I welcome you all to another landmark event in our journey towards the digitization of television in Nigeria. The launch of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) here in Ilorin, Kwara State, puts us back on track in our digitization efforts. As you would recollect, it’s now one year since our last DSO launch in Abuja.
2. Let me assure you all that we will not wait for another year before our next rollout. In fact, the next launch will be barely 48 hours from now, in Kaduna. We will then follow up rapidly to extend this digital television experience to all the six geo-political zones, and then across the entire country.
3. Permit me to commend all those who have worked tirelessly to make this launch a success: The regulators National Broadcasting Commission, the Integrated Television Services (ITS), who are the Signal Distributors for Kwara State; the NTA, who are the owners of the ITS; the Digiteam and indeed all stakeholders. All of you have exhibited absolute confidence in the DSO programme, and in the future and economic prosperity of our beloved country.
4. The quality of the service we are launching today goes to confirm that the objective is not to just to move customers and Nigerians from analogue to digital in a simple technical sense, but to transform the whole TV watching experience. In doing this, we are ensuring access to information for all citizens, a key ingredient of democracy, and also ensuring the economic empowerment of all participants in the industrywhile providing a level playing field for Nigerian companies and entrepreneurs to build viable businesses.
5. It is my fervent hope that we will all together play our combined little roles to help diversify our economy by properly exploiting our great talent and creative human and natural resources, which are second to none in Africa.
6. Your Excellency, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we cannot afford to drop the ball as we continue our journey from analogue to digital television, because the benefits to our people are huge. Yes, this process has not been without hiccups. But like the saying goes, you will never reach your destination if you stop to throw stones at every dog that barks.
7. I want to implore the ITS to rapidly extend this digital television experience beyond Ilorin and its environs, so that the good people of Kwara can reap the digital benefits. Our people deserve no less.
8. In the meantime, there are a number of initiatives that we will be focusing on in order to achieve a credible and effective development of the digital economy. I will mention a few here:
i) The Consumer Proposition that is all-encompassing which most Nigerians, and definitely majority of the people of Kwara, have never had access to. I am talking here of 30 digital channels and counting.
Television is all about content and we are going to ensure that more emphasis is placed on this critical component of the industry.
ii) Creating tens of thousands of jobs through Technical and Manufacturing opportunities. Set Top Box assembling and ultimately manufacturing is an irreversible mandate by the government to the
industry. We expect this to extend very quickly to local Smart TV and Tablet manufacturing. With our strong consumer base, we can quickly become the supplier of these equipment to the whole of West Africa.
Of course the Electronic Programme Guide will also be a platform for App developers to create products that will make life easier for the home consumers, thereby creating and promoting an industry of developers that will operate in both the Television and Telecoms industries. For the people of Kwara, we welcome the publishers of Apps to start looking for how to make living easier and commerce easier, using the technology that sits on these boxes.
iii) – Growing the TV advertising market by $400m per annum through audience measurement. In this regard, permit me to use this opportunity to throw the weight of the government behind the NBC in its efforts to create a viable currency by which producers of content and channels can be re-numerated.
iv) – Creating a 100 Billion Naira per annum FreeTV distribution network for Nollywood.
9. We have watched our beloved Nollywood move from VHS tapes to VCD to DVD, whereas the whole world has moved to digital consumption of content with its attendant benefits and democratisation of distribution, we have been constrained by limited penetration of internet in our homes. With the middleware in our Set Top Boxes, homes will be able to buy and watch the latest Nollywood movies without the need for internet. Imagine a film released on Monday morning being immediately available to all the households in Kwara at the touch of a button. That’s the kind of experience we are talking about.
10. Finally, I want to assure all stakeholders of President Muhammadu Buhari’s unwavering support for the growth and development of this industry.
11. Once again, I congratulate all stakeholders for the resumption of our rollout process. The journey is still long, but a little step marks the beginning of a giant leap. I thank you all for your kind attention.