Concern over 40m Decoders to Complete Nigeria’s Digital Transition

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By Olawale Abuja

The federal government is saddled with uphill task of meeting the required 40 million set-top-boxes (decoders) required for actual transmission of Digital Switch Over (DSO) in the country.

This was disclosed by the Chairman Digiteam, Edward Amana, the presidential implementation committee, appointed to drive the DSO as well as have oversight over the cost of the Set-Top Boxes.

The federal government has already announced the roll out time table for the phase 2 of the DSO in addition to when it will begin to switch off the analogue signals on television platforms across the country.

However, Amana expressed concern that there may be a limitation on the ability to supply the decoders because of the exchange rate.

At the early stage of meeting to pre-select the manufacturers it was agreed that they could put the decoders in the market at no more than the equivalent of N3, 500 (about $20) per box, which then was assumed was fair and affordable for any person who can own a television set.

He, however, lamented from that time to now the naira has depreciated, saying that going by the same benchmark at the equivalent of $20, a decoder will be sold at the retail price of N9,000.

“But again we had a meeting with the manufacturers of set-top-boxes in Nigeria and we are still maintaining the same cost window of $20 equivalent. “They have assured me, in fact, we have looked at options of different sizes of boxes and the manufacturers themselves actually suggested a second condition access system.

“They were the ones who actually suggested that instead of the original boxes that came with natural vision encryption, they selected the verimatrix encryption, which cost a lot lower than what they are getting from natural vision.

“Now there is a second cad system in the ecosystem that is why we have a company now called Renmore that, is now providing additional license which will result in the manufacturing of lower cost Set-Top-Boxes in Nigeria,” Amana said.

It will be recalled that Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed recently assured that the ministry intended to collaborate with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, to ensure the reduction in the tariff on the raw materials for the manufacture of the decoders in order to bring down the cost and make them affordable for average Nigerians.

He had also said government would aim at zero per cent tariff for the completely knocked down components and not more than five per cent tariff for the semi-knocked down component, against the current tariff of five per cent for the completely knocked down components and 10 per cent for the semi-knocked down components.