The United Democratic Movement Youth Vanguard welcomes the Competition Commission call for the South African mobile operator giants Vodacom and MTN to reduce their data charges by 30% to 50% within two months.
This has been a call that the UDMYV has made for quite some time, calling for data to fall and allow young people to access jobs, business opportunities, studying purposes, social safety awarenesses and other miscellaneous itinerary.
It is unacceptable and business unreasonable to have South African originating mobile network operators selling data at a lower cost in the neighbouring countries than at home. Our local data costs are significantly high consistently marginalizing the unemployed, low income and poverty-stricken young people. Internet allows for more sustainable development and economic participation and if South Africa is serious about growing an all-inclusive economy, now it is the time to walk the talk.
Access to Internet is a basic Human Right equivalent and in line with 2.8 Freedom of Expression, 2.14 Freedom of Trade, Occupation and Profession, 2.21 Education, 2.24 Access to Information, etc. Access to Internet means e-commerce, e-business/ e-trading, e-marketing, e-health, e-learning & e-training, e-government, etc and citizens, especially, youth are currently held on captive with the high data tariffs.
As a United Nations’ member state, an attendee and participant of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and an adopter of A Call to Action of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 looking at Connecting Africa through World-Class Infrastructure with specific reference to ICT, South Africa is infrastructural and technically behind its promise.
The UDMYV calls on Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister Ebrahim Patel and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to carry on expedite plans to release more spectrum to allow the industry to grow and be competitive in the world that is fast changing and heading towards the popular Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). They must give specific timeframe on the issue of the spectrum as to when will it be released and all other related details putting her confidence to the public. Also as she claims to be a pioneer behind the 4IR, Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams should have paved a better foundation first by ensuring that a high speed broad-banded and low to free internet society with cyber-security in place is created.
The sooner this is done the lesser we will hear stories from services providers of less spectrum.
We commend the Competition Commission on this move and hope that this will be extended to all the network providers not just MTN and Vodacom to comply and reduce data without compromising its speed.
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Issued by: Mr Masonwabe Nqawe
UDM Youth Vanguard Western Cape