The South African government wants to consolidate various entities that regulate the ICT sector into a new ‘super’ communications regulator.
The regulation and governance of the ICT sector are currently spread across different entities including the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), .zaDNA and the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA).
“This has resulted in overlaps and duplication of roles and a lack of coordination between different entities,” Minister Siyabonga Cwele, said at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services.
He added that the regulation of infrastructure, networks and scarce resources such as radio frequency spectrum, requires very different constitutional imperatives than those that underpin the regulation of content (broadcasting). “In this regard, the ICT Sector Commission and Tribunal Bill create a consolidated regulator as envisaged in the White Paper,” said Cwele.
“In this regard, the ICT Sector Commission and Tribunal Bill create a consolidated regulator as envisaged in the White Paper,” said Cwele.
The development of the Bills will also require an amendment to other laws such as the ICASA Act.
The ICT Sector Commission and Tribunal Bill provide for the creation of a regulatory authority to regulate the ICT sector including the electronic communications sector, internet governance, licensing and regulation of electronic communications networks and services. This also includes the licensing and regulation of spectrum and other scarce resources, the licensing and regulation of postal services,
This also includes the licensing and regulation of spectrum and other scarce resources, the licensing and regulation of postal services, ex-ante competition regulation, the protection of consumers, the allocation and management of domain names, and the establishment and operation of a Tribunal to deal with appeals and disputes.
ICASA is the regulator for the South African communications, broadcasting and postal services sector. ICASA was established by an Act of statute, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act of 2000, as Amended. Its mandate is spelt out in the Electronic Communications Act for the licensing and regulation of electronic communications and broadcasting services, and by the Postal Services Act for the regulation of the postal sector.
.ZADNA is a not-for-profit organisation that manages and regulates the .za namespace. It is accountable to the South African Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services but does not receive government funding which means it is exempted from complying with the Public Finance Management Act.
USAASA was set up by the state to seek ways of bridging the digital divide in South Africa.