Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Communications has assured of his committed zest towards transforming the sector especially in the area of digital television, making clear, that when the country's public broadcaster- SLBC goes digital, it should be viewed as a development for the country and not for the President or himself as Minister.
Mohamed Bangura spoke on Friday 17th June, 2016, in Beijing, during a meeting with the Chairman of StarTimes Communication Network Technology, a company that had, earlier expressed the desire to invest its financial resources in Sierra Leone by providing Sierra Leoneans access to quality and affordable digital television.
According to Minister Bangura, Sierra Leone has been working towards digitalizing SLBC but faced with challenges among which is the Ebola outbreak, which he said, even prevented the country from meeting the 2015 deadline given by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the realization of digitalization of television broadcasting by Member States.
According to the Minister, he was impressed with the capacity of the company, given what he had seen, following an hour long conducted tour on their facilities by the company's Vice President.
The Information Chief assured of his support to the company in pursuing the digitalization of broadcast television, even though Sierra Leone could not meet the 2015 deadline. “This project is not about President Ernest Bai Koroma or about me as Information Minister, it is about the people of Sierra Leone”, Minister Bangura said.
Sierra Leone, he said, has seen huge involvement by Chinese companies in its development, at the same time looking forward to their intervention in the media sector in the coming months.
He paid glowing tribute to the Government and people of China for the tremendous support given to Sierra Leone during the ebola outbreak, saying President Ernest Bai Koroma continues to appreciate the Chinese intervention in all sectors of growth.
Speaking earlier, Xinxing Pang, Chairman for the company thanked the Government through the Minister of Information for its readiness to work with them in realizing digital television in Sierra Leone.
Going digital, he said, is more than just the technical aspect but comes in with huge capital needs, assuring that they are more than ready to ensure “digital migration in Sierra Leone.”
Xinxing Pang also dilated on the financing models to be utilized when once approval is sought and what could be expected of Sierra Leone, in the fulfillment of the project.
StarTimes Communication Network Technology, he said, was established in 1988 in China and has become an influential system integrator, technology provider and network operator in China’s Broadcasting and Television industry and has constructed and operated digital TV businesses in 9 African countries, with over 830,000 subscribers.
In Sierra Leone, the company has established a link with SLBC through the Group’s African partner and has agreed to invest in building Digital Terrestrial Televisions network in major cities across the country at a required cost, running into million US Dollars.
Minister Bangura is in China for the 6th African Digital Television Development Seminar, organized by StarTimes, inline with the 3rd Forum on China-Africa Media Cooperation, held by the Government of China.
John Baimba Sesay
Sierra Leone Embassy
People's Republic of China