Chairperson, Minister Mboweni, Minister Dlodlo, Minister Nzimande, Deputy Ministers led by Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana, chairperson of the portfolio committee, hon members of the
portfolio committee, the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, directors-general, chairpersons and CEOs of state-owned entities, captains of the industry, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. We dip our banners and join South Africa in mourning the tragic loss of Mr Mandla Maseko, the aspirational astronaut who died in a bike accident over the past weekend. His untimely death comes as the continent prepares to laud him as the first black African to travel to space. We also learnt with sadness about the passing of a veteran actress, uMama Nomhle Nkonyeni earlier this morning. A recipient of the Order of lkhamanga in silver, Mama Nomhle boasted a career that spanned 50 years and starred in various television, film and stage productions such as lgazi, Gazlam, Red Dust and Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena. May their souls rest in peace!
Distinguished guests, delivering the inaugural state of the nation address of the Sixth administration, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa, emphasised that the resolution of our developmental challenges, namely, the triple evils of unemployment, poverty and inequality that they largely depends
on growing our economy. We must add that this economic growth that we desire must be inclusive, to gain traction given the historic exclusion of the black majority. The importance of inclusive growth is becoming more pronounced given the reality that key sections of our society such as the youth and rural communities are bearing the most brunt of a sluggish economy.
Within the construct of inclusive economic participation, government, labour and the private sector must work together through a social compact that recognises the need to be single- minded in accelerating economic growth.
Contributions must come from all industries and our efforts must seamlessly be felt within and outside the borders of our country. In this respect, our response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents us with a unique opportunity to harness our individual and collective talents, energies and strengths to decisively address the economic and social challenges that we currently face. It presents an opportunity for all in society to participate in the digital economy, whether it is for social welfare or business interests, as creators or consumers of goods
and services, and whether trading locally, regionally or internationally.
Irrespective, the Fourth Industrial Revolution represents an opportunity for inclusive contributions to the national effort of turning around our economy and society for the benefit of all. At its core, it represents the extent to which the digital economy is becoming a key ingredient to the production processes, in various sectors such as education, health agriculture, manufacturing, financial services or infrastructure development. Further, it represents the extent to which societies can overcome their traditional challenges and people can lead dignified lives, be it through better guarantees of safety and security, easier access to effective healthcare, broader access to education, better social mobility through gainful employment or more comprehensive and responsive social protection systems. Public services are also not immune from this development as governments and cities recognise the need to invest in smart digital services to better understand societal needs and optimally design legislative, policy and regulatory responses to those needs.
Recent studies by Accenture and the World Economic Forum estimate that the aggregate value that can be derived by our country from the digital transformation of our society and the economy is about R5 trillion. More specifically, this economic value addition would result in roughly four million new jobs. Whilst we acknowledge that some jobs will become obsolete, we cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand and ignore this critical phenomenon, the opportunities it presents, and the necessary steps that we must take as a nation to minimise risks and maximise benefits.
As a government, we are committed to transforming the telecommunications and digital industries market structure. Key to such an objective is the requirement to remove barriers to entry for new market players, noting that the mobile industry is highly concentrated. We must therefore be forthright in investing in digital skilling and reskilling of our people as an imperative for inclusion in the digital economy.
House Chairperson, in June, Minister Ebrahim Patel and I had the privilege of participating in the G20 Summit that was held in
Osaka, Japan. This summit brought together, for the first time, trade and digital economy Ministers from various selected countries to present opportunities and deepen understanding of the interface between trade and the digital economy.
As respective G20 Ministers, we acknowledged the fact that digitisation presents both benefits and challenges to society. We also agreed that this phenomenon of digitisation presents us with a rare opportunity to drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth amongst our people. This has reaffirmed our resolve as the South African government to locate digital innovation at the core of our economic growth.
In our quest to digitally transform the nation, we also acknowledge the fact that the vast majority of our people still lack access to digital infrastructure, which is the bedrock for the digital economy. In this respect, the Fourth Industrial Revolution must therefore be viewed as providing impetus to the objectives of the National Development Plan. Our challenge therefore is defining the strategic areas of investment in the
Fourth Industrial Revolution that will position South Africa as a leader in this revolution.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is against this background that in March 2019, President Ramaphosa established the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution comprising eminent persons drawn from across sections of industries, academia, labour and civil society. The commission, as chaired by President Ramaphosa and his deputy, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, has been inducted and is already hard at work focusing on the following six delivery areas: policy and legislation; human capital and the future of work; research, technology and innovation; infrastructure and resources; industrialisation and commercialisation; and economic and social impact.
To ensure that the work of the commission is realised into government priorities, the President has appointed the interministerial committee on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR, which comprises the following Ministers: the Ministers of Communications and Digital Technologies, who is chairing the interministerial committee, IMC, Basic Education; Employment
and Labour; Higher Education Science and Innovation; Trade, Industry and Competition; Mineral Resources and Energy; and Small Business Development. Within the next few months the commission will engage with key stakeholders and the public, working towards the development of South Africa's blueprint on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Hon members, on 5 July, we hosted the Digital Economy Summit in Midrand as the first step towards bringing all economic and social players to the table on the collective effort of understanding the drivers for unlocking the value of the Fourth Industrial Revolution within the economy and society and with a focus on the specific drivers for job creation in this new world. The outcomes of the Digital Economy Summit will serve as an input into the work of the Presidential Commission.
Further, to showcase technological innovation, we enacted, through collaboration with the Nokia and Vodacom, a replication of the summit in Rustenburg using a holographic projection. This was the first time that a Head of State was broadcast live utilising 3D holographic technology. [Applause.] This move
signalled our readiness to cement South Africa's position as a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
As we deal with policy for the digital economy, the Electronic Communications Act has played its role in transforming the industry to its current position. However, overhauled instruments need to take into account the plurality of players across all aspects of the value chain as well as new emerging markets. As indicated, we need to immediately overhaul our policies in order for them to respond to a changing industry that is increasingly dominated by data and an ecosystem of digital platforms.
On reconfiguration of the portfolio, the merger of the Ministries of Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services into a single Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies is designed to ensure better alignment and co- ordination on matters that are critical to the digital economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We have, together with the Deputy Minister since our appointment, been seized with the task of creating a new department that places at its centre, the
digital transformation of government and support for a digital economy and society. We are currently designing an optimal structural and institutional framework that will speak to our new mandate. This entails defining the focus areas and operating model of the new department and aligning these with the outcomes of the Presidential Commission in order to ensure that the new department is indeed the champion leading on matters related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The design and alignment of work will inform and guide how our continuing operations in relation to some of the key public policy promises made under the previous department. To this end, we are also engaging our stakeholders, departmental employees and unions about the new mandate. All these processes will culminate in the finalisation of the organisational structure for the new department and a strategic plan. The annual performance plan will therefore need to be reviewed and amended in line with the new mandate and structure that will feed into a single budget for the new department.
The state-owned entities under the department are also being reconfigured to make sure that they are in line with the new mandate. Trough the reconfiguration of some of our state-owned entities, we will establish a new infrastructure company that will be responsible for the roll-out of infrastructure and connectivity. As part of the creation of this company, we will ensure that all state infrastructure initiatives are harmonised and co-ordinated.
We will further reconfigure our entities to create a streamlined regulator that will respond to the emerging needs of the digital society. As we ready South Africa to take its leading position in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we will also position the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa, Nemisa, to be a digital skills institute that will train government employees and members of the public.
As part of ensuring development of the sector, we will also present to Parliament the digital development fund Bill to establish the fund to support innovation.
In order to drive digital transformation in government, there is a need to establish the state information technology, IT, company. This will entail the repurposing of the current State Information Technology Agency to drive innovation, transformation, localisation, cybersecurity, e-government and IT service management.
We will further repurpose the SA Post Office to take advantage of the thriving e-commerce and financial services environments, with the latter through the Post Bank. All these will be done in this financial year, 2019- 20. [Applause.]
Finally, government is actively looking at strengthening the SA Broadcasting Corporation. As we reported in the portfolio committee last week, we continue to engage with the National Treasury on a lasting financial solution for the public broadcaster. To this end, working with the National Treasury, we will in the next 10 days provide a portion of the interim relief and the remaining balance within the next 45 days. [Applause.] However, this is subject to the SABC meeting all the set conditions and requirements. In this regard we will work with
the Minister of Finance towards an institutional mechanism to support the turnaround effort, and this includes the appointment of the chief restructuring officer, CRO.
On digital transformation of government, the digitisation of government services is an important pillar of digital transformation and therefore the department will lead the process of fast-tracking the digital transformation of government services with a particular focus on front line services.
In responding to the President's call for the district service delivery model, we will be working with all government departments and stakeholders to support cities in digitising their services. Government will, within 90 days identify priority districts for this purpose.
To date, the department has facilitated broadband connectivity to 570 facilities including schools and health facilities. In addition to what the industry is doing, the department continues to engage all. For example, Telkom has about 160 000 km of fibre
which will be critical as we move forward towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Broadband Infraco has rolled out 15 000 km of fibre and 147 points of presence throughout the country. Sentech has an extensive wireless network with more than 300 sites to deliver digital and broadband services.
Going forward, the department will focus on rolling out broadband services to additional 400 sites, majority of which, ones more, will be schools and health facilities.
Through the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, we will also review the current universal service obligations to ensure alignment with the SA Connect standards. During the Medium-Term we will review the download speeds to be in line with international best practice. This will form part of the work we are currently doing with the Development Bank of Southern Africa which will be concluded by the end of the financial year. Furthermore, the feasibility study for the second phase of the roll-out will be co-ordinated and the study will investigate cost-effective and efficient ways, inclusive of
public-private partnership models, of rolling out services as well as funding broadband on a much larger scale.
On high demand spectrum licensing, the licensing of unassigned high demand spectrum, we will within the next seven working days, issue the final policy and policy direction to Icasa. As the international information and communications technology, ICT, community prepares for the World Radio Conference that will be held in Egypt in October 2019, plans are afoot for South Africa's participation in the discussions in the Southern African Development Community, SADC, Africa and the International Fora to ensure that this time we are not left behind and do not delay our people and country the meaningful role they can play as 5G is not only telecommunications-based, but cuts across all sectors. We have to treat it the way we deal with the land.
Accelerating the broadcasting digital migration programme, within 90 days, the department will present the reviewed broadcasting digital migration delivery model in order to enable the swift release of the high demand spectrum needed for the
roll-out of broadband and effective digital terrestrial television, DTT, migration. We have to build a capable army if you are to ensure that our people get to benefit on the spoils that are presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Ladies and gentlemen, the late former President Nelson Mandela once said, and I quote:
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart.
Indeed, the language that we use influences the way that we think and act. Therefore, making content readily available in multiple languages enables a connected society. As such and as part of the Internet for All Initiative we have established a Working Group on Content which has commenced with translating Wikipedia content into the 10 official languages of South Africa, save for English. [Applause.] To this end, both isiXhosa and isiSwati translations have been completed and learners from schools in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga have already started
with the project. Of course isiXhosa and IsiSwati understanding people can have access irrespective of their geographical spread.
You will recall that in my 2018 Budget Vote speech I made a bold statement to train one million young people on data science and related skills to ensure that they are equipped to take advantage of new digital technologies, unlock future jobs and drive competitiveness. To this end, the National Digital Skills Strategy has been submitted to Cabinet for approval and we have, through a partnership with portfolio entities and stakeholders such as the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority, MICT Seta, Telkom, Cisco, Vodacom, MTN, Google and Microsoft, amongst others, trained more than 20 000 young people in data science and the skills, namely, cloud computing, digital content production, 3D printing, drone piloting, cybersecurity and software development. [Applause.]
Further, Accenture is investing in future skills development with a special focus on the youth and contributing to the
township economy. This is exemplified by the Accenture Java Academy in partnership with Codex and the long-standing, proven Skills to Succeed Programme. We invite partners to join us in these digital skills revolution.
Ladies and gentlemen, cumulatively, portfolio entities and private sector companies spend approximately R20 million per year on bursaries for tertiary students studying in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Stem, fields. The sector also utilises about 300 interns annually, most of whom are then absorbed into the respective companies. We don't make... [Time expired.]
Thank you, House Chairperson. Ladies and gentlemen I present the budget allocation for the department, R1,0576 billion and for the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services...[Time expired.]