Communications Department criticised for failing to meet digital migration deadlines

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies has been widely criticised for its failure to migrate the country from analogue to digital broadcasting on time.

Opposition parties have pointed to multiple missed deadlines, including the most recent one imposed by the Department itself, for 31 March this year.

However, Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has assured the country that digital migration of television broadcasting is of national importance and will be fully completed by 30 June 2022.

“We have concluded analogue switch-off in five provinces namely the Free State, Northern Cape, North West and Limpopo in line with the outcomes of the recent spectrum auction,” said Minister Ntshavheni during the debate on the Communication and Digital Technology Department’s budget vote at the National Assembly on Wednesday.

This undertaking by the Minister failed to impress opposition parties who pointed to the fact that the planned digital migration has been in the works for too long.

Sinawo Thambo of the Economic Freedom Fighters described ICASA’s recent spectrum auction as a missed opportunity, arguing that it has reinforced the dominance of telecommunications giants’ in the communications industry instead of opening opportunities for diversification and transformation as intended.

Freedom Front Plus’ Wouter Wessels bemoaned what he said was the failure of the South African Post Office. Wessels says the entity has suffered R1.8 billion in losses in the past financial year and has resorted to disposing of its properties as a means to attempt to make up for some of its debts.

“The collapse of the Post Office is not because of tough trading conditions as private companies are making money by filling the gaps left by the Post Office,” adds Wessels.

During the same budget vote yesterday Deputy Minister of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, Philly Mapulane, announced that the Department intends to digitise the Post Office and transform it to be a dedicated and designated authentication authority that accomplishes the role of a national trust centre in the age of digital identity and services.

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