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China Brings Digital TV to 10,000 African Villages

At the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2015, China’s President Xi Jinping proposed that China implement the “10 Cooperation Plan” with African countries over the next three years. One of the 10, the Humanities Cooperation Plan, included a proposal “to implement satellite TV projects for 10,000 villages in Africa.”

A recent People’s Daily report gave an update, with quotes from villagers in Kenya, Senegal, and Zambia. They expressed gratitude toward the Chinese government and President Xi for being able to watch TV programs for free using set-top boxes that the Chinese company installed.

According to the report, on July 20, 2018, the local digital TV project was launched in a village in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. According to the plan, the project will select 500 villages in the country and provide digital TV equipment for 1,500 public institutions and 10,000 households without charge, so that villagers can watch TV programs for free. The project is expected to be completed in mid-September, covering 60 percent of the entire Republic of Uganda.

StarTimes Ltd. is the Chinese digital TV service provider that Beijing picked to implement the program. The company is currently connecting digital TV signals for 10,112 villages in 25 African countries. For each village, it will provide two sets of solar projection TV systems and one digital TV system free of charge and will install digital TV set-top boxes for 20 families, also free of charge.

StarTimes has been involved in the African digital TV market for over ten years. As early as 2011, it launched a TV program translation center. The company has developed into a sizable program translation base with nine languages, including Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Swahili, Hausa, Yoruba, Luganda, and Tweed and a capacity for 10,000 hours of programming. It also established a comprehensive content system, with more than 480 channels including internationally renowned channels, Chinese mainstream channels, African local channels and 42 self-operated channels.

The report quoted praise from Zambian president, Edgar Lungu, and Uganda’s First Lady and Cabinet Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni. It also mentioned the upcoming Beijing Summit of FOCAC in September, which will “make new plans for the China-Africa comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Source: People’s Daily, July 27