Secretary-General Shola Taylor calls on African countries to meet their obligations for digital switchover

In his opening address at the Digital Broadcasting Africa Forum 2016 that took place on 11 – 13 May in Lagos, Nigeria the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Shola Taylor called on African countries to meet their obligations from treaty agreements they have signed up to for ICTs.

"Secretary-General-Shola-Taylor "

Shola Taylor speaking at opening ceremony of the Digital Broadcasting Africa Forum 2016

The region should put greater effort at meeting obligations from treaty agreements that they sign up to and in this case, they must accelerate the completion of the digital switchover process. Among other things, they must address the key challenges of funding, adequate regulatory frameworks consistent with new digital multimedia services, as well as the need for effective coordination with their neighbours,” said Mr Taylor about the digital migration process in Africa.

Mr Taylor also called on African countries to better value spectrum as a public good. “One obvious lesson from this process is that with continued advances in radio transmission technologies, we increasingly realise how valuable spectrum is as a finite resource, and regrettably also, how undervalued it has been in some parts of the region. So, whenever possible, while it is countries’ sovereign right to use spectrum as they see fit, it is our view that it must be made available on sound economic grounds first, including for the broadcasting sector itself,” Mr Taylor added.

Speaking about the purpose of the event, Mr Taylor said that it was aimed at reviewing the current state of digital migration in Africa and reflect on emerging trends in digital broadcasting and their likely impact on the continent’s broadcasting sector and on its economic development.

To provide practical support to the region on spectrum valuation, Mr Taylor also announced a series of activities in support of member countries in the region, including a workshop to take place in August in South Africa on spectrum auctions as one means to derive value from spectrum, as well as a forum on spectrum management to take place in November in Cameroon. He also cited the readiness of the CTO to carry out spectrum audit for its members who indicate interest.

The Lagos event, which was attended by around 150 policymakers, regulators and broadcasting executives, focused on the theme “The Pan-Africa Transition: Achieving Digital Migration Success”. Discussions focused on:

  • Broadcast technology trends
  • Next-generation entertainment
  • Creation of local content
  • Digital migration and spectrum allocation

Co-hosted this year by the Ministry of Information and Culture of Nigeria, the Ministry of Communication Technology of Nigeria, the National Broadcasting Commission of Nigeria and Nigerian Communications Comission, the event builds on the successful Digital Broadcasting Switchover events series the CTO has held over the past 10 years in the region.