Red tape hampers Africa’s tech future

Regulation that lacks clarity, is open to interpretation and heavily dependent on skills for effective application is impeding the continent’s progress towards 4IR.

26 July 2022

Pieter Grootes, Networks Anonymous. Photo: Karolina Komendera

As Africa moves along its 4IR journey, its ability to leverage ICT is sometimes undermined by discord between governments, regulators and businesses. Entrepreneurs complain that where policy does exist, it’s often unclear and adds to the confusion. Changes to regulatory frameworks or new legislation sparks disagreement and impedes progress, with the result that Africa has more ground to cover in its quest towards digital transformation.

An example of this infighting is the regulation and allocation of spectrum in South Africa. In March this year, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa raised R14.4 billion from its long-delayed 5G spectrum auction. But the process did not sit well with some operators. Service provider Telkom applied to the court to ‘ensure the licensing of spectrum promotes effective competition in the mobile market in line with the objective of the Electronic Communications Act’. The parties eventually reached an out-of-court settlement.

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