Gov’t terminates digital migration contract with StarTimes

Business News of Monday, 19 January 2015


Dr Omane Boamah Red Tie

The Ministry of Communications has written to Chinese firm, Star Times, abrogating the contract to supply and install the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) network platform for Ghana.

This, according a letter written by Communications Minister Dr. Edward Omane Boamah to the Attorney-General, was due to the failure of the company to secure the necessary funding from the China Exim Bank to execute the project.

According to the letter, “the Ministry of Communications signed [a] preconditioned agreement in April 2012 with Star Communications Network Technology for the supply and installation of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Network platform with the clear mutual understanding that funding will be secured from the China Exim Bank through the facilitation of Star Communications Network Technology company.”

Dr. Omane Boamah said “All information, guarantees, and support agreements required to be provided by the Ministry of Communications to facilitate access to the…funding were duly provided to the China Exim Bank who followed up with due diligence visits to the country.”

However, as the deadline for the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting approaches, the minister said his ministry “is yet to receive the financing agreement and the funding required for the implementation of the project.”

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), has set a June 2015 deadline for all countries to migrate from analogue to digital television broadcasting.

In view of this, government entered into a contract with the Chinese company to supply the infrastructure for the migration.

In October 2013, some local industry players raised questions about the capacity of Star Times to execute the contract and meet the deadline.

They pointed to the cancellation of a similar contract by the Tanzanian government as a basis for their doubt.

They said they were waiting with bated breath over the development in Tanzania because, according to them, the decision to award Ghana’s contract to the company, was without proper due diligence.

Sources at the Communications Ministry at the time remained confident that the migration would be done and on time by Star Times.

Now Dr. Omane Boamah concedes “It is increasingly clear that Star Times and China Exim bank will not be able to support Ghana’s migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting by the deadline of June 17, 2015.”

He however assured that efforts are underway to find an alternative arrangement to ensure that Ghana meets the deadline.

Already, he said, essential digital infrastructural systems have been laid in the country.