Nigerian State and Zinox Disagree Over Internet Contract


Enugu State Government and Zinox Technologies Limited have disagreed over the city wi-fi wireless Internet service for Enugu, the capital city. While the government has commenced court action against Zinox on allegation that the company failed to deliver, Zinox maintains that it did not fail according to the contract terms.

Secretary to the State Government, Martin Ilo, according to a statement from the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Dan Nwomeh, accused the company of a shoddy job, saying it did not deliver what it promised after the sum of N200m was paid. But the Chief Operating Officer of Zinox, Theophilus Nweke said the company never received N200m from Enugu State Government .

Ilo said instead of the cloud Internet coverage of four kilometres radius from the city centre involving the installation of many base stations as specified in the contract agreement, what the company implemented was merely hot spots which work only around the few available base stations.

"There are two major issues. First, the range of the base stations is too short and very susceptible to obstacles, such that even where the mast exists, it works only within a limited range, best outside", he further explained.

Nwomeh also said that the internet service is not uniformly available, a situation that has security implications as many youths now cluster around the few functioning masts with their laptops, causing anxiety in some peaceful neighbourhoods.

"The venture has clearly failed, and that being the situation, we must have the money paid back into the state treasury. We can't tell our people, the people of Enugu State, that we expended such an amount of their money on a failed project, and are keeping quiet about it. We are not known for that", he said.

However, Zinox in a statement made available to This Day last week said as far as their records show, the government paid only N157,000,000 as part of its 80% equity in a joint venture. The telecom company said that it contributed its 20% to the joint venture. "It was not a contract awarded by Enugu state government to Zinox Telecomm”.

“This was paid after the devaluation of the Naira for a partnership signed and sealed before the devaluation. Also, as at today, we are not in court with Enugu state government and have not been served any court summons for whatever reason. Enugu state government drafted the joint venture agreement and we believe they ought to know the process to follow", Nweke said in the statement.

He continued, "What we implemented is Super Wifi and not hotspots and the network covers 4km radius and these can be confirmed but like is the global standard you need a subscriber unit to connect to the network. We recommended 500millwatts wifi USB adapters or 14dbi 400watts flat panels subscriber radios to connect. We felt violated with that publication and advise the government to investigate who received the difference".

According to him, the partnership was not profit motivated but rather to add impetus to the lofty programmes of Governor Sullivan Chime by turning Enugu state into a technology driven state with the provision of cost effective internet connectivity at about N10,000 per year .

He added, " As I speak the network is working and fully optimized and the government is using over 95% of the capacity and has not paid a kobo for the usage of this facility as defined by our partnership agreement. It is impossible to connect over 100,000 users in Enugu city on 2.5Meg bandwidth as expected by the SSG, this will freeze the network ".

The company added that other challenges it had include electricity supply to the over 20 base stations deployed which is not part of our obligation. "We provided power backups like inverters and UPS as agreed. We had few political issues with location of mast to host our base stations and antennas etc."

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