Altech opens world class factory for the manufacture of digital set-top boxes Africas first high-tech global facility with the capacity to manufacture more than three million television set-top boxes per annum was opened in Durban by Minister of Communications Roy Padayachie today.
Altech UEC, a leading developer of digital technology for the international pay-TV industry, consolidated six buildings on two sites into a single, 13 500m2 state-of-the-art factory at Mount Edgecombe to boost innovation in information and communications technology (ICT) and heighten South Africas global competitiveness as it moves to migrate to digital terrestrial television (DTT).
With demand for digital set-top boxes (STBs) in South Africa expected to reach more than nine million as the country migrates to DTT, with a further 30 million required for the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, Altech CEO Craig Venter said the new factory would drive growth and job creation in line with President Zumas economic development targets.
Our investment in this facility is in direct support of government policy. Not only are we employing people in the factory, but services such as packaging, delivery and installation will create tens of thousands of small business opportunities in the years to come.
In the process, people will acquire new skills, equipping them for the next wave of ICT innovation and development. The cycle of advancement and wealth creation is potentially endless.
Venter said crucial to South Africas Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy was the creation of millions of new jobs country-wide by advancing the local electronics manufacturing sector.
Digital migration creates an opportunity to build a globally competitive export sector that is an objective of the Industrial Policy Action Plan.
The economic spin-offs are destined to be huge – from technical support to retailing – while the increased demand for broadcast content, especially regional-based programming, will create more jobs for local content producers and their supply chains.
New jobs will be created all down the delivery chain, while millions will be able to benefit from better education and communication through new electronic means, said Venter.
Describing the new building as a story factory, Venter said: The boxes we manufacture here deliver stories to peoples homes. The new generation STBs will enable millions of people in South Africa, Africa and across the world to access digital television – a medium through which they will discover the world around them in all its richness, diversity and endless possibility.
Venter said ICT innovation, driven by intellectual property, was a cornerstone of global competitiveness. There was a need to resuscitate local research and development and while a South African silicon valley might be far-fetched, poverty could only be eradicated by economic growth which depended on competitiveness, he said.
In a world where everybody has access to the same technological tools, competitiveness depends on how the technology is applied to harness information and create new knowledge. People and countries who can meet these demands are the ones who succeed.
Venter appealed to government to provide an enabling environment to encourage entrepreneurship with a focus on ICT innovation as this was the only way to resuscitate local research and development Venter thanked Minister Padayachie for the quality and quantity of interaction between the Department Communications and the ICT industry and urged him to continue on this path. Collaboration between government and industry stakeholders is a must in order for South Africa to reach its job creation and economic growth goals.
Venter said the migration to DTT was taking place within the bigger context of growth in the ICT industry in general.
Apart from its factories, sales people, products and services, the cornerstone of Altechs support for both DTT migration and the industry, was skills development and the encouragement of people to spread their wings.
For South Africa to be globally competitive, we need more than the infrastructure we already have or are planning to build.
We need a strong core of highly skilled professionals in science, engineering and technology. We need to demystify mathematics and science and take it into the mainstream so that everyone can participate in it on an equal basis.
To this end, Altech UEC recently opened the multi-million Rand KwaMashu Multi-Media Centre for Learning in KwaZulu-Natal to help children from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to master mathematics, science, English and essential life skills.
Commenting on the new Altech UEC factory, Altech UEC CEO, Peter Balchin had the following to say: The building of the factory is not only to gear up for the anticipated demand for locally produced STBs, but also as part of a wider strategy to enable Altech UEC to extend its manufacturing capabilities and remain a world class digital media manufacturing operation.
Aligned to this is the fact that Altech UEC is in the process of evolving into a multi-media global business as the industry matures and converges between broadcast and broadband media delivery.Notes to Editors:
About Altech UEC
Altech UEC, part of the Altech Group, is a leading developer of digital technology for the international pay-TV industry. It designs, develops, supplies and supports integrated solutions where specialised hardware is supported by innovative software solutions and global logistical support services. The company has a global footprint with technical development and support centres in South Africa, India, China and Australia and sales support offices in South Africa, Australia, India, Europe and the Middle East.
Altech UEC is known as one of the most technologically competent businesses in the industry. It is consistently first to market with innovative products incorporating the very latest technologies. Some of its world firsts include:
The first DVB-compliant set-top box ever produced;
The first STB incorporating open TV middleware; and
The first NDS XTV PVR to be deployed.
With over 15 years of experience in middleware and conditional access integration, Open TV, NDS Core, MHEG and IDWay middleware solutions are readily available. All products support industry leading conditional access solutions such as NDS, Irdeto, Nagravision and Conax. Altech UECs comprehensive product portfolio incorporates satellite, terrestrial, cable and IP transmission modes and spans the range from entry-level devices to high-end hybrid solutions.
About Allied Technologies Limited
Allied Technologies Limited (Altech) is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The company focuses on the Telecommunications, Multi-media and Information Technology (TMT) industries and employs more than 3 580 employees in South Africa and abroad.
As a leading South African multi-billion rand group, Altech is involved in the design, development and convergence of Telecommunications, Multi-media systems and IT solutions.
For further information please contact:
Chief Executive Officer: Altech
Tel: +27 11 715 9004
Cell: +27 83 236 8000
Shenanda Janse van Rensburg
Group Executive: Marketing, PR & Communications – Altech Head Office
Tel: +27 11 715 9031
Mobile: +27 84 777 1977
JSE code: ALT