Malawi: Chinese Firm Contracted to Steer Country's Television Digital Switch

Regulation & Policy

In Blantyre, the Government has contracted a Chinese company, Huawei Technologies is to install and commission Malawi's Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) equipment as the country prepares to switch from analogue to digital television broadcasting by the end of this year. Huawei Technologies was involved with a similar job in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) nation of Namibia.

Malawi is expected to have her first ever DTT signal by November, 2013 but the process has so far been challenged by lack of resources since the state is currently the sole bankroller of the project.

Digital Migration Coordinator in the Ministry of Information, Dennis William Chirwa disclosed to the Malawi News Agency (Mana) that a deal to cement the agreement with the Chinese entity is yet to be sealed which will also determine the actual date the country will have its first ever DTT signal.

Said Chirwa, "Initial negotiations were done on May 11 and we expect to undertake further discussions soon and award the contract to Huawei Technologies."

Among other responsibilities, the Chinese company is expected to supply, install and commission digital migration equipment according to Chirwa.

Meanwhile Malawians will be required to spend a little more to access the digital television signal as they will be required to procure a Set Top Boxes (STB), a gadget that will be turning the DTT signal into analogue so that it suits the majority of television sets which Malawians have that are incompatible to digital systems.

"The country will open up as the network is being installed for the supply of STBs for the system which Malawians will have access to," said Chirwa.

To ensure that people do not compromise on quality of the STBs, Chirwa said the country has opted to allow the arrival of the network equipment to assess their compatibility to the system.

Malawi has since developed a Communication Strategy and messages for the migration which will be launched on July 13, this year (2013).