StarTimes deal: We have no preference for foreign companies – Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

Ursula Owusu Ekuful, Communications Minister

Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has explained that her Ministry has no personal interest in its dealings with Chinese multinational media company, StarTimes Group, for the provision of digital terrestrial television (DTT) to some 300 communities across the country.

She emphasized that, the Chinese government is giving Ghana equipment worth about US$3million for the expansion project for free along with tax waivers, adding, “if any local company is ready to provide services worth GH¢3m, we’re ready to provide a GH¢3m waiver to them and access to 300 communities. There’s no preferential treatment for foreign companies.”

Her submission follows a statement issued by the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) bemoaning an “alleged scheming” of Chinese company StarTimes into Ghana’s Digital Space.

Speaking on the Citi Breakfast show on Accra-based radio station – Citi FM on Monday, the Minister reminded, “the managers of the infrastructure will determine who or what they need to manage it effectively and I will not dictate who they engage,”.

She said it is now up to the local broadcasting companies to use all the competitive advantage they have to penetrate into Ghana’s Digital Space, pointing out that, GIBA’s statement was rather disingenuous and sort to create the impression that Government intends to hand over management of the digital platform to StarTimes.

“We should commend the Ministry because prior to the meeting we had this year, for four years, there had been no engagement with stakeholders on the DTT”, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said, adding, “we still have a shortfall of financing for the first phase of the project,”.

She said Ghana will soon start the migration process and urged all stakeholders in the field to make it a commercially viable entity that needs to be upgraded periodically.

By Mawuli Y. Ahorlumegah