By Alon Mwesigwa
Econet global media, owned by Zimbabwean businessman, Strive Musiyiwa, has applied for a license from the Uganda Communications Commission to operate satellite television services in the country.
In an advertisement published on Friday, UCC called for public views on the applicant before the license could be given. It will operate through the Kwese TV brand.
When announcing the start of the television station last December, Musiyiwa said in a blog: “Kwesé TV would offer exclusive sports and entertainment programming to African markets.”
“Kwesé means everywhere and anywhere,” Musiyiwa said. The station is largely known for its broadcasts of the American basketball league, the NBA.
Yet its catch could be from the free-to-air programming. Ugandans have been looking for cheaper options, especially in accessing sports channels. Kwese could challenge the near monopoly that MultiChoice, the operator of DStv, has enjoyed in this space for the last 20 years.
The first-ever serious challenge to DStv came from Gtv in 2009, when it won the rights to broadcast the popular English football premier league. However, Gtv ran into financial trouble within a year and folded before its first anniversary in Uganda.
In March, Econet media won the rights to broadcast premier league matches on free-to-air Kwese TV across sub-Saharan Africa, excluding North Africa. Its rights run from the 2016/17 season through to 2019.
Sports lovers pay up to a $90 a month to enjoy the premium bouquet on DStv. For Kwese TV, viewers will only need to buy the set-top box and no monthly fees. Although, DStv is expected to broadcast more sports events than Kwese.
Musiyiwa said they have the technology to offer a quality product. “Our satellite communications business, Liquid Sat, has already built a platform which allows us to deliver what is known as direct television to the home (DTH), in all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.
He noted that their fibre optic company, Liquid Fibre, is the largest builder of terrestrial fibre in Africa.
“These are just a few of the assets we’ll deploy in a unique way, never done before in Africa,” he said.
The broadcaster also launched in Kenya in the first half of this year. Kwese has already acquired rights to show matches in Spain’s Copa del Rey as well as cricket and rugby events.