By Thabani Zwelibanzi
The government says the Zimbabwe digitisation project is 37 percent complete, but continues to be hamstrung by lack of funds, a government official has said.
Anyway Mutambudzi, a senior official in the Information and Broadcasting Services ministry, said what the government had achieved was commendable, but the project needed more money to be completed.
“Parallel to the media reforms, government has the ongoing digitalisation project which is now 37 percent complete,” Mutambudzi told a United Nations media workshop in Masvingo on Monday.
“Although progress has been hampered by the unavailability of adequate funding, government remains committed to the project.
He said when the digitisation project will “revolutionarize (sic) media in Zimbabwe by improving universal access, whilst broadening the scope for plurality and diversity and guaranteeing growth of the industry, creating employment and providing quality media products to the nation.”
Launched with much fanfare, the digitisation project has been proceeding at a snail’s pace, with the government missing several deadlines.
In 2017, the government announced that the digitisation project was 25 percent complete and Mutambudzi’s statements indicate that in about two years, the programme was only inched forward by 12 percent.
To add further confusion to the whole issue is that in June 2016, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe announced that the digitisation project was 34 percent.
It was not immediately clear why they were discrepancies in government’s figures.
When the government launched the digitisation project some four years ago, it said that US$125 million was needed to complete the project.
In April 2018, the government said it had a shortfall of US$103 million to complete the project.
In May this year, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said at least US$138 million to complete the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting, but foreign currency shortages were hampering progress.
The International Telecommunications Union set a June 2015 deadline for countries to migrate from analogue to digital transmission, but Zimbabwe has missed several deadlines since the project started.