It could be recalled that in December 2015 China’s President Xi Jinping and other African leaders reached unanimous consensus on lifting China-Africa relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership at the Forum of China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, which opened a new chapter in the relationship.
Giving the welcome address during the opening session, the Minister of State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) Cai Fuchao, disclosed that they will adhere to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith, work together and share insights with their African friends to carry on their tradition of equal consultation and joint effort.
He Maintained that based on their solid foundation of existing partnership, they have every reason to believe that their cooperation will reach a new height and better serve the traditional friendship between and common interests of China and Africa.
According to the Vice Foreign Chinese Minister, Wang Chao, this year Forum is very strategic as it’s organized when the 60th anniversary of the China-Africa bilateral cooperation is being celebrated, adding that China and Africa have unique civilization and culture.
He furthered that both parties should support each other in providing security particularly on cyber, agriculture, trade and industry, infrastructure, poverty reduction in which China demonstrated its commitment by pledging $60 billion (US Dollar) in supporting the ten cooperation plan proposed by President Xi to address the problems of food security, health, infrastructure and to develop Africa.
The Vice Foreign Minister disclosed that China will continue to implement the China- Africa cooperation on media training program as they hope to train one thousand journalists each year from Africa, adding that presently 28 journalists from 27 Africa countries are participating in the China-Africa media exchange program for ten months.
He urged the African countries to make use of the cooperation so as to develop their media institution and also capacitate their personnel in the interest of the continent as China is willing and ready to support its long lasting friend.
Moderating one of the most important session during the program, the Sierra Leone Minister of Information, Mohamed Bangura, expressed thanks and appreciation to the Chinese government for their timely support in the fight against the deadly ebola virus disease that ravaged his country’s economy and destroyed many innocent lives.
He disclosed that Sierra Leone failed to meet the deadline date for transforming from analogue to digital system simply because of the outbreak of the ebola that put everything to stand still for about eighteen months.
According to the Minister, presently their is only one digital television through which the people subscribe to for viewing which is the Multi choice that is very expensive as people pay $120 per month for subscription, “but with what I’ve heard about Star Times intention to invest in my country with similar facilities at a very cheaper price, I believe they are more than welcome to invest in Sierra Leone.”
Minister Bangura promised the gathering that with current work going on in the fiber optic program which is the necessary infrastructure needed, Sierra Leone will be completely digitalized before the next Forum of China-Africa Media Cooperation commence as the government will power it there, urging African leaders to make use of the opportunity by the Chinese company in helping African countries digitalizing their television and radio systems.
The Minister disclosed that only 5 countries out of the 54 African countries have completely gone through the digitalization process including Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Mauritius although some are very close to completing the process whiles some are yet to start.
This assurance by the Minister will bring smiles to the faces of many Sierra Leoneans who are being exploited by the only digital television service provider in the country as by creating competition it will give consumers an option to chose from. It will also bring hope to the management and staff of Star Times Digital Television Station that have been trying to secure license for over 2 years to start operations in Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Leone delegation at the Forum includes the Information Minister, the Director General of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation Elvis Gbanabom Hallowell, Director of E-government at the Information Ministry Mohamed Mzumuneeh Jalloh, the Sierra Leone Press Attache to China John Baimba Sesay.