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SPEECH BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE – ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED AT CABSAT 2016

  • March 10, 2016
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Protocol and Pleasantries.

 

I thank you for the opportunity offered me to speak on this occasion. Let me start by giving a brief information about my country. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with a population of 170 million people. The country boasts high population growth, increasing at an average of over 2.6% annually in the last decade. 

 

On the economic front, Nigeria has edged South Africa as the biggest economy in Africa, following a recent rebasing, with an estimated GDP of over $493 billion.  

 

With 20.4 million free-to-air (FTA) TV households, it is estimated that digital TV penetration will reach 100% by 2020. Nigeria remains the home of TV in sub-Saharan Africa, as the country's first television station - Western Nigerian Government Broadcasting Corporation - started broadcasting on 31 October 1959. It was also the first television station in sub-Saharan Africa. 

 

Nigeria currently has 2.5m digital TV homes, a number that is expected to increase dramatically to 20 million after the Digital Switch Over (DSO), making Nigeria the biggest digital TV market in Africa. Nigeria also boasts of 149 million mobile phone lines, making it one of the fastest growing mobile market in the world. 

 

Nigeria currently has 155 analogue TV stations, mostly operating on a regional/state basis. The Nigerian TV advertisement market is worth $200m, but with potential to grow up to $600m when we introduce our audience measurement system. Getting the Nigerian TV advertising market to work is essential for the creation of a viable digital broadcasting ecosystem.

 

The introduction of a reliable national audience measurement system will increase the value and quality of audiences measured, and will in turn increase advertising revenue for channels, as well as more investment in original content by the channels.

 

Nigeria intends to use DSO as an opportunity to diversify the provision of channels and content production. Key to this is the Nollywood, the name by which the country's growing movie industry is known. Nollywood employs over 1 million people, including actors, producers, directors, cameramen, publicists, etc., making it the second largest employer after Agriculture. The Nigerian film industry is worth $5.1 billion as at 2014, and Nollywood generates $600 million dollars for the Nigerian economy annually. After Hollywood and India’s Bollywood, Nollywood is the world’s third largest movie producer, at about 50 movies per week.

 

DIGITAL SWITCH OVER

 

The digital switch over will provide the opportunity to increase the number of channels and enrich local content, thus boosting production and employment of our youth, and contributing significantly to the nation’s GDP and diversifying the economy.

 

As I said earlier, Nigeria currently has 20 million TV households. DSO will make Nigeria the biggest free to air market in Africa and indeed the world, with viewers enjoying over 30 new free to air channels and a host of value added services such as news, information and video on demand.

 

Also, the regulatory National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) will drive new TV channels and services through a Free view-type platform. Incumbent FTA broadcasters have been highly engaging in the DSO process, stimulating interest in launching new free to air thematic channels. We have received over 200 expressions of interests from local and international channels which are interested in being part of the new digital TV platform in Nigeria, including BBC, CNBC and CNN.

 

We created the digital content consumer proposition that offers the FTA content brand aggregation called “Free TV”. This will carry up to 30 free channels and will combine the best of Nigeria TV with international channels across news, movies, kids, music and general entertainment genres. 

 

“FreeTV” is an open platform, which enables any content or pay TV provider to broadcast their content so that Nigerian consumers only have to buy one box to view all the content. We have also licensed Signal Distributors or “Carrier” who will be responsible for the Transmission of the Signals to the viewers at home. We adopted a national Set Top Box policy, which enables existing Analogue television receivers to continue receiving the Digital Transmission after the Switch Over date. 

 

As a policy, these STBs will eventually be manufactured in Nigeria. We also adopted a national standard set top box specification, which has been set to incorporate a common operating system. All boxes will have a common user interface, which will give access to the channel listings and allow viewers to also have access to value added services such as interactive news and government information, program recording, internet applications and video on demand. It will also enable a credible audience measurement capability. This is important as the success of FTA is dependent on this.

 

We believe that the transition to digital will deliver both commercial and public service benefits for Nigeria through;

 

 Plurality: Healthy range of services – from free to air, pay-tv options, state and private broadcasters all delivering a range of quality services.

 

 Competition: Broadcasting market that is underpinned by healthy, viable competition between pay and free to air service providers

 

 Commercial sustainability: Growing mixed economy of free to air and pay TV as well as radio services that enjoy revenue and profit growth, supported by a strong advertising market.

 

 Strong production: A strong and vibrant TV and film production sector in Nigeria

 

 Best of Nigeria: Broadcasters will deliver services that represent the best of Nigeria in terms 

of creativity, perspective and production values

 

 Best of the world: The digital ecosystem of the future also delivers to the people of Nigeria the best and most suitable content from around the world.

 

In conclusion, one of the most interesting and important factors related to digitisation is the link to overall societal welfare. Its impact on GDP per capita reveals that an increase of 10% in a country’s digitisation score fuels a 0.75% growth in its GDP per capita. As an economic accelerant, digitisation therefore is 4.7 times more powerful than the 0.16% average impact of broadband deployment on per capita GDP.

 

Additionally, the economic effect of digitisation accelerates as countries move to more advanced stages of digitisation. Nigeria cannot be left out of this globally beneficial wave of change, which will definitely galvanize our economy.

*The Speech was presented on behalf of the Minister by Acting Director-General, NBC  - Ms. Alheri Saidu

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