By Dipo Olowookere
To enable the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) compete favourably with the likes of the popular Cable News Network (CNN) in the United States of America (USA), the Senate must approve the $500 million loan request in the $29.96 billion external borrowing President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking the parliamentary approval for.
Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, informed the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts headed by Mr Clifford Ordia, the national broadcast platform needs this money to upgrade its facilities and operate on a higher level.
According to the Minister, the $500 million would be used to digitalise the station, which prides itself as the biggest television network in Africa.
He told the lawmakers that the loan request will make NTA send out quality signals that would be at par with CNN “because we have the manpower and the technology.
“If this project is approved, there will be more visibility for our people in the music, fashion and film industries.
“In 2014, we made $23 million from music alone and about $53 million in 2019 and we are looking forward to making $83 million in 2025.
“You can imagine the kind of growth we will have if only we digitise all the NTA stations in the country,” Mr Mohammed was quoted by The Guardian as saying.
He added that the project for which the ministry planned to borrow the $500 million was about employment and revenue generation, saying the industry contributes 1.492 to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said, “Apart from agriculture, which is the largest employer of labour in Nigeria, especially the youths, the next largest employer of labour is the creative industry,”
According to him, “The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2006 gave June 17, 2015, as deadline for all members of the organisation to migrate from analogue to digital.
“Regrettably, we were unable to meet the deadline along-side most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the deadline was moved to 2017, which was not reliable and today the target is June 17, 2020.”
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