The Kenyan Digital migration finally happened despite the stand off, threats, counter threats and smear campaigns from the 3 major Kenyan Television stakeholders who were dragged into it kicking and screaming.
The Digital Migration Myths & Half truths
The main reason why this digital migration, despite being a very brilliant idea, was made to have Kenyans believe that free speech was risk from foreigners and that no consultations or ample time were given to the ‘Analogue 3’ in the run up to the world deadline.
Despite the differing views on the ASO (Analogue Switch Off), the three phased switch-off was adopted as follows:-
• Phase 1 : December 31,2014: Analogue TV transmitters in Nairobi and its environs shall be switched off .
• Phase 2 :February 2,2015: Switch off of analogue TV transmitters in Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kakamega, Kisii, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nyahururu (Nyadundo), Machakos, Narok and Loldiani (Rongai)
• Phase 3 : March 30,2015: Switch off of analogue TV transmitters in Garissa, Kitui, Lodwar, Lokichogio, Kapenguria, Kabarnet, Migori, Voi (Vuria), Mbwinzau/Kibwezi, Namanga and any other remaining sites
This is already gone with the wind as the 3 switched themselves off thereby plunging the rest of the country into the grey boxes thereby disrupting Phase 3.
It is because of a myriad of half truths that most Kenyans never got to know the truth about the need for Set top boxes or the actual benefits to the viewers . Perhaps the greatest myth was :-
Does one require a specific Set top Box (STB) to receive Free to Air Channels?
Consumers do not need a specific Set Top Box to receive and watch Free-to-Air (FTA) channels. Any Type approved FTA set Top Box should be able to receive all Free to air channels. The Authority Type Approves set top boxes and Integrated Digital TVs for use in Kenya, details are available on the Digital Kenya website.
The opportunities from Digital Migration
The 3 week self inflicted switch off by Citizen TV, KTN and Nation TV not only gave Kenyans an opportunity to realize that they can’t die if they don’t want politics or soap operas, it also opened the eyes of many young people with an eye for business and ability to see an opportunity, grab it and run as fast before the big 3 react.
That is exactly what some Kenyan bloggers and other online content creators have done. Though blogging in Kenya has grown in strides ever since the first Kenyan bloggers started off in 2003, blogging has primarily been text based. This has mostly been due to lack of good internet connectivity, affordability and access to appropriate devices.
However, things are changing fast. The recent launch of the Unliminet service offering by Airtel Kenya and subsequent reactionary (albeit, not well thought out) competitive rates by its rival Safaricom, has left many Kenyans complaining of too many bundles that expire faster . It is a fact that many Kenyans in major towns and who have access to Safaricom 3G internet do not know how to better utilize the night bundles that expire really fast.
Video Blogging (VLogging) still in its nascent stage
There are over 15,000 blogs in Kenya with an estimated 95% generating content only in text form. The 5% whose content is in multimedia form focus more on images ( fashion and photography bloggers ) with only a small percentage experimenting video blogs or VLogs as they are known on twitter, Instagram and on YouTube.
The following bloggers and online content creators recently started their own YouTube channels and although they are not getting that much traffic yet, things are about to change for them as more and more Africans go online seeking locally relevant content. Think of YouTube channels as incubators. It is where you test everything from choice of topic, interest from target market, feedback, and eventually the viability to cross over to TV to, possible, one’s own channel or as part an existing one. That is the ultimate goal for most of this bloggers.
With the Kenyan Government seeking to increase the requirement for the Digital Channels to have upto 68% local content, then you can already see why many digital signal distributors will come calling on bloggers who are already doing video content with cash in hand.
1. Makarao TV
Makarao is slang for Police in Nairobi, Kenya. This animated series brings to life the humour associated with the Kenya Police in their day to day activities.
Swahiliwood is an online video channel dedicated to Swahili programming. From documentary to drama and comedy to television, they bring you the highest quality Swahili entertainment by East Africa, for East Africa.
Kachwanya.com is a well know blog that provides well updated comprehensive coverage of the Kenyan Technology and innovation space. It is run by Kennedy Kachwanya and his team or writers. Through their newly launched Youtube channel, the blog has already recorded and uploaded 3 shows on the Kenyan Startups and Tech companies that you don’t get to watch on TV.
As Kachwanya tells me, he saw a void in the local reporting of Kenyan Tech news & stories especially on the many innovations taking place not just in Kenya but in Africa. His aim is to provide high quality video coverage of tech startups in Africa through a weekly Tech show that also does a review of gadgets.
He confirms that its impossible to do more than one show per week due to the cost of video production but hopes to substitute that with daily podcasts.
He has so far interviewed companies such as Symbiotic, KuHustle and Bitpesa.
You might remember Mwafreeka from the show he together with stand up comedian Rapcha called Raiyaa which started off at K24 then went to die at NTV. Well, he is back. He has teamed up with Thiong’o to bring you a hilarious 5 minute clip that takes all the Western world stereotypes about Africa being a wildlife filled Jungle and with little civilization. They are thus only Africans on the internet and are fascinated by all the porn they can watch, etc.
I am already looking forward to the 2nd episode.
5. Mkulima Young
“Mkulima” means farmer in” Kiswahili”. This initiative aims to encourage the youth (particularly in Kenya) to engage in agricultural issues. This channel is a social forum for the youth to watch and subscribe to related videos as well as ask questions, discuss issues and interact with other young people who are passionate about agriculture as an enterprise.
6. Pawa254 TV
This is a YouTube channel by PAWA254, Nairobi’s unique new social enterprise and collaborative space (hub) for creative personnel and youth to achieve social impact through arts and media. The hub houses, fosters, and catalyzes creative and community-‐driven projects for social change across Kenya. It was set up in 2012 and is the first of its kind in Africa.
PAWA254 derives its name from a combination of “power” in Swahili and 254, Kenya’s country code, as a symbol of national strength and unity.
The hub facilitates the use of visual and graphic arts, independent and citizen journalism, documentary film and photography, digital and social media as means of expression and social action. To this end, the hub brings together established and aspiring photographers, cartoonists, animators, creative designers, poets, musician’s video & filmmakers, as well as entrepreneurs and activists, to work, learn, and share in an environment that inspires creativity and innovative efforts to bring about social change.
CIO EAST AFRICA is the leading magazine for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in East Africa, published by African eDevelopment Resource Centre in conjunction with the International Data Group (IDG). The publication highlights ICT investment opportunities, innovation, intellectual property and trends of the converging technologies.
This is Kenya’s equivalent of TMZ. Despite the massive
poaching exodus of most of its writers to their rival Mpasho, they have stepped up their video coverage with many short clips of their usual celebrity and Socialite centric vanity coverage.
9. Elimu TV
Elimu TV is an educational channel providing Secondary School Education and other educational Programs based on the Kenyan School Curriculum.
10. Tambaa Kenya
This is a Kenyan Travel News channel
Whats Up Africa
This is perhaps the most popular and watched YouTube channel created and run by an African. Ikenna Azuike is a Nigerian British satirist, journalist, comedian type person. His show What’s Up Africa is one of the most interesting African comedy news show on YouTube.