Ghana’s DTT migration process hopefully to start in October 2018

By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana

The draw down date for the start of Ghana’s digital migration process is soon to take place after sites across the country have been lighted up with power, according to Ghana’s Communications Minister Ursula Owusu Ekuful.

Speaking in an interview with an Accra based local station Citi 97.3 fm; the minister disclosed that her ministry will give the green light for the process to begin after a Report on powering the sites have been received from a body mandated to ensure that.

“And the biggest if now is the power to the sites and I am awaiting that report hopefully by the end of this week once that is in place we can start the countdown and that includes the establishment or operationalization of the company,” she said.

DTT Challenges

Following Ghana’s failure to meet the global migration from analogue to digital terrestrial platform deadline date of 17th June, 2015, there have been several challenges that had rocked the smooth take off of the country’s digital migration agenda.

The DTT project which was to be executed in three phases started with the completion of the first phase in April 2016, where the network platform became operational feeding six (6) sites in Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions and running 27 programme channels. 

In October 2016, sixteen sites in four regions namely Upper East, Upper West, Northern and Volta were completed but lacked electrical power to run and that led to the shutting down of those sites.

The third phase of the project according to the communication ministry was completed in February 2017 covering 20 sites in four (4) regions including the Brong Ahafo, Eastern, Central and Western Regions.

But the minister of communication is optimistic that given the progress that has been made so far with the setting up of a Central Digital Transmission Company Limited (CDTCL), whose responsibility is to manage the Digital Terrestrial Platform (DTT) infrastructure as a commercial entity the migration process will soon take off as planned.

Private Broadcasters and StarTimes

Meanwhile the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) although supports the government migration moves but vehemently opposes the alleged involvement of Chinese firm, StarTimes to operate Ghana’s Terrestrial Television (DTT) infrastructure.

The group said in a statement that “if StarTimes is allowed to control both Ghana’s only digital television infrastructure and the satellite space in the name of digital migration, Ghana would have virtually submitted its broadcast space to Chinese control and content.”

Background

The government of Ghana signed a deal with the StarTimes DTV Ghana Company Ltd, a Ghanaian registered entity on 11th April, 2012 .contract to supply and install the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) network platform for Ghana. StarTimes Ghana later assigned its interest to StarTimes China because it was a necessary condition for funding from the China EXIM Bank. After six months of delays, the contract was eventually assigned to StarTimes China on 27th September 2012.

But the contract with Startimes was terminated due to the failure of the company to secure the necessary funding from the China Exim Bank to execute the project.

The government then awarded the digital migration contract to K-Net,  a Ghanaian-owned company, but K-Net’s work on the project was halted after StarTimes sued the government of Ghana for what it described as the unfair abrogation of their contract with the State.

 

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