Sunday, September 21, 2014

Glo advances to second largest operator with 27.3m subscribers

The second National Operator, Globacom, may have advanced its tactics by moving up to the position of second largest mobile network operator (MNO) in the country, reports ITRealms.

This is coming as ITRealms gathered from the industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as published on its website for the end of June 2014.

ITRealms also learnt that Glo had 27,327,646 subscribers on its network as at the end of June, 2014.
Equally, this indicates that 21 per cent share of the Nigerian telecoms market is on Glo, and thus places Glo second to MTN which has 56,516,759. 

ITRealms further gathered that Globacom with this emerging figure has swapped third place position with Airtel, following the attainment of a record 2.8m new subscribers within the first four months of 2014, namely between February and June.

Airtel, on other hand, has 25,302,160 subscribers and 20 per cent market share, just as Etisalat retained the fourth position with 19,390,285 customers, equivalent of 15 per cent market share.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

FG pledges five-fold increase in broadband infrastructure


The Minister of Communication Technology, Dr Omobola Johnson, has said the federal government is committed to a five-fold increase in broadband infrastructure to facilitate innovation and create more business opportunities for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies and the teeming unemployed youths in the country,ITRealms reports.

This is as the Commtech Minister listed inadequate power infrastructure as one of the key challenges impeding deployment of communications in Nigeria.

Johnson who stated this during a panel discussion on ‘Policies Enabling Access, Growth and Development on the Internet’ at the 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in Istanbul, Turkey, recently, emphasized that countries with a higher broadband penetration experience greater innovation as it is a catalyst that fast tracks innovation adding that in recognition of the huge potential of ICT to drive Nigeria, as an emerging market, her ministry and Federal Government were applying and promoting an ICT strategy that will facilitate and stimulate rapid growth and development for the country.

She said that Nigeria was aggressively developing its ICT sector to drive national development in all sectors noting that the country has unveiled a National Broadband Plan and is currently implementing it to increase broadband penetration in the country five folds over the 2012 penetration rate by 2017, and stressing that Nigeria was pushing for an increase in broadband penetration to fast track innovation and enable a digitalised economy

The 9th annual forum with the theme, ‘Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multi-stakeholder Internet Governance’ drew 215 participants from Africa and 1,163 remote participants from Africa, civil societies, Asia Pacific, governments, Eastern Europe, intergovernmental organisations, the private sector, Latin America and the Caribbean, the technical community, Western Europe and other bringing the number of participants to a total of 2,374 onsite participants and

ITRealms recalls that some of the anticipated benefits of broadband penetration in the country include socio-economic development leading to efficient healthcare service delivery, education and literacy, enhanced security and safety, etc. as well as more robust macroeconomic activities that accelerate growth.

Chukwudi Obi

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Jonathan pencil down for honour @ICTMedia Centenary Awards

... As Adenuga, Ovia, Belo-Osagie vie for ICT Centenary awards

The President and Commander-In-Chief Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has been pencilled for honour as the “Grand Commander of ICT Promoters in Nigeria” during the ICT Media Centenary conference and awards slated for Wednesday, 8th October 2014 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Conference Centre, Abuja, reports ITRealms.

The event being hosted by the ICTMedia Initiative would have the trio of Hakeem Belo-Osagie, Jim Ovia and Mike Adenuga.

ITRealms recalls that Belo-Osagie is the chairman of Etisalat Nigeria; while Jim Ovia is the Chairman, Visafone Nigeria Limited and Otunba Mike Adenuga, is the chairman, Globacom.

The trio have been shortlisted to vie for the “Grand Investor in ICT 4 Development” in the special recognition awards category.

The chairman of ICTMedia Initiatives, Mr Aaron Ukodie in a statement issued in Lagos by the organisation’s Director of Communications, Mr. Olubayo Abiodun and made available to ITRealms said that other deserving stakeholders in the ICT sector would be honoured at the one day event, which includes a conference and award night during which the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Dr. Hamadoun Touré has accepted to give the keynote address.

According to Mr. Ukodie, in the other award categories, investors, companies, innovators, pioneer efforts, products and services, regulatory milestones that have stood out within the last century of Nigeria as a nation would be considered for awards.
Some of the award categories include: Most Outstanding Governor in usage of ICT 4 Development (North East, North west, North Central, South South, South East and South West), Premier ICT Officer of The Federation, Outstanding Achievements in ICT for Agriculture and Rural Development, Outstanding Achievements in ICT for financial services, Outstanding Achievements in ICT for Legal Administration, Outstanding Achievements in Software Development, Outstanding Achievements in Hardware Vendors, Outstanding Achievements in ICT for Aviation Services, Outstanding Achievements in ICT for Commerce, and the Most Outstanding Woman in ICT.

Others include: Most Outstanding CEO in ICT, Most Innovative ICT Company, Most Outstanding Bank in ICT usage, Most Outstanding Regulator in ICT, Most Outstanding Public Sector CIO, Most Outstanding Software Solution, Most Customer Friendly ICT Company, Most Outstanding e-Commerce Company, Most Outstanding Insurer in ICT usage, Outstanding achievement in Advocacy, Outstanding Achievement in Infrastructure Deployment, Outstanding Achievement in ICT for Public Services, Outstanding Achievements in ICT for Broadcasting, Outstanding Achievements in ICT for Identity Management, Outstanding Achievements in ICT for Education Development, and the Most Visionary  ICT Entrepreneur of the Century.

The chairman of ICT Media Initiative stressed that individuals, corporates and institutions that have contributed in no small measures to the evolvement of the ICT sector as the biggest contributor to Nigeria’s global recognition are the focus of these awards in order to motivate them for greater contributions to the growth of the nation.

He assured that winners in the different categories would emerge from a painstaking process being undertaken by the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the non-government organisation.

Pointing out that the BoT came up with names in the shortlisted categories for those who have invested money, time, energy and ideas to make the ICT sector stand out as the most strategic and iconic achievement by Nigeria in the last hundred years of its nationhood.

Apart from President Jonathan who through pro-active policy initiatives on the national broadband plan, the cybersecurity national strategy and plan, as well as micro and macro-economic policies that have sustained the growth in the telecoms sector, and increased FDIs inflow, other Nigerians have also invested creatively in the sector to compliment the efforts of the Nigerian government.

Mr. Ukodie stated that the ICT sector has made significant impact on the lives of the urban and rural dwellers as well as the industries and the farming population. Specifically, he said that efficiency matrix in Nigeria had recorded positive strides because of the contributions of the ICT to the lives of the individuals, government machineries and the processes and procedures in the private sector.

The event had already drawn on substantial goodwill and supports from the private and public sectors. The Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. (Mrs.) Omobola Johnson, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr. Peter Jack, acting Managing Director, Nigerian Satellite Communications Limited, Mrs. Abimbola Alele, Director General National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr. Emeka Mba and the Director General National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Barrister Chris ‘E. Onyemenam have declared their supports for the event. Others who have also endorsed the event include the immediate past EVC of NCC and Chairman of OpenMedia, Dr Ernest Ndukwe and Managing Director of CWG, Mr. Austin Okere, chairman of Zinox Group, Mr. Leo Stan Ekeh and Mr John Tani Obaro, MD of SystemsSpecs.

Mr. Ukodie said that the main theme of the conference is: ICT in the Nigerian Centenary: Matching towards a Connected Nigeria. “We have also slated other sub-themes for discussion. One of the sub-themes is: Broadband, for a connected Nigeria and prosperity. The conference is intended to sustain the current growth and momentum of discourses and actions that would culminate in the cost-effective deployment of broadband. This fittingly complements the efforts of the Federal Government as exemplified by the inauguration of the National Broadband Initiative,” he said.

He said that ICT Media Initiative is a synergy across three entrepreneurial media groups namely the ICT Publishers Alliance (ICTPA) – comprising leading ICT publications; Business and TechnologyNews Publishers Foundation (BTPF) - made up of foremost business and technology publishers, editors and very senior news managers across Nigeria; and Nigeria ICT Broadcast Network (NIBN).

Nenye Dom
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:Pix: Adenuga, Ovia and Belo-Osagie

Wiko smartphones enter Nigeria

Wiko, a leading smartphone vendor in France has concluded arrangements to enter the Nigerian market with its smartphones before the end of September, reports ITRealms.

Disclosing this at the 2014 IFA otherwise known as the Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin recently, ITRealms gathered that this means Wiko is determined to expand at the global level.

Speaking at Wiko’s IFA pavilion, the International Business Development Director, WikoGlobal, Mr. David Garcia, said the month of September would see launches in Poland, Nigeria and Kenya. 

He also revealed that Wiko made its debut in the Gulf region, the United Arab Emirates within same period and would be followed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in mid-October 2014. 

ITRealms recalled that Wiko was welcomed into the Vietnam in August to herald the brand grand entry into South-East Asia.

Mr. Gracia also notes that consumers in new markets are aware of Wiko’s strong brand and product proposition, even as Wiko has built strong relationships with its channel partners in every market, ensuring wide distribution and excellent customer care.

According to him, Wiko distinguished itself as France’s second largest selling smartphone after just three years, and driving Wiko’s success story across Europe is its compelling proposition based on smart French design, the latest Android KitKat 4.4 operating system and exceptional pricing.

“IFA is a great opportunity for Wiko to demonstrate our complete 3G and 4G smartphone line up. Tech lovers will have the chance to discover the Wiko’s innovative products that have made us successful in Europe so far,” he told correspondent at IFA.

On Wiko’s success story, Mr. Garcia pointed out that they deliver style and quality at the best price.

“We are excited about entering our new markets like Nigeria, Kenya, Poland, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and are confident of repeating our success story in these markets. We take pride in that Wiko is now setting a new direction for the smartphone market,” he asserted.

ITRealms recollects that Wiko Mobile has seen a phenomenon growth in France after its launch in 2011.

In 2013 alone, Wiko boasts of 2 million smartphones in the country in France, hence accounting for 8 per cent of the market based on GfK research figures.

ITREALMS ... delivering news for ICT4D

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Galaxy Backbone achieves secure critical national ICT infrastructure

*Ilukwe hands over to Kazaure

Leading Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services provider to the Federal Government, Galaxy Backbone Ltd, has achieved yet another feat in securing critical national ICT infrastructure, reports ITRealms.

This is coming as the outgoing Managing Director, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe has smoothly handed over to his successor, Mr. Yusuf Kazaure.

According to Mr. Franklyn Ginger-Eke of Stakeholder Management unit, Galaxy Backbone Ltd in a press statement made available to ITRealms, this achievement positions Galaxy as first public institution in Nigeria and sub-Sahara Africa to achieve certification with a newer version-ISO27001:2013 by the British Standard Institute (BSI).

ITRealms notes that Galaxy Backbone Ltd received the certificate for the newer version - ISO27001:2013 from the British Standard Institute this week, after undergoing Information and Security Management Systems (ISMS) verification and recertification audit exercise in June 2014.

He also revealed that Galaxy received the initial certification to ISO/IEC 27001:2005 in 2011, stressing that certification was valid for 3 years and expired on 5th July 2014 and thus threw up the need for a fresh assessment for Galaxy to retain the certification.

Adducing reasons for the recertification of the initial version - ISO27001:2005 and transition to the newer version, Igoji Owoicho, Head of Internal Audit and driver of ISMS in Galaxy Backbone, pointed out that based on BSI rules, “companies already certified against the ISO/IEC 27001:2005 revision will have to transit to a newer version which came in to force in October 2013.”

Owoicho said that the company focused on the key objective of putting in place a globally accepted standard of information security management process that would guarantee the trustworthiness of its data centre services and Network Operations Centre.

“The certification has increased the confidence of our customers and key stakeholders to our commitment to benchmark international best practices in our business processes,” Owoicho said.

The certification, he further said, reinforces the important role of ICT as a major tool towards the attainment of a 21st century economy and society.

“With the certification, Galaxy Backbone is well positioned to support Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the delivery of efficient and cost-effective services to Nigerians,” he said.

The outgoing Managing Director/Chief Executive, Galaxy Backbone, Gerald Ilukwe, said that the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification is an independent revalidation of our ability to protect information assets from all manner of threats.

Galaxy Backbone, Ilukwe said, they used the opportunity of the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification to raise stakeholder awareness on information security issues such as cyber security, information security, disaster recovery and business continuity planning and its implications for supporting the role of ICT in governance and national development.

Remmy Nweke:

ITREALMS ... delivering news for ICT4D
Pix: Yusuf Kazaure, MD/CE Galaxy Backbone Ltd in a congratulatory handshake with Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, SGF and Chairman, Board of Directors, Galaxy Backbone Ltd at a valedictory board meeting and formal presentation of handover notes by Gerald Chukwuka Ilukwe, outgoing MD.

Bayelsa hosts National Council on CommTech2014

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government from the 36 states of the federation may have shot their offices for the third edition of the National Council on Communication Technology (NCCT) being hosted by the government of Bayelsa State capital, Yenagoa, reports ITRealms.

This annual, ITRealms reports, also include all Commissioners in charge of ICT and Special Advisers on ICT across the federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Council, ITRealms gathered is expected to deliberate, appraise and agree on the way forward toward leveraging ICT for the transformation of Nigeria into a digital economy.

NCCT was constituted by the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology since 2012 and would as from today, 10th September 2014 hold the 3rd Regular Meeting at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

ITRealms gathered that the theme for the 3rd Regular Meeting of the Council is “Mainstreaming ICT in National Development: Moving from Talk to Action.”

Presided over by the Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, the Council is expected to, among other things review various actions taken by members towards implementing decisions taken at the 2nd (NCCT) held in Ondo State in August 2013.

ITRealms recalled that the Council was constituted and held its inaugural meeting in March 2012 during which it extensively discussed the Draft National ICT policy document. The 2nd Meeting was held in Akure in August last year and had Commissioners and officials of ICT, Science and Technology and other related areas from 22 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in attendance.

Representatives from other Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) attended the meeting. 

Others include the Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Power, Agriculture, Environment, Police Affairs, National Planning Commission, Lands & Housing, Trade & Investment and National Assembly Committee Members. The Presidents of Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Association of Licenced Telecomm Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Computer Registration Council of Nigeria and Executives and Captains in the ICT private sector/industry were also in attendance.   

Remmy Nweke: 

ITREALMS ... delivering news for ICT4D

Pix: Mrs. Johnson, CommTech Minister.

Monday, September 08, 2014

IGF 2014 closes with 3,537 participants

The 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) ended in the city of Istanbul, Turkey on Friday, 5 September 2014 with a total of 3537, both onsite and remotely, reports ITRealms.

Our correspondent also gathered that out of this total, the onsite participants were 2,374 while remote participants recorded 1,163 for the four-day forum.

In addition, ITRealms exclusively learnt that out of the onsite participants figure, Africans were 215, Asia Pacific-423; Eastern Europe – 153; Host country - 706; Latin America and the Caribbean – 158; Western Europe and Others – 714.

Also, the onsite participation by stakeholder group cut across civil society, government, intergovernmental organizations, private sector and technical community.

Whereas the civil society recorded 836, government – 542, intergovernmental organizations –98, private sector -516 and technical community 289.

Meanwhile, ITRealms recalls that there was a High Level Leaders meeting the host country convened a high level session on the topic of capacity building for economic development, which was attended by 21 leaders, government ministers who spoke on this important topic and including the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson.

On NETmundial, participants looked back on the lessons learnt and mapping the road ahead, recalling that this was a follow-up event to the NETmundial in Sao Paulo, held last quarter of 2013.
One of the highlights at the IGF 2014 was the debut of the Internet Governance Forum Support Association (IGFSA) spearheaded by the Internet Society with the objective of achieving a stable and sustainable funding mechanism to contribute to the United Nations IGF Trust Fund and support related activities.

Participants, especially from the African continent held a session to the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms, which was a Pan-African initiative to promote human rights standards and openness principles in Internet-policy making on the continent, was launched at the 2014 IGF among others.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS ... delivering news for ICT4D

Ghanaian Surfline goes life with first 4G LTE

The Ghanaian Surfline Communications has officially launched the nations first Forth-Generation (4G) Long Term Evolution (LTE) service, reports ITRealms.

This is coming with about 300 cell sites deployed by Surfline which tends to pronounce the network as the largest single LTE deployment on the continent.

In their commitment to bring international standards to Ghana, Surfline has raised the bar on both existing and new operators in the country. From their sophisticated experiential stores and 24/7-call centre to their impressive technology partners and plans for nationwide expansion, Surfline has arrived.

Surflines Founder and Executive Chairman, John Taylor, was reported as investing in excess of $100 million to launch the network in Accra and Tema.

Across the world, people are enjoying super-fast Internet speeds powered by 4G LTE. Surfline is proud to bring this technology into Ghana for the first time and for Ghanaians to experience the difference it brings he said. 

Stressing that Surfline will open the economy to new jobs and industries in technology, like application development, while also helping other sectors, such as banking, retail and energy, to do business more efficiently.

In order to create a world-class network, Surfline selected last year Alcatel-Lucent to set-up and deploy its industry-leading 4G LTE ultra high-speed mobile roadband product capabilities that include: LTE Radio Access Network, Evolved Packet Core and Professional services to install, optimize, maintain and manage the LTE network.

Daniel Jaeger, Vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent in Africa said: "Alcatel-Lucent is proud to be Surfline's partner in developing and launching its 4G LTE wireless broadband network in Ghana. This network has been built from scratch and based on best-in-class technology to deliver much higher speed than previous deployed technologies. 

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS ... delivering news for ICT4D

Banks intensify ATM awareness campaigns

The Guarantee Trust Bank otherwise known as GTBank plc alongside Zenith plc, First Bank plc, as well as the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and indeed all the major banks in the country may have stepped up their awareness campaigns as the new Automated Teller Machine (ATM) charge takes off.

The recent pronouncement by the Central Bank of Nigeria to reintroduce ATM charges from September 1, 2014, is generating debates and comments from many quarters. Some Nigerian consumers see free ATM services as the least the banks can do. Some others consider it an entitlement. Many others are asking why now?

There however seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding by members of the public on how the new ATM charges will be structured and applied. Given Nigeria's new status as the largest economy in Africa and it's increasing strategic importance as one of the most attentive emerging market, the country is rapidly becoming integrated with the global financial market and practices.

It thus makes sense to do a comparative analysis of the regime of ATM charges around the world and see how Nigeria stands in the overall financial picture. However, let us first look at the Central Bank rationale for the new policy as well as the key components.

The central bank reintroduced ATM charges two years after it stopped the N100 fee per withdrawal on third-party ATMs. The original circular to this effect was signed by the CBN Director, Banking & Payments Systems Department, Dipo Fatokun.

He noted that the banks have been bearing the real cost of N65 each time their customers use another bank's ATM.

"However as a result of the unintended consequences of the decision, which has resulted in substantial cost burden incurred by banks in defraying the cost of the service, the payment structure for card carrying customers, is hereby reviews in line with present realities.

“The reintroduction of the N65 transaction fee is to cover the remuneration of the switches, ATM monitoring and fit-notes processing by acquiring banks. The new charge shall apply from the fourth withdrawal from another bank within a one month period. So the first three charges will still be paid for by the issuing bank. All ATM cash withdrawals on the same issuing bank will still be free. Banks are expected to conduct adequate sensitization of their customers."

The Director of Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Ibrahim Muazu, explained in a follow up statement that the new charge would help the banks to keep more ATMs serviceable across the country, thereby making banking more convenient for customers.

Muazu maintained that the new charge was not intended to discourage financial inclusion, adding that the CBN would not endorse any anti-customer policy.

“Charging of fees on interbank networks is a widely acceptable global practice. The new ATM charge will ensure that customers get better services, while increasing healthy competition among the bank. The transaction volumes at other banksATM had increased astronomically owing to the free cash withdrawal on other banksATMs. 

"Indeed, some customers were beginning to abuse the use of ATMs through countless daily withdrawals; this development has led to an increase in cash transactions, which negate the central banks cash-less policy. The CBN wishes, therefore, to reassure the public that the long-term interests and welfare of all bank customers remain the goal of all banking policies.”

Let us now take a closer look at how Nigeria compares with many other countries around the world, before we end up with some great tips for bank customers.

In Brazil, banks such as Bradesco, Banco do Brasil, Caixa Econômica Federal, Itaú and Santander operate their own nationwide ATM networks. These ATMs are conveniently located all over and there are no charges. However, fees are assessed if there is excessive usage of the ATMs (i.e. one makes more withdrawals than what's allowed by their monthly maintenance fee).

In Canada, most Canadian financial institutions are members of the Interac Association, a multi-bank ATM network founded by Royal Bank of Canada, CIBC, Scotiabank, Toronto-Dominion Bank, and Desjardins Group in 1984. Before the presence of white-label ATMs, most Canadian customers were only charged the standard Interac Network Transaction Fee when a customer was using an ATM not provided by the bank that held their account (historically $0.75 CAD, now $1.50 CAD). As the Interac network was opened up to more Independent sales organizations ("ISO")s and the potential for additional revenue from Service Fees were made available, most banks elected to impose the Service Fee in addition to the revenue that was generated from the Interac fee.

In Austria, cash withdrawals are free for any owner of an Austrian Maestro card. (Very few, small banks charge an extra fee when one of their own customers uses a different bank's ATM).

German banks charge fees for withdrawals at another bank's ATM. Usual fees are 4-5 EURO. All ATMs are connected to the national Girocard interbank network. The ATM owners do usually join one of the ATM groups that mutually lower or waive fees, so that customers can withdraw free of charge. The most extensive network of ATMs belongs to the savings banks associations ("Sparkassen") with 24,600 ATMs.

The Central Bank of Ireland forbids all ATM usage fees, although the Government imposes a 5 Euro annual stamp duty on debit/ATM cards.

In Spain, there are significant variations in charges applied. A card issued by a Spanish Bank will normally expect to incurr a moderate fee from 0 to 1Euro to be applied to ATM withdrawals, where the transaction is conducted on an ATM operated and owned by the customers own bank. However outside this situation there is anecdotal evidence of significantly higher charges being applied where third party owner/operated ATMs are used.

In Sweden, most banks issue debit cards for an annual or monthly fee which includes free withdrawals in Sweden and within the eurozone. However, customers are subject to a fee if using a cash machine elsewhere. Some cards from some banks are, however, subject to fees also when used in the eurozone and some Swedish cash machines. Most of these cards are issued by savings banks.

The United Kingdom, a popular destination, used to charge ATM fees in the 1980s. The large numbers of free-to-use ATMs and the low average number of transactions at pay-to-use machines means that 97% of cash withdrawals in the UK presently remain free of charge.

Moving on to Hong Kong, there are three ATM networks there. ATM use is free of charge, except when a card is used outside of its respective home network. When a card is used outside the home network, HKD$15–30 is paid for service charge.

In Indonesia, banks generally do not charge a fee for ATM usage. However, when an ATM card is used outside the home ATM network, service charge will apply.

In Pakistan banks usually charge a fee of PKR 0 to PKR 20 per non user's ATM cash withdrawal. These fees are levied chiefly to offset banks' own costs at par only, without any profit margin whatsoever. There are two ATM switches operational in the country, 1LINK, hosted by a consortium of banks, and MNET, hosted by MCB Bank Ltd; and all Pakistani banks are members of one or the other switch as per the mandate of the State Bank of Pakistan, the country's central bank.

In the United States, prior to 1988, there was no surcharging of cardholders by ATM owners in the U.S. In 1988 Valley Bank of Nevada began surcharging "foreign cardholders" (meaning holders of ATM cards not issued by Valley Bank) for withdrawals at Valley Bank ATMs located in/near Las Vegas casinos.[22] Eventually, various regional ATM Networks, and ultimately the national networks, Plus and Cirrus, permitted ATM surcharging.

Before 1996, foreign ATM fees averaged $1.01 USD nationally. As banks and third parties realized the profit potential, they raised the fees. ATM fees now commonly reach $3.00, and can be as high as $6.00, or even higher in cash-intensive places like bars and casinos. In cases where fees are paid both to the bank (for using a "foreign" ATM) and the ATM owner (the so-called "surcharge") total withdrawal fees could potentially reach $11.

Moving to our continent, recent survey has found that South Africa has the highest ATM withdrawal fees out of a group of 27 countries which includes the likes of the United Kingdom and the United States of America (USA). An ATM transaction could sometimes cost as high as 16 Rands, about N240.60.

In line with the CBN directive, many of the banks have been educating their customers on the new charges, and helping them see, that ATM cash withdrawals are still free within the same bank network. The banks have tried to simplify the messages as much as possible in newspaper ads, website posting, radio announcements and other means.

GTBank, for example , which has one of the largest number of card holders, sent a circular to all their customers stating, "as a GTB card holder, it is free every time to withdraw in a GTB ATM. If you withdraw on another bank's ATM, it is free the first 3 times every month. Please note that for your convenience, GTB has deployed a great number of ATMs, placed strategically around the country."

As Nigerians get ready for the implementation of this policy, banking customers can take note of the following tips Tips on avoiding ATM charges.

Firstly, customers should be "ATM savvy" and be mindful that using ATMs that are outside of your own bank's network can cost you extra money. The simplest way to help avoid ATM fees is to use your own bank's ATMs whenever possible. To make it easier, research the location of your bank's ATMs or choose a bank with a wide network of ATMs

Secondly, Prepare a budget and plan for the cash you will need in advance so you can reduce the amount of ATM withdrawals you make. Budget accordingly. If youre forced to access cash from an out-of-network ATM — say when youre on vacation or traveling on business — take out more cash, to minimize your withdrawals.

Other cost saving ways is to make payments using a debit or credit card. There are no charges for using MasterCard or Visa and you can use your MasterCard to pay for goods and services as frequently as you desire.

Trust Nigerians, they will, soon get the full hang of the new ATM policy and strive to remain amongst the happiest people on earth! 

ITREALMS ... delivering news for ICT4D

Friday, September 05, 2014

Microsoft joins ISPON as corporate member

Finally, Microsoft Nigeria has joined the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), ITRealms can authoritatively report.

ITRealms also reports that this follows extensive discussions and mapping out of strategies on how best to collaborate towards the development of the Nigerian software ecosystem.

Confirming this, President of ISPON, Mr. Pius Okigbo, Jr revealed that Microsoft Nigeria has officially formalized its corporate membership of the apex body for software developers in Nigeria.

At an official presentation of the certificate of membership to Microsoft Nigeria and handover of a white paper on sustenance of a strategic partnership between the duo, in brief ceremony attended by key officials on both sides, Mr. Okigbo, Jr. reiterated the resolve of ISPON to build indigenous capacity by bolstering software local content.

He stressed the importance of protecting and advocating intellectual property rights as it concerns indigenous software development through its various channels and events and stated that Microsoft Nigeria must play a key role in the realization of these goals.

In his response, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria Mr. Kabelo Makwane, expressed his pleasure at the approach of ISPON towards addressing these key issues and hammered on the fact that the partnership should be on a long term basis judging by the enormity and importance of the issues identified.

Further, he tasked ISPON to facilitate a unified and strong software industry which will speak with one voice and thereby lend credence in the advocacy of its cause.

Equally speaking, immediate past President of ISPON, Mr. Chris Uwaje, commended the new partnership and welcomed Microsoft on board, tasking the company to assert its role in the development of the Nigerian software ecosystem as Nigeria has a pool of young talented software developers, a large percentage of which will be churned into the software ecosystem in the next decade creating a vibrant software industry.

Microsoft Nigeria confirmed its acceptance of the strategic partnership with ISPON and pledged its support to participate at the forthcoming ISPON National Software Conference & Competition holding in Tinapa, Calabar, Cross River State in October.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS ... delivering news for ICT4D

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Stakeholders route to stabilize IGF, seeks UN endorsement

Participants at the ongoing Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in alliance with stakeholders across the global may have began to route for more stable IGF by seeking the endorsement of the United Nations (UN) to make it a permanent forum, ITRealms reports exclusively.

ITRealms recalls that the IGF which commenced in 2003 saw the second phase in 2005 held in Tunisia coming out with a five-year lifespan which was renewed 2010.

Most of the internet stakeholders who commented on this development described it as a laudable step.
According to the Executive Director, Operations at DigitalSENSE Africa (DSA), the organizers of the Nigeria DSA Forum on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, it is a welcome development, after all, the Internet has continued to evolve and needs sustained stakeholder involvement beyond the five-year term previously given.

She also said this development when adopted, would pave the way for a more structured IGF across the world, therefore more inclusive.

Mrs. Nweke further commended the efforts of Messrs Stephanie Perrin and Jeanette Hofmann in awakening this process with a draft recommendation.

As contained in the draft recommendation to UN General Assembly through its Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, IGF stakeholders noted in the letter entitle “Recommendation for consideration to the UN General Assembly for a permanent mandate of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)” that in 2005, UN Member states had asked the UN Secretary-General in the Tunis Agenda, to convene a meeting of the new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue—called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). 

The mandate of the Forum, the petitioners said, was to discuss public policy issues relating to key elements of Internet governance, such as those enumerated in the Tunis Agenda, in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the Internet for all. “The Forum was not to replace existing arrangements, mechanisms, institutions or organizations. It was intended to constitute a neutral, non-duplicative and non-binding process, and have no involvement in day-to-day or technical operations of the Internet.”

The Tunis Agenda also asked the UN Secretary-General to examine the desirability of the continuation of the Forum, in formal consultation with Forum participants, within five years of its creation, and to make recommendations to the UN Membership in this regard.
Equally, at UN sixty-fifth session, the General Assembly decided to extend the mandate of the IGF, underlining the need to improve the IGF “with a view to linking it to the broader dialogue on global Internet governance”.

In his note on the continuation of the Internet Governance Forum, the UN Secretary General confirmed that the IGF was unique and valuable. It is a place where governments, civil society, the private sector and international organizations build a common understanding of the Internet’s great potential.

In furtherance of this, the Secretary-General had recommended that the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum be extended for a further five years; that the desirability of continuation be considered again by Member States within the context of a 10-year review of implementation of the outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society in 2015.
ITRealms gathered that in order to allow the IGF to reach its full potential, stakeholders recommended “an extension of the IGF mandate, which is open-ended, without term limitation.”  They stressed that this would ensure the stability of the IGF, and support long range planning for more comprehensive projects and funding initiatives. 

As part of its plan-B, stakeholders suggested that if the aforementioned is impossible given current UN rules and regulations, “we would recommend a stable ten year extension, to enable longer-range commitments and financial planning.” 

Remmy Nweke: 
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