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SA govt calls on satellite community to address bandwidth costs

SA govt calls on satellite community to address bandwidth costs

South Africa's Deputy Minister of Telecommunications & Postal Services Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said it is important that the satellite community addresses the issue of high bandwidth cost when providing broadband services to a large number of users. She also called for industry unity to increase Africa's satellite communications capacity.

Speaking at the AfricaCom 2017 conference in Cape Town this week, the Minister said, "South Africa too has a well-developed space programme. To date, we have procured launches for five satellites. There are also plans to put an Earth observation satellite into service in the next few years. Satellite communications form an integral part of the broader national space program with the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services."

Her presentation focused on the value of ICT and digital connectivity under the theme, "Visions for Africa: ensuring a connected Africa through satellite communication."

This included an analysis of the satellite communication policy interventions, regulatory framework, legislation and collective efforts which are required to build an information society and knowledge economy in Africa, in order to achieve the requisite socio-economic development and modernised standards of living.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said policy interventions and an enabling regulatory framework are required to help address issues that exacerbate the digital divide in Africa, including a lack of connectivity and low tele-densities, specifically within rural areas.

"You have seen in my country there is lots of groups and people who are demanding access to communication through the data must fall campaign, therefore it is imperative that we look into that. As government we have a responsibility to respond and when we respond, we have to respond positively."

She said the government must fast-track programs being rolled out to achieve its target of connecting 22 million people by 2020, and the necessity to partner with stakeholders in the broader ICT and telecommunications ecosystem.

David Harrower, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Business Development at iDirect, said, "The emerging African youth need to be educated and have their horizons expanded ... and through this is ICT, satellite, education , this gives rise to the new economy driving Africa. We see this as a dual opportunity, yes commercial opportunity, but also investment in the continent."

This year AfricaCom celebrated its 20th anniversary and introduced a new technology arena to showcase tech innovation and Africa's journey towards the fourth industrial revolution.

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