By APCNews CAPE TOWN, 05 February 2014
African countries are migrating from traditional to digital broadcasting, and APC is currently coordinating a project aimed at involving civil society in the process. Even in those countries where the transition is more advanced, there have been no consistent campaigns to explain its implications to the people who will be affected by it, and this project’s goal is to bridge that gap. Côte d’Ivoire is one of the focal countries of the initiative, and APCNews interviewed the national coordinator for the project, Nnenna Nwakanma.
APCNews: Can you tell us a little bit about the current status of digital migration in Côte d’Ivoire?
Nnenna Nwakanma: The digital migration process in Côte d’Ivoire is underway. At this time, a ministerial committee is already in place, as well as an executive secretariat. A national plan has been drafted. There is a technical part to it as well as a social dimension. The aim is to guide the nation to a successful “transition”.
APCNews: What are the main challenges to digital migration in Côte d’Ivoire?
NN: I do not see any challenges that cannot be overcome. The one that first meets the eye may be the “non-liberalisation” of the audiovisual space. But the agency that is mandated to deal with that is hard at work, and also the members of the digital migration committee.
Of course, the challenge of the financial capacity of the population to acquire the needed equipment for the migration cannot be underestimated. We are a country that is recovering from war and a large percentage of our people are just managing to make ends meet.
We may also want to talk about the model to be adopted. There are different technology models in digital migration. Each comes with its own challenges and Côte d’Ivoire has been investigating, devoting a lot of time to prior consultations and studies on the different models to be able to either adopt one or develop a mix which will be best suited for the country.
APCNews: To what degree has civil society been included in the process?
NN: The national plan has civil society, identified as “communities”, at its centre, in the social component of the plan. Once the plan is validated and launched, it will be made available on the stand-alone website of the Digital Migration Initiative.
APCNews: Consumers are an integral part of digital migration. Are there plans for outreach?
NN: Consumers are part of the communities. Yes, there are plans for outreach not only in the cities, but in rural areas as well. The communication/social part of the national plan is as important as the technical part. Both go hand in hand.
APCNews: What benefits will digital migration bring to Côte d’Ivoire?
NN: It depends on where someone is looking at it from. Everyone sees the benefits in terms of content, standardisation and wider access. Some see job creation, wealth creation.
APCNews: As we have seen in Kenya recently, the media and public felt left out of the digital migration process and took the government to court. Is civil society seen as having a role beyond awareness raising among the public and media regarding the need to switch over?
NN: It is not clear at what time the mainstream media will be involved, but the cases are not the same. The liberalisation of the TV market has yet to take place and the only TV stations in the country are state owned. It will be interesting to see how the digital migration secretariat’s plan will include all stakeholders.