The South African government ordered the country’s communications regulator to issue additional spectrum to aid operators in meeting an anticipated hike in demand during a three-week lockdown implemented to contain the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus), Business Day reported.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal services, called on the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to deliver a regulatory framework to temporarily boost spectrum availability, the newspaper wrote.

ICASA representative Paseka Maleka told Bloomberg directives from the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies to allocate extra spectrum were close to being finalised to allocate extra spectrum.

The regulator last week said it had opened talks with operators to discuss “possible ways of radio frequency spectrum relief” ahead of an anticipated “spike in data usage” which could result in network congestion as South Africans work from home.

In a statement sent to Mobile World Live, Telkom SA welcomed the release of temporary spectrum, noting “extraordinary times require bold measures to protect South Africa’s people”.

South Africa began the lockdown at midnight today (27 March): ICASA stated staff are working remotely, but are still on hand to “attend to all queries” from “stakeholders, licensees and the general public”.