NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – The Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) has now admitted that Kenya will not meet its June 30 deadline to migrate TV broadcasting to digital platform.
Acting Director General Francis Wangusi said the government has been slow in responding to CCK’s recommendation for a reduction of set-top box prices as a way of encouraging wider penetration.
A set-top box is the equipment used to convert a digital TV signal to normal analogue signals that can be viewed on the normal television sets.
“A set top-box might not be at the top of the list for Kenyans right now considering the current economic times. We have asked the government to consider reducing the taxes on the set-top box. The government has been slow in responding, we have not yet received a response from them but it will take a tall order for us to be able to meet our deadline,” he affirmed.
President Mwai Kibaki launched the digital broadcasting rollout in December 2009, with a target for the country to fully migrate by June 2012 ahead of the global deadline of 2015.
Wangusi said the digital signal has only been rolled out in Nairobi and it’s spread to the rest of the country within the next three months was highly improbable.
“The public broadcaster (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation) who was initially given the license was not well funded to be able to achieve the migration within the timeline that we had set. When we found out, we licensed a competitor, but as CCK we did it late. The competitor is starting to roll out the services, but we do not believe that they will be able to cover the country by the end of year,” Wangusi explained.
The country was meant to beat a global 2015 deadline for all countries to migrate from analogue signals.
Meanwhile, the CCK boss said the war on counterfeit phones is still ongoing and that a campaign to switch off fake phones will kick off at the end of April.
“We have had meetings with all the stakeholders, and now we are only waiting for those who committed themselves to buy the database which will register the counterfeit phones (who are the phone manufacturers) then we can set the date for the closure. But it will hopefully be by the 30th of April,” he added.
Speaking while signing an agreement with USAID worth Sh3.3 billion that will see the development of a National Broadband Strategy council, Wangusi said the money will be to supply technical assistance in the development of universal access to communication services.
“We really need to concentrate on bringing communication to the rest of the Kenyans who have no services. The areas that are most affected are in Northern Kenya and parts of Rift Valley, but when we finalise with our strategy then we will be able to see how we can close those gaps,” Wangusi stated.
USAID representative Erna Kerst added it will help advance the technological aspects of the country in line with the country’s blueprint of Vision 2030
According to CCK’s statistics, only 5.2 million Kenyans have access to internet and data services.