The member-states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) declared last Wednesday, that none of them has met the June 17, 2015 deadline for the migration from analogue to digital switchover due to financial difficulties.
The member countries, which had met at a regional workshop to review the status of migration from analogue television to Digital Terestrial Television (DTT) in Accra, acknowledged that the financial difficulties facing them had hampered progress in the transition process.
The workshop was, therefore, to discuss and exchange ideas to enable the member countries to meet a new deadline and take advantage of the digital spectrum dividend.
The June 17, 2015 deadline had been agreed to by the 119 member countries of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), after the 2006 Geneva agreement to which the ECOWAS member countries are signatories.
The Times is shocked, but not surprised that none of the ECOWAS member countries met the deadline.
The reason is that we saw it coming when Ghana indicated last year that it would not meet the deadline, due to contractual disagreements.
It is not only surprising but a poetic coincidence that the member countries faced similar problems, when the agreement was signed in 2006.
Ironically, only 48 nations, out of the 199 member countries of the ITU, have successfully transited from analogue to digital broadcasting.
A document available to us, titled ‘Status of Transition to Digital Terestrial Television Broadcasting’, indicates that 58 countries, among them some ECOWAS countries, have the project “on going’, while there is no information on the remaining member nations.
It is worth noting that in Africa, such countries as Mozambique, Tanzania, Rwanda, Mauritius and Malawi have migrated successfully, between 2010 and 2015.
We, therefore, find it difficult explaining why many countries which are party to the agreement and many others which are not, have made the transition, and Ghana and her regional neighbours have not.
We cannot accept the financial reason for the delay in migrating, when less endowned countries in Africa, have migrated successfully.
The digital migration provides a structured development of digital terrestrial broadcasting, and is also sufficiently flexible for adaptation to the changing telecommunication environment.
We, therefore, hope that these advantages would not be lost on the ECOWAS member states to take the required pragmatic steps to migrate, for the benefit of their peoples.
The benefits are enormous and we must not be left behind.