First it was pay per view TV plans for Startimes, now its talks of rapid expansion
At the recently concluded 19th Congress of the Communist party which took place in Beijing, China, the digital television service provider announced its plans to increase its subscribers to 30 million in 40 African countries very soon. This was unveiled by the Vice President of the firm, Mrs. Guo Ziqi to journalists from different African countries who graced the occasion.
Currently, the China-owned Pay TV offers services to over 10 million subscribers in Africa; Nigeria alone accounts for over four million. Little wonder the scramble for supremacy persists in almost every sector. Regardless of the shaky economic situation, Nigeria remains Africa’s largest economy and no doubt, every investor wants to chew to largest pie.
Mrs. Ziqi also unveiled that Africa is the primary focus of Startimes, with Asia and Europe, taking second and third place in priority. Seeing that monopoly existed for too long in Nigeria, with DSTV being the judge and the jury, it’s only logical that Nigeria was a good soil for business exploration. While DSTV made its subscription fees excessively high, StartTimes came just in time to put an end to the exploitation.
At the moment, the China-owned digital TV operates in 35 African countries and 80% of its employees are indigenous to the various countries. Hence, not only did StarTimes alleviate the burden of exploitation, the firm also provided job opportunities for the youths across the countries they operate. With about 480 channels, the media group has been able to begin a transition from analogue TV to digital TV. To make this project worthwhile, StarTimes has recently signed a $2.5b contract with 17 countries for this digitization project. Mrs. ZIiqi said:
‘Africa needs to help with digitization; that is why we are on the continent. When we came in, we discovered that few households watch digital TV and they charge exorbitantly for it; we decided to provide comprehensive solutions to make Africans watch digital television.’
The idea to go digital is facilitated by the government, but this projects will need lots of funds for a successful migration. The Vice-President also noted that the digital TV is committed to working with African countries on a very long-term and to prove its loyalty to this course, the control centres of StarTimes Groups are presently in three countries, Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania. The African headquarters is under construction in Nairobi.
A transition from analogue to digital broadcasting is long overdue! This is not to compare the continent with the western world; but then, we don’t have to lag behind all the time, do we?