How can the government’s attitude and approach to internet issues best be described?

During both the pre and post-apartheid periods, the South African government embarked on a mission to formulate information and communications technology policies. There have been multiple ICT related policies and legislation since the 1994 democratic elections.  The end of the last century saw the emergence of a myriad of policies in telecommunications, postal, broadcasting, science and technology as well as ICT and trade policies. The new century dawned with important infrastructure policies under the auspices of the Department of Communications (DOC), manifesting themselves in, inter alia, the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2002 (ECT Act) and relevant acts on postal and broadcasting matters and more recently the Electronic Communications Act of 2005 (EC Act). The passing of the ECT Act marked the end of a process initiated by the South African Government in 1999 to establish a formal structure to define, develop, regulate and govern e-commerce in South Africa.

Government policy has focused on initiatives that promote the use of tools and concepts associated with a global information society, with a view to achieving national, social and economic development goals. Consistent with this, the president has established three bodies, the Presidential International Advisory Council on Information Society and Development (PIAC), the Presidential National Commission on Information Society and Development, and the African Advanced Institute on ICT.

The minister of communications was mandated under chapter 2 of the ECT Act to formulate a national ICT or e-strategy, which is still in the process of being formulated. The vision of the e-strategy is to derive long-term benefits from the knowledge-based economy for South Africa by harnessing ICT to aid South Africa in meeting its development goals of job creation, economic growth, poverty alleviation and competitiveness within the knowledge-based economy.

Reproduced with permission from Law Business Research. This article was first published in Getting the Deal Through – e-Commerce 2009, (published in August 2008 – contributing editor Robert Bond). For further information please visit

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