South Africa’s state-owned signal distribution operator, Sentech, is searching for a new CEO, with incumbent Mlamli Booi’s contract coming to an end soon.
Speaking about his term, Booi said, “As in all state-owned entities, my contract was initially for five years. It was extended for another three years at the end of that term. I am leaving because those three years are now up.” Booi’s contract with Sentech ends on 31 October.
He will leave behind a significant fight with the SABC over signal transmission fees. It’s a battle that his successor will almost certainly have to settle.
The SABC lodged formal complaints against Sentech with the communications regulator Icasa and the Competition Commission. It voiced significant unhappiness about the company’s “prohibitive fees”, which it said it “could not afford any more”.
“The relevant authorities are handling the matter, which is still ongoing,” said Booi. Icasa is pursuing a market inquiry into signal distribution and Sentech’s alleged “anticompetitive behaviour”.
The SABC is Sentech’s biggest client by far. Should the public broadcaster succeed in getting the Competition Commission to slash the rates it pays, Sentech’s bottom line would suffer substantially.
Booi said that in his time at the helm, Sentech has been stabilised. “I leave the organisation in great hands and in good shape to face the future of ICT, which includes streaming, data centres and broadband in general,” said Booi.
Another matter still hanging in the air is digital migration. All broadcasters were supposed to vacate specific frequencies by 1 November 2011. The process has been riddled with perennial delays; however, a significant milestone was achieved earlier this year when broadcasters exited the “digital dividend” bands, freeing them up for mobile operators.
“We have done well in the digital migration as per the minister’s objective, and going forward, Sentech should be ready to help meet the deadline of 31 December 2024 to complete digital migration,” Booi said.
He did not reveal his plans after Sentech, saying only: “I still have to think about that.”