Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, is seeking for the approval of N181.5 billion ($500 million) credit facility from President Muhammadu Buhari.
The loan, according to Mohammed, will enable the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) compete with the likes of Cable News Network (CNN).
While defending the loan request before the senate committee on Local and Foreign Loans, the minister explained that there is no better time for NTA to digitize its operations.
“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 alongside most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the deadline was moved to 2017, which was not reliable and today the target is June 17, 2020,” he stated.
On how the loan will be deployed, the minister explained that the loan is aimed at establishing the media and culture industry centre, digitize all NTA stations, and at the same time construct integrated television services to infuse on network, which is the signal distributor and essential component of the digitization project.
Mohammed restated the need for the country to meet the new deadline, saying if the world migrates from analogue to digital and Nigeria remains analogue, it means the country would be unable to enlighten, entertain and educate Nigerians.
The minister further stressed that Nigeria has the manpower and technology to operate on a global scale, as he said the creative industry was not just about television alone, but film, music, fashion and photography.
According to him, the creative industry employs no fewer than one million young persons directly and indirectly.
Mohammed said, “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 digitize all the NTA stations in the country.”
The minister maintained that the project for which the Ministry of Information and Culture planned to borrow the loan, is about employment and revenue generation, as he said the industry contributes 1.492 to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).