‘Lesotho digital migration on course’



Motsamai Mokotjo

THE Ministry of Communications’ Broadcasting Director-General (DG) Dada Moqasa says 80 percent of the work in converting the analogue broadcasting signal to digital had been done.

Mr Moqasa told the Lesotho Times this week that the only major work that remained was the installation of a transmitter at Thaba Mokehele in Mohale’s Hoek.

“I can say that 80 percent of the job has been done, and only Thaba Mokehele in Mohale’s Hoek is yet to be completed as they are awaiting a licence to access electricity from the Lesotho Electricity Corporation,” he said.

To complete the project at Thaba Mokehele, Mr Moqasa said they would also need to construct a road network since the area is not easily accessible.

“We have been given a quotation of M4 million for the construction of a road from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport,” he said.

“However, we have asked the District Council Secretariat in Mohale’s Hoek to pitch in since a lot of money is required for the project and they said they would help us.”

Mr Moqasa said the Ministry of Energy had already undertaken to electrify the transmitter at the Qholaqhoe Mountains in Butha Buthe.

Digital migration involves shifting broadcasters from analogue to digital signals, and the process is key for opening up more frequencies and faster mobile broadband services. The digital technology affords countries such as Lesotho, with a frequency spectrum for only one channel under analogue, to accommodate 20 television channels.

It also brings about better quality sound and pictures as well as catering for the hearing impaired through subtitles.

Mr Moqasa said the Set-Top-Box assembly plant that was earmarked for Maputsoe would no longer materialise due to “economies of scale”, adding that the Set-Top-Boxes decoders would now be imported. The Set-Top-Boxes decoders convert the analogue signal to digital eliminating the need to buy a new television set to receive digital broadcasting services.

“The Ministry, together with the LNDC (Lesotho National Development Corporation) assessed the economies of scale and realised that it would not be sustainable to establish a Set-Top-Box assembly plant,” he said.

“In three weeks’ time, government will purchase the first batch of 3 000 decoders that would be made available for sale at local post offices.”

Asked when the switch from analogue to digital would take place, Mr Moqasa said Lesotho would have to wait for South Africa, which is still behind, to also complete the process to prevent signal clashes between analogue and digital.

“As a country, we need to wait a bit for South Africa to get its house in order before we fully migrate from analogue to digital as per the agreement between the two countries,” he said.

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