In her 22 years of existence, Kabukabu Mulanwa, a Grade Nine pupil at Sinungu Basic School in Nalolo district, Western Province, had never seen a television set. But August 30, 2018 marked the beginning of a new chapter in her life. Like many children and adults alike, Kabukabu, on this day, had an opportunity to view television in her village, an experience she describes as extraordinary.
Unlike in the cities and towns where households own television sets, this piece of technology captivated many who gathered at Sinungu Basic School to witness the flagging off of Village Satellite Television Units for Western Province by Vice-President Inonge Wina. Kabukabu, who was among the pupils who witnessed the flagging off of solar-powered communal television, says the development is a dream come true, as she had never imagined that she would ever have such an opportunity.
"I only had a picture of what a television set looked like. This is the first time I am seeing and watching one. This is a rare occasion in that I viewed it in the presence of our Vice-President, who happens to be my role model. This is something I will forever cherish," Kabukabu said in an interview.
She said television access will give pupils at her school a different perception of life and also educate them on different issues.
Kabukabu is one of the beneficiaries of the Keeping Girls in School Initiative who has gone back to school after dropping out. Despite being an adult, she is committed to completing her secondary education and becoming a teacher one day. Sinonge Walubita, 34, says the Village Television project will give people in remote areas an insight into Parliament business which they have never had before.
Mr Walubita is glad his community will be able to monitor matters of national development and that no politician would feed them with lies.
"This is a positive move by Government to bring television in villages. A lot of lies have been told before concerning national issues but with this development, we will get first-hand information. We are also happy that we will be able to view Parliament TV so that we can see for ourselves whether our MP is ably representing us or just drinking tea while others are debating," he said.
Many people, including the young and old, gathered outside Sinungu Basic School hall with excitement to witness the historic occasion.
Young ones were particularly excited to see cartoons on TV as they chuckled during the episode, while others among them wondered how a doll could 'talk'. The scenario was not different at Mwanambao Basic School in Sioma and the pupils here showed their excitement through well-rehearsed traditional dances and singing, much to the delight of the visitors.
Government, in conjunction with TopStar, is installing 500 Village Satellite Television Units throughout the country, with the projects expected to be completed in March 2019. The project was launched by President Edgar Lungu on June 25, 2018 in Vubwi, Eastern Province, with the aim of enhancing the dissemination of information to citizens. This means that rural communities will now have access to satellite television, including entertainment and educative programmes through communal TV sets.
In Western Province, 51 TV sets are expected to be installed in public viewing sites that include schools and clinics. About 1,020 households will benefit. Vice-President Wina was recently in Western Province to flag off the installation of television sets at Sinungu Basic School in Nalolo district and Mwanambao Basic School in Sioma district.
Mrs Wina said it was Government's desire to disseminate information to all the corners of the country.
"Our vision as Government is to have a complete transformation of broadcasting in our country. With over 50 years of independence, people should have access to important information with available transmission facilities. Our people need to know what is happening in other parts of the country and the world. We will therefore ensure television services are available in every town and every village," she said.
The Vice-President said the project was made possible through a grant from the People's Republic of China, in April 2018. The grant is part of the pledge China made at the Johannesburg Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in December 2015.
"The grant is meant to provide access to satellite television for African villages out of which Zambia benefited 500 (DSTVs). This project will ensure that people who cannot afford to buy a personal television and a decoder have chance to watch television from these village television service points," she said.
During the launch, Mrs Wina, who is the immediate past MP for Nalolo, took time to watch ZNBC news.
The Vice-President, who was accompanied by Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya, encouraged the youth to concentrate on their education if they want to be like Mutukwa Moya, who was reading the news, and many other notable personalities in society.
Ms Siliya underscored Government's desire for every area to have access to phone, radio and television signals, in line with the vision of building a Smart Zambia, without leaving anyone behind.
She said the launch of Village Television is a success story of what President Lungu and Mrs Wina had promised the people of Zambia during the 2016 campaigns.
Western Province permanent secretary Sibanze Simuchoba commended Government for bringing villagers in the global community through solar-powered television.
He has called on the people of Sinungu, Kaunga, Lweti and Mwanambao where the equipment was installed to safeguard it.
And Sioma Member of Parliament Mbololwa Subulwa thanked Government for choosing Mwanambao in her constituency to benefit from the Village Television