Foreign affairs minister, Louise Mushikiwabo has said that Africa cannot afford to be a dumping area for cheap technologies from elsewhere in the world.
The minister said this while officially opening the ordinary session of the General Assembly of the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) that started in Kigali on Monday.
Mushikiwabo told the participants from over 46 countries across the continent and beyond that although Africa is transitioning from analogue to digital technology, accepting cheap technologies would undermine Africa’s efforts.
The meeting is examining the future of audio-visual media in Africa, particularly the transition of African public television from the analogue architecture to the digital distribution.
She told the broadcasters to take advantage of technology, work to improve content production, saying that Africa cannot afford not to produce and spread own content.
When it comes to switching off analogue technologies, Africa remains far behind. Only slightly over 10 countries out of 55 are the ones that have successfully completed the switch to digital technology, despite repeated deadlines provided by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Rwanda completed the digital migration on July 31, 2014 ahead of the deadline of June 17, 2015 set by ITU. Today, 95 per cent of Rwanda’s geographical landscape is under digital terrestrial television, and the remaining 5 per cent is covered by satellite.
“This successful switch from analogue to digital has created immense opportunities that many of which we have yet to cease for new content producers to emerge. Since the migration, 12 new local television stations are now operational complementing the national broadcaster,” Mushikiwabo said.
The minister highlighted that the convergence of telecommunication, information technology and broadcasting in Rwanda has helped improve the country’s socio-economic development, and satisfying citizens in terms of access to information.
“Following the revolutionary technological growth in ICT and migration from analogue to digital, more exciting opportunities in the broadcasting industries keep coming up. We should keep up with these opportunities, cease them and use them in our profession,” she added.
The minister told the members of the AUB that the African Union is paying attention to the deliberations behind held in Kigali, and that they are ready to deliver the message to the entire members of the continent.
She, however, challenged the participants to come up with clear ideas on how African content can become a reality to local screens, but even on international platforms with the help of technology.
African Union of Broadcasting is the Pan-African organisation older than the AU. Previously, it was the Union of the National Radio and Television Organisations of Africa, having been created back in 1961.
Arthur Asiimwe, the director general of Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, the co-organisers of the meeting, said that the meeting will come up with key recommendations which they hope to address some of the biggest issues faced by countries in the process of migrating from analogue to digital technologies.
These challenges include the financing of the migration process and the high cost of producing good content on the continent, among other issues.