Govt needs $1,8m to kick-start digitisation

Source: Govt needs $1,8m to kick-start digitisation | The Herald August 5, 2016

Bulawayo Bureau

Government is looking to raise $1,8 million to acquire the first batch of about 450 000 set-top-boxes to kick start the digitisation programme. Set-top-boxes are used in the migration from analogue to digital television transmission. In an interview at Gokwe-Sengwa transmission site in Gokwe North where he was assessing progress made at the site, Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Mr George Charamba said financial challenges were affecting the digitalisation programme.“We need about $1,8 million to get over 450 000 set-top-boxes. That will be the first batch for the 450 000 homes. We are also facing challenges in paying for services which have been rendered to us. But, the Ministry of Finance, Parliament are seized with the matter,” he said.

Mr Charamba said he was not happy with progress in the Midlands.

“Midlands as a whole is not moving as we would expect. At this site, there isn’t much progress and worse, officials from the Zambian company that won the tender are in the country sorting out immigration issues. They are still to complete the structure,” Mr Charamba said.

He added: “This goes back to what I have been saying in the past that locals should have been awarded such tenders. However, I’m not saying they are incompetent because they did a good job in Binga. So, this site should be ready I think, by the end of the month.”

Mr Charamba said the Gweru mast was pulled down because of a weak foundation, while the one in Zvishavane was still to be completed.

“We identified a transmission site in Kwekwe. It’s on a mountain top but it is in someone’s property. We have tried to talk to the owner who is refusing us access to set up the transmission site.

“He was being paid by other private players and expects TransMedia to do the same. But no, we don’t pay and we are looking at the correct instruments to set up the transmission there,” said Mr Charamba.

Turning to Chireya area in Gokwe South, Mr Charamba said Government was going to address concerns by locals of non-availability of broadcasting services.

He said Chireya was considered to be part of Gokwe centre, a development he said had seen it lagging behind in television and radio transmissions.

“I’ve asked our engineers to do a simulation of Chireya area so that we set up powerful transmitters to enable the people to access television and radio transmission,” he said.

Mr Charamba said the $200 million digitisation programme had the potential to open new avenues for the country’s economic recovery.

Zimbabwe has set a target to migrate from analogue to digital transmission by end of this year.

Today, Mr Charamba is in Zvishavane.