My post about Jajah zones (below) mentioned that South Africa was in the same expensive-to-call zone as Malawi, Laos and others. Well, beautiful Malawi (currently dead last on the IMF list of 181 countries by purchasing-power GDP per capita) has moved ahead and landlines as well as cellphones (of registered users) in that country can now apparently be called for free (gratis, mahala) from your PC using the Gizmo Project software. Bravo, Malawi, for trumping the rest of Africa and joining the USA, China and a handful of other countries in the category of least expensive destinations to call! Zambia remains the only country in Africa with free landline calls on Jajah, for now.
Rapport reports today (in Afrikaans) that the SA state is going to spend R1000m per year for the next three years on building the infrastructure for "affordable and universal" broadband access for South Africans. Why? The main obstacle, as I and many others have written, is the grotesque over-regulation of the sector. In my neighbourhood someone (not me, Your Honour) is already giving always-on high-speed access over a wireless network for around R250 per month (several hundred rand cheaper than purchasing a similar product from Telkom) as an exercise in community support that happens to be unlicensed and illegal. S/he is not interested in paying a fee of around R6000 (just under $1000) to apply for a license that will probably not be approved by a regulator that has a history of bureaucratic obstructionism.