China's digital television service promotes connectivity in Africa

China Plus Published: 2018-09-04 09:45:30
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Promoting connectivity and cooperation in informational communication between China and Africa is high on the agenda of this year's FOCAC Beijing Summit.

FOCAC Beijing Summit opens on September 3, 2018. [Photo: VCG]

FOCAC Beijing Summit opens on September 3, 2018. [Photo: VCG]

The collaboration is being pushed greatly by a free digital television project of China in rural parts of Africa.

Rosslyn lives in a village on the western outskirts of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Watching television was not a daily option for her family due to high costs for digital television services. However, things changed this June, when Chinese media company StarTimes started to roll out free digital television services in Kenya.

Rosslyn says Startimes' digital television provides a lot of entertainment value for her family.

"The project has provided us with free digital television service. My children are very happy. Every day, I tell them interesting things I see on TV. I can also relax myself by watching television after work. The service has indeed helped us a lot."

Rosslyn's village is one of over 10-thousand African villages that Startimes is offering free digital television to.

The project is one of the Ten Cooperation Plans announced at the Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015.

So far, Startimes has finished installing digital televisions in six countries, and is expected to roll out services to 19 countries by the end of this year. Startimes is also producing various TV programs and has dubbed Chinese films and television series, which are all available for people in Africa.

Guo Ziqi, vice president of Startimes, says the free digital television services and programs are becoming popular with locals.

"Those benefiting from our free digital services are mostly farmers in rural areas. Before, people in certain villages, especially those far away from the cities, couldn't afford to buy a television. They couldn't watch any TV programs. After Startimes rolled out our services to the villages, local people were able to watch programs they like."

Guo says Startimes is working with local partners to facilitate the digitalization of the African economy and promote local connectivity.

"The global internet technology is developing rapidly. Many African telecom operators are working to keep up with the digital era. In terms of this field, Startimes can help with them with our abundant programs and experience. We have inked deals with 23 local telecom operators. We will provide our content to them and cooperate with them comprehensively to promote the prosperous growth of African internet market."

Hilda Malecela comes from Tanzania and currently lives in China. She says African people are enjoying the benefits of digitalization.

"The digitalization increased our standard of living. When it was in the analog (era), it was a low standard of living. But when the digital comes, life of Tanzanians or African people, life increased, because they learn. They learn a lot of things from the television. Also, when they introduced this digital life, the technology was increased. So for us, digital does a lot of things for African people and African countries."

Accelerating connectivity is a key issue of the Agenda 2063 currently being proposed by the African Union. Joseph Mucheru, Kenyan Minister of Information Communication Technology, says collaboration in digital television is able to promote connectivity across Kenya, and also promote bilateral economic growth.

"The governments of Kenya and China agree to implement the project not only to promote access to digital television across the country, but also to enhance people to people cultural exchange. The launch of this project demonstrates the increased mutual cooperation between the two countries and promoting of the social, economic and political prosperity of our two economies."

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