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C/River State Commends Airtel for Support for Rural Entrepreneurial Scheme

By Emmanuel Otokhine

Calabar, Nigeria; August 29, 2011: The government of Cross River State has applauded leading telecommunication service provider, Airtel Nigeria for powering its economic empowerment programme for rural communities and for improving access to modern communication infrastructure in these areas.

The Deputy Governor of the State, Mr. Efiok Cobham, said in Calabar, Airtel through its support has helped the government realize its dream of creating a pool of rural entrepreneurs and empowering more indigenes of the State economically as well as spreading its poverty reduction programme across the area. Under the programme, Airtel and the government will provide incentives for Rural Distributors to extend access to telecommunication services to rural and underserved communities.

Speaking at the presentation of brand new motorbikes, crash helmet, megaphones, SIM registration machines, giant umbrellas, and N50, 000.00 (fifty thousand naira) worth of Airtel products and services to each of the beneficiaries, Ugbo explained that the gesture will undoubtedly positively impact the life of the beneficiaries, their dependents, and indeed the general economy of the state.

The presentation was made under the wealth creation programme championed by Airtel Nigeria, and in collaboration with the government's Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA). The project is code named “Project Sunny”.

The Deputy Governor who was represented by the Secretary to the Cross River State Government, Barrister Fidelis Ugbo said such an interventionist programme was needed to reduce the impact of poverty on marginalized groups, particularly women and youth, adding that it is the desire of the government to drastically reduce the percentage of the population that live below the poverty line of $1 per day.

He added that the government has mandated the Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA) and other relevant agencies to actively engage and obtain the support of the private sector in empowering the people of the State and thereby increase their purchase power, as part of its rural empowerment programs.

In addition to the current rural entrepreneurial programme, a few months ago, the State government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airtel Nigeria to deploy specialized information and communication technology infrastructure across the state to deliver health, education, tourism and other economically beneficial services to the people and to boost the economy of the area.

Also, the Director General of the state Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency (MEDA), Ignatius Atsu, commended Airtel for its swift response and assistance in spreading the benefits of the state government's poverty alleviation programme.

Atsu expressed the optimism that since the telecommunications is currently one of the fastest growing services in Nigeria today, the gains of the programme will become readily noticeable to the new entrepreneurs and all across the State and therefore encourage more people to take up the scheme.


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