The Japan International Cooperation Agency signed an agreement with the government Tuesday to provide up to ¥2,792 million (US$25 million) in grant aid for a project to develop a digital terrestrial television broadcasting network.
“This project will provide an Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) television network throughout the Maldives, making information more accessible to residents and reducing information disparities among islands,” JICA said in a press release.
“This initiative will also advance the speedy communication of emergency warning information as a measure against climate change and to strengthen disaster preparedness.”
ISDB-T is a technical standard for digital television broadcasting developed by Japanese and Brazilian experts. The project is expected to increase the terrestrial television coverage to at least 90 percent of the population and increase the number of channels available on outlying islands from one to eight.
“In addition to the Grant Project, JICA has a plan to provide a technical cooperation project to enhance broadcasters’ capability to utilise the newly introduced ISDB-T system. We expect to have synergetic effects from the projects to deliver maximum benefits to the people of Maldives,” the press release added.
The Maldives and Japan are meanwhile preparing to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations this year.
The official logo of the 50th anniversary was unveiled in late February.
Diplomatic relations were established on November 14, 1967, when Ambassador Seizo Hinata presented his letter of credence to Sultan Mohamed Fareed Didi.
A new chancellory of the embassy of Japan was also opened in Malé in January last year.
Japan is one of the biggest bilateral donors of the Maldives. Earlier this year, Japan provided US$2.2 million to the Maldives Police Service and medical equipment worth US$596,600 for use in regional hospitals and island health centres.
According to data from the Japanese foreign ministry, Japan gave more than US$450 million to the Maldives in development assistance between 2004 and 2010.
JICA, the agency that coordinates official development assistance for the Japanese government, funded the construction of the capital’s seawall as well as primary schools and the social centre in Malé.
In 2015, JICA completed the Project for Clean Energy Promotion in Malé with the installation of 740 solar panels in 12 government buildings in the capital at a cost of US$11.1 million.
Other projects benefiting from Japanese aid have included the first mechanisation of fishing vessels between 1973-76, the development of Malé’s seawall between 1987-2003, and the extension of loans amounting to US$34 million for post-tsunami reconstruction.
Japan is also one the largest importers of Maldivian fisheries products with MVR170 million (US$11 million) worth of exports in 2015.
Some 40,000 Japanese tourists visit the Maldives annually.