Nigeria is on path to gaining an estimated N160 billion from new opportunities and possibilities to be unlocked in the economy with the ongoing Digital Switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting.
Emeka Mba, the Director-General of Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the nation’s broadcasting industry regulator tells Technology Times in an exclusive interview that government expects at least N100 billion from issuance of licences with the vacation of analogue frequency spectrum by industry operators.
Another N160 billion is expected to come from spiral impact that will be yielded from advertising revenue to the broadcast sector and Nollywood, the nation’s rising entertainment industry.
Mba envisions that beyond the revenue potentials, the Digital Switch Over (DSO) will open up new opportunities for the broadcast, entertainment, broadband and other sector of the nation’s economy.
Mba, the D-G of NBC says how the Nigerian broadcast regulator is implementing digital migration switchover mandated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the UN specialised agency that oversees frequency spectrum across the world, which will change the communications ecosystem.
Excerpts of the exclusive interview with Technology Times:
Technology Times: Nigeria, like most countries of the world that use frequency spectrum assigned by ITU, has been asked by the agency to switchover to digital broadcasting. You announced the take-off of a pilot scheme in Jos in June this year. Beyond the pilot, what is your assessment of progress made by the Nigeria on switchover to digital broadcasting?
Emeka Mba: The NBC (National Broadcasting Commission) has despite lack of funding taken several critical steps in our attempt to ensure that Nigeria successfully transits analogue broadcasting to digital. Some of these steps include the pilot DTT scheme in Jos, Plateau State, and the authorization of the national set top box system, with about 14 companies now licensed to manufacture set top boxes locally.
However, the sad reality is that Nigeria’s digital transition plans have been largely stalled by lack of funding required for the infrastructure development, acquisition of set top boxes and publicity, as well as other critical elements of the digital switch over.
Technology Times: Beyond the ITU call for switchover, there have been challenges of funding the migration across the broad spectrum of stakeholders ranging from investors, regulators, operators and service providers. From the perspective of the broadcast regulator, how are you addressing this key hurdle needed to unlock the possibilities and opportunities in Digital Migration?
Mba: A successful digital migration presents several strategic benefits for the country, especially in terms of improvement of quality and diversity of broadcast content and interactive services, as well as creation of jobs, and other economic benefits.
However, as mentioned above, the key hurdle has been funding. The Commission has consistently believed that what is required is a creative thought leadership to raise funding through the upfront monetization of some of the expected digital dividend. Working with Digiteam and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Organization, as well as our legal and spectrum consultants, the NBC was able to fashion out a relative value of the expected digital dividend which the broadcast industry is expected to vacate following successful Digital Switch Over (DSO).
Based on this assessment, the value was ascertained to yield about N100b at the minimum. We therefore believe that it was worthwhile to pursue a financing model for the DSO based on the expected yield.
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Emeka Mba, Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)”]“However, the sad reality is that Nigeria’s digital transition plans have been largely stalled by lack of funding required for the infrastructure development, acquisition of set top boxes and publicity, as well as other critical elements of the digital switch over.”[/blockquote]