The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) switched off over 51,000 analogue TV sets on 31 July 2014, as it concluded the migration process from analogue TV transmission to digital broadcasting, AllAfrica reports. Patrick Nyirishema, director of RURA, revealed that the last phase of the migration process involved households in the west and south-west regions of the country; the four-phase analogue switch-off started in January 2014 in Kigali, with the north-west and east regions migrating to digital broadcasting on 31 March and 31 May, respectively. According to Nyirishema, before the digital migration exercise started, 50% of TV sets in Rwanda relied on analogue transmission, while digital coverage is currently at around 95%.
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, would be delayed following slow take-up of set-top boxes (STBs). The executive stated that the previous deadline for the analogue switch-off ‘may now be unrealistic’, adding that the agency would 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 Rwanda is only the second sub-Saharan African country, after Tanzania, to complete the switchover to date. In countries around the world the switchover has freed up frequencies (known as the ‘digital dividend’) for 4G mobile broadband usage.