The Director General of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Mr Moddebo Kawu has confirmed that Nigeria is ready for the Digital Switch Over (DSO) ahead of the planned kick off in June this year, saying, although it may not cover the entire country at once, it would eventually be achieved, with all stakeholders working together.
Speaking in Calabar at the inspection of two of the companies licensed to manufacture setup boxes that will be used for the switch over along with members of the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on DSO, he, said the pilot scheme in Jos and Abuja had been successful.
He said, “We have a benchmark of June 2017. The question is that June is very close by and are we going to meet that deadline? Even after June we would continue to do the switch over all over the country. June 2017 benchmarks our intentions and obligations to the international telecommunications union. If you look at the size of the country, it is huge country and a digital switch over is a technical challenge, it is a logistic challenge and it is also a financial challenge.
“So when take all of these together, we are putting in place a process that will change the face of television broadcasting in our country forever. It is a big thing to do. We commenced DSO in Jos, we have commenced Analog Switch Off in Abuja and effectively started DSO. It is a marathon, not a sprint. And it is something, all of us working collectively, would eventually achieve for our country.”
Chairman of House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on Digital Switch Over, Mr Sunday Marshall Katung, said the setup boxes were an integral part of the process of digital switch over, which was why they came to see how far the manufacturers had gone with the boxes that are to be supplied to subscribers. He said he was impressed by the work of the two companies in Calabar.
“There would be no politicking with the DSO. It is something you can see and feel. The DSO is a reality. It is not only in Nigeria. Any country that does not do it is going to be cut off, so you going to be stuck with analogue so you lose signals, so you cannot watch anything. So Nigeria has no alternative but to pursue this process to its logical conclusion,” he said.
Group Managing Director, Gospell Digital, Sir Godfrey Ohuabuma, who is also the chairman of Setup Boxes Manufacturers of Nigeria, said they had the capacity to meet the required production of boxes.
He said when their factory is in full operation in June, they will not only be producing set up boxes, but also cellphones and also tablets.
He noted that they faced three major challenges which include foreign exchange, electricity and custom duties.
“One of our major challenges is foreign exchange. As you know most of the parts we use are imported, especially the chips. It is not something manufactured in Nigeria. However, we also produce the other parts like the boxes, containers and others. The second problem is power. You can see we are running generator all round. Thirdly we require some waivers in terms of custom duties. It is taking a lot of money from the business. By rule, we are supposed to be a pioneer status and supposed not to pay taxes, because this is the first time this is happening in Nigeria. So what we are asking the government to do is to give is a special window, because the DSO has a timeline. So government should treat all the STB manufacturers, all our request for special status should be given expedited action. Special concession should be given to us,” he said.