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UK has Nigeria's back on digital migration

UK has Nigeria's back on digital migration.

Despite widespread pessimism in Nigeria over the West African country's ability to fully migrate from analogue to digital transmission by June 2017, authorities remain confident and have recently announced the delivery of 150 000 set-top-boxes - along with direct support from the UK.

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) confirmed the delivery and said it would begin deployment nationally, starting with Jos, the capital city of Plateau state.

NBC's Director of Public Affairs, Awalu Salihu, said the boxes were manufactured by SMK Engineering Limited and Gospell Digital Technology Limited, and their availability for distribution is indicative of how serious NBC is concerning the country's digital migration.

The government has also established an Inter-Ministerial Committee to oversee the migration process and ensure targets are met.

Science and Technology minister, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has expressed the determination of the federal government towards meeting the deadline. "The initiative will help in the acquisition of new technologies. We will not relent in efforts at making the switch possible next year," Onu said.

UK support

Nigeria's quest to migrate has received a boost in the form of support from the United Kingdom.

Simon Shercliff, Acting British High Commissioner in Nigeria, said the UK is going to actively assist Nigeria. "Digital switchover is the main thing and many countries across the world are already enjoying it. Without any doubt, there is need to upgrade the technology in broadcasting world," he said.

Nigeria has engaged UK firm Inview Technology Limited to help develop and apply digital switchover programmes.

The firm's platforms director, Matt Seaman said: "The digital switchover programme would start shortly in Jos and we have been working closely with NBC and Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to work out the progress first in Jos and then to other parts of the countries."

Stakeholder pessimism

However several industry experts are still of the opinion that Nigeria will be unable to meet the new date.

Those who spoke to ITWeb Africa said the country has set multiple migration deadlines and committed to various regional and global agreements since being party to the original global agreement in June 2012.

"I don't think Nigeria can achieve digital migration by June 2017," said industry watcher and tech analyst, Olawale Adeniyan. "They will still announce new deadline and this will continue to be the case until those in charge are able to really understand what digital migration is all about."

Adeniyan added that to achieve full digital migration will require extensive funding and he is doubtful that authorities will release the necessary monies, particularly because of the current pressure on fiscal reserves.

"Digital migration is not a joke, and for a country that is as big as Nigeria, the money required to achieve it is expected to be very high and many decision makers may decide to advise the government to shelf the idea even though the advantages are numerous."

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