Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams
Minister of Communications for South Africa, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

The country’s communications watchdog and Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams are at loggerheads.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has threatened to take Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to court if she doesn’t pay up, according to a City Press report.

The City Press report states that the regulator is threatening legal action unless her department pays R450 million by 11 am on Monday.

The failure to pay the millions will impact ICASA negatively resulting in the regulator being unable to pay salaries and service providers.

City Press stated that the minister is “withholding (ICASA’s) funding by refusing to approve its annual performance plan (APP)”.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is being accused of “meddling in the independent authority’s work”.

At the centre of the meddling, according to the newspaper is the pending sale and issuing of licenses for the 5G cellular network.

For more read in the City Press: Minster Accused of Meddling In ICASA

Government, ICT stakeholders talk spectrum licensing

Earlier this month, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and her Deputy, Pinky Kekana met with captains of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry, to finalise consultations on their interpretation of the spectrum licensing process as defined by the law.

The meeting follows on the written submissions previously made by the sector on the matter.

Licensing of the high-demand spectrum is deemed necessary to lessen resource constraints experienced by incumbent mobile operators, enable the transformation of a historically vertically integrated market, level the playing field and enable new entrants into the market.

Further, it will contribute to reducing the cost to communicate and drive universal services and access.

Addressing the meeting, Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said while stakeholders might not agree on all aspects as contained in the Electronic Communications Act (ECA), they must strive to find a consensus that ensures that high demand spectrum is eventually licensed.

“Since the advent of mobile broadband, the spectrum has turned out to be both a competitive and an anti-competitive tool for incumbent network operators and a barrier to entry for new entrants.

“Some spectrum lies un-utilised or underutilised in time or space and we would like to change that by making sure that spectrum is effectively and efficiently licensed in order to address not only revenue generation but to also ensure inclusive participation,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.

The meeting agreed that the spectrum policy directive and licencing processes must be swiftly finalised as they will propel the industry forward as well as enable effective delivery of the Fourth Industrial Revolution imperatives that require wireless networks as connectivity enablers.

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