By line: Kelebogile Masemola

18 February 2022

Government will provide 10GB of free data to every South African household, similar to the allocation of basic municipal water and electricity services, Communication and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has promised.

In her state of the nation debate on Tuesday 15 February, Ntshavheni said that the advancements in technology such as 5G and the planned release of valuable data spectrum will lead to the government offering ‘prescribed minimum data’ to every household regardless of income.

“Data has become a new utility like water and electricity that our home needs.

At some point, a South African household, despite whether rich or poor, will be given access to 10GB per month, because that is what the government will deliver,” she said.

The government has previously mooted giving free basic data to low-income users, similar to the stipends that it currently offers for water and electricity, in a national infrastructure plan published by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) in August.

The plan also states that high-speed broadband will be available and accessible in every community by 2023/24.

Non-profit group, Media Monitoring Africa, has argued that the need to communicate and access the internet has become a human right in South Africa.

Presenting to the Competition Commission at the end of 2020, the group said that the country’s laws should now be amended to reflect this importance.

William Bird, Media Monitoring executive director described access to the internet as a basic human right like water or shelter, which is enshrined in the constitution.

“You shouldn’t have to worry about data,” he said.