As part of efforts to consolidate the gains that have been achieved in the telecommunication sector of the economy, the Federal Government yesterday approved the award of several contracts totalling about N26.6bn for the expansion of the Global System for Mobile Telecommunication (GSM) of Nigerian Telecom-munications Plc.

Minister of Transport, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, who briefed newsmen at the end of last week’s Federal Executive Council (FED) meeting, said the contracts which would be done in three phases have a completion period of 18 months and would increase the number of NITEL GSM lines from its current 118,574 lines to 1.4 million.

According to him, "the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the awards of contracts for GSM network expansion. As you are all aware this government created a telecommunications revolution when it moved into the GSM network and as a result, access to telecommunications has tripled and we are not relenting at all."

Giving the breakdown of the contracts, Maduekwe said the first phase which would involve the installation of cell broadcast systems and would cost $56.1 million was awarded to Messrs. ZTE Line.

He said the second phase which would cost US$60.5 million was awarded to Alcatel, adding that the third phase which would cost $60.09 million, was won by Siemens.

He added that Motorola Nigeria Limited secured a US$12.6 million contract for the provision of centralised nodes while another round of contracts for the production and supply of 200 million NITEL pre-paid cards/vouchers were awarded to six companies at a total cost of N1.578 billion for a delivery period of 12 months.

Maduekwe explained that government also approved a contract for production and supply of subscribers identification modules (SIM cards), starter packs and card readers for NITEL GSM at a cost of N399.5 million.

He said that a contract for the supply, installation, testing and commissioning of mixed SDH radio relay optical fibre link for the Gboko-Aliede-Makurdi network has been awarded at a cost of N71.5 million to Alcatel with a completion period of two and half months.

Meanwhile in South Africa, state parastatals Telkom and Transnet are to invest a sum of R14-billion towards building their assets base as well as developing infrastructure projects. The two are expected to invest R7-billion each.

(sources: This Day and BuaNews)