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‘Nigeria’s digital transition, a panacea for economic growth’

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Seven years after the first deadline for the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Nigeria, the nation is yet to achieve any notable milestone.

The three imposed deadlines in 2012, 2013, and 2015 were not attained due to lack of political will, inadequate funding, unavailable coverage plan, and switchover timetable from the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

Stakeholders in the industry unanimously called for a firm benchmark and regulation on the digital broadcasting plan.

They said this during the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) & 72nd General Assembly organised by the TVC Communications.

Acting Chair, BON, Godfrey Ohunbunwa, expressed displeasure over the slow pace of the digital transition.

“The NBC needs to publish a timetable and switch over plan. Without this, there will be doubt and no clarity of purpose. Publishing the plan will guide investors and broadcasters to prepare ahead,” he said.

Minister of Information & Culture, Lai Muhammed, assured that the DSO will eradicate anti-competitive behaviour, as international businesses would be made to follow due process.

Represented by Director, NTA Lagos Network, he said there are 24 million homes in Nigeria, which is a market for advertisers, content writers, and electronic manufacturers.

The minister said the digital switch over will add N1.5billion to the industry in the next two years, adding that local content for foreign exchange will be preserved, while promoting indigenous contents.

Delivering the keynote address, Secretary-General, Commonwealth Telecommunications, Shola Taylor, said the ultimate benefit of the DSO is for consumers to have universal access to broadcast contents.

Speaking on the theme: “Nigeria digital transition, a panacea for economic growth,” he said the nation needs an all digital economy for the desired impact.

“We also should enhance coordination with neighbours, especially between ECOWAS states to ensure smooth border transmission. The DSO is for everybody, hence the need for collaboration with stakeholders. It is high time this vision is back in track with same enthusiasm in 2012,” he said.

Taylor said the youths should be encouraged to engage fully in providing content, to improve cultural diversity and entrepreneurship.

Director-General, NBC, Malam Moddibo, Director, who was represented by the Director, Investigations and Enforcement, Ojone Otonoku, said improved synergy among stakeholders remains one of the bedrock of the DSO implementation.

He added that amid the current funding and operational challenges encountered in the process, stakeholders have continued to cooperate with NBC in the digital switchover journey.

Moving forward, he said the new DSO timeline will be released soon, as “plans are underway to start analogue switch off in the existing six locations. Abuja has been earmarked for a pilot switch off by the beginning of next year. Areas where gap fillers are needed to ensure digital signal gets to at least 95 per cent of the population have been identified,” he added.

Moddibo noted that digital coverage mapping has been completed to ensure that it matches the existing analogue coverage population.

“In the meantime, the liabilities of government in the DSO have steadily increased because government have carried the onerous burden of funding transmission in this period of dual illumination,” he said.


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