Equipment worth USD23m for the Nigerian Rural Telephony Project arrived in the port of Lagos from China.  The equipment ordered by contractors to the project, a Chinese consortium of Alcatel Shanghai Bell(ASB) and China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation (CMEC) arrived Lagos port on February 16 and were cleared for onward transportation to the various project sites scattered across 108 Local Government Areas of the country in which the Chinese consortium have responsibility under an existing contract to deliver rural telephony services to the people.

The equipment imported include switching system, transmission system and cables which officials of the company said are ready for installation.

"The arrival and safe off-load of equipment in Nigeria shows the ASB and CMEC consortium are dealing with the project sincerely and are ready to rapidly complete the project. The arrival of the equipment makes the possibility to commission the exchanges very soon," the firm said in a statement to THISDAY.

The NRTP being supervised by the Federal Ministry of Communications was initiated in August 2004 at Kwali Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by the Minister, Mallam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai at a colourful ceremony witnessed by the Minister of Communications, Chief Cornelius Adebayo. The factory inspection for manufacture of equipment was carried out last September , after which the equipment were manufactured within the following two months. Pre-shipment inspection done in China was subsequently done paving way for shipment last December to Nigeria. Under the contract terms, the Chinese contractor is required to provide design of project, manufacture, supply, install and commission equipment as well as train the personnel to handle the equipment after commissioning.

The project is one of the three being implemented by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Communications to cover over 300 Local Government Areas.

ASB, a member of the consortium is the first foreign invested company limited by shares in China's fast growing telecom industry which is leveraging Alcatel's Group international resources. Its multinational links places the company in a good position to play critical roles in Chinese telecom technology.

The other member of the consortium, CMEC, founded in 1978 is the first industrial design foreign trade corporation which deals mainly with contracting international engineering projects, import and export of machinery and electrical products while still engaging in foreign economic and technical cooperation.

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