By Bedah Mengo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s migration
to digital television has made more households acquire TV sets,
with the number of those owning the gadgets going up
About 4.3 million households in the East
African country now own TV sets, latest statistics from the
Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) showed Tuesday, up from
about 3.5 million when the country shifted to digital migration
in February 2015.
The new figures indicate that digital migration has been a
roaring success in East Africa’s biggest economy despite initial
fears that had been expressed by various stakeholders, including
media houses and consumer rights organizations.
During the switch to digital TV, many opposed the process
noting over half of Kenya’s population would have information
blackout. But with the number of households acquiring television
sets going up, critics have been proved wrong.
According to the CA, the cumulative number of digital set top
boxes purchased by the end of December stood at 4.26 million,
with 722,196 being free-to-air set-top-boxes while 3.5 million
being pay TV.
This is a rise from 3.04 million for pay TV and 95,493 for
free-to-air set-top-boxes purchased during a similar period a
The surge in the number of TV sets in Kenya could be
attributed to increased coverage of television signal following
Some 66 percent of Kenya’s population now receive TV signal
up from half the number when there was analogue signal,
according to the regulator.
However, digital migration has not only brought boom for TV
set acquisition in the East African nation, the number of
channels viewers can access has risen exponentially.
From about five before the big switch, Kenyans can now watch
over 60 free local channels besides international ones.
"On December 31 2016, the number of free-to-air TV channels
on the digital terrestrial platform stood at 66 up from 63
recorded in the preceding quarter," said the CA in its quarterly
On the other hand, the number of pay TV service providers on
the Digital Terrestrial Television platform stands at two,
namely GoTV and StarTimes.
Free-to-air set-top- boxes are currently going for an average
of 35 U.S. dollars in the East African nation from about 50
dollars before the switch.
On the contrary, for pay TV, customers parts with between 25
dollars and 60 dollars to acquire the gadget, having dropped
from as high as 100 dollars, and further pays as little as 2
dollars for monthly subscription.
"Two things have made the number of TV sets in Kenya grow
First is the increased signal coverage, which has spread to
areas that never had making people in such places buy TV," said
Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT Solutions in Nairobi.
Second, he noted that government’s efforts to take
electricity to the remotest parts of the country have enabled
people to have power, thus, fanning demand for TVs.
"Many people were not buying TV sets because they had no
power, but with their houses powered, why not have a TV set?" he
said, adding that the numbers would keep on rising.