New comms minister should surround himself with experienced advisors

O-Tel has called upon newly appointed communications minister, Siphiwe Nyanda, to consult extensively with the telecom industry and possibly even set up an advisory council of telecom experts as he performs his duties.

Nyanda, a former army general, has little experience in the complex telecoms industry and takes his post at a vital juncture in the industry’s development. Among the challenges that he will face are promoting more competition in the industry and creating an environment of regulatory certainty at a time that the independent regulator, ICASA, is under fire.

“O-Tel believes that the new minister’s lack of relevant experience makes it imperative that he surrounds himself with the correct people as he tries to make sense of this fast-moving and complicated industry,” said Mohammad Patel, CEO of O-Tel.

“While we wish the new minister well and will help him in every possible way, we believe that this critical post should have gone to someone who is familiar with the telecoms landscape. For example, a former telco chief executive might have been a wise choice, as would former deputy minster Roy Padayachee who showed a willingness to consult with industry and was starting to come to grips with the nuances of the telecom environment.”

Patel said that the new minister should actively engage the industry and tap its experience and knowledge as he formulates his policies for this vital component of the South African economy.

“He should even consider a smart move such as appointing an advisory council of independent and industry telecoms experts to provide him with input and insight into local and international telecom trends. Such a council could take a similar shape to the Presidential ICT advisory council that has helped to guide efforts to establish South Africa as an advanced information-based society.”

“Many CEOs, ministers and other leaders that have taken jobs in sectors they are not familiar with have performed well when they have surrounded themselves with the right advisors,” said Patel. “We hope that the new communications minister will follow their example.”

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New comms minister should surround himself with experienced advisors