The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has launched a project to provide free satellite television to 1000 villages across Nigeria.
The project is being funded by the government of China.
Mr Mohammed flagged off the project Monday in Kpaduma 3, a village in the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT).
The minister said the 1000 Villages Satelite TV Project was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He said the project is under the ”Ten Major China-Africa Cooperation Plans” that were announced at the event.
”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, ” he said.
Mr Mohammed said 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.
”Thereafter, they can continue to enjoy access to the 33 channels by paying N900 per month, or enjoy limited access without payment, ” he said.
The information minister said while the project would strengthen the already very cordial China-Nigeria relations, it will also complement the ongoing efforts of the Buhari Administration to democratise access to information and entertainment in the country.
He said Nigeria is currently implementing its Digital Switch Over (DSO) for television to build what will be Africa’s biggest and most lucrative Free-To-Air Television platform rolled out in Jos, Plateau State, in April 2016.
He said the digitisation programme has since been extended to the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, Kaduna and Enugu States.
”With access to more than 30 digital channels, with crystal clear pictures and Hi-Fidelity audio, the DSO roll-out brings the benefits of digital television to all households.
”We call this the democratisation of information and entertainment, ” he said.
Mr Mohammed said the 1,000 villages project could not have come at a better time.
He said in just a little over one month, Nigerians would be voting in the 2019 general elections and that ”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.”
He then called on the implementing agency of the project, StarTimes, to expedite the installation of the satellite TV systems in the selected villages ahead of the elections.
”This will 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.
”In addition, access to information will no doubt have a positive effect on the lives of people in our rural communities. After all, it is said that information is power, ” Mr Mohammed said.
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