On Tuesday, 05 September 2017, R2K KZN will picket at Fairmont Zimbali Resort in Ballito where SADC Ministers will be meeting. South Africa is hosting a meeting of SADC ministers responsible for communications and ICT. As R2K KZN, we believe this event is an opportunity for critical reflection on the state of telecommunications in the Southern African region.
We note that the costs of communication in Southern Africa are high and limit people’s rights to communicate. We also note that in spite of technological advances, in Southern Africa, people have limited access to telecommunication infrastructure. Furthermore, we are concerned with internet shut downs occasioned for purposes of restricting the free flow of information amongst citizens. We urge ministers, representing their governments, to commit to upholding internet freedom and desist from online censorship and internet shutdowns.
R2K calls on all SADC Telecommunication ministers to ensure that the people have access to telecommunication infrastructure, and that the cost of data and airtime is affordable to all people in the region. Our call to bring down the cost of communication is a continuous campaign that is aimed at all countries in the region.
As the region prepares for digital migration, ICT ministers must take note that spectrum is a highly valuable natural resource for people of this region and ensure that this resource is used for the benefit of the people of this region and not for profiteering purposes. It is saddening to note that the region is way behind its own set timelines for the completion of digital migration.
Providing affordable universal services and access to communication services to poor and rural areas in Southern Africa should be of great concern to policy makers. It is our hope that the Ministers will prioritise this in their deliberations in Durban.
Our right to know will remain incomplete if we limit ourselves to securing access to information alone. We struggle to ensure that information flows freely across society and that information forms the basis of a social dialogue that deepens our democracy and advances social, economic, and environmental justice. Our right to communicate – to receive and impart information and opinions – is central to our right to know.
Date: 05 September 2017
Venue: Fairmont Zimbali Resort, Ballito
Time: 10h30AM – 1PM