Rwanda: Campaign to Switch From Analogue to Digital Broadcasting Advancing

Technology & Convergence

Rwanda like most countries in the world has stepped up the campaign to move from analogue to digital broadcasting. To fast track the switch to digital, a guidance document titled 'Managing the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting' has been published.

"Though the project is still in its early stages of implementation, we are trying hard to create awareness among key players," Andrew Kisaka, an ICT expert hired to help the country move from analogue to digital broadcasting said.

The Geneva based International Telecommunication Union set 2015 as deadline for all countries to adopt terrestrial digital broadcasting. The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) has communicated to all broadcasters about the transition and intends to start a public awareness campaign.

Kisaka cited some of advantages of digital broadcasting as:- high quality pictures, editing is much faster and safer as compared to analogue. "Copying a 60 second analogue spot takes 60 seconds while 10 megabyte file takes only some few minutes," Kisaka. And one frequency of analogue can operate one television while in digital broadcasting a frequency can accommodate four to ten programmes, but although at the larger end of that range, the quality of pictures may be compromised.

"This is purely ICT and as the government considers ICT to be the backbone of the economy, digital broadcasting is a key drive and it will bring a revolution to ICT because of its powerfulness to reach many people at a go," Kisaka said.

When Rwanda goes to full digital broadcasting, people will be able to watch the 2008 World Cup in South Africa through their digital video broadcasting handheld mobiles and vehicular television receiver that can be fixed in the car.

To prepare Rwandans to shift, government has stopped issuing licences to investors intending to broadcast using analogue. And, more than 138 digital channels are now ready to be rented out to investors interested in starting digital broadcast television stations in the country. The country also imported 100 digital-to-analogue set-top converter boxes.

(The New Times (Kigali), 25 March 2008)