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Omni, Nigerian software engineer took written test @US border office

ITRealms : A Lagos-based software engineer, Celestine Omin, has taken a written test at the United States boarder office in New York on...


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Omni, Nigerian software engineer took written test @US border office

A Lagos-based software engineer, Celestine Omin, has taken a written test at the United States boarder office in New York on arrival in the country, reports ITRealms.

According to BBC.com, Omin was at the weekend, made to sit for a written test by US airport immigration officers because they were unconvinced he was telling the truth about his skills.

Omin, 28, and employee of Andela, reportedly landed in New York's John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport last Sunday after a 24-hour flight from Nigeria.

Andela, ITRealms gathered, is a technology start-up with offices in New York, Lagos, Nairobi and San Francisco.

Equally, BBC.com reports that the firm specializes on recruiting "the most talented developers on the African continent" and connects same, with technology employers in US for potential job vacancies.

ITRealms recalls that Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg while on visit to Nigeria, took time to visit Andela's office in Lagos, last year.

Further, Omin was reportedly granted a short-term visa to work with First Access, a financial technology company in New York's Manhattan district.

After being asked a series of questions by a US Customs and Border Protection officer, he was taken into a room for further checks.

Omin recalled that immigration officer had told him, "Your visa says you are a software engineer. Is that correct?" before he was handed over a piece of paper, a pen and told to answer these two questions to prove he is actually a software engineer:

"Write a function to check if a Binary Search Tree is balanced."

"What is an abstract class, and why do you need it?"

Chuks Egbune with additional report from BBC/GEE
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2016: Kaspersky says 8.5m malicious installation on mobiles

Latest Kaspersky Lab mobile security report has disclosed that 2016 saw a near-threefold rise in mobile malware detections compared to 2015 to the tune of 8.5 million malicious installations identified led by mobile Trojans, reports ITRealms.

Kaspersky in its annual Mobile Virusology report made available to ITRealms, noted that in the space of just one year, a volume equivalent to 50 per cent of all the malware detected in the previous 11 years (15.77 million in 2004 – 2015) was released.

According to Kaspersky officials, leading the way were mobile advertising Trojans which now make up 16 of the top 20 malicious programmes, up from 12 in 2015, highlighting the evolution of mobile banking Trojans.

The report pointed out that specialist officers from INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation have contributed an analysis of mobile malware on the Dark Web to the report.
In 2016, ITRealms reports that Kaspersky Lab mobile security products reported that nearly 40 million attacks attempts by mobile malware, with over 4 million users of Android-based devices protected (vs 2.6 million in 2015).

In addition, Kaspersky report showed that over 260,000 detections of installation packages for mobile ransomware Trojans (an increase of almost 8.5 times, year-on-year).

“More than 153,000 unique users targeted by mobile ransomware (an increase of 1.6 times compared with 2015); Over 128,000 mobile banking Trojans detected (nearly 1.6 times more than in 2015),” part of the report read.

Nenye Dom/GEE
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OSFON counsels MNOs on OTT: Look elsewhere to balance books

The Open Source Foundation for Nigeria (OSFON) has counselled the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country to look elsewhere in effort to balance their books, instead of tinkering of how to block Nigerian telecom consumers from usage of Over-The Top (OTT) platforms, reports ITRealms.

OTT is one of the value added services (VAS) accessible over a given network service provider. OTT includes audio, video, and other media content delivered over the Internet without the involvement of a multiple-system operator (MSO) in the control or distribution of the content, which include WhatsApp, Skype and other Instant Messaging services as well as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). OTT refers to content from a third party that is delivered to an end-user, with the Internet Service Provider (ISP) basically transporting Internet Protocol (IP) packets.

Reacting to this development, OSFON through its National President, Mr. Dele Ajisomo, called for caution, noting that the news reports that MNOs are lobbying the government through the regulator the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in efforts to block the usage of OTT platforms among Nigerians, negates the values embedded in openness of technologies which paves the way for network neutrality.

According to him, the principle of network neutrality is that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.

OSFON emphasized that OTT cannot work comfortably without data, which are sold by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), urging MNOs to be innovative and not limit their service offerings to data alone.

The group noted that the issue involves open and free Internet, freedom of the Internet, freedom of speech and information, in addition to access to free and open source technologies and/or software among others.

The MNOs, OSFON said, should look for other ways to balance their books and not by restricting Nigerians and their freedom to open, affordable and innovative technologies.
OSFON pointed out that access to the Internet is a human right and Nigerians will fight to keep this access, insisting that “It is actually inhumane for the MNOs to suggest blocking subscribers from any free and open technical and innovative products on the Internet.”

For the regulators and Nigeria Government, OSFON said, it is an unthinkable idea, because for some Nigerians “it’s the only means of communication with their loved ones.”

“OTT is the only way to communicate to their old age parents in the village. Nigerians in the diaspora also depend on Skype and WhatsApp to talk or see their families in Nigeria,” OSFON president said.

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Travelling along my path

Permit me to stand on the already existing protocol. Good day to you all. It is a privilege that I stand before this assembly of great men and women of great accomplishments. I thank DigitalSENSE Africa Media and Etisalat Nigeria for giving me this rare opportunity to stand before you and make this presentation.
As I was gearing up for my 2nd semester examinations in first year, in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, I was informed by my elder brother that DigitalSENSE is organizing an essay contest in partnership with Etisalat Nigeria. The essay competition, he said, is for Nigerian undergraduates. We were a bit hesitant about writing for the contest because of the impending examinations. I needed a laptop and that was enough reason to make an entry. Then, I had no laptop and no hope of affording any soon. As a student of the Electronic Engineering, I needed a laptop. I made out time and wrote an essay on the topic “Net Neutrality and Nigerian Internet Users”.
In the wee hours of July 17, 2015, I woke up to the news that I have been adjudged the best entrant and therefore awarded the star prize. It was the laptop I needed plus a full year internet access provided by Etisalat. It was unbelievable! My first prize as an undergraduate. My siblings (two elder brothers and a younger sister) are seasoned essayists and have won several awards. I couldn’t wait to open my own record! It’s a realization of my hard work since 2011, when I ventured into writing. Even though I was shortlisted as one of the finalists in the 2012 UBA national essay competition, clinching this star prize was a dream come true. 
We have grasped the opportunities that internet has given us. We owe the internet a whole lot. When I was interviewed on my position about internet governance last year, I decried the below average level of awareness on internet governance. Fast forward to 2016 and if you ask me the same question, my answer still remains the same. This makes this forum a very vital one. I thank DigitalSENSE for organizing such event with far reaching results. And I want to commend and urge Etisalat Nigeria to continue her partnership with DigitalSENSE Media Africa; it is a working partnership. We need to know who governs the internet and how it is governed. Does its governance take a hit on the founding philosophy of the internet which is open access to all? The questions are unending.
As part of my recognition as the star prize winner of this highly Etisalat sponsored prize last year, I was scheduled to attend the 2015 NIGF conference in Abuja where I was to represent the DigitalSENSE Media Africa and Etisalat. Part of my presentation today therefore, is to highlight my experience in that conference, and that’s what I will narrate now.
 Having been registered for the 2015 NIGF conference scheduled to hold at the NAF Conference Centre and Suites, Kado, Abuja, I had to attend both the youth workshop on the 20th of July, and the plenary sessions on the 21st of July as a DigitalSENSE-Etisalat Student Ambassador. This particular opportunity was mouth-watering and I lack words to express my feelings. The youth workshop was fully packed with educative and inspiring topics aimed at redirecting the mind-sets of our youth and help propel them to a greater height—an enviable one. The youth workshop was tagged “Internet of Everything & Your Business Opportunity”. The entire session was directed at exposing the youth to the endless and unceasing opportunities that abound with the right use of the internet. And yesterday we were here to have a discourse on “Internet Governance: Creating Opportunities for all Nigerians”. Such discourse has an infinite end.
The joy of the internet is optimized when the internet is totally freed of this thieves that have besieged it. Have you been redirected for once to any unintended website? Our internet sphere is very porous. And that is why DigitalSENSE role as the front burner and leader in the call for a better secured internet protocol is highly commendable. Nigerian addresses are very suspicious in the global community, no thanks to our internet burglars—the notorious yahoo yahoo boys. I was privileged to join the track that deliberated extensively on the issue of cybersecurity and trust in Nigeria, during the NIGF conference. We made different recommendations that when put in place, our cyberspace would be a safe haven. But IPv6 holds the key, our continued use of IPv4 is just an exhibit of our backwardness in the ICT world. We will be exposed to why IPv6 is the only way forward during today’s event.
Ladies and gentlemen, you need no soothsayer to tell you that I have benefitted from the partnership of DigitalSENSE and Etisalat. I have roamed the internet with great ease with the monthly 3GB Etisalat data that I receive monthly. Roaming the internet has also afforded me several opportunities that I have been able to grip. Suffice it to say that I am a testimony of the efficacy of this partnership. Giving more opportunities to young minds like me might just be the beginning of a better Nigeria that we wish. I have a great ambition of being an Etisalat intern in two years’ time, and I hope that this partnership which I have enjoyed will facilitate the actualisation of this well coveted dream.
Well, I flew to Lagos on the 22nd of July, 2015, for the prize presentation scheduled to hold on 24th July, 2015. That of course was after the two-day conference in Abuja. It was to hold at Etisalat office in Victoria Island, Lagos.
Let me introduce you to another interesting development in the competition. My immediate elder brother who is a seasoned essayist was the first runners up in the competition. Join me in thanking him for bringing the essay competition to my knowledge and allowing me to beat him. He and other winners were to join me in Lagos for the prize presentation. There, we were given Etisalat T-shirts and were even called to the high table. It was exciting, seeing myself sitting with men of high calibre. It was inspiring! I received a Lenovo laptop with Etisalat-Easyblaze Mifi with one full year of internet subscription; I departed Lagos on 25th July, 2015, with a life changed for good—an experience that changed my life forever! My classmates call me 20M, please Etisalat what does the M signify, million or metres? I have failed to give any answer to that question since July 2015.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am back again in Lagos in June, 2016. I was supposed to make this presentation 24hrs earlier. As I was working on this speech, I received an SMS alert from the Nigerian Universities Engineering Students Association (UNILORIN chapter). Guess what, I have won the first prize of the essay competition they organised for the whole engineering students throughout this federation. I had to attend the award ceremony yesterday. My first time in Ilorin. Who knows whether I will be in Lagos next year? I wish I remain part of this DigitalSENSE/Etisalat partnership.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am meant to share my experience with you. In sum, what I experienced, is a dream come true! Believing that the next ambassador will not have less an exciting tenure, I pray, not just that ETISALAT continues to sponsor and expand this essay competition, but that corporate bodies in the ICT industry key-into this project, which I am sure will have a multiplier effect on the technological development of this country in the nearest future. Thank you ETISALAT for sponsoring this competition, thank you DigitalSENSE for finding me worthy of this prize, and thank you ladies and gentlemen, for listening to my little story. Thanks.
*Courtesy: Nic Onah, the Star Prize Winner, 2015 Etisalat-DigitalSENSE Students Essay Competition, made this presentation at the 2016 Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) and Nigeria IPv6 Roundtable in Lagos.
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Encounter with South African High Commission by Funke Osae-Brown

For the records@ITRealms:
Towards the end of January this year, I got an invitation to be in South Africa on the 1st of March, 2017 to experience the new BMW 5 Series. It was an event I had looked forward to considering my love for fast cars and the kind of beat I cover as a journalist.

As soon as I received the itinerary and other documents needed for my journey, I applied for the South African visa on the 13th of February. Conscious of the many challenges that come with getting a South African visa, I was advised to apply through one of South Africa’s accredited trade partners World ‘N’ Traveland (WONTRA).

The WONTRA staff who assisted me with the application process was very courteous. She guided me through the application requirements. At a point, she advised I get a statement of account from my host BMW in South Africa or their certificate of incorporation. I declined to do this because I felt my statement of account and a letter of introduction from my organisation should be enough. 

She also advised I get a letter of authorisation from my husband. I told her I have that already because the last application I did I was asked for it. This is a letter my husband find ridiculous to write! He argues it is a sexist requirement from an embassy. Why would he authorised a full-grown woman to travel because she is his wife, he reasoned? Anyway, I got him to give him the letter, even though I found it ridiculous too!

Since I was applying through WONTRA, I had to pay a premium price of N70, 000 instead of the official N8, 600 for visa fee and N22, 310 for VFS courier service. The lady at WONTRA told me the visa should be ready within the stipulated 10 to 15 working days by the High Commission. Based on a past experience and what others have told me, I decided to notify the few people I know handling South Africa related travel and tourism matters in Nigeria to use their connection to pull strings at the embassy so that my visa could be ready on or before my travel date. I knew I had about 13 days between my submission and travel dates to get my visa.

After 10 working days, I didn’t receive any news from the VFS. I decided to notify my contacts on the possibility of checking out my application status at the High Commission, they all told me to wait that I will surely get my passport on or before my travel date. As I sat behind my laptop to type this today, March 1st 2017, I am yet to receive my passport from the South African High Commission. I am supposed to travel tonight.

What is most painful about this experience is it seems the South Africa High Commission in Lagos smacks of arrogance and is consumed by a nonchalant attitude. For a country, that is promoting itself as a tourists’ destination in Nigeria, to be so rude to its visa applicants, beats me. In spite of all my efforts and my host’s (BMW) in South Africa effort to reach the High Commission in Lagos, there has been no response from the High Commission to emails sent and calls put through to them. 

It seems to me the High Commission is populated lazy staff who have just refused to understand the importance of their job to the growth of the economy of their country. How can one explain applying for visa and you are yet to receive your passport 12 days or a month after application?

The South African High Commission can never claim to be busier than the United Kingdom or United States of America’s embassies in Nigeria. If you apply for UK or US visa, you can be assured to get your passport within 10 working days or less.  There are people who have applied for the South African visa since February 3rd 2017 who are yet to receive their visas today, March 1st; that is almost a month after submitting their applications.

Delaying the issuance of my visa and that of other four journalists’ I am supposed to travel with means BMW has lost a lot of money on booking business class tickets for us, paying for our accommodation, airport pick up and drop off and food for the number of days we are supposed to spend in South Africa.

You can imagine the loss to those going on personal trips who have paid for their flights, accommodation not to have received their visas days after their travel dates have passed?

If South Africa is truly serious about marketing itself as a tourists’ destination, its High Commission needs to drop its toga of arrogance and emulate countries like Dubai and Kenya where you get your visa within two days as is the case with Dubai or Kenya that issues visa on arrival. Little wonder, Dubai has the largest tourism market share in Nigeria! 


*Funke Osae-Brown is the publisher/managing editor, LuxuryReporter
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Orange invites entries for Social Venture Prize

Call has opened for entries into the 7th edition of the Orange Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East (OSVPAM), reports ITRealms.

As in previous years, the OSVPAM will be accepting applications until June 6, 2017 and will be awarded to innovative projects which make use of information and communication technologies to improve living conditions for the peoples of Africa and the Middle East in fields such as health, finance, education and agriculture.

New for this 7th edition, the competition will start with a national phase during which each of Orange’s 17 participating subsidiaries will examine projects submitted in its country and will designate three winners. The next phase will be an international one in which the winners of each country – 51 in all – will compete before an international panel of judges for the OSVPAM Grand Prize, with three winners receiving their awards during the AfricaCom Awards Ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa, on 8 November 2017.

In addition to national prizes, the three international winners will receive 25,000 euros, 15,000 euros and 10,000 euros respectively, along with support from professionals in start-up creation and funding.

OSVPAM is open to any student, employee or entrepreneur over the age of 21 whose initiative is less than 3 years old and who lives in Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Tunisia, Jordan, Liberia or Burkina Faso.

Bruno Mettling, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Orange group and CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, commented “With a record 750 candidates in 2016, the success of the OSVPAM prize with entrepreneurs in Africa and the Middle East speaks for itself. This year, 17 countries in which we operate will recognize 3 winners, the better to promote the local start-up ecosystem, in addition to the winners at the international level. This is our way of reaffirming our ambition of becoming a major partner, in particular by showcasing innovation that serves people.”

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ECOWAS, stakeholders chat on Whistle blower strategy

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and stakeholders in the region are charting way forward on the essence of a Whistleblower Protection Strategy, reports ITRealms

This is coming as a fallout of a two-day meeting on advocacy and sensitization held in Cotonou, Benin Republic on the 22nd and 23rd of February 2017, facilitated by the ECOWAS Commission, to sensitize Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Media practitioners and operational staff of National Anti-corruption Institutions in Benin Republic on the ECOWAS Whistleblower Protection Strategy.

The meeting also stressed the need for a robust advocacy on the enactment of a stand-alone law on whistleblower protection in Benin Republic.

ITRealms also reports that the meeting ended with increased collective consciousness on the necessity of up-holding the values of integrity and transparency in the management of public resources in the region.

Participants at the meeting agreed that stakeholders should be encouraged to use Whistleblowing as part of their strategy to promote transparency in the management of public resources and holding government accountable in Benin Republic.

They also underscored the need for the enactment and effective implementation of a dedicated national legislation to engender comprehensive protection of whistle-blowers in the country while urging the country’s National Assembly to expedite actions on promulgating a stand-alone legislation for the protection of whistle-blowers.

Other relevant offices such as the Prosecutor-General and agencies such as security forces were urged to put special protection measures in place to advance the cause of whistle blowing. 

The participants urged the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Benin, in collaboration with Social Watch to facilitate joint training programmes on security forces, CSOs and Media practitioners’ relations on the promotion of whistleblowing culture and protection of whistleblowers in Benin Republic.

The Benin Republic chapter of the ECOWAS Civil Society Organizations Platform on Transparency and Accountability in Governance (ECSOPTAG) was launched by the fact of the meeting.

Participants rose after commending the ECOWAS Commission for its commitment to advancing the promotion of good governance and whistleblowing as viable strategy for the fight against corruption in Benin Republic.

The meeting was attended by Mr. Andre Sagbo, General Secretary, Ministry of Justice of Benin, leaders of CSOs, anti-corruption networks, and United Nations agencies including the ECOWAS Commission Director, Political Affairs Dr. Remi Ajibewa, and other key stakeholders involved in the promotion of integrity governance in the Republic of Benin.

Ayo Midele/GEE

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Medikal is of Africa, by Africans for Africa - Okugbo

Perfectsoft Systems Ltd has declared that Medikal, an open source hospital information management software solution is of Africa, and by Africans for Africa, reports ITRealms.

Edwin Okugbo of Perfectsoft System said that Medikal covers virtually every area of hospital information management, process control and administration.

“It is a software that is simple enough to run a small health care center but powerful, feature rich and scalable enough to run a Major Hospital complex or multi-site group of health centers. It is suitable for both private and government facilities,” he said.

Medikal, he also comes with several extended services and enterprise modules.

“Medikal is committed to the pursuit of the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals for Africa,” he said.

Nenye Dom/GEE
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NIRA may sanction DomainKing.NG for abandoning clients

The managers of the .ng country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) names, the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) may wield the big stick on DomainKing.NG, one of its accredited registrars, reports ITRealms.

This indication emerged due to the inability of DomainKing.NG to render service to its clients, which led to avalanche of complaints channeled to NIRA.

As said by NIRA Chief Operating Officer, Mrs Edith Udeagu in a press statement made available to ITRealms, failure to respond to the .ng Registry is a breach of the Registrar Agreement DomainKing.ng signed with NiRA.

“DomainKing.ng’s failure to respond to its registrants is in breach of the obligation a Registrar owes its registrants,” she said.

NIRA has been undated with complaints via emails and phone calls by clients of DomainKing.NG border on payments made via the website without service being rendered by DomainKing.NG.

According to her, since 8th February 2017, an Indian based .ng ccTLD Accredited Registrar, DomainKing.ng, has not responded to escalated support queries and emails from its clients forwarded to it by the .ng Registry.”

The Registry, Udeagu pointed out had attempted severally since then and is still trying to contact this registrar via email, telephone, their online support system, social media platforms and postal services, all to no avail.

“24th January 2017 was the last time this Registrar responded to the Registry via email,” Udeagu declared, stressing that further sanctions may be applied against DomainKing.ng by 2nd May 2017 should the company not respond to queries and complaints raised by the registrants.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Monday, February 27, 2017

ALAC selects Mexican Lawyer, Leon Ambia to ICANN board

A Mexican Intellectual Property (IP) attorney, Mr. León Felipe Sánchez Ambía, has been selected by the At-Large Community (ALAC) as the successor of Rinalia Abdul Rahm to serve in the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) beginning November 2017, reports ITRealms.

Chairman of the Board Member Selection Process Committee (BMSPC), Tijani Ben Jemaa, disclosed this, saying that with this development is the final election result of ICANN Board Director (Seat #15) selected by the At-Large Community.  

He also said that this came after rigorous six months of efforts, which saw the At-Large Community successfully concluded its ICANN Board Director selection process.

He also said Leon Ambia will begin his three-year term as an ICANN Board Director at the end of ICANN60 (3 November 2017).

ITRealms equally reports that the selection process began in September 2016, with the formation of two committees tasked with managing the timeline, calling for and evaluating the candidates, and organizing the final election.

According to Jemaa, among the six individuals who submitted Expressions of Interest for the position, Alan Greenberg and León Felipe Sánchez Ambía were chosen as the finalists. Before the election took place, the At-Large Community enjoyed ample opportunities to ask questions to the finalists verbally and in writing in order to make an informed choice. At-Large Structures also participated in the final election by directing the votes of Regional At-Large Organization Chairs.

Responding, León Felipe Sánchez Ambía appreciated all the At-Large community, the RALOs, the ALAC, the BMSPC, the BCEC and the At-Large Support Staff for the work, openness and support throughout the process.

“It is a privilege and a honor to be able to serve our community. I am very grateful to have this opportunity,” he said.

ITRealms recalls that León Felipe Sánchez Ambía is an intellectual property attorney graduated from the the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). He also has completed postgraduate studies on intellectual property at the UNAM and on Internet Law at Harvard Law School.

Since 2006 he has been partner at Fulton & Fulton, a law firm specialized in intellectual property and IT law based in Mexico City, and is head of the Intellectual Property division.
In 2008 he was admitted as professor on Intellectual Property at the UNAM Law School.

He is co-lead for the Mexican chapter of Creative Commons and advisor to different Government bodies that include the Digital Strategy Coordination Office of the Mexican Presidency, the Special Commission on Digital Agenda and IT of the Mexican House of Representatives and the Science and Technology Commission of the Mexican Senate.

He drafted the Internet Users Rights Protection Act for Mexico and has been very active on issues like Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA), Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and other local initiatives of the same kind, always advocating to defend users’ and creators’ rights in order to achieve a balance between regulation and freedom.

He currently serves as the ALAC Vice-Chair in ICANN and Co-Chair of the CCWG on Accountability where he has been deeply involved with the IANA transition. 

Nonye Dom/GEE
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MTN Group expresses faith in Nigeria, eyes mobile financial services

The Group Chairman and Chief Executive of MTN, Mr. Phuthuma Freedom Nhleko has expressed faith in the Nigeria’s economy, eyes mobile financial services, reports ITRealms.

Nhleko gave this verdict recently during when he led a high level delegation to the headquarters of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Abuja recently.
This is coming despite the grim challenges arising from the N330b fine imposed on MTN by NCC last year.

Nhleko, who was received by the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta and top management of the Commission said the Group has faith in Nigeria and will be willing to invest more in the sector in the years to come. “We had challenges in the past, during the period of the fine, and we are grateful for the role, the Commission played towards an amicable resolution”.

Nhleko whose visit to the NCC management is a valedictory one as he steps down as Group Chairman in March, 2017 said MTN Group has injected over $16billion into the Nigerian operations and “we have a very long way to go and so ask for spectrum which is the oxygen and life blood to navigate this long and tedious investment journey, without spectrum, the sector will suffocate”.

Nhleko specifically solicited for more spectrum allocation and a release of the one that belonged to Visafone, whose equity shares MTN acquired in 2015, canvassing for a more level playing field “despite being dominant player”.

He said MTN has made its mark in voice and data services and that more services like mobile financial services are underway.

Responding, Prof. Danbatta welcomed the delegation and assured them that the Commission will always play by the rules and support every operator within the ambits of the law.

“I like to state that our word is our covenant.  When we take decisions, we are concerned about the stability of the industry and there is no way we can guarantee it without considering the dominant status of MTN and its obligations and if the dominant status is becoming stringent, we are open to engagement, we will be guided by what is happening in the market, to ensure the growth and development of the sector”.

He said “the sector has contributed very well to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has shown remarkable resilience in this recession”

Danbatta said the NCC made a case for relaxing fiscal policies towards the sector to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “and the CBN Governor is favourably disposed to our request and further engagement especially towards major players who desire to import equipment to aid deployment of broadband infrastructure services and others”.

The Commission, he explained, will always carry out interventions to cushion the operators request to provide necessary services.

On spectrum assignment, Danbatta, said MTN got six slots in the 2.6 GHz auction and full utilization of that spectrum is envisaged.

“We are open to further discussion on the areas of spectrum assignment,” he said, advising MTN to put across request for spectrum of interest and NCC will check its availability.

The Commission “is here to protect the interests of the operators as well as consumers, consistent with our mandate, the trust reposed on us by the government and people of Nigeria; protecting their interests and ensuring a level playing field and respect for our laws”.

The EVC said the Commission only resorts to sanctions as a regulatory action of last resort after allowing time for checking compliance.

The EVC received the delegation in company of Executive Commissioner (Technical Services), Mr. Ubale Maska, his counterpart for Stakeholders Management, Mr. Sunday Dare, Directors: Mr. Tony Ojobo (Public Affairs), Ms. Funlola Akiode (Licensing & Authorisation), Ms Josephine Amuwa (Policy, Competition & Economic Analysis), Mr. Austin Nwaulune (Spectrum Administration), Mrs. Yetunde Akinloye (Legal & Regulatory Services), Mr. Ayuba Shuaibu (Universal Service Provision Fund - USPF) and Mr. Usman Malah (Chief of Staff to EVC).

The MTN delegation included Mr. Pascal Dozie Chairman, MTN (Nigeria), Col. Sani Bello (Vice Chairman), Board members: Chief Victor Odili, Chief Gbenga Oyebode, Mr. Ferdi Moolman (CEO) among others.

Nonye Dom/GEE 
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Nigeria aligns with AU, eases immigration processes

In living up to its promise last year and obvious alignment with the African Union (AU) directive last year, the Federal Government has reviewed the visa processes for foreigners who wish to visit Nigeria for business and tourism purposes, with a view to removing bureaucratic bottlenecks and encouraging business travellers and tourists, so as to boost the economy, reports ITRealms.

In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the measures were part of the action plan for the ease of doing business as well as efforts to boost tourism, within the overall context of the Administration's economic diversification agenda.

''The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has reviewed the requirements for Nigerian visas to make them more customer friendly, and details of this review are available on the NIS official website. Types of visas currently reviewed include Visa on Arrival (VoA) processes, Business Visas, Tourist Visas and Transit Visas,'' the Minister said.

Alhaji Mohammed explained that Business Visas are available for foreign travellers who wish to travel to Nigeria for meetings, conferences, seminars, contract negotiation, marketing, sales, purchase and distribution of Nigerian goods, trade fairs, job interviews, training of Nigerians, emergency/relief work, crew members, staff of NGOs, researchers and musical concerts.

He said Tourist Visas are also available to foreign travelers who wish to visit Nigeria for the purpose of tourism or to visit family and friends while Nigeria Visa on Arrival is a class of short visit visa issued at the port of entry, and it is available to frequently-travelled high-net-worth investors and intending visitors who may not be able to obtain visa at the Nigerian Missions/Embassies in their countries of residence due to the absence of a Nigerian mission in those countries or exigencies of urgent business travels.

SA to Hon Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi,quoted the Minister as saying that other actions that have been taken by the NIS for the ease of doing business and facilitation of travelling for Nigerians and foreigners alike include the harmonization of multiplicity of Airport Arrival and Departure Form/Cards into a single form for all agencies of government to save foreign visitors from the current frustrating practice of filling 3 different forms or more and the decentralization of Immigration services to the State Commands.

''Re-issuance of passports for change of names due to marital reasons or lost cases have been decentralized to all State Commands and Foreign Missions to save passport holders from additional costs and inconvenience of travelling to the Service Headquarters in Abuja, while additional 28 offices have been opened for issuance of Residence Permits in Nigeria, bringing the issuance of Combined Expatriate Residence Permit And Aliens Cards (CERPAC) closer to the doorstep of employers of expatriates at all 36 states and FCT,'' he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said the measures by NIS fit perfectly into the 60-day national action plan for ease of doing business in Nigeria that was approved recently by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), as well as the Administration's efforts to boost international tourism.

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MWC2017: Nokia leads in 5G, IoT and cloud for new markets

As the 2017 Mobile World Congress (MWC) kicks off in Barcelona, Nokia has advanced plans to launch solutions covering Fifth Generation (5G), the Internet of Things (IoT), software and cloud underscored the breadth and strength of a product portfolio bolstered by the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent in 2016, reports ITRealms.

Nokia President and Chief Executive Officer, Rajeev Suri made this disclosure saying that Nokia came to Mobile World Congress this year with a bigger and fully end-to-end portfolio to sell, and with groundbreaking innovations to share.

"All of this is underpinned by an organization squarely focused on the execution of our strategy to lead in high-performance networks with communication service providers, expand to new verticals, build a strong standalone software business and create new business and licensing opportunities in the consumer ecosystem," he said.

New products like 5G FIRST, announced today at the company's press and analyst event in Barcelona, show Nokia's innovation strength to deliver differentiated products that connect not only millions of users but interconnect billions of things to create what Nokia calls the 'global nervous system,' Suri said.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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AFRICMIL explains essence of whistle blower support initiative

The African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has explained why it launched a civil society whistle blower project named Corruption Anonymous, reports ITRealms.

According to the Coordinator, African Centre for Media & Information Literacy, Chido Onumah, ‘Corruption Anonymous’ aims at create public confidence and acceptance of the new Whistle Blower Initiative of the Nigerian government.

The project, he also said, seeks to use citizens to win the war against corruption and enhance accountability in public office by providing a mechanism for anonymous reporting that is acceptable, credible and effective. 

“Considering the endemic nature of corruption in Nigeria and the cost and challenge of prosecuting corruption, it is important to support any initiative that has the potential to prevent and, therefore, reduce corruption,” Onumah said, stressing that winning the war on corruption requires urgent holistic attention and a creative response that is both civil society oriented and sustainable.

He noted that because of Nigeria’s weak institutions and how systemic corruption is in virtually all areas of public and corporate Nigeria, it will take more than government intervention to sustain the war on corruption.

“Given the opportunity, citizens can do something about corruption,” he said.

The overall goal of Corruption Anonymous, he said, is to strengthen the capacity of citizens and civil society to contribute to the success of the anti-corruption war by keying into the new whistle blower initiative, increasing patronage and support for the initiative as well as creating confidence in the system that the information citizens volunteer is not only used but that whistle blowers are protected.

Further, he said, Corruption Anonymous will bring together three interrelated stakeholders in the fight against corruption, namely: anticorruption agencies, the media and civil society to produce a synergy that would make the whistle blower policy sustainable. 

“The recent successes of the war against corruption in the country, including recovery of large sums of money linked to the efforts of whistle blowers show that people are willing to report corruption if the conditions are right,” he said.

The AFRICMIL coordinator, pointed out the need for a whistle blower legislation so that they are not left at the mercy of offenders, just as the project will support advocacy for the passage of the Whistle Blower (Protection) bill.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE 
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Telephone Prayers by Mischief Makers for Mischief Makers

Presidential spokesman, Femi Adeshina, could not hide his joy as he announced with unrivalled glee the phone call of Mr President to him all the way from London. Certainly, this is not the first time President Buhari and Femi Adeshina would be discussing over the phone since the two tenants of Aso Rock moved to the seat of power in 2015. 

However, this particular phone conversation elicited an excitement, the type usually associated with primary school pupils who have found the last of a set of bottle crowns needed to claim some insignificant prizes in a soft drink promo.

The presidential spokesperson went ahead to give vivid details of the conversation including how the president had asked after his family and thanked him (Femi) for “holding out against mischief makers”.

For a man who had been mischievous about the true state of health of Mr President, one would have thought that his excitement about the phone conversation which he needlessly shared with Nigerians would be that Mr President asked after Nigeria and Nigerians and how they are coping in his absence beyond just asking after Adeshina’s family. In the absence of this, publicizing of the conversation is an exercise in mischief. That was at best a private conversation that should have been left private except that Femi is happy to show to Nigerians how lowly his boss holds his countrymen by referring to them as mischief makers.

However, Femi’s excitement is understandable considering the fact that Nigerians have seen the drama playing out in Aso Rock over the president’s health as the chief of mischief. He probably thinks those who have been asking after the president’s health status are mischievous but did not know how to say it until Mr President came to his rescue.

If Femi wanted to be fair to himself, his boss and Nigerians, he would have reminded the president that the citizens are not the ones who are mischief makers for asking after him, but that the mischief makers are those who are churning out confusing stories about the president’s London vacation.

For while some government officials have told Nigerians that the president is “hale and healthy”, others have told us that we should “pray for him”.  Some others have told us that “there is no cause for alarm” while at the same time some  have told us that the reason the president would not be returning as earlier scheduled was because he needed to run some more tests concerning his health, with others saying he merely needs to “rest”.

These contradictions are typical of our presidency whose record of Buhari’s recent telephone conversation with Mr Trump is reported to be at distant variance with what was released by the White House. That is an issue for another day.

The cacophonous of excuses for the president’s unexpected elongated stay in London would naturally get citizens worried, hence, the agitation to know his correct health status. This is why the mischief makers are those government officials who have kept spinning stories around the president’s health for their own selfish reasons.

The simple thing Nigerians have asked all these days that the president has been in London is for him to speak to them. They just want to hear his voice and probably get excited just like the presidential spokesman did.

But like a man holding irreconcilable malice against his own citizens, he would rather speak with Osinbajo, Saraki, Dogara, Tinubu, Ganduje, Femi and even Donald Trump of the US to the exclusion of his employers the citizens. For a president who had once described Nigerians as criminals and corrupt people from foreign lands, calling them mischief makers, also from a foreign land, is actually nothing new. It is only a proof that his London experience has had little or no learning impact on him.

The fact of the matter is that Adeshina’s juvenile reaction at hearing the president’s voice is a confirmation that, just like many Nigerians, he himself was not sure of the president’s health status; that he was so full of apprehension until that call came across.

It is therefore most unfortunate that the same people the presidency has been asking to pray for the president are the same people the president called mischief makers, a ridiculous term Femi Adeshina ill-advisedly celebrated on his Facebook page. Even if they pray for Buhari as they are being urged to do on a daily basis, how will God answer the prayers of mischief makers especially when the one they are praying for is the one who has said to God’s hearing that those praying for him are mischief makers?

In conclusion, Mr President can continue to rest in London for as long as he wants. We do not mind paying his entitlements continuously even while he rests. We are very happy to do that. What Femi Adeshina forgot to tell him is that Nigeria is actually getting better without him. That is another mischief from Femi

It is the height of another mischief for anyone to think that Buhari’s call to Femi and the gang would improve the abysmal performance of the naira, put food on citizens’ tables, stop the oppression of citizens by government and the continued deliberate defiance of court orders, and other undemocratic and unconstitutional actions of this administration. 

The lack of answers, expertise and capacity to improve the rapidly dwindling fortunes of Nigeria under Buhari is the reason the president would not speak to Nigerians but would only speak with his Mischief-Makers-in-Chief who would tell him only what his ears are itching to hear.

With what has been happening in the country, the whole world certainly knows who our mischief makers are. They are definitely not the citizens; they are those who live and work in Aso Villa!

*Courtesy: Jude Ndukwe, he can be reached via: jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk or @Stjudendukwe

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