The electronic communications sector is now one of the most advanced infrastructure and services sectors on the African continent. However, it has had a propensity towards low levels of competition among telecoms operators. Advances in the sector include the opening up of the undersea cable markets to competition, the evolution of broadband markets, and high-speed broadband including Gigabit Internet. This gives rise to questions such as: To what extent is the electronic communications sector providing advanced infrastructures and services for communications that will impact well on transformation in other economic and social sectors – financial; real estate and business services; travel and tourism; business process outsourcing; the media; and audio-visual and entertainment sectors? And, to what extent is electronic communications infrastructure providing the networks for advanced research collaboration among African scholars and their American (North and South), Asian, Australian or European counterparts via dedicated national/regional research and education networks (NRENs and RRENs)? So many challenges remain for policy-making and for regulators, including the urgent need for regulation of radio- frequency spectrum for mobile communications and mobile data access; digital migration in the broadcast sector; pricing of electronic communications services; regulation of mobile money transactions; consumer protection in mobile money environments; and broader challenges of regulating for the digital economy, including the appropriate regulation of environments that will promote e-health services and other initiatives in the transformation of economies and society.
Browsing AJIC Issue 14, 2015 by Author "Raffinetti, Carla"
(LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Raffinetti, Carla
The article contrasts the regulatory regime for licensing telecommunications networks and services in South Africa with that of the United Kingdom, in order to illustrate how regulation can be used to restrict competition (South Africa) or facilitate entry into the market (the United Kingdom). The purpose of this article is to suggest possible areas for licensing reform in South Africa, which is currently in the process of reviewing its ICT policy framework. There are three areas where licensing policy can play a key role in promoting competition in the market: infrastructure and services; spectrum licensing; and pro-competitive regulation, which allows for additional licence conditions to be imposed on entities that hold significant market power (SMP). This paper addresses the first issue only (infrastructure and services), as an area that is easily capable of reform. Currently, the system for licensing networks and services in South Africa requires the pre-approval of the regulator to be granted before a licence is issued, which is unduly resource-intensive. This article advocates that South Africa adopt a system of general authorisations for the licensing of networks and services similar to that applied in the United Kingdom. Such an approach would free up the regulator to address other areas that have received insufficient regulatory attention to date, notably spectrum licensing and pro-competitive regulation, both of which fall beyond the scope of this article.