On Thursday, May 21, 2009, the Pampaida Millennium Village celebrated the launch of a new base station that will provide mobile communications to this rural Nigerian community. The installation was made possible by a partnership with Ericsson, a leading telecom supplier, and Zain, a leading mobile operator in the Middle East and Africa. The new technology will help to improve agricultural production in Pampaida — a foundation of the region's economy — as well as access to health, education and infrastructure.
The ZAIN base station in Pampaida was commissioned by His Excellency, Mr. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, on behalf of the Governor. Mr. Yakowa was accompanied at the launch celebration by Mr. Bayo Ligali, Chief Executive Officer of ZAIN Nigeria; Mr. Khalid Koshid, Chief Operating Officer of ZAIN; Mr. Jibril Saba, Director of Human Resources of ZAIN; and Hon Saudatu Sani, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on MDGs. Other dignitaries included a representative from Ericsson Nigeria, a representative from Ikara Local Government Chairman, the District Head of Saulawa and eight other members of the House Committee on MDGs. Millennium Villages Project staff members, ZAIN staff members, local government staff members, schools pupils, traditional leaders and a significant number of community members also attended the ceremony.
The launch ceremony began with the arrival of the Deputy Governor and his entourage and the observance of the Nigerian National Anthem. I had the pleasure of delivering the welcome address on behalf of the UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Alberic Kacou. I conveyed the best wishes of the Resident Representative to the Deputy Governor and welcomed His Excellency along with the senior management of ZAIN, Ericsson and all invited guests to Pampaida. My address also highlighted the strategic importance of Pampaida Millennium Village as a reference point in rural development and wished all invited guests a memorable ceremony.
The ZAIN address was presented by the company's Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bayo Ligali. He thanked the Deputy Governor for sparing time to grace the occasion despite busy schedules and paid tribute to UNDP, Earth Institute and Ericsson for supporting this initiative. Mr. Ligali also solicited the support of the community members in safeguarding the facility and assured all of ZAIN's commitment and support towards eradicating poverty and achieving the MDGs.
While making his remarks, the vividly elated Deputy Governor thanked UNDP for the transformation taking place in Pampaida. Although he was in Pampaida just 12 days before the ceremony and has visited the Village eight times since the Project started, the Deputy Governor said he will not become tired of visiting the area. He also thanked ZAIN's management for living up to its corporate social responsibility policy and pleaded for the replication of this initiative in two other zones of the state. He thanked all those involved in the initiative and pledged the Kaduna Government's commitment to partner with individuals and corporate organizations in their desire for socio-economic development.
The representative of Ericsson Nigeria, Mr. Onimisi Oluwojoba, gave a vote of thanks and wished all the very best as they continue to explore areas of future partnership with the Millennium Villages Project.
Other Highlights of the Launch:
Ten youths from the community were presented with free commercial payphone terminals worth N30, 000 each for business development.
The Pampaida ICT Center is connected to the Wireless Internet facility in the base station free of charge.
Generated power (24/7) from the Base station will be extended to the Pampaida ICT Center by ZAIN free of charge.
Ten Handsets with customized ZAIN Cards (Calls between the ten lines is free for one year) donated by Ericsson to the Project.
Bala Yusuf Yunusa is the UNDP Operations Manager for the Pampaida village cluster. He is based in Pampaida, Nigeria.