Digitisation project needs US$71 million

25 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
Digitisation project needs US$71 million Minister Monica Mutsvangwa in Victoria Falls yesterday

The Chronicle

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
THE Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services requires more than US$71 million to complete the digitisation programme which is behind schedule by seven years.

Minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday said the ZimDigital programme is 43 percent complete and has been affected by lack of funding.

She said communication plays a critical role during pandemics as evidenced by media support during the Covid-19 outbreak.  However, she said despite this central role as Government’s public relations focal and national communications hub, the Ministry’s mandate continues to be poorly funded.

“As Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services responsible for spearheading national communications, I wish to point out that the mass communication plays a critical role in creating awareness, understanding and fostering unity and development among citizens of modern nations including Zimbabwe.

“In view of this, the Ministry appeals for full financial support to accomplish its mandate. I make this point to emphasise the need for better budgetary support for my Ministry which has frantically pushed out relevant information to the public, which has been crucial in the preservation of life. And I hope my colleague the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (Professor Mthuli Ncube) will avail in the upcoming budget enough financial resources to finish off our digitisation programme which is seven years behind,” she said.

Her ministry was allocated $1,479 billion including $877,7 million for the grant-aided institutions.

To date, the Ministry has received just over $1 billion which Minister Mutsvangwa said falls far short of what had been requested from Treasury.

“The DTT (digital terrestrial television) project requires US$71 million to bring it to completion. Treasury must avail these funds to ensure that we do not further extend the seven-year backlog that has already been accumulated. The deleterious net effect is to worsen the urban-rural divide.

“The shortfall of 69 percent from the overall ministry bid indicates yet another under-funding of the ministry’s operations, and indeed another budget year testifying to a lack of appreciation of the critical role of government’s public relations work,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She bemoaned late disbursements of funds which compounds underfunding which continues to retard work.

The ZimDigital project seeks to upgrade outdated broadcasting and transmission equipment

“The ZimDigital project is currently at 43 percent completion and was funded to the tune of $614 700 000 for the year 2021. The outstanding project works could be completed by the end of December 2022 if funding constraints are addressed.

Meanwhile, the project’s 2021 foreign currency requirements stand at $9 834 232.00. In this regard, we are happy Mr Speaker Sir, madam President, that Treasury has agreed to the Ministry’s request to release the foreign exchange component of the project’s budget in hard currency directly to contractors and suppliers,” she said.

The Minister said Government had so far issued licences to a cumulative 14 language-based community radio stations countrywide and seven campus radio station licences and needs funding for equipment and studio set up.
Government requires US$27 000 for each radio station, she said. – @ncubeleon

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