Television - Local entrepreneurs, especially dealers in electronics, are flocking the Rwanda Utility Regulation Authority (Rura) offices looking for specifications of the sought digital TV converters.
Recently, this paper reported that Rura had not received a prospective supplier for Set Top Boxes (STBs) that will enable viewers to access digital TV images, an issue believed to be hampering migration from analogue signals.
STBs are decoding devices that convert analogue images to digital and allow viewing digital content.
In an interview with The New Times last week, François Regis Gatarayiha, the director-general of Rura, said many businesspersons have expressed interest in importing the devices.
"We have started seeing investors who are interested in importing STBs, asking more about the type and approval process, the distribution arrangement, among others," he said.
The Rura boss said there will be no tendering process for the supply of the devices.
"The business people will import and sell them like any other electronics," Gatarayiha said.
No clear deadline
He said the exact date of switching off analogue broadcasting was still unclear, but emphasised that by the end of this year, the country will have fully gone digital.
"This month, we are going to start 'dual elimination', whereby we shall have content in both formats broadcast and this will not exceed six months, before we fully shift to digital transmission, so that people get the urgency of acquiring STBs or digital TV sets," Gatarayiha said.
Currently, only StarTimes and DStv subscribers access digital transmission.
No need for alarm
Nevertheless, the National Bureau of Broadcasting (Orinfor) is already broadcasting digital content and people with STBs can access digital images of Rwanda Television. Orinfor procured 800 STBs and would distribute them to several sectors as part of the awareness campaign to entice consumers to buy the decoders.
The Orinfor digital TV hosts several channels, including TV5, MTV, France 24, TV10 and Rwanda TV.
Rura estimates that a decoder will cost between $30 (about Rwf19,000) and $40 (Rwf25,000).
According to the proprietor of Contact FM, Albert Rudatsimburwa, who is also on a national digital migration steering committee, there is no cause for alarm about the unavailability of digital TV converters as there is an investor.
"I can't tell the detail of the digital TV converters' supplier now because the initiative was still at a conceptual stage, but what I know people are interested in supplying the STBs," he said.
Rudatsimburwa said it is too early to worry since the ITU transition deadline is set for 2015.
"The whole process of digital broadcasting should be left in the hands of the private investors, government can only provide policy support and regulation," he said.
By Frank Kanyesigye
The New Times/05/03/2013