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Dr Miriam Altman, Head of Strategy of Telkom Group. (Image source: Telkom Group)
Telkom GCEO Sipho Maseko today announced the appointment of Dr Miriam Altman as Head of Strategy of Telkom Group with effect from 1 June 2013. Dr Altman will support the development and execution of Telkom's strategy and will report directly to the GCEO.
Dr Miriam Altman
Dr Miriam Altman (Chairperson) Head of Strategy - Telkom SOC Ltd Commissioner National Planning Commission - Presidency
Miriam Altman (Dr)
Miriam Altman (Dr) Head of Strategy, Telkom SA
Following Mathe, Miriam Altman, a former NPC commissioner and now the chief corporate strategist for Telkom, argued that while it was important for this country to nurture and grow its manufacturing output, that sector was unlikely to be a major source of employment for the foreseeable future.
Altman said there is a real need to figure out, concretely, how the country is going to generate the 11 million jobs by 2030 called for in the NDP; there is a need to stress test the assumptions as well as the dreams of them. Altman said that realistically, it was unlikely more than 3% of employment created in the country over the next generation would - or could - actually come from the country's manufacturing sector. The reason for this was that for manufacturing to be globally competitive, productivity needed to increase and that generally came from squeezing out labour in improved production efficiency, rather than adding labour to the manufacturing processes. Or, as Altman told her audience, "That doesn't mean that we shouldn't promote manufacturing, but it is very unlikely [the sector will create many new jobs] because a successful manufacturing sector in South Africa would require substantial productivity improvement. Moreover, because the country had volatile exchange rate circumstances, that put a further crimp on expanding manufacturing, much less labour-intensive manufacturing. Instead, South Africa, like pretty much everywhere else, is going to have to look to the services sector for much of its new job growth. Altman noted, "Most jobs come from services and we need to get a much greater sense of how we promote dynamism in services and how we stimulate services employment. As Altman noted, because "The future of work is in low-paid work," if cash wages were low, that would actually put further pressure on the government to ensure there was a fuller social security system of social benefits to help relieve the upward demand pressure on cash wages. Altman and Mathe, asked if their presentations seemed to point to a more thorough interrogation of the nation's political will to make the hard choices needed to get this done, Mathe replied that the nation's leadership has made the requisite statements about the will to achieve such changes and that "our job is to believe them. There already is, for example, a ramping up of national investment in infrastructure consistent with the NDP. And Altman added that the president's recent SONA "gives me good vibes". In response, Altman replied that there continues to be a social need to protect South Africa's hard-won labour gains.
Miriam Altman, Telkom, believes the telecommunications giant is being forced to give away its product at cost.
Miriam Altman, Telkom, believes the telecommunications giant is being forced to give away its product at cost. According to Miriam Altman, head of strategy at Telkom, the company doesn't believe LLU is the solution to government's problem of trying to reduce communication costs and roll out broadband nationally. She also believes that LLU could be very damaging to Telkom, its national network, and the country. Altman cites the same reasons stated by CEO Sipho Maseko and the inputs into the process made by the company's regulatory team - competitors will cherry-pick only profitable exchanges, LLU will benefit the rich, not the poor, etc. One of Telkom's major arguments has been how much it spends on its network (billions per year, much the same as the other major operators) and that LLU would compromise its next generation network rollout, force it to increase prices in order to compensate for the loss of high-value customers it expects its competitors to cherry-pick. "We need to think of the country," Altman pleads, a line of argument that is not likely to gain much sympathy given how badly Telkom treated 'the country' in the past. In terms of access to any form of local loop (fixed line copper, fixed line fibre and/or wireless access), the network owner has the right to set the price to ensure future sustainability of their own private network services and future investment commitments. - Icasa Altman also says that forcing Telkom to produce a product and then hand it over to competitors to sell is like a company spending R250 million building a mine, taking the product out of the ground and then being forced to give the product to competitors to sell - which is about what happens in many wholesaler-reseller-retailer relationships (sometimes without the 'forced' part). No, says Altman.