Attention has been turned to Kenya to highlight the valuable lessons that could be derived from the country’s experience with its digital switch-over in the last 10 years. For Nigeria, actualising the digital switchover and using Digital Dividend spectrum for mobile broadband will be a massive step forward towards realising full digital inclusion as well as the national objective of the 80 per cent mobile broadband penetration target that the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2012-2018 set for Nigeria.
Kenya’s success factors can serve as precedent for Nigeria. For one thing, digital migration is a complex process that requires consideration and implementation of a broad range of issues, from policy to market factors, funding and stakeholder engagement. It is important for any country undertaking this process to get it right so that the benefits of Digital Dividend spectrum can be realised.
The GSMA’s report on Kenya’s digital migration process provides useful information and practical guidance to regulators and policymakers across the continent who, as in Nigeria, are planning or currently undergoing a similar migration.
For success, Nigeria can develop a well-planned roadmap for digital migration, seeking and taking into account input from stakeholders, ensuring there is buy-in across the ecosystem and also addressing consumer issues such as the need for awareness campaigns and the affordability of set-top boxes.
Lessons for Nigeria
The majority of African countries missed the initial deadline of June 2015 for completion of the migration, likely more as a result of policy, technical, funding or other challenges and presumably not for lack of willingness to migrate.
For Nigeria, Kenya’s experience is particularly interesting because planning for the analogue to digital migration actually began in 2006. From the findings of the GSMA’s study, it was obviously not an easy process, but one critical objective, which was to free up digital dividend spectrum to support future mobile services, was ultimately realised.
The key lesson from Kenya’s experience for countries planning or undergoing digital migration is that irrespective of what challenges the process faces, they can be overcome. Policymakers across the region need to step up efforts to clear the Digital Dividend bands and actually go further to license the freed up spectrum for mobile services. This would ultimately yield major social and economic benefits.
Why is this important?
Digital Dividend spectrum also supports improved indoor coverage in urban areas, because these frequencies can more easily penetrate buildings. So looking at the bigger picture, utilising Digital Dividend spectrum for mobile services helps drive broadband penetration.