Cabinet on Wednesday approved a revised digital migration delivery model that will see government step back from its involvement in the procurement of set-top boxes (STBs), warehousing, transportation and the installation of the devices.
The new model for the implementation of the broadcast digital migration project adopts a market/retail-driven approach through collaboration and partnerships with the private sector and industry.
“This provides South Africa with headway towards the completion of the project in a manner that is inclusive, affordable and efficient, and that reduces risk to government,” acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a post-Cabinet briefing statement issued on Thursday.
Timeslive quoted Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane as saying that “government would now stop directly procuring‚ transporting and installing [subsidised] STBs to a projected five-million poor households” and that a public–private partnership would now be sought with dominant broadcasters.
This followed the spending of some R10-billion already towards work completed around the procurement, installation and awareness campaigns, SANews quoted Mokonyane as saying.
“This includes the gadgets that are in the different warehouses that we want to . . . [connect and put] to good use,” she said.
“Those that are supposed to be cushioned by government are still going to benefit but not [only] through an STB. We are working with the retail and manufacturing sectors, MultiChoice and the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation.”
Meanwhile, Cabinet welcomed the settlement agreement reached over the invitation to apply for the allocation of the 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz high-demand spectrum, which provides policy certainty in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.
The agreement resulted in the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) retracting the initial 2016 invitation to apply and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services withdrawing its legal action against it.
The legal challenge followed Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Dr Siyabonga Cwele’s objections to the invitation’s issuance prior to the completion of the Integrated ICT Policy White Paper.
As a result of the settlement, Cwele started consultations with Icasa on a draft policy direction for the licensing of high-demand spectrum and intends issuing the draft policy direction for public comment.
Interested parties have until November 8 to provide written inputs on the proposed policy and policy direction to the authority, following the finalisation of which, Icasa will start the licensing process for the assignment of high-demand spectrum.