Amb. Multi-Kamara pursues cable television investment for Sierra Leone
Newly appointed Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Abubakarr Multi-Kamara has demonstrated his true belief and trust in President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Agenda for Change and in his blueprint of the Agenda for Prosperity by constantly pursing an investment opportunity in China that will help in digitalizing the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation. For Ambassador Multi-Kamara, plans to provide affordable cable network service in Sierra Leone, through SLBC by a Chinese company is perfectly consistent with President Koroma’s Agenda for Change and Prosperity. (Photo: l-r Mr. Charles Liu, VP StarTimes Communication Network Technology, and HE Abubakarr Multi-Kamara, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China)
Practically, the transformation of a once state broadcaster – SLBS, into a public broadcaster – SLBC, by the government of President Koroma has started to give in result, with StarTimes Communication Network Technology in China, expressing the desire to not only invest its financial resources in Sierra Leone, but to also see how the average Sierra Leonean could have access to quality and affordable digital television. Cable television in Sierra Leone can mostly be afforded at present by the upper class, due to its costly nature.
StarTimes Communication Network Technology, established in 1988 in China has been playing a major role, being the most influential system integrator, technology provider and network operator in China’s Broadcasting and Television industry. It has constructed and operated digital TV businesses in 9 African countries and has over 830,000 subscribers.
With a deadline of 2015 given by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the realization of digitalization of television broadcasting by member states, and Sierra Leone, being a member, the digitalization of television has become a goal for the government.
Taking into account the fact that digitalization of TV infrastructure is a huge social project that is capital intensive, StarTimes Communications Network Technology, based in China, has approached the government of Sierra Leone, through the Ministry of Information and Communication, to work on plans for the realization of national digitalization of Broadcast TV in Sierra Leone.
With a link already established with SLBC through the Group’s African partners, StarTimes has agreed to invest in building Digital Terrestrial Televisions network in about five major cities in Sierra Leone at a required cost, running into million US Dollars.
In the process, StarTimes will facilitate the government of Sierra Leone to obtain the Non-Reimbursable Aid and a Concessional Loan for digitalizing the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation – (SLBC). The SLBC, on its part, is expected to provide its infrastructure for the use of the transmission network, whilst StarTimes will transmit the two channels of SLBC for free of charge in the digital TV transmission network to be constructed by StarTimes. The project will work towards the digitalization of program production and play-out and control system of SLBC, purchasing of 550,000 Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), Direct-To-Home (DTH), transmission network for rural areas and Set-Top-Boxed (STB), and delivering to each household with TV set.
In a meeting held on Friday, 4th May, Vice President for StarTimes Communication Network Technology, Charles Liu informed Ambassador Abubakarr Multi-Kamara that the project itself is a high digital intensive one for Sierra Leone that his Group is ready to invest in. The programme, he said, will help provide rich TV programs to be offered to Sierra Leoneans as well as help in ensuring a boom in the TV industry in Sierra Leone. It will also help in improving the public service delivery system.
Charles Liu also informed Ambassador Multi-Kamara that StarTimes Group is dedicated in the field of broadcasting with hundreds of television networks in China for television operators. He said, they recently visited Sierra Leone and had fruitful discussion with the Ministry of Information and Communication and other stakeholders in the media industry and they were impressed with government’s determination to digitalize television broadcasting in Sierra Leone. He spoke of a pending summit for African TV Development, to which the Minister of Information and other stakeholders from Sierra Leone have been invited.
On his part, Ambassador Abubakarr Multi-Kamara referred to the project as a big one and that “StarTimes Group is about to do is in line with President Koroma’s Agenda for Change” and in line with the blueprint of the Agenda for Prosperity. He informed Charles Liu that Sierra Leone is a small but blessed country and promised to use his office “to fully support the progress that you have already made” and further promised to present further opportunities to consolidate the gains made. “We acknowledge your great work and we look forward to seeing how Sierra Leone would benefit from this technological initiative…” Ambassador Multi-Kamara said.
He encouraged StarTimes Group to not only concentrate in Freetown but to look at other areas in the country as “it is the determination of the government to not just concentrate in Freetown in terms of development but to also look at the rural areas as it is the desire of government to make the country attractive.”
Since the project itself is highly capital intensive, Ambassador Multi-Kamara noted the commitment by StarTimes Group to use their resources in supporting the project as well as in helping Sierra Leone secure a grant and concessional loan from the Chinese Government.
When fully established, the company has a vision of enabling every African family “afford digital TV set, to watch digital TV, to enjoy TV as well as share the beauty brought by Digital television.
With President Ernest Bai Koroma’s determination to improve the lives of the ordinary Sierra Leoneans and with outstanding progress made in the implementation of the Agenda for Change, this latest developments is seen as a plus to the successful implementation of the Agenda for Change.
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