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Social development dept readies OTT platform

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 10 Jul 2023
Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu.
Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) has taken a page out of state-run entity Sentech’s book and plans to come out with its own over-the-top (OTT) platform.

This information came to light in a Parliamentary response to Democratic Alliance MP Alexandra Lilian Amelia Abrahams’s question about the department-planned platform.

The DSD is charged with providing social development and welfare services to the South African public, including child support, old age and disability grants, through its entity the South African Social Security Agency.

Responding to the MP’s questions, the social development ministry says the platform, named DSDTV, is due to launch in the second quarter of the current government financial year, which is from July to September.

The department reveals it cost R81 250 a month to set up, load information, design and maintain the platform. However, the DSD did not divulge how long it has taken to set it up.

Once officially launched, DSDTV will be accessible to the public online, it says. “This online platform is commonly known as an over-the-top (OTT) platform − a media service in which streaming of content is offered directly to viewers via the internet with no support of cable, broadcast and satellite television platforms.”

The DSD notes the platform will be in pilot phase for 12 months, after which it will be evaluated before a final decision is taken on the way forward.

The department says during the pilot, it will explore ways of monetising and zero-rating the platform to cut down on data costs for the public.

Furthermore, the platform’s content will focus on all areas of the DSD portfolio, which will be sourced directly from interventions and programmes, and overseen by the chief directorate of communications, it states.

“The OTT platform provides government with an invaluable opportunity to talk directly to its beneficiaries at a reduced cost. It also creates internal capacity and skills to produce DSD portfolio-related content.”