Kenya sets pace for Africa in digital migration race

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Informatio and communication,Bitange Ndemo

Kenya has made a well calculated transition to digital televi­sion with a self imposed date of December 2012.The country is ahead of its African counterparts in the migration.As Kenya is contemplating when to switch off analogue, South Africa, the most developed economy on the continent, does not believe it will manage by 2015.

Koenie Schutte, an expert with the South Africa Digital Broadcasting Authority said they are still not sure of which path to follow.Yes, the country already has the infrastructure rolled out to cover more than 60 per cent of the population but the roll out plan is a problem.

The Communication Commission of Kenya says it will soon announce the actual date it will start switching off analogue transmission but the digital signals are already in most homes.

“The plan is to have analogue switched off in phases to avoid a countrywide backlash,” said Francis Wangusi, CCK director general on recently.

While some other countries are still debating on whether to use DVB-T1 technology or the DVB-T2, which delivers improved quality, Kenya made the decision in 2010 and started phasing out the earlier version from the market.

The DVB-T2 standard is now available in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru ,Nyeri, Eldoret, Kakamega and Webuye and most regions of the country are expected to be covered before the end of this year.

On the other hand, a country like Botswana is seen to be slowly adopting DVB-T1, a move seen as backward as far as technology advancement is concerned.

In June this year, Uganda made the decision to transfer to new stand­ard guidelines for digital migration banning the sale of DVB-T1 in favor of DVB-T2. Its implementation of the terrestrial digital broadcasting was planned based on DVB-T1 technology.

Even in the developed world, countries took longer than they ex­pected to migrate.

Germany by the end of last year had an average of 55.7 per of homes on digital, 10 years after it embarked on migration. Britain which started the exercise in1998 only completed it this year.

“Britain left the responsibility of putting up infrastructure to public broadcaster and commercial enabling a competitive environment,” said Beth Thoren of Digital UK.

It is with such experience that Kenya is taking note and carefully map­ping out its digital journey.

Uganda is still debating on whether


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