South African gov’t appoints communications director

Almost eight months since the resignation of its former director-general, Andile Ngcaba, the South African Department of Communications (DOC) has finally announced his successor, Lyndall Shope-Mafole. She is a former advisor to the previous Minister of Communications, Jay Naidoo.

The announcement was made last week, by the DOC’s deputy director-general, Pakamile Pongwana, on behalf of the department’s deputy minister, Roy Padayachie, at the HighwayAfrica (HA) conference. HA is an annual conference held in Grahamstown, to promote technology and to present a platform for ICT debate and policy.

Shope-Mafole will fill the shoes of Ngcaba, who resigned from the DOC after eight years of service as director-general. He was director-general to Naidoo and during the first term of the current minister, Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri. Phumelelo Ntombela-Nzimande is the current acting director-general.

Shope-Mafole, is currently the chairperson of the Presidential National Commission on the Information Society and Development, which was established by President Thabo Mbeki in his State of the Nation Address in February 2001.

Pongwana said the minister is expected to soon introduce the new DG to the department.

“There are a few outstanding formalities to be sorted out, but she will soon be introduced to the department. She is expected to serve for three years.” He noted that although the post was long advertised, the appointment of Ngcaba’s successor was delayed by the elections.

Shope-Mafole will head the communications department, give direction to the department, advise the minister on policy and intergovernmental relations, and ensure the delivery of ICTs and ICT policy.

Born in Johannesburg in 1958, Shope-Mafole obtained an MSc. in Telecommunications Engineering from the Jose Antonio Echeverria Higher Institute of Technology (ISPJAE) in Havana, Cuba, in 1983.

Shope-Mafole has held various responsibilities at national and international levels, the most notable of which was as a member of the UN ICT Task Force which had the responsibility of advising secretary-general of the UN, Kofi Annan, on matters related to bridging the Digital Divide. She was the first female chairperson of the council of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and was a member of the council of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), which later became Icasa. She is now a member of the e-Africa Commission.

Shope-Mafole was also a member of the board of the CSIR and a winner of the African ICT Lifetime Achievement Award.

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