27 January 2013

Kenya: Delays Hinder Digital Drive

Nairobi Kenya — Fears are rife that Kenya may miss the internationally agreed deadline to migrate from analogue TV to digital by 2015.

The country's Information and Communications Permanent Secretary Dr. Bitange Ndemo expressed fears that unprecedented delays mostly occasioned by consumer bodies were putting the country at risk.

Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) moved to court in Nairobi and secured an injunction suspending the planned switch-off until the general elections planned for March this year. Cofek argues that Kenya is ill prepared for the migration that will see a huge chunk of Kenyans who rely on analogue television signals switched off.

Cofek is demanding among other things to have the switch-off postponed until October 31st this year, apparently to give consumers more time to prepare for the process. The federation also wants the government to reduce the cost of set-top boxes from the current $60 to a price that is less than $12. Cofek argues that the current price of the gadget that converts analogue signals to digital is beyond the reach of many households in Kenya.

The Ministry of Information had earlier intended to actualize the migration on December 31st last year. This was after an earlier postponement from the previously agreed date of September 2012.

"My fear is that we risk missing on the international deadline. This will put the country in an awkward situation since most of our equipment will be rendered redundant. My appeal to the consumer federations is not to resist change in technology but work with the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to ensure that this deadline is not extended beyond July," said Dr. Ndemo.

According to Dr. Ndemo, it takes an average of about five years to completely move a country from analogue signal to digital. He said the current delay was unfortunate as some of the countries in the region are already way ahead in implementing the switch-off. For example Tanzania and Zambia.

The international community has put governments on notice that the analogue signal will be non-existent by 2015.

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