From Uche Usim and Nsisong Morgan

Hulumi village, a quiet settlement in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, bubbled recently as Startimes tickled the residents with various donations meant to improve their living standards.  

The company, in fulfilment of its corporate social responsibility initiatives, donated 20 sets of direct-to-home satellite TV decoders, two sets of satellite projector TV receivers, complete with solar power supply, and a set of 32-inch digital TV to Hulumi village. Also part of the gesture was a donation of various stationery doled out to Hulumi Primary School to enhance pupils’ learning.  

The villagers broke into jubilation as they rolled out the drums to celebrate what they deemed a “surprise package.”

The men, women and children circled the gifts and waited impatiently as they were unveiled by Mr. Yakubu Mohammed, the chairman, board of directors, NTA-Startimes Network, who disclosed that the move was to ensure the community benefitted from the company’s satellite TV viewing project. 

Mohammed added that the gesture was also to compliment the Federal Government’s effort in providing access to satellite digital TV for many small communities across the country, especially as it vigorously pursues the digital switch over (DSO).  

He said: “This village, like other villages in Nigeria, has limited access to digital TV. In the first phase of this project, five villages will benefit from the exercise, two from FCT, another two from Nasarawa and one village from Kwara State.

“We have successfully switched on Jos in Plateau State and Abuja the FCT; in the next few weeks, we shall commence the gradual switch-on of six more cities, one at a time.  The DSO project is technological and capital-intensive, we require the collaboration and understanding of all stakeholders to enable us achieve this objective, we are particularly calling on the various state governments to assist in our efforts to provide set-top boxes to our people, many of whom cannot afford to purchase them at market prices. 

“And we are committed to providing these facilities to more villages in the near future.

“We shall also provide and maintain the facilities free of charge in the next one year,” he said.

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According to him, NTA-Startimes is presently in 34 states, including the FCT, presently operating from 80 sites.

“We have been operating in Nigeria for the past seven years. NTA-Startimes has a vision and a mission to enable every African family afford digital TV and enjoy its benefits,” he said.

In her remarks at the event, the vice chairman, Startimes Nigeria, Mrs. Guo Ziqi, said that the network had been in Africa since 2002 operating in over 30 countries.

Ziqi noted that the community would not only enjoy local programmes, but also programmes from China and other parts of the world.

She said that the project would boost Nigerian television, link communities to the outside world and also create employment opportunities.

In his remarks, the Sarkin Giwa (community leader) of Hulumi, Dr. Idris Mohammed, on behalf of the district heads of Hulumi village, commended the delegation for the gesture and pledged to fully support programmes that would improve the living standards of his people.

He also suggested that such the gestures should be extended to other villages, as it would open them to a new world of social and economic opportunities.

The vice minister of information of China, Guayi Menuo, noted that the donations were aimed at improving the wellbeing of the Hulumi people and also cement the relationship between Nigeria and China.  

“Rural dwellers also need access to vital information to improve their lives, especially as regards information on best agricultural practices, since Hulumi is an agrarian community,” he said.  

The event had in attendance members of the Chinese community in Nigeria, politicians and top government officials.