Malawi awards Huawei of China $5m digital migration contract

]Malawi government has offered a $5 million (about K1.7 billion) digital migration contract to a Chinese Company Huawei Technologies to install and commission Malawi’s Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), Nyasa Times has learnt.

Huawei confirmed on their website to have won the contract to install Malawi’s DTT equipment to enable the country to switch to digital broadcasting.

The development comes at the time when the country is expected to shift from analogue to digital television broadcast by end 2013.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) requires that all countries around the world switch from an analogue to a digital broadcasting signal by 2015. digital-migration2-350x250

Huawei Senior Manager Liu Jiawei said the Malawian government wrote a letter indicating that Huawei has won the bid, which takes the firm into the second phase of the process to discuss and hopefully sign the contract..

And coordinator in the Ministry of Information, Dennis William Chirwa disclosed that the ministry was in negotiations with the proposed bidder after government approved the awarding of the license to Huawei Technologies to facilitate the migration.

“Government has given the no-objection for the ministry of information to proceed with the procurement of the Digital Terrestrial Television. Ministry wrote the proposed bidder who has been deemed successful an Intention to Offer,” Chirwa said.

Intention to Offer is a negotiating procedure through which the ministry is expected to have with the Huawei before the contract has been signed. Through the negotiations the ministry will, among other things, assess if the company is capable of delivering.

“If the bidder is deemed really capable, then we offer the contract, of course this contract will be vetted by Ministry of Justice to make sure that we are following the normal procurement procedure for the government”.

According to Chirwa, the ministry was expected to finalize all necessary requirements within this month in order to meet the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) set deadline of December 31 for all countries to migrate to digital system.

But Jiawei said the company has enough capacity to switch Malawi’s broadcasting system from analogue to digital by the envisaged deadline.

“The first broadcasts are expected to start in November. A team of experts from the company is already in place in the country, ready to carry out the job once the deal is finalised,” Jiawei said.

Government opted for the Chinese company out of 10 bidders who responded to the tender the ministry floated in November last year after successfully meeting procurement requirements.

Chirwa said: “Out of 10 bidders, two failed to make it, and we ended up having eight bidders. It is these bidders that the team evaluated. And after evaluation, we gave recommendations; after the recommendations, that’s when we receive the no-objection to proceed with procurement”.

Some of the bidders include African Union and D&I Engineering, both from South African companies; Grant PhotoLab from Kenya, Huawei, ZTE and Star Time all from China as well as one company from South Korea.

Chirwa said the set-up of government’s Digital Terrestrial Television would allow private owned televisions operating on minimal budget to easily migrate to digital system, adding the final deadline for all television to migrate to digital is Jun 15th, 2015.

“Televisions will be migrating through the public network that government is trying to put in place. We realise the hardships that they are going through. If some fail to meet the December regional set-deadline, we will switch to duo illumination whereby digital and analogue will run parallel until everyone has finally switched to digital. I think we will be able to have first signal before December and hat what is in our plan. We very much on line,” he added.

Huawei is also carrying out a similar exercise in Namibia.

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