Digital migration to benefit youth, women

Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Nthambeleni Gabara

Bloemfontein - The Digital Migration Policy will see the roll-out of public service channels for youth and women, says Communications Minister Faith Muthambi.

“Our Digital Migration Policy will see a rollout of public services channels for youth, women, and education and egovernment services.

“We are most excited about the potential of egovernment services which will unlock access to basic internet services and digital information for millions of our people,” she said on Wednesday.

Minister Muthambi was speaking at the provincial Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Summit in Bloemfontein, in the Free State.

Minister Muthambi also used the platform to announce that later this year, the department will be launching the digital migration awareness campaign in the Free State to explain the benefits of digital television.

The campaign will also include awareness on the rollout of Set Top Boxes (STB)’s to identified poor households as well as areas bordering Lesotho which may experience broadcast interference. 

“In keeping with government’s policy to grow small businesses, STB installation companies will be drawn from local communities in the Free State creating work opportunities for our youth to enter the ICT sector,” she said.

Digital Migration

Minister Faith Muthambi told the Summit delegates that the process of migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting signal is at an advanced stage.

“The future of Digital Broadcasting is of particular interest to me and the department. South Africa will this year make the switch from analogue to digital television.

“The process is well advanced and the migration process will begin to take shape in the next few months.

“Our march towards digital migration is nothing short of ground breaking, and it will open the exciting world and possibilities of communication to millions,” she said.

In March this year, Cabinet approved the final amendments to the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy which paved the way for the implementation of digital migration.

Cabinet further approved that government should provide free set-top-boxes to the five million households who cannot afford to buy the set top boxes.

The migration will release valuable spectrum which will allow for more television channels, and will also result in job creation in the communication and creative industry sectors and better quality broadcasting.

Information Communications Technology (ICT)

According to Minister Muthambi, ICT change is constant and what was yesterday’s breakthrough is tomorrow’s reality.

She said the ICT sector has been at the forefront of this revolution and continues to lead the way in uncovering new frontiers.  

While governments all over the world are grappling with how to use the ICT to the betterment of their people, the South African government too must find ways to make ICT work for all South Africans. 

“We dare not allow a new divide to develop between those with access to information and technology, and those who don’t enjoy access. 

“Government in partnership with industry and civil society has to find ways to make ICT relevant and accessible to more South Africans,” she said.

Minister Muthambi said the roll out of free Wi-Fi across large Metro areas is a start, but government cannot stop there.

“It is our duty as national and provincial government to create an enabling environment for communication services to contribute more effectively towards improving people’s lives in the workplace, in their homes, and communities.

“We must create platforms for South Africans to access information, education and cultural content in the language or languages of their choice,” she said. 

Minister Muthambi said the three-day Summit provides an opportunity for all to address the pressing need of ensuring that ICT is used to improve service delivery by government.  

“It also cannot just be a one-way street. We are a caring and listening government, therefore we must find ways to use technology to give citizens a greater voice in determining their service needs,” she said. -