South Africa’s Government sets timelines for ICT projects


Government has laid out its programme of action for ICT projects for the last four months of the year and set strict deadlines that each department will have to meet.

This follows the Medium-Term Strategy Framework, which was unveiled by minister in the presidency, Trevor Manuel, earlier this year. The programme highlights what action government will take in realising goals set out in the framework.

The framework identified the usage of ICT and science and technological innovation and development as key in its goals to improve and sustain economic growth. Vital initiatives have been allocated to key departments and strict deadlines will be monitored.

The Department of Communications (DOC) has been given the biggest responsibility in this area. It is expected to create a favourable ICT environment through digital migration and its industrial opportunities, and create a competitive market with regard to domestic and international bandwidth.

The department is expected to finalise and implement the local and digital content development strategy by December. The digital terrestrial television standard is expected to be gazetted by March 2010. The set-top box (STB) manufacturing strategy, including the ownership support scheme, is to be completed by March 2010. The Digital Dzonga STB conformance scheme will be in place and STB manufacturing will commence by March 2010, the schedule states.

The DOC will also develop a broadband policy and cost-effective funding model for the roll-out of high-speed broadband infrastructure. The draft National Broadband Policy is expected to be gazetted for public comment by September, while the final policy is expected in March 2010.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has been tasked with ensuring that institutions, which support technology development, are fully operational by November 2010. The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the National Intellectual Property Management Office (Nipmo) have been identified as the two main institutions. The TIA opened its doors in July, while Nipmo offices are still being established.

By December, the department would have to present approved business plans for the establishment of centres of competence and technology platforms in key sectors, such as alternative energy, information security and medical devices. The DST would also have to develop and implement a commercialisation strategy in support of the local electric vehicle industry. The implementation of this strategy has been set for December.

The programme states the DST would also need to continue investment to ensure SA wins the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) bid, including building the Karoo Array Telescope. This forms part of plans to develop science and technology infrastructure to position SA to win the SKA bid, which will be announced in December 2012.

The Department of Health is expected to perform an audit of health ICT at all levels of the national public health system. A draft ICT audit report with recommendations is expected to be presented to the National Health Council (NHC) in October. A draft national ICT strategy for the health department will be presented to the NHC in November. The final strategy will then be adopted by the NHC in March 2010.

The department previously stated it would prioritise its ICT projects as a means of achieving its service delivery goals. It highlighted the need for strong ICT infrastructure and said it would develop an e-health strategy in its drive to improve service delivery.

As part of its revitalisation policy, the department is expected to finalise the health technology plan and strategy. The department has already embarked on a process of developing a national Electronic Health Record for all patients in public hospitals. The draft policy will be presented to the NHC and the final plan would be adopted by the NHC and incorporated into provincial health plans by March 2010.