Pretoria — Government has invested R78 billion in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in the last three years, says Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele.
This was according to a report by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
"The country has already started to see benefits of this accelerated investment, where the Network Readiness Index and usage improved.
"This and other measures driven by our government has helped to steadily push up the WEF Global Competitive Index from 56 in 2014 to 47 in 2016 out of 140 participating countries," Minister Cwele said.
The Minister was speaking on Wednesday during the debate on the State of the Nation Address in Parliament.
Government has adopted the Integrated ICT White Paper which it is using to deconcentrate the industry.
"We will use open access networks and our natural resource spectrum, as strategic levers to induce real transformation and lowering of barriers to entry for blacks, small businesses and marginalized groups.
"We have been heartened by positive inputs by the industry during the consultations we have been conducting since November 2016 on how best we implement this White Paper. Those who are currently excluded are not vengeful," Minister Cwele said.
The Minister's department will finalise consultation on the paper soon in order to prioritise the implementation and introduce necessary legislative and regulatory changes without delay.
"In October 2016, our ICT Sector Council, finalised new ICT Sector Codes, which are now operational. These sector codes move beyond share ownership and management control to prioritize other areas such as enterprise development, preferential procurement as well as skills development," he said.
Minister Cwele said the ICT Sector Council is assisting the industry to improve compliance and to eliminate fronting.
"Our council is currently doing provincial roadshows to assist the beneficiaries to take advantage of the new opportunities presented by government," he said.
Government is taking measures to enable South Africans to exploit the internet economy and prepare them to extract the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
"For instance, new technologies such as new designs of energy storage will make renewable energy more affordable and sustainable to provide electricity to rural communities.
"The 4IR requires to priorities mathematics and science education. It dictates that we must skill and re-skill our work force in order to minimize potential job losses as a result of robotics. We need to upscale investment in research and innovation and our entrepreneurial capacity," Minister Cwele said.