by Rachel Olusola
Ahead of Nigeria’s January 2015 deadline for the switch-over to digital television broadcasting, the Federal Government has stated that it would partner private sector firms in the country in ensuring that the process helps to address the nation’s infrastructure gap, deliver high speed connectivity, and create jobs for its teeming youthful population.
The government added that with digitisation, there will be innovations in wireless technology that will deliver better broadband access, and inclusive development for majority of Nigerians who live in the rural areas, thereby stemming the tide of rural-urban drift.
While delivering the keynote address at the KPMG Digitisation Breakfast Seminar which held on Monday in Lagos, Omobola Johnson, minister of information technology, said that the digital switch-over would bridge the urban-rural infrastructure gap which has seen “an unacceptably high number of people excluded from infrastructures that can meet their basic needs.”
She added that the Federal Government wants to “partner with the private-sector to ensure that the transition to digital broadcasting is completed within the specified timeframe and with minimal disruption to the viewing public.”
The ICT minister whose speech, titled, ‘Digitisation: Imperatives, Benefits and Challenges,’ was delivered by Abiodun Jagun, her special assistant on policy, said that the Federal Government’s policy focus and priority under the new digital regime is to provide investment opportunities for local firms in areas of broadcast infrastructure and devices.
According to the minister, even though market indicators show that 20 million Nigerian households have at least one television set, current subscription to pay-TV is still low (put at about 2 million), indicating that there is a high demand for low-cost packages aimed at less affluent households.
Johnson pointed out that the “global timetable and acceptance of the migration presents a captive market, and the need to secure the rights of citizens to information increases government’s commitment to the transition.”
She also revealed that opportunities exist for Nigerian firms to take advantage of the digital switch-over in areas of signal distribution, broadcast equipment suppliers, end-user device manufacturers, installers and after-sale support as well as content aggregators, producers, distributors etc thereby bridging current unemployment gap.