Preparations for the World Cup have helped South Africa to modernise its digital information systems, said ministers this week, but added that it still needs help in some areas from the ITU.
Speaking at the fifth World Telecommunication Development Conference
this week, South African deputy minister of communications Dina Pule said that the country had deployed fibre-optic cables to each of the ten World Cup stadia, located in nine cities across the country.
"International connectivity is of course a critical component for South Africa and the African continent to participate on equal footing with the rest of the world in the global information society. As part of our preparation for the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which commences just days after this Conference ends, tremendous progress has been made in addressing the international connectivity of our country to the African continent and to the rest of the world," said the minister.
Ms Pule also said that South Africa is on track to transition its broadcasting system from analogue to digital by the 2015 deadline set by the ITU. The country has made particular headway in the digitisation of broadcasting studios, she said, but added: "As is the case in many other countries, the funding of the migration remains the major challenge as this process requires high capital investment which in our country is funded by the government."
The transition to digital broadcasting must result in increased local content generation, said Ms Pule, who described a commitment to establishing distinct channels for education, health care information, youth development, small business, and interactive services. Channels for government information services would also be created.
However, the move to IPv6 is proving difficult, and many countries could use help, she warned. "The critical issue regarding the migration from Internet Protocol V4 to V6 is critical for us. In particular, the need for the ITU to increase technical assistance and support to countries requiring such support, and resources to ensure that we are not left behind."
A paper published recently by BMI-T
called SA ICT Government Spending Trends
said that other ICT projects in South Africa had been put on the back burner as a result of the intensive preparations necessary for the World Cup, which begins on 11 June. Thse will likely be rekindled after the event ends.