Unmasking South Africa’s “secret” set-top box producers

The DA has filed a Public Access to Information Act application with USAASA for details of who has received orders to produce 1.5 million set-top boxes (STBs).

The project is worth about R1.2 billion, and forms part of the government’s roll-out of digital terrestrial television.

This is the first part of the government’s R4.3-billion programme to give 5 million STBs to poor households.

Marian Shinn, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, said industry sources have given her three company names, which she forwarded to USAASA CEO Zami Nkosi asking him to confirm or correct the information.

“He has remained silent on this issue,” said Shinn.

The local production of STBs was meant to be a flagship government project to open the door for black SMMEs to gain a foothold in the electronics manufacturing sector and grow jobs.

“If this policy is being manifested in the current production allocation why are the names of these companies not being trumpeted from the rooftops?”

Shinn said her PAIA application asks USAASA to supply the following:

  • The letters sent to the 26 companies which submitted bids for the tenders for the STBs and antennae – among which the orders would be shared.
  • Signed contracts and orders already issued by USAASA in terms of the tenders, as well as deposit slips for any monies paid to these companies.
  • Copies of signed contracts, orders, and deposit slips to any other service provider involved in any aspect of the DTT programme.

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Unmasking South Africa’s “secret” set-top box producers