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Digital migration challenging in Africa – Spio-Garbrah

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The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO), Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah has said that it will be difficult for the African continent to embrace the digital switchover from analogue to digital technologies.

Speaking about the challenges faced by African countries in their digital switchover strategy, Dr Spio-Garbrah said “The migration from analogue to digital technologies can be a challenging one for a continent as large as Africa”.

“While these are challenges that is not new to any country that has gone through a digital switchover, in Africa if the digital switchover if successful, would address it’s socio-economic developmental needs, thereby bringing it closer to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah said.

His remarks come ahead of the CTO’s conference to examine progress in Digital Migration in Africa which will be held in Johannesburg from February 1-3, 2011.

He was optimistic that best practices from ‘digital-ready’ countries can help alleviate some of the challenges to be faced by the continent during the migration.

Meanwhile the Ghana government has rolled-out a three-year national digital timetable to achieve a cost-effective and timely migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.

The Ministry of Communication has directed the setting up of a National Digital Migration Implementation body by the end of January 2011 and issuance of licence for digital television until the end of 2014.

Other aspects of the migration plan includes a nationwide roll-out of digital television to commence in April 2011 till 2013; phased analogue switch-off to be determined by the implementation committee; completion of switchover on the target date of December 2014 and appraisal of the switchover process to be undertaken within six months after the completion.

Over one hundred broadcasting experts and ICT leaders across Africa including Ghana are currently in Johannesburg, South Africa, deliberating on the progress made in the switch over from analogue to digital broadcasting in Africa.

Organised by the London-based Commonwealth Telecommunication’s Organisation (CTO)  the conference will seek to address issues of policy and regulation, the adoption of the new European standard BVB-T2, funding mechanisms, technology, international frequency planning, the Digital Dividend, among others.

Ghana’s Communications Minister, Haruna Iddrissu in an interview with Joy FM monitored by ghanabusinessnews.com, said the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has set June 2015 as the deadline for migration from analogue to digital radio and television broadcasting adding, “As a member of the Union, Ghana has an obligation and responsibility to facilitate that process and has set herself a deadline of December 2014 to complete that process.”

Mr Iddrissu said this will improve both picture and sound quality in broadcasting.

Digitization of broadcasting is the application of digital techniques to encode audio and video signals and transmit digital data rather than analogue waveforms on networks to consumers.

The project on completion would support mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia data, making applications, services and information accessible and usable anywhere and at any time.

In 2009, Ghana is said to be one of the first countries that accepted the challenge to migrate all existing analogue broadcasting equipment to digital.

The migration started with the national broadcaster, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).

Ghana is also expected to present a report on the experiences of the migration at the conference.

The report is expected to focus on challenges and maximizing opportunities for a successful transition, the role of Geosynchronous Satellites and local content strategies.

By Ekow Quandzie

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