Digital TV migration deadline passes as African countries play catch-up

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 18 June 2015

Tanzania and Rwanda are the only two African countries to have completed the migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) on deadline, according to the Africa Telecommunications Union (ATU).

Kenya's switchover on 14 February is yet to be registered by the ATU, while Mozambique and Malawi have also made headway in the DTT process, says the ITU.

Migration was successfully achieved in Western Europe, the US and Australia by the 17 June 2015 deadline imposed by the International Telecommunications Union back in 2006. However, South Africa, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belize, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Sao Tome and Principe, and Sierra Leone are the countries most behind in the conversion to digital broadcasting, according to the country updates received by the ITU.

Countries that have missed the ITU's digital television deadline now face the consequences of signal interference between analogue and digital.

"They will have an obligation to immediately resolve any harmful interference that may occur, either affecting neighbouring countries that have implemented the transition or emanating from other sources," Sanjay Acharya, the ITU's head of media relations and public information, told Fin24. "And they will have abrogated their right to international protection."

ITU data indicates that projects to migrate to digital TV are on-going in the following African nations: Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The ATU has cited financial constraints, public resistance, and a lack of commitment by governments as reasons why most African countries have failed to meet the ITU digital migration deadline.