COMMUNICATIONS AND BANKING DEFINED AS BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS

Swedish and South African governments unleash human and economic potential

Personal communications and basic financial services have joined shelter, education and health care as basic human rights.

Within weeks of each other, the Swedish and South African governments have unleashed a visionary future in which cities and the state will be responsible for providing free broadband wireless services and free personal banking to all residents, and visitors.

Countries are being driven by the need to attract investment and the best people and this is seen as “a vital human and economic imperative”.

This move has certainly got the attention of banks, insurers and mobile phone service providers. By 2011 their only customers for basic services will be local and state governments. Competition will be fierce and profit margins narrow.

Banks’ and service providers’ survival will depend on partnerships for basic services provision, and innovative value-add services as the only source of profit on the back of free infrastructures. This could be the final commoditization of banking and telecommunications.

“The shake-out in these industries will be off-set by a massive release of human potential. This platform will unleash personal economic power like we have never seen before,” promises ex-President Thabo Mbeki, now CEO of South Africa’s CommunityFirst initiative.


ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

This milestone amendment represents the first time that all parties across the political spectrum voted unanimously on the following amendments to the South African Constitution:

South African Constitution (extract) 2006:
32. Access to information: Everyone has the right of access to:

  • any information held by the state; and
  • any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights

National legislation must be enacted to give effect to this right, and may provide for reasonable measures to alleviate the administrative and financial burden on the state.

Proposed changes to the Constitution for 2009:
32. Access to information: Everyone has the right of access to:

  • any information held by the state; and
  • any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.
  • basic financial services, including banking, risk cover and financial management advice
  • mobile telephone service
  • broadband internet access
  • a device to access the above

National and regional legislation must be enacted to give effect to this right, and may provide for reasonable measures to alleviate the administrative and financial burden on the state.

Coupled with these amendments are a range of tax incentives to promote economic activity at the bottom end of the social pyramid.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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