Wananchi to Rollout Satellite Pay TV, Improve and Expand Zuku

A great breakfast briefing by Wananchi Group CEO (Richard Bell) and the Chairman and other board members were present. Laid out were the past, the present and future outlook of the company. The greatest announcement out of the briefing was that Wananchi Group is launching Satellite TV in the market.

First, the Group has received Ksh 5  Billion from a group of investors and this brings the total investments by various investors into the company at Ksh 14 The Wananchi Group announced on Tuesday that it would launch satellite pay-tv services in Kenya in the next thre Billion. The new investors are Liberty Global Inc, Oppenheimer Funds and Sarona Asset Management which is a Canadian-based emerging market fund manager seeking impact investments. East Africa Capital Partners (EACP) and Emerging Capital Partners which is a leading Pan-African privte equity firm with $1.8 Billion in capital under management.

Wananchi will be rolling out direct-to-home satellite TV in 10 countries of East Africa. i.e Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Burundi, Malawi and even the lawless Somalia. Mr Bell, CEO Wananchi Group, says that the company will not be focusing on DSTV market which is not mass market. The mass market needs affordable yet quality technology according to Mr Bell. Already the satellite TV is at testing phase.

The satellite coverage in Africa is as illustrated in the map below

The group is also rolling out triple-play out and will not ignore any area of Nairobi in the initial phase and will roll countrywide and then regionally in subsequent phases. Wananchi claims to be the only company in Africa to have initiated triple-play rollout. e months as it seeks to increase its market share. Wananchi has corporate and consumer arms in East Africa. The consumer arm operates under the Zuku brand while the corporate division operate under the SIMBANet brand.

When I prodded Mr Bell on what the company was doing on the poor redundancy and customer care through the Zuku brand, he promised that the feedback from the tech community has been so helpful and has made them improve a lot of things. Mr Bell said that you can be assured of faster response the next time you call Zuku customer care. The company is also keen in buying and producing local content unlike competitors who bombard us with foreign content.

Mr Bell also revealed that the hiring of Robert Mugo from Safaricom was meant to address the various weaknesses in the network. When I asked him what he thought of the competitors delivering 100 Mbps, he said that Wananchi has a DOCSIS 3.0 network which is able to deliver upto 120 Mbps in not so far future. So Safaricom and Jamii should be ready for very fierce competition in the broadband sector.

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (

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