FUNYULA, Kenya, (Xinhua) --
On top of the house made of mud walls and iron
sheets in Funyula, Busia County, a rural district in western
Kenya, is a satellite dish belonging to a leading broadcaster.
A black cable snakes
from the dish into the house where it links to a 32-inch flat
screen TV, from where the owner - Vincent Otiato, a primary
school teacher - connects with the rest of the world by watching
movies, local and international news, wildlife shows and
Otiato has been
using the pay TV service for the last three years, enjoying the
world-class television in the rural village and he is not about
“Ever since I bought
my first TV after getting employed in this area, I have never
used the free-to-air services because the signal is poor. Pay TV
is our only savior,” he said on Wednesday, noting he pays 2,400
Kenyan shillings (23.5 U.S. dollars) every month for the
Otiato had a choice
of not subscribing to the service but good programming and low
monthly costs have made him fall in love with pay TV.
The teacher is one
of the many residents in rural Kenya hooked to pay TV services
due to weak free-to-air signal, good programming that include
international football matches, and low charges.
So popular is pay TV
in rural areas that walking around villages in Busia and the
neighboring Siaya County, one may think that residents are
competing to own the gadgets.
“If you don’t get
the dish, you will not watch Kenyan TV stations because of the
weak signal. The free-to-air set-top-boxes do not work these
sides. I bought one and it did not work before switching to pay
TV,” said Calvin Abuya, a retired government worker.
Abuya noted that he
pays 3.9 dollars for the service every month, money that he
comfortably gets from his monthly pension.
“I have been using
the service for the last two years. I had no choice after
relocating to the village from Kisumu where I worked. I tried
using free-to-air services but it did not work because the TV
was picking Ugandan channels,” he said.
Boom in pay TV
services in the Kenyan villages has offered job opportunities to
technicians who walk around fixing the gadgets for people in
case they malfunction.
Johannes Bwire, 42,
is a pay TV technician in Bunyala, Budalangi, and every day, he
responds to calls from several people seeking his services.
“Some call me to
have their dishes reinstalled onto the houses while others have
signal problems with the TV. I charge at least 3.9 dollars for
the work,” said Bwire, who owns a motorbike to facilitate faster
movement in villages.
The technician noted
a majority of the households which own TV sets in the village
use pay TV services, with some of the dishes installed on grass
“Besides the poor
signal, the love for football is one of the major reasons some
young people, including myself, subscribed to pay TV. People
want to follow the games as they bet, so it becomes convenient
to have the service in your house,” he said.
As of the end of
September, some 5.04 million households in Kenya owned TV sets
with 1.2 million using pay TV services, according to the latest
data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).
terrestrial television signal population coverage across the
east African nation stood at 86 percent, said the CA.
Bernard Mwaso, a
consultant with Edell IT Solution, noted that low charges by pay
TV service providers following increased competition have made
it affordable for citizens especially in the rural areas embrace
He added that
increased adoption of pay TV in rural Kenya shows the service is
no longer a preserve of the rich and it is falling into the
level of a basic need.