The names of 26 bidding organisations that have each won a piece of South Africa’s R4.3bn set-top box tender have finally been revealed by the state agency tasked with the project, writes GARETH VAN ZYL.
Last week, the Business Day newspaper reported that all bidders for the set-top box tender had each won a slice of the deal.
However, the Universal Services and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) did not make an official announcement about the tender, and it did not respond to calls from Fin24 last week for comment.
Concerns over a lack of communication about the deal have also been raised by the Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister for Posts and Telecoms, Marian Shinn. The multi-billion rand tender is intended to subsidise set-top boxes to five million poorer households. Set-top boxes are the devices needed to decode digital signals for analogue television sets as part of South Africa’s broadcast migration.
Zane Mheyamwa – who heads up financial services at USAASA – eventually provided Fin24 with a list of 26 companies that have won the tender
“I can confirm all the bidders; they received an award letter; they received a negotiation letter,” Mheyamwa told Fin24.
The winning bidders:
NAMEC (National Association of Manufacturers in Electronic Components)
NAMEC Western Cape
“The agency is in the process of negotiating with the various suppliers and they have indicated various lead times from four weeks to 32 weeks,” Mhenyamwa told Fin24.
“The list has been put on our website. We will be publishing this in the newspapers this coming week,” he added.
Apart from being divided into different stages of the manufacture process, a USAASA presentation slide document indicates that all the winning bidders are subject to valid South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) test certificates.
Meanwhile, the slide also indicates that the process is further “subject to negotiations on commercial; technical; and transformation objectives”.
Mheyamwa further told Fin24 that bigger companies could take on larger slices of the tender deal, but he added that discussions on this are still underway.
USAASA reports to the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services despite the Department of Communications being tasked with driving South Africa’s digital migration process.
At a briefing in Parliament earlier this week, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele told Fin24 that he expected to see an inclusive approach regarding the set-top box tender.
“We would still like to encourage that. It’s an issue of inclusion; it doesn’t mean that if I’m a small company and I’m competing against a giant, the giant must take the whole share,” Cwele told Fin24.
The DA’s Marian Shinn has raised a number of concerns about the way in which the tender process has been carried out.
“It (the tender) was never intended to go to only a few as it was intended to grow entrepreneurship among emerging companies and I buy into that – but it must be unprecedented that all those who submitted bids were awarded a share of the pie,” Shinn told Fin24.
“We need an explanation of why the tender was awarded this way. It hints at a political compromise to ensure that there are no legal challenges from losing bidders in order to get the boxes out and get the transition done. This may be valid but I suspect there are some
cronies as passengers on the list,” she said.
Shinn has also raised questions about the time-frame of the project as she said it’s unclear as to what volumes are being asked for and how long the devices could then take to manufacture.
Other issues such as the technical specifications for the Direct To Home (DTH) or satellite boxes have not yet been approved and gazetted yet, said Shinn.
Specifications for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) boxes, though, have been established. DTH boxes are expected to be handed out to outlying areas in South Africa in one of the first waves of the project.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has set June 17 as the deadline for digital migration. Experts, though, have said South Africa is unlikely to meet the deadline after years of delays with the country digital migration process.
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AppDate: Reserve Bank to choose fintech winner
This week, SEAN BACHER highlights the Global Fintech Hackcelerator, Fortnite’s skin for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Standard Bank and iiDENTIFii’s partnership, WRAPP and Zulzi’s latest expansion.
SARB to choose Global Fintech Hackcelerator winner
The South African Reserve Bank will host a Fintech Demo Day on 29 October 2019 to select two winners from 12 innovative and sustainable fintech solutions shortlisted for the Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa.
In August, SARB joined forces with KPMG Matchi to run the 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa, an acceleration programme that creates a platform for fintech firms to demonstrate their innovative solutions to complex financial challenges in the Southern African region. Fintech firms from all over the world were invited to submit an application in response to problem statements constructed in collaboration with SARB.
The regional hackcelerator received 95 entries from interested fintech firms located across the globe. The 12 shortlisted respondents will showcase their solutions at the Fintech Demo Day at the end of this month in Johannesburg.
Each Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa 2019 winner will receive the following:
- A stipend towards travel expenses to attend the 2019 Singapore Fintech Festival
- An opportunity to pitch their solution live during the Hackcelerator Demo Day at the 2019 Singapore Fintech Festival and engage with industry experts
- Funding to develop a contextualised proof of concept, to be deployed within a year from the demo day
- An opportunity to work with high-value corporates to contextualise a solution to their needs, while obtaining market entry into the Singapore and Asia-Pacific region.
The top three winners at the Singapore Fintech Festival will each receive a cash prize.
For more information on the Global Fintech Hackcelerator click here.
Click here to read about a Fortnite exclusive for Samsung Galaxy Note 10 users, and Standard Bank’s new way of identifying its customers.
PC market grows again
Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs, comprised of desktops, notebooks, and workstations, reached 70.4 million units in the third quarter of 2019 (3Q19), according to preliminary results from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker. Demand in the commercial segment combined with trade tensions between the United States and China to drive the market forward, resulting in a second consecutive quarter of growth with shipments increasing by 3% over the third quarter of 2018.
Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, says: “With higher tariffs on the horizon PC makers once again began to push additional inventory during the quarter though the process was a bit more difficult as many faced supply constraints from Intel, leaving AMD with more room to grow. The trade tensions are also leading to changes in the supply chain as most notebook manufacturers are now prepared to move production to other countries in Asia, such as Taiwan and Vietnam.”
“Commercial demand should accelerate as enterprises work through the remainder of their Windows 10 migration,” says Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices & Displays. “The number of months until the end of service (EOS) date of Windows 7 can be counted on one hand. With January 14, 2020 drawing nigh, the commercial market should be able to digest the extra inventory over the next several quarters. Supply constraints may loom in subsequent quarters, so excess may not be a bad position for channel inventory through the remainder of the year.”
Traditional PC shipments in Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) posted a year-over-year decline but the market performed above expectations. Back-to-school demand drove the consumer market in China, while online sales and preparations for the Diwali festive season supported consumer shipments in India, as two of the largest countries in the region surpassed the previous forecast. Meanwhile, the commercial market in China recorded a decline in line with expectations, impacted by macroeconomic pressures.
Coming in slightly above forecast, the Canadian traditional PC market delivered its 13th consecutive quarter of growth. The market is becoming increasingly solidified as the top 5 vendors now capture more than 85% of all shipments.
In Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the traditional PC market achieved stable growth in 3Q19 with both desktops and notebooks performing relatively well. A strong pipeline of deals ahead of the ongoing Windows 10 transition continued to translate into commercial strength, offsetting the softness in the consumer market and the overall negative impact of the component shortage.
In Japan, both the commercial and consumer markets largely outperformed forecast, driven by Windows 10 migration and the consumption tax increase respectively. Commercial shipments established a new third quarter record beating the mark set in 2013 when Windows XP EOS created similar momentum in the commercial PC market.
The traditional PC market in Latin America was very much in line with previous expectations of a 4.1% year-over-year decline. During this period desktop shipments were better than expected mainly due to the large enterprise segment and verticals such as banking, retail, and manufacturing. Notebook shipments also declined during the quarter due to a weak consumer market and delays in some education deals.
The United States saw low single-digit growth in the third quarter with both desktop and notebooks seeing continued year-over-year growth. Inventory pull-in continued to be supported by Windows 7 EOS and continued tensions in the trade war. As most List 4 tariffs have been delayed until the end of the year, inventory pull-in overall was slightly weaker compared to the previous quarter. According to a recent survey among IT decision makers in the USA, more than 60% of businesses have transitioned their Windows-deployed PCs from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Another 13% plan to do so by the Windows EOS date in January 2020.