South Africa to investigate digital STB tender

Regulation & Policy

South Africa’s government has started an investigation into the digital set-top box market, the Department of Communications said. Replying to questions from a member in the National Council of Provinces in Parliament, the DoC said allegations of Chinese imports have sparked a wider investigation, Fin24 reported. Earlier this year, the Universal Services and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) named 26 suppliers of digital STBs, which the government will subsidise to support the transition to digital broadcasting.

The investigation comes after the Democratic Alliance shadow Minister for Telecommunications and Postal Services Marian Shinn said in September that her party had discovered a press release from Chinese telecommunications firm Shenzhen which said "its factory in Johannesburg - co-owned by local company BUA Africa - successfully completed its first shipment, delivering a total of 70,000 set-top boxes across South Africa". Shinn said that BUA Africa is not one of the 26 South African companies awarded the set-top box tender. Also, South Africa's STB tender further requires that 30 percent of the devices must be South African sourced.

The DoC said it engaged the services of the National Treasury's Fraud and Risk Unit to conduct an investigation into the procurement process. Meanwhile, USAASA CEO Zami Nkosi told Fin24 that BUA Africa was formerly known as South Africa's NAMEC Microtronix, one of the set-top box tender winners. He said his agency was not aware of the investigation, but was "not opposed to any form of scrutiny".
Source: Telecompaper 30 Ocotber 2015