TOP
Monday,November 30,2020 10:58 AM
  • Home
  • Blogs
  • Should the Armed Forces handle Uganda''s Digital Migration?

Should the Armed Forces handle Uganda''s Digital Migration?

By James Wire Lunghabo

Added 6th February 2015 02:40 PM

I am a proud Ugandan whose patriotism can never be questioned. However, from my observation we have some habits that need to be relegated to the dustbin of history.

I am a proud Ugandan whose patriotism can never be questioned. However, from my observation we have some habits that need to be relegated to the dustbin of history.

James Wire 

I am a proud Ugandan whose patriotism can never be questioned. However, from my observation we have some habits that need to be relegated to the dustbin of history. Each time there is a much needed activity to be accomplished, we tend to drag our feet right from the highest offices of the land to the lay man. This is despite being given advance information.
 
We had the National ID registration project that dilly dallied with various Government technocrats falling over each other to first of all determine which company obtains the deal and eventually which Government agency handles the implementation. We went around in circles and for years apart from excuses and the first botched attempt to launch it, no results were seen save for the procurement of equipment which became obsolete in the stores. It took the appointment of a Military General to run the Ministry of Internal Affairs for us to see the actualisation of this project in under a year. Am now a proud owner of a National ID.
 
The National Agricultural Advisory Services for years without end despite being funded fairly well failed to meet the targets set for them and apart from giving reasons why they couldn't, no headway was made towards positively impacting the majority of the Ugandan farmers. The army was called in on a trial basis and the results it exhibited impressed the appointing authority that decided to have it take over these Agricultural extension services.
 
Over ten years ago, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) announced plans and a provisional deadline to ensure that all countries in the world migrated their broadcasting systems from Analog to Digital. Many countries, Uganda inclusive went into a slumber and didn't seriously take action towards meeting this requirement. The first deadline was never met and the ITU went ahead to extend it. Ugandan broadcasters have always known this. Some conformed while others preferred to pussy foot thinking that they can use the argument of 'market affordability of the new technology'. On the 4th of February 2015, the Uganda Broadcasters Association petitioned parliament through its Treasurer a one Mr. Peter Sematimba requesting that the transition deadline of June 2015 be adjusted. This is a Shame !!!
 
While I appreciate that there were issues with the way the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) undertook this initiative, this doesn't exonerate the broadcasters who can't feign ignorance over the years of what was expected of them. We seem to be getting back to the same National ID / NAADS wishy washy behaviour that breeds incompetence that manifests in the form of delay. Could an Army General be of help here too? We have known UCC for handling issues with kid gloves before. They have failed to enforce the compliance to the revised short codes for the Telecoms companies. I wont be surprised if they take a back seat on this one considering that some of the officials there have vested interests in these broadcasting companies.
 
Once again I choose to run across the border to Rwanda, where from the onset of the ITU decision during the last decade, they went ahead to lay out a proper plan to implement the migration hence making them the second country in Africa to beat the Digital Migration with a year to spare. Having setup a Digital Migration taskforce, the country went ahead to achieve the following milestones;
2006 – A Pilot Digital Transmitter (DVB-T) was installed in Kigali
2008 – Government digitized the entire Rwanda Broadcasting Agency
2009 – 2011 – Construction of the digital transmission network across the country
2010 – Adoption of a Broadcasting policy
2011 – Adoption of Regulations Governing Licensing for Digital Terrestrial Television
2012 – Establishment of technical specifications for Set Top Boxes
2013 – Approval of Signal Distributor License for Public broadcasters
2013 (July – December) – First Adoption of Digital Switch over plan. This one failed due to lack of Set Top Boxes on the market.
A second switchover plan:
1. 31st January 2014 - Analogue transmitters covering Kigali and its sub areas switched off.
2. 31st March 2014 - Analogue transmitters in the North West of the country switched off.
3. End of May 2014 -  Analogue transmitters in the North and North East of the country switched off
4. End of July 2014 -  Analogue transmitters in the South and South West of the Country switched off.
The main challenge they faced was the deployment of the DVB-T technology as opposed to the now widely accepted DVB-T2. But the good news is that an upgrade is planned for. 
 
While one may bring up the argument that TV consumption is at less than 10% of the Rwandan population, my admiration is more on the organisational capacity the country demonstrated and its ability to work around challenges swiftly hence achieving the set targets on time.
 
While Mr. Sematimba and his colleagues are still dreaming of an extension, the ITU has come out to declare that no further extension shall be granted. 
 
Before am crucified for glorifying the intervention of the Army, it's obvious that we have an inherent lack of proper planning not only within Government departments but also the private sector where inefficiencies shouldn't be tolerated.
 
With UBC, StarTV, Bukedde, Urban TV, Record TV, TOP TV, CAPITAL, EATV, CITIZEN, CCTV, BBC, Al-Jezira, Miracle TV, LTV, WBS, NBS TV and NTV already compliant, one wonders which constituency Mr. Sematimba is representing and would be hard pressed to explain why they cant emulate these front runners.
 
Twitter: @wirejames
Email: lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com

 

I am a proud Ugandan whose patriotism can never be questioned. However, from my observation we have some habits that need to be relegated to the dustbin of history.

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author