DoC’s lip service to urgency

It seems our communications minister has a very strange concept of urgency. Hitting the wire* has a post that reveals that the minister is really just paying lip service to her stated goal of reducing telecommunications costs in South Africa and unbundling the local loop (the connection from the network to each home/business, also referred to as the “last mile”).

She uses feel-good extracts from the President’s State of the Nation address, but neglects to mention that in a recent interview with the Financial Times of London he said:

“The cost of telecommunications is unbelievably high”

She focuses on unbundling of the local loop (ULL), and states that it is “urgent”:

“I HAVE ALSO TAKEN THE POLICY DECISION that, given the complexity of local loop unbundling process on the one hand and the urgency for South Africa to enable all operators appropriately licensed to have access to the local loop on the other, the unbundling process in South Africa should be urgently implemented.”

but then states:

“The unbundling process should be completed by 1 November 2011.”

I think that sums up the problem for me.  4.5 years is considered “urgent”.

How could it possibly take over 4 years to unbundle the local loop. Why has it taken so long for the government to begin talking about reducing the costs of telecommunications in South Africa and improving access to true broadband? These are, of course, rhetorical questions. The most likely answer is that it is worth more money to the government to maintain the status quo rather than propel this country into the 21st century as a serious competitive force. So for the time being the government lies to us as we slip further and further behind the rest of the developing world in competitive terms. Haven’t these people read “The World is Flat“?

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