Manufacturers of set-top boxes may find an investment haven in Nigeria going by plans by government to encourage them, Mr. Yomi Bolanrinwa, Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, has said.
Set-top boxes are used in cable television and satellite television systems to transform signal from the cable or satellite to a form that can be used by the television set or other receiver.
Bolarinwa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday that the Federal Government was prepared to create an environment suitable to investments for the manufacturers to enhance the transition from analogue to digital mode of broadcasting.
He said government had considered the cost implication of all Nigerians replacing their analogue television sets with digital ones and decided to embark on such indirect subsidy.
He said that the manufacturers would be invited to start local manufacture of the set-top boxes that would receive digital signals and convert same to analogue so the analogue television sets can now receive the analogue signals.
He said that the original price of set-top boxes was about 50 dollars or N 8,000, which most Nigerians could not afford and as such indirect subsidy would aid in beating the price down and making them affordable.
``We see people who, today if you go out in every city in Nigeria, are buying second-hand television at N3,000, or N4,000, so the man saves his money and buys a second hand television for N4,000 you then tell him to receive signal, you need another N8,000, that will be unreasonable.
``So what has Nigerian government proposed to do again?
``To invite manufacturers to come to Nigeria, set up shops to manufacture this set-top box and they will be granted tax holidays, granted import waivers, that again is another indirect subsidy.
``So that this will bring the cost down to a level that is affordable to the Nigerian public. We are looking at if it comes down to a cost of like N 1,000.
``But we also need to be careful because technology changes and you know that the broadcast technology has become IT-driven so if you buy the barest minimum, when the technology changes, you might have to buy another one, that’s an
Bolarinwa said that to avoid a situation where Nigerians who could hardly afford to buy brand new televisions were subjected to replacing set-top boxes anytime there was an upgrade, it would be better to manufacture higher grades of set-top boxes.
According to him, such higher grades of set-top boxes would be those that could be upgraded easily using software even if such boxes had to be sold at a higher price of about N2, 000.
``So if we look at the in-between, we can probably say about N2,000 for a set-top box. Now, if we have accurate data you would see that we have about 30,000,000 viewing homes; homes that have television.
``Two thousand naira in 30,000,000 places gives you the cost on the receiver’s side of this transition so it’s a huge sum of money that has to be carefully worked out. (NAN)