Home » Business » Astro to Open Electronics Manufacturing Plant

Astro Mobile is set to roll out an electronics manufacturing plant in Msasa which shall be one of the few in Africa, making Zimbabwe a potential tech hub. The two-phased programme will see Astro, through its manufacturing subsidiary, assemble smart televisions and decoders a move that will also see the creation of several hundred new jobs and position the country as a centre of electronics assembly and not just an importer of finished products like the bulk of Africa.

The move will also see prices of smart television LED sets coming down by as much as half, including the much celebrated 3D television sets that have taken the home entertainment scene by storm.

“We are excited about the development. We meant to just bring in the televisions assembled but we have had to reconsider after seeing that we would create jobs and opportunities if we assembled the televisions and decoders here in Zimbabwe,” said Astro Chief Executive Officer Mr Munyaradzi Gwatidzo.

With Zimbabwe meant to comply with the international June 17 deadline to digitalise television, a migration that will see all broadcasting by the terrestrial broadcasters going from analogue to digital, Astro are in line to help satisfy the demand surge that will come with the migration process.

With the older non-LCD televisions going almost obsolete, Astro also seeks to cushion the few who will not immediately be able to pay for high-end television units as they will be manufacturing set top boxes.

“These will be assembled in Zimbabwe and are basically devices to convert the signals from digital to analogue so that those with old television sets continue to be able to use them until they can migrate to digital television sets at their pocket’s pace,” explained Mr Gwatidzo.

The Msasa plant is set to start operations at the end of May rolling out at least 10 000 sets a month for the first three months, a figure that is set to double in their fourth month of operations.

The plant shall employ 400 people and is set to have a workforce of 2 000 in two years’ time when the second phase of the manufacturing plant is completed.

“We shall see 32-inch LED televisions costing an average of $300, 42-inch at $500 and 50-inch at roughly $800. Also note that these are smart televisions and the 42-inch will be 3D along with the 50-inch. We aim to make the home entertainment experience affordable while ensuring job creation, spending of money within our borders as well as supporting local. We all win and we position our country as an exporter,” he said.

The televisions will have features which include social network access, videos on demand (VOD) as well as many other aanced features and internet capabilities.

“Video on demand will also provide a platform for local film producers to market their products and proliferate them for monetary gain and help circumvent the problem of piracy once the modalities are fully explored and ironed out,” said Mr Gwatidzo.

The second phase of the manufacturing process will see Astro manufacture and assemble mobile phones and refrigerators as well as com- puters.

Source : The Herald

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