The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has issued the following document with regards to the presentation to paliament on 18 October of its 2010/11 Annual Report.
The 2010/11 Financial Year was indeed a momentous year for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). The Authority’s Overall Performance for the reporting period is as follows:
The Authority is mandated to promote competition in the communications (telecommunications and broadcasting) and postal sectors. Competition among service providers promotes economic growth and job creation, quality of service and value for money for consumers and the general public.
To this end, ICASA delivered and published the following regulations:
- Call Termination and Interconnection, reducing the wholesale cost of terminating calls by 45% over a three-year period.
- Reviewed and approved tariffs for Telkom and the South African Post Office.
- Processed 274 applications for the allocation of telephone numbers.
- Licensed MultiChoice and e-tv to provide mobile television services.
- Issued an Invitation To Apply and held public hearings for the provision of commercial radio broadcasting services for Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban.
- Amended SABC, e-tv and TBN broadcasting licences to allow for Digital Migration
- Monitored and approved Compliance Reports from 20 broadcasting services in terms of licence terms and conditions.
- Processed compliance reports of the large operators namely Neotel, MTN, Cell C, Vodacom, Sentech, WBS, Telkom and Internet Solutions
Consumer Protection and Universal Service
Enabling legislation requires the Authority to promote universal access and service in the provision of communications and postal services. For the reporting period, the Authority delivered the following projects:
- Facilitated the resolution of 3 128 consumer complaints
- Hosted the National Summit for Persons with Disabilities
- Published and distributed in all 11 official languages the Consumer Complaints Handling Procedure and the Complaints Manual with respect to services provided by communications and postal licensees
Broadcasting services play a critical role in the democratic processes of a society and its institutions. This is particularly true during election periods, by providing the citizenry and electorate with relevant information they need to make informed choices at the polls. In pursuit of the above, the Authority achieved the following:
- Published the 2011 Municipal Elections Regulations governing party political broadcasts and advertisements during the election period
- Allocated party political broadcasts to registered political parties, in terms of broadcasting slots in various radio broadcasting services
- Monitored political broadcasts and reporting during the election period
The Authority is mandated to support the country’s international relations program as spearheaded by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, and the Departments of Communications, and Trade and Industry.
At the end of the 2010/11 financial year ICASA hosted the Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) and Southern African Postal regulators Association (SAPRA) penultimate annual general meetings that paved the way for the merger of the two organisations into a new CRASA in June 2011 in Botswana.
2010 FIFA World Cup
ICASA was central in the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. ICASA ensured seamless and successful communications not only of the broadcasting signal that was beamed to millions of viewers across the world, but also for communication purpose between the hosting agencies for purposes of security and emergency services:
- Provided back-up support regarding the use of the radio frequency spectrum to state agencies hosting the FIFA world Cup.
- Monitored 3 133 frequencies.
- Resolved 59 harmful radio frequency spectrum interference cases.
- Checked the compliance of 227 international broadcasting services.
- Processed type approval applications.
- Resolved incorrect frequency utilisation.
- Seized 14 non-compliant radio apparatus.
Auditor General’s Findings
Notwithstanding the budget limitations, ICASA continues to address all the findings identified by the Auditor-General; and is building on what has been achieved by the previous leadership of the organisation.
The Auditor General qualified the Authority on two matters:
- The valuation, existence and completeness of the National Revenue Fund (NRF) debtors and related NRF creditors could not be confirmed.
- Irregular expenditure of R5,057,453 and fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R707,413
In relation to the National Revenue Fund it should be noted that over the years the Authority has been using the “LS’ system which is a radio propagation modelling system for issuing frequency spectrum licences. Once the LS system has captured the licensing data, this has to be transferred to JD Edwards, a financial system, so as to capture and reflect financial information such as invoicing and payment details.
At the moment the Authority is utilising only a few modules of the LS system, and intends to procure additional modules that would capture the frequency spectrum licensing information and translate this into financial information in the JDE system.
A two-year turnaround strategy will be developed and implemented to ensure effective and efficient Revenue Management within the Authority.
The Authority agrees with the Auditor-General’s Qualified Opinion on this matter that the Authority must comply with acceptable accounting principles and standards. The Auditor General reported that: “In my opinion, except for the possible effects of the matters described in the Basis for qualified opinion paragraphs, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of ICASA as at 31 March 2011 and its financial performance and cash flows for the year that ended, in accordance with South African Standards of Generally Recognised Accounting Practices and the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA)’.
Measures are being introduced to improve the control environment. For example, the Administered Revenue Management Policy is being reviewed to address the shortcomings identified; amend legislation and licence fee regulations, and ensure that write-offs and the provision for doubtful debts are all aligned to accounting principles, including Treasury
In relation to irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure the Authority has embarked on a process to strengthen polices, systems and processes in relation to procurement and supply chain to prevent a recurrence of these findings in future.