27 December 2012

Uganda: Digital Migration - Uganda Promises 2013

Mityana, Uganda — Having failed to beat the December 31, 2012 East African deadline for the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting, Uganda's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has said that it will switch in February 2013.

The East African partner states had set an ambitious target for the switch but as it appears, none of the EAC member states has been able to hit the deadline.

Kenya which was on course to beat the deadline faced a setback last week after a temporary order was issued stopping, the migration to digital broadcasting in Nairobi that was set for December 31, 2012.

The High Court said that this was to allow for the hearing of a case filed by Cofek challenging the migration. The case will be heard on January 11th. The Information Minister, Samuel Poghisio was quoted by press as saying that the government is willing to dialogue with stakeholders.

Speaking to the East African Business Week on the sidelines of a Startimes' Corporate Social Responsibility last week, Hon. Nyombi Tembo, the Minister of State for ICT said that by February 2013, Uganda will hit the target.

"Yes we have delayed but by February 2013, Kampala and the neighboring areas will be switched on. By extending the transmission to a radius of 150km from Kampala, we shall have covered over 60% of all TVs in the country," he said.

He added that the delays were caused mainly by procurement challenges and the policy which allowed for only one signal distributor. Operators had opposed government's move of making Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) the sole signal distributor.

"We are reviewing that policy so as to allow for a second signal distributor so as to allow for competition. As you know competition brings out the best results," Nyombi said.

He also added that UCC has formulated a framework that will have punitive measures to telecom companies for unsolicited calls and messages.

Kevin Chen, the CEO Startimes Uganda also added that the company will work closely with the Uganda Communications' Commission (UCC) to ensure that they cover about 90% of the country in 2013.

The company has also introduced mobile devices that can be used to watch most of the channels on the Startimes platform so as to watch TV on the 'GO'.

The Startimes CSR dubbed 'Keep malaria out of our homes' saw the company distribute mosquito nets and other household items valued at over Ush10m to the elderly in Mityana district.

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