South Africa’s official opposition party has blamed the ruling party for the high cost of data in the country.
Policy bungling is the hallmark of the ANC government’s communications ministries. That has sustained the high cost of data in South Africa, said the Democratic Alliance party.
DA argued that the lack of availability of spectrum for wireless broadband services is the major cause of high prices. And that the unavailability of the spectrum has created an artificial scarcity that has stifled competition needed to drive down prices.
According to the opposition party, the unavailability of spectrum has two main causes:
- The failure of the programme to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting, thus freeing up the airwaves to create more space for wireless broadband services;
- And, failure of policy on how to allocate the high-demand spectrum that is stalled in a spectrum stand-off between the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.
Adding that the increased competition with effective and independent regulation, will drive down communication costs, DA highlighted that making more spectrum available to a diversity of network providers will have a major impact on growth and diversity of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
The party said that, in turn, will lead to economic growth, the inclusion of marginalized communities and increased revenue for the fiscus to provide e-government services.
“The lack of availability of spectrum for wireless broadband services is the major cause of high prices. The unavailability of spectrum has created an artificial scarcity that has stifled competition needed to drive down prices,” DA stated.
Citing the United Nations the party asserted that a 500MB allocation of prepaid mobile data should cost no more than 5% of average monthly income.
“… It is vital for government to face up to the detrimental effect its years-long policy bunglings have had on stifling citizens’ ability to positively exploit communications technology.
“It must back down from its ideological standpoints and give citizens what they want – affordable and plentiful spectrum,” DA charged.
To the party, ANC policy bungling is the prime factor that keeps data costs high in South Africa.