By Michael Eboh, Emmanuel Elebeke & Tochukwu Maxwell
The Federal Government has called on the implementing agency for the 1,000 villages project in Nigeria, StarTimes, to expedite action on the installation of the satellite TV systems in the selected villages ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Speaking at the flag-off of the 1,000 Villages Satellite TV Project in Kpaduma 3 in Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the installation would no doubt go a long way in making it easier for Nigerians to make the right choice of candidates to vote for during the elections and challenged StarTimes to replicate what it did in China in similar project in Nigeria.
He noted that the project was kick-started by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, at the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, FOCAC, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The project, according to the minister, would see some 10,000 African villages – 1,000 of which are from Nigeria, benefitting under the Access to Satellite TV programme.
He said: “Under the project, each of the 1,000 carefully-chosen villages in Nigeria will receive two sets of solar-powered projector television systems and one set of solar 32-inch digital TV integrated terminal system. In addition, 20 recipient families with TV in each village will be provided with 20 sets of direct broadcast satellite terminal system free of charge.”
Mohammed explained that the project, which would boost access to information would also have a positive effect on the lives of people in rural communities.
He said the project would strengthen the already very cordial China-Nigeria relations, adding that it would also complement the ongoing efforts of the Buhari administration to democratise access to information and entertainment in the country.
Also speaking, Chief Executive Officer, StarTimes Nigeria, Justin Zhang, said that StarTimes was contracted by the Chinese Government to deliver on the project across Africa, adding that the project was an initiative which could help meet ITU’s demand for African countries to achieve digital migration of TV industry before the year 2020.
He said: “We have entered an advanced stage in the installation of satellite TV access to 1,000 villages in Nigeria. The villages identified for this project will receive two solar power projector TVs for the community, digital TV sets, 20 Satellite dishes and decoders where they can watch more than 100 international and local channels all free of charge, just as we have done in Kpaduma village.”
Zhang further stated that during the course of the project, a number of jobs were created, as many Nigerians from various villages had been trained on how to recharge, operate and provide the required maintenance support for all the products installed.
“For us at StarTimes, it makes us truly happy as a company and a people to be able to work together successfully with both the Chinese and Nigerian government, and to put long lasting smiles on the faces the children and adults that would benefit from the exposure they get from the access to satellite TV.
“We have been making families happy since we came into the Pay TV market in 2010 with only one mission – To provide every African family affordable and enjoyable digital TV service, and will continue to do so,” Zhang maintained.