Mobility 2006: Paris Mashile, Complexities of regulating costs for telecommunications in South Africa

Paris Mashile chairperson ICASA The chairperson of ICASA Mr. Paris Mashile addressed the opening session of Mobility 2006 conference. Despite being accused a “losers” for delaying the introduction of mobile number portability by the current edition of Financial Mail today. His address was largely to justify state heavy regulation within the mobile industry in favour of protecting the consumers. A point was put forward that we should all remember that ‘consumers are key constituencies”. South Africa remains a “developmental state” by virtue of its economic performance, meaning that the government is obliged to play a greater role through regulation for fairer competition in the market place. The principle aim is to prevent large corporations from dominating the market and therefore facilitate socio-economic objective of regulation.

A promise was made that ICASA will ensure that regulation must “at all the times remain consistent with the accepted regulatory principles of efficiency, objectivity. Professionalism, transparency and independence”. However, the later seem to be highly debatable as to the extant of ICASA’s independence. Imagine a society without regulation at all-what will happen to ‘disparate people’, will we then be “inviting socio-political revolution”? Markets can not be self-regulatory at all, the point is that mobile technologies are playing a crucial role in social integration and cultural renaissance, their usage has a direct bearing on South Africa’s global comparativeness. Therefore state regulation is justified by that willingness to play a balancing role. With Neotel joining the party, competition is highly expected. A major concern remains whither to remove ‘permanent billing’ and place in per-second billing across all networks.