Only 10 of 54 countries in Africa have launched DTT services, while two (Rwanda and Mauritius) have completed the transition to digital broadcasting and a third has partly switched off and should be digital by the end of the year.
In a wide-ranging presentation entitled Making the Switch to DTT: an Emerging Market Perspective, Aynon Doyle, head of policy analysis and research regulatory affairs, Multichoice, said that although the 2006 ITU conference agreed that the transition to digital broadcasting should be completed in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Iran by June 2015, 30 African countries managed to secure an extension to 2010.
Some have since tried to bring that forward but failed to miss deadlines, with mainly southern African countries still aiming to complete the transition by 2015.
Doyle said that DTT rollout presented a huge opportunity for Africa, which has a population of around one billion but only 104 million households, with only 3.5 million of these having access to FTA and pay-DTT.
Looking at specific markets, he said Mauritius had been an early adopted, starting a pilot in 2001 and soft launching DTT in 2005. However, it had problems in early migration with non-compliant set-top boxes and is still on DVB-T rather than DVB-T2.
Meanwhile, Rwanda undertook a four-phased switch-off between January 31 and July 31 this year but 27% of TV households were still lacking DTT at ASO. On of the major benefits was the release of RF spectrum.
In Tanzania, ASO started at the end of December 2012 and the commitment to switch off has led to viewers losing access to TV.
In Kenya, ASO has been postponed due to a legal battle between broadcasters and the Communications Authority (CAK). It is still targeting a 2015 ASO but may have to put the date back.
South Africa, though the first country to start trials, has yet to launch DTT. It has it part been prevented from doing so by a debate about what standard (ISDB-T or DVB-T) to adopt.
Commenting on his company (DSTV), Doyle said it has 8 million subscribers as of March 2014. Meanwhile, its service GoTV was available in 112 cities in 11 countries.
He also said that pay-TV is a key driver for DTT in may African countries and that OTT is becoming increasingly popular in South Africa as people wait for the launch of DTT services.