Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK) has gone to court to stop the planned Digital Switchover in Nairobi at the end of this month. This is most unfortunate considering the fact that the current analogue broadcast has been the most discriminating. Majority of Kenyans have not seen the level of communication that Digital offers (this is what the constitution demands). In the new platform we have seen more vernacular channels delivering news in a language that people understand and relate to. It therefore surprises me when an organization such as COFEK moves to court to protect an elitist broadcast platform.
Further, every one new channel creates more than thirty new jobs. There are more than one hundred and fifty new applications awaiting clearance to start digital broadcast. Twenty of these are already on air. If we get two hundred new broadcasters, we shall have achieved our quest for having a pluralistic and diversified broadcast environment. In whose interest is COFEK advancing the agenda of maintaining monopolistic practices in Kenyan Media? Does COFEK really understands the seriousness of unemployment in Kenya?
The cost of not migrating will be far too greater if we don’t bite the bullet now and enable frequency spectrum to be used in more productive and inclusive manner. The benefits of mobile operators moving from 2G to 3G are glaring. We need to scale up to 4G and create a robust last mile that will reduce the rural-urban digital divide; that will create an enabling playing field when we start delivering new local content to schools country-wide.
Most of the world has migrated and they fully understand why we need to free up spectrum. EAC member states agreed on the December 31st deadline. Tanzania, for example, has committed itself to this agreed deadline despite not having completed the national roll-out of the digital signal. In Kenya, we have adopted a phased plan starting from Nairobi. Technology changes every six months and Kenya must remain at the technological edge in order to remain the true hub of Africa. We seem to be exercising freedom without any responsibility.