By FREDRICK OBURA
The move comes after intense lobbying by private broadcasters, the Communication Commission of Kenya, and consumer bodies who raised red flag over the exorbitant prices of decoder.
Kenya was to shift its TV viewing from the current analogue status to digital format by start of June, but high cost of the set-top boxes and lack of awareness has made the project lag behind with CCK casting doubt on the country’s commitment towards it.
A set-top box is an information appliance device that generally contains a tuner and connects to a TV set and an external source of signal, turning the signal into content, which is then displayed on the TV screen or other display device.
“Kenya will have to push its self-set date of June 2012 to a further date, the cost of set-top boxes is still high and not enough awareness has been created,” said Francis Wangusi at a recent regional digital migration forum in Nairobi.
“We need to reach out to Kenyans and create awareness to help us move forward together. Taxes on important equipment also need to be lowered or removed because the current prices of the set-top boxes are unrealistic,” he said.
A set-top box costs between Sh5,000 and Sh10,000, the price rivals the cost of a TV set making the whole digital migration concept a big joke to many consumers.
“The Government has taken this opportunity to remove import duty on decoders to allow Kenyans easily move to digital viewing and avoid further delays that might bar us from beating the set 2015 target for the global migration,” said Finance Minister Njeru Githae in his 2012/13 Budget speech.
“This is important as you know ICT in general plays a significant role in our economy, digital migration as you know will reduce the cost of starting broadcast business thereby attracting many players into it,” he noted. “Talented artists will also get opportunity to create locally relevant contents to feed many channels that we are anticipating once we all shift to the new era.”
In the 2012/2013 Budget, the minister also moved to remove import duty on software to attract foreign investors in the ICT industry. The move is likely to see growth in quality finance, education, agriculture, and e-commerce software in the country, which has become common with businesses and organisations.