Gov’t Extends Digital Migration Deadline To 2018

The over 25 million Ghanaian populace who are expecting to enjoy 100 percent digital TV viewing experience this year, 2017 would have to wait as the deadline for the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting have been shifted to 2018.

The erstwhile Mahama government promised to attain this feat by September 2017 but the current Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful at a forum in Accra on the digital migration said Ghana is not ready.

According to her, the project implementation process faced some challenges hence the change in date.

“The draft DTT [Digital Terrestrial Television] policy designated 21st September 2017 as the deadline for analogue switch-off. However since the project implementation process has not followed the agreed schedules, I can announce that it will not happen on September 2017. We are not ready and it is not a process that we should rush into.”

“Even in technologically advanced countries, they had issues with the digital migration process so we will make haste slowly and do it right. However it is likely to happen next year 2018 and we will have a phased approach. But the dates and the timings of that will also be finalized in consultation with all stakeholders,” she added.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) urged governments in the world to migrate from analogue broadcasting to digital by June 2015.

A number of countries have been able to migrate including some in Africa but Ghana; one of the most technologically advanced countries in Africa missed the deadline several times.

Ghana’s Ministry of Communications in October 2015, signed a contract with K-Net Limited for the rolling out of the DTT project which demanded the completion of the DTT network within 12 months.

Ursula noted that the DTT project handed over to them was to be undertaken in three phases and financed from “internally generated funding from the sale of national radio frequency spectrum auctioned by the National Communications Authority to enable that Ghana met international deadlines for digital migration.”

“By April 2016, the first phase of the project to build the network platform was completed and the head-end, located at Kanda became operational transmissions at the 6 sites in Greater Accra and Ashanti Region were activated. 27 programme channels began transmitting on the DTT network platform. The second phase, involving 16 sites in the Volta, Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions were completed in October 2016 but due to the unavailability of dedicated electrical power to the sites, they were shut down until the power issues are resolved by the Ministry.”

“The third phase covering 20 sites in Brong Ahafo, Eastern, Central and Western Regions were also completed in February 2017. The contractor is currently conducting a mop-up exercise with the independent engineer to hand over the network platform to the Ministry…In this regard, the Ministry is collaborating with the Ministry of Energy through ECG and NEDCo to provie the cost estiamtes for the provision of dedicated transformers to 38 sites nationwide. It is estimated that works would be completed by August 2017. Once this is done, the Ministry together with the independent engineer would conduct the national coverage test to ascertain any gaps and then optimize the network to achieve the 90% coverage of the population.”

She said government is also in the process of establishing a DTT Company, in accordance with the DTT policy implementation road-map to manage the transmission aspect of the broadcasting value chain.

Ursula however said the process is delaying because of a company with similar name and objectives have been registered by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation at the Registrar General’s Department .

“I am informed that the absence of the board of directors for the GBC is delaying a decision to be taken to dissolve the company and allow the national platform to register its name. This cannot await interminably,” she added.

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(Via: CitiFM Online Ghana)