Wednesday, October 18, 2006

NRTP: Nigeria to access .6m lines

Remmy Nweke

NIGERIA is to access an estimated 636,256 telephone lines across the three zones of the National Rural Telephony Programme (NRTP).

The NRTP lines would be driven from the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) deployment, just as the project is planned for commissioning before the end of this administration on May 27, 2007.

Director, NRTP, in the Federal Ministry of Communications (MoC), Mr. S.S. Ahmed made this disclosure in Abuja at the just ended forum on “Connecting Rural Communities Africa 2006,” organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

Speaking on the progress report of the project, the director said that the second phase has been expanded with the number of core investors increased by one, with the inclusion of Messrs Huawei Technologies in the project.

He recalled that during the first phase, two-Chinese telecom firms were adopted into the project and said why only Chinese firms were participating in the project was due to the agreement with the government of China that drew up the loan, which stipulated that basically Chinese telcos are to execute the project.

According to him, presidential approval has already been obtained to sign contract for the second phase involving three Chinese companies equally approved for participation, namely Messrs Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, and ASB Fixed.

The project to cover the entire 36 states of the federation and Abuja, he said, has been configured into three zones.

Mr. Ahmed informed that zone one is made up of Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Yobe, Gombe, Borno, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Jigawa and Plateau, which would be managed by ZTE.

Zone two, he said, comprised of Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Edo, Delta and Bayelsa states, would be managed by ASB Fixed. Whereas Huawei would administer zone three, to connect Enugu, Abia, Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross-River, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and Nassarawa states.

Out of the total CDMA lines to be connected via the project, the director said that ZTE is expected to turn out 200,000, ASB fixed, 236, 256 and Huawei 200,000.

On the way forward, he said, that there is plan to sustain and improve upon the current tempo of activities on the project to ensure its completion and commissioning, on time and mainly before the end of the Obasanjo’s administration on May 27, 2007.

Monitoring visits to actually ascertain the level of execution of the project, Mr. Ahmed said, is on-going, while there will be a public forum to effectively inform the citizenry through organized stakeholders’ forum.

This, he also said will be scheduled within the year by way of involving the media, periodic interaction with interested members of the public followed by “commissioning of the project within the tenure of this administration.”

He noted that the liberalization of the telecommunications sector by this administration led to its unprecedented growth.

“Government is relentless in its commitment to the full development of the sector” he asserted, stressing that the enabling environment has been provided for the private sector participation, just as the primary and ancillary services are being provided while the backbone services and handset assembly are on course.

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