WATCH | Improving connectivity helps fight triple oppression of women, delegates told

Deputy minister of communications & digital technologies Pinky Kekana is concerned that Africa still suffers from lack of connectivity in broadband, saying rural and remote parts of the continent were hit the hardest.

Kekana, addressing more than 300 delegates from across the continent who gathered at the East London International Convention Centre for an African Telecommunications Union (ATU) meeting on Monday, said this meant it could not be “business as usual”.

The meeting was held ahead of the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference, to be held in Egypt in November.

“Your approach should consider support for frequency allocations that ensure technologies complement each other and warrant that rural and remote broadband issues are addressed,” she told delegates.

“The recent cyclone Idai, destroying parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, has made us realise that spectrum allocation and regulatory regimes require a different strategic approach.

“We must learn and get better as we tackle the technology challenges for Africa.”

Kekana said Africa “is not the Africa we know without natural disasters”.

“Thus your focus should also support programmes which enhance satellite earth observation, as this will ensure future support for disaster preparedness, emergency response, rescue and relief efforts and ensure monitoring of the flooding as it happens,” Kekana said.

In telecommunications, broadband is wide bandwidth data transmission which transports multiple signals and traffic types.

Kekana said electromagnetic waves, specifically the radio frequency spectrum, could not be isolated from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, “as in the the previous revolutions”.

“The success of this revolution requires all forms of technology platforms for connectivity. Thus, your function in radio frequency spectrum management is essential.”

She said she was confident that by end of the week-long conference “you will make decisions that ensure finalisation and harmonisation of all Africa common positions for WRC”.

Kekana also urged delegates to ensure they started to deliberate participation of women in ICT and in ITU’s core activities.

“We can no longer be observers and merely talk about emancipation of women. We can no longer talk about gender parity, but not activate it to women empowerment.”

Welcoming delegates on behalf of BCM mayor Xola Pakati, ANC councillor Xolani Witbooi agreed that women’s participation in ICT should be prioritised.

“It is our view that as we celebrate women’s sacrifices this [Women’s] month, we must be able to quantify interventions our policies are making in addressing plight of women.

“I am hoping this gathering will consider the impact of policy proposals that the continent is taking to the WRC and how they impact in changing lives of women all over the world.

“Women in our continent were and are still oppressed in a manner that is beyond any other social group. They experience class exploitation, gender subjugation and racial oppression, what has been termed triple oppression.

The policy interventions that emerge from this meeting should at least aim to reverse this triple oppression and we are confident that this will be the case,” Witbooi said.