SA’s excessive communications costs stifle growth says Treasury

On Tuesday 27th August, Finance minister Tito Mboweni published a paper titled: Economic transformation, inclusive growth and competitiveness: Towards an economic strategy for South Africa.  This paper considers the contribution of specific growth reforms that can achieve the stated outcomes.  The paper cites the exorbitant costs of communicating in South Africa.  SA ranks 126th in terms of prepaid mobile cellular tariffs and 69th in terms of fixed broadband Internet tariffs, according to the World Economic Forum.  At the same time, South Africa ranks 119th globally in terms of download speed. Average connection speed in SA in 2016 was 6.5Mbps, ranking it 73rd out of 146 countries, it says. This magnifies the levels at which the quality of broadband is in South Africa compared to other countries.  According to Treasury, SA also has extremely low levels of ICT uptake and access, especially of broadband, in comparison with other countries.
 
It points out that while SA performs poorly compared to its peers in ICT indicators, any progress that has been made to date in price, quality and access has largely been due to increased competition, through the entrance of challenger firms and regulating for competition.
 
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