mbabaPrime Minister Amama Mbabazi has hailed efforts by Chinese television investors in boosting Uganda’s broadcasting industry as the country prepares for digital migration.

The Prime Minister paid a visit to the StarTimes Group global headquarters in Beijing, China and said he had intervened to ensure smooth digital migration from analog transmission in Uganda.

The International Telecommunications Union set June 15, 2015 as the deadline for all countries to migrate, but the process has attracted widespread criticism among broadcasters in Uganda, who say it is being mishandled.

Mbabazi said he had already asked for a report from the Department of Information and National Guidance before taking action.

“The role of the media in mass awareness and national development cannot be wished away. That is why we liberalised the airwaves for it to achieve its full potential in mobilising, educating, entertaining and informing the public,” he said.

Mbabazi, who is also the NRM secretary general, was a guest of the ruling Communist Party of China on a weeklong working visit, but took time off on Friday to go to the Beijing Business District area and meet top executives of StarTimes, a company that was established in 1988.

The private digital and mobile pay television service provider entered the African market in 2007 and opened up shop two years later in Uganda. It now operates in 16 countries across Africa, with about 2.5m subscribers.

Mbabazi was accompanied by his wife and chairperson of the NRM National Women’s League, Jacqueline Mbabazi, who is also the senior presidential advisor for general duties.

Pang Xinxing, the StarTimes global chairman, said his company will invest internally generated funds to construct a broadcasting and transmission network in a joint venture with the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation, which manages the digital migration process.

“Our vision is to enable every African household to get access to digital TV, afford digital TV, watch good digital TV, and enjoy digital TV,” Pang said.

He urged the Government to access concessional loans from the Chinese government for investment into digitalisation.

Credit: NewVision