By ONYANGO K’ONYANGO
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Chinese pay TV giant StarTimes has reaffirmed its commitment to build its African head office and broadcast centre in Kenya despite the project taking long.
Addressing journalists on Friday in Beijing, StarTimes Group Vice President Guo Ziqi said plans to construct the Ksh6.9 billion ($68.2 million) African hub to be based in Karen, Nairobi, was still on course.
“Our plans to build the Africa headquarter in Nairobi as announced by our group’s President Pang Xinxing in 2014 is still on course. We are still in talks with the Kenyan government on how it should be implemented. We are currently communicating with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration to see how the project can be upgraded. The plan is not aborted,” said Mr Guo.
The announcement comes after reports emerged that Kenya might lose the multi-billion project to either Tanzania or Nigeria due to delayed approval.
The journalists, drawn from 34 African countries, are currently in Beijing for a 10-month media exchange programme.
David Courbe, StarTimes Francophone Africa spokesperson, said the decision to set up the hub in Kenya was informed on the country’s investment environment, strong economy and government’s commitment towards attracting foreign investments.
“Kenya and China have good business relations and that is the reason it was also chosen. This project will focus on promoting economic and social transformation as StarTimes stamps its commitment to Kenya, and Africa as a continent,” said Mr Courbe.
He added that the pay TV giant was dedicated to support local talents in the film industry through content production.
“By producing content locally in Africa, we are already supporting the local industry, the local talents. But having production facilities based in Kenya would allow us to go one step further in this direction and to have sustainable impact on the local industry,” said Courbe.
Upon completion, the hub will be co-ordinating operations in 14 other African markets currently reporting to Beijing.
It will also serve as a digital TV research and development centre for film and broadcast television as well as a training facility.
StarTimes, which entered the Kenyan market in 2010, is facing competition from MultiChoice — which operates DStv, GOtv and ShowMax — and over-the-top platforms such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon.
The firm has offices in Uganda, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, Guinea, Burundi, Congo, Madagascar, DR Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Mozambique.
—Additional reporting by Kiplagat Edwin.