Kenya yet to tap digital broadcasting potential


Image: Dr Bitange Ndemo. By BiztechAfrica
Dr Bitange Ndemo

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Dr Bitange Ndemo, Kenya’s Ministry of Information Permanent Secretary speaks on how far the country is in the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting and the untapped opportunities.

How far is Kenya in the analogue to digital broadcasting journey?

The DVBT-2 signal is now available in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.  By December, it will be available in all parts of Kenya that have analogue signal.  That will be about 80 per cent of the population covered.

What benefits will come with the digital signal?

Digital TV comes with many benefits.  Besides sound and picture quality, it can be available in many platforms.  Further it gives us the opportunity to create more content in many thematic channels that are arising.  By next month, there are going to be vernacular TV channels thus
enabling us to begin to preserve our languages.  We shall also be able to provide learning to schools at cheaper rates than ever before.

Does this mean we shall pay to watch once we have the DVBT-2 gadgets or will there be free to-watch channels as there are currently?

No.  Free to Air will always be free.  There will be many offers of conditional access, but that will the decision of the consumer.

What is the cost of the DVBT-2 after the waiver of import taxes?

I do not know.  The costs range from as little as USD5 for basic converter to USD100 for a more advanced converter.  Business people have not been importing the basic converters.  There are proposals that the Government should actually buy this for consumers just like most countries have done.  The trouble will be how to identify who to buy for.

What mechanisms have been put in place to ensure wide reach of these gadgets?

The removal of taxes is one such measure.  We also assume that entrepreneurs will find markets throughout the country.  Government should not interfere with market forces but if it becomes absolutely necessary there will be some intervention.

What untapped opportunities are there in the digital broadcasting age?

We have not used the digital age to change our image.  We need massive content from our end to change this.  We also need to change our teaching models to enable the poor to access education. 

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