Rwanda names 31 July 2014 as analogue switch-off date

Rebecca Hawkes | 08-01-2014

Rwanda is to switch off its analogue television transmission by 31 July 2014, with the phased digital migration process beginning this month, the country's regulatory body has announced.

The Rwanda Ultilities Regulatory Agency (Rura) has said set-top boxes (STBs) will now be available by July to enable the reception of digital terrestrial television (DTT) signals, according to The New Times. About 21,000 decoders are now with authorised distributors, says Rura.

"Initially, the scarcity of digital TV converters had hampered the migration process, but with the commitment shown by the authorised vendors of STBs with regard to importation and shipping, we have decided to permanently switch over to digital broadcasting by the end of July," Regis Gatarayiha, director-general, Rura, is quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Gatarayiha estimates the number of STBs required for analogue switch-off to be in the region of 80,000. In 2011, a survey from the National Institute of Statistics found 144,192 Rwandans owned a TV set, he said.
"Since many TV owners in Kigali are subscribers of Star Times [the Chinese-owned pay-TV service] we will start by switching off analogue transmitters in Kigali by end of January 2014," Gatarayiha added.

The Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) is the East African country's sole signal distributor, and currently transmits both analogue and digital television content. RBA currently broadcasts seven free-to-air digital TV channels, reaching around 95% of the country. A total of eight broadcasters including Contact TV, Lemigo TV, Light House TV, Super TV, Rwanda Holdings, Capital TV and Max TV have now been authorised by Rura to establish studios.