When Kenya moved from analogue to digital in 2015, the then Information Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i received a lot of backlash from Kenyans who even vowed not to migrate citing the expensive set top box and the monthly fee that service providers were eyeing. However, the government through the Communication Authority launched free to air set top boxes and that was the beginning of an end to analogue television and radio.
Besides having moved from five prominent television stations to now over a hundred, television sets in homes increased and information became more accessible for Kenyans. The digital migration however did not only birth better signal for both radio and television, but it gave way to better internet deployment by service providers.
Usually, digital signals carry more data hence reducing the number of frequencies required for the broadcasting sector. Today, 4G and 5G deployments use the freed up TV whitespace, therefore, enhancing broadband internet coverage around the country, one of the major benefits of digital migration. Foreign internet service providers are now able to tap into the Kenyan market, offering consumers excellent internet services.
The digital migration also opened up the smartphone market, therefore, making it easier for a low income earner in Kenya to acquire a smartphone and even better for the high earners, high tech devices are even easier to acquire now. This then has led to increased interactions on social media or if you like, the court of opinion where individuals have become more vocal using videos, memes, GIFs and audio messages.
Individuals like githeri man, couple Wilson Mutura and wife Anne Muhonja who trended for getting married with a Ksh 100 budget, 13year old Faith Jepchirchir who hang from a pile of firewood on a motorbike having missed school to help the grandmother harvest wood for sale and recently Young Mbugua from the ‘Mathwiti’ song among others just goes to show how citizen journalism is on the rise.
Among digital goodies has been the tremendous exposure and voice Kenyans have gained just from the bare fact of a digital migration campaign gone right. Individuals have benefitted from the digital platforms that they did not even know existed, which was impossible through five television stations and a few radio stations where communication was one way and one-sided.
And even though some have been burnt in the new day journalism, the interaction continues to put wrongdoers on toes and most importantly, Kenyans are now more aware of government operations.