Malawi Government To Subsidize Price Of Set Top Boxes

Malawi Government To Subsidize Price Of Set Top Boxes

Malawi launched a digital migration public awareness campaign this week in Lilongwe, with the government asking all broadcasters and stakeholders interested in venturing into the set-top box business to apply for licenses, according to a BizTechAfrica story by Gregory Gondwe.

June 17 is the global deadline for migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting.

The government of Malawi said Friday it will subsidize the price of digital TV decoders or set top boxes by almost 30 percent.

June 17 is the global deadline for migrating from analog to digital broadcasting.

In Malawi, set-top boxes cost $56, said Malawi’s Constitutional Affairs Minister Samuel Tembenu at the launch of a digital migration public awareness campaign in Lilongwe.

“For people to access the digital TV they will have to purchase (decoder. These) are
available for sale in all major post offices in the country at (US$56),” he said.

The gross national income per capita in Malawi in 2012 was $320, according to Unicef.

Malawi President Arthur Peter Mutharika said the price was prohibitive and
Malawians cannot afford it, which would deny them access to information which is a
fundamental human right for everyone.

Therefore the government will subsidize the price of set-top boxes and reduce the price to US$43.90, Tembenu said.

Creating awareness of digital broadcasting is an enormous task that requires collaborative effort between government and stakeholders in the broadcast industry including broadcasters, Tembenu said.

“There is little or no awareness among the citizens on digital broadcasting, a situation
which may result in people being not ready and willing to transition from analog to digital TV broadcasting and yet the migration deadline is fast approaching,” he said.

Malawi’s Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture intends to embark on an intensive nationwide public awareness campaign to make the public aware of how to migrate from analogue to digital TV broadcasting.

After June 17, 2015, Malawians will not only be able to have a better picture and sound quality but also have the opportunity to select local programs or TV stations of their choice without hassles, the minister said.

“In addition, the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting will enable Malawi to free up frequencies which could be allocated to other ICT services that will help stir our country to greater prosperity,” he said.

He asked all stakeholders including licensed broadcasters to partner with the government in creating public awareness on digital broadcasting.

He warned traders not take advantage of the migration process and customers’ low levels technical know-­how to dupe customers by selling them equipment that is not digital compliant.

“In the same breath, traders should ensure that Malawi does not turn into a dumping site for e-­waste,” he said.

He asked all broadcasters and stakeholders interested in venturing into the set-top box business to apply to government through the Ministry Information for set-top box business licenses.

Since the government commissioned the digital TV network in December, 2013, just nine out of 18 local TV channels are on the network.

“May I urge the remaining licensed TV broadcasters to avail their signals so that Malawians enjoy quality local programming,” Tembenu said.