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Wananchi Group goes satellite

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 24 – The Wananchi Group announced on Tuesday that it would launch satellite pay-tv services in Kenya in the next three months as it seeks to increase its market share.

This follows a Sh5 billion capital injection into the Internet and cable television service provider from a group of international investors.

Briefing the media on Tuesday, Wananchi Group Chief Executive Officer Richard Bell said the satellite service would be a back-up channel for its already existing cable customers as well as greater reach to serve the whole country.

"In order to respond to the needs of our customers and expand digital pay-tv we will launch the satellite service so that wherever you are whether in Moyale or Wajir you can enjoy digital pay-tv," Mr Bell said.

With satellite, Wananchi will also grow its pay TV offering into the greater East Africa region to 10 countries.  Mr Bell said the integration of the region has renewed investor appetite especially in a virtually un- tapped market such as pay-tv.

"We believe that the success of this region is not Kenya verses Tanzania.  What is unique about this region is the economic integration, which is creating a market that is sufficiently large for investors to come," he said.

Wananchi sourced the funds from Liberty Global, a cables company, Oppenheimer Funds, and Sarona Asset Management, a Canadian-based emerging-markets fund manager seeking investments. Existing investors include East Africa Capital Partners.

Their Sh5 billion injection brings the total capital boost for the group to Sh14 billion in the last three years.

Mr Bell said the funds would also be channelled in developing its fibre infrastructure that is currently being rolled out in phases in major towns such as Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru.

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The fibre network will enable Wananchi to grow its Triple Play offering where the company is able to offer pay-tv, broadband Internet and voice in one package.

"The thing about cable is that it is only available in certain parts of town and takes a lot of time to build the infrastructure," he said.

With satellite, Wananchi will be entering a market that is predominantly occupied by Multichoice with its DStv product.

Wananchi has gone a step further to entice local filmmakers with a ready market or their movies and other content.

"Local entrepreneurs have struggled to find somewhere to sell their content but we believe that the future is all about localised content and we are actively in the market engaging with them," he said adding it would offer more choice for consumers.

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