Benin needs US$110 million for digital migration project

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Benin

Benin needs US$110 million (55 billion FCFA) for its digital migration project, ICT and communication minister Jean Dansou told media owners on Thursday in the commercial capital Cotonou.

The government has made the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting its top priority, Dansou said, adding that Benin must do whatever it takes to comply with the recommendations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

June 17, 2015 is the ITU cutoff date for all countries across the world to access digital broadcasting, or face blackout.

Unlike other African countries that are still twisting and turning six months before the deadline, Benin seems to have already done a couple of ground work, including building capacity, laying infrastructure, launching advocacy work and enacting a DTT policy and legislation.  

Section 44 of the said legislation, voted in Parliament in August 2014, declares that the analogue broadcasting switch off will be done progressively according to a timeframe agreed by the state.

Perhaps, the most interesting feature in this legislation is Section 46, which provides for the creation of a Digital Dividend Fund, a capital account to be managed by the Treasury which will be fed by money coming from spectrum and frequencies allocated to broadcasters by the regulator.  Dansou said these actions were vital because they would lay the ground for initial operations to be done in the first six months of 2015.

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