Icasa unveils five-year plan
The communications regulator has spoken about its plans for the next five years, including how it hopes to improve what it does. By Craig Wilson.
The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has acknowledged that it faces a variety of obstacles it must overcome if it is to be effective, achieve its goals and improve the state of SA’s communications landscape.
These include keeping abreast of developments in the industry it regulates and staying attuned to its requirements.
This is according to the authority’s strategic plan for the financial years from 2013 to 2017.
Icasa chairman Stephen Mncube says it’s crucial Icasa be strengthened and modernised to allow it to “meet the demands of a fast-changing industry landscape”. He says it must promote competition because that “drives innovation”.
Icasa CEO Themba Dlamini says the authority’s regulatory priorities for 2013 remain largely the same as they were in the 2012 financial year: local-loop unbundling; increasing access to broadband; allocating spectrum; and migrating to digital terrestrial television.
He says all South Africans must have access to communications at an affordable rate. Icasa also has to sometimes make unpopular decisions. “If operators love you, you’re in the wrong business.”
There are plans to overhaul Icasa’s organisational structure, too, Dlamini says. “Icasa is top heavy. I have eleven people reporting to me. Now, when do I get to the eleventh person?”
He says Icasa is also looking at self-funding models. It is currently funded through the department of communications.
Dlamini says it is critical that Icasa overhauls and updates outdated regulations, some of which are based on policies crafted 15 years ago.
“We cannot constantly be in the position of having to catch up with the industry all the time,” he says.
“This is a risk that the regulator has to manage. We must be brutally honest about the facts. Any delay to a policy directive [from the minister of communications] will have consequences for the sector.”
Dlamini says this is not an indictment on the department of communications but a “harsh truth” that must be faced if the regulator is to be effective in achieving its duties. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media