In an absolute first the multi-billion rand tender for set top boxes will be split among all the bidders, the Universal Service and Access Agency of SA (USAASA) is reported to have announced. According to a report on BDLive, USAASA has initiated the programme of breaking up the massive tender to all 20 bidding companies for the production of five million boxes as South Africa migrates toward digital terrestrial television. The government has said that it will provide the boxes to poor households based on a means test. Companies mentioned in the list are said to include the likes of Altech and CZ Electronics.
In another first and hopefully setting a new – more considerate – standard the agency will also not require that bidding companies have manufacturing facilities in SA. This seems to run counter to politicians who had called for local production of the set top boxes to spur on job creation in the country.
The International Telecommunications Union has set June 2015 as the international deadline for migration to digital terrestrial television. In Africa, a number of countries including Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia have already switched on to digital TV networks.