Interview: Alex Bernard Bongo Ondimba
What steps should be taken to develop a more coherent system of information and communications technology (ICT)?
ALEX BERNARD BONGO ONDIMBA: With the establishment of the ANINF in 2011, the Gabonese government created an institution responsible for setting up and managing infrastructure and shared national resources in the ICT sector. The creation of the agency has additionally served to ensure the overall coherence and integration of projects and systems within the scope of the digital economy.
Ultimately, this integration will focus on using a strategic planning tool for investments in ICT and the digital sector, namely the National ICT Master Plan; this plan also provides for the implementation and monitoring the of Operational Action Plan (OAP). The investment strategy should take into account technological objectives, methodological and technical consistency, human resources development, budgetary requirements and the organisation and governance of ICT activities.
How will the harmonisation of frequencies management support the development of ICT?
BONGO ONDIMBA: By creating the ANINF, Gabon has instituted a single operator to manage the full spectrum of radio frequencies. This will achieve the necessary harmonisation for managing frequency wavelengths, allocated frequencies and services assigned to radio communications. Such harmonisation will enable the development of digital infrastructure, including new kinds of mobile services with all the applications and innovations required for expanding the digital communications market.
Furthermore, the ANINF will actively participate in all the conferences of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), including those organised by the Radio Communications Bureau. These help to coordinate efforts to eliminate harmful interference between radio communication stations in different countries and to improve the use of radio frequencies and the orbit of geostationary satellites for radio communication services.
What is the recommended strategy for the development of digital audiovisual infrastructure?
BONGO ONDIMBA: A committee for transitioning from analog TV to digital terrestrial TV was established in order to propose the laws, regulations, and financial and social reforms necessary for ensuring the entire population makes the switch.
Gabon’s strategy is based mainly on ensuring the overall coverage of the entire country through a network of digital terrestrial television and digital terrestrial radio. These were adopted at the Regional Conference of the ITU in 2006. Digital terrestrial TV uses the DVBT2 standard with MPEG4 multiplexing, and digital terrestrial radio uses the T-DAB standard.
How can the ICT sector handle competition from foreign satellite stations?
BONGO ONDIMBA: To handle the challenges presented by competition from foreign satellite television channels, the Gabonese audiovisual sector must reorganise its public broadcasting and television services. Thus, Radio Gabon, Gabon Television and Broadcasting Gabon were created and are public institutions with administrative and financial autonomy. Being unable to rely on a sufficiently large advertising market to support its local stations, Gabon must find new ways to finance its public broadcasting outlets, which will enable the country to create quality radio and television programmes, as well as to broadcast credible news that will allow it to compete with foreign channels.
Therefore, the recovery of fees from satellite channels’ distributors and their customers must be used for the development and operation of Radio Gabon, Gabon Television and Broadcasting Gabon, enabling the companies to fulfil their public service objectives.
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