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Chinese pay TV vows to boost Sino-Rwanda cultural exchange

By Robert Ndungi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-09-13 14:38
Chinese ambassador to Rwanda Rao Hongwei and Rwanda minister of local Government Francis Kaboneka during the handover of the completed digital TV project in Rwanda that is financed by the Chinese government. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Kigali, Sept. 12 – Chinese pay TV, StarTimes,plans to use its satellite TV service to boost Sino-Rwanda cultural exchange, officials said on Wednesday.

Jess Jing, CEO of Star Africa media, said in Kigali that both nations can take advantage of digital technology to enhance people-to-people exchanges.

"We hope to use our satellite TV service, which has 100 percent coverage in Rwanda, to showcase and promote Sino-Rwandese cultural exchange," Jing said.

StarTimes, which launched operations in Rwanda in 2008, has already completed a China-Africa digital TV project in Rwanda that hopes to connect 10,000 African villages to digital TV using Chinese government funding.

In Rwanda, StarTimes has connected 300 villages or 6,000 households as well as 900 public institutions to digital TV as part of plans to bridge the continent's digital divide.

The Chinese pay TV is also at the forefront of promoting Sino-Africa collaboration by airing Chinese dramas to local viewers with English subtitles.

"We are planning to further translate the Sino-dramas into local dialects so that more people can access high-quality programming from China," Jing added.

Jing said that StarTimes hopes to enhance the Sino-Rwanda relationship in the field of cultural exchange so that it can match that in the area of trade, commerce and investments.

Jing added that African and Chinese people have many similarities including a rich civilization.

He urged Africans to protect and promote their rich culture by documenting it so that it is preserved for the region's future generation.

He said that western culture is prevalent in Africa and so the continent needs to ensure that its heritage is preserved even in the context of globalization.

StarTimes will soon begin to make African movies so that the continent can showcase its culture to the rest of the world.

StarTimes also hopes to display African culture to Chinese viewers so that the Chinese can increase their understanding of Africa.

"It will also help to boost Chinese tourism into Rwanda," Jing added.

He also called for joint projects between Chinese and African artists in the area of music and film making.

StarTimes is also keen to empower African filmmakers tell their story to the rest of the world.

The Chinese pay TV initially began using with Digital Terrestrial Transmission (DTT) but in 2014 converted to satellite TV.

According to Jing, satellite has greater capacity to carry more channels and has a large coverage area.

"DTT covers 85 percent of Rwandan territory because Rwanda has so many hills but with satellite TV we have achieved 100 percent coverage," the CEO said.

Currently, StarTimes is the largest pay TV service in Rwanda with over 200,000 customers.

StarTimes has been able to penetrate the Rwandese market due to its strategy of high quality and affordable service which has packages for as little as $3 per month.

"Our aim is to enable even rural residents to access and enjoy world class TV services," Jing said.

However, its service has been hindered in the remote areas that lack electricity.

StarTimes will begin to rollout a program where residents without electricity will be given solar equipment to enable them access satellite TV and pay for the gear in easy installments.

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