We have paid US$2m for set-top boxes says Mthuli Ncube

We have paid US$2m for set-top boxes says Mthuli Ncube
We have paid US$2m for set-top boxes says Mthuli Ncube

We have paid US$2m for set-top boxes says Mthuli Ncube

Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube has told Parliament that the government has paid about US$2 million to the supplier of set-top boxes.

The set-top boxes will enable viewers to access digitalised transmission in line with the digitalisation program.

So far about US$50 million has been sunk in the digitalisation program since 2015 but people were failing to access the transmission due to the issue of set-top boxes.

Responding to concerns raised by legislators in the National Assembly during debate on the progress made towards the digitalisation program, the minister said the government is committed and is supporting the program.

‘’Mr. Speaker Sir, I rise to add my voice and contribute to this very important debate on digitalisation. We, as Government, take this agenda very seriously as it is very important for all our citizens to get to receive a media signal from within our borders and not to be crowded out by signals from neighbouring countries.

‘’So it is very important that this program is well supported and we are supporting it. What we have done as Government is, that the Minister of Information has sent us a request in Treasury to pay US$2 million to a supplier outside in order to acquire Set-Top Boxes (STBs). We have paid US$2 million to the supplier and we hope to receive the STBs soon.

‘’So, I can assure this House that by year-end, we should receive these boxes and be able to connect most of our citizens who are currently not connected.

‘’This is a very important issue which we will continue to fund as Government going forward, and I will be coming back to this House for us to continue with the financing of this digitalisation program into 2023 and who knows into 2024 as well.

‘’This will enable us to operationalise our investment worth US$50 million from the transmitters,’’ he said.

Commenting on the issues, Rushinga legislator Tendai Nyabani pleaded with Minister Ncube to ensure fair distribution of the set-top boxes.

He said there is need to reveal the criteria that will be used in selecting the beneficiaries.

‘’It is our hope that after the announcement of payment of US$2 million by the Honourable Minister of Finance for set-top boxes, we will also be covered because we are not sure what type of people are eligible to be covered.

‘’What is the population that will be covered and how about some of us in the backward areas, will all of us be covered? 

‘’How is distribution going to be conducted? What about those who cannot afford to pay, will they be made to pay? All those issues should be addressed openly so people are made aware. 

‘’What if the set-top boxes are given to people living in the urban areas only? Did you check how many people are in the rural areas when you made the US$2 million STBs payment? 

‘’I encourage information which is said to be powerful to be given to everyone, be it in the urban or rural areas at the same time.

‘’So digitalisation should be done equally and fairly between the urban and rural dwellers so that no one is left behind.

We have paid US$2m for set-top boxes says Mthuli Ncube