Rwanda: switch to digital broadcasting early next year

Technology & Convergence

Rwanda will switch to digital broadcasting early next year beating the 2012 deadline African countries set to switch off analogue broadcasting. The development paves the way for the Rwanda government to licence a second signal distributor for a terrestrial digital broadcast network, according to Ignatius Kabagambe, Director General in the Ministry of Information. Kabagambe says in Rwanda the law provides for a maximum of two signal distributors.

"One signal licence was awarded to the Public Orinfor, the public broadcaster. The second licence is to be issued through an open international competitive bidding process," Kabagambe told East African Business Week. He said the bidding process had to be suspended to allow Rwanda migrate to digital broadcasting.

"We thought it would not make business sense for someone to invest in analogue and later tell him to migrate to digital," Kabagambe explained. "Now that the country is switching to digital broadcasting, we are inviting investors in television and content provision for the national broadcaster," he mentioned.

Patrice Mulama, Executive Director Media High Council, the regulator of the media industry in the private sector says a number of investors have already shown interest in the second signal distributor licence. "Nation Media Group, Tele 10, Star Times are some of the investors keen on this and a couple of others have shown interest in the licence. However they have not committed themselves," said Mulama.

Both Kabagambe and Mulama believe the Rwanda media sector has a lot of opportunities for investors to exploit. "There are opportunities virtually in all media sectors including print, electronic and online publications," Kabagambe said. In the electronic media, Mulama says Rwanda has 20 radio station, government owns five of these. There is currently only one television station.