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How Nairobians are connecting for cheap with DStv ‘sambaza’

It is an illegal connection to satellite television for most Nairobians that allows them to watch the latest sport, movies, series and reality shows. The upside of it is that its cheap, the ugly truth is that its illegal.

Yet ‘DStv Sambaza’, as it is popularly known, remains popular among Nairobi’s middle-class regardless of the legal risk. It involves the illegal distribution of satellite TV signals among neighbours at reduced monthly rates.

It is a multi-million shilling business where satellite TV signal distribution is done through cables connected to decoders owned by unscrupulous individuals.

Police bust a house where illegal distribution of satellite TV is done. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS
Police bust a house where illegal distribution of satellite TV is done. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS

Premium entertainment that would otherwise cost households between Sh4,000 to Sh7,000 now costs between Sh500 to Sh1,000 depending on the location.

POPULAR IN EASTLANDS

The illegal connections are popular among households in Eastlands estates like Buruburu, Umoja, Kayole, Donholm and Embakasi. The trend has also spread to estates along Thika Superhighway like Kasarani, Roy Sambu, Githurai and Kahawa West.

Police in action during the operation in Umoja estate. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS
Police in action during the operation in Umoja estate. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS

South African company MultiChoice is the biggest victim of this racket. Its digital satellite TV service DStv holds exclusive rights to broadcast the English Premier League and popular television series. But the company’s bouquets are well beyond the means of most households, and this has drawn many Nairobi residents to plug-on to the illegal connections.

Sources have explained to Nairobi News how the racketeers have widened their reach in estates using Kenya Power electricity transmission cables and electricity posts.

A single group or individual offering the ‘DStv Sambaza’ service can operate between 50 to 100 connections within an estate at a connection charge between Sh 500 and Sh 1,000.  They reap a whooping Sh 100,000 every month.

FAMILY SECRETS

The illegal connections seem like well guarded family secrets among Nairobi residents. Many know they are unlawful, but don’t mind reaping the benefits.

“Besides, it creates employment for local youths!” a resident told Nairobi News.

There has been attempts by authorities to stamp out the illegal trade over the years. In 2014, an operation by the Kenya Copyright Board, Kenya Power, MultiChoice Kenya and Zuku raided households Umoja and Donholm estates.

Two suspects who were arrested in connection with illegal distribution of satellite TV signal. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS
Two suspects who were arrested in connection with illegal distribution of satellite TV signal. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS

During the raid, over 60 decoders for DSTV, Zuku, Star Times and GoTV were confiscated. Three people were arrested among them caretakers of the flats.

Nairobi News contacted Philip Wahome,  MultiChoice Kenya’s communication manager, on why the number of illegal connections continue unabetted and whether the company’s advertising strategy is benefiting from the wider reach.

Nairobi News also reached Kevin Sang, the Corporate Communications at Kenya Power on why they allow the unscrupulous individuals to use their electricity posts.

Both individuals did not reply our emails.