Ndemo in firing line after tweeting lobby group

Kenya’s Information and Communications ministry permanent secretary Dr. Bitange Ndemo has found himself in a war of words with the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) after tagging the lobby group in a provocative tweet following its move to stop the December 31 digital TV migration.

Bitange Ndemo ‏@bantigito
@ConsumersKenya I hope you don’t take me to court when we migrate from 3G to 4G. Here you will need $1,000 for a new 4G phone.

The tweet fuelled a war of words between Ndemo and the consumer association, with the PS showing his displeasure with the group’s move to stop the planned Nairobi analogue transmission switch-off.

The lobby group retweeted the tweet to its 4,150 followers, eliciting responses from members of the public sympathetic with the Cofek.

Cofek further published an article criticising Ndemo’s plans to migrate Kenya into 4G.

In the article, Cofek said its recent legal action to stop the switch-off of analogue broadcasting could hold up plans by the Ministry of Information and Communications to roll out 4G before next year’s general elections, set for March 4, as any impediment could halt the release of much-needed spectrum.

“The prospect of the government rolling out planned Sh42 billion high-speed Internet connectivity on the 4G platform before next year’s elections is bleak after a consumer lobby group moved to court to block the December 31 deadline for the migration to digital television,” Cofek said.

This was also in response to a comment by Ndemo condemning Cofek’s move to head to court to stop the migration.

“The cost of not migrating would be far too greater if we don’t bite the bullet now and enable frequency spectrum for advancement. The spectrum utilized by the analogue TV broadcast is what will be used in the roll-out of the 4G network, and so a further delay would bring a halt to both projects,” Ndemo said.

Cofek argues that, given the slow uptake of 3G network, it is not essential that Kenya puts its resources into the venture.

The lobby group further said that all the network providers have witnessed the slow uptake of 3G, with many users yet to acquire 3G devices.

Already, COFEK is proceeding with another drive, launching a petition for Nairobi residents to halt the migration. This has so far received 67,209 signatures, the group posted on its Facebook page on Saturday.

The High Court is expected to rule on the petition this morning.

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