A China-Africa Cooperation project has connected 500 villages across the country to digital satellite television in a bid to widen digital migration coverage and increase access to information and knowledge for the poor in rural areas.
The project, nicknamed ‘Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages’, is being funded by the government of China and implemented through the Ministry of Information, Communications Technology and National Guidance.
Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages aims to reduce the digital divide in African rural areas by giving villages access to digital television.
StarTimes, the digital TV operator, is carrying out the project under the guidance of the China and Uganda governments. It supplies the hardware used in the project and installs it in each of the 500 selected villages. StarTimes will also maintain the equipment once the project is complete.
Andy Wang, the chief executive officer of Star Times Uganda said all the 500 villages received two StarTimes projector TVs, one 32-inch digital TV set, 20 DTH decoders, and satellite dishes. The projector TVs and digital TV set will be equipped with a solar power system and DTH access units.
Mr Wang said the project will ensure that many rural Ugandans easily access information, especially government programmes.
“The project aims to implement satellite TV programs for 10,000 African villages and enable more African rural families to watch satellite TV which is in accordance with StarTimes’ corporate vision, which is to ensure that every African family can access, afford, watch and share the beauty of digital TV”, he said.
He added that the project will help improve service delivery since institutions like schools and health centres can use the digital television infrastructure for demonstration purposes. School children now have access to educational channels like Divinci Learning on StarTimes, which will increase innovation among the group.
He also pointed out that the project will create jobs for youths who will work as technicians in the 500 villages. “Over 1000 youth will be trained and hired as technicians to help in installing and maintaining of this equipment,” he said.
The project has its roots in a keynote speech made by Xi Jinping, the President of China, at the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg, South Africa on 4 December 2015. In the speech, Mr Jinping announced that China would implement satellite TV programs in 10,000 African villages.
At the summit, China also said it will provide $60 billion in funding to African countries for industrialization, agricultural modernisation, infrastructural development and people-to-people exchanges, among others.