Questions and Replies

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21 February 2024 - NW104

Profile picture: Bodlani, Ms T

Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

1.With reference to various government departments which were recently interrupted by the system of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) that was offline, what (a) were the reasons for the system interruptions at SITA and (b) plans have been put in place to address the specified interruptions; 2. Whether there is a risk of more frequent, more severe system interruptions at SITA this year; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply:

I have been informed by the SITA as follows:

1. (a) The following are the key reasons for the system interruptions at SITA:

(i) A change in configuration resulted in blocked communication between systems. This resulted in service disruptions and as a consequence impacted email, internet, intranet, VPN and Applications to a key national department.

(ii) The SITA Core Network links are provided by both Private Sector Operators (PSO) and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). The service disruptions occasionally impact on connectivity to some of SITA’s Switching Centres and Data Centres, which impacts government services to key national and provincial departments.

Notwithstanding the fact that there is redundancy in place, the fibre breaks still impact both primary and secondary links at times. The key contributing factors are vandalism, veld fires and construction work. There are also single points of failure in the Network that have been identified, that contributed to service outages.

(iii) Persistent loadshedding has also put pressure on backup power infrastructure that occasionally fail to kick in, resulting in disruption in network connectivity.

(b) The following interventions have been put in place to address the specified interruptions:

(i) SITA made investments to address single points of failure and modernised the network through a Software Defined Network programme. SITA has built further redundancy into the current architecture over and above the existing dual network routes and infrastructure. There has also been upgrades on backup power infrastructure, increase frequency of maintenance to backup diesel generators, uninterrupted-power-supplies and switchgear to ensure power supply equipment is protected. Alternative power sources are also being investigated for future investments.

2. The interventions that SITA has put in place, mitigate the risk of more severe system interruptions. The drive is to ensure high availability of services through:

  • Modernisation of the Network;
  • Consolidation and modernisation of switching and data centres;
    • Establishing partnerships with industry and State-Owned Entities to leverage their existing capabilities and to derive economies of scale.

Thank you

21 February 2024 - NW105

Profile picture: Bodlani, Ms T

Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether the State Information Technology Agency has contingency plans to ensure noninterrupted services during loadshedding; if not, why not; if so, (a) on what date will such plans be implemented and (b) what are the specific details of the plans?

Reply:

I have been informed by the SITA as follows:

Yes, SITA has implemented various contingency plans to ensure non-interrupted services during load shedding.

(a) Ongoing.

(b) SITA operates a total of twenty-six (26) Switching Centre and ten (10) Data Centre facilities across the country, which are central in the provision of network connectivity and hosting services, respectively.

• All these facilities are equipped with diesel generators which are triggered to provide backup power during load shedding. SITA has contracts in place for preventative and corrective maintenance and support of the diesel generators. Furthermore, SITA has established contracts with various Industry Suppliers for the supply and replenishment of diesel, performance of which is managed in line with service level agreements (SLAs) metrics.

• A remote environmental monitoring (REM) system has been implemented to ensure proactive monitoring of diesel levels in these facilities.

Thank you

08 January 2024 - NW3433

Profile picture: Graham, Ms SJ

Graham, Ms SJ to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

What measures have been taken to accommodate employees from closed post offices; 2. what (a) measures have been put in place to facilitate the payment of stipends and grants which would ordinarily have been paid at the closed Post Offices, (b) number of beneficiaries have been affected and (c) measures have been taken to assist the affected beneficiaries, including the means of communication?

Reply:

1. Employees from closed Post Offices are offered redeployment to other workplaces based on staffing requirements.

(2)(a) Beneficiaries are referred to the nearest branches, retailers and banks for access to their grants.

(2)(b) SAPO has closed a number of branches nationwide, and amongst the closed branches are SASSA paying offices. The SAPO does not have a measure of determining the number of affected beneficiaries as a result of closed branches.

(2)(c) The process below is followed when a branch is closed:

  • SASSA beneficiaries are referred to nearest branches, retailers and banks for assistance.
  • For a planned closure – a board indicating the intention to close is displayed prior to the actual closure for customer information. An SMS is sent to branch customers where the cell phone details are known.
  • For forced closure – a notice indicating closed status is displayed and left on the property for customer information.
  • List of closed branches is shared with SASSA for further communication with beneficiaries.
  • The list of closed offices is also placed on the SAPO website and updated weekly with details of alternative offices. The process has proven effective as beneficiaries have a choice to use retailers or banks.

Thank You.

08 January 2024 - NW3373

Profile picture: Majozi, Ms Z

Majozi, Ms Z to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether his department has its own target for job creation and growth within the communications sector; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply:

The DCDT does not have a target for job creation. However, it subscribes to Government’s overarching programme on job creation and reducing unemployment. In this regard, the ICT sector and digital economy are viewed as key levers. Some of the areas identified in creating jobs include: broadband connectivity; broadcasting digital migration; digital skills; electronic equipment installation and refurbishment such as set-top box installation, fibre rollout, Wi-Fi deployment, cell phone repairs and owner driver delivery etc. 

Thank You.

08 January 2024 - NW3068

Profile picture: Marais, Mr S

Marais, Mr S to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(1)On what date(s) did the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) hold its scheduled meetings in the (a) 2021, (b) 2022 and (c) 2023 calendar years to consider applications for all the (i) import and (ii) export permit applications as defined by the National Conventional Arms Control Act, Act 41 of 2002; (2) whether the NCACC has considered the instability that prevailed between Russia and Ukraine in both 2021 and 2022; if not, why not; if so, (3) whether the NCACC has considered any applications for imports and exports to and from Belarus, which has provided its territory to Russia since its first attacks on Ukraine, actively supported and participated in the Russian invasion of Ukraine and now houses the Russian Wagner private military group; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply:

1.

1.1 The NCACC Meetings are scheduled to take place on the last Thursday of each month from February to November in each year. Dates of scheduled NCACC meetings for 2021, 2022 and 2023 are as follows:

1.2 The 2021 meetings though scheduled as per ussual, were held virtually due to the protocols that were under COVID 19 Controls as prescribed under the State of Disaster as proclaimed at the time.

A. 2021

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEPT

OCT

NOV

25

25

29

27

24

29

26

30

28

25

 

B. 2022

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEPT

OCT

NOV

24

31

28

26

30

28

25

29

27

24

C. 2023

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEPT

OCT

NOV

23

30

27

25

29

27

31

28

26

30

2.

2.1 The NCACC applies the provisions of s15 of the NCACC Act (as amended) to evaluate and approve application(s), presented for such consideration. The NCACC has not considered and approved any applications to export to Russia and/or the Ukraine. Unless there were any such transfers, in contradiction to s15 of the Act, the contradiction of s15 of the Act would have been a conterpoint of consideration. However, given that none were considered, s15 has been applied without fail.

2.2 Importation of equipment from Russia and/or the Ukraine would not have come into contention, since the importation of controlled items seeks not/does not contribute destabilization of the Region. But, contributes to South Africa’s defensive needs.

3.

3.1 The NCACC is provided with intelligence reports on a systematized frequency and this subscribes to the manner of the criteria contained in various estimates. The reports also target the type of equipment for assessment in terms of whether such transfers are in line with both our domestic and international obligations. Key to this assessment is the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) that include arms embargo.

3.2 At no stage of assessment could the aspect of Belarus and/or the Wagner Group constitute an identified risk to consider at the time. Further, the applications that were destined for such a country would have come under scrutiny, given the applicable criteria of the NCACC Act.

3.3 Thus the question does not arise, other than it being postulate.

Thank you.

08 January 2024 - NW4090

Profile picture: Bodlani, Ms T

Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

In light of the fact that in October 2023, the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) employees embarked on a strike, requesting a 7.5% remuneration increase, (a) how did the strike impact SITA in its mandate to provide Information Technology services to various Government Departments, (b) what were the outcome of the agreement made with the Public Servants Association to end the strike and (c) how will SITA finance the remuneration increase?

Reply:

(a) The impact of the strike was mitigated through a robust business continuity and contingency plan. Critical ICT services continued to be provided during the strike.

(b) SITA and PSA agreed on a 5% salary increase across the board and a once off ex-gratia payment of R8326,45 per qualifying employee.

(c) The salary increase was fully funded from the planned 2023-2024 financial year labour cost budget.

Thank You.

08 January 2024 - NW2285

Profile picture: Marais, Mr S

Marais, Mr S to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether, with reference to the institution of an inquiry by the President of the Republic, Mr M C Ramaphosa, into matters surrounding the docking of the Russian vessel, Lady R, in Simonstown in December 2022, the import permits granted in 2019 and 2020 were still valid to offload Russian ammunition while the ship was docked and/or any applications for export permits for munitions to be loaded onto the specified vessel were received; if not, was the validity of the import permits extended by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee; if so, what are the details and reasons that the extension and the export permit application were not reported to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence?

Reply:

  1. The NCACC confirms that the import permits granted in 2019 and 2020 were not valid at the time of the offloading Russian ammunition while the ship was docked and/or any applications for export permits for munitions to be loaded onto the specified vessel were received.
  2. This is because the Permits issued at any given time have a limited lifespan and may only be extended to keep these valid but the extension in terms of legislation is limited. When such a time frame lapses so does the validity of the Permit. Thus, it goes without saying that the Import Permit issued in 2019 and 2020, would have lapsed.
  3. The Export Permits of munitions to be loaded on the specific vessel do not arise, since the NCACC has not received any application for such export permits therefore none would/were issued.
  4. Further, the Judge Mojapelo (retired) Panel Report also vindicated the NCACC by concluding that no ammunition was loaded onto that specific vessel.
  5. The Import Permits which were used in 2022 are linked to the same Order and Purchase by the Importer. However, the Order and Purchase are purely a commercial transaction and are not regulated under the NCAC Act.
  6. The Importer is entitled that in pursuance of their commercial interests to apply to the NCACC and should enjoy the full consideration by the Conventional Arms Control processes. This the Importer complied with in 2022 and was issued with the necessary Import Permits.
  7. The Importer applied for the Import Permits and these were issued as follows:

PERMIT 1 

(a) Import Permit IM0036810 which is the Final Import Permit that was issued and signed by the Secretariat of the NCACC in order for the Vessel that was carrying Equipment. This permit is referencing both Order Numbers of Armscor: KP467230/1 and KP467233. Further, this Import Permit also indicates that it is a replacement permit that replaced IM0036672, which had been cancelled earlier.

PERMIT 2

(b) The final issuing of Import Permit no IM0036677 was issued by the Secretariat as a result of a request for cancellation and an issue. This transaction resulted in the Permit being issued under a changed Import Permit to IM0036814 by the Importer.

Finally, the report(s) by the NCACC to Parliament in terms of s23 of the NCAC Act are compiled in a predetermined manner. Thus, ensuring consistency and probity when the respective Parliamentary Committee(s) have to exercise their Oversight Role.

Therefore, it is not an omission by the NCACC that the Export Permit(s) was not reported to Parliament. Such reporting is done/provided based on applications received and processed. Since no Export Permit was received by the NCACC, no report can be furnished to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD).

I trust that this enables the Member to fully appreciate and accept the factual aspects of the matters at hand.

 

Thank You.

08 January 2024 - NW4089

Profile picture: Bodlani, Ms T

Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(a) How has the R745 million debt that is owed to Sentech by the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) for signal distribution impacted Sentech’s operations, (b) how did the debt impact the long-awaited transition from analogue to digital signal distribution, (c) what interventions did the department make to mitigate the impact of the SABC’s debt to Sentech and (d) how will the SABC finance (i) its debt to Sentech and (ii) future distribution costs?    W5370E

Reply:

(a) & (b) The non-payment of the debt has impacted negatively on Sentech’s cashflow which in turn affects the company’s ability to fulfil its commitments in relation to CAPEX and operational working capital initiatives and maintenance plans.

(c) The DCDT advised the two entities to work together outside third parties to find a workable solution to resolve the signal tariff dispute. The two Boards committed to working together to find a solution and as such a joint committee of the Boards and Executives from both companies was established. The Department is still awaiting the report on the outcome of this committee. The two entities were also advised to enter a debt repayment plan whilst finding a workable solution for the tariff dispute. This was to ensure that the SABC makes monthly payments to minimise the impact of non-payment on Sentech. A debt repayment plan has since been entered.

(d)(i)(ii) The SABC is required to finance its debt obligations including that of Sentech through normal revenue sources so that it can meet all its debt obligations. The SABC is in the process of exploring alternative revenue sources that are set to increase its revenue generation base in the immediate term and a new Strategy has also been developed to improve revenue generation. In addition, in the medium to long-term, in anticipation of the SABC Bill being processed by Parliament, the Department will be reviewing the funding model of the public broadcaster. The funding of signal distribution costs, particularly for public broadcasting service platforms will be considered as part of the review process of SABC’s funding model.

Thank You.

08 January 2024 - NW3746

Profile picture: Manyi, Mr M

Manyi, Mr M to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Noting the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks, what measures are being taken to enhance the cybersecurity capabilities of the Republic and protect the personal data and privacy of citizens and businesses?

Reply:

In 2016, the Department established the national Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), namely the Cybersecurity Hub, as per the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework of 2015. The Cybersecurity Hub acts as the national CSIRT responsible for the private sector and citizens. It delivers various services including, among others, incident coordination, cybersecurity assessment and advisory services, cybersecurity awareness building and collaboration with private sector industry bodies tasked with issues of cybersecurity.

Measures taken to enhance the cybersecurity capabilities and protect the personal data and privacy of citizens and businesses include the following:

1. The Department in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education developed a Cybersecurity Schools Toolkit for Teachers, Parents and Learners which is freely available in digital and printed format. The School’s Toolkit was developed in order to equip teachers (and other caregivers) to educate learners on how to create and adapt to a cyber safety mindset and culture.

2. The Department also has a programme on child online protection which focuses on providing information to children, specifically girls on how to stay safe online and what to study at school to follow careers in the field of cybersecurity.

3. The Department led the development of a Cybersecurity Toolkit for SMMEs in collaboration with the Information Regulator, which is freely available in digital format. Training on the use of the toolkit was launched in November 2021 and included a provincial rollout which is currently underway. The SMME Toolkit provides the tools and knowledge to better guard against cybersecurity risks and drive greater compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act No. 4 of 2023 and international data protection legislation.

Thank You.

22 December 2023 - NW3145

Profile picture: Abrahams, Ms ALA

Abrahams, Ms ALA to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

On what date was the last SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) payment technical infrastructure and software updated by the SA Postbank, (b) what (i) year and (ii) model is the payment technical infrastructure and software currently in use for SASSA payments and (c) what is the cost of the payment technical infrastructure and software for the current financial year?

Reply:

(a)-(b) The South African Postbank SOC Ltd processes and pays SASSA grants using an Integrated Grant Payment System (IGPS) based on FSS Tech 5.1.0 Software and a payment switch, Postillion Switch 5.6 Software. The payment switch was last updated on 28 September 2023, version 2023.V1.5.0.  

(c) The payment technical infrastructure and software, IGPS are licensed until March 2024 for R32.2 million for the duration of the contract.

Thank You.

22 December 2023 - NW4115

Profile picture: Loate, Mr T

Loate, Mr T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(1)Whether the Government and/or his department initiated a programme such as Dubai’s National Programme for Coders to attract coders and programmers from around the world to create the best eco-system in the world to allow coders to develop, grow and thrive; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, (2) whether the Government intends to emulate Dubai’s initiative of attracting 100,000 golden visas for coders and establish 1000 digital companies in the next five years; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details, (3) what widescale internship opportunities are offered to South Africa’s youth in collaboration with global technical companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, IBM and Facebook?

Reply:

1. No.

2. No

3. In partnership with Huawei, the DCDT implements a yearly programme called ‘Seeds for the Future.’ The programme targets students from previously disadvantaged universities at third or fourth year level who attend a two-week training programme in China. The programme offers training in various fields such as Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, cloud and Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, as part of the implementation of the Cooperation Contract, the DCDT and Huawei jointly train SMMEs on the SMME Digital Skills Transformation which focuses on skills and capacity building in the areas of cloud computing, digital marketing, Huawei Cloud including cloud services.

Thank You.

22 December 2023 - NW4041

Profile picture: Majozi, Ms Z

Majozi, Ms Z to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

What is the number of (a) international and (b) domestic trips undertaken by senior officials in each entity reporting to him in the 2022-23 financial year?

Reply:

ENTITY

INTERNATIONAL

DOMESTIC

BBI

8

52

FPB

2

3

ICASA

13

18

NEMISA

0

11

POSTBANK

2

162

SAPO

0

6

SABC

0

64

SENTECH

46

2413

SITA

11

50

USAASA

1

42

ZADNA

9

29

Thank You.

22 December 2023 - NW3999

Profile picture: Tambo, Mr S

Tambo, Mr S to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether the SA Broadcasting Corporation has relinquished its part ownership on videos that were produced during the 1980s in partnership with record companies; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what were the terms of the termination?

Reply:

The Rules Committee took a decision on 4 and 23 November 2022, in respect of questions requesting information prior to 1994, that such questions should take into account the possible non-availability of information before the pre-democratic era (see page 10 of attached ATC).

The SABC has indicated that it is proving difficult to track information dating back to the 1980s.

Thank You.

12 December 2023 - NW3814

Profile picture: Majozi, Ms Z

Majozi, Ms Z to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(1)Whether his department has any targets for the attainment of full internet connectivity and/or access in the Republic; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details; (2) whether his department has recorded any tangible achievements following its commitments made at the 2005 Internet Governance World Summit on the Information Society; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply:

1. South Africa’s broadband policy, called SA Connect was adopted by Cabinet in December 2013 to meet the country’s vision of a seamless network by 2030. This will make broadband universally accessible at a cost and quality that meets the needs of citizens, formal and informal businesses, and the public sector. In September 2021, the Department embarked on a process to consider an alternative approach to ensure rapid broadband roll-out with due regard to fiscal constraints.

In January 2022, Cabinet approved the implementation of SA Connect Phase 2 revised model. The revised model comprises the following:

  • Community and household connectivity.
  • Government facilities connectivity.
  • Universal Service Obligations to connect public service institutions.

Targets:

a) Community and household connectivity - BBI and SENTECH will extend their networks and onboard Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deploy 32 055 Wi-Fi hotspots to enable 5 573 258 household coverage.

b) Connectivity to government facilities - SITA will provide and maintain connectivity to 14 342 government facilities across the country as part of its mandate as per the SITA Act.

c) Universal Service Obligations – Telcos that were assigned licensed spectrum by ICASA during the recent auction have social obligations to connect 33 431 sites made up of 18 520 schools, 5 721 hospitals and clinics, 949 libraries and 8 241 tribal authority sites over a period of 60 months from date of licensing.

2. Internet Governance Forum is a United Nations process that provides an open, multi-stakeholder and inclusive platform for dialogue and best practice sharing on public policy issues inherent to the governance, regulation and development of the Internet.

The global Internet Governance forum (IGF) has been in existence since 2006. The establishment of the IGF was one of the outcomes of the World Summit for the Information Society. The IGF's objective was to serve as a multi-stakeholder forum for engagement on Internet policy matters. It has no decision-making powers but serves as a platform for sharing ideas.

Pursuant to the WSIS outcomes on Internet Governance and in consultation with other stakeholders (public, private, civil society, academia, technical community etc) the National Internet Governance Forum (ZAIGF) had its inaugural meeting in 2011. Since then, the Department and ZADNA in collaboration with multi-stakeholders has convened 8 IGFs in various parts of the country. The outcomes of the ZAIGF inform the development of South Africa’s positions on the various public policy internet issues. These positions are advocated at various international platforms such as Southern African IGF, African IGF and Global IGF respectively.

Thank You.

12 December 2023 - NW3745

Profile picture: Manyi, Mr M

Manyi, Mr M to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

What measures have been put in place to fast-track, expand, and improve digital infrastructure and broadband access across the Republic, particularly in underserved rural areas, to ensure equitable access to information and communication technologies?

Reply:

South Africa’s broadband policy (SA Connect) was adopted by Cabinet in December 2013 to meet the country’s vision of a seamless network by 2030. This will make broadband universally accessible at a cost and quality that meets the needs of citizens, formal and informal businesses, and the public sector. In September 2021, the Department embarked on a process to consider an alternative approach to ensure rapid broadband roll-out with due regard to fiscal constraints.

In January 2022, Cabinet approved the implementation of the SA Connect Phase 2 revised model. The revised model comprises the following:

  • Community and household connectivity.
  • Government facilities connectivity.
  • Universal Service Obligations to connect public service institutions.

Targets:

  1. Community and household connectivity - BBI and SENTECH will extend their networks and onboard Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deploy 32 055 Wi-Fi hotspots to enable 5 573 258 household coverage.
  2. Connectivity to government facilities - SITA will provide and maintain connectivity to 14 342 government facilities across the country as part of its mandate as per the SITA Act.
  3. Universal Service Obligations – Telcos that were assigned licensed spectrum by ICASA during the recent auction have social obligations to connect 33 431 sites made up of 18 520 schools, 5 721 hospitals and clinics, 949 libraries and 8 241 tribal authority sites over 60 months from date of licensing.

Furthermore, the spectrum licensed to mobile operators has coverage obligations to ensure that their networks are expanded to increase population coverage. The Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies finalised and published in a government gazette the Rapid Deployment Policy to support the roll-out of digital infrastructure by putting in place the enabling framework.

Thank You.

12 December 2023 - NW3503

Profile picture: Majozi, Ms Z

Majozi, Ms Z to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

What are the relevant details of the (a) budget allocated for, (b) actual expenditure and (c) developments regarding the building of a national broadband network to connect government departments, hospitals and schools?

Reply:

In January 2022, Cabinet approved the implementation of SA Connect Phase 2 revised model. The revised model comprises:

  • Community and household connectivity.
  • Connectivity to government facilities.
  • Universal Service Obligations to connect amongst others: schools and health facilities.

Broadband Infraco (BBI) and SENTECH will extend their networks and onboard Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deploy Wi-Fi hotspots and enable household coverage. SITA will provide and maintain connectivity to government sites through the current process of tasking. The telcos, under the ICASA High Demand Spectrum social obligations, will connect schools, hospitals, clinics, libraries and tribal authority sites.

a) Allocated Budget

  • (i) An amount of R3 billion was allocated over 2 financial years (2023/2024 – R1.1 billion and 2024/2025 – R1.9 billion). In light of the cost containment measures, the National Treasury has imposed a 15% budget cut on the year 1 budget allocation, reducing the year 1 budget from R1.1bn to R935 million effectively reducing the overall budget from R3bn to R2 835bn. This budget is split amongst the entities as follows:
    • Broadband Infraco has been allocated R1.36 billion to build and operate the core telecommunications network infrastructure for the SA Connect programme.
    • Sentech has been allocated R566 million to build the access network.
    • SITA has been allocated R576 million to provide network equipment and Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) for government facilities.
    • The balance of the funds is allocated to pay BBI and SITA for the maintenance of Phase 1 connectivity to schools, health facilities and government offices.
  • (ii) The budget to connect schools and health facilities through the universal service obligations will be allocated by Telcos, that received the spectrum through the auction.

b) Expenditure

  1. An amount of R359-million has been spent on the maintenance of Phase 1 connectivity to government, schools and health facilities by BBI and SITA.
  2. The department has disbursed R167.4-million to the core network implementing agent (BBI) thus far. BBI has commenced the procurement process to enable implementation and has committed R163-million for aggregation IP equipment, core IP equipment, IP equipment installation, core network management services, resource costs, and the balance remaining in the bank (to be utilised by end of November) is R3.4 million.
  3. The department has disbursed R172.5-million to the access network implementing agent (Sentech) thus far. Sentech has commenced the procurement process required to commence with the implementation and has committed R163-million for the proof of concept, access infrastructure, edge infrastructure, billing engine, very small aperture terminal (VSAT) services and the balance remaining (to be utilised by end of December) is R9.5-million.
  4. SITA is finalising the implementation plan and engaging the respective national and provincial government departments regarding their requirements to upgrade their services and associated customer premises equipment. The approved implementation plan will enable the department to disburse funds to SITA. SITA has not spent the allocated funds.

c) Developments regarding the building of a national broadband network to connect government departments, hospitals and schools:

  1. BBI has completed the design to extend and upgrade the existing network by almost 1144 km of fibre routes and 20 Points of Presence to aggregate SA Connect data traffic for the planned 32 055 Community Wi-Fi hotspots and household coverage over the next 36 months.
  2. Sentech has completed the design for the access network consisting of 840 base stations and 1600 VSATs to be used in challenging or mountainous terrain.
  3. SITA has commenced the upgrade of the core network and procurement of CPEs to accommodate the increased requirements for upgraded government facilities. To date over 5000 government facilities have been upgraded in Eastern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and Western Cape provinces. Further upgrades of the network will be implemented pursuant to the finalisation of the implementation plan.

Thank You.

11 December 2023 - NW3489

Profile picture: Mazzone, Ms NW

Mazzone, Ms NW to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Considering the Auditor General’s Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report referring to the Postbank’s Information Technology vulnerabilities and the instruction by the SA Reserve Bank in 2021 to resolve its IT issues, why do these concerns continue to exist?

Reply:

The Postbank which was previously a division of SAPO used SAPO’s outdated and ageing IT infrastructure which was not fit for banking purposes. As a result, the bank embarked on an IT infrastructure modernisation project which intended to address its legacy IT issues including those identified by the SA Reserve Bank. Progress has been made in this regard and the project is 70% complete.

In September 2023, in addressing the SA Reserve variation notice conditions and as part of its IT infrastructure modernisation, the Postbank migrated from an old financial switch to a new financial switch, which resulted in some issues which impacted the payment of SASSA grants.

The issues were identified, resolved and the payment processing system has since been stabilised resulting in 4.8 million beneficiaries being paid in September 2023. After this stabilisation phase, there have been no issues with the processing of payments.

Thank You.

11 December 2023 - NW3488

Profile picture: Mazzone, Ms NW

Mazzone, Ms NW to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Noting that the Auditor General’s Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report cited lack of effective monitoring and evaluation in the SA Post Office’s annual performance and with SAPO set to receive a R3.8 billion bailout, what actions will he take to ensure that taxpayer funds are effectively managed?

Reply:

The Business Rescue Practitioners are in the process of finalising the SAPO business rescue plan, which will be submitted for approval by the creditors, by the end of November 2023.

The matters raised herein form part of what will be entailed within the plan. The BRPs request an opportunity to conclude their plan – and will respond to the questions thereafter.

Thank You.

11 December 2023 - NW3367

Profile picture: Mazzone, Ms NW

Mazzone, Ms NW to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

How will the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Bill of 2023 resolve the Public Broadcaster’s financial shortfalls, considering that the (a) Bill retains the SABC’s 1999 funding model, (b) Bill’s Commercial Board is not tasked with a new funding model and (c) Bill tasks the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies and the Minister of Finance with a new funding model, but not the Board of Directors?

Reply:

a) The SABC Bill aims to address the challenges faced by the SABC and ensure its sustainability in an evolving media landscape. One key aspect of the Bill is to provide the SABC with greater flexibility in TV content procurement that will enable it to compete more effectively and offer a wider range of entertainment options. Through the Commercial subsidiary with exclusive commercial license conditions, the SABC will be unencumbered from the rigid provisions of the PFMA. The Bill allows the organisation to explore new avenues for content acquisition and delivery. The establishment of the Commercial subsidiary will also provide an opportunity for the SABC to keep and attract talented Executives and employees who possess the best skillsets and business acumen required to run the commercial operations of the SABC.

The SABC Bill will enable the corporation to negotiate and secure high-quality content from local and international sources thereby accessing a broader range of programmes, including popular shows, documentaries, films, and sporting events. In offering a more diverse and appealing content lineup, the SABC can attract a wider viewership and cater to the varied interests of its audience.

Additionally, the Bill provides the SABC with an option to create new channels and digital platforms, thereby expanding its offerings and attracting even more viewers. By offering a wider selection of channels, the SABC can better compete with other broadcasters and streaming platforms, ultimately enhancing its competitiveness in the industry. This will drive long-term profitability which is a key component of financial sustainability of the public broadcaster.

b) The SABC Bill intends to resolve the public broadcaster’s financial shortfalls by introducing a new Commercial Board that will oversee the SABC’s commercial activities and operations. It will play a major role in the corporation’s overall commercial success at a time when the SABC requires significant and sustained commercial growth and income. An opportunity will also allow for the SABC Board to provide input and make recommendations in regard to the new funding model.

c) The funding for public media services - including first world and developing countries - remains the responsibility of Governments and, in South Africa’s case, is the responsibility Cabinet and Parliament when integrated into any legislative framework as it involves public funds. However, the SABC Board has the right to make recommendations on the kind of funding model adopted by the Executive or legislature.

Thank You.

11 December 2023 - NW3338

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Graham, Ms SJ to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(1)(a) Which branches of the SA Post Office (SAPO) are closed on a temporary basis in the Dr Beyers Naudé Local Municipality, (b) what are the reasons that the specified post offices are closed and (c) on what date will they re-open; (2)(a) Which branches of the SAPO are permanently closed in the Dr Beyers Naudé Local Municipality and (b) what number of employees (i) have had their jobs terminated in the specified municipality and (ii) are still employed, but not working? NW4458E

Reply:

1.

(a) Temporary Closed

(b) Reasons for closure

(c) Date it will be re-opened

Graaf Reinet Post Office

Non payment of rent from July 2023. The office was locked by the landlord.

Submission for urgent payment in process for consideration by the Business Resue Practitioners (BRPs)

Willmore Post Office

Non payment of rent. The office was locked on 21 July 2023 by the landlord.

Submission for urgent payment in process for consideration by the BRPs.

Jansenville Post Office

Non payment of rent. The office was locked on 23 October 2023 by the landlord.

Submission for urgent payment in process for consideration by the BRPs.

(2)(a) No branches are permanently closed in the Dr Beyers Naudé Local Municipality.

(2)(b)(i)(ii) No employees have been retrenched to date and where branches have been closed, these employees have been transferred to other branches.

Thank You.

11 December 2023 - NW3065

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Abrahams, Ms ALA to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(1)What (a) number of the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiaries were adversely affected by the payment glitch in the period 5 to 8 September 2023 in each (i) province and (ii) grant category, (b) what were the root causes of the payment glitch and (c) what measures has the Postbank put in place to ensure that payment glitches do not occur again; (2) whether the payment glitch was due to a lack of funds within the SASSA account; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details; (3) whether any fraudulent activity was detected during the specified period; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details; (4) what training is provided to retailer staff to better equip them to respond to SASSA beneficiaries; (5) whether the Postbank has access to bulk SMS to communicate with beneficiaries when payment glitches arise; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply:

(1)(a) Only 10% of 5.3 million beneficiaries that are paid by Postbank were impacted.

(i) The glitch impacted beneficiaries across all provinces nationally (10% of 5.3 million beneficiaries that are paid via Postbank).

(ii) The glitch impacted elderly beneficiaries that were supposed to receive their grant payments during that period.

(1)(b) The IT challenges were due to post migration issues relating to different factors. These include time cuts due to communication capacity between different systems. The issue was resolved on the same day (5 September 2023) at 4 pm and since then the system has been stable.

(1)(c) The Postbank has implemented the following measures in relation to the October 2023 social grants payments preparations:-

  • Enhanced monitoring mechanisms to track the payment process in real-time.
  • Strengthened its technical infrastructure to handle higher transaction volumes, ensuring swift and uninterrupted disbursements.
  • Engaged specialists for a comprehensive review of the system and to continuously rectify any vulnerabilities.

The new payments system was tested in accordance with acceptable industry system testing protocols including Component Integration Testing (CIT), System Integration Testing (SIT) and Industry Testing prior to the system going live.

2. No. The IT challenges did not affect the depositing of funds to any beneficiaries’ accounts but rather impacted the withdrawal ability of funds for some beneficiaries.

3. No fraudulent activity has been identified and/or reported to date.

4. As part of the retailer onboarding process, retailers received training and training manuals regarding the withdrawal process. Additionally, they provide ongoing training to their employees through their training centres countrywide on customer care, query escalation and withdrawals using merchant points of sale.

5. The Postbank has the capability to provide bulk SMS which will be utilised to provide beneficiaries with information in the event the Postbank has payment challenges. However, the Postbank was unable to utilise it at the time as it did not have updated cell phone details of most social grant recipients.

Thank you.

11 December 2023 - NW3934

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Bagraim, Mr M to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether (a) he, (b) the Deputy Minister and (c) any other official in his department attended the Rugby World Cup final in France in October 2023; if not; what is the position in this regard; if so, what (i) are the relevant details of each person in his department who attended the Rugby World Cup, (ii) is the total number of such persons and (iii) were the total costs of (aa) travel, (bb) accommodation and (cc) any other related costs that were incurred by his department as a result of the trip(s)?

Reply:

a) No

b) No

c) No

Thank You.

11 December 2023 - NW3729

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Mkhonto, Ms C N to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Considering that several poor and unemployed women in the rural areas have been contributing towards group funeral schemes with the SA Post Office (SAPO), and noting that in the past three weeks their funeral claims could not be paid, with SAPO claiming that it has run out of funds, (a) what is the exact reason behind the nonpayment of the SAPO funeral claims, (b) what total number of (i) claims has SAPO received from 1 October 2023 to date and (ii) the specified claims were not paid, (c) what is the total monetary value of the claims, (d) which provinces are most affected, (e) by what date is it envisaged that the claims will be honoured and (f) how does SAPO intend to ensure that all the investors do not lose their funeral benefits?

Reply:

(a)(b)(c)(d)(e)(f) The SAPO does not have a product on funeral schemes. It only collects monthly premiums for Assupol, Lifewise etc. and no claims for these clients are processed via SAPO. The only claims for funeral cover that are claimed through the Post Office are for the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) which is funded by them, and there is no backlog with these (GEPF) claims.

Thank You.

15 November 2023 - NW2599

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Cebekhulu, Inkosi RN to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

What are the details of the steps that his department has taken to ensure that more black youth makes a breakthrough into the technology industry?

Reply:


There are a number of initiatives that the DCDT, working with its State-Owned Companies and the private sector, are rolling out to ensure more black youth enter the technology industry.

The following projects are being implemented to aggressively provide opportunities for Black youth in the ICT subsectors:

  1. The SA Connect programme, whose primary aim is to expand digital infrastructure through broadband network deployment, intends to empower SMMEs and create jobs;
  2. To support the digital economy and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, the DCDT aims to train 90 000 beneficiaries on cellphone repairs, software development, cloud technologies, Web/App development and podcasting, amongst others. These areas are prioritised as they have the potential to increase the employability of young people and empower them to create cooperatives so as to provide services in their local areas;
  3. The Youth Internet Service Provider Project has a long-term goal of having more young people and youth-owned SMMEs being fully-fledged Internet Service Providers. Young people are trained as domain name resellers and, later, are upgraded to become domain name registrars. The project trains 50 young people per province;
  4. The department is involved in the Digitization of Youth Enterprises, which is a pilot project with 30 enterprises, focusing on the impact and requirements for digitization by youth enterprises to fully participate in e-commerce. It also seeks to maximize their digital online presence;
  5. A pilot project to create The Digital Media and Film Indaba is presently being finalised by the DCDT. It has targeted over 300 young people from rural areas. Umsinga was identified as one of the areas that has seen several popular short films and telenovelas (e.g., Isibaya) being shot in different sites;
  6. The DCDT has, through NEMISA, integrated Digital Entrepreneurship training in some of its programmes to enable young people to start their own businesses. In the Creative/Audio Visual Industry, the following programmes are being implemented in the current financial year:
  1. 2D Animation Bootcamp: Digital Literacy, and Design Foundation (SABC Campus: Gauteng)
  2. Graphic Design Bootcamp: Digital Literacy, and Design Foundation (SABC Campus: Gauteng)
  3. Interactive Media Bootcamp: Digital Literacy, and Design Foundation (SABC Campus: Gauteng)
  4. Drawing Workshop Eastern Cape: Non-accredited workshop (Cortex Hub: Eastern Cape)
  5. Radio Project: Radio Production (SABC Campus: Gauteng)
  6. Film Project: Film and Television Production (SABC Campus: Gauteng)
  7. Radio Project: Radio Production (Mpumalanga: Nelspruit)
  8. Radio Project: Radio Production (NWU Free State & Northern Cape)
  1. And, finally, the DCDT, in collaboration with SITA, developed a South African digital marketplace portal referred to as DigiTech. The purpose of the DigiTech Programme is to collate data about digital products developed locally with the aim of supporting the products’ technology enablement, promoting, and expanding their market reach. The DCDT is forging partnerships with global and local ICT companies who have existing sponsorship and mentorship programmes to support DigiTech SMMEs. The industry companies will also support the DigiTech SMMEs with technical vetting and categorisation of their digital products and SMME Development Support (access to funding, markets and skills development).


Thank You.

27 October 2023 - NW2623

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Siwisa, Ms AM to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether, with reference to his reply to question 2263 on 30 June 2023, he will furnish Ms A M Siwisa with the list of (a) schools mentioned and (b) the municipality in which each school is situated; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply:

Find reply here

27 October 2023 - NW3363

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Powell, Ms EL to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether his department incurred any costs in relation to the hosting of the (a) BRICS Summit from 22 to 24 August 2023 and (b) BRICS Parliamentary Forum from 27 to 28 September 2023; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what was the total cost incurred by his department?

Reply:

(a) No

(b) No.


The Department did not incur any costs from the country hosting the 15th BRICS Heads of State and Government Summit or the BRICS Parliamentary Summit.


Thank You.

29 September 2023 - NW2535

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Breedt, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

1. With reference to SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) Card Replacement Distribution Plan that has been prepared by a team from Postbank, that will serve as a framework upon which the roll-out of the SASSA card replacement programme will be undertaken throughout the Republic, (a) what are the details of the plan, (b) (i) on what date and (ii) how will the details of the specified plan be communicated to (aa) SASSA beneficiaries and (bb) the public in general, (c) what steps have been put in place to ensure that the Postbank does not run out of cards and (d) what steps will SASSA beneficiaries take to ascertain when they are due for an upgrade. 2. Whether he will make a statement on the matter?

Reply:

Find reply here

 

29 September 2023 - NW3021

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Mazzone, Ms NW to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether he has met with the Minister of Social Development to discuss where and how the SA Social Security Agency payments will be made when the liquidation of the Post Office is finalised in October; if not, why not; if so, what are the details of the plan that has been put in place to provide payment services in the interim in places where Post Offices have already been forced to shut their doors?

Reply:

Find reply here

29 September 2023 - NW2935

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Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

What are the relevant details of the progress made by the SA Postbank to improve the security deficiencies as identified by the SA Reserve Bank?

Reply:

Find reply here

 

29 September 2023 - NW2934

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Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital

Technologies: [% 552] [Question submitted for oral reply now placed for written reply because it is in excess of quota (Rule 137(8))] Whether, in light of the circulating reports that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalists in Limpopo and other provinces film and edit news stories with their personal cellphones, the SABC media personnel have all the necessary equipment to execute their job; if not, what are the details of the shortages; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply:

Find reply here

29 September 2023 - NW2896

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Mazzone, Ms NW to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(a) What (i) total number of post offices have had to shut their doors since the day the Gauteng North High Court granted the rule nisi order in the SA Post Office provisional liquidation case on 2 June 2023 and (ii)(aa) are the names and (bb) is the location of each office and (b) where will the the SA Social Security Agency grant recipients who are affected by the closure of their post office collect their grants?

Reply:

Find reply here

 

29 September 2023 - NW2847

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Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether he, in collaboration with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure will reduce the number of SA Post Offices (SAPO) that are leased and/or operate offices of SAPO out of properties owned by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) to reduce expenditure; if not, why not; if so, what (a) number of offices are operating from properties owned by the DPWI and (b) are the details in this regard?

Reply:

Find reply here

 

29 September 2023 - NW2738

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Alexander, Ms W to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(a) What total amount did (i) his department and (ii) each entity reporting to him pay for printed copies of the integrated annual reports in the (aa) 2020-21, (bb) 2021-22 and (c) 2022-23 financial years, (b) who were the suppliers in each case and (c) what total number of copies of the reports were printed (i) in each case and (il) in each specified financial year?

Reply:

Find reply here

 

29 September 2023 - NW2668

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Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

1. Whether the SA Post Office has identified the non-core properties that will be sold as part of its realignment project, if not, what is the position in this regards, if so, 2. Whether he will furnish Ms T Bodlani with a list of the properties that have already been identified; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details; 3. What is the expected revenue from the sale exercise?

Reply:

Find reply here

 

29 September 2023 - NW2667

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Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(a) What is the budgeted amount needed to improve mail and parcel revenue which will need a fleet of 453 vehicles to be sourced, (b) what budget is available to the SA Post Office (SAPO) in each financial year to reduce the vehicle backlog requirements, (c) how will the sourcing of vehicles affect the finances of SAPO and (d) where will SAPO received the budget to fund the specified vehicles?

Reply:

Find reply here

 

 

 

29 September 2023 - NW2666

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Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(a) What total number of employees of the SA Post Office (SAPO) have taken the Owner Driver Scheme offer and creation of Employee-Owned Companies in order to reduce the current workforce headcount in each province and (b) how has the specified project impacted service delivery of SAPO?

29 September 2023 - NW2600

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Luthuli, Mr BN to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether his department has any plans to go paperless in the near future; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply:

The Department intends to go paperless as it already has an approved digital transformation strategy which involves digitising its administrative business processes which are department wide as well as its core business processes. This journey towards a paperless organisation is intended to be implemented in a phased approach partnering with SITA and based on resource availability.

Thank You

 

21 September 2023 - NO514

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Gumbu, Mr TT to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

(a) What are the strategic resolutions that the Republic can leverage on from the series of meetings he hosted with BRICS Ministers of Communications from 31 July to 4 August 2023 (details furnished) and (b) how will the strategies help to tackle head-on the triple challenges that continue to confront the Republic? NO3353E

Reply:

The BRICS Ministers Meeting and other related meetings took placed from 31 July to 4 August 2023. The DCDT also convened a Business-to-Business engagement (B2B Dialogue) that focused on digital infrastructure roll-out that promotes universal connectivity, investment in digital skills and capacity building, and establishing a thriving digital economy. The B2B Dialogue was inclusive of over 105 participants including multinationals and SOEs. The main outcome related to cooperation and collaboration in investment in Digital Inclusion to achieve universal connectivity and universal access to Telecommunication/ICT services. The declaration is made available for anyone interested.

(b) There are specific areas of cooperation in the form of collective action, in research and development, skills transfer, exchange of knowledge and best practice as it relates to policy formulation and implementation that was agreed to.

Thank You.

21 September 2023 - NO520

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Tambo, Mr S to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

What are the reasons that the SA Broadcasting Corporation constantly reverts to sub-licensing agreements with a certain company (name furnished) when it comes to broadcasting major sporting events that could generate revenue for the entity? NO3359

Reply:

As a public broadcaster, the SABC is expected to broadcast national sports events as provided for in the ICASA Sports broadcasting regulations. When right holders’ sell Free to Air (FTA) rights to a subscription / pay television broadcaster, the SABC is forced to sub-licence these rights from the broadcaster to fulfill its mandate. This, unfortunately, often comes with inflated pricing and with additional restrictive and possibly anti-competitive conditions.

Thank You.

21 September 2023 - NO519

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Tambo, Mr S to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

What is the practical and step-by-step plan of his department to resolve the problems of access to internet connectivity in the Republic?

Reply:

    1. Cabinet approved the revised SA Connect Phase 2 model and implementation plan which connects both Government and communities.

      The approved model is based on a partnership between SITA, Broadband Infraco and Sentech. It includes implementation via the social obligations in the new licensing plan of high demand spectrum, with Departments being responsible for maintenance thereafter.

      The step-by-step targets for each category are as follows:

      1. SITA will connect Government Sites (National and Provincial Departments – including the South African Police Service) and excluding schools and clinics (unless they are part of the existing broadband initiatives). Over the next 3 years:
      SITA will connect at a minimum of 10 megabits per second (Mbps) a total of 14 742 Government sites as well as 949 libraries and Thusong Centres

      Existing budgets from line departments must be utilised for maintenance and the extension of services provided by SITA.


      2. Telecommunication companies through the ICASA-awarded High Demand Spectrum licenses will be mandated as part of their Service Obligations within 36 months to provide 10Mbps (uplink and downlink), uncapped and upgradable for the same duration that the entities are licensed to utilise the spectrum broadband services to connect a total of:
      • 18 520 schools
      • 1764 pitals and 3967 clinics
      • 567 libraries and Thusong centres; and
      • 8241 Traditional and Tribal Authority centres

      3. Broadband Infraco and SENTECH will provide broadband infrastructure to enable more broadband connection possibilities at a minimum of 5 Mbps, positively affecting 5 830 208 households over the next 3 years, as follows:
      • 840 Open Access Base stations
      • 33 539 community Wi-Fi hotspots to connect 5 830 208 households
      • 1 600 households using a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) connections in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape mountainous areas

      Thank You.

21 September 2023 - NO502

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Mthembu, Ms AH to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Noting that the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has reported to only have R234 million remaining from the R3,2 billion bailout funds that it received from the National Treasury, what (a) are the relevant details of the total amount of the used funds that have been directed towards the commercialisation of the SABC for profit maximisation and programmes attached to such funds and (b) plans are in place to mitigate against declining revenue as a result of a decline (details furnished)?

Reply:


The SABC was allocated an amount of R3.2 billion in 2019 to fund initiatives outlined in its approved Turnaround Plan, aimed at transforming its financial sustainability status. More specifically, these funds were intended for the settlement of trade and other payables, investment in fresh and compelling content as well as funding long-term capital expenditure projects and partnerships crucial for monetizing and commercializing SABC Television, Radio and Digital platforms.

The investment in content was therefore vital for increasing audiences across all SABC platforms on TV, Radio, Digital and Sport to drive revenue performance. As of 31st March 2023, the SABC spent a total of R1.1 billion out of the allocated R1.2 billion from the bailout specifically designate for content investment aimed at driving commercialization of platforms and ultimately enhancing the profitability for the public broadcaster. Unfortunately, the investment in content efforts by the SABC did yield desired results towards the commercialisation of the SABC for profit maximisation.


The R1.2 billion that was allocated to Content was used to fund 196 properties across the following genres mainly: Drama, Entertainment, Children, Religion, Education, and Documentaries. The SABC indicated that it was difficult to commercialise newly acquired content successfully and extracting profits from it. Although some of the popular dramas and entertainment properties yielded significant profits, the SABC has advised that new dramas that were premiered, did not meet expectations towards profit maximisation. Regarding the investment in Capex projects and their potential to contribute towards profit maximisation, the SABC indicated that this will only be evident in years to come.

The projects funded from the bailout funding were a combination of projects to start the journey towards digital transformation and some critical projects to replace aging technology infrastructure. These were almost all major and complex projects that not only required open tender processes following the compilation of complex specifications, but the project rollouts are all multiyear in nature with benefits that can only be tracked post project handover.


The newly appointed Board has developed a Revenue Improvement Plan that is expected to protect and attract current and new audiences respectively to safeguard the current revenue base and improve financial performance over the short-medium to long term period. The plan cannot be attached due to its commercial sensitivity implying that the details of the plan cannot be shared as part of this response.

Thank You.

29 August 2023 - NW2227

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Tambo, Mr S to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether he will elaborate in a comprehensive manner the bases of the predicted revenue increase for the SA Post Office of an average annual rate of 4.7% per cent, from R5.5 billion in the 2021-22 financial year to R6.3 billion in the 2024-25 financial year, which he alluded to in the recent debate on Budget Vote 30; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply:

The revenue budgets for the SA Post Office are contained in the Corporate Plan. In determining the revenue budgets in the Corporate Plan the following aspects were taken into consideration:

• Current revenue
• Current cost
• Revenue projects and initiatives
• Cost containment projects and initiatives
• Revenue tariff increases
• Inflationary increases

The budget is as per the Corporate Plan 2023/24FY is indicated below:

29 August 2023 - NW2195

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Mazzone, Ms NW to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

With reference to his reply to question 1210 on 19 May 2023 and the costs associated with the upgrade of the Digitech website, (a) what is the name of the company, entity and/or person to whom the contract was awarded to redesign the website, (b) who are the directors and/or members of the entity that was awarded the specified contract, (c) what specifications and/or requirements were required in the design, (d) what is the purpose and function of the new website, (e) what was the justification for the cost of almost R 750 000 for redesigning the website and (f) what are the reasons that an outside service provider was appointed instead of the State Information Technology Agency that designed the original website?

Reply:

I have been advised by the Department as follows:-

(a) No external service provider was awarded the contract, as SITA was tasked by the DCDT to develop the website.

(b) No external service provider was awarded the contract, as SITA was tasked by the DCDT to develop the website.

(c) All requirements for the solution have been included in the User Requirement Specification (URS).

(d) The purpose of DigiTech is to collect data about digital products developed in South Africa with the aim of supporting the products’ technology enablement and promote and expand their adoption and use. Through DigiTech, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies seeks to promote SA-developed digital products in other markets whilst facilitating partnerships with other countries on the co-promotion of local technologies (source: https://www.digitech.gov.za/en/about)

(e) The development of the website included the following key items:

• Project Management
• Infrastructure Provisioning Requirements and Software Upgrade o Upgrade of the O/S
• Upgrade of Application software
• Commissioning of the beta environment at CFI
• Development (analysis, design, and testing)
• User Requirement Specification
• Conceptual Solution Architecture
•Developing the DigiTech according to the URS
•Updating the Digitech website with the new theme
• Testing o Technical Testing
• UAT and Sign-off
• Implementation o Vulnerability assessment scans
•Deployment

(f) SITA was tasked by the DCDT to develop the website

05 July 2023 - NW1039

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Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communication and Digital Technologies

What (a) total number of persons left the SA Broadcasting Corporation in the past three financial years and (b) were the reasons for doing so? NW1149E

Reply:

Find here: Reply

30 June 2023 - NW1422

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Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether his department has put any plan in place to review the funding model of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa to (a) include self-funding hybrid provisions and (b) align the required funding in relation to the benefits derived from the digital strategy of the Republic; if not, what is the position in each case; if so, what are the relevant details in each case?

Reply:


No, the Department currently has no plan in place to review the funding model of ICASA. Further, ICASA has not submitted a proposal for a revised funding model.
 

Thank You.

30 June 2023 - NW2263

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Siwisa, Ms AM to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

In light of the continued talks about the 4th industrial revolution and how the level of communication within society is fast depending on technology, what are the details of the (a) collaborations she has undertaken with the Department of Basic Education to introduce technological ways of promoting teaching and learning in schools and (b) schools that will be using technological ways of teaching and learning, with specific reference to township schools and schools in rural areas?

Reply:


(a) The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies has collaborated with the Department of Basic Education to introduce technological ways of promoting teaching and learning in schools. By issuing policy direction to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) during the Covid-19 pandemic to release temporary spectrum license to telecommunications operators, an obligation was put in place to provide broadband connectivity for 17 months from the date of implementation during the 2021/2022 financial year. A virtual classroom solution was developed at 17 (seventeen) schools where laptops were given to all Grade 12 learners as well as teachers at these schools. The virtual classroom solution had the following items:-

• Wireless microphone;
• Video Camera;
• Smart Board;
• LED Monitor/Display with Webcam;
• 24” Monitor;
• Collaborative Learning Management Software;
• Learning Management Software;
• Video Platform; and,
• Tracking software on learners and teachers’ devices.

Out of these seventeen (17) schools, 5 were in the Eastern Cape, 2 in the North West, 3 in the Northern Cape, 2 in Limpopo, 1 in Kwa-Zulu Natal, 2 in the Free State, and 2 in Mpumalanga.


(b)

1. The seventeen (17) schools which received the virtual classroom solution were either in townships or in rural areas of South Africa.

2. In the 2021/22 financial year, Broadband Infraco (BBI) provided connectivity, including Wi-Fi and Telematics (IT related) training, at Mhlanganisweni Technical High School in the Port St Johns Municipality in the Eastern Cape. The Telematics facility done in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch.

3. As part of the SA Connect Phase 1 programme, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies provided broadband connectivity (including Wi-Fi) to 596 public schools in South Africa. Also, under the Universal Service and Access Obligation for 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz, 4770 public mainstream schools and 140 special needs schools in South Africa were provided with broadband connectivity by mobile network operators.

4. Services are scheduled to be rolled out to 18 520 public schools nationally, under the SA Connect Phase 2. License Spectrum Service Obligations Stream will be done by the various Telcos, namely Telkom, Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, and Rain Networks. ICASA is finalising the terms and conditions of these obligations with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that these obligations are implemented.

Thank You.

30 June 2023 - NW2194

Profile picture: Mazzone, Ms NW

Mazzone, Ms NW to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether he will consider amending the regulations to allow companies such as Starlink to operate within the Republic, where it is in the public interest to be exempted from the 30% equity requirement (details furnished); if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? NW2491E

Reply:


The 30% equity to be held by historically disadvantaged groups as enunciated in the regulations is derived from section 9(2)(b) of the Electronic Communications Act (Act No. 36 of 2005) as amended. On this basis, the regulations giving effect to the provisions of the Act, cannot be amended until the ECA is amended.

Any interested party, including Starlink can engage the Regulator to seek advise on operations in South Africa.

|As a Department, we welcome partners and investors to develop and invest in the sector and economy; and appeal that they comply with regulations for the sector.


Thank You.

30 June 2023 - NW2155

Profile picture: Majozi, Ms Z

Majozi, Ms Z to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Considering that in his Budget Vote speech in 2023 he reiterated that the aim of his department is to enhance connectivity to government facilities such as schools, health facilities and government offices with high-speed internet access which would, in turn, enable them to serve as connectivity hubs for their users and surrounding communities, and noting that he committed to connecting 1,7 million households with broadband connectivity by the end of the 2023-24 financial year, what (a) progress has been made in fulfilling the specified aim since his commitment and (b) total number of households have been connected with broadband connectivity to date?

Reply:

a) The commitment aims to enable 1.7 million households to access internet services by expanding infrastructure, which will be utilized by partnering Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide metered internet services.

• The deployment of infrastructure to provide access has not yet commenced. In May 2023, the Treasury confirmed accessibility to the allocated funds, and the process to finalize the disbursement of funds has begun.

• Currently, the appointment of professional service providers for detailed network designs is underway. These designs will facilitate households in accessing broadband services through public Wi-Fi.

• Negotiations with third-party site owners who possess locations where BBI intends to share the infrastructure are currently underway. Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) are still being negotiated, and drafts are circulating with continuous engagement with servitude owners to familiarize them with the project.

• Appointment of equipment suppliers, installers (SMMEs) to facilitate infrastructure roll-out is underway, in addition, engagements are underway with ISPs/ WISPs/ MVNOs to gather requirements.

• The development of the commercial model for partnerships with ISPs is underway.

a) Total number of households connected with broadband connectivity to date?


There are no households that have been provided access to internet access to date.

Thank You.

30 June 2023 - NW603

Profile picture: Bodlani, Ms T

Bodlani, Ms T to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Whether, with reference to priority two in her performance agreement with the President of the Republic, Mr M C Ramaphosa, she is on track to complete the specified target by the set date; if not, why not; if so, (a) by what percentage has her department reduced unemployment, (b) what total number of jobs has her department created, especially for the youth, (c) what economic growth has her department been able to achieve and (d) what growth in levels of investment has her department achieved?

Reply:


The Department is finalising a research study that will serve as the basis for the Cost to Communication review model and/or plan for the 2022/2023 annual accounting period. The study will provide the required information for the construction of the review model and/or plan, which will be completed at the end of 2023/2024 financial year.


(a) The Department has been focusing on SMME development programmes as well as skills and training development. Through collaborations and partnerships, the department has successfully created a DigiTech Platform which allows various SMMEs within the ICT Sector to digitally showcase their products and services. This initiative was aimed at promoting home-grown technological solutions and innovation. Seventy of the SMMEs were supported to virtually showcase their innovation during the Dubai Expo 2022. To date, the platform hosts about 80 SMMEs.

Employment between 2021 and 2022 in the telecommunications sector increased by 12 255 (46%); in the broadcasting sector it increased by 118 (3.43%). There was, however, a slight decline of 1 571 (8.5%) in the postal sector. The net contribution of these sectors to new employment created was approximately 10 800 jobs. By the end of March 2023, there was a total of 52 640 jobs created.


(b) The Department in partnership with NEMISA has successfully implemented the Cell Phone Repairs Training Programme across the Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, North West and Limpopo provinces. The three weeks long hybrid training benefited and registered over 100 SMMEs. Beneficiaries of the programme were given toolkits to kickstart their businesses. Further, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) training by .ZADNA is ongoing and has benefited 1200 SMMEs and non-SMMEs to create access to the ISP market across all 9 provinces including 4 correctional service (Boksburg, Mndansani, Groenpunt and Newcastle). 626 of the beneficiaries were women and 574 were men with the majority being youth.

Mechanisms to measure the impact from the Department’s initiatives in terms jobs as well as impact on the vulnerable groups, however, are being developed and will be captured going forward and reports will be made available.


(c) According to the ICASA State of the ICT Sector Report in South Africa, in 2021 the ICT sector grew by R 243.6-billion in revenue. This was up from R243-billion in 2020. The broadcasting service revenue increased by 2.8% i.e. R 36-billion and the postal service revenue increased by 11.1%, from R 5.6-billion in 2020 to R6.6-billion in 2021. The overall sector increased by 4.3%.


(d) The ICASA State of the ICT Sector Report in South Africa states that the total investment emanating from the telecommunication sector was R 33 970-billion, with mobile communication services totalling R 17 251-billion, followed by infrastructure investment of R 8,5-billion. The fixed (wired) broadband services stands at R 3,9-billion while the rest of investment is on expansion of networks (R1,1 billion), maintenance (R 1,1-billion) and R 78-million on fixed telephone services..


Thank You.

30 June 2023 - NW1725

Profile picture: Majozi, Ms Z

Majozi, Ms Z to ask the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

What steps has the Government taken thus far in bringing to book the persons who were found to be responsible for using the monies that were intended for implementing a turn-around strategy at the SA Post Office (SAPO) for consumption instead of investing it in infrastructure and modernisation, something which has been a contributing factor in the decline of the SAPO and its eventual provisional liquidation?

Reply:

Government has over the years embarked on several interventions to get the South African Post Office (SAPO) back on track and these include a total of R7.3 billion cash injection between 2016 and 2019 during the tenure of the former Group CEO. Unfortunately, despite all the previous Government interventions, SAPO’s recovery has been slow. The entity continued battling to generate enough revenues to fully meet its monthly financial obligations. SAPO’s past management battled to swiftly make capital investments and modernise the entity. They kept maintaining operations under difficult financial challenges and accumulated debts in the process. The past funding allocations which were intended to invest in the turnaround strategy ended up being depleted by operations and debts as the severity of the financial challenges intensified.


No one was brought to book for the non-investment of monies to implement a turnaround as the usage was linked to the cashflow situation. The funds were utilised for operating activities, repayment of terms loans and creditors as the severity of the cashflow situation at SAPO intensified. The situation was exacerbated by the entity’s outdated operating model with high-cost structures. We do acknowledge that better management decisions should have been taken