Uche Usim, Abuja
One thousand Nigerian villages are to enjoy free access to satellite television under the 10,000 African Villages Project of the Chinese Government/StarTimes Nigeria, aimed at providing digital television to rural communities across the continent.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made the disclosure on Monday at the launching ceremony of the project in Kpaduma village, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory.
According to him, each of the 1,000 carefully-chosen villages in Nigeria would 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 televisions in each village will be provided with 20 sets of direct broadcast satellite terminal system free of charge. It is worth noting that viewers in each village provided with the projector television system will enjoy 21 satellite channels free of charge, while each of the 20 recipient families will have access to 33 satellite television channels free of charge for two months.
“Thereafter, they can continue to enjoy access to the 33 channels by paying N900 per month, or enjoy limited access without payment,” the Minister explained.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer, StarTimes Nigeria, Justin Zhang, noted that the company was contracted by the Chinese government to deliver on the project across Africa, adding that the project was an initiative to help meet the International Telecommunication Union’s demand for African countries to achieve digital migration of the television industry before 2020.
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According to him, “we have entered an advanced stage in the installation of satellite television access to 1,000 villages in Nigeria. They can watch more than 100 international and local channels all free of charge, just as we have done in Kpaduma village,” he said.
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, while speaking at the event, expressed China’s willingness to continue to bring projects that will better the lot of Nigerians and Africans at large, assuring that that the friendship between China and Nigeria will be preserved via infrastructural projects that will uplift the people of the local communities who need it the most.
On December 4, 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation that China would implement satellite TV programmes for 10,000 African villages.
The project, known as “Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages”, is part of China-Africa cooperation programmes and is aimed at enabling African families in rural areas to have access to the digital signal with high-quality images and rich television programmes.