Advertisers are shifting to radio, print and Television as Kigali city authorities are cracking down on substandard outdoor billboards.
The city of Kigali, last week started enforcing a 2013 bylaw and pulled down over 27 billboards managed by seven advertising firms. The billboards didn’t comply with modern standards.
City authorities want all billboards to be digitalized to accommodate more advertisers at ago.
The billboards being pulled down are considered a security threat, lack safety, chaos, and have low uptake of modern standards. Most of these billboards are old and lacked maintenance posing a danger to traffic and pedestrians during windy and rainy seasons.
Advertising companies managing the outdoor billboards had been given six months to adjust to required standards but have since failed to comply.
“There was a lot of chaos caused by billboards and were not adding any beauty to the city. We moved to pass the bylaw as a way of pushing for standardization of advertising” said a former member of the city council committees which passed the bylaw in 2013.
Local telecommunication companies that have considerable presence on billboards will be affected most in this crackdown. Visibility and sale of new products is core to their existence in business.
“Although this is a small setback, it should not necessarily be an issue because we still have other platforms to advertise products and services to the masses such as radio, TV, Social Media, Print and web” said Teta Mpyisi, the MTN Rwanda Senior Manager, Brand and Sponsorship.
For example MTN Rwanda spends about over Rwf200 million on outdoor advertising spaces across the country.
For billboard visibility, a client pays at least $900 per month for big companies and from $600-$700 per month for medium companies.
“We will continue working with owners of advertising spaces to ensure that they meet new standards so we can continue displaying our ads on a long term basis” Mpyisi said in an email.
Some of them have already gone back to the drawing table to discuss new terms with their clients whose billboard ads were pulled down ahead of the agreed contracts.
For example, Akagera Media group, which owns eight billboards in the city, and had one of the billboards of a new advertiser pulled down, is now rethinking of ways to maintain its clientele which includes big telecoms like Tigo Rwanda.
“We are already talking to our clients and the new advertisers. We need to stay in business and we will do what is required but we also need to consider the small business who may not afford the charges of digitalized billboards” Sairam Gopala, an official of Akagera Media said.
Charles Tusubira, the vice-president of the association of advertisers in Rwanda, said that the high demand for the billboard services in 2016 affected the move to upgrade billboards.
Kigali city wants to live upto its global reputation as a fast growing clean and digital city.
The city recently introduced small sized and shorter roadside advertising boards along major streets but also act as dumping bins at the lower part with a double-sided ad running above it.