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Digital Switch Over: Nigeria will realise $1bn from spectrum sale – Minister

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed,

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says over $1 billion would accrue to the government from the sale of the spectrum after the completion of the Digital Switch Over (DSO).

The minister stated this on Thursday in Abuja when he featured on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) flagship interview programme, NAN Forum.

NAN reports that the DSO is in the process of transiting from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting and the country has set April 29 for the resumption of the roll-out of the second phase in the remaining 31 states.

The first phase of the roll out had covered the Federal Capital Territory and the five states of Plateau, Kaduna, Kwara, Osun and Enugu.

Mr Mohammed said when the process is completed and there is Analogue Switch Off (ASO), the spectrum band to be vacated by broadcasters would be ceded to the telecom regulatory agency for sale and use in the mobile broadband industries.

“The good side is that when there is analogue switch off, we will be able to sell to telecommunication companies the spectrum band that all of them were occupying which is worth over one billion dollars,’’ he said

Mr Mohammed, who said the DSO would change the entire creative industry ecosystem, pledged that government would ensure its successful completion.

He reiterated that the DSO project is capable of creating one million jobs in three years and generate huge revenue for the country.

According to him, with the approval of N9.4 billion by the Federal Government and the setting up of a 14-member ministerial task force to drive the process, the remaining 31 states will be successfully covered.

He promised that the reduction in government involvement in the DSO ecosystem and the opportunity given to the private sector to take the lead, on purely commercial terms, would not hamper the process.

The minister said the government was already addressing the concerns raised by the Set-Top Box manufacturers on access to foreign exchange.

“Set-top boxes which is the decoder to transmit the digital signal to homes is a critical component in the DSO process

“We are pushing for the manufacturers for government to reduce to zero per cent duties payable to completely knock down products and reduce from 10 per cent to five per cent duties payable on semi knockdown products.

“We have also asked them to give us a draft of what they want from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“The ministry will now officially communicate the CBN on their behalf asking that they should be given priority in access to Forex because of the amount of jobs they are capable of creating and the chain effect of a cheaper STB in the system

“We have also licensed another middleware company to crash the cost of the boxes,’’ he said

Mr Mohammed said by creating a level playing ground for all the stakeholders and removing all the barriers, the cost of the boxes would be affordable to ordinary Nigerians.(NAN)


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