Telecommunication Act Written By US Firm
Readers of this blog will be familiar with our constant harping on the dire situation of telecommunications in South Africa. After Telkom was semi-privatised and a chunk sold to a consortium including US telco SBC Communications (now AT&T, whose name it took when it acquired it). Telkom was given a 5 year monopoly (which has become a defacto 14 year monopoly at the very least) in exchange for providing telecommunications service to under serviced areas, which they never did.
After Telkom’s legislated 5 year monopoly was up SBC sold their stock for a massive profit, packed their bags and South Africa has been struggling with a complete messed up telecoms industry ever snice.
And that’s probably because the Telecommunications Act which set up our current environment was written with the help of SBC to ensure they made profit before they did the ol’ cut and run.
In an interview with the authors last year, Myers explained that when it became clear that SBC would secure the Telkom stake, “the company temporarily transferred its entire San Antonio [Texas] corporate office legislative team to South Africa to help draft the Telecommunications Act, to make sure the legislation comported with the company’s requirements”.
Myers told Horwitz and Currie that SBC’s strategy was very clear: “Maximise the value of Thintana’s investment during Telkom’s five-year exclusivity period and then exit quickly.”
I can’t help but think the ANC got taken for a complete ride by SBC (and probably then decided to get in on the act when Andile Ngcaba and his Elephant Consortium saw the massive profits Telkom was making) and our lethargic Communication Dept and toothless regulator ICASA have been unable, or unwilling, to do anything about it.