Mpinganjira upbeat about Malawi digital television migration, warns on e-waste

Minister of Information and Civic Education Brown Mpinganjira has appealed for measures that would protect the country from becoming an e-waste dumping ground as the country switches by December this year.

“Consumers need to be adequately educated on the kind of gadgets they can buy as they switch to the digital platform, as such there is a need to devise means that would protect the country from the influx of substandard devices,” Mpinganjira said when he launched the Malawi Digital Broadcasting Communication Strategy in Blantyre on Wednesday.

“I wish to appeal to retailers (prospective) of Television receiving equipments to provide adequate consumer education and ensure that they acquire the right gear to carry the digital signal,” he said.

Mpinganjira called for collaborative efforts among all stakeholders including the country’s tax collector, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and the Malawi Bureau of Standards to safeguard the set standards of digital broadcasting equipments among them Set Top Boxes (STBs) to ensure that Malawians do not get a raw deal from sellers.

Mpinganjira: Upbeat
Mpinganjira: Upbeat

He underscored the need for public awareness that would prepare the public and other stakeholders for the migration.

“As people grow into decision makers, it becomes a little difficult for them to accept change. Things that appear to be straightforward do not appear as such to them hence the need for sensitisation.

“People need to accept, embrace, support and adopt the digital television switch ahead of us and with enough education on the mater we should be able to carry them along into the digital world,” noted Mpinganjira.

He said the newly launched Digital Broadcasting Communication Strategy will spearhead the sensitisation of stakeholders and the general public to ensure a smooth migration that will be in line with the Malawi Digital Broadcasting Policy that was launched a few weeks ago.

In his remarks secretary for Information and Civic Education Luckie Sikwese said with the National Access to Information Policy and the newly launched Digital Broadcasting Policy on place citizens will be accorded full rights to public information for their own development and that of the country at large.

As the country prepared to switch to digital television broadcasting by the Southern Africa Development Community set date of December 31 only Luso Television has so far availed its signal to the national distributor for testing, according to Digital Migration Coordinator Dennis Chirwa who added that Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Television (MBCTv) and Luntha Television will follow suit before the switch over date.

Digital TV set top boxes

Set Top Boxes (STBs), electronic gadgets that convert digital signal into analogue are therefore expected to hit the market soon.

Most Malawians own analogue television sets which, without the digital converters, will not be able to receive the digital signal when the country migrates to Digital Tele-Stereo Television broadcasting.

Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) Director General, Charles Nsaliwa says: “We have arranged that the STBs should go on the market any time soon in all the country’s regions for access to all people who would like to make a switchover and to watch the test transmissions commencing December 31.

“Malawians do not need to buy new TV sets to receive the digital signal but with the STBs, they should be able to turn the signal to analogue and make it suitable for the analogue TV sets.”

Contrary to fears some people that the STBs will be too expensive to purchase, Nsaliwa says the gadgets will be sold at an affordable price to allow Malawians access them. He could not however, say how much they would cost at the counter.

Earlier indications by the Digital Migration Committee comprising various stakeholders including officials from the Information and Civic Education Ministry and Macra were that government would subsidize the conversion gadgets so that they are affordable.

“As a regulator, Macra will ensure that the STBs that will be on sale once the country goes digital will be certified so that Malawians are protected from unscrupulous traders,” said Nsaliwa.

He said when Malawi migrates to digital television, Malawians should expect a crystal clear TV picture, improved sound and coverage.

The director general said as a regulator, Macra will make sure that only standardized digital converters with particular specifications go on the market adding that his institution has already arranged with the Malawi Revenue Authority to be checking whether the imported STBs meet the set parameters.

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