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Why we tinker with digitisation policy, says NBC


NBCAGAINST the recommendation that Nigeria’s digitisation plan should be piloted to promote local production of Set Top Boxes (STBs) with a view to creating employment opportunities for Nigerians, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has taken delivery of 10,500 pieces of the product, all imported.

The facility is the decoder that aids the conversion of analogue signals to digital before they are accessed by viewers.

Recommendation 32.8.3 of the Draft White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) on Transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting in Nigeria reads: “Importation of Set Top Boxes should be discouraged completely.”

The delivery, at the weekend in Abuja, was made by two of 11 companies licensed by the airwaves regulatory agency to undertake the manufacturing of the tools that will serve the estimated 24 million TV homes in the country. They are SMK Engineering Limited and Gospell Digital Technology Limited. While the former brought in 10,000 pieces, the latter supplied 500 pieces. Both are to supply 50,000 STBs each.

The offloading was done in the presence of the acting Director General of NBC, Ms. Alheri Saidu, accompanied by the agency’s management.

“We thank God we have the first sets of evidence of our seriousness towards the digital switchover. Today (last Thursday) is a significant day for the commission. The day we all had been looking forward to. We are also happy with you, the licensees, because you actually gave this assignment all the seriousness it deserves,” Saidu said.

She expressed the commitment of her organisation towards meeting the June 20, 2017 deadline, while thanking the licensees for their tenacity.

“Jos is a must for us. The plan we have for Jos launch will certainly be attained,” she added.

Also speaking, NBC’s Director, Public Affairs, Mallam Awwalu Salihu said the commission had reliably gathered that the 40,000 balance to be delivered by SMK Engineering were already in the country’s ports awaiting clearance while Gospell Digital Technology still had 49,500 pieces to deliver.

But the delivery last Thursday came three months behind schedule as all licensed manufacters had promised end of November last year.

One of the reasons for the delay, according to Salihu, was the inability to reach “an agreement on this bank guarantee issue for which the former DG, Mr. Emeka Mba, was detained by the EFCC early last month.

“This is because the people who were going to manufacture for them from outside would have difficulty in doing so if they are not sure their money was going to be there.”

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