Please permit me to start off by thanking the Chinese government for the project we are flagging off here today. It is delightful that the 1,000 VILLAGES SATELLITE TV PROJECT that was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has become a reality.
2. I recall that this particular project is one of the projects under the ”Ten Major China-Africa Cooperation Plans” that were announced at the 2015 FOCAC in Johannesburg, South Africa. Some 10,000 African villages – 1,000 of which are from Nigeria – are slated to benefit under the ACCESS TO SATELLITE TV FOR 10,000 AFRICAN VILLAGES PROJECT.
3. Under the project, each of the 1,000 carefully-chosen villages in Nigeria will receive 2 sets of solar powered projector television systems and 1 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. It is worth noting 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.
Thereafter, they can continue to enjoy access to the 33 channels by paying N900 per month, or enjoy limited access without payment.
4. While this project will undoubtedly strengthen the already very cordial China-Nigeria relations, it will also complement the ongoing efforts of the Buhari Administration to democratize access to information and entertainment in the country.
5. As you are all aware, 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, Since rolling out in Jos, Plateau State, in April 2016, we have extended digital television to the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, Kaduna and Enugu States, and we are set to speed up the roll-out pace
6. 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 democratization of information and entertainment.
7. You can now see what I meant when I said the 1,000 Villages Satellite Project complements the Administration’s efforts to give as many Nigerians as possible access to information and entertainment.
8. Honourable Minister, Your Excellency the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, 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.
9. May I therefore implore the implementing agency of this 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.
10. Once again, I commend the government of the Peoples Republic of China for this laudable project and I thank all those who have worked hard to make it a reality