With seven official languages and a digital migration plan involving local broadcasting for ten regions, Bright Nkaka, principal engineer for Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) had a long and complex shopping list for the gigantic broadcasting technology trade show that is the IBC.

A bursary from CBA enabled Nkaka to travel from Zambia to the Netherlands and spend five days talking to broadcast manufacturers and service providers directly about Zambia’s digital migration needs. “It’s overwhelming how much technology has advanced,” said Nkaka on arrival in Amsterdam, “Back home we have got very old equipment.” He said it was “very beneficial” to be able to see what was possible, all under one roof.

Nkaka and his team have the task of designing building a broadcast distribution network for Zambia, involving 67 transmitters and ten regions, as well as a whole TV and radio station fitout for the capital, Lusaka. Everything from cameras, to mixers to playout machines are required. In approximately two-and-a-half years Zambia plans to have a digital network broadcasting in at least seven languages, locally and nationally, using fibre optic cable for signal distribution.

CBA technical advisers Neil Dormand and Alan Downie helped set up meetings for Nkaka with broadcast systems providers, and in one case he was able to meet and discuss his project with a representative South African systems integrator, who was experienced in setting up multilingual systems (South Africa has 11 official languages).

Nkaka and ZNBC are at the stage of requesting proposals for the regional project and getting a tender document into shape. A challenging and complex task, it was aided by being able to visit an expo where he could discuss his project with experts and freely ask questions, finding out more about what he needed to find out about. “I have looked for opportunities to connect with people who can help,” he said.

Zambia plans to use DVB-T2 as its digital terrestrial TV standard. “In July we commissioned one transmitter, it’s DVB-T2, but it’s also analogue, right now that’s what we’re using it for,” said Nkaka  “We’re going to transmit [DTT] in UHF in 8mHz. The analogue transmission is using VHF, to avoid interference as we migrate, because we need to run the two systems at the same time, as some people can’t afford STBs (set-top boxes).”

Bright Nkaka visited the DVB stand, where he met Dr Peter Siebert, executive director of the DVB Project Office, setting up a good contact for the inevitable technical questions that will arise for such a large project, as Nkaka and his team fine-tune its implementation.

Read about the other bursar from Tonga