US$50m digitalisation equipment gathering dust

US$50m digitalisation equipment gathering dust
US$50m digitalisation equipment gathering dust

US$50m digitalisation equipment gathering dust

Warren Park legislator Shakespear Hamauswa has urged the government to move with speed in operationalising the digitalisation program, adding that installed equipment is gathering dust around the country.

The government reportedly poured in more than US$50 million towards the digitalisation program, but the equipment is lying idle due to a lack of set-top boxes (STBs).

Viewers will require set-top boxes for their televisions if they are to access content from the digitalised equipment and systems.

Digitalisation will also help prevent frequencies from neighbouring countries from encroaching into Zimbabwean territory.

Currently, there are places in the country where people do not get signals from ZBC, but they get it from neighbouring countries.

Speaking during a debate on the progress of the digitalisation program, Honourable Hamauswa said there is a need for a plan to ensure access to set-top boxes by communities.

‘’I am going to start by highlighting that the Government of Zimbabwe, from 2015, sponsored this digital transmission.  The Government has used more than $50 million in terms of upgrading the system to go on the full digitalisation program.

‘’However, the equipment that was bought using the above $50 million funds, taxpayers’ money, is about to be obsolete because it is not being used. So, without coming up with a proper framework for making sure set-top boxes will reach the viewers, it will turn out that the Government did not use the funds appropriately.

‘’This is because $50 million that was used for upgrading the transmission sites is not being utilised. If you go to Kotwa, there are transmission sites that only require the set-top boxes for the people of Kotwa to enjoy the digitalised airwaves. However, the challenge is on set-top boxes,’’ he said.

According to Honourable Hamauswa, the funds that had been allocated for the procurement of set-top boxes was eroded by inflation, and the government need to commit more funds.

‘’As a Committee, it will also be important to note that the funds that were allocated for set-top boxes were eroded by inflation. Maybe there is a need to see how the targeted groups who were earmarked for the free set-top boxes are going to benefit because we will end up having reports that are not being implemented.

‘’The people in the rural areas are waiting to realise this digitalisation program becoming a reality to them but the challenge is on set-top boxes. Therefore, I reiterate what my colleagues have said that there is a need for a plan from the Government especially focusing on how much the Government had already given out in terms of supporting the digitalisation program.

‘’I will repeat that the Government has already used more than US$50 million and we cannot then fail as a Government to add US$3 million to make sure that the US$50 million that we have given out is actually being utilised.

‘’If Government fails to provide US$3 million, the US$50 million equipment will actually reach its expected lifespan without being utilised by the people of Zimbabwe.

‘’This is my plea Mr. Speaker Sir to say that this project must be regarded as a national project which requires the full attention of Cabinet, especially the Ministry of Finance to make sure that what they have given is actually going to make sense by making sure that US$50 million is now being enjoyed by the people of Zimbabwe who are the taxpayers in this country,’’ he said.

US$50m digitalisation equipment gathering dust