Reports from Nigeria suggest that Chinese-backed StarTimes Group might be facing a funding crisis. Despite enjoying fast expansion over the past few years, the report in Lagos newspaper PM Times, states that StarTimes is being hindered in its TV expansion plans for Africa. StarTimes describes the stories as “baseless”.
StarTimes already has operations in more than 10 African countries including Burundi, Congo, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. It has also just acquired the assets of On Digital Media’s Top TV operation in Johannesburg.
The Nigerian report quotes a story emanating from China a few days earlier, where the President of the StarTimes group, Pang Xinxing, as saying that StarTimes has slowed down its operations on the African continent due to shortage of funds. He also admitted that in some countries, StarTimes is unable to start building a platform for operations, despite being granted an operating license by authorities in those countries.
PM Times says that since 2011, China Development Bank and the China-Africa Development Fund have been in partnership with StarTimes, offering the company loans and funding through direct investment. But Xinxing says he believes that “the funding gap is still too large.”
Industry stakeholders, says the news report, are of the opinion that the situation could pose a grave threat to Star Times’ oft-stated dream of providing coverage for 70 per cent of Africa’s population over the next three to five years.