Nduom questions gov’t spending on digital migration

Presidential Candidate of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) in the 2016 elections has questioned why government is financing digital migration when the nation has more pressing needs to attend to. 

Dr Nduom says Ghana still has a challenge financing stable power supply, building the public schools to provide the education our children need and grappling with “a humongous debt that prevents us from building the infrastructure to push development.”

His comments follow the response to a question on digital migration posed to Communications Minister-designate Ursula Owusu Ekuful when she took her turn before the Parliament’s Appointment Committee Wednesday. 

“…My priority now is looking for the financing to power the network that has been the infrastructure put in place, and then subsequent to that, we can think about looking for additional funding for the set-up boxes which will enable those who have analog TV sets watch the new digital transmission,” Mrs Ekuful said. 

In analogue broadcasting, the signal is in the form of a continuous wave, whereas digital is in the form discrete bits of information and digital signal is encoded and can be compressed to allow for more channels to be broadcast.

For Ghana not to be left out in this change, the Ministry is to ensure that broadcasting services are protected from interference from neighboring countries; provide improved services and to bring great benefits of digital broadcasting to Ghanaian television viewers and broadcasters.

Communications Minister-designate Ursula Gifty Owusu Ekuful

Also, Ghana’s migration would lead to the release of some valuable spectrum currently used for analogue television broadcasting for the provision of mobile broadband services.

Although Ghana was to migrate from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting (DTB) by March 2016, this was not achieved due to some challenges.

This, the nominees said, “…Once we solve all these problems, then we can stick to the September 2017 timeline, but if need be, we may have to extend it.”

However, the business mogul who is investing in the system said, “our challenged government treasury must not be used to acquire set-top boxes and the like.” 

“Government cannot buy set-top boxes or digital television sets for all Ghanaians. We now have pension funds in Ghana to provide long-term capital if the rules are revised to deal with such wants within the private sector,” the former Public Sector Reform Minister in the J.A Kufuor government added.

He advised the incoming minister to engage the private sector and let the market fill the void.

“Only the best and cost-effective solutions should prevail in the end. The new administration should spend its time on those matters that fall in the “need” category,” he stated.