Africa could have 75m digital homes by 2021

Satellite broadcasting is helping drive digital adoption in Africa, according to a report from satellite operator Eutelsat.

The report, Digital Transition in Africa,  says that despite the ITU-mandated switch off of analogue broadcasting for June 2015 only six African nations have actually made the transition to digital broadcasting.

“This slow progress is largely due to the steep challenges faced by countries with a large landmass, mountain ranges or islands that typically remain beyond range of terrestrial network, or with interferences issues in border regions, as well as by the question of funding,” says Eutelsat.

The operator adds that Africa’s digital homes will grow to 75 million by 2021 – assuming a smooth roll-out of digital transition.

The operator says that some nations are making the move, and cites Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe as having embraced digital terrestrial TV, although not all have switched off their analogue transmissions.

Eutelsat says that private players such as China’s pay-TV provider StarTimes, Canal +Overseas or MultiChoice are already establishing themselves as the continent’s key players in fast-tracking digital migration efforts.

“In most cases a terrestrial/satellite solution beats standalone terrestrial in terms of cost effectiveness and speed. Homes within a satellite coverage can receive DTT channels immediately without having to wait for new investment in terrestrial infrastructure and its gradual deployment across a territory,” says Eutelsat.

“Satellite and [digital] terrestrial are the two key infrastructures driving digital transition,” says Eutelsat, and explains that there are significant advantages for all players across the value chain by tapping into digital transmission, including:

  • Opportunity to transform the diversity, signal quality and reach of channels into viewer homes
  • Opportunity to generate infrastructure upgrades and stimulate Africa’s vibrant content creation industry
  • Release of analogue frequencies for other applications such as mobile services

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