Africa must speed up digitization process-Minister

Solomon Chung,Lagos

Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says African countries must learn lessons from failures of the past in the telecommunication and broadcasting sectors.

He was speaking against the back drop of the Digital Switch Over and the fact that most African countries are still lagging behind in meeting the deadline.

He disclosed this at the Digital Broadcasting Africa Forum 2016 organised by Common Wealth Tel ecommunication Organisation in Lagos South West Nigeria.

“ Overall public service broadcasting in most African countries has performed below expectations, and as we prepare to enter the digital broadcasting era, we must learn lessons from this past. “

He said “so far, it is clear that for most African countries, migrating from analogue to digital television broadcasting has been a rather slow process. The challenges have been many and similar: financial, technical, and political among others”.

“However, our experience of the digital age with other sectors such as mobile telephony or the Internet has been vastly positive, and so we need not be convinced anymore of the contribution a digital broadcasting environment would bring to our citizens and our economies.”

According to him, Nigeria, was working round the clock to ensure that she meets the ECOWAS set deadline of June 17, 2017.

“We are fully aware of the economic and social dividends that broadcasting avails to our societies, so we are doing all we can to ensure that we have more than the critical talent mass to produce the needed quality content to respond to the needs of our citizens in their diversity.

We are putting the necessary facilities in place to make digital broadcasting accessible to all, including subsidy and licensing provisions for set top boxes.”

He said a number of obvious sectors that stand to benefit from the higher channel capacity which a digital terrestrial environment will provide are education, health, tourism, and transport just to name a few.

With more relevant television content about these areas of our societies, the more these societies will gain in harmony, efficiency and productivity.

“Indeed, with more health information, it is reasonable to expect that preventive medicine can be significantly improved, reducing the growing burden on our health systems. Likewise, the more adequate educational content can be broadcast for parents, teachers, children, school managers and other related groups, the more supportive our education systems will be. “

Meanwhile, Secretary of Common Wealth Telecommunication Organisation, Engineer Shola Taylor challenged African leaders to see through all treaties signed up. He alluded to the fact that since 2006 that the Digital Switch Over was signed up till now a lot of African countries are still far from reaching the right destination.