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Burundi Digital Television Company was on the agenda of the Cabinet Meeting


Dec 14, 2021

BUJUMBURA December 13th (ABP) – The Draft public-private partnership contract for the operation, management, maintenance and technological watch of the digital terrestrial television network was analyzed during the Cabinet Meeting held in the Ntare Rushatsi House on Wednesday December 08, 2021, under the chairmanship of Head of State Evariste Ndayishimiye, according to the press release from the General Secretariat of the State.

According to the latter, the government of Burundi and the Chinese company StarTimes Communication Network Technology Co Limited have agreed to create a mixed company responsible for the management, operation and maintenance of the digital television broadcasting network, as well as the reimbursement of the loan applied for by the Burundi government for the establishment of the digital television network.

The said company called “Société de Télédiffusion Numérique du Burundi (STNB)” was effectively created in 2015. The bylaws of that company set its capital at 150 million francs, with shares distributed in the proportions of 40% for the State of Burundi and 60% for Star Times. The total cost of the contract was 32,600,000 US dollars, a loan applied for by the State of Burundi, which was used to implement the project.

Four years after the inauguration of that company and at 90% of the loan disbursement, the company is not operational, the press release said.

The functions of the General Directorate of the STNB and StarTimes Medias Burundi are performed by one person, which creates confusion.

The studies carried out have shown that there is a legal vacuum in the relationship between the State of Burundi, owner of the concessionary equipment and the STNB, which is the concessionaire, which must ensure its operation.

The effective functioning of the Burundi Digital Television Company remains imperative to make digital television broadcasting operational and thus avoid the deterioration of the equipment installed since 2016.

The press release continues to say that this draft contract is to set the conditions under which the contracting authority, in this case the State of Burundi, confers on the private partner, that is to say, the Burundi Digital Television Company (STNB), the right to operate, manage, maintain and monitor the multiplexing and distribution network for digital terrestrial television signals and the repayment of the loan applied with EXIMBANK of China within the framework of that Project.

Following the analysis, the Cabinet made observations and recommendations. One of the recommendations is that the infrastructure in question has been 100% financed by the State of Burundi on a loan applied for and is, therefore, its property.

The State of Burundi needs a company to manage this infrastructure. The Burundi Digital Television Company, created to manage this infrastructure, has a capital of 150 million BIF released by the State of Burundi and the company StarTimes.

If existing funds prove insufficient to make it operational, both parties will be able to increase the capital.

The other recommendation is that it is urgent for the supervisory ministry, to consult with its partners, to set up the bodies of that company, that is to say, the board of directors and the management.

As soon as the bodies of the STNB are set up, the latter will now become the interlocutor with the State of Burundi, which owns the infrastructure it manages.

It is also necessary to ensure that this company has the necessary capacities to accomplish this task. If it turns out that it does not have the capacity, it will have to look for another company.

The contract in question cannot be of a public-private partnership nature because the STNB does not provide capital. It will provide maintenance and operation only.

It is not the Burundi Digital Television Company that will repay the loan. An audit is also needed to verify the use, by the company StarTimes, of the loan that the State of Burundi has applied for.