Nigeria advised to sell spectrum to finance digitization

Solomon Chung, Abuja

The Nigerian Government has been advised to put up a spectrum sale in order to successfully finance the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in the country.
This was the opinion of Mr. Godfrey Ohuabunwa,the chairman of Set-top Box Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, whose companies are in-charge of manufacturing the boxes to be used in the Digital Switch Over Project.
In an interview with Voice of Nigeria on Wednesday on the side lines of the of the 11th edition of Biennial Conference of Africa Broadcasters holding in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, Mr. Ohuabunwa said funding seems one of the biggest threats to meeting the June 2017 deadline.
“For us as critical stakeholders, we are ready for the digitization but frankly the issue of funding seems a challenge. We heard in the news that the President ordered that the N10 billion naira for the spectrum sold in EFCC custody be released to the National Broadcasting Commission.
It is a welcome idea but the order is different from the quick release. Also that amount cannot deliver the goods. We need over 10 million set top boxes, meanwhile even at subsidies rates,10 billion can only get like 3 to 4 million of the boxes. What about other aspects of the project.
So I am appealing to government to look into the issues. I would want to suggest that they look into issue of Local Councils collecting radio and Television licenses fee. All these monies can be put into the project as well.”
In a related development, Mohammed Bawa, the Vice Chairman of Cable Channels Nigeria Limited, a company in-charge of content aggregation in the Nigerian Digital Switch Over project who lauded the massive turn out recorded at this year’s AFRICAST also shared a similar opinion about auctioning some of the spectrum believes that would help out with inflow of cash.
The Digital broadcasting project is a huge project for the Nigerian Government. It can potentially raise a digital dividend of $1 billion from the sale of spectrum according to the country’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
Nigeria has a digitization deadline of June 2017 to meet.
AFRICAST 2016 ends on Thursday.