Kenya wants harmony in digital shift

Kenya is calling on countries in the region to realign their digital migration timelines after most of them missed their self-imposed deadline last year.

Information and Communication cabinet secretary, Dr Fred Matiang’i on Thursday said failing to harmonise digital migration could turn the East African Community into a dumping site for obsolete technology.

“I wish to challenge East African Communication Organisation (EACO) members to take a harmonised approach in the transition to digital TV broadcasting to avoid dumping of analogue transmission and receiver equipment in countries that are lagging behind in the migration process,” said Matiang’i.

He was speaking during the EACO congress in Nairobi. He urged other EAC countries to block network access to counterfeit mobile handsets and unregistered SIM cards. Kenya took these steps last year in a bid to curb counterfeits and crime.

“Already, we have noted that continued sale of pre-activated SIM cards in the region is posing a threat to our local attempts to eliminate the use of ICT devices for criminal activities,” he said.

Member states of the International Telecommunications Union are migrating from the analogue to digital broadcasting platform by 2015.

In anticipation of this, EAC member states had set themselves a December 2012 deadline for the migration.

Tanzania was the only partner state to meet the deadline switching of major cities in the country on December 31.

However, faced with numerous technical challenges, the country has since halted subsequent phases of the analogue switch-off.

Missed deadline

Kenya missed its deadline as a consumer lobby went to court. Uganda’s timeline was disrupted by wrangles between the communication industry regulator and the state broadcaster while Rwanda and Burundi were still carrying out feasibility studies last year.

If Mr Matiang’i’s proposal is adopted by the other partner states, EAC communication regulators will now face the daunting task of finding an agreeable migration date despite the disparate challenges that face each country

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