SA's internet: slow, expensive and a barrier for economic growth and job creation
South Africa has one of the lowest average internet connection speeds in the world, according to the First Quarter 2013 Akamai report, State of the Internet. According to the report, South Africa had the lowest average connection speed of all European, Middle-Eastern, and African (EMEA) countries surveyed.
In addition, the report reveals that South Africa ranks:
- 80th worldwide for average internet connectivity speed;
- 126th for peak connectivity speed worldwide; and
- 69th globally for the average speed of broadband connectivity with only 8% able to achieve speeds of 4 Mbps or more. This is far below the global average of 46% and less than a tenth of the global leader, Switzerland, at 88%.
The high cost, lack of access and slow connectivity hampers economic growth and job creation.
The World Bank has identified broadband connectivity as a key catalyst for economic growth with every 10% increase in connectivity enabling a 1.38% growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
At an average connection speed of 2.1 Mbps, South Africa is below the global average of 3.1 Mbps and far behind the top ten countries who all achieve average connectivity speeds between 8.2 and 14.2 Mbps. It is imperative that South Africa reach this standard in order to stimulate economic growth and job creation.
The DA will write to Communications Minister Yunus Carrim, requesting that he prioritises South Africa's slow and expensive Internet regime by instructing his department and entities reporting to it to make this first priority through:
- The allocation of high-speed spectrum for wireless broadband services;
- Information and Communications Infrastructure requirements as set out in the NDP; and
- The acceptance of a comprehensive and coherent broadband policy and rollout plan.
The DA recognises the importance of broadband connectivity as a catalyst for economic growth and job creation. The success of the DA-led Western Cape Government's broadband strategy is an indication of what can be achieved.
The DA-run Western Cape is showing the way in broadband roll-out. By the end of 2014, 70% of provincial government buildings, rural libraries and schools in the Western Cape will be connected. In addition, feasibility and design studies for the Wireless Mesh project in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Saldanha Bay will ensure that these areas will become wireless internet hotspots.
The target for every resident of Cape Town to have access to broadband infrastructure in excess of 100 Megabits a second by 2020 is well under way. The Company Gardens in Cape Town is also announced to become a WiFi-hotspot this week.
The rest of South Africa deserves the same opportunity.
Early indications are that the new Minister of Communications is consulting widely with role players in the ICT sector so he should soon have a clear picture of the problems related to internet connectivity in South Africa. This is imperative if South Africa's economy is to grow and create jobs.
Statement issued by Marian Shinn MP, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, July 25 2013
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