SAPO correcting 10 years of maladministration

SA Post Office (Sapo) CEO Mark Barnes is in the process of finalising a domestic syndicated loan facility to raise some of the R3,7-billion for the company that urgently needs the funds to stabilise its operations and start generating revenue‚ Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele said on Tuesday.

He told MPs during his speech on his budget vote in the National Assembly that his department would assist the company to raise the funding from the markets. The approximately R3,7-billion the company needed “urgently” would be in addition to the R650-million capital injection made by government recently.

“Sapo remains a strategic entity for extending government‚ e-commerce and financial services to South Africans far and wide through its approximately two and a half thousand (2 448) outlets‚” says Cwele.

He notes that the company was correcting the maladministration of the past 10 years by implementing the recommendations of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the public protector‚ as well as its own strategic turnaround plan

Cwele says government was committed to ensuring that Sapo subsidiary Postbank became a developmental bank that would provide simple‚ easy-to-understand financial products and services for the unbanked and underserviced. Last year‚ the bank opened over 219 000 new savings accounts for the unbanked.

The response by the Reserve Bank to Sapo’s application for Postbank to be a fully-fledged banking company was awaited. This would open the way for the appointment of the Postbank board‚ its incorporation as a separate company and the registration of the bank controlling company.

Cwele says the inintegrated ICT white paper – promised by the end of March – would be finalised in the next few months.

The policy‚ he noted‚ would reduce barriers to entry “by moving away from monopolistic infrastructure based competition‚ to open access broadband networks”.

“A new spectrum policy will support open access networks as it aims to open the use of high-demand broadband spectrum for use by all licensees while adequately compensating those who invest in infrastructure.

“The ultimate target is to benefit the consumer by increasing consumer choice‚ reduce costs‚ increase innovation‚ and encourage all consumers to fully experience the internet.”

The minister noted that mobile broadband 4G/LTE coverage now stood at between 35 and 53%.

By Linda Ensor for

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