ICT charter nears completion

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Government has expressed confidence that the intended commencement date of the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Empowerment Charter will be achieved.

The charter is expected to come into effect on 1 March 2005.

Addressing the media in Johannesburg today, the ICT Working Group's chairperson Dali Mpofu said the document's final draft would be ready before the end of this month.

Communication Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri would then submit it to Cabinet for approval, said Mr Mpofu.

Thereafter, the ICT BEE Council will be appointed to take over the administration of the charter with effect from the commencement date.

Mr Mpofu also announced the signing of an agreement with the American Chamber of Commerce, which represents multinationals.

The signing of this agreement took place today, following longer than anticipated negotiations.

Both government and the working group see the move as signaling an end to long discussions in this regard.

This process was supposed to have been concluded in June. However, this and other delays such as a large number of inputs received from the industry constituency in response to the third working draft.

There are also some outstanding issues and it is anticipated that these too will have been resolved by the end of August.

Mpofu told the media that the multinational companies in the sector had originally called for a blanket exemption from the ownership section of the balanced scorecard. They have now accepted that there will not be a general exemption, however the opportunity remains for a multinational to request an exemption where sale of equity could cause commercial harm.

The Empowerment Charter for the ICT Sector is an industry-driven document being put together by major stakeholders in the ICT sector, together with inputs from government.

It seeks to readdress the imbalances in the ICT industry by transforming the previously "white" dominated business, and also promote Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).

Dr Matsepe-Casaburri said government would continue with its mandate of ensuring a better life for all.

"Our country continues to play a leading role in the ICT sector," she said, adding that South Africa was a country of people with different needs and that put challenges for government.

"Government will continue to engage will all the stakeholders to ensure that there are no conflict," she said.

"We want to see to the role of the industry playing a leading role in the society," she added.

Source: Own correspondents and BuaNews

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