The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has entered a new partnership with leading data centre and ICT infrastructure firm, Geniserve Limited, to connect all 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Edo State with fibre optic cables, to enhance internet connectivity.
Obaseki, at the formal signing of the documents for the partnership, at the Government House, Benin City, said the government, with the deal, targets the installation of about 2,000km of fibre optic connectivity across the state.
According to him, “We are making history today because we have just signed an agreement with our partners to build a fibre optic connectivity across all the 18 LGAs of Edo State. We believe that by the end of the exercise, we would have in excess of 2,000km of fibres connecting various parts of the State.”
He said the deal will ensure that most schools and primary healthcare centres in the state are connected to the internet, noting, “We would create hotspots across several communities in the State. We would make sure that most of our primary healthcare facilities are connected and roll out more services, particularly the telemedicine services to the people in the rural areas.”
Obaseki continued: “We believe this signing is significant given our strategy and plans to make Edo a smart, digital state where the government can deliver services to its citizens using state-of-the-art and modern technology infrastructure which we are making available.
“This journey didn’t start today. We had, over four years ago, signed a deal with Mainone and Facebook to build a digital ring around metropolitan Benin City. On the back of the success of that project, we thought we should extend it to other parts of the State.
“We are glad that we have come to a deal today through this signing and happy that the LGAs in the State have seen the need for this kind of infrastructure and have keyed in. The benefits of what we are doing today are tremendous, both now and in the future as it provides us with a digital network for our State in which we can lay any digital services that we choose.
“We have made our commitment and the funding for this project is now a priority to us.”
He further noted, “Working with you, we have mobilizes our communities and now have a template to make sure youths and leaders are sensitized to see themselves as partners and stakeholders in these services we are providing. We hope to start to roll out the services even before October on this network.
“For the local government, today, we have rolled out electronic governance software with which we run the state government and want to expand that to the local governments, and make sure we are able to provide pension and gratuity service for our elderly as they don’t need to come to the cities to get their benefits as they can get it in rural communities.
“We are in a race against time and never anticipate that we would go cashless. Quickly, we have developed our citizens’ IDs which will have electronic wallet capacity. We expect more than a million citizens of Edo State to process the cards before the end of this year. For such rapid rollout, we would need this kind of infrastructure.”
Obaseki added, “I thank you for the speed with which we have gone about the project as the contracting process started less than 30 days ago because this is a priority. All stakeholders in government came together to put in the extra work and without breaking our procurement law, we were able to seal the contract at record time. We look forward to launching this network not later than the third week of October this year and believe with your capacity, we would be able to complete this.”
On his part, the representative of Geniserve Limited, Mr. Tunde Famoroti, hailed the state government for the partnership, adding that the project covers installation of fibre optic cables in Edo’s 18 LGAs, School of Nursing, School of Agriculture, among others.