The department of public works and infrastructure (DPWI) has published its draft national infrastructure plan for 2050 (NIP 2050). In it, it lists a number of development plans to be implemented in the coming years, including making high-speed broadband available to “all communities” in the country by 2023-4.
The department hopes that this will give South Africans access to more affordable digital services. “The majority of mobile [subscriptions] are pre-paid, at a cost significantly higher than post-paid [contract],” the DPWI said. “For example, in 2020, the cost of 1GB prepaid data was more than double that of post-paid data.”
According to the department, the digitisation of government services together with the delivery of broadband across the country will allow citizens to access online services, bringing an improvement in service delivery.
“Importantly, the digitisation of government services could be used to improve the quality of service delivery, reduce costs to the fiscus and access marginalised and remote areas and communities.”
The department believes that there has been “good performance” in digital infrastructure in the past decade. By 2019, 93% of the population had coverage of 4G/LTE services as compared to 2015, when 53% of South Africans were covered.
“Over 85% of the population live within 10km of a fibre access point. This coverage bodes well for NIP 2050 efforts to improve digital access for low-income communities,” it said.
“E-services have the potential to reduce the cost of living for citizens, for instance by reducing or eliminating the need to travel and queue for many government services.”
The draft national infrastructure plan was published after a preparation process of six months. It is now open for public comment. Written submissions should reach the department of public works and infrastructure on or before 17 September this year.