All change for South Africa’s state-owned telecoms groups

All change for South Africa’s state-owned telecoms groups

A rationalisation drive is apparently under way in South Africa’s telecommunications sector – at government level.

According to South African press reports, the country’s department of communications & digital technologies has begun work on merging some of its entities. This is apparently in line with a plan to rationalise a number of state-owned or supported groups across various government departments.

Sentech, the signal distributor for the South African broadcasting sector, is one of the groups affected. Sentech began operations in 1992 as the signal distributor of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. It eventually split from SABC and became a public company. Sentech now operates as a commercial enterprise owned by the government and has its own board of directors.

Sentech is to be merged with Broadband Infraco, the state-owned telecom infrastructure company to form one broadband infrastructure company. Broadband Infraco’s duties include improving market efficiency in the long-distance connectivity segment by increasing available long-distance network infrastructure. 

Domain name authority Zadna, the Film and Publications Board and communications regulator ICASA will merge to form one regulator.

In addition the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa will be repurposed to establish a state-owned digital fund company. How this will affect its core directive is not clear. USAASA was established to ensure that "every man, woman and child, whether living in the remote areas of the Kalahari or in urban areas of Gauteng, can be able to connect, speak, explore and study using ICTs”.

What the new entities will be called is not yet known, but this is clearly a busy time for telecoms at government level in South Africa.

As regular readers will know, last week South African communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was among a number of senior ministers required to sign performance agreements detailing targets they will need to meet in the next few years.

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