Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the government aims to fulfil its promise of providing 10GB free data per household within the next three years.
Ntshavheni made the revelation this week in a reply to a written parliamentary question by Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Zandile Majozi.
Majozi had asked the Minister whether or not the government has conducted a feasibility study or costing for its promise, including the proposed timeline.
Timeline linked to SA Connect Revised Model
In her reply, Ntshavheni wrote, “A specific feasibility study relating to the 10GB data has not been undertaken; however, the SA Connect Phase 2 proposal borrows on the tenets of universal access to basic and essential services (e.g. water, electricity and data being the next step).
“Recognising the negative impact of the digital divide, especially in the rural and underserviced areas, the statement relating to the allocation of 10GB is a statement of intent to address this divide.
“The proposed timeline is in parallel to the roll out of the SA Connect Revised Model, which is planned to be completed within the next three years starting from 01 April 2022.”
The Minister first made the pledge during the debate on the State of the Nation Address in February, but did not immediately provide a timeline.
“Data has become a new utility like water and electricity that our home needs. At some point, a South African household, whether they are rich or poor, will be given access to 10GB per month, because that is what the government will deliver,” she said at the time.
National Infrastructure Plan 2050
The timeline revealed by Ntshavheni broadly aligns with the government’s objectives contained in the National Infrastructure Plan 2050, which Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille gazetted in March.
According to the Plan, the government aims to provide 10GB of basic data per month to every home by 2023/2024 and 50GB by 2025/2026.
“The National Development Plan envisages, by 2030, a seamless information infrastructure that is universally available and accessible, at a cost and quality at least equal to South Africa’s peers and competitors. There should be continuous improvement thereafter,” the Plan states.
“More specifically, by 2030, 100 percent of the population should have easy access to affordable broadband of at least 10 Mbps. All government buildings should have high-speed broadband of at least 100 Mbps, and where relevant participate in leveraging this to underserved areas and communities.”