NTA Requires N2.9bn To Complete Digitization Process, Says DG, Sola Omole

imageThe Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) says it requires 15 million dollars (N2.9 billion) to complete its digitisation programme and N6 billion naira for total restructuring across the country.

The Director-General of NTA, Mr Shola Omole , stated this on Friday in Tianjin in Beijing in an interview with NAN at a seminar on African digitisation.

The seminar, the fifth in the series, was organised by StarTimes, a major Telecommunication company in China.

NAN reports that StarTimes has a presence in Nigeria through its partnership with the NTA in its digitisation programme.

The forum had over 40 representatives from African countries including Nigeria.

It has as its focus, the challenges of digitisation and why most African countries will not meet the June 17 digital migration and switchover.

Omole said that only four African countries had met the requirement and were ready for the switchover.

“As at now, over 97 per cent of African countries, including Nigeria, may not meet the June 17 deadline,” he said.

Omole said that Nigeria started on a bright note but soon slowed down due to funding challenges.

“We made steady progress through the assistance of our partners StarTimes, but attention shifted to politics and there was lack of funds during the period which affected the programme.

“It will be difficult to meet the June 17 switchover deadline because the structure on ground does not support it, though efforts have been made, there exists several gaps and challenges.”

According to Omole, “NTA needs some time to provide the needed infrastructure and adequate funding which is most critical.’’

“The process is capital intensive and most African countries are at various stages of implementation while only a few had advanced.

“It is said that the switchover will affect countries around you that are analogue. But now that most African countries are not ready, nothing will change,” Omole said.

The D-G said that the challenges affecting African countries were the same – funding and providing the structure.

“It is a capital intensive project replacing a whole package from analogue to digital and the training need. It is a complex situation.

“Our organisation needs over N6 billion for restructuring because what we do affects so many agencies that depend on us directly or indirectly as an institution,” he said.

Omole said that the support from the organisation should not be the primary concern but proper funding and providing structure to complete the project.

The Chairman of StarTimes, Dr Xinxing Pang, said that the digitisation project started in Nigeria in 2009.

He said that his organisation had so far provided 15 high power transmitters in Nigeria through its partnership with the NTA.

“What remains is for government to support the project through funding and providing infrastructure for its completion,” he said.

He, however, pledged more support for NTA to complete the project.

Some Nigerian Telecommunications officials who attended the programme blamed poor funding that resulted in abandonment of the project.

They also attributed lack of infrastructure for the country’s inability to meet the June 17 switchover deadline.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the project was compromised by the political era, which might have affected the deadline.

“We are not happy that we are in the same boat with small countries also struggling to meet the deadline,” they said.

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