The jungle book

South Africa seeks utility classification for broadband |

By Chris Forrester

January 31, 2022

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is being urged by the government’s Economic Advisory Council to designate fiber broadband provision as a public service to ensure access for the poor and most rural parts of the country.

The president is expected to deliver a “state of the nation” address on February 10.

“Go where there is no fiber,” the Council said. “There is a need to prioritize areas where community and household access to connectivity is limited, which are mainly the poorer municipal areas in many rural provinces of the country.”

The Advisory Council says that designating fiber as a municipal service would allow for private participation through a public/private scheme and where the private sector has not found a cost-effective installation. “It could also be a source of revenue for municipalities,” the council said in its memo to the president.

“It is also possible in these areas, as part of the deployment and under the auspices of the Presidential Employment Initiative, that the “design” of public employment programs at the municipal level incorporates an element of digital economy, such as training job seekers in digital networking, Wi-Fi backend management, and portal and design skills,” the advisory board added.