A. Apartheid – In the The South African Presidency Twenty Year Review launched at an event in Pretoria on Tuesday, 11 March 2014, the Presidency claimed that massive advancements in telecommunications in South Africa only happened thanks to the end of apartheid.
Over on MyBroadband the typing classes are incensed that our President is blaming our lack of technological advancement (read: faster and cheaper Internet and TV) on apartheid.
The Presidency’s Twenty Year Review document states on page 113; “While much was done during the pre-1994 era to set up broadcast, postal and fixed-line telephone infrastructure, in many respects these were mainly focused on the minority and lagged behind global advancements in telecommunications. While the rest of the world had been enjoying television for decades, South Africa only began limited television services (mainly for a white audience) in the mid-1970s. Widespread home satellite systems, Internet services and mobile cellular telephony only became a reality with the advent of democracy and the end of the apartheid security state.”
The timeline below paints a different picture to the gospel of the Presidency, though:
- 25 December 1926 – Kenjiro Takayanagi demonstrated a television system with a 40-line resolution that employed a CRT display at Hamamatsu Industrial High School in Japan.
- 2 November 1936 – the BBC began transmitting the world’s first public regular high-definition television service from the Victorian Alexandra Palace in north London.
- 1948 – National Party comes into power.
- 7 July 1950 – The Group Areas Act (the basis of apartheid) promulgated and implemented over a period of several years. It was amended by Parliament in 1952, 1955 (twice), 1956 and 1957.
- 2 September 1969 – First time two computers communicate with each other.
- 29 October 1969 – First message to be sent from computer to computer in different locations.
- 1971 – The first email was sent.
- 5 January 1976 – The SABC commences a nationwide television service.
- 16 June 1976 – Soweto Uprising
- 1981 – A second television channel was introduced, broadcasting in African languages such as Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho and Tswana.
- 1 January 1983 – ARPANET adopted the standard TCP/IP protocol.
- 1986 – The SABC’s monopoly was challenged by the launch of a subscription-based service known as M-Net,
- 1998 – The first South African IP address granted to Rhodes University.
- March 1989 – Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.
- 11 February 1990 at 4:14 pm – Nelson Mandela walked out of the Victor Verster prison after spending 27 years in detention in South Africa.
- 1 February 1991 – President FW de Klerk announced in Parliament that he intended to repeal apartheid laws.
- 17 June 1991 – Successful Parliamentary vote that repealed the legal framework of Apartheid and began the process that would eventually abolish Apartheid as a whole. The legal framework in question, consisted of four Acts; the Population Registration Act of 1950, The Group Areas Act, the Land Act and the Separate Amenities Act.
- 30 June 1991 – The Group Areas Act is repealed signifying the official death of apartheid.
- 6 August 1991 – Tim Berners-Lee, posted a short summary of the WWW (World Wide Web) project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup essentially marking the birth of the internet as we know it.
- 12 November 1991 – The first IP connection was made between Rhodes’ computing centre and the home of Randy Bush in Portland, Oregon.
- November 1991 – South African universities were connected through UNINET to the Internet.
- 30 September 1991 – Telkom was incorporated as a public limited liability company registered under the South African Companies Act, 61 of 1973, as amended.
- June 1992 – Commercial Internet access for businesses and private use began with the registration of the first .co.za subdomain.
- 22 April 1993 – Mosaic became the first web browser.
- 1993 – GSM was demonstrated for the first time in Africa at Telkom ’93 in Cape Town.
- 1994 – The first GSM networks in Africa were launched in South Africa.
- 1997 – The African National Congress launches its website, anc.org.za, making it one of the first African political organizations to establish an Internet presence.
- August 2002 – The first ADSL package, a 512/256 kbit/s offering, was introduced by Telkom.
- 2006 – The South African government passed the Electronic Communications Act dramatically restructuring the sector towards a converged framework.
Sir, as you can see from the above we do not operate in a vacuum and I find it most disingenuous of you to blame our financial woes on the ‘global economic crisis’ whilst blaming our sub standard technological sector on apartheid – pull the other leg!
By my reckoning – the National Party held on to apartheid for 51 years, our present government has been in power for 20 years – can we afford another 31 years of voting the same people in whose only real claim to fame is that of a liberation movement? Surely we should be looking past being freed of the chains of apartheid and looking ahead to building a prosperous nation?
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