Conference to review progress on digitalization

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Windhoek

Namibia will join other African countries for the 3rd Africa Digitalization Conference in Kigali, Rwanda from September 29 to October 2.

Namibia is one of a handful of African countries that met the June 17 deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for migration from analogue to digital television.

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) recently celebrated a milestone in its digital migration in that it had achieved 70 percent coverage, including Windhoek, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Rehoboth, Okahandja and other towns. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) set a target of 67 percent digital signal coverage by June 17, 2015.

The aim of the conference that will be held under the theme, “Opportunities for Africa beyond the digital deadline” is to review progress made in digital migration, technology and the future of broadcasting, Africans telling their own stories, repurposing content, and the changing business models for broadcasters in the multimedia and digital age.

The Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA) secretary general Ellen Dantago !Nanuses explained that the conference will be presented jointly with the Public Media Alliance Regional Meeting for Africa, which is the former Commonwealth Broadcasting Association.

According to her, broadcasters will be poised at the meeting to gauge the new frontiers they need to move into based on developments around them to ensure maximum benefit from the various opportunities outlined by the developments.

Over the past 25 years, she says, African leaders have been speaking about Africans telling their own stories and correcting the image and perceptions of Africa mostly told by third party reportage and international organisations that Africa is a continent filled with sickness, disease and poverty.

However, it would appear that after years of expressing this desire for the first time the necessary technology has arrived to create multiple channel broadcasting, where sufficient stories can be told using menial means and distributing them in multiple ways.

“At the same time this creates the opportunity for Africa and their content producers to take a step back and say what have we been showing on our television screens, where did we get it from, what purpose did it serve, is there other type of content we can showcase, and can we create the content we want to see and what would that be,” she said.

“We are looking for content that will create a socially cohesive society with a shared common heritage and identity among African countries and will help unify nations; but also content that would tell the great stories of Africa, as well as stories that give courage and hope to this generation that they can be all they want to be and don’t need to stand back for any race, colour or continental threat.”

These stories, she said, would embrace technological advances taking place on this continent, modernisation of the agriculture sector, the business boom across the continent modernising many an African city, as well as dramas in local vernaculars, reality television, and Africans doing great things at home and abroad.

The second frontier of these opportunities is in the technology used now, replacing draconian and obsolete equipment no longer needed.

!Nanuses said African countries have mooted this particular area of ICT development as a tool for national development and poverty eradication, therefore there is a need to utilize new technology and to upgrade it while the environment and circumstances are favourable in digital migration, and not to be left out when systems speak to one another.

Rwanda, where the conference will take place, is ranked number one in the World Economic Forum Index for a political and regulatory environment that helps ICT business development and penetration; and as the number one ICT country in East Africa by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

“As responsible public broadcasters, and as digital migration brings the broadband conversation to our doorstep we cannot exclude the ICT development conversation, as media is a powerful tool for information dissemination and education, which must be used for our common development,” she said.

In line with this implementation a SADC TV Bouquet will be discussed, bringing together chief executive officers and director generals of broadcasters, policymakers, regulators, technology experts, content providers and trainers in the same room to chart the way forward as per the request of the SADC Ministers of ICT during the SADC Ministerial Meeting on ICTs in Walvis Bay, Namibia on June 26 this year.

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