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29 March, at 06 : 41 AM Print
Residents in rural areas of Rwanda have expressed excitement over the new Tunga TV initiative (meaning acquire a TV) that will enable residents to access television channels. The initiative hopes to increase TV viewers in different parts of the country while driving the switch from analogue to digital.
The Tunga TV (Own your own TV) imitative was launched in Gisagara District this March 2013 by the Ministry of Youth and ICT in collaboration with Rwanda Development Board launched.
It will also facilitate citizen access to affordable TV sets, Set Top Boxes (STB’s) and other devices promoting access to information services.
“This is a good initiative because whenever we want to watch news on television to know what is happening around the country, we have to go to a bar in a trading. Such places are packed and sometimes you don’t get the opportunity to watch news” says Claude Hakizimana a resident of Gisagara.
In the beginning, Tunga TV will work with 700 community TV viewing centers that will receive TV sets accompanied by decoders. The program’s goal is to make TV sets and decoders’ affordable with an initial viewing package that will consist of 6 channels to become 8 in a month’s time and 32 in July.
“The vision of Tunga TV program is to enhance the livelihood and increase socio-economic opportunities of Rwandan citizens by empowering them with access to information and services,” said Minister of Youth and ICT Jean-Philibert Nsengimana at the launch.
The Tunga TV project is also driving the progressive Analogue Switch Off in the country to meet the EAC deadline for the switch from analogue to digital TV. Migration will take place from March to December 2013. The switch, as well as providing access to affordable TV sets and decoders, will increase TV penetration from 6.4% to 30%.
Since 2008, the Government of Rwanda initiated the Digital TV Broadcasting project that deployed digital TV transmitters with the aim of improving TV nationwide coverage hence satisfying citizens’ rights of “access to information”. Currently, the digital television signal covers more than 95% of the nation’s physical territory.
However, there is still a relatively low household TV penetration, which is attributed to several factors, including: the low coverage of the existing analog broadcasting signal; the lack of Set Top Boxes required to view channels broadcasted in the digital TV transmission network; limited supply of steady electricity, especially in the rural areas; lack of quality content in local language which would satisfy needs and interests of ordinary citizens; and relatively high costs of TV sets (especially for the people with limited income).
Star Africa Media, a Chinese pay television service provider will, has taken the lead to introduce the first Solar and digital TV sets, which will be available to all communities especially in rural areas lacking electricity by the end of this year.
“a complete package of the solar TV set will be charged for not more than $400, and that good thing is the user will have a solar panel mounted on the set, the users will also not only access solar TV, but also connect other power gadgets like charges and radios” says Hussein Kamanzi, the Branding &Communication official at Star-Africa Media.
So far the Solar TV has been tested and installed at the Ministry of ICT offices in Kigali, demonstrated out in the remote countryside (such as Rulindo district) and showcased in other areas of the country.