Speech by the Honourable Minister Radhakrishna L Padayachie on the opening of the low-power broadcasting stations and launch of the broadband project at Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal
13 May 2011
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal
Amakhosi ase Msinga,
Municipal Mayor and Councillors
SABC Board Chairperson and other members
ICT Industry Executives
Senior Management and staff of my department
Ladies and gentlemen
Today is a special day in the history of the area of Msinga. I say this because we are here at this ceremony to celebrate an important milestone in the development path of the area of Msinga. We are here because our government has realised that our people living in rural areas deserve a better life like those living in the urban areas.
I also recognise that just two days ago, the President of the Republic, cde Jacob Zuma was here with you, bringing his commitment that our government is serious about rural development. I am particularly excited because as from today, you the community of Msinga, will be able to receive television and radio signals for you to enjoySouth African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Television services.
We are here to bring you technology that will improve your lives because you will from now on be able to watch television news and entertainment as well as receive information that is important for the improvement of your own livelihood. We also know that radio is an important instrument in the nation’s livelihood, so we have found it necessary to bring these services to you, the people of Msinga.
The newly installed low power transmitters, which we are switching on today, will extend television and radio broadcast services to the community of Msinga. Through the work of the SABC, working together with Sentech and Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the transmitters have been successfully installed at Keate’s Drift, Tugela Ferry and Msinga Top.
We are doing this believing in our conviction and commitment to make technology available to the people in the service of the people. By doing this, we are improving the lives of our people for the better. We are also addressing one of our important commitments, which is to ensure universal access to Information and Communication Technology, including broadcasting services for communities in languages relevant to them.
As from today the community of Msinga, you will be able to receive the SABC 1, 2, 3 television services as well as your favourable radio uKhozi FM and others. This low power transmitter initiative by the SABC and facilitated by the Department of Communications, is in keeping with government’s vision of ensuring that all our communities have access to television programming that informs, content that educates as well programming that is entertaining, contributing to the building of our non-racial, democratic society.
These broadcasts will further provide information on government programs geared for social upliftment and poverty alleviation. We are pleased that the people of Msinga who have until now had no access to television and radio broadcast, will from today be able to join our fellow South Africans in accessing these important media channels.
We are hoping that by September this year, the entire Msinga local municipality will be capable of receiving these broadcasts.
In addition, Sentech, the government owned broadcast signal carrier, has committed to install and commission, within three years, more than 300 low power transmitters in areas with no television and radio broadcasts services. This is the target we shall reach because we also believe that access to information is a Constitutional Right of all citizens.
The people of Msinga like many others deserve to be informed of what is happening nationally and internationally so as to actively participate in the democratic process of nation building and social cohesion.
Our work in rural areas is also in line with the International Telecommunications Union’s theme for the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day for this year which is “Better life in rural communities with information and communication technology (ICTs)”.
The world has embarked on a technological revolution in the television broadcasting landscape, which is the change from analogue to digital broadcasting. This migration will provide us with an opportunity to have additional radio frequency capacity, which we will be able to use to provide other ICT services to meet other developmental needs. The current analogue television broadcast will be replaced by digital broadcasting signals. This means that more television channels will become available from the SABC and additional value-add services will be provided for.
The conversion to digital television cannot happen overnight. Therefore we are embarking on a process called digital migration. This means that for a period of time both analogue and digital signals that carry the same television programs will be broadcast simultaneously. At the end of the digital migration period, the analogue signal will be switched off and we will be in the digital age of broadcasting. The switch over from analogue to digital television is expected to occur at the end of 2013.
In order to facilitate the smooth transition from analogue to digital TV broadcasts, the Department of Communications is establishing a structure with sufficient professional capacity in order to manage and prepare for this process.
Additional to the expansion of radio and TV coverage in this area, we have identified Msinga as a pilot site for a broadband connectivity project, as part of bringing development and critical access to resources to the rural areas. The deployment of a high speed communications infrastructure network in Msinga is underway and I have been told that in areas such as Tugela Ferry, the network is ready and will be operational as from today. A budget of R400 million has been set aside for this initiative.
Broadband coverage of the whole of Msinga is expected to be completed by March next year (2012). It is for this reason that we have chosen this day to launch these important projects here in Msinga giving testimony to the fact that technology can improve the lives of rural people.
The benefits of broadband services have been proven in many countries around the globe and it is clear that the transformative power of access to information can be of benefit to the citizens of our country as whole. This is about helping people to communicate and access information locally and everywhere at any time.
I am also pleased to inform you that from Monday this week, we have launched cyberlabs in schools in Nongoma, in Ndwedwe, and yesterday in Impendle where we launched an Information and communication technology Kiosk as part of our strategy to bring the digital skills revolution to rual communities and bring about a better life for all the learners. We are particularly proud that our work is benefiting schools and learners who are living in rural areas as well as the communities where they are.
For this we wish to thank our State Owned Entities, SABC, Sentech, Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) and ICASA, as well as our development partners working in Msinga for ensuring that our projects are the successes that they are.
I wish to thank the Department of Communications, as well as the ICT Sector industries present for your support in attending this event and making it a success. I would like to thank everyone who worked to make it possible for you to be able to receive radio and television broadcasts as from today, particularly the SABC???
It now gives me great pleasure to officially open the Msinga broadcasting transmitter stations brought to you by the SABC and signal transmitted by Sentech. May you all enjoy the programming and benefit from these broadcasting facilities.
Issued by: Department of Communications
13 May 2011
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