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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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!
Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER
From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.
Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:
LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home
LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine, debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules, a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation.
Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.
The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft
Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now:
- Hoppy American IPA
- Golden American Pale Ale
- Full-bodied English Stout
- Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
- Dry Czech Pilsner
The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.
“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”
Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.
CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary
At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.
Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.
Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.
“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”
Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops