The Ministry of Communication, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, the Chinese Embassy and StarTimes Software Technology Co., Ltd, has launched the China-Aided Satellite TV project for 300 villages.
The launch which took place at the Akweibu Basic School, Dansoman in the Ablekuma West constituency is aimed at bridging the digital divide and ensuring all citizens reap the benefits of digitalization.
The objective of the project is to provide satellite TV reception with a bouquet of digital channels for a selected public area and 20 households in the 300 villages.
In addition, public areas selected in each village will be equipped with 2 sets of solar powered projection TV systems and a solar 32-inch digital TV providing access to a bouquet of twenty digital channels from StarTimes entertainment free of charge. The equipment in the public area is under a 5-year warranty.
According to the Minister for Communication, Ursula Owusu-Erkuful, the project further enhances Ghana’s long-standing bilateral relationship with the People’s Republic of China for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
She said: “the exponential growth and adoption of digital technologies is transforming every aspect of our lives and the transfer of technology and spread of knowledge across borders as a result of globalization is helping to boost innovation and productivity whilst increasing global interdependence and strengthening global cooperation.”
“For government, television remains an important platform for communicating and disseminating vital information to the general public, predominantly through the news and public sensitization campaigns. In the digital broadcasting environment, an era of fast paced, dynamic content, the proliferation of satellite TV across the country offers an opportunity for local and international content providers to develop exciting, relevant and quality programming that will appeal to a range of audiences”, she added.
The project which is being financed by a grant from the Chinese Government is expected to provide two sets of solar project TV systems, one digital TV integrated with a decoder and digital decoder systems for these three hundred villages across the country.
In all, 57 communities were selected from the Ashanti, 43 from the Eastern region, 37 from the Greater Accra region and 35 from the Central region. The rest are 31 from the Brong Ahafo region, Northern Region had 30 villages selected, Western region had 24, Volta region had 18, 17 villages were selected from the Upper East and eight from the Upper West, totaling 300 communities.
On his part, StarTimes Chief Operating officer, Felix Ahonzo, noted that StarTimes worked with the various districts and regional representatives to identify these communities in for the selection process. He said key considerations for the selection of the communities included access or availability of public places such as community hall, schools, hospitals and guaranteed safety of the installed devices among others.
He said: “The beneficiary communities will have the unique opportunity to enjoy exiting, entertaining, informative and educative program from StarTimes’ rich content offering.
Mr. Ahonzo added that a total of 20 channels, predominantly African content to cover News, entertainment, music, movies including “our own Ghanaian Adepa Channel will be available to the beneficiaries with six months’ free viewing to all selected households and free viewing at perpetuity to all public viewing places.”
In addition, StarTimes will be responsible for the maintenance and repairs of the devices once installed at no cost to the community for the next five years. StarTimes is also expected to train 600 ambassadors, two people each selected from these 300 communities, in the installation and maintenance of these devices.
“As part of the project, we are upgrading the skills and competencies of over 500 installers to mount Solar panels and light in these communities”, said Felix Ahonzo.
The support for Ghana by the Chinese government is part of moves announced in December 2015 by Chinese President, Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg to provide Satellite TV to 10,000 African Villages.