The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced that it will establish a funding mechanism to ensure that Nigeria’s Digital Switch Over (DSO) project is completed before the end of the year.
According to reports by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Afreximbank President Benedict Oramah made the announcement in Cairo, Egypt, when Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, led a delegation of DSO stakeholders on bilateral talks on the project.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) launched free set-top boxes in April 2021 as part of Lagos’s digital switchover (DSO). The venture’s goal was to enable millions of Nigerians who couldn’t afford Pay-TV subscriptions to enjoy digital television with good content from 60 channels.
According to Oramah, Afreximbank was impressed with the presentation and will use Nigeria as a model for DSO project financing in other African countries.
“The move toward digital television is global, and it was inspiring to see the minister’s commitment to the cause,” he said.
Supporting the DSO initiative, according to Oramah, would create a platform that would accelerate the growth of Nigeria’s creative industry.
Mohammed, on his part, believes that the creative industry is critical to Nigeria’s economic diversification since, after agriculture, it employs a more significant number of people, primarily women and the youth.
He added that the project would also help to close the digital divide by providing more equitable access to the unconnected in underserved and remote communities.
The Minister noted that the government’s subsidy-driven strategy was unsustainable at the beginning of the programme.
“When the programme started, government subsidised set-top-boxes (STB’s), which was bought from manufacturers for US$30 per box and sold to consumers for US$10,” he explained.
“Right now, the government is not going to provide any financial support to the project again, and that is why we have reengineered and rejigged the programme in such a way that it will be commercially viable,” the Minister concluded.