June 30, GNA – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional
Review Workshop on the implementation status of Digital Terrestrial Television
(DTT) within the member states has opened in Accra.
The two-day workshop would also exchange views on best practices to maximise the economic and social benefits of the digital dividend and reach agreement on the appropriate regional approach to enhance the advantages that it would bring to the ECOWAS Region and its citizens.
It would also agree on a new time table and a clear timelines to ensure that all member states migrate to the digital platform.
Mr Ato Sarpong, the Deputy Minister of Communications, said many ECOWAS countries have not met the deadline of migration to the digital platform, hence the need for the meeting.
He said Ghana is using a “2-4-4” approach of migration, whereby two regions – Ashanti and Greater Accra Regions would be the first batch to migrate by October 2015, while Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West would migrate by December 2015.
Brong Ahafo, Central, Western and Eastern Regions would migrate by March 2016, he said.
Mr Sarpong said the implementation of Ghana’s migration process was delayed by lack of funding and structural litigation between implementers and government and expressed the hope that the country would migrate by March 2016.
Dr Isaias Barreto Olimpio Da Rosa, ECOWAS Commissioner General for Telecommunication, Information and Technology, said the Digital dividend spectrum is very suited to providing cost-effective mobile and broadband wireless services and could become a significant asset for any country’s economic and social development.
“However, to effectively take advantage of the digital dividend spectrum, our member states need to complete the Digital Switchover in order to release this spectrum bands. Unfortunately, up to the deadline of 17 June 2015, few countries have made significant progress in the transition process,” he added.
He said it is important that the workshop identifies the problem that still remains, with regards to the Digital Switchover, as well as to clearly define the specific actions to be taken for freeing the digital dividend bands.
“It is also important to work on the regional harmonization of the technical conditions for the availability and efficient usage of the digital dividends for terrestrial systems, capable of providing electronic communications services in the ECOWAS region that facilitates economy of scale, easy cross-border coordination, regional roaming capability, and interoperability of systems, “he said.
Dr Da Rosa expressed the hope that the outcome of the workshop could fast track the DTT transition in the sub-region and free up enough spectrum for other electronic communication services, including mobile broadband services.
Mr William Tevie, the Acting Director General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), said Ghana has currently accredited 14 laboratories, and that, over 100 Integrated Television sets and Set Top Boxes have been certified to conform to the DTT minimum specification.
He urged the workshop to also deliberate on the possibility of accrediting laboratories to have a common test suite for the ECOWAS region, as discussed in Cape Verde last year, to ensure that the objective of having minimum specifications for economies of scale could be achieved.
The 17 June, 2015 deadline for switching off analogue television broadcasting in the UHF band was set by the ITU member states at the Regional Radio-communication Conference in 2006, known as the GE06 Regional Agreement.
The new digital GE06 Plan provides not only new possibilities for structured development of digital terrestrial broadcasting but also sufficient flexibilities for adaptation to the changing telecommunication environment.