From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Professor Armstrong Idachaba, has dismissed insinuations that poor conception, corruption, mismanagement and bad leadership were responsible for the country not meeting the dates set for the Digital Switch Over (DSO).
This was even as Idachaba said transiting from analogue to digital broadcasting all over the world was not a tea party.
Idachaba who spoke in Abuja, recalled that the whole idea of the DSO came by an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) decision in 2006 that there was an increasing need for use of spectrum and technology from research, which indicated that there will better and more spectrum availability if broadcasters move from the analogue to digital mode of transmission.
Idachaba also said that added to that was an increasing evidence that the new digital technology, away from analogue, enhanced picture and sound quality and come with many other gains that were far above the limitations of analogue technology.
The DSO is the process of migrating from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting and the NBC has set 2022 for the completion of the project in Nigeria.
On February 23, Minister of Information and Culture, inaugurated a 14-member Ministerial Task Force to drive the DSO rollout across the country and announced the approval of N9.4 billion outstanding payments to key stakeholders in the process.
Idachaba said Nigeria had more or less missed the DSO dates twice, which were 2012 and 2020, even as he said that missing the dates was not to say that as a country, efforts were not being made.
“We are making giant strides towards actualizing the global mandate of transiting from analogue to digital platform.
“These are misconception because transiting from analogue to digital broadcasting all over the world is not a tea party. It is highly demanding, tasking endeavour that every country has to do its best, financial and technical and other abilities.
“No country has set a date and actualize it on the first set day. In the UK, they have to revise their entire transition strategy after they have pumped in millions of pound sterling. Also in the USA, they have to reset the date over and over before they eventually transited.
This is for very obvious reasons.
“There are social implications for transition. For instance, if a country is to transit from analogue to digital broadcasting, you will first think about the people if they will be able to afford digital technology. After transition, what happened to the existing radio and television sets, as well as analogue infrastructure that they have invested on over time? The question of affordability, accessibility is also primary to the transition process.
“There are also political, cultural considerations, constraint of publicity and awareness creation. It is a multifaceted process, therefore, countries must aggregate their best to meet up,” Idachaba said.
Idachaba further said Nigeria missed the dates, not essentially because of what people have postulated, adding that even as the nation is in the process, there were some countries in Africa that were yet to commence the process.
“About three countries that have transited in Africa are mini states when compared to Nigeria in population and landscape. They are not up to the size and population of Plateau state. As we speak, South Africa is yet to transit even with the believe that that country is advanced in broadcasting in Africa.
“We have taken good steps, we are in six states as we speak and we have done what are critical to the process such as delivery of platforms. We have two signal distributors operating side by side in the six states and FCT, We have setup companies that engage in production of Set-Top Boxes, that is the decoders which are very critical to the transition. We have also INVIEW which is in charge of content production.
“Nigeria, being a hub for content production, if not in the whole world, but the leading in Africa with the Nollywood, music and other creative sources of artistic expression, all the basic elements for transition are on ground and we have already set out the template which will be replicated across the country.
“Judging from all experiences and interventions that came from the ministry, what we have been lacking in Nigeria since the whole motion of transition began was the lack of political will to drive the process. Fortunately, in 2015, when the minister came, he muzzled the political will and got the pilot scheme running in Jos which was launched in June 2016.
“From there, we followed up from Kaduna to Kwara, Enugu and Osun and we are ready to roll out in many other states,” Idachaba also said.
He said the N9.4 billion approved by the Federal Executive Council was not all that was needed to complete the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project.
He said the fund was to settle outstanding contractual agreements in the DSO project.
Idachaba said the federal government had, however, taken the decision that going forward, it would stop contributing its lean resources to fund the DSO.