By Gregory Chifire
When we speak, it’s not out of spite,it is because we question some of the dealings that raise red flag and smell theft of public money, and we shall continue to speak as citizens as long as those charged with responsibility to run national affairs don’t change. The TOPSTAR digital migration project is one of the projects that doesn’t make financial sense at all. It is a fraud and govt would do well to call it off. Our digital migration has been the most expensive in the region. Aside from costs, the procedure to award a Chinese company called Startimes the rights to roll out this huge project also raises a lot of dust.
Coming to the figures, I have been corrected that actually the total for Zambia’s digital migration is $282m, being broken down thus, first 4 provinces, $9m, last 6 provinces, $273m. Am sure someone has good explanation for this. However, making comparisons, Muvi TV spent $10m for a similar exercise. But maybe we can argue that it’s not a national broadcaster. Let’s get to Botswana Television, a national broadcaster like our own ZNBC, comparing like with like. BTv has spent $18m for the national digital migration, and the costs have been tabulated to have gone towards, among others,digital transmitters and satellite system, $7,upgrading of BTv studio facilities,$2.5, $1.7m for public campaigns and establishment of call centres, $1.5m for setting up of data broadcasting unit and acquisition of set top boxes, upgrade of transmitter calling system at $1.8m and purchase of vehicles that carry equipment such as cameras, $200,000.
How I wish the new Minister of information who is also Chief govt spokes person can clarify on this matter, break down the cost for us. Am also aware that Startimes also got a loan from the Exim Bank of China for digital migration in Burundi, but the amount is only $40m, why is our case different.