[20 July 2014Joint report of the Portfolio Committees on Communications and on Telecommunications and Postal Services on their deliberations on Budget Vote 27: Communications, and entities of the Department of Communications, dated 11 July 2014

Address by the Honourable Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele on the occasion of the Budget Vote speech (16 July 2014) 

YouTube video of Debate on Budget Vote 27


[1 March 2014] National Treasury published the 2014 Budget Vote on Communications (Vote 27) on 26 February 2014 as part of its set of  Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) publications. These are important accountability documents, which set out the details of planned expenditure and planned performance at the time the Budget is tabled. 

Budget Vote on Communications 2014 (Vote 27)

The proposed budget indicates a strong focus on implementation of broadband plans and on prioritising the digital migration process. ICASA’s capacity to implement and enforce spectrum licensing and monitoring will be bolstered. The document also reveals the following deadlines:

  • develop the digital opportunity plan by March 2014;
  • develop the digital development plan by March 2014;
  • develop the digital readiness plan by 31 December 2014; and
  • develop the and digital future plan by 31 December 2014

Some excerpts:

“The spending focus over the medium term will be on implementing the broadband policy, finalising the broadband implementation plan, and making transfers of the set top box subsidy for poor households through the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa.”  

“Funds have also been reprioritised towards planning for the broadband rollout, which accounts for the strong growth in the Broadband subprogramme over the medium term. The department also aims to finalise government’s policy on radio frequency spectrum in the next few months. The release of high demand spectrum has the potential to play an important role in improving access to wireless broadband. The large increase in external audit costs in 2012/13 is due to performance audits carried out on the national frequency spectrum in order to determine if it was used efficiently.”

“The national cybersecurity policy framework was approved by Cabinet, and mandates the establishment of a cybersecurity hub in terms of the justice, crime prevention and security cluster. The department entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to establish this hub, which further accounts for the large increase in consultants in 2011/12. Expenditure on consultants increased significantly between 2010/11 and 2013/14, due to an additional allocation received through the adjustments budget for school connectivity, and for service providers who assisted the department to develop the report on baseline data on broadband coverage, penetration, speed and cost, and implementing a testing centre for set top boxes. In addition, the increase in spending on goods and services over the medium term, particularly on consultants, is as a result of funds from the 112 emergency call centre project being reprioritised to the broadcast digital migration project, which will include a call centre to deal with queries related to the migration process. To give effect to Cabinet approved budget reductions, R15 million over the medium term has been reduced from spending on consultants. This programme had a staff complement of 47 funded posts at the end of November 2013, of which 38 are envisaged to be filled by 2014/15.”

“The spending focus over the medium term will be on enhancing regulatory capacity, improving access to broadband services and optimising the use of the radio frequency spectrum to extend access to affordable ICT services to all South Africans. The increase in expenditure between 2009/10 and 2012/13 was mainly due to funding made available in 2012/13 for projects relating to digital terrestrial television, the provision of broadband services and additional commercial radio services, and the broadcasting of the 2013 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament. The projected deficits over the medium term are due to major projects that have been delayed in previous years that will now be executed over the MTEF period. The allocation and efficient use of broadband spectrum will play an important role in the rollout of broadband services in the country. The authority will acquire customer relations, management and spectrum management tools to ensure the optimal use of spectrum by licence holders. In order to improve spectrum management, core modules of the new spectrum management system will be implemented. Hand held spectrum analysers will be bought and test equipment upgrades will be made in order to support digital technology. “