Malawi is on course to archiving the Southern Africa Development Community’s (SADC) 2013 and the International Telecoms Union’s 2015 deadline to implementing digital broadcasting, officials say.
Ministry of Information director Isaac Cheke Ziba who recently headed a team to the fourth SADC Digital Broadcasting Migration forum in Mozambique told Nyasa Times that prospects are high that come January 31, 2013 Malawi will have implemented the migration though the road to the clouded with challenges including financial constraints.
Ziba’s remarks come at a time when the country’s electronic media regulator, Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) recently awarded 15 radio and television licenses to prospective business players and religious organizations.
Critics and other communication commentators have expressed doubts on whether the country will meet the 2015 target arguing the country is moving slowly despite her focus on the SADC cut off point.
The information director expressed optimism that despite moving gradually, the nation will greatly benefit as it will join advanced countries that are ripping the fruits of digital migration.
“Malawi is getting set to switch-on to digital broadcasting by no later than 31st January 2013, holding all variables equal,” said Ziba, adding that “some of our (Malawi) television broadcasting come end January 2013 will be on the digital equipment.”
Ziba who acknowledged the project facing financial handles with government as a sole bankroller, however said that finances alone should not be an excuse as the project benefits outweigh the challenges.
“Government is momentarily, funding the project. In addition, we are setting the right policy and legal framework and utilizing the available human capacity to the best, efficient and most effective manner possible,” said Ziba.
He disclosed that a steering committee on digital migration which has been sub -divided into different sub-committees that including content, technical, communications, legal, economics and policy makers have been established to ensure the project meets the January dateline.
According to Ziba, government is in the process of formulating a cabinet paper on digital migration which will pave way for the adoption of the digital broadcasting policy document.
At the just ended fourth SADC Digital Broadcasting Migration forum in Mozambique countries within the block were asked to up their multi stakeholder engagements and collaboration to meet the deadline.
Mozambique minister of Transport and communication Paulo Zucula observed that while alot of work has been done on the ground, other member states are lagging behind to meeting the 2013 SADC deadline.
“It is important for all member states to enhance their preparations and collaborate with their counterparts and other stakeholders so that the transition process is completed in time,” advised Zucula.
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