Two state firms will merge to form giant digital infrastructure company, says Ndabeni-Abrahams

19 December 2019 - 13:33 By Amil Umraw
Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams announced the planned merger in Pretoria on Thursday.
Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams announced the planned merger in Pretoria on Thursday.
Image: Eugene Coetzee

The government is expediting plans to merge two state companies - signal distribution giant Sentech and telecommunications entity Broadband Infraco - to form one huge, state digital infrastructure company.

In a press briefing in Pretoria on Thursday, communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said the move was one of a number of institutional reforms the government was taking as part of its fourth industrial revolution campaign.

She said her department was also finalising a business case and awaiting certification from state law advisers to repurpose the State Information Technology Agency as a fully fledged state IT company.

“We are further engaging our counterparts to ensure that non-broadband state-owned entities that self-provide broadband, such as Sanral, Prasa, Eskom and Transnet, are prohibited from entering the commercial broadband market, to avoid the state distorting a well-functioning liberalised market,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.

“We will also accelerate the repurposing of the Universal Service Fund into a 4IR (fourth industrial revolution) fund.”

Speaking about the Post Office (Sapo), the minister said the department was in the process of launching Sapo's e-commerce platform and was finalising memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with Post Bank in terms of their future operational relationship.

The minister also announced the appointment of Newyear Ntuli as the administrator of the Universal Service and Access Agency of SA. Ntuli’s mandate will be to fast-track the rollout of the government’s digital migration efforts.

“Cabinet approved the delivery model that encompasses direct appointments of local decoder installers that are qualified and accredited,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said. “The second phase thereof will include the rollout of IDTVs (integrated digital television sets) to ensure the success of the project.”