The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), which acts as the country’s telecoms watchdog, has revealed that the government plans to switch off analogue TV transmissions by 31 July 2014. According to All Africa, RURA’s director general Regis Gatarayiha commented: ‘Initially, the scarcity of digital TV converters had hampered the migration process but with the commitment shown by the authorised vendors of set-top boxes (STBs) with regard to importation and shipping, we have decided to permanently switch over to digital broadcasting by the end of July.’
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in November 2013 Jean Baptise Mutabazi, head of communication and media regulation at RURA, revealed that the migration to digital broadcasting in the country, initially set for end-2013, may be delayed following slow take-up of STBs. The executive stated that the previous deadline for the analogue switch-off ‘may now be unrealistic’, adding that the agency will only monitor the implementation process and leave the importation and distribution of the digital image converters to the private sector and Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA). Cedric Pierre-Louis, the managing director of Rwanda’s Tele10 TV, said at the time: ‘The problem is that people are not aware of the migration process and are reluctant to purchase STBs.’
Previously, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) set 2015 as the global deadline for switching from analogue to digital broadcasting, but Mauritius is the only African country to complete the switchover to date. In countries around the world the switchover has freed up frequencies (the ‘digital dividend’) for 4G mobile broadband usage.