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Letter to Editor 26-05-09

Posted on May 26 in O-TELby Press OfficerPrint


 Over the past few months, I have been impressed with the energy with which US president Barack Obama has tackled his nation’s most pressing problems.

One of the defining qualities of a great political leader is the ability to surround him or her self with the very best minds to serve as advisors and operational staff.


This is a quality that President Obama has shown with his wise choices for senior positions across his administration. The candidates he handpicked for senior technology posts in his government demonstrate how aware he is of the importance of putting the right people into the right jobs if he is to deliver on his electoral promises.

 For the first chief technology officer in the US, he chose the Virginia Secretary of Technology, Aneesh Chopra, who played a direct role in transforming education and health systems in the state using technology. As his chief information officer, he chose Vivek Kundra, chief technology officer for Washington, who helped to completely revamp the D.C. government’s tech system with real-time technology and also brought the government online.

 And as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Obama nominated Julius Genachowski, a Silicon Valley veteran who worked at the FCC during the Clinton years.

 Each of these men comes into their roles with the proven track records and experience they need to do their jobs. The contrast with South Africa where a military general was just recently appointed as the Minister of Communications couldn’t be starker.

 While we at O-Tel wish the new communications minister, Siphiwe Nyanda 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.

Minister Nyanda’s lack of relevant experience does makes it imperative that he surrounds himself with the correct people as he tries to make sense of the industry.

 The support that agencies and departments involved in the ICT industry provides to Minister Nyanda will prove critical to his success or failure in the years to come. When the time is ripe to appoint new staff to departments such as Communications or to bodies such as ICASA, I do hope that government  will look for people with industry experience, such as former telecom legal experts or former senior executives  at telecom agencies.

 Telecoms is a complex industry that is going through profound change, and we surely need people who understand the environment to oversee policy and regulation in this space. The alternative is to allow the industry to languish with the slow growth and high prices that have characterised it to date.

 Yours sincerely,

 Mohammad Patel: CEO of O-Tel

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