Kenya: Country's First Web-Based TV Broadcaster

Technology & Convergence

Competition in Kenya's broadcasting market has moved a notch higher with the launch of a new Internet-based television station. Known as Kenya 2.0, the service offers local viewers and Kenyans in the diaspora access to news and features for free. Content will be streamed on the website

Its proprietors say Kenya 2.0 is designed to help the planned digital villages broadcast from remote parts of the country to the whole world. "Our aim is to revolutionise news reporting from Africa to the rest of the world," said Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication.

Web-based televising is rapidly becoming a trend in the broadcasting industry as convergence alters traditional delivery channels into multi-faceted media. Recruitment of news gatherers, producers and hosts is under way. The station is said to be promising the recruits relatively competitive salaries in comparison to more mainstream television channels.

Full time hosts will earn between Sh150,000 and Sh300,000, while part-time or segment hosts will get between Sh8,000 and Sh15,000. Plans are under way to establish hundreds of digital villages countrywide with at least one in every constituency. Digital villages are computer facilities located in rural or peri-urban areas that are typically owned by members of the resident community. They act as providers to let citizens access ICT services, in addition to accelerating the economic and social development of local communities.

By the end of the year, the government plans to have over 1,470 digital centres operational in local constituencies, with a further 5,880 planned by December next year. As the Kenya 2.0 television project rolls out, it will depend heavily on the implementation of several infrastructural plans that the government has in place to facilitate access to affordable Internet connectivity, power and hardware solutions to rural areas where such services may not be available currently.

"Broadband is key to this country because it is going to enable us to provide jobs thousands of youth in the country-those who will be employed in digital villages and those employed in the BPO industry, which is growing so fast in this country," said Dr Ndemo, who made a recorded statement on the website.

Kenya 2.0 is currently only available to just over three per cent of the country's population. The country's sluggish uptake of Internet services has long been blamed on high connectivity and the lack of locally relevant content on the Internet. "I would be interested in seeing what this website is about but I cannot even access it because the bandwidth is so slow here."

This is something that needs to be worked on if we are to take advantage of the opportunities the company has advertised," said Mr Noel Kithuku, a college graduate at a cyber-cafe in downtown Nairobi.

(Business Daily (Nairobi), 8 October 2007)