By John Baimba Sesay, Press Attaché, Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the Peoples Republic of China in Beijing, China
With comprehensive digital television in over eight African countries, StarTimes Communication Network Technology, established in 1988 in China and which has also been playing the role of the most influential system integrator, technology provider and network operator in China’s Broadcasting and Television industry, has expressed interest to not only invest its financial resources in Sierra Leone but to also see how the average Sierra Leonean could have access to quality and affordable digital television. Mr. Liu briefing the delegation on his company’s operations.
This was made known to officials from the Sierra Leone Embassy in China by StarTimes Vice President, Charles Liu, during an official visit to the Headquarters of StarTimes at Jianguo Road, Chaoyang District, following an invitation extended to the Embassy’s Acting Head of Mission and its Press Attaché on Thursday, 1st March, 2012 by Mr. Charles Liu.
Briefing the team, the company’s Vice President, Charles Liu explained that StarTimes started its first exploration in Africa in 2002 and that the company has constructed and operated digital television in nine African countries and has developed over eight hundred and thirty thousand subscribers in Africa. He also stated that based on the company’s integrative technical strength in analog, IP network and DTV technologies, StarTimes is a certified hi-tech enterprise that has been listed among “2008 China Top 100 Innovation-Oriented Enterprises” by the Chinese Enterprises Association.
The company, he went on, has a vision of enabling every African family to afford digital TV set, to watch digital TV, to enjoy TV as well as share the beauty brought by Digital television. On the strategy the company is using to meet this vision, he explained that it is by obtaining satellite communication technology and terrestrial DTV system, setting up an advanced broadband information platform to operate pay TV, Mobile Multimedia System, wireless internet business and terminal product sales and to provide digital signal transmission service for national and commercial radio and television institutions.
Elaborating on their operations in Africa, Charles Liu stated that they have been operating in Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Guinea, Ghana, Uganda, Central Africa Republic and Mozambique among other countries and that they have established earth satellite uplink stations in Tanzania, Nigeria and Slovenia.
He observed that since Sierra Leone and China have been great friends for many years, they have decided to invest in Sierra Leone in the area of digital television migration. He explained further that they have established a bridge with the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, which has also showed interest in digitalization of the television industry.
In his statement, the Acting Head of Mission, Sierra Leone Embassy, Mr. Paul Minah, expressed gratitude to the Vice President of the company for inviting Embassy officials to their headquarters, referring to the visit as timely as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sierra Leone has sent a letter of invitation to the company to visit Sierra Leone.
As an Embassy, he said, he was impressed with the presentation made on the company by the Vice President and that he was particularly happy that the company has not only catered for the Chinese audience but has also gone to Africa and Europe. Sierra Leone, the Acting Head of Mission said, “will make use of the opportunity that the company wants to provide…” he stated that Sierra Leone now has a leader in the person of Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who is action oriented and that providing digital television for every household in Sierra Leone will be an encouraging development for the country.
He also explained that the Press Attaché at the Embassy, Mr. John Baimba Sesay, has been in constant communication with the Director-General of the SLBC, Mr. Elvis Kpanabom Halloway, who he said has also been very instrumental in getting the company to extend its operations in Sierra Leone. He expressed hope that the company’s visit to Sierra Leone will provide the needed result for both the country and the company.
Both the Acting Head of Mission and the Press Attaché of the Embassy were taken on a conducted tour of the company’s facilities. Meanwhile, a delegation from the company is expected to visit Sierra Leone later this month.