Malawi ready to join 4 SADC countries in Digital Migration
By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi
The Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has said Malawi is ready to join four other countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) in switching from analogue to digital broadcasting by December this year.
Macra Director General, Charles Nsaliwa said during a meeting called to brief broadcasters on the progress of the project in Lilongwe that the switch in December will make Malawi join countries like Tanzania, South Africa and Mauritius who have so far embraced the technology.
However, he declined to name the company which will sell the set-top boxes, also known as digital receivers, as well as how much has been spent so far in the project.
“I would not be able to mention the cost now because we are doing it in phases,” Nsaliwa said. “Until we finish the whole process we cannot determine the actual cost.”
The meeting learnt that the government plans to set up a company that will supply the devises that will be sold on commercial price.
Nsaliwa reiterated during the meeting that digital migration will improve quality and quantity of broadcasting technology in the country as one frequency will be able to host as many as 20 television channels unlike analogue which is only able to host one channel per frequency.
Nsaliwa said the migration roll out has delayed as it is trying to give time to some new television stations which are expected to move with the demand so that they are part of the roll out come December.
He also said the first phase will start with the four cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu and Zomba and will cover 55 percent coverage.
The second phase will involve the rolling out to other towns and rural areas.
The Coordinator of the digital migration committee in the Ministry of Information and civic education, Denis Chirwa, said the government will facilitate the rolling out of more local television broadcasters in order to have more of the local content once the migration is done.
He said the government wants to have a number of local channels for local content.
“The government will be issuing more licenses to ensure availability of more local channels,” he said.