Zambia can’t meet digital migration deadline

By Edith Mwale, Lusaka, Zambia

The Zambian government has finally told lawmakers that it has failed to beat the December 2013 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) deadline on digital migration.

The Zambian government cites financial challenges as one obstacle that has made it impossible to beat the deadline.  Instead, Amos Malupenga, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting the country said the country will only be able to meet the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) deadline of June 2015.

Malupenga has told the parliamentary committee on Information and Broadcasting which was looking at the country’s preparedness to switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting together with other SADC countries that Zambia will not be able to migrate this year.

Zambia has not even announced a successful bidder to carry out the migration exercise.

The Zambian government has all along been promising that it would migrate by December this year in order to meet the SADC deadline.

The Permanent Secretary however noted that the failure to fully migrate from analogue to digital this year has no negative repercussions on consumers as the two systems as, analogue and digital, will run side by side up to 2015 which is the deadline for the whole world to switch over.

 Malupenga disclosed that this year, “government has allocated KR25 million for the digital migration processes which will include the upgrading of transmitters and other relevant infrastructure throughout the country”.

 Malupenga further said,” once the process was done, even remote areas where there was currently no radio and television signals, would be covered because of new technologies that will come along with the switchover.”

But Mbabala Member of Parliament (MP) Ephraim Belemu observed that members of the public, including some MPs and members of the taskforce on digital migration, had little knowledge on system.

He said the media and some members of the taskforce were not doing enough to enlighten the public on the switchover.

According to the SADC roadmap for digital broadcasting migration, all member countries were supposed to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting on December 31, 2013.

But according to the International Telecommunications Union, an agency of the UN spearheading communications technology development in the world, the analogue signal will be switched off in June 2015, a deadline the Zambian government has pledged to meet without fail.

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