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Nigeria Eyes Interest Free $550m Loan from China to Acquire Two More Satellites

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The Federal Government of Nigeria is negotiating a non-interest facility of about $550 million from a consortium of Chinese financial institutions to procure two additional satellites for the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT).

The Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu who disclosed this at the weekend while presenting a three-page communiqué issued at the end of a weeklong 4th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Communications, held at Arewa House, Kaduna said negotiations had reached an advanced stage on the deal.

He said the procurement of SAT2 and SAT3 was necessary considering the fact that Nigeria is losing billions of dollars every year because it had only one Satellite in the orbit. He likened the situation to a car travelling from Abuja to Lagos without an extra tyre, describing the risk involved as enormous.

“Nigerian companies and government agencies are patronizing foreign satellite firms as a result of this risk for the safety of their data and security of others services provided by them thereby exporting jobs to other countries at the detriment of Nigerians,” he said.

He said the Council recommends that “stakeholders including state governments should henceforth purchase satellite bandwidth requirements from NIGCOMSAT Ltd only.”

He said the council received a total of 76 memoranda out of which 65 were considered while it endorsed the Nigeria ICT Roadmap 2016-2019 as well as the National ICT Strategic Plan 2016-2024 for implementation.

He added that the council also recommended the adoption and implementation of the e-Governance Masterplan, while it recommended the creation of states computer emergency response teams as measures to mitigate cyber security threats in the country.

His words: “the council encouraged members from the states to adopt the implementation of the digital jobs initiative in their respective domains as a means of leveraging the opportunities for alternative income presented to Nigerian youths across the country.

“It recommends creation of innovative hubs and ICT centres to accelerate the diversification of the Nigerian economy.

“It encouraged federal, states and local governments in the country to set up digital centres as a means of promoting ICT capacity building in the country and recommended digital literacy as a minimum requirement for employment and promotion in the public service and for implantation to be done in phases.”

The Minister noted that other issues considered by the councils were that it advised government at all levels to not only digitize their records but also adopt only Nigeria software in the process and further recommended that all federal and state governments henceforth comply with the provision of the guidelines for Nigerian content in ICT.

He said states should also establish their State Information Technology Development Agency, SITDA, while the implementation of CCTV projects on security on highways should also be used for traffic management.

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