By Sumaila Ogbaje
Abuja – The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) says it is partnering with telecommunication companies to provide meteorological services to about 50 million Nigerians through mobile phones.
The Director-General of Nigerian,Prof. Sani Mashi, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said that the move was part of NiMet’s revenue generation drive.
Mashi said that the move was also part of NiMet’s efforts to enable many Nigerians in local communities’ access weather information on their mobile cell phones.
“What we have been emphasising is that, weather affects every sector of Nigerian economy.
“And because weather affects every sector of economy, we must be in a position to make weather information available to those that will require them in different sectors.
“One of the quickest ways we feel we can do that is through the mobile cell phones. Most Nigerians have access to cell phones; we can use the cell phones to reach out to them.
“So, we have been thinking along that line in order to extend the meteorological services to everybody.
“For us to be able to do that, there are a lot of partnerships that we need to enter into with other stakeholders.
“Those that are in telecommunication industry; those that are in computing industry and those that are in the information industry also need to be brought in.
Prof. Mashi said the initiative would help NiMet to be able to issue out data to reach a higher number at the lowest level as well as increase the agency’s revenue.
He explained that the data generated by NiMet was not for sale, adding that the mobile cell phone idea was a cost recovery measure to be able to sustain production of data.
“What we did (is that) we wrote a letter to Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) that controls the issue of spectrum and they have already allocated a spectrum to us.
“The second thing that we need to do is to get a vendor that can help us to use that spectrum so that we can sell our services.
“That is where the mobile service providers are coming in.
“We are already at the stage of discussion with the various mobile service providers, to work out a mechanism by which we can market and they recover cost.’’
Mashi also disclosed that NiMet was currently providing meteorological services to Sierra Leone for free because of the fact that the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), regarded Nigeria as the leader within the West Africa region.
He also said that the agency was providing forecast services to Liberia and the Gambia in line with ECOWAS protocol.
“We are making use of our resources to generate data so that we can provide the forecast to them.
“So we provide to Sierra Leone, Liberia and we are in the process of trying to see how we can extend meteorological services to the Gambia,’’ the NiMet boss said.