by michael eli dokosi/www.blakkpepper.com/ghana
The Chinese Embassy in Ghana together with project implementers StarTimes Group have handed over the “Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages” project to the Ghanaian government after enabling 300 communities in rural Ghana have access to local and international TV content.
A Deputy Minister for Communications; George Andah at the handing over ceremony explained although substantive minister; Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful would have loved to be present, she had to attend to another state duty but noted the Satellite TV Project for rural Ghana dwellers strengthens ties between Ghana and china.
He praised the personal intervention of the Chinese ambassador to Ghana H.E. Shi Ting Wang who ensured the project did not face crippling challenges.
In 2015, the Chinese President; Xi Jinping speaking at the opening ceremony of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation announced China’s resolve to sponsor the project which will give access to satellite television to 10,000 villages in 50 African countries.
The Chinese Government entrusted the implementation of the project to the StarTimes Group tasking them to ensure that the African continent and media development progresses to the next level in digital television broadcasting.
Having now concluded bringing the rural dwellers in the various chosen communities to the digital sphere, StarTimes Software Technology Co., Ltd has passed the baton to the mother ministry.
Hon. Andah submitted 660 Ghanaians have acquired skills to install the satellite dishes with 900 public institutions connected through a satellite projector TV system with 32-inch television sets. The selected public areas also have a satellite dish, a high definition set-top box and accessories.
It emerged 6,000 households will have access to both local and international content breathing some colour into the lives of the rural folks.
“Timely access to information is critical and access to satellite TV is a notable way of information dissemination irrespective of distance,” the minister noted.
He said while government works on enhancing Ghana’s satellite infrastructure to make it easier for local content producers to have their work available to citizens at reasonable prices while getting their works exposed to a global audience, the StarTimes Project bridging the digital divide was also welcome.
The Awutu Senya West Constituency MP also urged beneficiary communities to ensure equipments installed in the public areas are well maintained.
A StarTimes documentary screened showed how secondary school pupils get to absorb knowledge in the field of English, Science, Maths and Technology through the Mindset Channel.
China’s Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Shi Ting Wang stated the satellite TV system installed in the 300 remote communities will make them enjoy clear TV signal thanking the Communication Ministry for their support in rolling out the project.
“The 21st century is an era of Information Technology. People have the right to enjoy free information flow. Some people in China and Ghana still suffer from the digital divide but with this project we hope to bridge the divide,” the Ambassador rendered.
He held that the Ghana-China Cultural Exchange was key especially when China has become a key economic partner in many Africa states including Ghana.
StarTimes Group Vice President; Eric Xue, mentioned that the 300 beneficiary communities were carefully selected with the Communication Ministry adding that the company trained locals in the area of dish fixing while offering solar powered batteries and other accessories.
The communities he said can enjoy 20 channels for free for 6 months including the Adepa Channel. Other channels include the movie, news, music, and sports channels.
Beneficiary communities were drawn from the Ashanti-57, Eastern-43, Greater-Accra-37, Central-35, Brong Ahafo-31.
The Northern Region had 30 villages selected, Western Region-24, Volta Region-18 while Upper East had 17 villages and Upper West-8.
The project is financed by a grant from the Chinese Government and has provision made for two sets of solar project TV systems, one digital TV integrated with a decoder and digital decoder systems for these three hundred villages across the country. StarTimes will be responsible for the maintenance and repairs of the devices once installed at no cost to the community for the next five years.