The government of Zimbabwe’s failure to release funding timeously in the country’s digitisation project, which aims to speed up the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, has caused the project to be four years behind schedule. The total cost of the project is estimated to be around US$72 million.
The government has funded the initiative, coupled with a loan from Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information, Media, and Broadcasting Services has been touring transmission sites across the country and has expressed concern about the lack of funding to complete the digitalisation project. Sipho Ndlovu-Mokone, the parliamentary portfolio committee chairperson, spoke at the Kamativi transmission site in Hwange, urging the government to prioritise the project.
“We are pleading with the Treasury to disburse funding as soon as possible so that the project can be completed on schedule.” “We started the project in 2015, and it was scheduled to be completed in 2017, but we’re already in 2021 as it is progressing at a snail’s pace,” she explained.
Only 18 of the projected 48 TV transmitters have been erected, while only five of the 24 radio transmitters have been completed. Thus, according to the legislators, the project was only 43 per cent complete.
According to Transmedia chief operating officer Rufaro Zaranyika, the project could be completed on time if adequate funding is provided.
At a pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls recently, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa warned MPs that the digitalisation project needed urgent funding to be completed.
Some remote areas in Zimbabwe are still without radio or television signals. However, with the move from an analogue to a digital platform, it is believed that citizens will be able to have access to both radio and television signals.