By Donald Ugwu
Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday inaugurated the Abuja Digital Switch-over from analogue broadcasting, with a commitment that the Federal Government would meet the June 2017 deadline for the exercise in West Africa.
The inauguration would provide 33 digital channels to television viewers, easy access to public and private sector information as well as new programming and current affairs.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the event Buhari appealed to the 36 states and FCT as well as the 774 local government areas in the country to embrace the programme in order to create jobs for the youth.
“Let me state for emphasis that this government is irreversibly committed to meeting the June 2017 deadline for the switch over in the West African sub-region and also to the roll out of the digital switch over in all the states of the federation.
“I appeal to all states and local governments to be actively involved in the project because of the obvious advantages to our people.’’
Buhari recalled the advent of television broadcasting from black and white, which was the ultimate then, to colour TV, but added that digitisation had moved viewing from mere video to crispy and real life presentations.
According to him, no one knows that video and audio can get so closer to real life until the digital revolution and later high definition television.
He noted that technology had transformed the lives of many, adding that more doors would be opened by digital transmission in the country.
“First is that it will liberalise access to and increase the versatility of media information, interactive programming; two-way data exchanges mobile reception, internet and multi -media data will open up.
“The opportunities that this will provide are only limited by the imagination, advertising, formal education, sales and marketing are obvious low hanging fruits,’’ he said.
The President noted that Nigerian artistes and entrepreneurs in music, entertainment and film making would be important pillars in the administration’s diversification plans.
“Digitisation will create jobs in the area of content and software development, provide platforms for film producers and musicians to release their productions directly to households.
“This would of cause substantially cut of piracy,’’ he added.
The President expressed happiness that the set boxes being deployed for the switch over were manufactured in the country just as the signal distributor was a wholly owned Nigerian company.
He said that strong partnership with the private sector was a defining factor of the administration’s economic plan.
“This is as it should be,’’ he declared.
He described the inauguration as historic, noting that its significance could not be lost in the world as the digital switch over had become a reality in the capital city of Africa’s largest economy and its most populous nation.
“Even if only for the huge local and international opportunities for the broadcast media, ICT, entertainment and education, we all right to say that we stand at a threshold of very exciting times.
“The times are for job creation, entertainment and in general local and international commerce,’’ he stated.
Buhari recalled that the successful launch of the pilot scheme in Jos in April clearly demonstrated the gains of the digital switch over as the viewers could enjoy 15 free channels covering news, sports, music and business.
He also observed that local industries were already experiencing a boost from the new vista in the digital economy with many indigenous firms manufacturing set-up boxes.