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Nigeria’s Digital Switch Over, An Epoch

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A cross-section of participants at a Digital Marketing Workshop for women organised by Women Technological Empowerment Centre, in Lagos on Wednesday.

A cross-section of participants at a Digital Marketing Workshop for women organised by Women Technological Empowerment Centre, in Lagos on Wednesday.

The Minister of Informa
tion and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says Nigeria’s switch over from analogue to digital television is a landmark achievement.
Mohammed said this on in Jos while inaugurating the pilot phase of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) that would start the digitisation process in broadcasting.
“Today, history is being made, both in Nigeria as a country and in the city of Jos. After 12 years, the country began the process.
“What we have dreamt of, imagined, attempted and what even seemed impossible at a stage, is now happening right before our very eyes.
“Nigeria is transiting from analogue to digital broadcasting.
“The journey that started in 2004, when the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Council adopted Resolution 1185 on transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting, is finally nearing its destination,”
The minister noted that three events were significant in the history of television in the country.
He recalled that in 1959, the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation WNBC inaugurated the first Television Station in Africa, and in 1976, the first colour Television was switched on in Jos.
Mohammed said 40 years after the colour Television was inaugurated, the country was transiting from analogue to digital in the same Jos.
“This is a monumental event, because with the switch over, we are revolutionising the broadcast landscape and architecture, as well as the local, state and national economy.
“More importantly, we are democratising the right to know, the right to knowledge and the right to be informed.
“This is simply because with what we are doing today, the average Jos person does not need to pay subscription to watch the best news and entertainment from around the world.
“Compared to yesterday when the average Jos person can only watch Television channels at best, he can now watch fifteen (15) Television channels, local and international news as well as local and foreign entertainment,’’ he said.
One other importance of DSO, Mohammed said that through the information service, viewers could also get news about government activities without going on the Internet.
Also while watching a particular channel, they could know the other programmes available on that channel, using the EPG, or Electronic Programme Guide.
“In terms of the economy, all licensed Set Top Box manufacturers have been mandated to establish manufacturing companies in Nigeria to produce the boxes locally, after importing the first set of boxes.
“This will create massive employment and also ensure the transfer of technology for our people.
“Also, due to availability of many channels, there will be an astronomical increase in the need for content, and this will fire the creative ability of our youths,” he said.
The minister said the switch over would also become the much-needed panacea to the menace of piracy dogging the music and movie industries.
He said the musicians and movie producers would be able to release their works directly to the platform, where they could be purchased, thus wrong-footing those who had been pirating their works.
According to him, the transition will trigger a chain of retailers and installers of the Set Top Boxes, with a massive impact on the local economy.
While thanking the Plateau Government for its support, he called on the local and state governments to help by buying the boxes for their people at subsidised rate by the Federal Government.
The Tide source reports that the event was attended by the state Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Tyoden, a former deputy governor, Paulen Tallen and major stakeholders in the broadcast industry.

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Twitter Ban Creates Room For Local Platform Creation – Don

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Director, Center for  Atmospheric Research, National Space Research and Development Agency  (CAR-NASRDA), Prof. Babatunde Rabiu, says the ban on Twitter by the Federal Government, presented an opportunity to develop an indigenous replica of the platform.
Rabiu, therefore, called on Information Communication Technology (ICT) experts and app developers to rise to the occasion and create a indigenous replica of the platform, in an interview he granted to the newsmen in Abuja, recently.
Reacting to the ban, Rabiu said although the ban had generated lots of reactions across board, there were benefits in the development.
“This is a great opportunity to make good and cool legitimate business with a social media platform such as this.
“I feel that the ICT sector in Nigeria is ripe enough to produce and offer an equivalent of Twitter services to Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
“If some app developers can come up with something very meaningful within the coming days, it will be a development for the sector and even if Twitter comes back, it will be like a competition.
“Africa is waiting for Nigeria, with one quarter of Africa’s population, and this is where the market is,” Rabiu said.
According to him, we are technologically capable of coping with the situation and to take advantage of it.
He called on Nigerians both at home and in the Diaspora to rise up to the challenge, adding that nationhood was bigger than any individual.
“We should use this opportunity to develop our country socio-economically. When we have our own produced indigenously, the tax will go to the Nigerian government, we will employ people, there may be offices in the geo-political zones or few locations of the country.
“When we develop ours, we will have Nigeria exporting this technology-driven service to other African countries and the global community as a whole.”
It would be recalled that the Federal Government suspended Twitter indefinitely on Friday, June 5, two days after the company removed a Tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, for alleged violation of the site’s rules.
A statement by the Federal Government accused Twitter of allowing the use of its platform for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
In the statement, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, also directed the immediate commencement of the licensing of all Over The Top (OTT) social media operations in the country.

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Embassy Seeks Partnership With NOTAP

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The Embassy of Sweden in Nigeria  has sought  partnership with  National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) in the areas of capacity building and workshops to advance technology in the country.
The Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Carl Grans, stated yesterday in Abuja  during a visit to NOTAP headquarters.
Grans said the Swedish community was largely represented in Nigeria and engaged in different businesses and there was need to engage in meaningful partnership.
“ There are about 35 Swedish companies in Nigeria with headquarters in Lagos and some in Abuja.
“ The biggest is Ericsson with about 230 staff and the Swedish embassy is seeking mutually beneficial partnerships to both countries,” he said.
According to him, the visit was to seek areas of interest in NOTAP where the embassy can be involved.
He disclosed that acquiring patents was very crucial to Swedish companies and urged NOTAP to continue to deliver on its mandate.
He thanked  NOTAP for its continued support and provision of an enabling environment for development of technology in the country.
The Director General (DG) of NOTAP, Dr DanAzumi  Ibrahim, while welcoming the ambassador informed him that NOTAP was established to regulate  inflow of foreign technology and register technology transfer agreements.
“ Registering technology transfer agreements between Nigerian entrepreneurs and their foreign technical partners is one of our major functions.
“ At the same time, we promote the development of indigenous technologies for a rapid technological growth of the country and to also reduce dependence on foreign technology, “ he said.
He noted that the office considered the registration of Technology Transfer Agreement under three major perspectives: legal, economic and technical.
Ibrahim said a major focus of NOTAP was  linking of research to industry needs through what he called,  the NOTAP-Industry Technology Transfer Fellowship.
“ The NOTAP-Industry Technology Transfer Fellowship trains  high level manpower on industry-relevant research projects.
“The companies involved also agree with NOTAP to support research in different sciences and technology.
“ For example PZ Cussons funded the upgrade of the chemical laboratory in some research centers in Nigeria institutions,” he said.
He insisted that unless the academia and the industry come together, the research and development efforts of the country would not lead to economic development.
The NOTAP boss said if universities come up with technologies just for academic purposes and those technologies were not taken up by the industries, it would  have no economic value.
He promised that NOTAP would continue to carry out its mandate and create a thriving environment for all businesses in the country.

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Telecoms Operators Receive Orders To Suspend Twitter

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The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), an industry group, says it has received directives from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter.
The President of ALTON, Mr Gbenga Adebayo made this known in a statement made available to newsmen at the weekend.
The action may not be unconnected with Friday’s indefinite suspension of Twitter’s operations, two days after the social media giant deleted a tweet from President Buhari’s account.
Adebayo noted that the association wished to confirm that its  members had received formal instructions from  NCC, the industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter.
“ALTON has also conducted a robust assessment of the request in accordance with internationally accepted principles.
“Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates;  our members have acted in compliance with the directives of NCC.
“We will continue to engage all  relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC,” he said.
He said the association remained committed to supporting the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding  the rights of citizens.
As an industry, ALTON endorsed the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online, he added.
He noted that this included respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communications.

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