The federal government recently announced plans to abandon the National Rural Telephony Project (NRTP) which started in 2011, because of the cost-inefficiency of the infrastructure that has already siphoned over $200 million from government savings.
The design of the project showed that the project was to cover 218 local government areas and provide over 636 256 Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) lines in the 774 local government areas, reserving the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas.
The federal government contracted the project to China’s ZTE Corporation, Huawei and Shangai Bell, but they were only able to install the local exchanges.
After due consideration of the amount spent on the work, the federal government concluded that the project will be better managed by external parties.
Speaking on the issue, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson said, “The telecom industry is fully liberalised, there is very little government involvement and, therefore, we believe that the National Rural Telephony Project is better implemented and managed outside of government.”
Johnson said “So these six rural telephony exchanges are being concessioned to companies that have paid for them and our role is to monitor the implementation and delivery of services to rural areas.” The minister said, “we are getting out of the rural telephony.”
However, industry players are of contrary view over the NRTP, arguing that the project would have been done differently if it was to be conceived under the current environment.
Commenting, the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Lanre Ajayi said that “If the project was done today, it would have been done differently.”
According to him, a lot of other factors were not considered before embarking on the project, says “Nobody knew that GSM operators would cover ground so quickly to take over 80% of the populace.’’
Filed Under: ICT