Zambia takes on US$300m loan for digital migration


The Zambian government says it is borrowing close to US$300 million from the Import Bank of China for phase 2 and 3 of the Southern African country’s digital migration project.

Chief government spokesman Chishimba Kambwili said the money will also be used to procure decoders and transmission equipment.

Through Star Software Technologies, Kambwili said the government intends to buy over 1 million decoders which will be given to the public on credit. “The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has given us technical specifications of the decoders. In view of the technical challenges, the government will soon amend the law to allow the procurement of modern decoders that will be given to the public on credit.”

The tender for phase 2 and 3 of the Southern African country’s digital migration project was awarded to China’s Star Software Technologies Company in September last year.

Authorities have said that phase 2 and 3 of the country’s digital migration project will cost close to $274 million.

The government said it is funding the digital migration project as a demonstration of its commitment to ensuring the country keeps up with the global development of digital television broadcasting technology.

The contract between Star Software Technologies and the Zambian government comprises the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of digital terrestrial broadcasting to cover the rest of the country and studio equipment for the national broadcaster, the Zambian National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) – as well as for ten new provincial broadcasting stations that the government wants to establish.

It also involves the construction of a national operating centre for the Public Signal Distributor and rehabilitation of ZNBC and Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) studios.

Zambia managed to migrate to digital broadcasting in June last year under phase 1 of the project in line with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) set deadline. However, the country only managed to migrate in the capital Lusaka and towns along the line of rail.

Phase 2 and 3 of the project is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

By Michael Malakata