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ESCCOM LAUNCHES E150M OFFICE PROJECT

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EZULWINI – The Eswatini Communications Commission (ESCCOM) is contributing to the transformation of Ezulwini, by building offices whose estimated worth is over E150 million.


Already, the town boasts of state of the art infrastructure and office buildings such as the International Convention Centre, Eswatini Revenue Authority and the American Embassy.


Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Maxwell Masuku turned the sod to mark the commencement of construction in an event attended by ESCCOM board members, employees and construction company representatives.


In his capacity as PS in the Ministry of ICT, Masuku said it was important for the Commission to be accessible and have the capability to host and engage with stakeholders.


“For the Commission to serve the public well, it is important that it establishes a permanent office that has the requisite facilities and space that would allow regular engagement with the licensees and the public. As a ministry we are pleased to note that ever since its establishment, the Commission has transformed our communications sector through market liberalisation and rollout of universal service,” Masuku said.


Regulator


He narrated how ESCCOM was formed after the need for the existence of an independent regulator for the sector was envisaged by government in 2005, through the National Information and Communications Infrastructure Policy (NICI Policy 2005).
“True to this aspiration, the Eswatini Communications Commission was then established in 2013, through the Eswatini Communications Commission Act, 2013, to regulate the electronic communications, postal services, broadcasting services, data protection and e-commerce and ensure universal service and access to these services,” he said.


Masuku said the Electronic Communications Act specified that in the regulation of electronic communications, the Commission shall ensure the provision of a wide range of public communications networks and services.
Meanwhile, Thembumkhululi Khumalo, who chairs the ESCCOM Board, said designs had been drawn ahead of the construction process.


He said ESCCOM was a relatively new and growing regulatory authority and currently had a staff complement of about 40 employees.
He said the full staff complement is projected to be between 60 and 70 employees in the next three to five years.
“During the course of 2013/2014 the Board took a conscious decision to acquire land for purposes of building ESCCOM offices.

The Board specified that the land to be acquired should be easily accessible to all ESCCOM stakeholders, which include the consumers of electronic services, the public at large and the licensees. Subsequently, this site we are gathered on today was identified and found to be ideal for the purposes. This site is a 1-hectare sized plot which the board is confident will be accessible to all who need services of the Commission,” he said.


 He said the decision to acquire and build offices was informed by the escalating costs of renting premises.
After a careful cost analysis, he said, the Board considered that the cost of building ESCCOM offices outweighs the costs of renting.


“For example, the projected costs of the building are far less than the amount of rental the Commission would have paid within a 10 year period. Moreover, the Board envisaged that the building will have lettable floors and thus the Commission would re-coup some funds from rentals,” he said.


He said the office building would be a multi-storey structure, with ample parking space and 6 500 square metres of office space.
“Out of the total office space available, 1426 square metres (over 2 floors of the building) is available as lettable office space. The offices will provide the Commission with a modern office structure that supports a conducive working environment,” he said.


Disabilities


He said people with disabilities would also have easy access to the building.
“It will provide an office structure and work environment that accommodates prospects of growth and expansion of ESCCOM regulatory mandate, as it ventures into other sectors such as data protection, cybersecurity, e-commerce, electronic transactions and other ICT related regulation. The Commission seeks to build a green building which shall ensure a low carbon footprint and environmental sustainability,” he said.


The building is expected to be completed in December 2022.
He urged the contractors to work tirelessly and ensure that the projected completion date was met.

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