

“That is an area I would like to see us exploit, so that we can grow our economy,” he added.

Sign up for the Moguldom newsletter — business news you need to know about economic empowerment for the digital age, delivered to your inbox.