The Communication Services sector is classified in W120 under CPC 7511, 7512 and 961; and includes postal and courier services, telecommunication services, and audio-visual services.
a) ICT and Telecommunication Services
The Information and communication technology (ICT) industry has not only undergone a fundamental change in the past decade, but has also revolutionized the way communication and the global economy functions. The disappearance of distance, or flattening of the world of information has increased economic efficiency, competition, and provided increased access to services such as telecommunications or finance, and enabled the rise of a sizable outsourcing industry for all knowledge-based services.
According to ITU statistics 2009, ICT in Africa has been growing steadily and between 2003- 2008 the number of mobile cellular subscriptions grew twice (47%) that of the world. Also, the number of internet users grew by 30.6% in the same period, though penetration remains a challenge about 4.2%, and fixed lines grew by 2.4%. Some SADC countries performed in ICT development such as Mauritius and Seychelles with average of 13.6% penetration of fixed telephony lines; South Africa and Tanzania constituting 19% and 5% respectively, of the mobile subscription in Africa. Remarkable contribution in 2000/08 by SADC countries in terms of internet users in Africa was 1.8% (South Africa), 1.4% Zimbabwe, 0.7% Zambia and 0.5% (Angola) and internet penetration rate 38% (Seychelles) and 30% (Mauritius). While price basket for ICT services Gross National Income per capital, in Africa (about 41%) are very high compared to the rest of the world (about 15.1%); some SADC countries fall below the world average such as Seychelles (3.3%), Botswana (3.8%), South Africa (4.2%), Mauritius (4.4%) and Namibia (8.6%). Click here for statistics by ITU in 2009.
Apart from these statistics, ICT development and technological changes in the sector have enabled operators in SADC to offer enhanced and integrated services in other sectors such as financial (e.g. mobile money transfer), tourism and travel related services (e.g. electronic reservation & ticketing), business outsourcing, etc. to respond to customer needs. Some governments in the regional have been promoting investment in ITC and invested in infrastructural services such as marine fibre optical cables, in efforts to promote efficacy, effectiveness and increased access to ICT services. Yet statistics indicate that more needs to be done in SADC, part of which can be addressed through liberalization commitments in trade in services and the work on policy harmonisation under the Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology.
b) Postal and Courier Services
Traditionally, in SADC and elsewhere, postal services are provided by government or state owned monopolies power. Improving access to postal services has been on the forefront of regional development initiatives. Through the Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology Member States have agreed to establish independent/autonomous regulatory authorities to separate services operation from regulation. The Courier Services sector in the region is relatively dominated by global operators notably among others DHL, FedEx and EMS.
c) Audio-visual Services
Development in audio-visual services in the region is relatively uneven, comprising state-owned radio and television services and limited private sector participation in some countries. Access to radio and television services in all SADC countries is through digital satellite thus allowing universal access.