Kenya:Consumer Federation Migrates from Digital TV saga

The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has accused the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology of not honouring its pledge to initiate dialogue among all stakeholders over challenges facing digital television migration process.
Cofek Secretary General Stephen Mutoro says the ministry had promised to form a nine-member committee to be chaired by Cofek so that all issues can be ironed out by July 1, but was never to be.

The federation had withdrawn its case last month against the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and says it will not go back to court unless pushed by Kenyans.

Mutoro says the federation has now washed its hands off the issue claiming that it had done its best to protect Kenyans.

‘While Cofek met all its expectations, the government side did not honour even a single expectation. Instead of following the formation of the Digital Migration Stakeholder Forum which was to be the chaired by Cofek, the ministry instead decided to appoint Cofek as a member of the Digital Television Committee,’ Mutoro regretted.

The government plans to kick off the analogue switch off in Nairobi in October 31 this year, with fears this would adversely affect many Kenyans due to the high cost of set-top boxes.

‘This migration should not left for only a few but for every Kenyan. Our big issue is the prices of these set-top boxes which we want their cost to drop to around Sh1,000 from the current Sh5,000. In fact when some of the distributors heard that we had withdrawn our case against CCK, they have increased the prices to Sh7,000,’ Mutoro told journalists on Monday.

He has criticized reports by the ICT Ministry that in the 100 days Jubilee government’s targets, it had managed to resolve all the issues surrounding the digital migration.

‘Save for the informal meeting on June 21 at the ICT Secretary’s office, the same day we had the press conference, we never attended any of the Digital Television Committee’s meetings. Eventually, Cofek formally resigned from membership of the said committee on July 11,’ Mutoro pointed out.

In an earlier press conference, ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i had pledged that a new time table for the process would be given to Kenyans after the nine-member committee met, but this did not take place.

The consumer lobby group has been against the migration since September last year, claiming that Kenyans were not yet ready due to the high costs they were expected to incur to ensure a smooth process.

‘We have decided to pull out because some people are saying we have vested interest and that we are anti government. But wait until the process kicks off, everyone will remember Cofek,’ Mutoro warned.

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