Slow set-top box take-up in Kenya
TechCentral wraps up the major technology news from around the African continent. Compiled by Craig Wilson.
Sales of digital set-top boxes, which went on sale last month in Kenya, have been sluggish. The boxes are required to convert digital terrestrial broadcasting signals so that that the East African country can switch off analogue broadcasts before the International Telecommunication Union’s mid-2015 deadline.
Kenya originally intended switching off its analogue signals at the end of last year, but this date was moved until after the country’s elections in March. This seems to have made consumers less concerned about buying the boxes.
Government has expressed concern that the lack of interest in digital migration may mean the country risks missing the union’s deadline and it could hurt broadcasters that have invested heavily in digital broadcasting.
Set-top boxes cost between R500 and R800 in Kenya and are readily available. South Africa, meanwhile, has yet to make boxes available or finalise how they’ll be subsidised for the poor. Kenya has decided not to offer subsidised boxes, but may reconsider this as the deadline approaches. Source: Business Daily
M-Pesa gets wings in Tanzania
Using mobile money transfer service M-Pesa, payments company PayGate has begun allowing consumers in Tanzania to pay for airline tickets in a move that’s intended to boost e-commerce activities.
Tanzanian airline FastJet is one of the first companies in the region to accept M-Pesa for online bookings. PayGate hopes to allow more merchants to receive such payments so that consumers can buy products like computer equipment and gift vouchers online. Source: PayGate
Banks thwart Zimbabwe’s EcoCash
Zimbabwe’s commercial banks have convinced the nation’s reserve bank to insist that mobile payment services be backed by funds held in banks. EcoCash was launched in late 2011 by mobile operator Econet and has more than 1,7m users. Because the company moves hundreds of thousands of dollars daily, analysts have said EcoCash could become Zimbabwe’s largest banking service, something existing banks would rather not see happen. Source: Mobile Money Africa
Tanzania cuts call costs by two thirds
The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has reduced call interconnection rates by 69%. Tanzanian consumers have long carried multiple Sim cards to take advantage of cheaper on-net calls. According to the TCRA’s director-general, John Nkoma, only 4% of the population makes off-net calls because of the excessive rates associated with making calls to users of other networks. The new rates will come into effect on 1 March. The TCRA intends to continue reducing the interconnection rate each year until 2017. Source: The Citizen