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Zambia's digital migration given US$273m boost

Zambia's digital migration gets US3m boost

Chinese digital migration company StarTimes Group says it will expand its digital television signal in Africa by the end of this year.

The Chinese government is funding the digital migration projects through loans in most of the African countries where StarTimes operates.

StarTimes is rolling out digital migration projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe, focusing on the line of rail and villages, and using funds made available by the Chinese government.

In Zambia, as in other countries, the company is rolling out set top boxes and has entered into a digital migration focused joint venture with the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).

US$273 million has been made available for digital migration projects and the construction of studios in the Southern African country.

Zambia will repay its loan in 25 years through digital television company TopStar, 60% of which is owned by StarTimes and 40% is owned by ZNBC.

According to the deal, TopStar will collect all ZNBC advertising and tower rental revenue for the duration of the loan agreement.

StarTimes is also in Zimbabwe using the brand name StarSat.

Ping Xinxing, president of StarTimes group said, "We have invested US$260 million in the project with digital signals now reaching 81 large and middle cities across the continent. The project will further enhance cooperation between Africa and China."

Zambia's Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Kampamba Mulenga said with the financial backing from China, the country is on target to beat the 2020 digital migration deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Last month, TopStar announced plans to secure signal coverage across in all of Zambia's ten provinces by December this year.

TopStar decoders retail at K200 and the company is yet to confirm a subscription fee. In other countries, subscribers are paying US$10 per month.

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