90 percent of Nairobians to miss switch to digital signal deadline

Some 90 percent of television set owners in Kenya’s capital Nairobi could miss the switch to digital signal by the end of this year, after it emerged that only 105,000 out of close to one million owners of analogue TV sets had bought set-top boxes.

According to Kenya’s Information and Communications Ministry Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo, about 900,000 owners of analogue TV sets could be locked out come December 31, when analogue TV signals will be switched off in Nairobi.

This comes even after the prices of set-top boxes in the country dropped to an average of between KSh2,500 and KSh6,000 (US$30 and US$72), following a government move to remove import duty on the gadgets.

With the prices having gone down, Ndemo said that the government will go ahead and switch off the analogue signal, saying: “We don’t have any reason to postpone the Nairobi switch off.”

According to Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) director general Francis Wangusi, the digital signal infrastructure has been rolled out to 70 percent of the population.

“The government has invested KSh2 billion (US$ 23.8 million) to rollout the digital infrastructure and any delay in switching off the analogue signals is doing more harm to the economy as we need to free the frequencies to be used for other purposes, such as rolling out LTE,” he said.

The CCK, together with the government, decided to roll out the digital signal in phases, with Nairobi being the first to have the analogue signal switched off by end of this year.

However the rest of the country has until April 2013 after the CCK moved the deadline in order to give more time for prices of set-top boxes to comply with the policy changes.

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