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Nigeria: N4.8 Billion VON Station to Be Ready in 2009

The Voice of Nigeria (VON) transmitting station in Abuja would be completed by the first quarter of 2009, according to Alhaji Abubakar Jijiwa, the station's Director-General. The cost of the project, located in Lugbe on the Airport road Abuja , has been put at N4.8b.

Jijiwa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Abuja that construction work at the project site had reached 80 percent completion while the civil works were 100 percent ready. " Most of the equipment in terms of transmitters, antennae, mast systems and generators are already on site at the moment," he said.

The Director-General said that on completion, the project would produce the first radio station with the capability to broadcast in digital and analogue systems, within the Short Wave Bands. " If the budget works out well in 2009, we should be able to roll out the project in terms of getting it commissioned in the first quarter of next year.

"When that project is completed and commissioned, it promises to be the biggest in Africa , whether North or South of the Sahara ," Jijiwa said. He explained that the new transmitters would expand the international coverage of the station, because it would be heard worldwide.

" The station has the capability of a rotating antenna that can target any country in the world when desired, " he said.

On digitalisation, Jijiwa said there was no cause for alarm over the country's road-map to digital broadcast migration, beginning from June 2012, compared to South Africa which had set Nov. 1 as start up date. " South Africa is working hard to roll out its digitalisation programme in good time in preparation for the 2010 World Cup.

"In reality, South Africa will not fully digitalise until 2010 but they are going to start skeletal movement from analogue system, just like it's being done in the UK.

"I do not think that there is anything much Nigeria can learn from South Africa in terms of broadcasting; they might have better facilities in terms of equipment but in human capacity, we are far ahead of them, " he said.

Jijiwa is the Chairman of Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), a voluntary umbrella body for all broadcast stations in the country and the President, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA).

Leadership (Abuja) 3 October 2008

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