Icasa to create industry database
The telecommunications regulator is creating a public online database with information about all of South Africa’s major information and communication technology players. By Craig Wilson.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) wants to become the first port of call for anyone looking for information on South Africa’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
It hopes that making this information available online will give government and industry a better idea of the state of the sector, help with decision making, and assist in positioning South Africa in relation to other nations more accurately.
He says the sector is “one of the most prolific long-term investment parts of the South African economy”, yet there is “no coordinated and free source of ICT indicators”. This prevents and harms investment decisions, policy development, effective regulation and international competitiveness.
“One of the reasons South Africa has been slipping in international ICT rankings isn’t because it’s necessarily falling behind but because it doesn’t have current information.”
Icasa councillor William Stucke says the principal goal of the exercise is to “reduce opacity” in the sector.
The authority hopes to collate various statistics, public documents, reports and other information from industry players and bodies like Statistics South Africa and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The ITU collects data for 200 economies, including pricing information and consumption trends. Grootes says the ITU has stipulated that South Africa’s methodologies are “not necessarily up to scratch”. The Icasa project intends rectifying that.
“We want to add value beyond how many connections there are. You can’t forecast connections if you can’t link it to income and costs.”
Information Icasa already collects includes subscriber numbers, handset and other gadget sales, traffic flows, effective tariffs per package, employment levels, capital investment and revenues. Grootes says this needs to be expanded.
To begin the process, questionnaires have been sent to telecoms operators and the deadline for their response is 29 March. From 4 March, these operators will be able to use Icasa’s online “data warehouse” to upload the requested information. The questionnaire can also be downloaded and completed, but Grootes says this option will fall away next year when all data will have to be inserted electronically.
Operators will be able to view only their own data. This is important for maintaining the integrity of the data, says Grootes. “Licensees are responsible for the integrity of the data themselves.”
After the 29 March deadline, all interested parties will be able to access the aggregated information. The questionnaire is available from Icasa’s website. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media