The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (“The Authority”) has invited interested stakeholders to a virtual consultation workshop to engage on the impact of load-shedding on the electronic communications, broadcasting, and postal services sectors, and to identify potential mitigation measures that lie within the scope of the Authority.
This workshop follows the announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 9 February 2023, during the 2023 State of the Nation Address, that the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has declared a national state of disaster in response to the ongoing electricity crisis and its effects.
The National Disaster Management Centre has consequently classified the severe electricity supply constraint as a national disaster. Pursuant to this classification, Organs of state are required to prepare and submit reports detailing the measures they have taken to avert the state of disaster, as required by the National Disaster Management Centre.
The Authority is currently actively considering regulatory measures which could be considered and applied during this national disaster period, in line with section 2 of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act (“ICASA Act”), No 13 of 2000, and would like to solicit views from interested stakeholders on the following:
- Enabling regulatory interventions, relief measures, adjustments to the regulatory frameworks that could reduce the impact of load-shedding on stakeholders/ Licensees;
- Any adjustments to the regulatory frameworks for equipment, electronic communications facilities and radio apparatus that could reduce the impact of load-shedding;
- Specific reporting requirements for Licensees to submit information to ICASA, in order to assess the impact of load-shedding on the provision of electronic communications and broadcasting services;
- Measures that stakeholders/ Licensees intend to take to assist their subscribers / members of the public during the state of national disaster;
- Pro-consumer measures, including the reduction of the cost to communicate, which the Authority should consider during this period;
- Regulatory forbearance on compliance with licence terms and conditions, such as network roll-out, universal service and access targets and quality of service obligations;
- Any other measures or interventions that the Authority should consider to ameliorate the impact of load-shedding on service provision, economic activity, and social well-being.
It is the view of the Authority that any of the above proposed regulatory interventions should be justified by showing how it either directly minimises the impact of load-shedding or specifically facilitates ongoing service provision during the state of national disaster.
The Authority may consider the inputs received from this consultation meeting when developing a consultation document, which will be published in the Government Gazette for public comment. The consultation document will also consider the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies’ policy direction once published.