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ANC welcomes call to slash cost of mobile data in SA

03 December 2019 - 14:38 By Zimasa Matiwane
The ANC says consumers are spending a large chunk of their income on communication.
The ANC says consumers are spending a large chunk of their income on communication.
Image: 123RF / Nenetus

The ANC has welcomed a call by the Competition Commission for mobile network service providers to lower their data costs by between 30% and 50% within the next two months or face prosecution.

LISTEN | What lower data cost will mean for SA 

Party spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement that high data prices had a negative impact not only on the growth of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector but also other areas of the economy, such as financial services.

“The citizens of our country, especially the working-class poor, youth, students and women, are robbed of their income, [of] which they spend more than 25% on the telecommunications services, including data services,” said Mabe.

“The majority of our people, due to the widening digital divide, are unable to enjoy the benefits of a digital economy, which deprive[s] the poor of full participation in the democracy of our country. This further stifles development and growth of small businesses."

In support of the #DataMustFall movement, the party resolved at its 54th national conference that: “There must be a strong regulatory intervention to deal with the question of the high cost to communicate and the ANC must support the campaign for data to fall and the monopolisation of data. This is regarded as stifling economic inclusion.”

The ANC also made substantive submissions to the Data Market Inquiry and delivered a presentation to the public hearings hosted by the Competition Commission in October 2018.

The party urged the government to activate all regulatory mechanisms, like the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), to ensure that the commission's recommendations were implemented quickly.

“Access to data in the 21st century is important because it facilitates the realisation of many rights enshrined in our bill of rights, as well as enhancing economic participation and the strengthening of our democracy,” added Mabe.