Govt looks to make headway with new approach to digital broadcast migration

Cabinet on Wednesday approved a plan to work with the private sector and industry, which Mokonyane says will save billions of rands.

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN – Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says the government’s new approach to implementing broadcast digital migration will allow the country to make headway in the long-delayed project.

Cabinet on Wednesday approved a plan to work with the private sector and industry, which Mokonyane says will save billions of rands.

It means the government will no longer buy millions of set-top boxes needed by older television sets to receive a digital signal, a project that has so far cost R10 billion.

Mokonyane says the old plan would have required a further R7 billion to implement, but that the new approach will keep costs to around R2 billion.

“Government will no longer be involved in the procurement of set-top boxes, (or the) warehousing, transportation and installation of devices.

“This provides South Africa with headway towards completion of the project in a manner that is inclusive, affordable and efficient and reduces the risks to government.”

Stocks of set-top boxes stored in warehouses will still be distributed to poor households in the Free State, Northern Cape, North West and other areas.

“No equipment will just be disposed of without validating whether it can still be put to good use.”

Mokonyane says five million people were initially thought to need free set-top boxes, but the government’s been able to identify only 7% of them.

Newer television sets are all able to pick up a digital signal.