Digital migration to start December in Nairobi


Kenya: Nairobi residents will have to purchase a set top box by December 13 this year if they want to view any form of television programming.

This follows a consensus among warring parties as to when the analogue signal should be switched off. The digital migration date had been postponed severally in the past.

The decision to switch off, arrived at Tuesday by the Digital Television Committee, will be done in phases to allow for a smooth transition ahead of the June 17, 2015 global deadline.

The first phase will be in Nairobi in December where the analogue signal will be switched off while the Second phase will be on March 30, 2014 in Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kisii, Nakuru and Eldoret and the last phase will be on June 30, 2014 for the rest parts of the country.

Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) Director Francis Wangusi said the process of arriving at the date has been collaborative and included all stakeholders.

“The date gives consumers a grace period of three months to purchase the Set Top Boxes as well as enough time to encourage more venders to organise and prepare to bring more set top boxes in to the country. The month of December will also give Kenyans an opportunity to watch the Jubilee celebrations on digital platform,” said Wangusi.

The set top boxes required for the digital process were zero-rated by the government to make them more affordable and currently range between Sh2, 500 and Sh5, 000.

Though the adoption has been slow, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication Joseph Tiampati noted that about 500,000 households have purchased the Set Top Boxes and made the switch to digital.

“Kenyans should only purchase compliant set top boxes in order to enjoy the benefits of digital migration and not be left out at the time of the analogue switch off,” he said.

Currently, there are 26 models of set top boxes that have been approved in Kenya and the government is relying on the waiver of duty on the boxes to encourage more Kenyans to buy them.

“The Government since the launch of the digital migration in 2009 has taken a number of steps to ensure that Kenyans migrate with minimum challenges. We are still consulting on ways to make the Set Top Boxes more affordable to Kenyans,” said Tiampati.

He added that they are putting every effort in place to ensure that Kenyans are informed of the migration process through consumer education and awareness programmes in the coming months.