China’s TV project links Malawi to the world

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS -

MANGOCHI, Malawi – One thing that first catches peo­ple’s at­ten­tion at Max­i­mas Chim­imba’s thatched house on the shores of Lake Malawi is a satel­lite dish on the rooftop.

Chim­imba, a fish­er­man in Mangochi dis­trict, is one of the very few Malaw­ians whose house­holds own a tele­vi­sion set.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2014 sur­vey by the Na­tional Sta­tis­ti­cal Of­fice, only 11 per­cent of the coun­try’s house­holds had work­ing tele­vi­sion sets.

How­ever, own­ing a TV set in Malawi is one thing and sub­scrib­ing to pay con­tent is an­other.

The 2014 sur­vey showed that only a quar­ter of the house­holds that owned a TV set sub­scribed to pay TV.

Chim­imba, who is in his early 60s, is in the pay­ing cat­e­gory by spe­cial ar­range­ment: he is among those who have ben­e­fited from a Malawi-China satel­lite tele­vi­sion con­nec­tion project.

“I had the TV satel­lite dish mounted in Septem­ber when our vil­lage head­man an­nounced that those who can af­ford to pay a cer­tain rea­son­able amount can get con­nected to the satel­lite TV through the project,” Chim­imba said.

Chim­imba paid 6,000 Malawi kwacha, or about $8.

After the in­stal­la­tion, Chim­imba’s fam­ily was given three months, from Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber, to watch lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional chan­nels avail­able via the satel­lite TV for free.

“At the ex­piry of the three free months of watch­ing, I’ll be re­quired to pay a min­i­mum monthly sub­scrip­tion fee of 5,000 Malawi kwacha (about $6.5) to watch lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional chan­nels avail­able on this TV de­coder,” he said.

Chim­imba is one of thou­sands of low-in­come Malaw­ians pro­vided with ac­cess to satel­lite TV chan­nels thanks to the China-Malawi satel­lite TV con­nec­tion project.

The project, of­fi­cially launched in Au­gust in Dowa dis­trict, 100 km north­east of the Malawi cap­i­tal, Lilongwe, is part of a Fo­rum on China-Africa Co­op­er­a­tion ini­tia­tive that aims to pro­vide satel­lite TV re­cep­tion to 10,000 African vil­lages.

At the Au­gust launch, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to Malawi Liu Hongyang said through the project, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment would do­nate 500 so­lar-pow­ered dig­i­tal TV sets in­te­grated with de­coders, 1,000 so­lar-pow­ered pro­jec­tors, and 10,000 dig­i­tal de­coder sets.

“This is a hap­pi­ness project for the two peo­ples of Malawi and China in their shared pur­suit of en­hanced bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion,” Liu said.

Malawi Pres­i­dent Peter Mutharika thanked the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment for the ini­tia­tive, say­ing it res­onates with his de­vel­op­ment strat­egy of bring­ing de­vel­op­ment to the coun­try’s ru­ral masses through Ru­ral Growth Cen­ters.

“Malawi is mi­grat­ing into a dig­i­tal world and I want ev­ery­one in ru­ral ar­eas to be part of that mi­gra­tion,” he said.

NANSHAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

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