SACSF aims to promote good business practice in the telco industry

January 26th, 2012, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

by Andries Louw, Southern African Communications Suppliers Forum

The past year was a challenging one for the telecoms sector with the industry struggling to keep businesses profitable. More importantly, this sector is witnessing disturbing trends, which, if not addressed in a timely manner, could harm the government’s objective to spread affordable telecom services.

The introduction of the Electronic Communications Act (Act 36 of 2006) opened the telecommunications industry to competition. Furthermore, the introduction of a second fixed-line operator together with the diversification of the mobile operators into fixed-line communications and then fixed-line operators entering the mobile space further expanded the opportunities in the market.

The introduction of this competition resulted in a general reduction in rates for consumers and the introduction of multiple new services and options. The negative impact of the introduction of more products and lower rates placed the service providers under immense pressure to reduce costs in an environment where the customer base was spread over more products and competitors, impacting scale of benefits.

Ultimately, service providers started turning to the Southern African communications suppliers to reduce their prices, while being more prone to make use of capital strong multinational offshore suppliers to reduce cost.

The pressures placed on local communications suppliers has resulted in business becoming unsustainable, to the point where many of the smaller suppliers cannot survive any longer, while unethical practices have started creeping in. This resulted in the buyer-supplier trust relationship dwindling and quality standards dropping, to levels where the operators are unable to deliver infrastructure or meet budget, timeline and quality targets.

SACSF, a mouthpiece of the telecommunications industry, aims to establish a code of ethics and good business practice within the industry and will serve as a watchdog to prevent the exploitation of local service providers.

There is a huge interest from key telco and communications suppliers. We urge every telecommunications and communications vendor and service provider to join the forum. By doing so, it will ensure we have the necessary support to approach government and other authorities to assist in establishing a code of ethics that will ultimately govern the industry.

There is an urgent need for a communications suppliers’ forum in Southern Africa to address issues concerning both suppliers and vendors. The forum will serve as a platform, for both suppliers and vendors, to address industry level issues and will be managed by an independent representative management structure.

Objectives of SACSF include:

• Establish a mouthpiece for communications suppliers
• Create a platform to address communications issues
• Address communications issues in the media
• Address and resolve supplier/vendor concerns and disputes
• Influence government decisions/legislation concerning telecommunications
• Provide a platform to share information
• Promote sound business practice and governance
• Promote broad-based Black Economic Empowerment
• Prevent exploitation
• Promote skills development and training in the sector
• Provide a list of credible vendors and suppliers that adhere to the Forum’s code of ethics
• Provide information of unethical businesses and behaviour that does not comply to the Forum’s code of ethics
• Develop collaboration platform to promote shared infrastructure and resources amongst communications suppliers
• Obtain government endorsement and support
• Establish and maintain healthy relationships between the Forum and its public e.g. vendors, suppliers, government and media

SACSF will provide a platform for communications suppliers to share information and expose vendors who are exploiting local businesses. By joining forces to address these growing concerns, the Forum will address supplier-vendor issues.

More importantly, SACSF will promote good business practice throughout the industry, it will work in close cooperation with the media to publicise unethical business practices and corruption within the industry. One of its aims is to influence government decisions and legislation concerning communications

Our primary objective is to create a sound business environment, SACSF will provide a list of credible vendors and suppliers and also expose unethical businesses that do not adhere to the Forum’s code of ethics.

For more information or to join the Southern African Communications Suppliers Forum (SACSF) email secretariat@sacsf.co.za or call 082 652 8050.

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