Zimbabwe’s digitalisation prospects dim

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

It is now less than a year for Zimbabwe to comply with the second deadline of  20 June 2020 by the International Telecommunications Union(ITU) for every country to migrate from analogue to digital transmission, but experts are pessimistic that government will meet the deadline.

Despite the assurance by the government that the process is well on course, experts have warned of  a  gloomy digital terrestrial television migration in Zimbabwe owing to the snail pace the digitalisation process is taking.

Speaking at the recently held  ‘Media and Broadcasting Conference’ organised by the Media Institute of Southern Africa(MISA) Zimbabwe Chapter,the organisation’s  ICT and Legal Officer Kuda Hove illustrated how the ITU deadline  was unlikely to be met with indications that  several transmitter sites for the digitalisation project (DTT) are not yet ready for the digital migration .

“We have established that out of the 48 transmitter sites only 17 sites have already been equipped with DTT equipment and are ready to transmit digital signals,” said Kuda  Hove.

The information is contained in the MISA report  ‘Digital Terrestrial Television Migration in Zimbabwe’ prepared by Engineer Cloud Nyamundanda.

“it was observed that Zimbabwe is lagging behind as the only country that has not started transmitting.

“ In terms of the budgets of how much will be spent on the migration process Zimbabwe is set to spend about US$142 million but this amount seems to be fluctuation with government reporting that more money is needed, ”states the report.

According to Kuda Hove , besides the incomplete infrastructure for the digitalisation project   there is no clarity on how government  will acquire the  set top boxes(STB) needed for digital transmission  since a few years ago the project co-ordinators  requested 400 000 STBs

“In 2015 the DDT project coordinators requested 400 000STBs which are far less than the projected requirement given the number of TV households in the country ,” pointed out Hove.

With regards to media reforms including digitalisation, the new administration  has no excuse but to deliver as this will clearly distinguish it from its predecessor ,implored    Amnesty International Zimbabwe Communications officer   Mlondolozi Ndlovu.