Independent Communications Authority of South Africa

"Icasa" redirects here. For the Brazilian association football club, see Associação Desportiva Recreativa e Cultural Icasa.
Independent Communications Authority of South Africa

Agency overview
Formed 1 July 2000
Preceding agencies
  • South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA)
  • Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA)
Jurisdiction Government of the Republic of South Africa
Headquarters Sandton, Johannesburg
Ministers responsible
Agency executives
  • Rubben Mohlaloga, Acting Chairman
  • Pakamile Kayalethu Pongwana, CEO
Child agency
  • Complaints and Compliance Committee
Website ICASA

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is an independent regulatory body of the South African government, established in 2000 by the ICASA Act to regulate both the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors in the public interest. Traditionally, telecommunications and broadcasting services operated separately and so has the regulation of the sectors. Broadcasting in South Africa was regulated by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), whereas telecommunications was regulated by the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA). Rapid technological developments have led to the convergence of broadcasting and telecommunications services. This also had an influence on the convergence of regulation resulting in the merging of the IBA and SATRA. ICASA functions under the Department of Communications (DoC). It was initially composed of seven Council members. The ICASA amendment Act of 2006 included the Postal services, previously regulated by the Postal Authority into ICASA’s mandate. It increased the Council members from seven to nine to accommodate the new members from the Postal Authority.

Mandate and purpose

ICASA’s mandate is to regulate electronic communications (i.e. broadcasting and telecommunications) and postal services in the public interest. It derives its mandate from the following primary pieces of legislation (and subsequent amendments thereto):

Some of functions of ICASA include the following:

Below are some of the relevant sections from the legislations highlighting ICASA's mandate and purpose :-



In South Africa, the first radio and television broadcasts were done in 1923 and 1976 respectively. The first Broadcasting Act was promulgated in 1936 and it established the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) solely for radio broadcasting. In 1976, the Broadcasting Act was amended to include television broadcasting. The SABC acted as a state broadcaster and was used as a political propaganda instrument of the government to support its policies. The SABC had monopoly over the airwaves even though there were some free-to-air broadcasting services in the former Bantustans. These broadcasting services (like Radio Bop, Bop TV, Capital Radio and Radio 702) partially overlapped from the Bantustan areas into certain parts of South Africa.

Telecommunications was provided and regulated by a monopoly parastatal, the South African Post and Telecommunications (SAPT). In the late 1980s, certain aspects of the telecommunications market were liberalised. The Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX) and Value-added Network Service (VANS) markets were opened up to competition.


Competition law
Basic concepts
Anti-competitive practices
Enforcement authorities and organizations

In 1990 the Viljoen Task Group was appointed to investigate the future of broadcasting. At the same time the SABC initiated a process of internal restructuring. The restructuring was aided by the Jabulani! Freedom of Airwaves Conference which took place in the Netherlands in 1991. This conference made recommendations that set the terms of public debate.

In 1991, Telkom SA Limited (Telkom) was established as a parastatal to undertake the provision of telecommunications services in South Africa. It separated from SAPT, which acted as an industry regulator.

In the beginning of 1992, the Congress of Democratic South Africa (CODESA) started negotiations on the future democratic political dispensation of the country, the drafting of the Interim Constitution, the Local Government Transition Act and the establishment of the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act (the IBA Act). The IBA Act was designed to provide, among other things, for the licensing of commercial and community broadcasters (these were not allowed under the apartheid government) and for the transformation of the SABC from a state to a public broadcaster. However, telecommunications reform remained unaddressed at the negotiations and in 1993 the apartheid government proceeded to license two mobile cellular operators (Vodacom and MTN).

After the 1994 elections, the National Telecommunications Forum (NTF), including government, business, labour, user groups and civic organizations was established as the key stake-holder forum which debated the Telecommunications Green and White Papers. South Africa’s telecommunications reform process culminated in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The key aspect of this act was the establishment of an independent regulator, SATRA, to regulate the telecommunications sector. Telkom was also granted exclusivity to provide basic telecommunications services for a period of five years with an option for a further year of exclusivity should it meet its roll-out targets.

On 1 July 2000, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) was established. It was established as a single electronic communications regulator in the country in terms of the ICASA Act of 2000 merging SATRA with the IBA.[2]

In 2001, the second wave of re-regulation of the telecommunications industry took place with the passage of the Telecommunications Amendment Act of 2001. This Act introduced some far-reaching changes to the existing regime, for an example, the provision for the Second Network Operator (SNO) as of 7 May 2002. In August 2001, the Minister of Communications issued policy directions which were amended in April 2002, setting out the process in relation to the licensing of the SNO (Neotel) in broad terms. The third mobile cellular telephone operator license was issued on 22 June 2001 to Cell C. On 19 August 2002, ICASA issued new national Mobile Cellular Telephone Service (MCTS) licenses in terms of section 37(1) of the Telecommunications Act to Vodacom and MTN.

In 2002, two new pieces of telecommunications-related legislation were passed, the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act) of 2000 and the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act (Interception Act). The ECA of 2005 was passed and came into effect on 19 July 2006.[3]

Structure and functions


ICASA is subdivided into various divisions with some listed below:-


ICASA is under the DoC with a council composed of nine members, the chairman and eight councilors appointed by the president with the recommendations from the National Assembly. Initially,the number of council members was seven and it was increased to nine as per the ICASA amendment Act of 2005 when the postal services were integrated to ICASA. The diagram below depicts the structure of the council.

Current Chairpersons and Councillors

Previous Chairpersons

Previous Councillors

Below is a list of all the council members since ICASA was formed in 2000:-

Highlights and Controversies

ICASA inherited a number of challenges from SATRA including :-


  1. "ICASA, ICASA". Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  2. Woolman, S; T Roux; M Bishop. "Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA)". The Constitutional Law of South Africa: 24E–1–24E–16.
  3. White, Justine (September 2006). "Introduction: An overview of the South African Legal system and the history of Liberalisation and re-regulation of the South African Telecommunications Sector". Global Telecommunications Law and Practice. 13: 5201–5288.
  4. "Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, ICASA". Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  5. "ICASA Council & CEO, Council & CEO". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  6. "ICASA Annual Report 2008, ICASA Annual Report 2008". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  7. "ICASA Annual Report 2007 , Council Members". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  8. "ICASA Annual Report 2006 , Council Members". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  9. "ICASA Annual Report 2005, Council Members". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  10. "ICASA Annual Report 2004 , Council Members". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  11. "ICASA Annual Report 2003 , Council Members". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  12. "ICASA Annual Report 2002 , Council Members". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  13. "ICASA Annual Report 2000-2001 , Council Members". Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  14. "ICASA files answering affidavit in third cell phone court case, Cellular". Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  15. "Cellphone License Saga Ends With Cash Payout, Cellular". Retrieved 2009-06-21.
  16. "Implications of Altech ruling , South Africa Connect". Retrieved 2009-06-22.
  17. "Icasa won't oppose Vodacom ruling, independence questioned , Engineering News". Retrieved 2009-06-22.

External links

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