By Emma Okonji and Raheem Akingbolu
The Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, has said that Nigeria will adopt phased implementation of switch over from analogue to digital broadcasting (Digital Switch Over) (DSO), beginning with six states.
The confirmation came few days after the Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Muhammed, dropped the hint, while playing host to the Niger’s Minister of Communication, Koubra Abdoulaye that Nigeria would switch over from analogue to DSO in six states across the six geo-political zones within the next one month.
According to Kawu, the six states that have been chosen include Enugu in the Southeast, Kaduna in the Northwest; Gombe in the Northeast; Kwara in the North Central; Delta in the South-South and Osun in the Southwest.
The Director General stated that the commission will remain optimistic; adding that by the end of the year, at least half of the country would have access to Free Digital Television content.
He said: “Our timeline plan is to execute a phased implementation of six states, at a period. So as we conclude the six states currently in progress, we would choose another set of six states, reflecting the geo-political zones, for the next phase, until the entire country is completely covered.
“Following the successful launch of the Abuja switch over last December, we announced a plan to launch in one state from each of the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. Consequently, the following states were chosen for the next phase of the project: Kaduna in the Northwest; Gombe in the Northeast; Kwara in the North Central; Osun in the Southwest; Delta in the South-South and Enugu in the Southeast.
“I am happy to inform you that at our last stakeholders’ meeting last week, the decision was taken to launch in Ilorin Kwara state by the end of June; Kaduna by the beginning of July, these follow the completion of the installation of the transmission facilities in these locations; and subsequently, we would launch Osogbo in Osun; Enugu in Enugu state; and then Delta as well as Gombe state.”
While admitting that Nigeria could not completely switch over from analogue to digital TV broadcasting on June 17, 2017 as earlier projected by the federal government, he pointed out that the DSO process is a huge financial, technical and logistical challenge and switching on a huge country like Nigeria, requires tremendous financial commitment.
DSO is a global movement driven by technology to migrate from current analogue TV experience where viewers use antennas to search for signals to a crisp screen viewership and multiple channels access using Set Top Boxes (STBs) connected to TV.
The transmission directive was handed down to nations by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to make plans to switchover as soon as possible so that more frequencies that are now very strategic for broadband penetration are released as dividends.
Speaking further on why Nigeria is making progress that are worthy of emulation by other African countries, the NBC DG explained that many have misconstrued the process, assuming that on that date, (June 17, 2017) almost like a magic wand, Nigerians would wake up to find that the whole country had switched off analogue and switched on digital television.
“But as I have always informed Nigerians and journalists, June 17th, 2017, is a benchmark date for the digital switchover in our country. Our mission remains constant: to switch off analogue completely when we achieve up to 95 percent access to Free Digital Television content across our country.”
He however noted that all Nigerians, regardless of class, are entitled to access to information, stating that the new technology of digital broadcasting is already enhancing access in a most revolutionary manner.