Sentech seeks new CEO as Mlami Booi to step down

Sentech, South Africa’s state-owned signal distribution operator, is in search of a new CEO, with incumbent Mlami Booi’s contract coming to an end soon.

“As in all state-owned entities, my contract was initially for five years. At the end of that term, it was extended for another three years. I am leaving because those three years are now up,” Booi told TechCentral on Monday.

Booi’s contract with Sentech ends on 31 October.

He will leave behind a significant dispute with the SABC over signal transmission fees. It’s a fight that is likely to have to be resolved by his successor.

The SABC lodged formal complaints against Sentech with both communications regulator Icasa and the Competition Commission in which it voiced significant unhappiness about the company’s “prohibitive fees”, which it said it “could not afford anymore”.

“The matter is being handled by the relevant authorities and it is still ongoing, so I cannot comment on it,” said Booi on Monday. 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.

Sentech cost pressures

According to Booi, the organisation is already facing cost pressures due to load shedding. “A lot of sites have had to run on backup power and that has had a significant impact on profitability.”

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. Initially, all broadcasters were supposed to vacate certain frequencies by 1 November 2011. The process has been riddled with perennial delays; however, a significant milestone was achieved earlier this year when broadcasters vacated the “digital dividend” bands, freeing them up for mobile operators.

We cannot afford your services anymore, SABC tells Sentech

“We have done well in terms of the digital migration as per the minister’s objective, and going forward Sentech should be ready to help to meet the deadline of 31 December 2024 [to complete digital migration],” Booi said.

He did not reveal his future plans after Sentech, saying only: “I still have to think about that.”

He added: “We have had a clean audit for the past six years, and I leave with a clean audit, which is something that is not easy to achieve in the public sector.”  — (c) 2023 NewsCentral Media

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