IT NEWS NIGERIA:
As part of its oversight function towards the process of achieving the deadline for Digital Switch-Over (DSO) of broadcast signals, the House of Representatives’ Ad-Hoc Committee on DSO paid a working visit to the corporate Head Office of Zinox Technologies in Gbagada, Lagos on Tuesday April 11, 2017.
The visiting team had Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Sunday Katung representing Zangon Kataf/Jaba Constituency in Kaduna State; Hon. Solomon Bulus Maren representing Mangu/Bokkos in Plateau State; Hon. Adekoya Adesegun Abdelmaji representing Ijebu North/Ijebu East/Ogun Waterside in Ogun State; Hon. Sunday Ayodele Oladimeji from Ado/Ekiti/Irepodun Ifelodun in Ekiti State; Hon. Ken Anayo Chikere, a representative of Port Harcourt 1 in Rivers State and the Clerk of the Committee, Mrs. Bimbo Ipaye.
The visit provided an ample opportunity for the members of the Committee to confirm the company’s capacity in the production of set top boxes – a major infrastructure required for the transmission of digital broadcast signals – of which at least 90% is expected to be locally manufactured in the near future.
In a guided tour which spanned the better part of two hours, members of the Committee led by the Group Chairman, Leo Stan Ekeh, witnessed first-hand the various infrastructure and facilities within the premises including the telecoms e-Hub unit, digital hardware manufacturing and assembly plant, Data Centre, bandwidth aggregation and digital security infrastructures, warehousing facilities as well as after-sales service and support centre, among others.
Ekeh had also taken the Committee on the well-documented history of the Zinox Group, the many pioneering efforts of the various companies in the Group as well as the landmark strides recorded in the Information and Communications Technology sector.
“We are running the biggest ICT company on the continent by any standard of measurement. We have world-class software capabilities, telecoms infrastructure solutions, hardware manufacturing and assembly, data centres and distribution pedigree. We are working for multinational companies like Shell, Chevron and Total, among others. We don’t have shares in any of these companies. Our business relationship is purely based on prompt service delivery and competence.”
On the June 2017 deadline for the switch to digital broadcasting, Ekeh was quick to point out to the members of the Committee some of the impediments that may hamper the country’s achievement of this milestone.
According to him, whereas Zinox has the latent capacity to deliver the apportioned units of set-top boxes for the project, the huge infrastructural and capital requirements in the life-cycle of the migration process may prove an up-hill task for other contractors saddled with the roll-out. In his view, the on-going forex challenges coupled with the expectedly significant outlay on the installation and monitoring of the devices after the switch-on may impede the successful achievement of the June 2017 deadline. In his opinion, the June deadline should not be regarded as sacrosanct if the country is to ensure a smooth implementation of the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting.
He urged the members of the Committee and the National Assembly to leverage on their privileged positions and platform to draw the attention of the government to these issues which stand in the way of the project.
Ekeh’s reservations resonates with the views of industry watchers, many of whom have identified the diverse nature of Nigeria with its vast geographical area as a major road-block for the entire country to be covered on or before June 2017. For these ones, the June 2017 date is seen as not feasible and as a result, have urged the Government and relevant stakeholders to plan for a more favourable date.
In his response, Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Katung expressed optimism and confidence in the capacity of indigenous companies such as Zinox to deliver the project which, according to him, explains the Committee’s insistence on the localization of the project. He also emphasized that the project is projected to accommodate at least 60% local content as it would boost the country’s pride as against mass importation.
He, however, sought the support of the Chairman and the Zinox Group on the actualization of the project, noting that October 2017 will prove a more favourable date to be proposed for the switch-over. The Committee also requested a position paper from the Chairman addressing his thoughts on the challenges which make the June 2017 deadline an unrealistic one for the full actualization of the switch to digital broadcasting.