Ghana's digital migration deadline now March 2016

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 
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Digital Migration deadline now March 2016

Ghana will migrate fully to digital terrestrial television (DTT) by March 2016, Mr Edward Ato Sarpong, a Deputy Minister of Communications, has stated.

He said with the required resources, equipment, skills and capabilities available, any serious vendor willing to migrate digitally should be able to execute it within the nine-month period that had been allocated adding that the sites for the deployment of the infrastructure had already been identified.

Mr Sarpong who said this while briefing journalist on the sidelines of an ECOWAS workshop on the benefits of digitisation, indicated that Ghana had identified funding sources to implement the project at a cost of US$83 million.

Digital dividend

The Deputy Minister said the good news is that the project will be executed by Ghanaians, financed solely by Ghanaians for the use of Ghanaians, adding that Ghana would not finance the digital migration with loans if the country can harvest the benefit of the digital dividend to do this.

“Whatever loans that exist and whatever facility that would probably have been made available to us, with interest in the region of US$17 million, we think that we can save it by looking at other options of financing this,” he stated.

According to Mr Sarpong, Cabinet had already approved the use of the digital dividend in financing Ghana’s DTT implementation, which would be used to pay for the services offered by K-NET, a provider of business-grade network solutions throughout West and Central Africa.

He explained the digital dividend as the benefit that would accrue to the country as a result of the digital migration which would free bandwidth for other data services and more revenue for the state.

“What is left can be used for better data services and value-added services that are needed within the ICT environment. So when we harvest that, it reverts to the state. The state will then sell it to people who want it. Beneficiaries of the digital dividend are the government, because it can sell excess bandwidth; operators because they can operate at a lower cost and ordinary Ghanaians because they can access ICT services in a much more efficient manner and the regulators because it is easier to regulate such environment,” he said.

Learning

No ECOWAS country has been able to migrate yet, but Mr Sarpong noted that the workshop would give Ghana the opportunity to learn from Senegal, which had successfully embarked on a hybrid system that comprises terrestrial and satellite television.

He said Nigeria had also been able to develop the right policies that would ride on the back of digital access fees, referred to as TV licence fees in Ghana. “They have a model that we think is a good working model and is something that we can tap into,” he added.

DTT progress

In his welcome address, the acting Director General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Mr William Tevie, said Ghana had amended its minimum specifications for the receivers for Free to Air DTT documents, to conform to the ECOWAS specification, which had been gazetted by the Ghana Standards Authority.

Ghana, he said, had also instituted a conformance regime to ensure that the DTT receivers imported into the country conformed to the minimum specifications developed by ECOWAS.

Mr Tevie added that to enforce that condition, all DTT receivers sold in Ghana shall pass a conformance test to receive the ‘Digital Ghana’ certification mark to help consumers, retailers and the general public identify approved TV products that conform to Ghana’s technical specifications.