'Forex shortage stalls digitisation'

By Staff reporter | 07 May 2019 at 21:24hrs
Mutsvangwa
An acute shortage of foreign currency is slowing down Government' efforts to implement the digitisation initiative that is set to grow the country's broadcasting services, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said.

Zimbabwe needs at least US$138 million to complete the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.

The migration from analogue to digital is in line with the dictates of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The country has already failed to meet the June 2015 deadline set by union.

Minister Mutsvangwa said last Friday that Government was still committed to rolling out the digitisation initiative.

Speaking during a public lecture at Great Zimbabwe University which also coincided with the World Press Freedom Day Commemorations last week, she said Government has already started installing base stations countrywide to lay the foundation for the digital migration programme.

"We are moving with haste to complete the digitalistion project, but our efforts are hampered by the need for foreign currency. Imagine the contractor charged us, US$138 million for the completion of the project," said Minister Mutsvangwa.

"So far we have installed base stations in many areas and they are ready for use, but we cannot get set-top boxes and we are looking for private players who can supply us.

"Though, Government has availed some money towards the digitalization programme it is still not enough.

"Another issue is that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) does not have a board. Once we have appointed the board, we expect things to move with speed.

"The Second Republic led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa is committed to making broadcasting services accessible to all people in the country. He called me last time when we were in Chimanimani after a meeting with Cyclone Idai victims and told me that there was need for all areas to access television and radio services".

She said Government had so far committed US$38 million to the digital migration initiative in this year's annual budget. She said the issue of the improved broadcasting services were so dear to the Head of State.

"He is aware of the programme and very soon, the digitalistion will be complete. We want every Zimbabwean to have access to digitalised transmission.

"I have been in Binga and the people there watch Zambian television and yet they should be receiving the Zimbabwean signal.

"Of course, it is because of their proximity to that country, but the ideal situation would be for them to access our own signal," said Minister Mutsvangwa.

It is understood that upon completion, the digitalistion programme will see the country having more than 24 television and radio stations.

Government is also targeting to have the public broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) hosting at least six television channels by end of this year.

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