Current ICT Initiatives and projects - Republic of South Africa

Some of the ICT Initiatives are currently ongoing at national level include the Broadband Policy Review Process, South African National Research Network & Tertiary Education and Research Network, Digital Terrestrial Television Migration, Square Kilometer Array and the rollout of Tablets to Schools in Gauteng Province.

Rollout of Tablets to School Learners in Gauteng

Between 2015 - 2019 Gauteng Province is providing tablets to all Grade 4 - 9 learners as part of an investment in ICT and innovation projects in public schools. In addition to the tablets, each classroom will be equipped with a smartboard and access to unlimited data during specific hours. This initiative is focused on creating a "paper-less classrooms" to benefit the majority of pupils.

Funding source: Gauteng Provincial Department of Basic Education

The South African National Research Network

The South African National Research Network (SANReN) is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and implemented by the CSIR Meraka Institute since 2009. SANReN now provides a minimum of 1Gbps and to 10Gbps redundant connectivity to all South African public universities, many science councils and entities such as the South African Weather Services - a total of 214 sites as at December 2015. SANReN also supports the Square Kilometer Array and the South Africa Antarctic Research Programme. Over 400,000 students, academics and researchers presently benefit from the network with the target to research 10 million users. SANReN provides an average of 2.82Gbps to each connected site. The SANReN network forms part of a comprehensive South African government approach to a National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System (NICIS) to ensure successful participation of South African researchers in the global knowledge production effort. Together with the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) and the Data Intensive Research Initiative for South Africa (DIRISA), the SANReN network forms the key components of this cyberinfrastructure (CI) as a core scientific research infrastructure for South Africa.

TENET (Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa) operates SANReN, which comprises of a national backbone, several metropolitan rings, and some dedicated long-haul circuits to connect specific research installations. TENET is a member of UbuntuNet Alliance and has global interconnectivity through UbuntuNet Alliance's London and Amsterdam gateways to GEANT (European Research and Education Network). It is a beneficary of both Africa Connect and Africa Connect 2 eInfrastructures project through UbuntuNet Alliance.

Funding Sources : DST

The Digital Terrestrial Television Migration

The Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) roll-out is one of the key priorities of the South African government. Its aim is to migrate the terrestrial analogue television broadcasting infrastructure to the digital broadcasting. The migration is necessary due to the developments in the telecommunications technologies and the international obligations for broadcasting digital migration. In 2006, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) passed a resolution that all countries of Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran (region 1) should migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting services by June 2015. South Africa missed the agreed deadline and the Minister of Communications is yet to set a new deadline. In August 2008, Government approved the Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) Policy. The BDM Policy provides for a framework within which digital migration should take place in the country. The current period of migration is called dual illumination, when both analogue and digital TV signals are available to viewers. The Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy provides that set-top-boxes will be sourced from local manufacturers to increase the sector's contribution to the real economy, improving growth and facilitating job creation. The Cabinet approved a subsidy scheme called Scheme for Ownership Subsidy (SOS) which will provide TV owning households 70% towards the cost of the STB as an incentive aimed at reaching the 5 million poorest TV owning households. The subsidy will be funded through the Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF). The rollout of set-top-boxes by the South African Post Office started in 2015.

Funding sources : Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF)

Geographic coverage : National

The Square Kilometer Array

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is an array of radio telescopes. The majority of the SKA - the full dish array and the dense aperture array - will be built in Africa. The core - i.e. the region with the highest concentration of receivers - will be constructed in the Northern Cape Province, about 80 km from the town of Carnarvon (the same site as where the MeerKAT is being constructed). The sparse aperture array (low frequency array) will be built in Australia. South Africa has already demonstrated its excellent science and engineering skills by designing and starting to build the MeerKAT radio telescope - as a precursor to the SKA. The technology being developed for MeerKAT is cutting-edge and the project is creating a large group of young scientists and engineers with world-class expertise in the technologies which will be crucial in the next 10 - 20 years, such as very fast computing, very fast data transport, large data storage, large networks of sensors, software radios and imaging algorithms. The MeerKAT is funded by the Department of Science and Technology while the SKA is funded by a consortium of countries. Full operation of the SKA is planned for 2026.

The first seven dishes of the local precursor instrument - known as KAT-7 - were completed by December 2010 and are being commissioned in 2015/16. It is the world's first radio telescope with dishes made of fibre glass. KAT-7 is an engineering prototype for the 64-dish MeerKAT. The SKA project has now entered its final pre-construction phase (or detailed design phase) before construction of SKA1 commences in 2018. The SKA1 will incooperate the 64-dish MeerKAT.