30 March 2013

Nigeria: FCTA - Sanitising Outdoor Advertising and Signage

Senator Bala Mohammed has set a mechanism for the immediate transposing and consolidation of the new outdoor advertising and signage policy in the FCT; this is predicated on the singular fact that when the minister commenced his tenure of office, he met a system of outdoor advertisement and signage that was not only feeble but antiquated. Revenue derivable from this sector was completely undervalued; we had a situation where there was an overwhelming proliferation of illegal and sub-standard billboards, unselective placement of posters and flyers and a lack of a clear cut administrative arrangement for regulating outdoor advertisement. Undoubtedly, the generation of revenue by the FCT administration in this sector is still low at N400 million per annum, and significantly most of the revenue is outstanding as debt.

One other recognisable problem is the issue where the basic functions of the outdoor advertisements are handled by many agencies of the FCTA which creates the challenge of harmonisation and inadequacy. Another major issue of concern is the ineptness in the administrative system which is greatly responsible for the environmental problems in Abuja. The ineffective enforcement of outdoor advertisement standards and proliferation of unauthorised advertisement infrastructure made the environment filthy and inconsistent with Senator Bala Mohammed's apparition for Abuja as a world class city that conforms to the new global policy for outdoor advertisement and signage systems.

Basically, the aforementioned reasons are the factors that have inspired the FCT minister to transpose and reinforce the outdoor advertising and signage system in the territory.

Afromedia Limited is a reputable and well known advertising company which after following due process and extensive collaborative efforts, has been tasked with the responsibility of turning around the outdoor advertisement and signage in the FCT.

This is a public-private partnership which promises to deliver concrete results financially, environmentally and administratively.

The approved policy for a new system of outdoor advertising and signage by the FCT administration is in collaboration with the six area councils of the FCT. The basic purposes of the policy are to regulate all matters regarding to outdoor advertisement and signage; revamp and clean the environment and to ostensibly improve the internally generated revenue for the transformation of other sectors of the FCT.

These are just a few of the benefits of outdoor advertising and signage system; more revenue will accrue to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) as the internally-generated revenue (IGR) realised can be used for other sectors that seriously require funds for development.

The policy is based upon a careful review of global studies on the safety of hoardings. The premise of the policy is that basically hoardings are not dangerous though hoarding on roads, visible to traffic are potential dangers to drivers. It is for this reason that the outdoor advertising policy has given careful and high consideration to issues of road safety. This requires the policy to consider the location, design, size or type of sign along the arterial routes where the potential for conflicts with traffic safety is highest.

The policy is also meant for the city aesthetics as the global review has noted that there are a significant number of cities which discourage the use of large billboards. Hoardings are preferred in highways or if these large billboards are allowed within city limits, then these are restricted to business or commercial districts and areas. The agency mandated with overseeing issues relating to the foregoing, must adhere to emerging global best practises as well as the need to maintain the character of the Federal Capital City.

Obviously, Senator Bala Mohammed intends for Abuja to be one of the best 20 cities in the world and as such envisions a sanitised outdoor advertising and signage system in the FCT based on changing global practise. Let's take a cursory look on how some world cities have regulated and sanitised their outdoor advertising; it is also clear that cities across the world are learning the need to balance aesthetics with revenue that they earn through advertisement, often the hard way. It was reported that Beijing, in its readiness for the Olympics had decided to remove all hoardings within the city. Its officials said it was done to sanitise the city's image; thus cranes dismantled many of the 90-odd billboards lining the city road. City officials prevented Beijing from becoming one very big time square.

Similarly, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as governor of California, insisted on strict regulation of outdoor advertisements. The state's outdoor advertising act 2005 according to him, intended to protect public investment in highways to promote the safety and recreational value of public travel and to preserve natural beauty.

Ibro wrote in from Abuja

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