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Successful Digital Switchover to create 1m jobs in next 3yrs- Minister

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that a successful Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Broadcasting is a massive job creator and a huge revenue generator, which its process is capable of creating over one million jobs in the next three years.

The Minister disclosed this at the Press Conference in Abuja on Tuesday, while unveiling the Ministerial Task Force on the Digital Switch Over (DSO), which were saddled with the responsibility of driving the Federal Government’s Digital Switch Over project.

Alhaji Lai recalled that Government launched the pilot programme in Jos, Plateau State, on April 30th 2016, followed by Abuja on Dec. 22nd 2016, then Ilorin, Kwara State, on Dec. 20th 2017; Kaduna two days later on Dec. 22nd 2017, Enugu on Feb. 12th 2018 and finally, as I said earlier, Osogbo on Feb. 23rd 2018.

“With the payment approval by FEC, and with 31 states to cover, we have our work cut out for us. We have no more excuses for not rapidly rolling out the DSO across the country, as my decision to set up a 14-member Ministerial Task Force, which I will personally chair, to take charge of the rollout”, he said.

He added that with the devastating effects of Covid-19 and the fall in revenues, the Federal Government can no longer afford to subsidize the program, especially the Set-Top-Boxes and the Signal carriage, which ordinarily can and should be highly-competitive commercial ventures.

“And in order to begin the commercialization of the DSO, we need to create a structure and an ecosystem that is self-sufficient, self-reliant and able to generate revenue which will drive strategic growth in key areas. The details of that structure are for the Task Force to explore.

“As part of our efforts to maximize the opportunities available in the process, changes were made in the Broadcast Code to protect local jobs and production, also started the process of introducing world class Audience Measurement and Media Monitoring to deliver our potential 1-billion-dollar TV and Online Advertising revenue market”, he said.

Alhaji Lai stated that DSO process is capable of delivering over 1 million jobs. “Let me demonstrate, Manufacturing alone can create between 40 and 50 thousand jobs. This is  because Digitization requires all homes to have a Set-Top-Box or Smart TV. Connectivity to the Internet is also possible via a dongle attached to the boxes.

“Talking about 24 million boxes/TVs, for the over 24 million households with television sets today in Nigeria.  Not even 20 Set-Top manufacturers can comfortably produce the initial requirements to feed the market. Our position in West Africa, coupled with our size, makes us the definite source of these products for the whole sub-region.

“TV Production alone can create 200,000 jobs. Digitization will make it possible to have at least 180 state channels, 30 regional channels and at least 10 National channels, catering for local music, news, film, children programming and sports, among others. Film Production can generate 350 to 400,000 jobs.

“As an extension to the booming production business, another 200,000 jobs can be created. To supply the market with Set-Top-Boxes, TVs and Dongles required for internet connection, Nigeria will need at least 100,000 wholesalers, retailers, electricians, installers, marketers and payment solution providers in order to cover the entire country.

“TV and Online Advertising can create a further 50,000 jobs. With a successful DSO, the problem of internet connection to every home will finally be solved. Set-Top-Box in every home will deliver internet and consequently access and commerce to every home. I have no doubt in my mind that a successful DSO can create over 1 million jobs in three years, also a money spinner”.

Alhaji Lai presented the Ministerial Task Force as follows: Alhaji Lai Mohammed (Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Chairman); Prof. Armstrong Idachaba (National Broadcasting Commission), Engineer Edward Amana (Digiteam); Dr. Tunde Adegbola (Digiteam); Hajia Sa’a Ibrahim (Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria).

Engineer Sadeeq Musa (ITS); Mr. Godfrey Ohuabunwa (Set-Top-Box Manufacturers); who is also standing in for the BON Chair, Dr. Lekan Fadolapo (APCON); Ms. Aisha Shehu Omar (Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning); Mr J. O. Attah (Nigeria Customs Service).

Mr. Nnanna Ibom (Federal Ministry of Information and Culture); Engineer Olusegun Yakubu (Pinnacle Communications); Mr. Toyin Subair (Inview) And Mr. Joe Mutah (Federal Ministry of Information and Culture) who will serve as Secretary.

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