1 Legal and enforcement framework
1.1 Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern the following in your jurisdiction: (a) Telecommunications; (b) Internet; (c) Media and (d) Social media?
The Electronic Communications Act (ECA) is the primary legislation applicable to all sectors (telecommunications, media and new media). The ECA covers a number of issues, including:
- equipment standards;
- interconnection and access;
- rights of way;
- universal service; and
- consumer protection.
The ECA deals separately with broadcasting issues, including ownership and control restrictions.
Other relevant legislation includes the following:
- the Competition Act, which governs competition matters in all industries;
- the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA), enacted to "enable and facilitate electronic communications and transactions";
- the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA), which sets out the circumstances under which communications may be monitored and intercepted; and
- the Films and Publications Act, which regulates the distribution and exhibition of certain films and publications.
1.2 Which bodies are responsible for enforcing the applicable laws and regulations in the relevant sectors? What powers do they have?
The government department responsible for policy and the introduction of legislation in Parliament is the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.
The ECA is primarily enforced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), established in terms of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act.
The Competition Commission is primarily responsible for enforcement of the Competition Act. The Competition Act also established the Competition Tribunal and the Competition Appeal Court.
The provisions of the ECTA are largely self-enforcing.
RICA is primarily enforced through the courts.
The Films and Publications Act is enforced by the Film and Publication Board.
1.3 What is the general approach of those bodies in regulating the relevant sectors?
ICASA is, in terms of its mandate, responsible for making regulations under the ECA in respect of any number of matters, including:
- rights of way;
- competition; and
- consumer protection.
Although ICASA has the authority to make regulations, the minister of communications and digital technologies has the authority to issue policy directions to ICASA.
ICASA also has a mandate to:
- issue licences to telecommunications and broadcasting services providers;
- monitor licensees' compliance with the regulations;
- plan and manage spectrum; and
- protect consumers.
The Competition Commission's mandate is to regulate competition matters, including investigating and prosecuting anti-competitive actions. The Competition Tribunal hears and decides such matters and approves (or rejects) large mergers and acquisitions. The Competition Appeal Court hears appeals of decisions of the Competition Tribunal.
The Films and Publications Act is enforced by the Film and Publication Board by regulating the creation, production, possession and distribution of films and publications by means of classification.
1.4 What other industry codes of conduct or best practices are applicable in the relevant sectors?
The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa was established by the National Association of Broadcasters, which is recognised in terms of the ECA as a body whose members subscribe to its code of conduct and thus are not subject to the ECA Code of Conduct.
The Internet Service Providers' Association is recognised in terms of the ECTA as a body whose members are subject to its code of conduct and thus qualify for the limitations of liability set out in the ECTA.
2.1 Who is eligible to provide services in the following sectors in your jurisdiction? Are there any restrictions on foreign ownership? Do any domicile requirements apply? What other requirements or restrictions apply in this regard: (a) Telecommunications; (b) Internet; (c) Media and (d) Social media?
In respect of all Electronic Communications Act (ECA) licences (network, electronic communications and broadcasting), the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) must, when granting licences:
- ensure that services, viewed collectively, are provided by persons or groups from a diverse range of communities in South Africa; and
- promote broad-based black economic empowerment in accordance with the requirements of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) ICT Sector Code issued in terms of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act.
ICASA has amended regulations regarding the change in control of licences, indicating that it will not approve any transfers or transfers of control of licences unless the transferee has at least 30% of its ownership held by historically disadvantaged persons. ICASA has also introduced regulations entitled Limitations of Control and Equity Ownership by Historically Disadvantaged Groups and the Application of the BEE ICT Sector Code, which require, among other things, existing licensees to meet the minimum ownership requirements progressively over a 48-month period (from March 2021).
In addition, all ECA licensees must be either:
- South African citizens; or
- entities registered in South Africa with their principal place of business in South Africa.
In respect of broadcasting licensees, foreigners may not:
- exercise control;
- have a financial interest or interest in voting shares or paid-up capital in a commercial broadcasting service licensee of more than 20%; or
- constitute more than 20% of the board of directors.
3.1 What authorisations and/or licences are required to operate in the following sectors? Do any exemptions apply? Do these vary depending on the service to be provided: (a) Telecommunications; (b) Internet; (c) Media and Social media?
The types of services contemplated in the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) are:
- electronic communications network services (ECNS);
- electronic communications services (ECS); and
- broadcasting services (BS).
Telecommunications and internet service providers generally have both ECNS and ECS licences. Television and radio providers have BS licences and some have ECNS licences as well. There are no licensing requirements for social media providers or providers of media over the Internet.
An ‘electronic communication network service' is "a service whereby a person makes available an electronic communications network" to itself or others or both.
An ‘electronic communications service' is a "service … which consists wholly or mainly of the conveyance by any means of electronic communications over an electronic communications network, but excludes broadcasting services".
A ‘broadcasting service' is a "service which consists of broadcasting and which service is conveyed by means of an electronic communications network".
In terms of the ECA, service providers must either:
- obtain an individual licence or class licence; or
- be exempt from licensing.
The legislation sets out examples of the types of services that will fall under each of the licence categories.
Generally, individual licences are national or provincial; whereas class licences are of municipal scope.
The ECA provides that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) may prescribe:
- the types of ECNS or ECS that may be provided without a licence; and
- the types of radio frequency spectrum that may be used without a licence.
ICASA has prescribed that certain services are exempt from licensing – for example:
- non-profit ECS;
- resale ECS; and
- private ECNS.
The following table illustrates the types of licences and exemptions available in terms of the ECA.
|Individual||Network services (for-profit national and provincial)||Communications services (voice telephony using numbers from ICASA)||Broadcasting services l (commercial and public; national and provincial)|
|Class||Network services (for-profit municipal)||Communications services (voice telephony not using numbers from ICASA; for-profit municipal)||Broadcasting services (community and low power)|
|Exempt||Small networks; private networks||Non-profit; resale|
3.2 What are the key features of such authorisations/licences?
Under the ECA, ICASA has issued standard terms and conditions for both individual and class licences, which cover matters such as:
- licence area;
- requirements to commence service; and
- services to be provided.
3.3 What are the procedural and documentary requirements to obtain such authorisations/licences?
Class licences can be applied for using the application form provided by ICASA, which requires:
- company details (including documentation); and
- a description of the nature of the services to be provided.
For historical reasons, it is not currently possible to apply to ICASA for individual licences. These licences are only available in response to an invitation to apply issued by ICASA, which can only be issued after a policy direction has been issued to ICASA by the minister of communications and digital technologies.
It is possible to find an individual licensee that is willing to sell its licence(s). In such event, the process is to apply to ICASA for a transfer of the licence(s) using the required form. The form requires:
- company details and documentation;
- details of the services to be provided, including a business plan; and
- independent reports about competition and consumer protection.
3.4 What does the authorisation/licensing process involve? How long does it typically take? What costs are incurred?
The processing for class licences is not complicated. Once the required form has been submitted to ICASA along with the required documentation and the application fee (up to ZAR 15,000, depending on the nature of services), the process takes about three to six months to be processed at ICASA.
3.5 What are the ongoing rights and obligations of the authorisation/licence holder? How is compliance monitored? What penalties may be imposed for breach?
All licensees, both individual and class, are subject to ongoing regulatory compliance obligations, including:
- annual licence fees; and
- contributions to the Universal Service and Access Fund.
Other reporting requirements include reports on matters such as:
- sectoral planning;
- code of conduct and complaints;
- number audit data; and
There are penalties for failure to comply with ICASA's regulations, which vary depending on the regulation. Failure to pay annual licence fees and contributions to the Universal Service and Access Fund attracts both interest and penalties.
3.6 For how long is the authorisation/licence valid? Are variations to the terms possible? How is the authorisation/licence renewed?
The duration of class ECNS and ECS licences is 10 years. The duration of individual ECNS and ECS licences is 20 years. Individual BS licence terms are 15 years. Class community BS licences are valid for seven years. The duration of class low-power licences varies.
3.7 Can an authorisation/licence be transferred? If so, what is the process for doing so?
Licences may be transferred with the approval of ICASA. The process involves:
- submission of the application form and accompanying documents; and
- payment of an application fee.
The form requires:
- company details and documentation;
- details of the services to be provided, including a business plan; and
- independent reports about competition and consumer protection.
The processing of transfers of licences by ICASA can take up to a year. The application fee for the transfer of individual licences is about ZAR 75,000 for each licence.
4.1 What provisions apply to the construction of telecommunications infrastructure and the installation of facilities on public and private property?
The Electronic Communications Act (ECA) grants all electronic communications network services (ECNS) licensees certain rights regarding access to land, including the right:
- to enter any land and construct and maintain facilities, subject to environmental regulations;
- to use underground conduit pipes;
- to construct and maintain facilities under streets, roads and footpaths;
- to place gates on property owners' fences; and
- to cause trees or vegetation to be cut, subject to environmental regulations.
ECNS licensees must exercise their rights in accordance with regulations to be made by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). This, however, has not yet been done.
Municipal zoning laws also apply.
4.2 Do any universal service obligations apply in your jurisdiction? If so, what are they and how are they funded?
The history of universal service since the birth of South African democracy in 1994 is littered with the adoption of various interventions, including the imposition of roll-out obligations on the first cellular licensees and the incumbent monopolist landline telecommunications provider. However, none of these have been particularly helpful in significantly enhancing universal service for the majority of South Africans who were poor and previously disenfranchised.
Currently, licensees are obliged to contribute to the Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF). Licensees must pay annual contributions to the USAF equal to 0.2% of their annual turnover. The USAF is administered by the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa.
4.3 How is interconnection regulated in your jurisdiction? What rules and requirements apply in this regard? Are interconnection and network access charges subject to price regulation?
In terms of the ECA, every licensee must interconnect and every ECNS licensee must provide facilities upon request on terms negotiated, unless the request is unreasonable, which is defined as not technically or economically feasible.
If the parties are unable to agree on terms and a dispute is referred to ICASA, ICASA may:
- impose terms and conditions;
- propose terms and conditions and instruct the parties to renegotiate; or
- refer the matter to the Complaints and Compliance Committee for resolution.
Although ICASA has promulgated interconnection regulations and facilities leasing regulations, those regulations do not deal with pricing.
4.4 What rules and requirements govern the allocation and use of telephone numbers in your jurisdiction?
ICASA allocates numbers, in response to applications, in accordance with its numbering plan regulations made in terms of the ECA.
The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act established the .za Domain Name Authority to assume responsibility for the ‘.za' domain name space.
4.5 What rules and requirements govern number portability in your jurisdiction?
There is an obligation to allow number portability and ICASA has made regulations in that respect. ICASA has also made regulations regarding the required interaction between licensees in order to implement number portability.
4.6 Are retail customer charges subject to price regulation in your jurisdiction?
No, retail customer charges are not subject to price regulation in South Africa.
4.7 Are retail customer terms and conditions subject to regulation in your jurisdiction?
Although ICASA does not dictate retail customer terms, it has made various regulations to protect consumers. All licensees must establish a code of practice incorporating the key commitments and other provisions set out in the Regulations on the Code of Conduct for Licensees. The code of practice must be placed on the licensee's website and made available to customers upon request.
Licensees must also ensure that their services are accessible and available to people with disabilities. Specific suggestions are set out in the Regulations on a Code of Conduct on People with Disabilities with regard to text telephones and public access devices, as well as information that must be provided to people with disabilities.
The Regulations Setting out the Minimum Standards for End-User and Subscriber Service Charters impose some minimum standards, such as the following:
- an average of 95% service availability;
- a 90% success rate within 30 days for installing and activating services, with the remaining 10% to be met within 40 days;
- a 90% success rate within seven days for activating services, with the remaining 10% to be met within 15 days;
- a percentage of connectivity failure which does not exceed an average of 3% over a six-month period;
- network monitoring seven days a week, 24 hours a day; and
- a 90% fault clearance rate within three days, with the remaining 10% to be cleared within six days.
5 Spectrum use
5.1 How is spectrum use authorised in your jurisdiction? Do any exemptions apply?
Spectrum is primarily regulated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), which both issues licences and prepares and updates the band plan from time to time. However, the minister of communications and digital technologies has the authority to:
- approve (or reject) the band plan;
- decide whether the migration of users that are government entities is permitted; and
- issue policy and policy directions to ICASA with regard to spectrum matters.
Spectrum licences are awarded in response to applications made in terms of the spectrum regulations. Most licences are awarded using ‘standard application procedures'. Where the spectrum is ‘scarce', an invitation to apply will be issued by ICASA and ‘extended application procedures' will be utilised. In that case, the allocation method will be determined when the invitation is issued.
ICASA may exempt certain uses of spectrum from the licensing requirement and prescribe the conditions under which unlicensed use may take place, which it has done, as set out in the spectrum regulations.
5.2 What is the procedure for allocating spectrum in your jurisdiction?
See question 5.1.
5.3 How long does it typically take? What costs are involved?
For applications processed using the standard application procedures, ICASA hosts on its website a document outlining radio spectrum usage and availability.
Forms are available for certain services, such as:
- message handling;
- private and communal repeater;
- point-to-point and point-to-multipoint links (below and above 1 gigahertz);
- alarm monitoring;
- load management;
- message handling;
- radio trunking; and
- satellite (uplinks VSAT, SNG).
The timeframe for processing such applications varies, but in most cases takes three to six months.
The applicant must complete and submit to the application form, which requires licensee information and documentation. The submission of the application must be accompanied by proof of payment of the applicable application fee.
5.4 What are the penalties for unauthorised spectrum use or breach of authorisation?
Failure to comply with the Electronic Communications Act, regulations and licences will result in a matter being referred to the Complaints and Compliance Committee, which will:
- investigate, and hear if appropriate, all matters; and
- make a recommendation to ICASA on the appropriate penalty.
After taking into account the recommendation, ICASA may:
- direct the licensee to desist from any further contravention;
- direct the licensee to pay a fine;
- direct the licensee to take such remedial or other steps as are necessary; and/or
- where the licensee has repeatedly been found guilty of material violations:
- prohibit the licensee from providing the licensed service for a determined period; or
- amend or revoke the licence.
If the offender is not a licensee, the matter will be referred for criminal prosecution.
5.5 Can a spectrum authorisation be transferred? If so, what is the process for doing so?
A spectrum licence may not be assigned or traded without the prior approval of ICASA. The process is similar to that for transferring service licences and involves:
- submission of the application form and accompanying documents; and
- payment of an application fee.
If the spectrum licence was awarded using standard application procedures, the procedure is similar to that used to process such initial applications.
Where the spectrum is ‘scarce' and would have been subjected to extended application procedures, more extensive procedures will be utilised, which may include:
- a comment period;
- a hearing; and
- requests for additional information.
6.1 What provisions apply to high-speed broadband in your jurisdiction? Are there any government incentives to promote broadband penetration?
There are no specific regulations that apply to high-speed broadband services in South Africa. However, all of the regulations regarding spectrum, universal service, consumer protection and other issues are significant for the facilitation of high-speed broadband access. The Regulations Setting out the Minimum Standards for End-User and Subscriber Service Charters were recently amended to include obligations on licensees with regard to upload and download speeds, for example. Another example is the licensing of additional spectrum to be used for broadband services.
Broadband access is given high priority in various policy documents issued from time to time, including the National Broadband Policy. However, this has not translated into incentives to promote greater access. Broadband access has primarily been driven by commercial concerns – hence the relatively high cost of broadband services in South Africa.
6.2 What net neutrality regulations apply in your jurisdiction? Are any exemptions and/or exceptions available?
There are no net neutrality regulations in South Africa. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, certain government websites were zero rated in terms of Independent Communications Authority of South Africa regulations.
6.3 Are internet service providers (ISPs) obliged to block or restrict access to specific websites or types of content in your jurisdiction?
Although there is no general obligation to monitor communications, there is an obligation set out in the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA) to remove or disable access to information upon receiving a takedown notice. ISPs must respond to takedown notices to retain the limitations of liability in respect of caching, hosting and information location tools.
In addition to the takedown procedures under ECTA, the Films and Publications Act requires service providers (licensees and unlicensed providers):
- to take all steps to prevent the use of their services for the hosting or distribution of child pornography; and
- if there is knowledge that services are being so used:
- to take steps to prevent access to child pornography;
- to report the presence thereof and the particulars of the person maintaining, hosting or distributing to the police; and
- to take steps to preserve any evidence.
If requested by the police, a service provider must provide particulars of users who gained or attempted to gain access to child pornography.
6.4 Is the use of virtual private networks permitted in your jurisdiction?
There are no restrictions on the use of virtual private networks in South Africa.
6.5 In what circumstances will ISPs be held liable for offending content carried on their networks? What defences are available?
ECTA provides for offensive content and also provides for limitations of liability for service providers that are members of a recognised industry representative body and that have adopted the relevant body's code of conduct.
The Internet Service Providers' Association is recognised in terms of ECTA as a body whose members are subject to its code of conduct and thus qualify for the limitations of liability set out in ECTA.
6.6 How are digital platforms regulated in your jurisdiction?
Digital platforms are not regulated in South Africa. However, there is a pending Media and Digital Platforms Market Inquiry being conducted by the Competition Commission.
7.1 What rules and requirements apply to public broadcasters in your jurisdiction?
The Electronic Communications Act (ECA) regulates the broadcasting segment of the electronic communications sector; while the Broadcasting Act also specifically governs the public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
7.2 What rules and requirements apply to commercial broadcasters in. your jurisdiction?
The ECA regulates the broadcasting segment of the electronic communications sector in South Africa. Players include:
- the public broadcaster;
- commercial broadcasters; and
- community broadcasters.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has made broadcasting-specific regulations regarding issues such as:
- must carry;
- election broadcasts and political advertisements;
- sports broadcasting;
- advertising, infomercials and programme sponsorship; and
- local content.
There also is a code of conduct for broadcasters. However, broadcasters whose members subscribe to its code of conduct are not subject to the ICASA code. The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa, established by the National Association of Broadcasters, is recognised as such a body.
7.3 Do any ‘must-carry' obligations apply in your jurisdiction? If so, what are they and how are they funded?
The must-carry regulations made by ICASA were recently amended to ensure that the public broadcaster's channels are:
- carried by all commercial broadcasters (including subscription broadcasters); and
- subject to commercially negotiated terms.
Previously, must carry was at no cost to commercial broadcasters.
7.4 Do any local content requirements apply in your jurisdiction? Do any restrictions apply to foreign content? What exemptions and/or exceptions are available?
ICASA has made regulations on local television content, which set out local content quotas for the public broadcaster, community broadcasters, commercial broadcasters and subscription broadcasters, respectively. The regulations also provide for 40% of local content to be independently produced.
ICASA has also made regulations on South African music, setting out quotas for South African music content for the different types of broadcasting licensees. These regulations also provide for exemptions where there is limited music supply in the relevant format, upon application.
7.5 What other content requirements and restrictions apply in your jurisdiction? Do these vary depending on the distribution channel (eg, traditional broadcast media versus new media)?
ICASA has made regulations that govern sports broadcasting. These regulations are aimed at ameliorating the situation where national sporting events are primarily aired on subscription services, resulting in most of the South African population being unable to access them.
7.6 How is advertising regulated in your jurisdiction? Does this vary depending on the distribution channel?
In terms of the ECA, the South African Code of Advertising Practice is the accepted standard to which all broadcast advertising in South Africa must conform. As a result, this code has a similar status to regulations. It is governed by the Advertising Regulatory Board.
In addition, ICASA has made regulations governing election broadcasts and political advertisements to ensure fair treatment of political parties during elections.
ICASA has also promulgated the Advertising and Infomercials and Programme Sponsorship Regulations, which aim to:
- prohibit excessive advertising;
- ensure that advertising is distinct from actual programming; and
- ensure editorial independence over programming.
8.1 What competition-related provisions (eg, structural or functional separation requirements; significant market power requirements; media plurality rules) apply in the following sectors: (a) Telecommunications; (b) Internet; (c) Media (broadcasting + print) and (d) Social media?
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) regulates the electronic communications industry in terms of the Electronic Communications Act (ECA), including with respect to competition matters.
The Competition Act relates to competition matters across all industries, including the electronic communications industry. The Competition Act establishes:
- the Competition Commission, primarily with investigative powers;
- the Competition Tribunal, with adjudicative powers; and
- the Competition Appeal Court.
There is concurrent jurisdiction between ICASA and the competition authorities.
8.2 To what extent can the national competition regulator intervene in the relevant sectors? What is the interplay between the competition regulator and the various sectoral regulators?
See question 8.1.
The Competition Commission and ICASA have signed an agreement on cooperation in matters where there is concurrent jurisdiction.
8.3 How are mergers and acquisitions in the relevant sectors treated from a competition perspective?
The Competition Act sets out rules with regard to mergers and acquisitions. Mergers generally will not be approved if they are anti-competitive.
There are different rules with regard to small, intermediate and large mergers. Parties do not automatically have to notify the Competition Commission regarding a small merger. However, intermediate and large mergers require notification prior to implementation. The Competition Commission considers and determines whether to allow small and intermediate mergers; while the Competition Tribunal considers and determines whether to allow large mergers.
8.4 What other specific challenges or concerns do the relevant sectors present from a competition perspective?
New media and platforms traditionally were not regulated like telecommunications and broadcasting. Therefore, they are often at an advantage in a competitive market. On the other hand, to regulate new media in the same way as old media would often have its own unintended consequences. The challenge, of course, is to carefully ensure a competitive playing field without causing inadvertent harm to the entire industry.
This has presented itself over time in various inquiries, such as those involving:
- net neutrality;
- Internet Protocol television;
- mobile television; and
- the regulation of platforms.
9 Data security and cybersecurity
9.1 What data security regimes apply in the following sectors: (a) Telecommunications; (b) Internet; (c) Media (broadcasting + print) and (d) Social media?
Data protection is primarily governed in South Africa by the Protection of Personal Information Act. It applies to all organisations collecting and processing data. It elaborates on eight principles:
- lawful collection;
- limited use;
- limited processing;
- information quality;
- participation; and
- regulatory compliance.
Other legislation that applies includes:
- the Consumer Protection Act; and
- the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
9.2 What cybersecurity regimes apply in the following sectors: (a) Telecommunications; (b) Internet; (c) Media (broadcasting + print) and (d) Social media?
The Cybercrimes Act sets out certain activities as cybercrimes, including:
- unlawful access;
- interception and interference of data;
- cyber fraud;
- cyber forgery;
- cyber extortion;
- theft of incorporeal property; and
- malicious data messages.
The Cybercrimes Act also contains provisions dealing with, among other things:
- the investigation of cybercrimes;
- the provision of mutual assistance to other states; and
- the reporting obligations of licensees and financial institutions.
9.3 What other specific challenges or concerns do the relevant sectors present from a data security/cybersecurity perspective?
In addition to the data protection and cybercrime legislation, the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA) prohibits the interception and monitoring of communications by the state without prior judicial authorisation, except in certain listed circumstances.
RICA itself does not hint at an exception for ‘foreign' communications. However, South Africa's state security apparatus does not understand RICA to apply to communications that are not wholly domestic. Reportedly, interception of foreign signals (eg, communications that come from outside South Africa or that utilise servers based in foreign countries) is taking place in South Africa without judicial authorisation. This came to light in the parliamentary negotiations of the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Act in 2013, although no explicit exceptions actually made it into the law.
RICA obliges all service providers to have the capability to intercept communications, regardless of the form of communications, in accordance with directives issued by the minister of communications and digital technologies.
10 Trends and predictions
10.1 How would you describe the current TMT industry landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?
South Africa's TMT industry landscape is fairly sophisticated, especially with respect to broadband access: after the most recent spectrum auction, the rollout of high-speed mobile broadband is on the rise. In the last several years, the rollout of fibre to business and home has also increased significantly. However, there is still significant market share to be captured.
Upcoming policy and/or legislative reforms may result from the inquiries of:
- the Competition Commission regarding the regulation of media platforms; and
- the minister of communications and digital technologies regarding a new converged regulatory environment for audio and visual content regulation.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa also has a pending inquiry into the long-term spectrum outlook which might result in a changed regulatory framework for spectrum regulation moving forward.
11 Tips and traps
11.1 What are your top tips for TMT players seeking to operate in your jurisdiction and what potential sticking points would you highlight?
South Africa's regulatory regime is a little quirky, so those wanting to operate in the jurisdiction should seek advice from specialists who work in the jurisdiction on a day-to-day basis.
One potential sticking point unique to South Africa that is not necessarily a TMT-specific issue is electricity constraints. Eskom, the state-owned electricity supplier, is under immense pressure and all eyes are on embedded power generation and renewable energy investments, not to mention emergency and critical communications. The minister of communications and digital technologies recently issued a policy direction in this regard for the electronic communications and broadcasting industry segments.
Another highlight to watch is the effective implementation of the cybersecurity and data protection legislation – something which is becoming increasingly important all around the world. Both of these statutes are fairly new and a lot of wrinkles will need to be ironed out in this increasingly fluid environment.
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.