The South African government has released shocking performance statistics for the first six months of 2012-13, confirming that it has dramatically missed important targets in terms of job creation and broadband penetration.
The National Treasury’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement revealed that the Department of Communications had created just 150 new jobs in the ICT sector, falling far short of the 17,322 targeted in the 2012 Estimated National Expenditure.
The DoC had also been projected to achieve 7 percent broadband penetration per year, for the financial year 2012-13. However, the recorded percentage achieved in the first six months of the year has been revealed as zero.
The Treasury explained the lack of job creation by pointing to more high-priority issues pinching the budget, saying that “funds were reprioritised away from these projects towards other spending pressures within the Department.”
The complete lack of results in terms of penetration was blamed on delays in finalisation of the country’s broadband policy. The Treasury explained: “The Department is currently reviewing the broadband policy in consultation with all related industry stakeholders.”
It had been promised that 60 new e-cooperatives would be established over the year to encourage the entry into the market of youth-owned small enterprises, yet once again the Treasury admitted that no progress had been made towards the target, with zero e-cooperatives having been launched to date.
Again, the reason for the absence of progress was cited as reprioritised funds, although the Treasury insists that in the second half of the year this indicator will be addressed, making assurances that “funds have been shifted towards this function”.
The list of failures is lengthy. None of five promised community radio stations were provided with broadcasting infrastructure – due to delays in departmental decision as to submitted bids; and no ICT SMME hubs were established as compared to a projected two hubs per year, due to “human resource capacity constraints”.
The funding “re-prioritisations” may well be as a result of South Africa’s flagging digital migration progress, which is now being accelerated in order to meet the December 2013 target.
The Treasury revealed that 60 per cent coverage has been achieved for digital television transmission infrastructure, although this figure could have been higher had Sentech not experienced “project delays in rolling out infrastructure as a result of the Minister of Communications’ announcement of the adoption of the DVBT2 technology”.
The Treasury added: “The Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) project rollout programme is being accelerated to be ready for the full switch-on by December 2013.”
It is the latest blow to South African pride, following the economic turmoil that has gripped the country over recent months as a result of the on-going labour strikes, and as the UN’s Global Investment Trends Monitor revealed investors are beating an almighty retreat from the country – FDI being down by 43.6 per cent in South Africa in the first half of 2012.