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Technology and the South African Youth – How ICASA’s new Regulations on data usage can be a game changer

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Technology and the South African Youth – How ICASA’s new Regulations on data usage can be a game changer

5th June 2018

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The South African Youth, ranging from ages 18 to 35, face many challenges today. With the #Feesmustfall campaign it became quite clear that access to affordable Tertiary Education is a privilege denied to many. Unemployment is rife and without access to Tertiary Education many South African Youth have either turned to crime for survival or would depend on parents receiving old age pensions to support them. The bleak alternative is that many of the Youth is left without any hope. It has been accepted that obtaining a Matric Certificate does not necessarily guarantee employment.

It has long been argued that technology can be the enabler needed to equip the South African Youth to become self-employed. In South Africa it is estimated that 37.5 million people use mobile devices daily. Of the 37.5 million people 70% of them use their cell phones to connect to the Internet. South Africa has the second biggest mobile market in Africa after Nigeria, but our mobile usage rate is much higher than Nigeria’s.

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According to Statistics South Africa, South Africa has 18.48 users on smart phones and it is expected that these numbers will increase to over 25 million by the year 2022.

The flipside of the coin is that data has been incredibly expensive in South Africa as compared to not only other African Countries, but also in comparison with Europe and North America. Data costs and how data usage is regulated in South Africa has now become another hurdle that the South African Youth must overcome to become Entrepreneurs. Access to the Internet and how this connects Entrepreneurs to their clients could have enabled the Youth to become fully-fledged Entrepreneurs and would have assisted them to become the Employers of the future.

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The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (hereafter referred to as “ICASA”) proposed changes to data usage and the management thereof in August 2017. After much debate these guidelines were published in the Government Gazette on 7 May 2018. What will the effect of these changes be and how will the South African Youth benefit from it?

What changes did ICASA introduce?

ICASA stated that the purpose of publishing these regulations was to not to regulate the costs, either indirectly or directly, but to improve the current regulations pertaining to data, sms and voice mail services.

ICASA introduced the following changes:

  1. The Service Provider (also referred to as “Licensee”) must sent a data usage depletion notification via sms, push notification or any other means when the User (or also referred to as “End-user”) has reached 50%, 80% and 100% depletion of their data bundles;
  2. Users must be provided with an option to purchase additional data bundles via any applicable platform, push notification or any other means;
  3. Not be forced to pay out-of-bundle data charges for additional data when their data has been depleted;
  4. Users must be given an option via sms, push notification and/or any applicable platform at any time to opt-out of any out-of-bundle usage charge;
  5. The Service Provider must provide Users with an option to roll over any unused data before the expiry date thereof. If the unused data is rolled over, a Service Provider must first apply data used by the User against such roll over data until that data is completely depleted and thereafter against the newly allocated data; and
  6. The Service Provider must furthermore provide Users with the option to transfer data to any other User using the same network.

ICASA has given Service Providers one month to comply with these new Regulations, CEO, Wellington Ngwepe, indicated.

How will these changes benefit South African Youth and other Users?

The South African Youth and other Users will now be more aware of their data usage and will be able to manage their usage better. The Youth will be able to transfer data to one another provided that they are on the same network. South African’s will not have to pay exorbitant prices when their data has been depleted. Unused data will not expire after a certain amount of time has lapsed. The Regulations that ICASA introduced on 7 May 2018, will ensure that the usage of data is more transparent to Users as was previously not the case.

Furthermore, the Regulations will enable the Youth to have more continuous access to the Internet and other Applications on their mobile devices. This will enable South Africans and especially encourage the Youth to access Incubators and other Organisations that run programmes to empower future Entrepreneurs.

Conclusion

ICASA further indicated that this is the first phase in a three-phase process whereby Regulations will be introduced to protect the Consumer’s rights and ensure that the usage of data serviced, and related data prices are fairly regulated and that the process is more transparent.

Hopefully the forthcoming Regulations in the three-phase process will make it cost-effective as well for the South African’s and the Youth which could become the future Entrepreneurs of South Africa to have access to the Internet and thus to their prospective Clients.

SchoemanLaw Inc launched the “The SchoemanLaw SME Self-Service Desk TM ” in December 2017. This is an online platform whereby Entrepreneurs, the South African Youth and Entrepreneurs of the future, can gain access to trusted legal documents at a fraction of the cost. This will further enable the South African Youth to become the Employers of the future and not to rely on others for economic survival. Click on the link to view the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhJyoduq2rA&feature=youtu.be

For a full list of all the available products on the online platform click here.

Written by Helena Roodt, Attorney, SchoemanLaw Inc. Enquiries@schoemanlaw.co.za

Twitter: @HellieRoodt;  LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/helena-roodt-03239538

 

 

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