South Africa has concluded an auction of high-demand spectrum for mobile telecommunications, earning government nearly a billion dollars in income from the sales, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday.
The US$960-million spectrum for mobile telecommunication will pave the way for faster internet and cheaper connectivity with the rollout of 5G internet in the country, he said.
“We are determined that South Africa must not be left behind by the digital economy, just as we are determined that no community and no person should be left behind in experiencing the vast benefits of being digitally connected to the world,” Ramaphosa said.
He added: “The licensing of spectrum is one of the major reforms that we are implementing to modernise and transform key network industries such as energy, telecommunications, transport and water provision.”
The president said last Friday’s auction has already created new “opportunities for investment in electricity generation, freight rail and ports.”
While key industries were expected to benefit from the availability of more spectrum, ordinary members of society would not be left behind as well, he said.
According to him, “the licensing of this new spectrum will be accompanied by agreed social obligations to connect public schools, health facilities and police stations over the next three years.”
“Like the mineral wealth that lies beneath our soil, radio spectrum is a valuable national resource that needs to be used for the benefit of all South Africans,” Ramaphosa said.
He emphasised that increased digital access was “critical” for the growth of the economy which continued to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which has hit the country in the past two years.