More than 1.3 million Kenyan citizens are unable to watch television due to the country switching from analogue to digital broadcasting. According to the The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) only 2.2 million Kenyan citizens have acquired set-top boxes to access digital TV.
CA Director-General, Francis Wangusi, stated that poor distribution of set-top boxes was to blame for the television blackout. He added that remote areas are the most affected, though the government is working on ways of penetrating the region – this is according to Business Daily.
According to the report, the availability and affordability of the set-top boxes was a core part of the media owners’ request for more time to migrate — a request the CA and Information ministry vehemently opposed.
Wangusi’s latest position is also contrary to the reality on the ground showing the high cost of set-top boxes as the main obstacle to many households making the transition.
The report revealed that the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) on dismissed Wangusi’s explanation of the slow uptake, saying the CA chief executive’s mishandling of the migration and failure by the government to adopt globally accepted practices had left consumers, especially of the free-to-air television, without television.
In the report, Wangusi insisted that Kenya has an estimated 3.2 million set-top boxes imported by 79 licensed vendors and dismissed claims that a shortage of the gadgets and high retail prices are to blame for the slow uptake.
According to the report, Pay-TV subscribers have to pay monthly fees of between KES 499 and KES 8,200. The prices for multi-channel decoders range between KES 1,999 and KES 2,500, while free-to-air set-top boxes cost between KES 3,300 and KES 6,500. The CA has licensed over 79 types of set-top box and the sector has created over 2,500 jobs, according to ICT ministry statistics.
South Africa plans to spend about $250 million this year alone to buy set top boxes for underprivileged citizens before switching off analogue television signals. This is according to South African Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi. Muthambi revealed that more than five million set top boxes will be given away to these citizens.