Dig­i­tal mi­gra­tion switch

Gov­ern­ment aims to save money by work­ing with in­dus­try to com­plete set-top box roll-out

Cape Argus - - NATION - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI siyabonga.mkhwanazi@inl.co.za

THE gov­ern­ment be­lieves it will cut costs in the switch from ana­logue to dig­i­tal TV af­ter it stopped the pro­cure­ment of set-top boxes de­spite spend­ing bil­lions of rand on them.

The pro­cure­ment of set-top boxes was halted af­ter it was dis­cov­ered it was costly and not sus­tain­able.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane said yes­ter­day the depart­ment stopped the pro­cure­ment, stor­age and in­stal­la­tion of set-top boxes.

How­ever, they would work with in­dus­try to fi­nalise dig­i­tal mi­gra­tion to the ben­e­fit of poor house­holds.

Mokonyane would not say how much money would be saved by part­ner­ing with the pri­vate sec­tor to com­plete the project.

“Ini­tially, it was es­ti­mated that we will need an ad­di­tional R7 bil­lion but re­vised es­ti­mates said we won’t go be­yond R2bn.

“There was R10bn spent on ware­hous­ing, pro­cure­ment and con­nec­tion be­cause gov­ern­ment was re­ly­ing on its own ca­pac­ity.

“The stock (set-top boxes) in our ware­houses is (what) we are rolling out to reach the Free State, North­ern Cape, North West and other prov­inces,” she said. How­ever, in the past the gov­ern­ment spent more than R10bn on pur­chas­ing set-top boxes.

The project was ini­ti­ated more than 15 years ago, but lit­tle progress has been made. Mokonyane said they planned to bring dig­i­tal TV to 5 mil­lion poor house­holds.

The SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency and the Depart­ment of Co-op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance would help the gov­ern­ment iden­tify poor fam­i­lies that still needed to make the switch from ana­logue to dig­i­tal TV.

She said they in­vited the SABC and Mul­tiChoice to be part of the new project.

“On the set-top boxes, it has come up in Cabi­net that it is not sus­tain­able for the gov­ern­ment to pro­cure (them),” she said.

From their dis­cus­sions, they found they could reach only 7% of the 5 mil­lion fam­i­lies tar­geted to re­ceive dig­i­tal TV. In fu­ture the gov­ern­ment would give vouch­ers to fam­i­lies, who would hand them to com­pa­nies for the in­stal­la­tion of set-top boxes.

Mokonyane said through this process the num­ber of fam­i­lies re­quir­ing set-top boxes would de­crease be­low the 5 mil­lion the gov­ern­ment had aimed to reach.

She said the project had so far been costly for the gov­ern­ment.

“This project is not a project (con­cern­ing) set-top boxes, but dig­i­tal mi­gra­tion.

“Yes, we will be sav­ing. Our in­ten­tion is to lo­calise 99.9% of the equip­ment we will use.

“We will give you in­for­ma­tion on what we will be sav­ing,” Mokonyane said.

| SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI | African News agency (ANA) Ar­chives

The Sassa new and old cards. MPs were de­lighted to hear that Cash Paymaster Ser­vices would no longer be in­volved in teh pay­ment of so­cial grants.

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