Feature: With Chinese investment, Burundians enjoy better TV service at lower price
Driving on streets of Burundi's capital city Bujumbura, one can see StarTimes' orange advertising boards standing on the roadside. Currently, more than 90 percent of the city's digital television (DTV) users choose StarTimes, said Chen Yongzheng, general manager of StarTimes in Burundi.
The Chinese company's market share is over 85 percent in the whole country, according to him.
"I choose StarTimes because it has good channels, including children's channel, also because of the price, which is cheaper than other companies," 31-year-old technician Edouard Nduwimana told Xinhua.
StarTimes' service is also better than other companies, he added.
"I use StarTimes because it has many channels including channels for children. The cost is the lowest. The quality is also good," said Irakoee Annick, a Burundian businesswoman.
According to Chen, the Chinese media group has lowered the barrier of using DTV in Burundi, which was only for the rich before 2010 when StarTimes entered the market. Besides offering DTV with lower price, it provides customers with good after-sales service, he said.
"Our aim is to make every family in Africa afford the DTV, and share benefits of the DTV," said Chen.
According to the World Bank, Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world, where nearly 64.9 percent of the population live below the poverty line.
The Burundian economy is heavily reliant on agriculture which employs 90 percent of its population, though cultivable land is extremely scarce, said the bank.
StarTimes now has more than 4,300 staff members in Africa, of which about 96 percent are Africans.
Longin Bizimana is one of them.
"StarTimes introduces some Chinese here, who are the heads of the company. But there are Burundian people in different departments, who can also make decisions," said Bizimana, who is the head of the marketing department of StarTimes in Burundi.
"StarTimes is not for foreigners. It's for Burundians. Chinese and Burundians integrate very well in the company."
According to him, StarTimes helps Burundian people to be able to watch the TV. "For example, StarTimes does promotions, thus reduces the TV price. Because many Burundian people don't have much money, StarTimes tries to make people to be able to watch TV at a lower price," he said.
With assistance from the Chinese government, StarTimes is now working with the Burundian government to carry out digital transformation for the national TV network, making it possible for the Burundians to enjoy TV programs with better image quality.
The company plans to provide free services for poor households and make donation to transform TV signals for those in need.
"Burundi's economic growth is possible thanks to investments. The Chinese investments have been contributing to boosting Burundi's economy," said Cyprien Mbonimpa, a Burundian professor of international relations, who is also a former foreign minister of Burundi.
"The Chinese investments not only contribute to Burundi's economic growth, but also contribute to the well-being of households which are hired by companies built by Chinese people in Burundi," said Mbonimpa.