The National Association of Manufacturers in Electronics Components (Namec) will hold an urgent meeting this week to decide how best to contest cabinet’s decision that SA will use the European standard for digital terrestrial television.
On Friday, communications minister Roy Padayachie announced that cabinet ratified an upgraded version of the European standard, choosing it over a Japanese system used in Brazil, and ending a year of uncertainty.
Namec, supported by several mining unions, is an advocate of the Japanese-Brazilian standard. It has hit back at cabinet’s decision, saying the choice will “perpetuate white domination and stifle government’s economic development plans”.
Association chairman Keith Thabo says its members are “especially hurt that this decision portrays us as a nation trapped in perpetual colonialisation”.
Namec members hoped to benefit from the development and manufacturing of decoders — or set-top boxes — that will be needed to view digital TV. Almost 10m decoders will be built for the local market, with further demand to come from other African nations.
Namec’s concern is that the European standard will only serve to entrench existing manufacturers.
“The electronic manufacturing industry is traditionally dominated by whites and foreign-owned companies, which do not have the development interests of the country at heart,” says Thabo.
“Therefore, the manufacturing strategy must allow the government to level the playing field and allow the development of indigenous technologies that will free the country from neo-colonialism,” says Thabo.
The association’s concerns come despite reassurances from the department of communications that locally developed manufacturers will be included in the digital migration process.
Padayachie affirmed this stance on Friday, saying: “Having noted some concerns raised by certain organisations within the electronics manufacturing sector, we will strive to ensure that we work with everyone involved in this process.”
The department also has a manufacturing strategy in the pipeline, which aims to boost research and development, as well as the growth of local black-owned manufacturers.
The department of communications has promised to have a revised version of the strategy out by March this year. — Staff reporter, TechCentral