Simataa pleads for NBC lifeline from industry giants

Minister of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) Stanley Simataa pleaded with industry giants to throw a lifeline to financially struggling Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) who in view of unsustainable operational expenses implemented austerity measures.

During the opening of the National ICT Summit on Monday, Simataa while speaking on good faith and delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Vice President Nangolo Mbumba suggested that the ICT industry should bailout NBC in the form of public-private partnerships.

If your circumstances permits, do you not think that it would be a good idea and possible for us, colleagues, to put resources together so that we can acquire relevant technologies in this digital space in the form of public-private partnerships. I am sure we can, Simataa pleaded.

NBC's Board Chairperson Sven Thieme announced early in September the implementation of austerity measures which includes a reduction in broadcasting hours to 07h00 to 21h00, the frequency of English Television News Bulletins to only run once per day at 20h00 and no live broadcasts along with the National Assembly and National Council sessions will take place, unless paid for.

Simataa added that the NBC's dire financial situation could lead to life-threatening scenarios such as over the weekend where he witnessed camera men on self-built unsteady stages to record a political event from a high angle.

So colleagues, if we can and if you feel you want to assist this crusade of us to drive the digital agenda; can you assist your public broadcaster so that we get the technology so that they have no need to struggle, Simataa added.

This is not the first time that Simataa has gone out of his way asking for the capitalisation of the near-bankrupt state broadcaster.

In April, Simataa implored for the national broadcaster's grossly inadequate budget allocation in the National Assembly and said it would halt NBC from carrying out its mandate.

This amount is only adequate to allow the corporation to conduct its operation between now and maybe the middle of the year, beyond that we will be looking into the heavens, Simataa emphasised.

NBC's annual subsidy from its shareholder, the government, has reduced from N.dollars 237 million in 2014/2015 financial year to N.dollars 140 million under the 2019/2020 financial year.

The three-day summit which started on Monday is held under the theme 'accelerating digital transformation'.

It is a platform where industry experts, scholars, entrepreneurs and institutions meet to showcasing innovative projects, network and form partnerships.

The summit attracted the likes of Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC), MTN Namibia, Telecom, Huawei, Multichoice Namibia and Schoemans Group among others.

Source: Namibia Press Agency