SADC Member-States, including South Africa together to map a way forward for the ICT sector, to improve connectedness, Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo, has said.

Dlodlo address ICT industry leaders and delegates from Southern African countries at the SADC ICT Ministers’ Meeting in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday.

“The cost to communicate across countries to families and friends as we interact is made so much more difficult by the near prohibitive costs on roaming. As we meet here as business, government and the regulators, we need to seriously ponder on how we can make interconnectedness easier for the people of the SADC region. We owe it to them,” Dlodlo said.

The objective of the meeting is to establish communication systems that are accessible, affordable, efficient, reliable and fully integrated to meet the diverse requirements in order to ensure connectivity to the citizens of the SADC Region.

Dlodlo is joined by Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele.

“The Republic of South Africa as the Chair of SADC, wish to reiterate the importance of coming together to map a way forward for the ICT sector,” she said.

“ICTs have and continue to be catalysts for development. Our sector contributes largely to GDPs of our national economies and has been pillar for infrastructure development in the region.”

In November 2014, in Malawi, the SADC Ministers directed National Regulatory Authorities (NRA’s) in the region to intervene and regulate both the wholesale and retail roaming tariffs using the glide paths provided for the next three years.

The objective being to reduce the cost of roaming, so to increase investment in the region as well as ensure that citizens also have affordable communication as they travel and work within the region.

“Currently, SADC citizens avoid using roaming services while traveling across the SADC states, due to the excessive pricing of the service. This has resulted in financial burdens for many consumers and families of migrants,” Dlodlo said.

Dlodlo added that reduced communication costs will also enable other critical developments in the ICT Sector for the region. These include universal broadband rollout and universal broadcasting services.

Delegates will also during this year’s meeting, discuss strategies and programmes for the 4th Industrial Revolution. All of which require efficient, affordable, reliable and universal broadband access and services.

“It has become clear that the ICT regulatory scene is not static but so fluid that our current legislations are no longer able to cope, thus new strategies are required to ensure stability,” she said.

The meeting will wrap up tomorrow, 7th September.

[Image – cc Government ZA]