Lagos - The much-anticipated national rural telephony project will take off in April this year, a senior official in the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, said.
Engr John Ayodele, who is the director of Posts and Telecommunications at the ICT ministry said that the $200million national rural telephony project will soon be handed to the various companies that won the bid for the project.
He said that the ministry was waiting for the final confirmation by the federal executive council (FEC) to hand over the project to operators that emerged preferred bidders to operate the networks across the country.
He added that every necessary approval for the conclusion of the transaction between the ministry and the preferred bidders had been secured except the final confirmation by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which is expected to be rectified between now and March this year.
“The Ministry of Communications Technology is committed to conclusion of this transaction. We have included it in our 2014 budget of the ministry and we are waiting for budgetary approval. When our budget for the year is approved, all that we need to do is to get federal executive council to rectify President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval of the transaction. Once all these are done, we are looking at handing over the networks to the preferred bidders by April this year,” Ayodele stated.
The national rural telephony project was conceived in 2001 by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration to take telephony services to the rural areas.
The project was planned to cover 218 Local Government Areas (LGA) in the first phase and provide over 636 256 Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) lines in the 774 LGAs and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the second phase to bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas.
Three Chinese companies– ZTE Corporation, Huawei and Shagai Bell – were initially awarded the contract but government cancelled the contract after the three companies failed to deliver the first phase of the project at agreed period.
Government subsequently transferred the first phase of the project to five indigenous telecommunications companies namely Key Communications Limited, Suburban Broadband Limited, Voicewares Network Limited, Gicell Wireless Limited and Hezonic.
– CAJ News