IT WORLD Minda phones as good as Nokia, Sam­sung - Min­is­ter

Ishaku Arc. Dar­ius Dick­son

Daily Trust - - IT WORLD -

ecently, pre­sented smart­phone and a tablet as­sem­bled by the youths who grad­u­ated from the Cal­abar Skill Ac­qui­si­tion Cen­tre be­ing funded by the Niger Delta min­istry to Pres­i­dent Jonathan. Tell us more about the pro­gramme.

We started this idea un­der the depart­ment of youth em­pow­er­ment and em­ploy­ment and depart­ment of com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment and ed­u­ca­tion by try­ing to see ways and means to em­power the youths in the Niger Delta in such a way that they would be in­de­pen­dent and they can fur­ther cre­ate jobs for them­selves and for oth­ers. And we then came across a Nige­rian team in Ire­land who are into ICT and we asked them to come to Nigeria to make a pre­sen­ta­tion and they did it some­times last year. And we were able to de­ter­mine what we want and we told them ex­actly what we want--we want our youths to know how to put tablet PC and smart­phone to­gether. We want them to set up mo­bile de­vices fac­tory where youths can be trained. We want mo­bile de­vices that can be as­sem­bled here and that can be re­paired here so that we can use that as a step­ping stone in train­ing our youths. And they saw our con­cept and they un­der­stood what we wanted to do. They went back into Ire­land and im­me­di­ately swung into ac­tion. When they fin­ished, they in­vited us over and we saw what they could do and also what we asked them to do. Sub­se­quently, we went into agree­ment and brought them to Nigeria.

Are they the same com­pany the min­istry signed an MOU with on ICT some­times ago?

Yes, this is the same com­pany in Ire­land. They came into Nigeria with an agree­ment to train 500 youths in ICT; they have been here since last year. And we had in­tended to use our skills ac­qui­si­tion cen­tre in Otuoke in Bayelsa to be the start­ing point where they can train these 500 youths. But un­for­tu­nately for us, the con­struc­tion of the cen­tre did not fin­ish on time and up till De­cem­ber it was still not fin­ished. So we sought for a dis­used fac­tory in Cal­abar and bought up that fac­tory and con­verted it into a fac­tory where they could be as­sem­bling phones and tablet PCs.

So we did that and started with hun­dred stu­dents. Those hun­dred stu­dents that grad­u­ated two weeks ago as­sem­bled Minda phones and Minda tablet PCs. Minda means Made in Niger Delta Area. Any phone you see with the name Minda or any tablet is be­ing man­u­fac­tured here in Cal­abar Nigeria.

The idea is that we have grad­u­ated hun­dred stu­dents and we are work­ing in two months time to com­mis­sion an­other skill ac­qui­si­tion cen­tre in Otuoke. That time we would now train the re­main­ing 400 youths and we would be in a po­si­tion to show­case more of what they can do of ICT--they would be able to man­u­fac­ture other things apart from the phone and tablet PC; they should be able to man­u­fac­ture com­puter and other de­vices at the Otuoke Cen­tre.

Many Nige­ri­ans don’t buy made in Nigeria prod­ucts; are you con­fi­dent that the de­vices will be pa­tro­n­ised by Nige­ri­ans?

By mak­ing people to be aware that we have such good prod­ucts in Nigeria and that they are as equally good as some of the for­eign made de­vices. We are hop­ing to be more agres­sive in mak­ing the pub­lic aware that these Minda phones and tablet PCs are ex­actly like any other prod­ucts you see in the mar­kets. We hope to place some ad­verts in the news­pa­pers and in the elec­tronic me­dia so that more people will get to know about it.

The de­vices can even help in terms of agri­cul­ture. You know now that agric is now be­ing seen by some of our youths as a big busi­ness; fer­til­izer is be­ing dis­trib­uted through phones now. So if the ru­ral farmer and other people who are now try­ing to get fer­iliser for agri­cul­ture can also pa­tron­ize the Minda phone and it would go a long way in mak­ing this phone more pop­u­lar. So we are hop­ing that we should be able to mar­ket the prod­ucts more ag­gres­sively.

The su­per­vis­ing Min­is­ter of Niger Delta Af­fairs

spoke with on the mo­bile de­vices be­ing as­sem­bled at Cal­abar Skills Ac­qui­si­tion Cen­tre in Cross River State by the 100 grad­u­ates of the cen­tre with the as­sis­tance of an Ire­land-based firm.

Can Minda do as much as what Nokia, Sam­sung and their likes can do? Will the Minda phone not be calledChi­nese phone?

With what we have done so far I can con­ve­niently say the phone and tablet are of good qual­ity. Mr Pres­i­dent has even threw the chal­lenge at us first. He has taken these de­vices and given them to the Min­is­ter of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Techol­ogy and di­rected her to go and check if these phones and de­vices meet with stan­dard-- with what is ob­tained in in­ter­na­tional mar­ket. The min­is­ter is to check whether the de­vices are as good as the phones we buy in the coun­try.

But I must tell you that I use the de­vices my­self and since I have been us­ing them I have seen that they are as good as the other phones man­u­fac­tured by big com­pa­nies.

You use the de­vices?

Yes, I use them my­self and it is of the same qual­ity with my Sam­sung; I can browse with it I can do a whole lot of ac­tiv­i­ties with the Minda phones. And the beauty of it is that it is handy than most smart­phones. It is even more user friendly.

And we have been get­ting pos­i­tive feed­backs from some of the people whom we have dis­trib­uted the de­vices to so far; all the people that have got­ten them have been de­mand­ing for more to give to their loved ones. So, we are faced to hav­ing to tell the con­sul­tant to, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with our stu­dents, to pro­duce more of the de­vices, us­ing our stu­dents. In­ci­den­tally, be­cause of the de­mands the con­sul­tant said he would em­ploy all the hun­dred who have grad­u­ated. So, he is ready to em­ploy all the hun­dred though we have al­ready em­pow­ered some of them to set up small in­dus­tries so that will be in po­si­tion to re­pair or even go into mar­ket­ing of Minda.

How much will each of the de­vices cost?

I don’t think the man­u­fac­turer has come up with how much each of the de­vices will cost. But I am sure they will be much more cheaper and af­ford­able than other de­vices in the mar­ket; the phone I am sure would not

be up to N20,000.

When are we go­ing to start see­ing these de­vices in the mar­kets around us?

Ef­forts are on al­ready to push them into the mar­ket and very soon Nige­ri­ans will start see­ing them. I un­der­stand that Voda­fone has ap­proached them to man­u­fac­ture for them for use in Nigeria. So if such an in­ter­na­tional phone com­pany has al­ready ap­proached them it means that the de­vices are of good qual­ity.

Has the open­ing of the Cal­abar Skills Cen­tre helped in re­duc­ing un­em­ploy­ment rate?

Al­ready hun­dred stu­dents have been em­pow­ered and the man­u­fac­turer he has em­ployed them. An­other 400 would soon be trained. And some of these would also train many people. So I be­lieve thou­sands of jobs will be gen­er­ated in about a year’s time. So, it would have an in­creased ef­fect in the over­all pro­gramme of re­duc­ing un­em­ploy­ment.

I am also see­ing that in the next six months, a city like Cal­abar will have all its youths trained in ICT be­cause of these phones and pocket PC thing.

What was the re­sponse of Mr Pres­i­dent when you first told him about this Made in Niger Delta Area phone and tablet?

Mr Pres­i­dent was very happy and highly im­pressed. He was full of com­men­da­tion for the min­istry. He was happy that Nigeria is able to have a fac­tory where phones and tablet PCs are be­ing as­sem­bled by our youths. He is very happy that this is go­ing to lower the un­em­ploy­ment rate in the coun­try. And I wish you were there when we grad­u­ated our stu­dents two weeks ago; you would be amazed with ac­co­lades that we re­ceived from the stu­dents and the some vis­i­tors.

Arc. Dar­ius Dick­son Ishaku

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