Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government and the Chinese government have launched the 1,000 Villages Satellite TV Project in Abuja.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Monday launched the scheme at Kpaduma Village, Abuja, which is part of the Chinese government-sponsored ‘Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages Project’.
Under the project, each of the 1,000 selected Nigerian villages will receive two sets of solar powered projector television systems and one set of solar 32-inch digital TV integrated terminal system. Chinese President Xi Ji Ping had during the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, South Africa, announced the ‘Access To Satellite TV For 10,000 African Villages’ . Mohammed commended China for the project which, he said, will undoubtedly strengthen the already very cordial Sino-Nigeria relations.
He also said 20 recipient families with TV in each village will be provided with 20 sets of direct broadcast satellite
terminal system free of charge, adding that viewers in each village provided with the projector TV system will enjoy 21 satellite channels free of charge, while each of the 20 recipient families will have access to 33 satellite TV channels free of charge for two months.
After the expiration of the two months, he said, viewers can continue to enjoy access to the 33 channels by paying N900 per month, or enjoy
limited access without payment.
The minister said the project complements the efforts of the Buhari
Administration at democratising access to information and entertainment through the Digital Switch Over (DSO) for television
which has now been rolled out in several states and the FCT.
“The 1,000 villages project could not have come at a better time. In just a little over one month, Nigerians will be voting in the 2019 general elections. They need access to information now, more than at any other time, to know about the over 70 political parties that will be participating in the elections as well as about their various candidates,” Alhaji Mohammed said. He urged the satellite TV implementation agency, StarTimes, to expedite the installation of the TV satellite system to cover the entire country in order to give the people opportunity to be informed on the policies and programmes of the candidates for the various elective positions in the 2019 general elections.
Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian, pledged the commitment of China to implementing the outcome of the FOCAC. He said Nigeria and China are working closely to ensure access to information through television and satellite technology.
“StarTimes is now working to ensure access and besides access, China and Nigeria are also working very closely on TV and on Satellite. We are building the Made-in-Nigeria TV sets,” Zhou said. On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of StarTimes, Mr. Justin Zhang, said the implementation of the project will create more jobs as Nigerians across the 1,000 villages had been trained on how to install, recharge and operate the Satellite TV system.