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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Digital Radio: Expanding the horizon for listeners

Features of the week:

The coming of Digital Radio (DR) in Europe has given boost to expansion of the horizon of information dissemination, reports REMMY NWEKE


THIS year’s Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) held in Berlin, otherwise known as the World of Consumer Electronics exhibition, ended earlier in the month, with the proponents of the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) making their mark in the minds of European citizens and mostly those who trooped into the venue of the annual event.

DRM came out of a consortium formed in 1998 by a small group of broadcasters and manufacturers, who joined hands to create a universal digital system for the broadcasting bands below 30 Megahertz (MHz) in the shortwave, medium-wave/AM and long wave.

Known as the open standard, DRM has endorsement from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), International Union (ITU) and International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC).

The consortium

The consortium in March this year, voted to commence the process of expanding the system to the broadcasting bands up to 120 MHz, and the design, development and testing phases of this extension is due to be completed between 2007 and 2009.


DRM has since become an international consortium of broadcasters, manufacturers, network operators, research institutions, broadcasting unions, regulatory authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Metamorphosing into a 91-member group as at June 2005, comprising member-nations from Ecuador, Germany, China, United States (US), Finland, Malaysia, United Kingdom (UK), Japan, Spain and Australia, DR is further referred to as satellite radio (SR), due to its compatibility with satellite broadcasting.

However, Digital Radio is made up of two broadcasting standards currently in use in Europe and Berlin being the presumed center of Europe, was the best occasion to sell DR to the populace, especially at IFA. These standards include the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM).

With DAB already on air in most European nations it is now available mainly in national and local services and is reportedly being sought after by over 1.5 million radio sets. On the other hand, DRM is a standard developed to allow digital broadcasting in the long, medium and short-wave hands.

Experts said that with DR, the era of fine tuning a station would be over in search of a better reception. Rather, it allows listeners to scroll up and down through a list of available stations.

Selecting the stations

This is achieved by mere pressing a button to select stations without much ado, thus giving the user access to every radio station on air at the user’s neighbourhood, including AM, FM and even digital.

Champion Infotel investigations revealed that, for instance, if a listener has tuned to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and moved from the neighbourhood, he or she need not re-tune as long as there is signals, hence the radio set when switched on would automatically find the best available frequency at the new area.

DR, additionally, does not cause listeners what analyst described as ‘noise’, which has been the bane of the analogue broadcast system.

Director of publication, ‘Radio Programme Guide’ a special package introduced to further boost DR diffusion, Mr. Philippe Chapot, said “Today, DR is expanding everywhere in Europe and France’s future is in the hands of the Audiovisual Council (CSA),” in this respect and must be decided before the end of the year.

Mobility capacity

The Director also described radio as wonderful media and is not just an accompaniment but a media to listen to because of the content and mobility capacity.

The importance of DR in Europe has motivated BBC and Radio Netherlands International (RTL), Deutshland Welle among others to find it convenient to launch this service for their teeming listeners.

Project Director, BBC, Mr. John Sykes said that the corporation had always been in search of new ways of reaching its audience and this dream was officially harnessed on September 1, this year, when the station launched a digital radio service in English to the Benelux countries (Europe) and some neighbouring parts of France and Germany.

BBC through MW frequency 1296KHz promises major service of 18 hours a day, which is supplemented with digital transmission on SW via Telenor of Norway and VTC of UK, hence enabling the corporation to operate through its analogue and digital networks internationally.

“Digital Radio is about increased listener choice, and a revolution in the way we use radios. No more fiddling around with frequency dials and wavebands; you select your station by name and the radio would find the best frequency automatically,” he buttressed.

Disclosing also that BBC is tinkering on introducing an electronic programme guide to allow listeners using radios with a record function to effectively create their own schedule.

For the World Services’ Controller, Distribution and Technology at BBC, Mr. Mike Cronk, the corporation looks forward to seeing digital radio fully integrated into mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs).

“We’re keen to open up a dialogue with our audience, and the back-channel provided by Third Generation (3G) and Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) telephony means, we would stay in touch with people on the move,” Mr. Cronk declared.

What you should know about DR

With 25 FM radio stations in Berlin already hooked to DR and 17 other channels in Germany that could be listened to in Berlin as at the time of filing this report, there are some significant broadcasting different formats and technologies, potential listeners should note, presently in Europe.

These include that radios with DR logo enable listeners to simply own a DR receiver – radio set – and receive signals freely. Those with FM mean that listeners need FM receiver to receive freely too as well as AM entailing the receiver must have an AM band to get signals.

Those with ‘web’ signs means users or listeners need an internet subscription to receive free and audio software installed. ‘Free’ on the hand means a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) subscription and a free box decoder that is ungrouped to enable reception, while ‘NOOS’ requires subscription and a decoder to receiver NOOS cable, as well as Astra and C+ for those wishing to receive signals from CanalSAT and Astra Satellite, which could be free or payable subscription decoders.

Any hope for Nigeria?

This development is coming as Nigeria has less than five community radio stations, despite some state government radios’ claim to have community radio status. Presently only the University of Lagos (UNILAG) radio could be regarded as purely community radio which requires huge sum to even get the license, let alone acquire equipment.

It is relevant, therefore, to note that as long as little or so-called community radios are not in the hands of the private sector and civil societies, the gap between the society and citizens in a country like Nigeria would continue to grow.

Also, there is need to rethink in the place of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) so as to strengthen the bid to close digital gap in the country by turning out motivating policies to this effect, that would attract investors.

The earlier this is done, the better for the nation and her citizens, mostly those who basically depend on radio to receive information and know what is happening, especially in the rural areas.

So, when next you buy a radio, check well to know what it takes to keep date with digital revolution, remembering that any DR radio offers free receiver option while satellite aspect of it is by subscription.

Worrying aspect is that in no time this brands of digital radios will flood African market and Nigeria being the largest concentration of this continent will witness the effect immensely.

Connect Tech excites presidency with EGOS

by Remmy Nweke

CHIIEF Executive, Connect Technologies Limited, Mr. Chris Uwaje, has listed the imports of a locally developed electronic government (e-govt) application, known as ‘Enterprise e-Governance Operations Solution’ (EGOS), even as the Presidency was excited on the performance of the solution.

Mr. Uwaje, who disclosed this to Champion Infotel recently said that, EGOS performance thrilled a cross section of Presidential advisers, ministers, permanent secretaries and directors general, at a just concluded presidential retreat held at the Banquet Hall of Aso Villa, Abuja, during a presentation.

He said the presentation was in line with the federal government’s e-strategies initiative through the public, private partnership (PPP) window, which he noted, is the dream of the indigenous software developers.

Enumerating on the importance of the solution, like EGOS, the chief architect informed that it is a core engine for government-to-government (G2G) application based on software that is 100 per cent indigenous effort, resulting from over 26 months of research, design and development cycle.

Pointing out that the solution, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) groupware for government entities, is platform for the new world order based on information age.

He noted that as the world transits into the information age, new conditions were being created for future economic cum industrial successes.

“We fashion the Nigerian response within the context of governance to sustain 21st century rapid development competitiveness, and bridge the emerging digital and knowledge divide,” he declared.

EGOS, therefore, promises to enhance the capability of government to organise, manage and deliver resource information for the three arms of government; executive, legislative and judiciary.

He emphasised that it would also help in task allocation, workflow administration and management, regulation, enforcement, national planning for ministries’ budgeting, government projects, litigation releases, procurement and inventory as well as human resource database.

This is in addition to having the provision for commodities' investment management, small business and human resource capacity building.

Mr. Uwaje, known for his active role in pioneering the National Policy for Information Technology in the country, particularly the section on e-government, said, the G2G portfolio’s primary goal is to enable federal, state and local governments to more easily work together to better serve the populace.

To achieve this goal, he stressed, government must make it easier for states and localities to meet reporting requirements, whereas promoting the use of performance measurements.

“State and local governments will see significant administrative savings and will be able to improve programme delivery because the data necessary to measure performance will be more accurate and timely,” he said.

CHAMS honours 14 staff @ 20

by Remmy Nweke
COMPUTER Hardware and Maintenance Services (CHAMS) has honoured 14 of its personnel for outstanding performance and for long service at the 20th anniversary held in Lagos.

The honours’ list was topped by some management and junior staff of its three main entities within the CHAMS family, including for being the most diligent and dedicated senior and junior staff as well as best staff of the year.

Managing director, Chams Nigeria Limited, Mr. Demola Aladekomo, managing director, SuperCard, Mr. Femi Williams and General Manager, Paymaster, Mr. Jimi Ademosu, were recognised for long service awards.

Others honoured for having spent between seven and 14 years in the company were namely Idowu Logile, Kennedy Palmer, Yussuf Kadiri, Yomi Oyebanjo, Mrs Olushola Omotayo, Jumoke Molade, Debbie Olutimi, Taiwo Bajela, and Wasiu Falade.

The awards for Most diligent and dedicated junior staff went to Wasiu Falade of Chams; Gabriel Udoh of Supercard; while most diligent and dedicated senior staff, Jumoke Molade of Chams made the list. The outstanding educational performance was captured by Idowu Logile of Chams and most common best staff of the year was given to Wasiu Falade.

In his speech to the occasion, Mr. Aladekomo described it as a tale of two cities with mixed feelings, noting that the firm, CHAMS, since established September 1985 has carried out pioneer business platforms in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in the country.

In 1992, he said, CHAMS took a new dimension by de-emphasising sales and services to delve into research and development of new technologies.

The success of this step, he said, resulted into card technology personalization, identity card, enrolment logistics and access control services that the industry now reckons with CHAMS.

With a vision to remain innovative, he said, CHAMS have to its credit subsidiaries such as Supercard, Card Center and Paymaster, which are into different IT solutions cut across intelligent multi-application card based biometric solutions and web portal, production of different ranges of cards including Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) scratch cards, Subscriber Identification Module (SIM), Automated Teller Machine (ATM) among other payment platforms.

According to Corporate Affairs officer at CHAMS, Mr. Yemi Akinleye, more is yet to unfold as the firm strives to deploy its electronic payment solution, ChamsAccess service terminals across the nation, beginning with major cities like Lagos and Abuja.

Delegates to vote @ WCIT-06

by Remmy Nweke

DELEGATES to the 15th World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) slated to hold in May 2006, in Austin, Texas, United States, would have the opportunity to vote on three selected global impact issues.

These issues are centered on privacy and security, digital access, and healthcare in the 21st century.

WCIT annual convention holding between May 1 and 5, 2006, is known for gathering over 2,000 global leaders from business, government and academia to discuss IT policy, direct the future of technology and endear drive to social-economic development.

In a joint message in its monthly newsletter made available to Champion Infotel, the chief executive and president of WCIT-06, Messrs Ben Bentzin and Glyn Meek, respectively, disclosed that with the exercise, delegates would for the first time cast votes on policy proposals in these three areas.

They said proposals that receive “a plurality of votes will be published as the official recommendation of WCIT-06 and World Information Technology Services Alliance (WITSA).

Already, Accenture and Unisys are topping the list of sponsors by agreeing to bankroll two of the three key issues believed to be the focus of the next year event.

Accenture, they said, would lead the Digital Access issue, while Unisys would take that of Privacy and Security aspect.

This development came as WCIT-06 has introduced ‘international ambassadors’ to assist in spreading the word for the five-day conference.

This team, organisers said are now active in about 25 countries and are billed to have outreach efforts in 80 countries by May 2006 when the event is scheduled to hold.

Meanwhile, former Rwandan ambassador to the US, Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, has been named to speak at the WCIT-06 board of directors meeting this November.

He would be examining how to harness IT to drive social and economic change at the meeting billed for November 8 in Texas.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mechanic takes home Mercedes Benz car in Glo Kano draw

Motor mechanic resident in Maiduguri, Borno State in the northern Nigeria, Mr. Moses Ularam, has won a brand new Mercedes E class saloon car in the on-going Globacom’s 2nd Anniversary Double Slam promo.

"Mr. Ularam, with Glo phone number 08057125894 emerged one of the four winners in the first Kano Draw of the promo which started in August 2005."

Also winners in the draw were Mr. John Onoja with Glo number 08053474360, a civil servant attached to the Police Affairs Commission, Kaduna, won a Kia Sorento jeep and Mr. Musa Shalangwa, with Glo number 08054524092, a staff of Ministry of Works, Borno state, went home with a Honda City.

The fourth winner is with Glo number 08057203855 won also a Kia Picanto.

The winners who could not be immediately reached on the day of the draw all expressed a mixture of disbelief, surprise and joy when Globacom officials eventually got in touch with them later.

While drawing the first winner on the occasion, the Zonal Director of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Alhaji Hanshi lauded Globacom for putting together a formidable team in the region and for giving something back to the society.

He commended the growth and the competition in the telecommunications sector which has brought tariffs low and made life easier for ordinary Nigerians. He called for the same to be replicated in the power sector of the country.

The other three winners were drawn by guest of honour, Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero, represented by his heir apparent, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, Kano Police Commissioner Ganiyu Dawodu, and State Special Adviser on utilities, Mallam Saidu Bello.

Globacom is giving out prizes worth N350 million in the Globacom 2nd Anniversary Double Slam promotion which is acclaimed to be the biggest promotion ever in Nigeria. It also marks the first time a corporate organization has offered houses to Nigerians in a promotion.

The prizes to be won include six town homes, six Mercedes Benz Cars, 6 Kia Sorento Jeeps and six VW Polo cars. Others are six Honda city and 12 Kia Picanto saloon cars.

In addition to the cars, all subscribers to the network are winners as they automatically win 15 per cent bonus airtime with every recharge.

Another round of draw will hold in Kano in November 2005.

Monday, September 26, 2005

GITEX-05 opens in Dubai, ITEdge makes a debut

A five-day Gulf Information Technology Expo (GITEX-05) opened Sunday at the Dubai International Convention and Exhbition Center, with Nigeria’s leading West African Information and Communications Technology (ICT) magazine, ITEdge, making a debut at the event.

Business Champion recalls that at the just concluded African Information Society Initiative (AISI) media awards 2005, ITEdge was honoured via its portal, http://www.itedgenews.com/ for local content provider category.

==========
"This is not restricted to any
particular mobile format like Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) ..."
==========
Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC), organisers of GITEX-05 has also introduced route map and mobile exhibition guide to assist visitors to the annual expo in exploring the event.

The route map and mobile guide could be located online at www.mobile.gitex.com.

A press statement from ITEdge, media partners to the Asia’s leadign ICT show in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), and endorsed by Mr. Segun Oruame, said the route map would be distributed to visitors on site from each exhibition halls, the mobile guide solution would detect all accessing devices on-the-fly and pass appropriate information off the website.

This, he said, is possible by auto reprocessing of the information, which is then send back to the device in real time.

“All mobile devices available in the market could benefit from this service through any General Packet Radio Sevice (GPRS) network or Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) at the event venue,” Mr. Oruame explained.

He also said this is not restricted to any particular mobile format like Wireless Access Protocol (WAP), Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)-Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) and several others.

Additionally, he said, both mobile guide and route map have been structured in a way that the list of exhibitors and floor plans are made available.

“The mobile guide will provide information about exhibitors, their location, hotel and travel information, as well as local prayer times and weather updates,” he added.

GITEX-05 would last till Thursday, September 29, this year.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Effects of WSIS on Nigeria

Features of the week:

Second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) comes up in 54 days away in Tunis. REMMY NWEKE reports that the processes have been a stimulae to development in the Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in the country.


TWO years ago when the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-03) came to a close in Geneva, Switzerland, little did any one give Africa let alone Nigeria a chance to record much development in the use of ICT that impacted so much on the people before the second phase.

WSIS, known as the global gathering of Heads of State and government and other high-profile leaders came out of the first phase with two essential documents, namely ´Declaration of principles and Action Plan, upon which Information Society (IS) will be founded and time frames between 2005 and 2015 by advancing internationally agreed development goals in efforts to close digital divide.

Quite Revolution

In what assumed another quite revolution, the import of this summit to various continents of the world cannot be measured, particularly in Africa where most of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) seem to have their roots, and nations in transition as far as democracy is concerned.

The event organised by the United Nations (UN) through its agencies and coordinated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) set the ball rolling with the inauguration of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) to trash the issue which resulted in open hand to the Internet administration coordinatoion by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The group report would be presented officially in Tunis.

This process has greatly paved the way for the African Network Information Center (AfriNIC), which came live after the adoption of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) report on the proposal among other task forces and working groups at different levels of ICT; to ensure that as the world leaders meet in Tunis again on IS to evaluate the outcome since the last first phase, some would have reason to beat their chaste, even if no one eulogies them, despite obvious infrastructural difficulties.

Government's commitment

Among these leaders would be the President of the largest black and African nation on the continent, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria. Although he attended the Geneva phase with regrets that the nation did not showcase its teeming potentials at the exhibition stands, his government’s attitude to ICT changed for the better afterwards.

So, few months later during the e-Nigeria 2004 organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Chief Obasanjo tasked African leaders, mostly from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the need to harness thoughts in order to have a common front for the greater continental positioning at the second phase.

His administration also encouraged what experts said was opening of the door for better understanding of the implication of allowing the nation to be behind equals rather than the leader or big brother role according to politicians; mostly by providing the enabling environment for the regulatory agencies like the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to steer the telecom industry, to its present height, which equals telecom growth to that of India, with over 150 per cent increase in telephone access as at January 2004 and by August 2005, the nation has from what was obtained earlier recorded 16 million Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) subscribers, according to NCC boss, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe.

WSIS therefore strengthened the efficacy of ICT at the leadership circle, making it possible for African political leaders to work towards transparency and good governance on the continent.

This is equally evident in less politicization of ICT policy issues into onward implementation, therefore affording the leadership at various stages amenable to the fact that technology begets future development in this century.

Therefore, the commitment has shifted upwards with good results as African nation’s and precisely Nigeria, could be said to be more considerate of the implications of worsening the already digital divide in the system. So they now see ICT with some amount of seriousness.

Dividends of ICT

And given the influence of GSM, for instance, in the last four years and its economic boost to ordinary Nigerian who would graduate with uncertain future, but now some of them own and operate call centers at streets and even villages with the help of communications technologies like booster antenna to mention a few.

Another instance, is that between the two phase lay a great number of media houses focusing on ICT and not merely having increased access but have generated some positive hits in the technology reporting both locally and internationally.

With the understanding that Nigeria journalists now could send stories from Europe, other parts of Africa and the world at large where there is Internet access may no longer be news, but the fact that generality of editorial staff are daily getting keen over the use of some of these technologies, especially the internet is a positive one.

Also, at the presidency it was reported that top-notchers of the nation’s leadership have ´passed´ 21st century literacy test coordinated by NITDA which is prerequisite to enthrone appropriate policies that will boost investment which come with provision of infrastructure either by the government or by members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) based on arrangement and understanding between this two.

At least, a Senator of the federal republic now knows the difference between Information Technology (IT) and ´It´, Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and ´Ups´ amidst several daily used ICT jargons.

As matter of fact various state governments are now setting up ICT centres for their people, which they tagged ‘democracy dividend’ usually offering business center services in a large scale, and training at different levels too.

Achieving the Action Plan

For instance, Nigeria has achieved some parts of the section A3 in the Action Plan by forming stakeholders partnership between government and OPS known as the National e-Government Strategies (NeGSt), a public private partnership (PPP); to over see the role of developing and implementing comprehensive, forward, and sustainable national e-strategies.

Even as the linking of local and central government departments and establishing websites and electronic mail (email) addresses are coming in phases with the relaunch of the nation’s portal, www.nigeria.gov.ng, thereby boosting local content development with requisite technical conditions on the Internet beginning in earnest with the proposed IT bill, thus encouraging by way of building confidence and security.

This came as controversies on local hosting of the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name, .ng, was rested following government’s intervention, giving birth literarily to the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA).

On achieving the capacity building demands of IS, the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) Utako-Abuja was established over 16 months ago and by tinkering on unified licensing scheme due to take off next February, NCC is broadening access to global frequency harmonisation and systems standardization, as required by C4 and C2 in the Action Plan. These are expected to boost Internet and communications in the country, while reducing illiteracy level in the use of ICTs at various levels.

Above all, communications is fundamental to social process of inclusion which WSIS tends to achieve hence a basic need for the foundation of all social organisations and centre of Information Society.

A New Dawn

In stressing this fact, the issue of deploying electronic voting machine come 2007 general election in the country, is as good as endorsed if few obstacles pointed out would be fixed as assured by the chief electoral officer of the federation and chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Maurice Iwu.

It was not surprising therefore that Mr. President, like heeding the call by former president, Information Technology Industry Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Mr. Chris Uwaje, recently that political leadership positions in the country should be left for those below 50 years, has his choice of Ministers as mostly new breeds whose interest in technology deployment is immeasurable.

By the end of the summit, industry watchers look forward to more streamlined monitoring of the follow up of the two documents, mostly the Acton Plan, to give room for adequate implementation beyond the conference and probably present good report card by the end year 2015.

Tinubu, Adebayo, Ndukwe for City People fair

Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Minister of Communications, Chief Cornelius Adebayo and the executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe would lead dignitaries to the maiden edition of the City People organized Information and Communications Technology (ICT) exhibition.

The exhibition tagged IT & Telecom fair, is coming up in the city of Lagos, few weeks after the industry witnessed a five-day FoneFest at the TBS Lagos, even as there would be InfoFair in the northern state of Kaduna this November.

A press statement made available to ITRealms by the management of City People, said the maiden edition of the two-day IT and Telecom fair would be at Silverbird Galleria, beginning from Tuesday 4, through Wednesday 5, October this year.

According to the organizers, all roads will lead to the prestigious Silverbird Galleria along Ahmadu Bello Way in Victoria Island, Lagos “for the maiden edition of City People's Information and Communications Technology Exhibition tagged "IT & Telecoms Fair 2005" the statement said.

Big players in the sector, the organizers said, have been invited to be part of this expo as participants as this would give them ample opportunities to display their organization’s products.

They also said the fair promises to be a very remarkable one as major handset manufacturers like Nokia, Samsung and Philips are itching to exhibit their products.

Expected at the event equally are the major computer manufacturers and distributors as well as major producers and dealers of IT products.

“Telecommunication operators in Nigeria would also display their products and Value Added Services (VAS),” the organizers declared.

Noting that the fair would present an opportunity for visitors to repair their damaged handsets as tested and trusted handset repair outfits would be at their service during the 2-day event.

Part of what participants will enjoy is publicity blitz of the exhibition in City People Magazine and on television as there will be collaboration between City People Magazine and a local TV station yet to be announced.

Free certification @ LinuxWorld-05

CANADA-based internationally vendor-independent organization advocating the use of Linux, Open Source and Free Software, through certification of Linux Professional Institute (LPI), has concluded plans to offer free certification at the two-day forthcoming Linux World Expo in the United Kingdom (UK).

The two-day conference and exhibition, has been slated for next month at Olympia 2 London.

Director, Community Relations at LIP, Mr. Scott Lambertson, disclosed that the premier institute for Linux certification organisation would offer free testing during the event scheduled for Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6, October this year.

In a press statement made available to Champion Infotel, Mr. Lambertson quoted the LPI chief executive, Mr. Jim Lacey as saying that LinuxWorld is a great venue to promote Linux, Open Source Software and the importance of recognized professional standards and vendor-independent certification for Linux professionals.

"LPI exam labs at LinuxWorld provide an excellent opportunity for us to demonstrate our commitment to provide accessible, high-quality certification to the Linux community," Mr. Lacey also said.

Registered delegates to the conference, he said, could write the exams free of

Charge, but trade show attendees would pay a reduced fee of £25 to write the exams during the conference, rather than the regular price of £50.

Also, during the exam labs, Open Forum Europe will offer LPI 101 and 201 exams, along with 102 exams for those who qualify and request the advanced-level testing. All exams will be offered at 10 - 11:30 a.m. and 1.30 – 3:00 p.m. each day in the LPI Examination Rooms, and are located on the lower ground floor in Olympia 2.

He explained that candidates must pre-register on the LPI website at https://www.lpi.org/en/register.html to receive an identification number. All exam candidates should bring valid photo identification and their LPI ID number to the exam lab.

LPI is an official sponsor of LinuxWorld, internationally, and will be participating in the LinuxWorld Expo where LPI’s staff will meet attendees at the OFE booth (stand number D15). OFE will be giving advice on Linux and Open Source Software to business, government and education visitors.

Owodunmi replaces Weston @ Starcomms as CFO

PRIVATE Telecom Operator (PTO), Starcomms Nigeria Limited, has announced a replacement of its immediate past Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Mr. Mark Weston in person of Mr. Oluweseyi Owodunmi.

Though his appointment like that of Weston is on contractual basis and takes immediate effect.

The replacement became apparent following the expiration of Mr. Weston’s contract.

Until now Mr. Owodunmi has been the Managing Partner of Kayode Owodunni & Co., a Lagos-based firm of Chartered Accountants.

Mr. Owodunni has a Bachelor of Science degree (Cum Laude) in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting, from Georgetown University, Washington D.C., United States (US), and a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts, US.

Before his MBA, Mr. Owodunni worked as a Certified Public Accountant with KPMG Peat Marwick LLP in Washington D.C. coming out as American Institute of Certified Pubic Accountants’ Exam in 1995 on his first sitting, and became a qualified CPA.

Also prior to joining Kayode Owodunni & Co., he worked for five years with Lucent Technologies Ltd., an American Telecommunications Equipment Manufacturer headquartered in New Jersey, US, in various capacities.

He further worked in the Mergers & Acquisitions area, advising the various Strategic Business Unit Executives on acquisition transactions which Lucent completed between 1998 and 2000.

In addition, Mr. Owodunni worked within Lucent’s Optical Networking Business Unit as a Product Manager responsible for profit and losses on core networking products, with annual sales of over $285 million.

He returned to Nigeria in 2003, and has since been admitted to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria as an Associate member.

IEE younger members to hold workshop on complete expert

The Institute of Electrical/Electronics Engineers (IEE) younger members’ section, Nigeria chapter, would next week Thursday and Friday host a workshop tagged ‘Towards a complete ICT Expertise’ in Lagos.

Acting chairman, IEE Nigeria Younger members, Mr. Olugbenga Adeyemo, said the event would hold at Yusuf Grillo Hall, Yaba College of Technology, Yaba-Lagos, between September 29 and 30.

He also said that event would feature technical sessions, life skills, business training, software/project exhibition and the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the chapter.

On the technical sessions, he said, that prominent Information and Communications Technology (ICT) practitioners in the country would deliver technical papers and/or hands-on training in line with the theme of the event.

While life skill and business trainings, are short courses designed to teach the skills necessary for members to have a successful career.

“There will be a special training on the Small Medium Industry Equity Scheme (SMIES). The training will elaborate on the scheme and how to qualify for it,” he declared.

According to Mr. Adeyemo, there are limited slots for software and project exhibition during the conference, but advised that interested members and public should register at www.nymsevents.tsaboin.com.

He noted that corporate bodies and organisations wishing to take part in the products and services exhibition during the conference should equally register with the organisers, online.

Mr. Adeyemo said, he expects IEE younger members in the country, made up of students, graduates and young professionals under the age of 30, even as all youths involved in the field of technology are also free to be part of the annual event.

Additionally, any other interested person in the field of Electrical/Electronics Engineering, Computer Science/Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Applied Physics.

He maintained that the conference fee is free, but said participants have to register first, so as to help in planning the event.

DBI, UNN to commence PDG in October

FOREMOST information and communication technology institute, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Utako-Abuja, and University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) has announced readiness to commence Post Graduate Degree (PDG) programme by October this year.

Disclosing this following the signing of papers between the two institutions between the chief executive of DBI, Dr. Olasupo Ogunfemi and the vice chancellor of UNN, Prof. Chinedu Ositadimma Nebo, Ogunfemi said final programme was drawn after series of meetings between the entities which began early in the year, was sealed by the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The joint progamme known as Training to Placement Programmes (T2P) will offer courses leading to Master in Telecommunications Engineering (MEngr), Master of Science on Information and Telecommunications Technology (Msc) , PG. Dip Telecommunications Technology, PG.Dip. ICT, and PG.Dip Telecommunications Management and Policy.

The course also offers Higher Post Graduate Diploma (HPD) in Computer Science, Information and Communications Technology, Telecommunications Studies, Visual Communications and Graphics Design computing.

Candidates, he said, would be admitted into any of the courses based on a full time, part time and distance learning options respectively, even as expected 100 candidates will be admitted as pioneer participants.

Reputable subject matter experts and scholars in ICT from both international and local institutions have been recruited to handle the T2P programmes, Dr. Ogunfemi explained.

Stressing that these include Prof. Anthony Nzeako, the Coordator, Ikekeonwu G.A.M (Phd), Edna Udobong (Mrs), Fernet Patrick, Ani Cosmas Ikechukwu (Phd), Aloy Chife (Phd), Bruyele Michael, Cobus Malam,Oyelami B O (Dr.), Brown Stephen, Chukwudede G A (Dr.) Mrs., Ehikioya. S (Phd), Oti Dona A (Phd), Sulivan Scott, Nwodo A. Thomas (Phd), Prof. C. C. Osuagwu, Ojimmaya J. I. Prof. Allie Spangeber, Prof. Imaga E. I. U, Prof, Peter Onyimayi, Metibota Mike, Nwamarah GM (Phd), Bello Raymond, Udoaka Fredrick, Monye F N (Dr.) Mrs. and a host of others.

NITPA commends Nweke on AISI award

NIGERIAN Information Technology Professionals in the Americas (NITPA) has congratulated Mr. Remmy Nweke for emerging the second prize winner at the 2005 African Information Society Initiative (AISI) media awards.

Mr. Nweke, a senior business reporter specializing on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) with Daily Champion Lagos-Nigeria, was adjudged second prize winner under the AISI/IICD Local Content Applications category, with a piece on the “Magic of Communications through antenna”.

In a letter dated Monday, September 19, 2005, conveying NITPA’s commendation and entitled ‘NITPA congratulates Remmy Nweke on AISI award’, which was made available to ITRealms, NITPA President, Prof. Manny Aniebonam on behalf of the largest black IT experts’ group in diaspora, said it was a deserved honour.

“On behalf of the Nigerian IT Professionals in the Americas (NITPA), I wish to extend congratulations to you on the recent deserving award accorded you as the second prize winner under the 2005 AISI/IICD Local Content Applications category,” he said.

Prof. Aniebonam who also is the Executive Vice President, AfriHub LLC, Fairfax, United States with office in Nigeria, further said, NITPA members scattered all over the world are familiar with “Your balanced yet in-depth reporting of the industry’s progress and development,” which he noted, were critical part of the Nigeria’s emerging economy.

NITPA, therefore urged Mr. Nweke to continue in the path of excellence by upholding the mantle of global proficiency which the honour has confirmed on him.

Assuring that NITPA and its sister organization in the country, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), would continue to support the nation’s ICT media professionals whose efforts, Prof. Aniebonam described as the window for the world to see Nigeria as to what it has “the potential of becoming in the 21st century, that is, the ICT giant of Africa”.
And again, “Congratulations, young man,” he asserted.

NITPA was inaugurated in December 2001 and have made great progress by uniting Nigerian IT professionals in diaspora, which membership has continue to swell over the years.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Multimedia Online course opens @ Berlin, as IIJ trains 600

THIRD session of the international Multimedia and Online Journalism course 2005, began recently with 15 students in Berlin, Germany.

The course organized by the InWent Capacity Building International, Germany through its subsidiary, International Institute for Journalism (IIJ) Berlin, would last till November, this year.

The team is expected to attend the second phase of the World Summit on the Information
Society (WSIS-05) holding November 16-18, in Tunis for their internship.

Welcoming students from Ghana, India, Kenya, Laos, Moldova, Nigeria, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe to the programme, Head IIJ Division, Mr. Peter Prufert, said in a message that the institute has trained over 600 journalists in 30 selected courses since last year.

“They are now part of a worldwide network of some 6,000 alumni of IIJ in more than 230 countries,” he declared.

According to Mr. Prufert who was represented by Course Director, Mr. Warner Eggert, for over 40 years IIJ has been active in the training of newspaper and news agency journalists from developing and nations in transition.

Most recent of these courses, Mr. Prufert noted is the Multimedia and Online Journalists, saying that with this, “the institute is adapting to the needs of a rapidly changing media world and the growing importance of the Internet”.

Pointing out that though independent and critical reporting helps to democratically monitor the state but only well groomed journalists working to the highest core value of professional standards could facilitate this critical role of ‘watch dog', so as to assist in creating transparency and to hold government and business accountable.

Mr. Prufert also said this basic philosophy fits seamlessly into the media development concept of the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ), the main stakeholder of InWent.

“Together with other international organizations the BMZ considers democracy, good governance and an active civil society as a precondition for development,” he said.

All programmes organized by IIJ, whether in Berlin or abroad, he said, are geared towards the practical requirements of journalism.

“We hope that you would find the working conditions conducive, the learning atmosphere and the exchange of experiences stimulating,” he urged and wished participants fruitful weeks ahead.

Top staff of IIJ who were present at the brief ceremony includes the Administrator, Mrs. Melanie Bolik, lead facilitator, Mr. Peter Berger and his assistant, Ms Birgit Heitfeld, as well as seminar assistants led by Mrs. Sabine Lager, and made up of Mrs. Rita Kurzbach, Ms. Carol Starr and Ms. Larissa Klatt.

PrepCom-3 takes off, HANA live in Geneva

LAST Preparatory Committee Meeting (PrepCom-3) for the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) slated for Tunis in November, opened in Geneva, Switzerland with 1,350 participants.

This is coming as the upcoming news agency, Highway Africa News Agency (HANA) said it is ready to cover the event live from Geneva. Just as the Secretary General of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Mr. Yoshio Utsumi has urged participants to explore the meeting by creating an Information and Communications Technology ((ICT) based roadmap for Information Society.

Communication Officer, WSIS Executive Secretariat, Mr. Sanjay Acharya, said that there are willingness on the parts of delegates to work together in order to meet up with stipulated programme.

He said in a press statement made available to ITRealms that the two-week meeting, represents the last chance for more than 130 national delegations and over 150 other stakeholders comprising international organizations, non-governmental organization (NGOs) and business entities, that arrived at an accord ahead of the second phase of WSIS, which begins on November 16.

Stressing that the United Nations (UN) specialized agency for telecommunications, ITU is lead-organizing agency for the summit, which is focused on bridging “digital divide” by the use of ICT to achieve social and economic development goals.

He quoted Mr. Utsumi, saying delegates should use the next two weeks to create an ICT-based roadmap for a more equitable and just information society, declaring that “everything is now up to you.”

He cautioned that they should not allow themselves to be trapped by tradition and narrow interests, but be creative enough to deliver a concrete roadmap for the future of the world.

Also speaking, Tunisian Minister of Communications Technology, Dr Montasser Ouaili, said the platform would facilitate building of international solidarity on ICT issues.

“The Tunis summit is conceived as a Summit of Solutions – a summit that will create a solid foundation on which to build the Information Society. And we look forward to active participation in this process by all stakeholders,” he said.

Top on agenda is the Internet Governance (IG) which is seen as the key issue while others include financing mechanisms for ICT development and implementation mechanisms for the WSIS Action Plan, even as the issue of Internet governance is widely expected to dominate discussions.

The opening session of the plenary equally witnessed the election of the chairs of the conference’s two principal Sub-Committees, namely IG and Financial Mechanisms and implementation.

Meanwhile, HANA has assured that it would report the PrepCom-3 live from Geneva, according to the Executive Director, Highway Africa News Agency based in Rhodes University Grahamstown, South Africa, Mr. Chris Kabwato.

He said the news agency is already on ground to give the meeting the international media mileage it deserves, especially for the African continent to keep tab with the summit processes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

MICROSOFT Nigeria rakes N25.1b locally in 5yrs

MICROSOFT Nigeria has raked in over $18.6 million, about N25.1 billion at the end of business year 2004, according to the Country Manager, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe.

He disclosed this in a remark to mark the firm’s fifth year of exploring the nation’s market in Lagos.“… From a modest $3.1 million as revenue in 2000 when it (Microsoft) started operations in Nigeria, the company posted six times the initial figure by the close of business last year,” he said.

Mr. Ilukwe also said that the leading software proprietor has had a successful experience so far in the country, mostly in the area of the ability to achieve its core value of being a local company.

Nigeria, he said, has joined Russia in becoming one of the fastest growing establishments within the Microsoft Corporation, even as the firm has been consistent in its growth to about 40 per cent year after year since 2004.

In this capacity as local player, he said, the company has offered services that were significantly developed in various aspects of the larger Information Technology field “thereby contributing to the overall success of its clientele and the public”.

Stressing that within the last five years, we have tried to make Microsoft a local company in Nigeria; to make sure that what we are selling is relevant to our local environment,” the country manager asserted.

While chronicling the achievements of the company in Nigeria, he said it has added value to the government by being a key partner in driving the Federal Government Information Technology policies, adding that the company has played the leadership role in supporting initiatives that are favourable to the country.

He further said the anniversary which has ‘Celebrating the Best of Nigeria,’ as theme, would be a celebrated in full scale with various aspects of Nigeria that have made the achievement possible and for international community attraction.

“We will be aligning our story to similar success stories in unrelated fields like sports and music, especially in fulfilling Microsoft’s global geo-expansion policy” he said.

The celebration, he said, has been scheduled for September 29 and would be hosted by the Vice President EMEA and Regional Director MEA, Microsoft Corporation, Mr. Ali Faramawy.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Four emerge winners in Glo mega draw @ Enugu

CONSISTENT with its second anniversary double slam promotion, mobile arm of the second national operator (SNO), Glo Mobile, has presented four subscribers with exotic cars at the former Eastern Nigeria capital, Enugu in Enugu State.

At a draw held at Zodiac Hotels, New Haven, Enugu, saw four subscribers of the network in the South East region, and owners of GSM numbers 0805 3432341, 0805 5806158, 0805 7273912 and 0805 5943290 emerged winners out of some 36 brand new exotic cars being offered by Glo Mobile for the promo.

Subscriber number 0805 5943290 won a Mercedes Benz E240, while owner of number 0805 7273912 was the winner of a Kia Sorento Jeep. Subscriber number 0805 5806158 won a Honda City car, while the last car on offer at Enugu draw, a Kia Picanto, went to the owner of number 0805 3432341.

Second in the series of the draws the company has held so far, ITRealms recalls that the first was held in Lagos, producing winners of four cars.

Chief Operating Officer of Globacom, Mr. Mohamed Jameel, said in an address to the draw and presentation expressed his excitement on the kind of patronage the promotion is receiving.

He noted that when Globacom began operation on August 29, 2003, there were doubts whether a Nigerian company would make it in a terrain thought to be the preserve of foreign companies.

“It took only six months for the doubts to be erased. Today, Globacom has covered over 11,000 towns, cities and communities and has a subscriber base of over 3.6 million,” he said.

Mr. Jameel also said that unlike other promotions targeted at new subscribers, the Glo’s campaign offers both old and new subscribers the opportunity to win the prizes. Stressing that the draws held in Lagos and Enugu, that Globacom was redeeming its pledge to give Nigerians 42 unprecedented prices which include six town homes, six Mercedes E240 cars, six Kia Sorento jeeps, six VW Polo, six Honda City, and 12 Kia Picanto cars.

Witnessed by a large audience, he said Glo subscribers and dealers also had as special guests the Deputy Governor of Enugu, Chief Edmund Itanyi, who was represented by his Special Assistant, Paul Ik Okolo and the traditional ruler of Nike Urban, Igwe Tony Ojukwu.

Battling HIV/AIDS with technology

Features of the week:

The rise and rise of the rate of HIV/AIDS is a threat to penetration of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), reports REMMY NWEKE.

“The global community is fighting hard on two fronts that threaten world peace, stability and prosperity; one, to rid the world of the evil scourge of terrorism and the other to stop the spread of dreaded Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) virus …” Yoshio Utsumi.

That was a lamentation from the Secretary General of the global telecommunication regulator, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nations (UN), Mr. Yoshio Utsumi, when he was a guest to the Indian merchants chamber at its second international conference on “Communications Convergence: Bridging the Digital Divide”.

He also noted that ICTs are useful tool for every citizen to demand and secure their rights to information and by bringing connectivity to the inhabitants of remote hinterland at this Information Age is most important in this circumstance that the world is fighting hard on these two fronts.

The Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) no doubt has assumed the most dreadful of all that have ravaged man so far, and is known as a virus that causes the AIDS according to experts. This is a combination of infections that manifest when a person is infected with HIV.

Contracting HIV could be due to four main ways, but not limited to sexual intercourse with infected person, transfusion of infected blood, sharing injection needles, blades and other sharp instruments with any one who is infected with HIV, such as during circumcision, as well as from infected pregnant woman to her baby prior to and after delivery.

Nigeria is a country of over 130 million located in Western Africa and reported to have an estimated adult HIV prevalence rate of 5.8 per cent as of 2001, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), with some 3.5 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS and another 170,000 AIDS-related deaths.

Reports also have it that HIV/AIDS pandemic in the country has continued to increase despite the openness of some victims in order to discourage potential victims and spur campaigns against infection.

It is argued by some experts that if urgent steps are note taken, diseases and precisely HIV/AIDS could be the most obstacle mankind will face in ICT revolutions and growth, thus a threat to the global community which has since transformed into a village, in all fronts. As such, it is obvious that any community suffering from any epidemic let alone HIV/AIDS would not smell any further development.

According to the Chairman, National Action Committee on HIV/AIDS (NACA), Prof. Babatunde Oshotimehin, the origin of this disease in the country dates back to 1986, when a 13-year old girl was identified as a victim and between 1992 and 2001, it has went up to about six per cent.

Though Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) has remained an indispensable tool in passing information and communications by seconds, it therefore behooves that deploying these tools as strategic to combating these two monsters and mostly the HIV and its twin AIDS became apparent.

This probably must have motivated one of the nation’s leading Global System for VMobile communications (GSM) operator, VMobile Nigeria Limited to reposition itself as a partner to NACA, paving the way for the training of some telephone hotline counselors in the country to respond appropriately on this topical issue of HIV/AIDS.

It also follows that the donation of four toll-free telephone lines by the management of VMobile
Nigeria to NACA for HIV/AIDS counseling on phone, has taken NACA to the next level of its campaign given the number of GSM subscribers growing daily in the country.

Outcome of this partnership includes the sending of informative Short Messaging Service (SMS) by VMobile via its 1822 with some message such as “Avoid HIV/AIDS – do not share needles and other sharp objects. Call 08027192783; Do you know about HIV/AIDS? Talk to a counselor, parent, spouse, child and friend today,” among other messages.

The donation seen as a step towards realizing the goal of running this novel system for easy and confidential access to HIV/AIDS counseling in Nigeria helped NACA to commission a specialist organization in the area of counseling to carry out a training programme for the implementers of this aspect of its project.

And in order to optimise the donated lines entailed that four partners be identified so as to implement the project, thus a capacity building programme for Telephone (Hotline) Counselors was conducted in Lagos from May 9 -14, 2005 for counselors and master trainers.

The objectives of the programme are included to equip participants with recent updates on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) with particular emphasis on various interventions, services and referrals available in different parts of the country.

It also tends to build the capacities of trainees to provide counseling and support on HIV and AIDS, 24-hours, seven days a week as well as ensuring that trainees have skills to effectively manage a hotline service in their various target areas.

Other objectives of the capacity building for counselors include increasing the capacities of trainees to track calls and extrapolate information from call data and to train selected trainees as master trainers of counselors.

It is further expected that a two-day review meeting after six months of running the hotline service be conducted, even as the trainees came form a selection of organizations from Abuja, Lagos, Calabar and Kano to include the Association of Concerned Partners for Nigerian Youths (ASCOPANY) Calabar, Education as a Vaccine Against AIDS based in Abuja, Society of Women on AIDS in Africa, Nigeria Chapter (SWAAN) Kano and Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF)
Lagos.

As observers look forward to review of this project by November this year, the fact remains that AIDS is not only real and evident nowadays in our environment, but people must seek free information and counseling on HIV/AIDS, as availed by this partnership between NACA and VMobile to interface with subscribers on the network and beyond to prevent the spread by whilst spouse are urged to remain faithful to themselves.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

ND SatCom displays SkyVIP at IBC-05

LEADING global supplier of satellite-based broadband Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT), broadcast and defense communication network solutions, ND SatCom, has introduced its latest technology platform, SkyVIP at the just ended IBC 2005 in Amsterdam.

IBC 2005 held between September 8 and 12, Amsterdam, Netherlands, as the exhibition recorded a number of visitors with attendance passing last year's total to about 43,000, which is 5 per cent up from 2004 figure.

SkyVIP is purpose-built to serve the connectivity, traffic and quality demands of corporate and governmental customers as well as satellite service providers and operators, and to deliver to their end-customers all the capabilities of next generation mid-sized star Internet Protocol (IP) topology environment.

Andrea Sinclair of the Corporate Communications at ND SatCom, said that the platform provides superior commercial opportunities through more efficient bandwidth usage, greater flexibility, reliability and performance than any other comparable product in the market.

The officials also informed that SkyVIP would be available from the end of September this year.

The new SkyVIP is regarded as star broadband platform provides easy-to-handle, plug-and-play, secure, reliable, fast and high performance IP connectivity.

Equipped with ND SatCom’s unique Adaptive Networking technology, Adaptive TCP Acceleration and the Frame Plan Generator, SkyVIP is ND SatCom’s state-of-the-art answer to the market’s ever-evolving business communication requirements.

This offers network control facilities and hub traffic redundancy features which ensure
constant network availability., Sinclair said.

“Thus, SkyVIP supports a fully-blown IP network with lowest capital expenditure in the market through its truly scalable, modular hub architecture. ND SatCom developed the most affordable, flexible, efficient and eye-catching IP hub and remote station within the industry,” the official said.

Through the Adaptive Networking access software, he said, remote stations get all available capacity after starting the transmission.

“A major gain in efficiency is that if no data is being transmitted, no space capacity is being occupied by the idle remote terminal. All traffic on all active remotes share the same space capacity,” he asserted.

Explaining that the product supports a broad set of features enabling applications Such as bottleneck-less corporate service for remote offices, cost-saving premium Voice the Internet Protocol (VoIP), Local Area Network cum Wide Area Network (LAN/WAN) interconnection, data transfer and dynamic internet access.

AISI confirms ITRealms report on media awards-05, Nigeria takes lead

IN confirmation of ITrealms report on September 3, Nigerians took the lead at this year’s African Information Society Initiative (AISI) media awards, clinching eight of the awards as announced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) yesterday at a ceremony in GrahamsTown, South Africa.

These include Godfrey Ikhemuemhe topping the AISI/GTZ print category in "Promoting the Information Society in Africa" with his “Realising Nigeria's Universal Access”; Bayero Agabi of AIT also leading with the TV category with a piece “Satellite and it's importance” as well as Adewale Ojo in the “Local Content Applications” with his “Konyin: Saving local languages from extinction”.

Others which were in the second prize winners include Segun Oruame of www.itedgenews.com in “Local Content” electronic, Remmy Nweke in the print category with “Magic of communication through antenna”. Emmanuel Okwuke also emerged finalist in the Reporting on ICT Policy with his “Regulating VOIP: An acid test for the NCC”, Mr. Godwin Nnanna in the AISI/OSIWA Reporting ICTs and Rural Communities with his “Integrating rural communities into mainstream development via ICTs”.

This was topped with Ms Obiageli Ekwealor coming as finalist in the AISI/OSIWA Media Awards 2005 "Best Female Reporter on ICT Issues" with her “MMS: An exciting new service / Cards, smart replacements for cash”

The award which began in 2003 was to encourage informed coverage of the information society and Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) in the continent, under ECA’s Information Society outreach programme.

Others who made the award include Laid Zaghlami of Algeria took the second prize print category of AISI/GTZ in promoting info society; while Togolese Awussaba Adjowa Magbede took the first prize with an entry on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) which is a contentious issues in most Africa countries depicting how her country blazing the trail in an area where few governments dare venture.

The second prize was given to Filifing Diakite from Mali for his radio report on the activities undertaken in a Youth Development Center established with the support of Environmental Development Action in the Third World (ENDA-TW) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The second prize for AISI,GTZ TV went to Joel Ekue Kuegah-Tedio on his entry entitled "Internet bus as a tool for multimedia access."

The AISI,IICD media award on local content first prize was given to Kitaw Yeyehyirad from Ethiopia whose entry was online on Ethiopia’s national language, Amharic as a language choice for users of this unique website. This entry demonstrated the value of local content in a language that its intended users can read, write and interact with.

While the AISI,IDRC award on reporting on research and innovation first prize went to George Mwiti Marate of Rwanda, the second prize in the same category was grabbed by Wanjohi Kabukuru from Kenya, with his “Elephants too, can send SMS”.

Reporting on ICT policy first prize went to Sore Ramata of Burkina Faso whose entry presents a positive, mature, thoughtful and in depth discussion of ICT policy issues in Burkina Faso.

Theodore Kouadio of Cote D’Ivoire topped the category on AISI-OSIWA Reporting on ICTS and rural Communities, while the AISI-OSIWA Best Female Reporter was presented to Glory Mushinge from Zambia on her entry on “Human Rights, Info Society Intertwined.”

According to ECA, the judges include Dr Olivier Nana Nzepa, a Consultant from the Institute Superieur de Management Public in Cameroon, Mr. Roland Stanbridge Director Masters of Global Journalism programme at Orebro University, Chris Kabwato Director Highway Africa News Agency, Emrakeb Asssefa staff writer HANA and Deputy Editor in Chief for the Horn of Africa OASIS, Gilletta Mea Dilecta Gbanhoun an Information systems engineer from Benin, Etienne Tasse a Journalist and Trainer in the use of ICTs and Yinka Adeyemi a Communication Media specialist.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NAN to unearth mysteries of cybercrime

A one-day workshop to unearth the mysteries of cybercrime is planned to hold in Lagos on Saturday, September 17, 2005, by concerned group of Nigerians.

The group which goes by the name, Nigerian Anti-Scam Network (NAN), informed that the theme is "Unearthing the Mysteries of Cybercrime" and would hold at the Lagos Digital Village, Ebute-Metta, Lagos.

NAN is composed of patriotic young Nigerians who are working professionals in various fields and are concerned about putting an end to the bad image online scam and other forms of cybercrime have brought to the nation.

According to one of the leading protagonist and Manager, Lagos Digital Village (LDV), Mr. Gbenga Sesan, said "Unearthing the Mysteries of CyberCrime" is the first in a series of efforts being made by this group to provide alternative and positive use of technology and technology tools.

“This is because throughout the world, Cybercrime is a very serious and contentious topic of debate. The activities of cyber criminals have resulted in economic losses running into billions of dollars globally. Various countries have had to review previously existing legislation to update laws and proscribe punishment for cyber fraud acts,” he declared.

Internationally, he noted, that the nation has been publicized as the major breeding ground of some sort for high volume of these online scams with attendant effect of her high ranking in global corruption indexes in the last three years.

LDV manager stressed that it is known throughout the entire globe that young people are major users of technology hence key players in cybercrime acts and the fight against cybercrime.

He said NAN seeks to provide alternative, positive examples of the use of technology in the country and how it has affected the lives of the innovators for good.

“We believe that we can add to other anti-cyber crime efforts being made by government and businesses to pool resources and fight this menace in our society,” he said.

Adding, “We have no legal mandate to arrest or prosecute anyone and aim basically to provide a large resource base where cybercrime activities can be exposed, with the global public better informed while providing positive models on the use of technology as a wealth creating tool. We seek to expose supporters, funders and perpetrators of these crimes through our online resource while providing a platform for Nigerians to share their views, aggregate their voice and adopt action in their immediate environment to stop future generations from being caught in this web”.

According to him, the online portal, www.cybercrime.org.ng is geared to provide a one-stop resource shop for research, information and knowledge sharing amongst interested parties while providing a platform for the showcasing of the Nigerian youth and country in positive ways.

Monday, September 12, 2005

JuniSat commences Eutelsat conversion promo

STRONG emerging Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Internet Service Provider (ISP), Juniper Limited, owners of JuniSat, has commenced a two-month campaign for its Eutelsat platform.

The firm said that for the next two months, the promo would focus on VSAT-based broadband Internet offer.

This, would enable internet users within the Linkstar programme of the company the opportunity to migrate to the more robust Eutelsat platform for the new W3A service.

The offer, which commenced on September 19, this year is focusing on customers that are presently on other networks outside Eutelsat, or those who have been disconnected for more than 30 days.

Managing Director of Juniper Solutions Limited, Mr. Gboyega Ojuri, while making the disclosure, said that this new JuniSat offer is meant to encourage some dissatisfied Internet consumers in the market especially those that has been using Linkstar, by making them to enjoy the robustness and reliability of the new W3A service.

“Also since we have removed any form of FAP (throttling) on the Office 1000, 2000 and 4 Mega Byte buster packages, this makes the service highly attractive to serious Business users” he stated.

According to him, this offer is in addition to the fact that the promotion comes standard with a zero conversion fee as well as a free one-month subscription.

He explained that the overall strengths of Eutelsat’s W3A service, is presently the most powerful satellite that offers a whole range of services, and more robust bandwidth scheme that is also cost effective.

“With the least package that we are offering, users could do more within the W3A platform includes voice, for a fraction of what they were paying elsewhere. In addition, the platform gives you more bandwidth and saves quite a lot of money” he asserted.

These offerings, he noted would also be fully backed by JuniSat’s legendary after-sales services and maintenance culture.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Starcomms rolls out in Port Harcourt

LEADING Fixed Wireless Operator (FW) Starcomms Limited, has officially announced the take off of its services in the Garden City of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The launch was formally held on Thursday, September 15, 2005 brings the number of Starcomms coverage areas to four. Previously, the operator has presence in three core locations nationwide, namely in Lagos, Kano and Maiduguri.

Marketing Director, Starcomms, Mr. Omar Lababidi, said that a series of activities were lined up to commemorate the event, as the firm made a bold show in the Garden City.

He also said that already the company has put in place the necessary structures and facilities to ensure a smooth deployment of the excellent quality of services for which Starcomms is reputed.

Mr. Lababidi further said that Starcomms has deployed its full range of services in Port Harcourt, using the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA 2000 1X) Intelligent Network (IN) platform, which he stressed is among the most sophisticated in the world.

He equally stated that Starcomms is pushing hard to attain its vision of being a major telecoms operator in the world in the immediate future, emphasising that there are plans to launch in two other major cities in Nigeria, namely Ibadan and Abuja soon.

The director, however, did not disclose the dates for the anticipated launch in two cities.

IT education must match with practicals – Alao

EXECUTIVE Director, Nigeria Online Limited, Mr. Olaleye Alao, has said that theoretical aspect of Information Technology (IT) education in the country must be matched with adequate hands-on practicals to properly empower the nation’s teeming undergraduates for the evolving 21st century.

Mr. Alao who also is the Treasurer of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), made the statement while delivering a paper on ‘Nigeria IT Industry: Undergraduate Empowerment’ to mark the firstNorth Central zonal workshop organized by the National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS) in Ilorin, Kwara State.

The theme of the two-day workshop was Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for National Economic Empowerment Development (ICT4NEED).

Mr. Alao advised members of the NACOSS to ensure they are well empowered for the labour world and called for a change in the nation’s education system towards making this a reality, especially in marrying theories with adequate practicals.

“Practical aspect is very essential in order to complement theory,” he declared.

According to him, the university authorities could help empower undergraduates by collaborating with international bodies responsible for IT certifications through incorporating professional courses in the nation’s school curriculum.

He stressed that the university education programme needs to be revived to meet up with the global standard so as to suit the current trend in the IT industry, adding there should be upgrading of hardware and software within the school environment to enable the students to be current.

Good environment and computer laboratory, probably devoid of strike and disruption of any sort, he said, would help in achieving this goal of empowering undergraduates appropriately.

He also called on students to remain courageous in developing their own software initiatives to suit their area of interest thereby creating self-employed atmosphere, despite the state of the country.

Industrial training on their area of specialization, Mr. Alao said, is very vital and could be facilitated by the existing regulatory bodies being involved on how the undergraduates could be absorbed for IT training in their specific programmes.

For him, Internet facilities should also be provided alongside IT training to make the nation’s undergraduates competitive at the global circle while competitions would help in identifying the best brains locally.

“Blue-chip companies should employ some of the best brains in other to encourage them,” he said.

Opportunities, Mr. Alao said, abound in the IT industry for undergraduates including specialization on networking and telecommunications, systems administration, development and maintenance, website administration, database administration, and software development.

InfraStruXure with cell technology @ APC

Global supplier of end-to-end power solutions, the American Power Conversion (APC), has announced the release of its InfraStruXure with integrated fuel cell technology.

This product is expected to offer several hours of extended runtime of high availability systems for Network-Critical Physical Infrastructure (NCPI).

This solution, according to the Country General Manager, APC for Africa, Mr. Carl Kleynhans, offers hours of extended runtime for Information Technology (IT) applications with high availability requirements.

The award-winning InfraStruXure architecture, which integrates power, cooling, management and services in a rack-optimized design, now offers IT professionals the ability to power their IT systems using fuel cell technology, an alternative to traditional extended-run options.

APC’s official also said the new 30 kilowatt (KW) solution incorporates modular Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cells.

IT project managers could stack up to three 10kw modules per rack to create a scalable solution, as energy is stored and supplied to the system via bottled hydrogen.

Small to medium data centers, he said, are ideal applications for the early-adopter phase of this system.

InfraStruXure with integrated fuel cells, the manager said, is the best for environments that may have limitations due to building code, emission requirements or physical constraints.

He gave the insight that the future phases of this programme would include further integrated management via InfraStruXure manager.

“APC is constantly developing innovative systems to dramatically increase availability in all aspects of the NCPI,” he said, just as the product offers the first practical fuel cell solution for data center extended-run applications.

He pointed out that this new system, supported by APC’s global services network, also improves availability by minimizing points of failure with the system installed close to the load; lowers the total cost of ownership with a design life of 10 years; reduces the total cost of ownership with a more compact footprint; and improves agility by allowing power generation in more locations that could have emissions restrictions.

VIA Tech, Juniper deal to crash PC prices

TAIWAN-based innovative developers of silicon chip and Personal Computer (PC) solutions, VIA Technologies Incorporated, has concluded plan to further crash the price of new PCs in the country, to as low as N35,000.

This plan was the outcome of the recent partnership deal between Nigeria’s Juniper Solutions Limited and VIA Technologies in Lagos, to offer affordable PCs and Internet access using broadband.

Manager, Marketing Division at VIA Technologies Inc, Mr. Werner Du Plessis, disclosed theseto newsmen, saying that prices of new PCs from the firm’s stable would crash PC prices drastically and would continue to come down as time progresses.

VIA Technologies, he said, focuses on emerging market with low cost PCs, which has been very helpful in growing PC availability in developing nations like Nigeria.

Mr. Werner noted that emerging markets are the major forces to reckon with PC usage and his office has encouraged this in China, India, Brazil and Russia, even as PC penetration rate is less than 10 per cent of the global population.

With inexpensive and accessible broadband connectivity, computing and entertainment capabilities through high scalable system platform, the partnership would “enable innovative new individual and community-based broadband connectivity and computing scenarios,” he said.

The manager, who was accompanied by the chief executive of Juniper, Mr. Gboyenga Ojuri, also said VIA Technologies has various solutions platform, citing for example the VIA PC-1 initiative.

This, he said, offers VIA PC 1000/1500 processor, which is beneficial due to its affordability, stressing that this is usually optimized for entry-level PC price points based on its Low Total Cost of Ownership (LTCO) and low power consumption, which is good for the nation’s environment.

Also, with increased reliability and durability because of the minimal cooling requirement, Mr. Werner said, VIA PCs minimize burden on electricity generation infrastructure.

He further said the platform offers rich functionality and performance between 1.0 and 1.5 GigaHertz equivalent, while the advanced digital media capabilities comes with three dimensional (3D) graphics, Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG-2) decoding and six-channel audio.

MPEG is the 1994 designation for a group of audio and video coding standards agreed upon by MPEG and published by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 13818 international standard.

On the connectivity features, he said, the PCs on this platform come along with enhanced connectivity options of 10/100 fast Ethernet and Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0, even as it is fully x86 compatible.

“This solution has the ability to run all the most popular computing, internet and entertainment applications,” he said, in addition to optimized security based on integrated VIA padlock co-processor 1.

Mr. Ojuri said his firm is into the partnership to optimize it for the sake of connecting Nigerians to the world through affordable PCs and internet access.

This interest was what motivated Juniper into this deal with VIA, saying his firm is ready for the physical take off of the partnership, hinting however, that the VIA laptop series would soon make a debut in the country, courtesy of the new firm, in whose name the PCs would be marketed, which he is yet to be made public.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

MTel appoints ICL interconnet partner

GLOBAL System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator, MTel, has appointed the Interconnect Clearinghouse Nigeria Limited (ICL) its interconnect exchange and clearing house as well as settlement partner.

This development came as the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), may be routing for a dual rate regime as the unified licensing scheme draws nearer, even as ICL has obtained 500 E1 lines.

A digital E1 line also called T1 in the Americas is equivalent to 24 normal external analog phone lines and affords businesses to make 24 simultaneous external calls, have high speed internet, or combination of phone lines and internet. This is dominantly deployed by service providers.

Champion Infotel gathered that ICL’s appointment as MTel’s partner for interconnect exchange and settlement, puts to rest the issue of how ready is ICL.

MTel in a letter to ICL endorsed by its chief executive, Mr. Edwin Moore Momife, dated August 25, 2005, and entitled ‘Application for Direct Interconnection with MTel’ said he was pleased to inform ICL management of the decision.

MTel, therefore requested telcos in the country to provide ICL access to terminate MTel traffic to and from their networks.

“Kindly note that our partnership with ICL would not in any way impede the quality of our service to your organization,” he said, stressing that telcos should liaise with ICL at its registered office at Marina, Lagos.

Meanwhile, the indication that ALTON is routing for dual rate was given by the chairman, ALTON, Chief Adebayo Akande, in a chat with Champion Infotel.

He said there is need to introduce dual rate into the nation’s telecom industry to enable local operators break even.

Dual rate involves the payment of the domestic equivalent on international calls that end within the shores of the country with a local operator.

“Which means, whatever is paid domestically should be paid for international calls ending in Nigeria, among the operators,” he said.On how this dual rate would be made a success, Chief Akande, who also is the chief executive of the Independent Telephone Network (ITN), said, there is need for every telco concerned to ensure adherence to corporate governance guidelines in order to make the dream a success.

Data Kit From Fixed Wireless Operator

Features of the week

Leading telecom operator, Starcomms, recently introduced ‘Mobile Data Card’ into the nation’s market. REMMY NWEKE examines the product in this report.

TO every Information and Communications Technology (ICT) enthusiast, data is a critical factor in the exchange of information, moreso in this 21st century.

Data role, therefore, in the information society means a lot to different people and at different times, but it matters most during emergencies in order to facilitate next line of action.

Defined as information or facts in a form that could be stored and used, according to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, data is regarded as catalyst for development policies in any given society, as said by the chief executive of Connect Technologies Limited, Mr. Chris Uwaje, adding that Nigeria cannot afford to be seen as lagging behind.

As a result, being online through the Internet affords anybody the advantage of having a huge data bank available 24 hours by seven days and 365 days in a year, as long as one is connected.

To achieve this critical dream of being accessible anytime, anywhere, a leading fixed wireless operator in the country, Starcomms Limited, recently came up with mobile data card for the public who are on the move and still want to keep in touch with the world of today.

Starcomms' mobile data card otherwise known as wireless internet card, fits into the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) - approved type two standard card slot which is available on most notebook PCs and functions as a wireless network card, a modem, and a mobile phone.

This card allows users to connect to the Internet, send and receive electronic messages and connect to corporate network as well as avails voice calls without the need for a network cable or phone line. PCMCIA is a non-profit trade association and standards body based in San Jose, California, with over 85 member companies globally, promoting PC card technology along with Miniature Card and Smart-Media cards by defining technical standards and educating the market.

Before now, cards were known as "PCMCIA Cards", but the industry now refers to products based on the technology as "PC Cards," "PC Card Hosts" and "PC Card Software," and refers to the association as PCMCIA.

This PC card comes in 85.6 millimeter (mm), 54.0 mm, 3.3 mm, with SRAM and flash memory.
SRAM is the industry abbreviation of Static Random Access Memory (SRAM), which in Computer Science is a form of semiconductor memory (RAM).

Static RAM storage is based on the logic circuit known as a flip-flop, which retains the information stored in it as long as there is enough power to run the device, while flash memory is another type of storage media that traps small amounts of electric charge in "wells" on the surface of a chip.

Speaking at the launch held at the 10th Nigerian International Telecommunications (NICOMM) exhibition in Lagos, Public Relations Manager, Starcomms, Ms Laura Johnson, informed that the product is a unique one that allows highly mobile and busy executives to browse the Internet, access their electronic mails (e-mails) and also receive and send text messages with their laptop and handheld Personal Computers (PCs), while on the go.

For the Marketing Director at Starcomms, Mr. Omar Lababidi, the new product has an average download speed of 80 kilo bits per second (kbps), which has capability to achieve most favorable speeds of about 140 kbps in a wireless environment and is compatible with Windows 98, NT4 (with SPA), 2000 and XP.

The 140 kbps is based on Starcomms' deployment of the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA 2000 1X), which is suitable multimedia content.

In addition, the Starcomms' boss enumerated two most important advantages derivable from the mobile data card as speed and convenience, stressing that the organization would not give up in its efforts at changing the face of telecoms in the country for good.

According to him, the Mobile Data Card does not require any special activation cost as the subscriber only needs to pay a one-off acquisition cost and subsequently a fixed monthly access charge that guarantees unlimited 24-hour access to the internet from any location within Starcomms' network coverage areas of Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri and soon the garden city of Port Harcourt and Ibadan.

He further said the introduction was consistent with the firm's leadership in product and service innovation, and was yet another indication of the company's resolve to deliver real value to its customers.

Inevitably, the product is for busy executives who could afford a laptop and who are constantly on the move but need to stay in touch, do some vital business research on the internet and send an e-mail urgently.

The director also said the features of the firm's mobile data card include the instant and reliable solution which enables users to be on top of their work and stay connected, just as users could access desirable information always at their disposal, thus adding mobile data capability to user's laptop or handheld PC.

On how it works, Mr. Lababidi explained it is easy to install as it has been structured into software compact disc and a mobile data card. "Slot the CD into your laptop and you are on," he declared, emphasizing that by this way, Starcomms' customers would get uninterrupted access to all the information they need, because there is no major connecting procedures, no need for dial up, and "just slot in and connect."

ITRealms gathered that in effect, the product being the first of its kind from any Private Telecom Operator (PTO) has other benefits including automatic set up, high speed connection, toll free, that is, no call charges, compatibility with most modern laptops, fast downloads, virus protection of which the telco promises attack update every 24 hours to avoid any system breakdown.

The company has introduced specialized device to give users the required freedom with several usage plans, on the network, including always on, business time, evenings and chat.

Starcomms currently has over 130,000 subscribers on its network covering Lagos, Kano and Maiduguri, and is reported to have about 1500 subscribers on its Internet precisely, as the telco plans to expand to Ibadan.

It was not surprise then the company was voted "Best Telephone Company of the Year 2004 (Fixed Wireless)" at the last Nigerian Information Technology and Telecoms Awards (NITTA 2004).

As the industry continues to grow and get better, industry watchers lauded the Starcomms' data available option, while other PTOs are expected to come up with more innovative products.