27 May 2014

Kenya: Private Sector Delaying Digital TV Switch - Matiang'i

Nairobi — The government has blamed the private sector for the sluggish digital migration process citing their continued use of the courts to block the move.

Speaking on Tuesday during the opening of the third Africa Technology Union Digital Migration and Spectrum Policy Summit, Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i said the country is ready to migrate but the court cases filed by the private sector are delaying the shift.

"The country was expected to migrate by June 2014, but with the cases pending in court we can't. If the cases in court were resolved quickly, we will migrate sooner, "Matiang'i said.

He says so far 80 percent of Kenyans are aware of digital migration with about 600,000 set top boxes bought in the last six months.

He says the government is committed to the digital migration and is confident that the country will migrate by the world deadline of June 17, 2015.

Matiang'i is hopeful that the forum will provide a consensus building on the digital migration, pointing out that Africa can no longer lag behind.

On his part, International Technology Union Director General François Rancy urged African governments to support each other in ensuring they meet the digital deadline.

"The deadline cannot be changed... African Governments have no choice but to migrate as it's impossible to change the dates."

Last month, the Supreme Court barred the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) from switching off analogue TV signals until an application by the government challenging the Court of Appeal's judgment on digital migration is determined.

Justices Jackton Ojwang and Smokin Wanjala also ordered that the September 30 deadline for migration from analogue to digital TV be retained until the appeal is heard and determined.

A recent survey by Ipsos Synovate indicated that a majority of people living in Nairobi are not ready for the TV digital migration rollout.

The poll indicates that people in Kenya's capital city are yet to buy the Set Top Boxes (STBs) with only 32 percent having purchased them.

Ipsos Synovate Managing Director Margaret Ireri said that 67 percent of people living in Nairobi were willing to buy the STBs but do not seem in a hurry to do so with the cost of the boxes being the major factor.

The summit will be held for three days and brings together delegates from all African countries to address, among other issues, the June 2015 migration deadline, optimizing the digital dividend and development of mobile broadband in Africa.

The delegates include ICT ministers and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of sector regulatory organisations and industry players and are expected to review the status of migration from analogue to digital TV broadcasting in Africa.

The delegates should also recommend strategies to achieve the deadline and ensure digital dividend spectrum is appropriately planned for.

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