• Place of partnership in improving Africa’s technology growth


    INTERNETAFRICA’s innovative prowess may not attract significant global attention, but when discussions arise regarding the continent’s willingness to harness the potential inherent in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), it certainly cannot be overlooked.
    Indeed, sustaining the impressive economic growth Africa has experienced over the last decade, policy-makers of the region may need to focus and learn the best practice in fostering technology transfer and identifying critical innovation barriers and gaps to achieve increased productivity and structural transformation of its economies.
    To address the future challenges, industry stakeholders across Africa are clamouring for the expansion of telecommunication facilities and the deepening of content in the media industry.
    This actually formed the fulcrum of the recent partnership between StarTimes Group and the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China, at the Sino-Africa Media Leadership Summit in Cape Town, South Africa.
    The Sino-Africa cooperation was focused on building a greener technology future for Africa, which will see the citizens as the major beneficiaries.
    According to StarTimes Group, the plan is to bridge the gap between the two communities, whose cooperation can boost the welfare of over two billion people. President Xi Jinping of Peoples’ Republic of China, who was represented by Chinese Ambassador to Cape Town, Jiang Jianguo, explained that on the road seeking for peace and development, China and Africa will always be trustworthy friends and sincere partners.
    According to him, media could be the bridges for communication between China and Africa.
    “It is hoped that the media in China and Africa can take this summit as a good opportunity, expanding the communications and technology areas and deepening the content, to promote bilateral relationships,” he said.
    The leadership summit focused on integrating African ideas and its people in order to expand and give boost to technology development in the communications industry, which is seen as a priority list of media experts and government officials that met at the conference held in South African..
    President Xi noted that the root of friendship between China and Africa lies in the people, communication and technology. To him, media is an important tie for boosting the friendship between Africans and Chinese. He said in recent years, the cooperation between media across Africa has had abundant development.
    “Exchange of articles, co-interviews, and cooperative filming are now rampant,” he stressed.
    President Jacob Zuma of South Africa agreed with his Chinese counterparts. In his speech, he noted that as the role of the media in the society increases, the cooperation between people is strengthened. This, he added, is reflected in the topic of the summit that is timely and proactive. He stated that communication between China and Africa could further strengthen the relationship between the twon countries.
    Africa’s potential
    “Africa has got abundant resources and unique cultural diversity. It is the duty of the media to write articles and stories about the continent and create the image of the region effectively, and getting the rest of the world to knowing more about the continent,” President Zuma said.
    He added: “Media is the important resource where the public can get information and have opportunities for better development. South Africa is implementing the national development plan like China to alleviate poverty, injustice, and unemployment. During this process media plays an important role. It is hoped that this media summit can open up a new area of cooperation between Africa and China, for communication of ideas to seek for common development.”
    President Zuma explained that the media and technology interest and activities in the continent prove the important place the media holds in opening up the cooperation at business-to- business, people-to-people and government-to-government levels. According to him, the role that the media plays in unlocking doors to new opportunities for win-win development in other areas cannot be underestimated.
    “For media to report correctly and in a balanced fashion, access and openness is crucial. In this regard, we need also to seek ways that media and government can do to develop meaningful partnerships for the benefit our people,” he said.
    The place of digitisation
    President of StarTimes Group, Pang Xinxing disclosed that StarTimes has always been sticking to the mission that every African family could afford digital TV of high quality and step into the digital age.
    “It is StarTimes that brings the advanced terrestrial digital TV technology into Africa, with after-sale services and digital TV of high affordability. Before StarTimes’ entrance into Africa, the price of digital TV in Africa had been quite high and not affordable. The initial manufacturing price was $200, and the cheapest monthly fee was $40. And now with StarTimes, the initial manufacturing price of Pay-TV has declined to $20, and the cheapest monthly fee is less than $3, truly realizing the mission that have African families boast of digital TV of high affordability and great quality,” Xinxing said.
    Assurance of development
    Contrary to the fears of critics that the Chinese government may reduce its commitment towards the and development of the continent due to global economic challenges, Zuma is optimistic that China’s track record is enough to convince them. He said the nation’s investment and financing to support sustainable development in Africa have been further expanded.
    According to him, “China’s pledge to provide loans of $20 billion for African countries has been fulfilled ahead of schedule. Two-way trade volume exceeded $200 billion for the first time in 2013, and China has become Africa’s largest trade partner for five years in a row. China has fully committed itself to offering assistance to Africa. Since the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, the Chinese government has offered four batches of emergency humanitarian aids totaling $122 million. Also, China has made great efforts in supporting the African integration process, enhancing people-to-people friendship, and promoting peace and stability in Africa.”
    Going forward
    While StarTimes Group received commendations from participants at the event for showing concerns about the growth of the industry in Africa, experts said such was worthy of emulation by other corporate institutions if the region must develop.
    “I urge other corporate organisations, especially other pay TV firms to emulate StarTimes and ensure they come up with developmental summit like this in order to develop the society and the continent. This summit will help reshape the media and communication sector across different sectors of the African economy,” a participant said.
    StarTimes also received presidential commendations as President Zuma described its support to the Chinese government to organise summit as a welcome initiative that seeks to build media-to-media relations between African media leaders and their Chinese counterparts.
    “I extend my best wishes of success for StarTimes Group and the summit as the deliberations of media experts stand to strengthen co-operation via exchanging thoughts, ideas and seek common development,” Zuma said.
    He submitted that summit of this magnitude, no doubt, was needed to further strengthen relations across Africa and to drive development of the sector in the continent.
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