Section 35(2) of the South African Electronic Communications Act, 2005, read with the Type Approval Regulations, empowers the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa ("ICASA") to prescribe:

(i) which types of equipment, electronic communications facilities and radio apparatus do not necessitate the user to get approval to use them, where such equipment, electronic communications facilities and radio apparatus have been approved for use by the European Telecommunications Standards Associations or other competent standards body where the equipment complies with type approval standards; and

(ii) the circumstances in which the use of equipment, electronic communications facilities and radio apparatus do not require type approval.

The current Type Approval Regulations apply to any equipment used or to be used in connection with the provision of electronic communications, unless explicitly exempted by ICASA. The scope of application of the Type Approval Regulations has been criticised by some as being far too broad.

An exemption has been granted to certain low-power devices operating on FM Band II in terms of Government Gazette no. 30472, published on 15 November 2007, provided that the power emitted from these devices is less than or equal to 50nw.

On 31 March 2017, ICASA published Government Gazette no. 40733, Regulatory Position on Equipment Type Approval Exemption ("2017 Type Approval Exemption Notice"), to communicate to the industry its regulatory position on the equipment type approval exemption.

The 2017 Type Approval Exemption Notice is the result of a September 2016 invitation to the public to make written representations in relation to equipment type approval exemptions. There were 18 participants who made submissions in response to the invitation. Having regard to the submissions made, ICASA has now pronounced its position in the 2017 Type Approval Exemption Notice as follows:

  • there will not be any upfront exemptions granted on the basis of types of equipment at this stage.
  • ICASA will, in the future, be developing a framework for the exemption of equipment operating under certain circumstances. ICASA has listed some such circumstances as follows, indicating that this is not to be regarded as a closed list:
    • systems and equipment used for the production and distribution of broadcast and content services
    • test and measurement equipment used by professionals and engineers of a licensed entity in the provision of telecommunications or broadcast services
    • satellite communications equipment
    • equipment for research and development in the laboratory environment
    • equipment for demonstrations of prototypes and testing
    • equipment for sample testing, demonstrations and field trials
    • equipment for demonstrations and exhibitions
    • equipment for operations of specialised agencies
    • equipment for maritime or aeronautical operations
    • radio telescope array and radio astronomy facilities
    • amateur radios for the purposes of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs on a non-commercial basis
    • equipment used by government services for national security and defence networks
    • equipment produced or imported for purposes of exporting and not for use in South Africa
    • spare parts, components to be used for repairs, provided that such part is used in a certified product
  • ICASA will consider entering into and amending existing memoranda of understanding with other regulatory bodies, such as the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications.
  • ICASA will review its current type approval regulatory framework. The intention is to incorporate the circumstances under which mutual recognition agreements will be recognised, in a bid to improve market surveillance.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.