[29 March 2023] The Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies has issued directions to ICASA to ensure the sector implements measures dealing with the effects of the state of disaster, and – where applicable – to prevent the escalation of the electricity supply constraint.
In these Directions, a word or expression to which a meaning has been assigned in the Electronic Communications Act, 2005 (Act No. 36 of 2005) and the Disaster Regulations bears the meaning so assigned and, unless the context otherwise indicates—
“Disaster Regulations” means the Regulations issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act and published on 27 February 2023 in Government Notice No. R. 3095 of Government Gazette No. 48152.
The purpose of these Directions is to ensure that measures are taken in respect of the communications and digital technologies sector to effectively deal with the effects of the national state of disaster and where applicable prevent the escalation of the electricity supply constraints.
3. Directions to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa
3.1 The Minister directs the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (the “Authority”), to urgently consider the following interventions:
(a) Require electronic communications service and electronic communications network service licensees that are mobile network operators and broadcasting service licensees to issue public service announcements on the national state of disaster, at no cost to the user, after consultation with the Government Communications and Information System;
(b) consult with electronic communications service, electronic communications network service and broadcasting service licensees on what constitutes critical electronic communications and broadcasting infrastructure and make recommendations to the Minister, to enable the Minister to inform the relevant Cabinet member regarding the granting of exemptions from load-shedding or reduced load shedding, as contemplated in regulation 5(1)(b) of the Disaster Regulations; and
(c) consult with electronic communications service, electronic communications network service and broadcasting service licensees on regulatory obligations that could be relaxed for the purposes of giving effect to the objects set out in the Disaster Regulations and make recommendations to the Minister, to enable the Minister to consider further directions to the Authority.
3.2 The Minister further directs that the Authority’s approach in respect of the consultation contemplated in paragraph 3.1(b) and (c) should be guided by –
(a) a consideration of the degree to which compliance with regulatory obligations by licensees is dependent upon access to a consistent electricity supply;
(b) measures necessary to effectively deal with the direct or indirect effects of the disaster; or
c) measures necessary to assist in preventing the escalation of the electricity supply constraints or in reducing its impact.
3.3 The Authority is requested to assess the impact of the interventions contemplated herein following its implementation, in order to make recommendations to the Minister on further actions required.
These Directions come into operation on the date of publication in the Government Gazette.
[23 March 2023] The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, following consultation with the Competition Commission has published draft regulations intended to exempt categories of agreements or practices by energy users and suppliers in order to promote regulatory measures aimed at the prevention of an escalation of the electricity supply constraint and the spectre of a complete electricity blackout.
Stakeholders and interested persons are invited to submit comments on the draft regulations by 16h00 on 30 March 2023 for the attention of Ms Aldene Appolis | AAppolis@thedtic.gov.za or Mr Ivan Galodikwe | IGalodikwe@thedtic.aov.za.
[23 March 2023] The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has declared a national state of disaster in response to the unprecedented load shedding currently being experienced in the country. The regulations aim to mitigate the effects of the disaster, ensure critical infrastructure is functional, and enable mechanisms to expedite the generation of new electricity as well as improve the performance of Èskom’s existing plants.