Minister Siyabonga Cwele has urged local manufacture of set top boxes. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Cape Town - The minister of posts and telecommunications has urged the local manufacture for set-top boxes.
South Africa is under pressure to meet an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) deadline of June for digital television migration and it's been reported that the Universal Service and Access Agency of SA (Usaasa) has announced that all bidders will receive part of the R4.3bn tender for the roll-out of five million set-top boxes.
While the minister of posts and telecommunications, Siyabonga Cwele, was careful to point out that the programme was driven by the department of communications, Usaasa nevertheless reports to his department.
"Because there are monies that are allocated to our agencies: Usaasa, Sapo - the South African Post Office - Sentech. Those are the only agencies where there's money; we will continue to monitor whether the money is well spent," Cwele told Fin24.
According to the Usaasa '5 Year Funding Outlook' presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services, the agency has budgeted for an increase of R262 429 000 in 2015/16 from just R65 376 000 in 2014/15.
Most of that increase is labelled "goods and services".
According to a report on Times Live, the agency will not require that bidding companies have manufacturing facilities in SA.
This seems to run counter to politicians who had called for local production of set-top boxes to spur job creation in the country.
Usaasa says in its report that it has funds of R181 160 000 ready for digital TV migration this year to add to a cumulative pool of R1.048bn.
The agency has identified 226 248 households that would quality for set-top box at R800 each.
Despite the fact that the move toward digital TV must happen at speed, the minister encouraged Usassa to focus on local manufacture.
"We would still like to encourage that. It's an issue of inclusion; it doesn't mean that if I'm a small company and I'm competing against a giant, the giant must take the whole share," Cwele told Fin24.
However, Cwele said that he could not be certain that Usaasa has followed that principle.
"That principle is important; I hope they followed it. I don't know."
Watch Minister Siyabonga Cwele's comments in this online video:
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