Broadband and planetarium projects to tackle insecurity generate N48 billion revenue

From Uche Usim, Abuja

Plans are in high gear to tackle insecurity and boost the economy as the Infrastructure Concessions Regulatory Commission (ICRC) issued two Full Business Case (FBC) certificates to the Federal Ministry of Science , Technology and Innovation for the concession of a satellite broadband Internet project as well as a museum and planetarium project.

The FBCs, which were presented by the Director General of the ICRC, Michael Ohiani, were received by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Adeleke Mamora.

A planetarium is a domed building into which images of stars, planets, and constellations are projected for the entertainment or education of the public.

The projects, which will be executed through the National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA), are expected to generate over N48 billion in revenue, create over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs and also contribute to the fight against insecurity while ensuring Internet penetration in rural areas.

Receiving the FBCs, the Minister commended the DG of ICRC and his counterpart from NARSDA, Dr. Halilu Shaba, for the work that had been done in moving the projects forward.

“It’s not over, it won’t be until the Federal Executive Council (FEC) gives its approval. These are very critical projects that will enhance our development as a nation in all its ramifications.

Citing an example with Dubai, he said the planetarium and museum projects are among the projects the UAE is rolling out in Dubai to generate a pool of funds through tourism.

He said with as little as 0.2% broadband penetration in Nigeria, President Buhari’s government was now in a rush to complete the satellite broadband project within the next six months.

“We told agencies and directors when we arrived that one of the things we are looking at is how we can deploy technology to solve the most critical challenge in this country right now which is insecurity.

“With satellites, you can monitor movements and get intelligence. It is very critical and it will also provide a lot of jobs.

“There is nowhere in the world where government does it alone and that is why we need private sector buy-in through public-private partnerships (PPPs).

“We will present these projects to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and defend them vigorously and our expectations will not be dampened,” he said.

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During the presentation of the certificates, ICRC DG Ohiani said the two projects will bring many employment opportunities to Nigerians, generate income and also support the government’s fight against insecurity.

“In terms of broadband, we expect 10,000 direct and indirect jobs for the 15 years of the concession. The project will also bring in revenue of N28 billion to the country.

“Additionally, regarding the museum and planetarium, we expect to receive over 2,160 visitors per week, and this will generate an estimated revenue of N20 billion.

“It will also improve tourism, capacity building, education, innovation and also address security issues,” he said.

Giving more information on the broadband project, Ohiani said the concession also aims to roll out over 7,000 Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) across Nigeria over the next two years.

He added that the proposed concession, which stemmed from an unsolicited proposal through Messrs. Gilat-Eleo Consortium (GO360) as the preferred bidder, will use a Design, Finance, Build, Operate and Transfer PPP model ( DFBOT).

For the planetarium and museum, he said the PPP model of equipment, operations and maintenance is being adopted, with 2,160 visitors expected each week, of which 360 will engage in the skydiving section. and 1,800 visitors for other tourism activities.

For Ohiani, the projects will also curb capital flight and increase government non-oil revenue.

In his remarks, NARSDA Director General Dr. Halili Shaba recalled that in 2021 President Muhammadu Buhari tasked the space agency with seeking ways to generate revenue, pointing out that the two projects offered such opportunity.

He said the planetarium had been built for a while but had yet to be equipped due to lack of funds, prompting the project to be concessioned for investment and operation. from the private sector.

For the broadband project, he said Nigeria’s venture into space technology was primarily for socio-economic development, which is why he relied on the project to reach all rural Nigerians.

“Some of the facilities that will be used will be assembled here in Nigeria: it will create jobs, it will bring more financial inflows into the country and it will strengthen research and development in Nigeria,” he said.

Arline J. Mercier