ATC130611: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Communications on its Strategic Planning Workshop, dated 11 June 2013

Communications

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Communications on its Strategic Planning Workshop, dated 11 June 2013

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Communications on its Strategic Planning Workshop, dated 11 June 2013

The Portfolio Committee on Communications (the Committee), having conducted its Strategic Planning Workshop at the Villa Via Hotel on 17 to 19 April 2013, reports as follows:

Executive Summary

The Committee held its strategic plan workshop at Villa Via on 17 to 19 April 2013. The aim was to inform the Committee on its annual plan for the 2013/14 financial year. The workshop further developed and outlined priorities for the Committee’s 2013/14 financial year’s programme. Activities of the strategic plan workshop addressed the following areas:

  • evaluated the past performance of the Committee;
  • assessed the performance of all state-owned entities in the ICT sector;
  • afforded the industry players to address the Committee;
  • identified strategic priorities for the Committee for the period 2013-2014;
  • identified the critical success factors necessitated by a fast-changing sector; and
  • designed systems and a programme of action for the Committee for the current parliamentary term.

The workshop was divided into two parts: the first day and half of the second day (17 and 18 April) were open to the sector players where presentations were made under the theme ‘universal service and access’ while the last half of second day and last day (18 and 19 April) were closed sessions for members of Parliament and support staff only. Participants for the entire workshop included:

· Committee members;

· Support staff;

· Entities of the Committee;

· Sector players; and

· Subject matter experts.

The key areas covered during the opening of the workshop were the impact of the policy and regulatory environments and the relevance in a converged environment. Critical to the discussions was the relevance of the above-mentioned environments in aligning the sector to the developmental state agenda. More importantly, it is the relevance of the policy and regulatory environments in achieving the desired information society and knowledge economy agenda as prescribed by the global treaties which the Republic ascribes to and the implications thereof for local content production. In particular, the information revolution (change in the mode of production), globalisation of markets and modernism and post-modernism were central to this discussion.

The topology of point to point versus point to multi-point communications was critical and was therefore unpacked in detail by the facilitator for the purposes of contextualisation of discussions. Further the facilitator summarised the four critical areas for a turn-around strategy:

1. Vested interest in healthy economy

2. Possibilities that will help contribute in building a sector

3. Sector that will be the foundation of the economy of the future

4. Globalisation changing the way we produce and consume

Convergence as the ICT driver was also unpacked by the facilitator as illustrated below:

Lastly, the rationale for digital broadcasting and broadband was unpacked in detail by the facilitator. For more information regarding the facilitator’s presentation, please refer to Annexure A .

Summary of Presentations by Sector

It was evident that from the presentations by the sector that convergence was not only technological but also necessitated the need for a converged policy environment approach which will require adaptation by parliament in its oversight role of the sector as illustrated below:

A common thread of discussions emanating from proceedings of Day One and Day two was underpinned by the ‘ universal service and access ’ theme and is evidently summarised herewith below:

• Harmonisation of Legislation and Regulations

• Policy Coherence

• Evidence-Based Policy Development

• Policy and regulation coordination (Executive Vs Regulator)

• Policy Acceleration

• Regulatory Impact Assessments

• Monitoring of Compliance and Enforcement

• Clear National Broadband Vision

• Establishment of a Broadband Commissioner

• Professionalism in the public sector

• Inter-Committee Sessions

• Partnerships

• Localisation of technology, skills, and content

• Improving ICT Indexes

• Clear definitions of US

• Viability of the 3-tier broadcasting platforms in a digital era

• More effective and efficient oversight and monitoring of government departments, state entities, independent regulator and state agencies

• Standardization of Reporting Lines (Project plans, business processes)

• Re-evaluation of DoC as a Policy Maker

• Events are overtaking the Policy-making Process

• Clear definitions of roles and responsibilities between the delivery organs of the State

• Need for the Committee to revisit SoE’s mandates to establish:

• Why they were established

• Are they doing what they are mandated to do?

• Is their role to create revenue or deliver services?

• Urgency to address the Policy and Regulatory vacuum as means to respond to current challenges

Further, the Constitution, State-of-the-Nation Address, the National Development Plan, National Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan II were identified as policy and government frameworks that underpin the future development of the sector as illustrated below:

Crosscutting from all presentations of the proceedings was the alignment of priorities to the National Development Plan (NDP) five priority areas:

1. Job Creation

2. Infrastructure development

3. Rural development

4. Social Cohesion & Transformation

5. Skills Development

Summary of Proceedings for the Closed Session with Committee Members

There was consensus by the members as necessitated by the realisation that the policy development has been overtaken by the evolution of technology developments. As a result the sector players have had to proceed with technology implementation without a clear policy and regulatory guidance. In addition the following were deemed critical by the Members to resolve the current sectoral challenges:

· The current status quo is disempowering to the Members of Parliament in carrying out their oversight duties, i.e. the rotation of MPs is rendering the work of the portfolio ineffective;

· Tools for Members of Parliament are needed to monitor the DoC and ICASA’s implementation of key government programmes and must have clear implementation plans as a driver for tighter oversight and control;

· Streamlining of innovation in the projects is critical;

· Industry and academia presentations (at least quarterly or midyear) with the Committee - this is also part of the broader capacity development of the Committee and support staff;

· Conduct inter-committee sessions to address and resolve cross-cutting policy matters

· Accelerate the process of passing legislation; and

· Tighter screening of appointees nominated through public process and going through Parliament processes.

In relation to DTT as a national priority programme, the facilitator acknowledged some evidence of the economic effect from countries that have attempted to calculate the costs and benefits of the switchover. The most immediate benefit is the release of radio frequency spectrum otherwise referred to as the ‘digital dividend.’ Members further identified a number of major dependencies going forward in planning for DTT and the work of Parliament, such as the various government departments, the regulator (ICASA), State-Owned Companies ( SOCs ), civil society organisations and the private sector. It was evident from the comments of the Members that a more consolidated approach by government is fundamental to the achievement of this important policy direction. This requires a broader stakeholder consultation with the identified institutions which will be unpacked in detail is the proposed stakeholder matrix.

On issues of Broadband, the members expressed urgency to the delivery of the broadband policy as critical success factor in order to ensure that the attainment of un iversal access. Fundamental to this issue was the broader implications relating to the ‘cost to communicate’ as well as consolidation of all relevant stakeholders and the sparse approach by government in delivering broadband to citizens. The regulator’s efficiency and effective regulation was identified by the Members as the single-most critical success factor to ensure promotion of competition and universal access.

There are five Key Priority Areas as consolidated by the Members of Parliament after the workshop and are summarised below. For a detailed report on the Action Plan, please refer to Annexure B:

FOCUS AREAS

Priority Focus Area I

1. DoC Oversight

2. State-Owned Entity Oversight

3. Provincial Oversight visits

Priority Focus Area II

1. Stakeholder Matrix Development

2. Sectoral Consultations

3. Oversight Booklet Formulation

Priority Focus Area III

1. Legislative Review Processes

2. Policy Review Process

Priority Focus Area IV

1. Business Reengineering Recapitalisation

Priority Focus Area V

1. Cost to Communicate

A proposal of a Dashboard Monitoring System (below) was also presented to the Committee as a practical tool for oversight of State-Owned Entities.

COMMITTEE REVIEW LEVEL:

DoC - BOARD LEVEL REVIEW

It is important to note that the Committee resolved that the Programme is subject to consensus before final adoption. Further, the budgetary implications can only be finalised thereafter. The proposed budget grand total is R2 850 000. The total budget breakdown is attached as Annexure C .

Annexures A, B and C are available from the Committee Secretary upon request.

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