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Zambia 2017 | IT, TELECOMS & MEDIA | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hon. Kampamba Mulenga, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, on the country's migration to digital, the National Film Policy, and the importance of public access to information.

Hon. Kampamba Mulenga
BIOGRAPHY
Kampamba Mulenga has been the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services since November 2016. She is also the Member of Parliament for Kalulushi and holds advanced certificates in healthcare and in IT.

How are information services impacting both individuals and industries in Zambia?

Information is key to the development of any society and plays a major role in promoting democratic governance, improving security, promoting integrity in transactions, and fostering human rights and free speech. Provision of information services to individuals and industries is a positive step toward making information widely available to the people, to help with development on a wider scale. This is why this government has placed public access to information for a well-informed society high on its agenda. Information services have impacted on both individuals and industries in the country in several ways. Most importantly, these have empowered them to participate effectively in the governance and development of the country at all levels. Different industries in Zambia compete with each other, and the commercial advantage one industry can have over another depends primarily on its use of information services. For example, being able to extract information regarding what a customer truly wants and how to provide for that can provide a significant advantage.

What was the result of the digital migration project?

Zambia was one of the four SADC member states to partially migrate the terrestrial television broadcasting from analogue to digital by June 17, 2015. The ministry is implementing the project in phases; Phase I along the line of rail, Phase II provincial centers outside the line of rail, and Phase III remote sites to cover the whole country. Phase I is complete, with the installation of 10 new digital transmitters in Senkobo, Kalomo, Pemba, Kafue, Chilanga, Lusaka, Kapiri Mposhi, Ndola, Kitwe, and Chingola. In addition, each transmission site has satellite receiving system and fiber connectivity. Further, a head-end was installed in Lusaka to provide for the multiplexing, management and monitoring of the network. The project cost was USD9.5 million and the government has so far paid only about USD2 million, leaving an outstanding debt of USD7.5 million. A total of 14 television channels are currently being carried on the platform—13 local and two foreign.

What about Phases II and III of the project?

Phase II and Phase III are currently being implemented as one phase and the ministry has already awarded a contract of about USD273 million. The project will involve the installation of transmitters in 73 sites throughout the country; the supply and installation of studio equipment for ZNBC, ZANIS, and eight provincial broadcasting stations as well as expansion of the headed in Lusaka and the supply and installation of customer service center equipment for 12 sites; the rehabilitation of ZNBC and ZANIS Studios; the construction of six provincial broadcasting stations in Chipata, Mongu, Chinsali, Mansa, Kasama, and Kabwe; the construction of a National Operations Center at Mass Media Complex; and the supply of 1,250,000 decoders. The project, which is expected to take 18 months to complete, is financed through a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China. The process of migration from analog to digital broadcasting has and continues to offer numerous advantages in terms of spectrum efficiency, higher video and audio quality, and new business opportunities. A wider choice of content has also been made available to viewers, resulting in more channels.

What is the motivation behind the National Film Policy, and what do you hope to achieve with its implementation?

The aims of the policy are to promote and encourage the development and production of quality local films that contribute to the expression and preservation of Zambian culture, job creation, and economic diversification. We also hope with this new legislation to facilitate the promotion of a platform for the networking and distribution of film in order to penetrate the local and international market; encourage international exchange and collaboration amongst broadcasters, distributers, and filmmakers about the benefits of local productions; facilitate the review and enactment of laws that will promote and protect the development of the film industry; and strengthen critical skills in film development in order to improve the performance of the Zambian film industry.