Ghana to Distribute Free Digi-box to the Poor

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Ghana’s Minister of Communications, Dr. Omane Boamah has announced a new pro-poor policy which will enable the government provide funds to buy digital TV boxes for distribution to poor households as part of Ghana’s digital migration efforts.

Dr. Boamah who made the announcement when he was contributing to the 2015 budget debate in Parliament on Wednesday, was confident that the full migration would be completed next year.

He stressed that despite several efforts by previous government in “2006 and 2008 the migration did not take place” adding that “under President John Dramani Mahama, the migration is taking place and by the middle of 2016, we would have completed the migration process.”

“In terms of the distribution of the satellite boxes, government will make an intervention because as a social democratic government, we believe that the international agreement that is saying that we should migrate from analogue to the digital broadcasting must also be sensitive to the plight of the have-nots”.

Dr. Boamah was quick to add: “It is not everyone who can change the television receiving sense from analogue to digital”, explaining that such people would have to be supported with setup boxes.

“As a result of that, government will procure some setup boxes and ensure that it distributes them to the have-nots and this is something that we promise transparency and equitable distribution”.

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In June this year, the Ministry of Communications has signed a contract with K-NET Limited, a telecom infrastructural company, to commence the Digital Terrestrial Television network project.

The contract, worth $13 million, involves the supply and installation of a Digital Video Broadcasting Second Generation Terrestrial (DVB-T2) network.

The project is expected to be completed within 12 months, but structured to be executed in nine months and a further three months for resolving all teething challenges.

Free to air digital television signals should be available in the country within 12 months, while the terrestrial network would be complemented with satellite services within the protocol framework that would ensure that all areas are adequately served with digital TV signals.

According to Dr. Boamah, upon completion of the project, the analogue and digital transmissions would run concurrently for a period not exceeding one year for the uptake of the digital system before the complete switch-off of the analogue transmitters.

He said analogue television would still be useful but would require set-top boxes to receive signal broadcast formats.

The Minister noted that the migration would generate employment due to the distribution, sale, installation and maintenance of the set-top boxes.

Over 7,000 direct and indirect jobs would be created over the next two years in the sector. The youth must prepare themselves to take advantage of the opportunities the migration offers, he indicated.

GB&F

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