A fire on Jan. 24 severely cut communications from Nigeria and its busy, oil-hub capital of Lagos, but a Maryland firm is scrambling to complete emergency arrangements to restore the country's telex links.
Frederick Electronics Corp. of Frederick sent a $5 million emergency shipment of computers and communications equipment to Lagos early Thursday aboard a U.S. Air Force jet chartered by the Nigerians, company officials said.
The equipment was expected to be partially in place before the end of the weekend, they said. The deal was finalized by Frederick Electronics Vice President Wayne Moran in talks in Lagos last week. igeria is "virtually out of communications," said Marty Cammarata, sales director for the firm. But the Nigerians have worked out some emergency communications links with Comsat (Communications Satellite Corp., a D.C. firm), he said.
Frederick Electronics is sending high-speed computers, software and hardware to provide a "transit international gateway exchange," which provides telex communications in and out of the country for 1,500 different telex lines, he said.
The order would normally take 18 months to prepare, Cammarata added, but the emergency necessitated taking hardware being prepared for other orders.
A Nigerian spokesman in Washington said telephone communications, which originally had been broken, were restored within a day after the fire. He added that embassies and some larger firms in Lagos have their own independent telex links.
The telex equipment shipment fills 10 cabinets seven feet high by two feet wide and three feet deep and must be transported and set up temporarily in its own 40-foot air-conditioned shelter. The shipment was too large for any Nigerian plane, so the Nigerians chartered a U.S. C141, Cammarata said. A State Department official said the Nigerian request was expedited because of the emergency.
Frederick Electronics, a division of the San Jose, Calif., firm Plantronics, had provided the original equipment to Nigeria seven years ago, Cammarata said, and was approached by the Nigerian government to replace it after the fire.