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Telecoms Minister Says South Africa's E-Commerce Law Is On Its Way

by Amanda Banks, Tax-news.com, London

24 April 2001


South Africa's Minister of Telecommunications, Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, opened the country's national e-commerce law conference last week with the news that the government plans to introduce a long-awaited new electronic-commerce law by the end of this year.

South Africa has been preparing an e-commerce law for almost two years since it first released a green paper on the subject in 1999. The new law, when finalised, is expected to deal with issues such as consumer protection and privacy, taxing electronic transactions, cybercrime and intellectual property.

The idea behind the conference was to bring the country's e-commerce industry leaders together to devise several recommendations for Ms Matsepe-Casaburri and her team to consider when drafting the new law. She noted that the conference attracted a huge number of delegates and was optimistic that this reflected the industry's determination to support the forthcoming e-commerce legislation, explaining: 'this...is crucial in light of the potential growth of the sector, since the absence of an enabling legislation negatively impacts on potential investments in the sector.'

Ms Matsepe-Casaburri warned that the e-commerce industry in South Africa cannot grow in an environment of poverty, war and disease, and she encouraged the delegates to keep in mind the need for socio-economic development throughout the African continent, saying 'we need to bridge the digital and knowledge divide - if South Africa can succeed, it [provides] encouragement that the entire continent can succeed.'

In addition to the e-commerce law, Ms Matsepe-Casaburri said other laws would need to be amended in terms of national payment systems, telecoms and security. The draft of a new telecoms law is currently being prepared involving plans to introduce competition into the sector to rival the state-owned monopoly controlled by Telkom.

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