Concerns about some suppliers of set-top boxes

Friday, June 8, 2018

Minister of Communications Nomvula Mokonyane has expressed concern at the lack of adherence to the 30% local content manufacturing rule on the part of some suppliers who manufacture government's subsidised set-top boxes.

The Minister made the comments after an article published by ITWeb erroneously quoted her as saying that all contracted local manufacturers of government set-top-boxes import decoders from abroad.   

The set-top boxes are meant to enable migration from analogue to digital television services. 

The Department of Communications said on Friday it has learnt that some local manufacturers, contracted by the state-owned entity Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) to manufacture these decoders, are procuring non-compliant devices abroad and importing them into the country.

“This means that they are in fact contravening the local content quota prescription, which requires them to ensure that at least 30% of all decoder components are produced locally.

“This undermines government's efforts to ensure that this project contributes towards boosting the country's electronics manufacturing sector to stimulate job creation in the sector,” the Department of Communications said in its statement on Friday.

Many of these imported decoders are found to be defective and not compliant with the local standards framework set by the SA Bureau of Standards. “This has resulted in decoder recipients having to return them to government's distribution agent - the SA Post Office.”

There are 27 manufacturing firms contracted by USAASA to produce decoders and antennas for government's broadcasting digital migration project at a cost of R4.5 billion.

The Minister further expressed concern at the cost per unit of the set-top boxes. Government is currently paying R1700 to manufacture a single set-top box, including installation.

She said the costs are unsustainable for government and called on public-private-partnerships in implementing the broadcasting digital migration project.

“Minister Mokonyane firmly believes that a thriving local electronics manufacturing sector will go a long way in bringing down the cost of electronic devices in the country, including television sets,” the department said.

The department is currently reviewing the implementation plan and the model around the broadcasting digital migration project. This process is set be concluded in the next few weeks.

The details of the reconfiguration of the broadcasting digital migration implementation plan will be made available on consultation with Cabinet. –