South Africa to launch digital migration process in 2Q15; signs bilateral agreement with Botswana

27 May 2015

South Africa’s Department of Communications (DOC) will launch a ‘massive public awareness campaign’ on the forthcoming digital migration process in the next four weeks, in order to initiate the long-belated analogue switch-off project in Q2 2015, the South African Government News Agency reports. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the migration process deadline, which was originally scheduled for completion in November 2011 in line with a Cabinet decision taken in 2007, has since been pushed back to 1 December 2013, and subsequently 17 June 2015 (the International Telecommunication Union’s [ITU’s] deadline for analogue switch-off). However, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi admitted that South Africa would not meet the international deadline and added: ‘We are ready to consult with [the] Cabinet on the digital signal switch-on date.’

The minister also said her department was working to conclude and sign bilateral engagements with six neighbouring countries – Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe – in a bid to minimise cross-border radio frequency spectrum interference. To that end, the first cooperation agreement was signed last week by Muthambi and Botswana’s Minister of Transport and Communications Tshenolo Mabeo. All Africa cited Muthambi as saying: ‘The primary objective was to identify issues of mutual interest on cross border interference and other related matters in order to establish an amicable solution of addressing challenges as and when they arise … Our discussions also centred on key elements that require bilateral engagements between the two countries, namely, sharing of migration plans, processes to handle frequency spectrum interference, release of digital dividends timing and Memorandum of Understanding/Agreement.’

Botswana, South Africa, Department of Communications (DOC)