Report: Combination of Infrastructure Will Drive Faster DSO in Africa

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Emma Okonji with agency report

Following the delay in transiting from analogue to digital broadcasting, otherwise known as Digital Switch Over (DSO) among African counties, Nigeria inclusive, Eutelsat has released a white paper on Africa DSO, suggesting that a combination of satellite, mobile and terrestrial infrastructure, will help African countries achieve faster DSO at significantly reduced cost.

The transition from analogue to digital television broadcasting in Africa has so far been a slow and laborious process, even in the most developed countries.
Only six African nations have actually completed the switchover from analogue to digital television broadcasting, and Nigeria is not yet there, still trying to find its feet.

In 2006, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nation agency, issued the Geneva 2006 agreement, signalling the development of ‘all-digital’ terrestrial television services. The motivation behind the transition was to stimulate Information and Communications Technology (ICT) applications and make more efficient use of spectrum through the digital dividend that comes with the phasing out analogue television.
Since the ITU declaration in Geneva 2006 on DSO, Nigeria had thrice, missed the deadline it had set for itself in 2012, 2015 and 2017, as well as most African countries.

Citing the main challenges to digital transition in the released white paper, the Vice President, Global Sales and Commercial Development for Video Business at Eutelsat, Christoph Limmer, said: “The main challenge to deploying nationwide Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is to manage timely and equitable switchover for everyone in order not to create a digital divide that separates the homes with digital from the homes left only with analogue. The challenge is particularly steep for countries with a large landmass, mountain ranges or islands that typically remain beyond range of terrestrial networks, or with interference issues in border regions.”

According to him, most terrestrial operators deploy fibre networks and DTT towers on the basis of return on investment, meaning they concentrate on areas with a certain population density and they neglect users in more rural or semi-rural areas. This means there is a real risk that exclusive use of terrestrial technologies can permanently leave too many consumers beyond range of the benefits of digital, he said, insisting that digital homes will grow to 75 million by 2021, if there is a smooth rollout of digital transition.

Citing funding as another challenge, Limmer said the cost of a nationwide DTT network is often underestimated and can put the break on switchover. The lack of attractive local content to fill up the channels that have been made available by DTT projects and funding for a public awareness campaign are also major setbacks that need to be overcome.
The white paper however suggested cost-effective and time-efficient solutions that can resolve the challenges, notably hybrid networks that use terrestrial as the basic platform and satellites to deliver channels to terrestrial towers and directly to homes beyond range of digital reception.

Analysing the benefits of digital broadcasting, the white paper noted that the transition from analogue to digital TV is a logical development for the broadcasting industry, bringing significant advantages for all players across the value chain, such as the opportunity to transform the diversity, signal quality and reach of channels into viewer homes; opportunity to generate infrastructure upgrades and stimulate Africa’s vibrant content creation industry; and release of analogue frequencies for other applications such as mobile services.

According to the white paper, whereas terrestrial is historically a dominant broadcasting platform, satellite is uniquely positioned to complement terrestrial infrastructure, by extending digital TV to homes in more remote or less populated areas. Satellite broadcasting calls for no additional massive civil engineering investment, since vast regions, including rural areas, islands and border areas are automatically and ubiquitously covered.

The white paper explained that most governments that have embarked on DTT have quickly understood that, as content and signal quality progress and the number of towers grows, the efficiency of satellites for content distribution comes into play. There is in fact a crossing point where the cost of bringing content from a central hub to more than a dozen towers is less expensive and more reliable via satellite than by fibre. Environmental conditions or the risk of outages and fibre cuts can even make the reliability of terrestrial infrastructure an issue, the white paper report added.

LADOL Wins fDi Magazine Global Free Zone Award

The Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL) Free Zone, a high-value sustainable industrial free zone in Nigeria, has emerged top winner in the fDi Magazine’s Global Free Zone of the Year Awards 2017.
fDi Magazine is a Financial Times publication that investigates all issues of concern to foreign investors expanding into new markets. fDi’s ‘Global Free Zones of the Year Awards 2017’ surveys the core growth of free zones with regards to companies operating onsite and the total increase in square feet over the last 12 months. The panel of independent judges also consider the key initiatives available within the free zones and the implementation of new facilities and services for the benefit of their tenants.

LADOL emerged the ‘Free Zone of the Year for Large Tenants’ as well as being named the premier destination for ‘Education and Training’. It is also highly commended with second place in the ‘Free Zone of the Year’ award for Africa. Recognised for the third consecutive year among more than 60 applicants, LADOL’s development is providing a blueprint for private sector led sustainable industrialisation in West Africa and beyond.

The CEO of LADOL, Dr Amy Jadesimi, while commenting on the awards said: “LADOL and its partners have been investing for over 16 years in creating sustainable infrastructure that can support large-scale industrialisation in Nigeria. The growth we’ve achieved against sometimes seemingly insurmountable odds makes receiving these prestigious awards from fDi Magazine particularly special. We continue to look ahead for infrastructure development opportunities that will support the next generation of Nigerian and international companies, helping diversify the local marketplace and drive growth to 2030.”

Established in 2001 from disused swampland in Lagos, LADOL has attracted over $500 million of private investment to date. The fully integrated deep offshore logistics base is the first of its kind in Nigeria and home to the largest ship yard in West Africa. The transformative industrial infrastructure at LADOL has strengthened local supply chains and halved the costs of deep offshore petroleum operations, returning more value to the national economy. Total’s Egina FPSO will be partially integrated and completed at LADOL in 2018, marking a major milestone in the development of Nigeria’s advanced engineering capacity and local content development.”

Jadesimi added: “Essential to LADOL’s blueprint for sustainable industrialisation is job creation. Approximately 2,000 jobs have been directly established at the Free Zone, with the potential to create a further 50,000 through the multiplier effect the development of the Free Zone will have on the creation of ancillary businesses. Also breaking ground in 2018 is LADOL’s Upskilling Academy, which aims to equip more of Nigeria’s young people with the education they need to bridge the productivity and skills gaps that exist in high-growth, low-income countries like Nigeria.

“LADOL’s next phase of development will focus on providing infrastructure for non-petroleum industries, such as agriculture, technology, finance, healthcare and education, and the sustainable companies in these sectors looking to service West Africa, one of the fastest growing markets in the world.”

Air Peace Wins Safety Award
One of Nigeria’s leading airlines, Air Peace, has urged the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers (NISE) to focus on developing the right skills to put Nigerian engineers fully in charge of engineering services in the aviation sector.
The airline gave the charge in Lagos on Thursday during the 2017 Conference and annual general meeting of the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers, where it was honoured with an award in recognition of its “promotion and support for the practice of engineering safety in Nigeria.”

Air Peace Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Allen Onyema expressed regret that about the dearth of modern engineering manpower in the Nigerian aviation sector, insisting that airlines were compelled by the development to resort to expatriates for most of their maintenance and other engineering operations.

Speaking at the conference tagged: ‘Assuring Public Safety in Nigeria – The Roles of Safety Engineers,’ Air Peace Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Onyema said that the airline was uncompromising in its approach to matters of safety.

The airline chief, who was represented by the Corporate Communications Manager of Air Peace, Mr. Chris Iwarah, assured that he was anxious to see the end of the current trend where domestic airlines relied on expatriates for their major engineering operations.

He, however, insisted that Nigerian engineers must first deepen their capacity for handling aircraft maintenance before airlines would be comfortable to fully put them in charge of catering to their engineering needs.

Onyema said that Air Peace was spending billions of foreign exchange on maintenance of its aircraft overseas in line with its high safety standards. The availability of a corps of technically empowered Nigerian engineers, he said, would help the airline realise its vision of employing local talents and growing the nation’s economy.