Building an Information Society


South Africa remains committed to the building of a people-centred, development-oriented, inclusive information society. So said Deputy Minister of Communications Dina Pule at the fifth World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-10), which is taking place in Hyderabad, India until 4 June.

The objective of WTDC-10 is to identify priorities for the development of telecommunications and information and communication technologies (ICTs), taking into account contributions made by Member States and Sector Members, and to adopt the Hyderabad Action Plan (HAP) setting the future of activities of the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) over the next four-year period

Here is the rest of Minister Pule’s speech:

On the 17th May, South Africa celebrated the World Telecommunications and Information Society Day in an event held in the historic township of Soweto, in Johannesburg. At this event, the Minister of Communication, General Siphiwe Nyanda in partnership with the Private Sector and Civil Society launched a campaign to provide free email address to 50 000 first-time users and to digitize personal documentations for our people.


My delegation recognizes the work and progress made by the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development, which dedicated this year’s session to the review and assessment of progress made in the implementation of the WSIS outcomes. This year – 2010 marks the mid-term towards the target date of 2015 set for the implementation of the WSIS outcome. It is an appropriate time to reflect on the progress we have made towards building a global information society.

I certainly believe that this World Telecommunications Development Conference is an important platform for us to pass resolutions which will help us realise the outcomes of WSIS including the global governance and the development of the Internet facility. We have to do more, redouble our efforts to ensure that we reach the agreed WSIS targets.


Our government has instituted a strategic programme, an action plan aimed at reducing the cost to communicate by targeting interconnection tariffs and other mechanism for transparent tariffs charges such as cost-based models which will result in lower telecommunication fees. We believe that lower cost of communications will encourage economic growth and development for the benefit of the general population and consumers. We certainly believe that this development conference must discuss amongst others, the negative effects of the global roaming agreements signed by telecommunication operators particularly on increasing higher costs of communication particularly in the developing and least developed countries.


We are however making great strides to bringing the benefits of the digital networks to our people. We are in the process to finalising several policy instruments including broadband and cybersecurity policies prioritizing infrastructure expansion to rural and underserved areas and the security of digital networks against cyber attacks.

Africa has adopted the Connect Africa goals which guide our drive to expand universal access to broadband ensuring that broadband and the internet, is accessible and affordable to all our people, especially those in the rural and remote areas. In our endeavours to achieve connectivity, we have prioritised education and health centres as our priority development areas. The target of ensuring universal access to information and knowledge will also be achieved through strategic investment in capacity building programmes in the targeted thematic areas.


International connectivity is of course a critical component for South Africa and the African continent to participate on equal footing with the rest of the world in the Global Information Society. As part of our preparation for the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which commences in just days after this Conference ends, tremendous progress have been made in addressing the international connectivity of our country to the African continent and to the rest of the world. We have built World Class broadcasting facility, the International Broadcasting Centre, and deployed fibre-optic cables connectivity to all World Cup Stadia building adequate capacity to share the first World Cup on African soil with the rest of the football loving people around the world on television and radio as well as other communication platforms.


We are making headways to transition our broadcasting systems from analogue to digital within the set ITU deadline of 2015 particularly in the areas of signal distribution and the digitizing of broadcasting studios. As is the case in many other countries, the funding of the migration remains the major challenge as this process requires high capital investment which in our country is funded by the government.

The opportunity brought by technology evolution is that countries of the world have wider choices on the use and adoption of digital technology standards. Unlike the dominance of single technology standard, this development conference should take this opportunity and encourage increased investments in Research and Development and innovation for the development of new and modelling of existing digital standards to suit their own local conditions and circumstances.

For us, the digital broadcasting transition must result in increased local content generation in support of our cultural and linguistic diversity. We are committed to establish distinct channels for education, health care information and knowledge, youth development, SMMEs, interactive services, as well as parliamentary and government information services.

The critical issue regarding the migration from Internet Protocol V4 to V6 is critical for us in particular the need for the ITU to increase technical assistance and support to countries requiring such support and resources to ensure that we are not left behind.


I wish to encourage this development conference to emphasise on efforts to support the strategic area of digital inclusion, in particular:

  • Participation and contribution of people with disabilities and the elderly in our economic and social development.
  • Programmes targeted at women and children in effort to bridge the digital divide.
  • The importance of investing in our youth as the sector that leads uptake and usage of ICTs and innovation.

The Millennium Declaration highlighted that, in addressing the challenge of reducing global poverty by half in 2015 ‘ICTs are central, enablement, cross cutting, and crucial tools for sustainable social and economic development’

This is a critical forum in which to realise the power of ICTs as a force for economic and societal development.

I thank you


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