Current ICT Initiatives and projects - Republic of South Africa

Some of the ICT Initiatives that are currently ongoing at national level include the development of Strategies emanating from the Integrated ICT Policy Review Process, the implementation of the South African National Research Network & Tertiary Education and Research Network, the Digital Terrestrial Television Migration process, SA Connect Broadband infrastructure rollout, and the Square Kilometer Array/MeerKAT.

Integrated ICT Policy White Paper

Cabinet approved the Integrated ICT Policy White Paper in 2016. Steming from the White Paper are 3 Strategies that the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) gazetted since the begining of 2017, and these are: the National e-Strategy, the National eGovernment Strategy and Roadmap, and the ICT SMME Support Strategy.

In order to improve the R&D environment, this policy white paper adopts the following:

- An ICT RDI Investment and Planning Advisory Council including senior officials from various government departments, as well as industry and research institutions (Universities and Science Councils) and civil society representatives, will be established to support the Office of Digital Advantage, which is provided for in the ICT RDI Roadmap.

- The ICT RDI Investment and Planning Advisory Council will be Co-Chaired by the Departments of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS); and Science and Technology (DST)

- The Council must establish a working relationship with other institutions that are involved in RDI.

The Council must continuously evaluate priority areas, promote and monitor policies to support RDI growth in the ICT sector

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 227 sites as at March 2017. The average bandwidth available per SANReN site is 3.537 Gbps. SANReN also supports the Square Kilometer Array/MeerKAT and the South Africa Antarctic Research Programme. Approximately 1,000,000 students, academics and researchers in public institutions presently benefit from the network. 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 : Department of Science Technology

Geographic coverage : National

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. The Department of Communications is aiming to complete the process of migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting at the end of 2018. 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 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. Registrations for government subsidised STBs are now underway in most parts of South Africa. In 2016, 3700 households in the towns of Carnavon, Vanwyksvlei, Brandvlei, Vosburg and Williston, which are within or border the SKA/MeeraKAT site, were successfully migrated to the digital platform.

Funding sources : Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF)

Geographic coverage : National

SA Connect Broadband rollout

SA Connect is government's ambitious national broadband policy that was adopted in 2013, and aims to deliver widespread broadband access to 90% of the country's population by 2020, and 100% by 2030. The 1st phase of the project is to connect all schools, health facilities, government offices, Thusong Centres and post offices, in eight rural district municipalities, to broadband services.

Funding : Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services

Geography : 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) is being built in Africa. The core - i.e. the region with the highest concentration of receivers - will be constructed in the Northern Cape, South Africa, 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) is being built in Australia. South Africa has already demonstrated its excellent science and engineering skills by designing and building the MeerKAT radio telescope - as a precursor to the SKA. The technology 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 were 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, which is planned for completion in March 2018. A 32-Antenna Array of the MeerKAT was completed in March 2017.

Funding: SKA is funded by a concortium of countires, while the MeerKAT is funded the Department of Scienec and Technology

Geographical coverage : Carnarvon, Northern Cape. Some of the SKA Antennea will be located in a few African countries