Cash Strapped Zimbabwe Misses Digitalisation Deadline After Failing To Raise US$173 million

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HARARE: Zimbabweans are likely to start receiving digital television services in November this year after the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has indicated that the country will miss the digital migration deadline set for 17 June 2015 due to financial challenges.
Although , BAZ CEO, Mr Obert Muganyura said Zimbabwe will miss the digital migration deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) due to a number of challenges that have dragged the migration process, theZimbabwenewslive.com is reliably informed the organisation is facing serious financial difficulties.

In 2014, it was reported that the Zimbabwe  government said  it is ready to auction the long term evolution (LTE) spectrum to mobile operators for broadcasting to raise DTH0805 needed to complete the broadcast digitalisation programme before the deadline of June 2015. The money would have  gone  towards migrating existing transmitters, buying new digital transmitters, migrating the studios at Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), migrating monitoring equipment for the regulator and putting in place new regulations for the licensing of the new digital broadcasting.

Responding to a question on how government, which is facing cash challenges, would raise money for the exercise when presenting oral evidence to the Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Parliamentary Portfolio Committee last week, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said it was not difficult to obtain the money. “We are able to get it right away if we (government) auction LTE spectrum to mobile operators for broadcasting,” he said.
Mr Muganyura said the project has faced challenges relating to the delivery of digital equipment and late start to civil works for the installation of the transmission network.

In an earlier interview with the Financial Gazette, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Sam Kundishora, said his ministry was undercapitalised and might fail to meet the 2015 deadline for migration of broadcasting services from analogue to digital. In 2013, the ICT ministry bid for US$11,2 million from the national budget but was allocated US$7,2 million.

Of this amount, only US$4,8 million was released. In 2014, the ministry bid for US$82,1 million but received a budget allocation of US$11,6 million. So far, only US$201,109 is said to have been released. “Government is making a mistake by removing the ICT Ministry from their priority list,” Kundishora said.

The digital transition in broadcasting is a global process involving the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting signals. There are a number of countries which are said to have completed this transition and many more that are reportedly making the transition. The process of the digital transition in broadcasting involves re-allocating frequencies and has been agreed by the International Telecommunication Union’s Regional Telecommunication Conference (RRC). African countries are committed to migrating to digital broadcasting by June 2015.

 

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