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Monday, November 28, 2005

MTS goes to Abeokuta

IN a landmark move, pioneer wireless phone operator, MTS First Wireless, weekend, went live in Abeokuta, capital of Ogun State with the commissioning of its new Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA2000 1X) network.

This would enable subscribers on the Abeokuta MTS network to be on numbering scheme of 039-70 XXXXX.
Head, Corporate Affairs at MTS, Mr. Reuben Muoka, disclosed this, saying that the launch of the company’s second service area network is coming barely a month of resumption of the new CEO of the company, Mr. Dem Eleso who had promised a rapid expansion of the MTS network.

This addition, he said, coincided with the coronation ceremonies of the Alake of EgbaLand, Oba Michael Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.

MTS also becomes the First among the private telecoms operators to launch
services in Abeokuta, Ogun State.


The chief executive also pointed out that initially, a limited service area of Egbaland, Abeokuta, will be available while services would be extended to other areas as soon as possible.

"We are excited about this development which marks not only the First, but a significant step in taking the MTS footprint outside Lagos and its environs", Mr. Eleso said.

He said the roll out presents a significant opportunity for MTS stakeholders, especially the potential subscribers in Abeokuta who will begin to enjoy the kind of affordable wireless telephony and Internet services currently being enjoyed by MTS subscribers in Lagos.

Mr. Eleso also said it is the new vision of the new MTS to let subscribers
outside Lagos to experience the affordable services offered by MTS in
Nigeria.


He said subscribers using MTS services in Lagos could now travel to Abeokuta by roaming their lines, while those entering Lagos from Abeokuta can do the same, as the two networks will offer the same quality of voice, SMS and Internet services.

Currently, MTS offers integrated telephony services including wireless voice telephony and Internet services using desktop and mobile phone handsets.

APC backs NICOMM-05

End-to-end global power solution provider for infrastructure, American Power Conversion (APC) sponsored the closing cocktail at the just ended 11th edition of the annual International Telecom Exhibition and Conference (NICOMM 2005), in Lagos.

NICOMM is organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) to showcase and keep tab on investment opportunities in the nation’s telecommunications sector and consider ways of harnessing the great potentials in the industry.

The three-day event rounded off with a cocktail at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos was facilitated by APC.

The expo which enabled industry operators to showcase their products and services to the market,created further awareness for new products and services in the sector.

District manager for Nigeria and Ghana at APC, Mr. Charles Iyo, while encouraging participants on optimisation of the company’s InfraStruXure offering, said it enables organisations to increase availability, improve adaptability and speed of deployment as well as lower total cost of ownership (TCO) within their Information Technology (IT) environments.

He explained that InfraStruXure is an on-demand architecture for network-critical physical infrastructure (NCPI).

The InfraStruXure design, according to him, integrates power, cooling, rack, management and services, allows the selection of standardised, modular components to create a customised solution.

Country General Manager for Africa at APC, Mr. Carl Kleynhans also noted that businesses across Africa are adopting APC’s InfraStruXure offering to flexibly add capacity as the company grows.

"This allows organisations to purchase only what is needed at present while still permitting future growth," Mr. Kleynhans said.

Stressing that, InfraStruXure allows IT managers should choose from a number of standardised components to create a customised solution.

"This approach provides the reliability, affordability and predictability of standardised solutions, yet is completely customised to meet their specific needs," he said.

Glo mobile adds new communities

Globacom, the Second National Operator, (SNO) has taken its services to more towns in Delta, Niger and Bayelsa states.

A step which SNO described as part of its objective to bring telephony to all Nigerians in cities and hinterlands.

This follows the switching on of Globacom’s base stations in Ozoro, Ororokpe, Emevon, Eku, Obiaruku, Oleh, Agbarha-Otor, Ofuma and Kwale in Delta State while those in Wushishi and Brass in Niger and Bayelsa states respectively also became operational a few days ago.In a press statement made available to Business Champion from Globacom, additionally the operator is now live in Alkeri, Bara and Akko along Bauchi-Gombe road.

Business Champion recalls that in Bayelsa state, Glo recently rolled out in Kaiama, Amasoma and Opoku .

Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Globacom, Mr. Mohammed Jameel said the firm’s activities hinged on patriotism, enhanced value proposition and empowerment of the people.

"We are proud of our modest contributions to the socio-economic progress in the country, particularly in the area of job creation, provision of telecom services and social responsibility constructs," he said.

Stressing that this is a self-appointed task and Globacom is determined to remain on that path of honor.

"We are challenged to seize the initiative to help appoint a new direction for our fatherland. Our vision is to build a truly Nigerian company … the biggest and best in the continent." "Our modest strides in barely two years of operations portend greater heights for Globacom and indeed Nigeria", Mr. Jameel said.

With this development, Glo mobile has now recorded coverage of 32 states nationwide and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

Globacom also said, plans have advanced for the remaining four states to be launched soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

United by digital divide

Features of the week:

Indications are rift that African initiative, the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) is increasingly gaining global attention, moreso, uniting the Least Developing Countries (LDCs), reports Remmy Nweke.


On March 14, 2005, when the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) was formally launched by the President of the federal republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in his capacity as the chairman of the African Union (AU), many were assertions in support and against the initiative.


With successful end of the second phase of the World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS-2005) in Tunisia, weekend, indications showed its attracting more support, especially from developing countries of the world.

What this single step of the launch signified was that more political interest have been clamouring for support of this African initiative, which was proclaimed by the Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade at the first phase of WSIS.

The desire to see a new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) order within the New Partnership for Development in Africa (NEPAD) was the obvious spirit behind the proclamation.

Partnership that works

At the end of the first phase of WSIS held in Geneva between December 10 and 12, 2003 the initiative committee was formed and made up of the President of Senegal himself, the Mayor of Geneva, Mr. Christian Ferrazino, the Mayor of Lyon, Mr. Gerard Collomb, and the president of the Province of Torino, and member of European Parliament, Ms Mercedes Bresso.

Borne out of the aspiration to advance this emerging technologies beyond developed countries and to ensure that truly new society based on Information Society (IS) takes root in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) like in Africa by transforming the public and private sectors while creating a new social, political, economic and cultural opportunities worldwide.

Projections are that this digital revolution if not well checked, will leave out millions of men and women, otherwise described as the ‘info poor’ behind, thus excluding great majority of those residing in developing countries as well as in rural areas.

All inclusive society

According to the DSF secretariat, economic sociological studies have shown that in many countries, the digital divide represents a factor of exclusion from global exchange processes, in essence restricting the development of intellectual capital and slowing down economic growth.

It also described digital divide as dangerously increasing the lack of understanding between cultures and civilizations. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reports on the failings of technological changes to empower the developing world, warned against ever-growing disparities between affluent nations and those lacking basic skills, resources, and infrastructure.

Most of the world’s population lacks basic access to a telephone line, let alone to a computer, while entire societies are marginalised at the periphery of communication networks.


And in the bid to abridge the growth of digital disparities between
and within countries, the declarations of intent obviously made at the first phase was reportedly not enough, hence the endorsement of Plan of Action.
Therefore urgent action, is needed to respond to the shortage of basic equipment; investment in computer literacy and extending the reach of information flows represented in immense undertaking as well as core collaboration among stakeholders through a solidarity effort between cities, regions, states, civil society and the private sector.

However, as a move to complement existing national international financial resources, the creation of a world Digital Solidarity Fund based on voluntary contributions and operating in prompt and transparent manner becomes an appropriate response to the uneven distribution and use of ICTs.

The mission of the fund according to DSF secretariat would be to promote and finance development projects that will enable ‘excluded’ people and countries to return to the center stage of information society.

Support

In recent past, supports have come from some 20 members including government, regional organisations, cities and localities as well as international agencies through the African Union (AU) at the summit of African Heads of States held at Addis Ababa, July 2004 among others.

Currently, the foundation board comprises about 33 members with 15 to 20 others co-opted for a period of three years term. They come in equal numbers from three colleges in a tripartite representation.

Benefit

In order to benefit from DSF, candidates basically by countries would be selected on criterion set aside by the DSF secretariat, which consist of 60 per cent of its resources to be channeled on populations of least developed countries.

Also, 30 per cent of the total resources would be targeted at populations of developing countries and 10 per cent serving the nations in transition.

On the other hand, projects eligible to benefit particularly from DSF must be aimed at developing the good use of ICTs within communities ‘excluded’ from the development of ICT networks; while priority must be on women’s associations, youth or groups with specific needs such as people with disabilities, indigenous people, among others.

Gaining status

By the time WSIS ended Friday, November 18 in Tunis, DSF has gained more status of support with prominent among them being Nigeria’s redemption of its pledge of 500,000 Euros (about N76,380,882.16), to the initiative, and promised to provide office spaces for its African regional headquarters to be sited in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

President of Global DSF, Mr. Guy-Olivier Segond, was full of praises for supporting countries like Nigeria, Senegal, Cities of Lyon and Geneva as well as Dominican Republic, who was represented by the first lady of the country, Mrs. Margarita Cedeno de Fernandez.

Most interesting at the DSF function during WSIS-05, was the
electronically wrapping of Senegal’s official data in a 2.0 Universal Serial Bus (USB) with her national colours deep green-yellow-red.
Definitely the African initiative is not only gaining global attention but is gradually rejuvenating the way development responses should be made to the developing countries, especially using ICTs.

Nigerian youth wins WSIS award

Eighteen years old Nigerian, Samuel Oloyede Odofin, has emerged the second prize winner for the development category of the World Summit Youth Award (WSYA) held as part of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society WSIS-05 in Tunis.

His emergence was based on the entry, Biotechnology: The
Food solution (www.odofin.com).

The campaign he started three years ago, had earlier grabbed awards such as the Microsoft unlimited potential motandao Afrika Internet challenge, resource site awards, golden web award and the cable and wireless childnet academy awards.

The project which was described as an interactive website designed according to the award organisers, was to raise awareness on the use of agricultural biotechnology in combating food shortages and insecurity in Africa.

Managed from the city of Kaduna in northern Nigeria, Odofin’s project scaled through amidst 299 others from over 70 countries of the world.

Speaking to Champion Infotel afterwards, Odofin said he was honoured when the information came that he won the award, which he saw as a privilege and opportunity.

"I felt extremely honored when I was informed that I was one of the
best multimedia developers in the world. I looked at it first as a privilege and secondly as an opportunity to tell the world that good things still comes out of the slum," he asserted.
Award organisers, the International Centre for New Media (ICNM), said that the exercise was put in place to inspire internet content from innovative youth of the world.

Project manager of ICNM, Mr. Thomas Biebl, disclosed that the award has availed them the opportunity to see online music communities, digital design training for slum youth, interactive gaming platforms e-learning flash applications and an HIV/AIDS information portal to name just a few.

The top three projects, he explained, in each WSYA category were focused on development, creativity and culture as well as community engagement.
He stressed, it is a global initiative to select and promote the world’s best in e-Content and creativity.

Nine firms partner InterSwitch on POS, issues 1.2m debit cards

LEADING electronic trans- action switching and payments processing company, InterSwitch Limited has named nine local companies as partners for the deployment of electronic fund transfer at the Point-of-Sale (POS).

Managing Director of InterSwitch, Mr.. Mitchell Elegbe said, those
who made the list were respondents to its recent advertorial for application on Independent Service Organisation (ISOs).


He gave the names of the nine companies to include Caplink, Capital Partners Financial Products, Ecco Solutions, Electronics Playplus, ETopNG, Paycycle, PayMaster, PayStream and SWAP.

The appointment, he said, was in line to drive the nation into a cash-less society.
"Of the 13 companies hat applied, nine of them have fully met all the requirements," he said.

The appointees, Mr. Elegbe said, are now fully certified ISOs, noting that they would work in consonance with acquiring banks on the InterSwitch network in deploying online POS terminals to all merchant locations where payments are made and received.

He explained that they would also train the merchant’s employees on the use of the POS terminal and other support services as may be required from time to time.

InterSwitch boss further said that his firm would carry out transactions routing and processing in addition to effective reporting and settlement to all transacting parties and provide call center/helpdesk support as well as status information on all the terminals connected to the switch.

Mr. Elegbe said that by partnering these ISOs is to add value to
merchants via the deployment of the POS terminals is in the spirit of National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS).

His firm’s strength, he said, resides in transaction switching and payment processing, just as the company has abundance mentality as far as electronic payment is concerned, which has influenced its partnering with organisations like ATMC Limited and the banks for ATM deployment.

According to him, in the last 10 months, InterSwitch has achieved substantial growth, integrating 33 banks while successfully working to expand the payment channels on its network.

This facilitated the real-time issuance of 1.2 million Nigeria debit cards on its network.
"Over 1,561,109 individual transactions have been processed by the network," he declared.

Emphasising that it is an indication Nigerians are beginning to respond favourably to basic electronic financial transactions.

SIMS dangles incentive on Samsung dealers

MAJOR distributor of Samsung Electronics product in the country, SIMS Nigeria Limited, would soon introduce new packages for its dealers nationwide.

SIM said the incentives would form part of the 2006 marketing strategy according to the chairman, Chief Simeon Eyisi.

He revealed this in an address to the SIMS and Samsung’s dealers nite held Monday in Lagos.

He expressed thanks for the support SIMS has enjoyed from its
dealers nationwide, and enjoined them to continue in that stead for joint growth of all the parties, and the national economy.

SIMS, he said, would contract them individually to discuss the details of the new incentive to come.

Also speaking, country Managing Director for Samsung, Mr. James You, who was accompanied by the Manager, CDM Trading Coy Limited based in Korea, Mr. Y.M. Lee, said, he was proud of Samsung’s in roads in the nation’s market.

He appealed to the dealers to be consistent on their patronage of Samsung Electronics products, saying by that way, they would also break even.

To further facilitate this and importance of the Nigeria market
paved the way for setting up the country office in Lagos, he said.

Manager, Home Appliance at Samsung Nigeria, Mr. Yomi Lawal, said the firm’s new television set soon to be available in the market has a better and higher resolution against the Plasma Digital Product (PDP).

He gave the name of the new product as Digital Light Process (DLP) and enjoined dealers to tap into as it's better than PDP products.

Other guest at the dealers nite include Barrister (Mrs) B. Eyisi, wife of SIMS’ chairman, and Manager, Audio Visual and Information Technology (IT) at Samsung Nigeria, Mr. Chidiebere Nworgu, as well as Mr. Endy Nwogu of SIMS among others.

Nokia, Grameen collaborate for African villages

Mobile telecommunication giant, Nokia, and United States-based Grameen Foundation have announced collaboration at the just ended second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-05) in Tunisia for empowering rural African villages.

Michelle Tennant of Grameen, informed that the partnership would bring about affordable, accessible telecommunications to rural villages on the continent through micro-financing, built on the GF’s global village phone initiative, which helps rural people to start self-sustaining businesses.

"Access to affordable and reliable telecommunications services are
life line for rural communities and a critical part of overall
development,"
Tennant, who is media contact for foundation said.

Pointing out though that the costs of mobile phones and services have fallen significantly, the initial investment needed to get connected remains one of the most valuable huddles to expanding communication services in these areas.

"By providing the necessary cash, micro-finance has proven to be a powerful tool in overcoming this barrier. With tiny loans, financial services and mobile technology, village phone provides affordable access in a sustainable manner," Tennant explained.

According to the GF official, the collaboration between the two was designed to accelerate efforts to make universal access, particularly in rural areas of Africa a reality.

Stressing that as part of this effort, Nokia and GFUSA jointly
developed a solution based on Nokia’s most affordable phones and an external antenna to serve rural communities in Uganda and Rwanda.

Tennant also quoted the Director, Business Development and Industry Marketing at Nokia’s Entry Business Unit, Mr. Antonio Torres as saying that a mile stone was achieved last September with the achievement of two billion mobile subscriptions in some rural areas.

"Rural connectivity will play a major role in reaching the next billion subscribers and ultimately connecting half the world. Nokia is proud to collaborate with GFUSA on this significant initiative," Torres said.

Omatek, proudly Nigerian @ WSIS-05


Interview:

Omatek Computers Limited was the only Nigerian ICT company that showcased at the just concluded World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-05) held in Tunisia. General Manager, Yomi Soyinka explains in a chat with REMMY NWEKE, why Omatek is proudly a Nigerian company.

Tell us briefly about your company?
Omatek Computers Limited is assemblers and manufacturers of computer hardware and home entertainment products in Nigeria.

So what are you doing in Tunis?
We are here as part of the Nigerian delegation to showcase our products to the whole world and it is part of our resume in letting the world know and how far we have gone in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) wise.

Are you getting the right response?
Yes, we are getting very good response from delegates from other countries attending this summit.

What is your message to other companies in Nigeria who are not here?
First of all, my message is to the government of Nigeria to continuously create an enabling environment for companies like ours to come up and like us who are aspiring to come up to the level that is obtainable in the advancing countries.

They should endeavour to ensure that they do it with all vigour and sense of purpose, so that Nigeria can get to a stage whereby we would be able to turn our products to the rest of the world and maybe rank side by side with foreign products that are notable for their genuineness and durability.

Specifically, what are your words for companies like Omatek but exist in Nigeria, what advice do you have for them?
Well, they should come up like the way we are trying to do too in the area of ingenuity, product compatibility when it comes to foreign brands and they should be able to sit down and work out ways of how to run side by side with products that are well known in the world.

Nigeria restrategises IT policy for implementation - Olatunji

Interview:

Please could you tell us what exactly is happening here at the Nigerian Pavilion?

Yes and thank you very much. You know that we in Nigeria have an Information Technology (IT) policy which my organization, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is implementing. And what we are trying to do is to work closely with all stakeholders in the area of ICT development in Nigeria.

On this WSIS, we have been in close collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and we have a national committee on WSIS.

What you are seeing here is what we are trying to showcase as part of what is happening in this area of ICT and that is what we are telling the whole world at WSIS.

What do you think of the entire WSIS process up till this stage?

Like I was discussing with somebody yesterday, I said that the WSIS process is really worth it, especially for the developing world, but we should not stop at this summit alone at the discussion level.

The main thing we can say we are taking away from the summit is implementation. If we are able to implement and catch up with the rest of the world, that is when we can yes, it has really been successful.

So, how ready would you say that Nigeria is as far as the implementation is concerned?

As you know, the issue of ICT involves all stakeholders, but the most important thing when we get back home is that NITDA being the main driver of IT policy implementation in Nigeria, would need to get all stakeholders together and to know who does what.

We would also allocate duties to every organization among the stakeholders, both those in the private sector and public sector as well.

I am sure that by the time we complete this phase, every body would now have a role to play and be involved, because it is not what the government alone cannot do and it is not what NITDA can do alone either. All of us have to join hands and do it together.

Do you think that the private sector is cooperating?

I think it depends on what you mean by that. For instance, if you really look at IT development in Nigeria before NITDA came onboard; the private sector has been there and very active too.

What we are to do in government is just to facilitate and to act as catalyst to whatever we want to do. May be in terms of policy issues, saying, these are policy issues we are supposed to put in place to ensure that these people putting their money into these things for IT development in Nigeria and they have been cooperative so far.

So, you are positive about implementation of whatever comes out of WSIS-05 in Nigeria?

I am very, very positive that we are going to gain a lot from this WSIS process in Nigeria as a country.

How many Nigerian companies are with you in this Pavilion?

Well, there is only one say company from Nigeria, because what we are trying to do is that for instance, in the area of IT, we have about five companies’ assembling IT equipment in Nigeria and they are not coming here per say to sell, but to say yes, this is doable and possible in Nigeria.

So this company is representing the other companies in Nigeria and if you are saying this Omatek, it is this and that in Nigeria; we have four other companies that are doing the same thing.

That is the main thing and not the number of people that you are bringing to the exhibition or WSIS, but simply to say that we have a stand and we are telling the world what we are doing down in Nigeria.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Utsumi satisfied with Tunisia as WSIS ends


As the second phase of first ever UN summit ends in Tunis, Secretary General of ITU felt satisfied, despite non-resolution of many issues.

The second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-2005) ended Friday with the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Mr. Yoshio Utsumi expressing satisfaction over the organization of the phase in Tunisian capital, Friday.

First ever UN in phases
WSIS is the first United Nations summit to be held in two phases. The first was held two years ago in Geneva between December 10 and 12, 2003.
Addressing journalists to announce the end of the three-day second phase at the Kram PalExpo media center, Mr. Utsumi said that the host country made a lot of efforts to ensure that the phase was a success.

Satisfied with Tunisia
“Tunisia made a lot of effort and their work would be commended. I am sure all participants would appreciate their work. So I am very satisfied,” he declared.
Mr. Utsumi also called for more cool meetings devoid of rancour mostly concerning internet governance considering that stakeholders have various agenda as concerns this issue.

Unsolved divide
He accepted that though the summit was not enough to address all the burning issues in bridging the gap between the ‘haves and have nots’, and called for continuous networking among participants and stakeholders.
“This is not enough to improve the situation (digital divide), but a simple declaration on the use of ICT for these objectives, and I believe we would constantly work together to achieve these,” he said.

Affordable education
The scribe stressed that the need to use technologies for a better life is the thing that would make the difference, especially beginning with affordable education.
In terms of the outcome, he said, there are many references to education and it should be a co-operation and the summit alone cannot solve the issue of policy advancement to help government in developing countries in the implementation process.

West widening the gap
He pointed out that many political leaders from the west did not attend the summit, saying, but admitted that the highest political leaders from Western countries were quite limited in presence.
“But at the same time, at the first phase we did not have a lot of CEOs but at this second phase we have a lot of them and they come to this summit mostly at the parallel events. So the understanding by the private sector is increasing,” he said.
Mr. Utsumi noted, for instance, that the western countries consider grants as humanitarian activities maintaining that support for ICT is not the same as humanitarian activities, declaring “it is different.
He emphasised that the summit is a chance for developed and developing countries to have an equal opportunities.
He also said that there is no penalty for those countries that maybe indifferent to the Tunis commitment, but they have to catch up.

Nigeria to get Internet Exchange point soon

Imperative of Internet Exchange point was glaring to some political leaders as the second phase of summit ends in Tunis, including Nigeria.

Nigeria to get Internet Exchange soon

President Olusegun Obasanjo has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that the nation gets its own Internet Exchange as soon as possible.
This is coming as the London’s Internet Exchange (LINX), has thrown its weight behind the United Nations organized World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) which ends in Tunis, Friday over creation of multi-internet exchange points.

No exchange point yet

President Obasanjo who was in Tunis for the second phase of WSIS gave this directive after a session on Internet Exchange point and infrastructural development.
According to the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, who disclosed this to newsmen in Tunis after a session on Global Symposium for Regulators, said his office would do every thing possible to meet with the presidential directive.
Although he did not give a definite date when this would take off, Ndukwe also said that the exchange would boost Internet usability in the country and lower the cost of access to the populace.
Nigeria has witnessed evolutions in various aspects of the Information and Communications Technologies in last five years, but has not Internet exchange point.

What is Internet Exchange point
Internet Exchange Point is defined as a physical network infrastructure operated by a single entity whose purpose is to facilitate the exchange of Internet traffic between ISPs and it entails a minimum of there ISPs connected to each other.

LINX
Meanwhile, one of the world’s largest peering points, with about 200 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and content network providers (CNP), the London’s Internet Exchange, has given support to the resolution made on the management of the Internet at the WSIS.
LINX, which on October 19 this year, became the first Internet Exchange in history to carry 100 Giga bits (Gbs) of traffic, agreed with Article 50B of WSIS on “Tunis Agenda,” calling for the strategic development of Internet Exchange Points to ensure affordable global connectivity and to improve equitable access for all.

Reinforcement
Sales and Marketing Manager of LINX, Ms. Vanessa Evans, said her organization welcomed the recommendation for creating national, sub-regional and regional Internet Exchange Points (IXPs).
“It directly reinforces the importance of the LINX business model. LINX has a rich history, as a founding member of EuroIX for supporting and developing local Exchange Points,” she said.
Ms Evans noted that IXP development is critical in areas such as Eastern Europe and Africa, where Exchanges foster local markets and enables digital inclusion.

Very pleased
Also, Regulation Director at LINX, Mr. Malcolm Hutty, said they are pleased that the importance of IXP development has been recognised and reinforced by the Tunis Agenda.
“Over the coming months and beyond, we will continue our ongoing efforts to reach out to regional IXPs, in order to offer our mutual support, experience and technical expertise,” he said.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

NITDA to restrategise IT policy for WSIS outcome

Remmy Nweke in Tunis

Beyond WSIS, Nigeria is planning to re-orientate its stakeholders for implementation of outcome.
Head, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) liaison office in Lagos and officer-in-charge of the Nigeria’s pavilion at the on-going second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-05), Mr. Vincent Olatunji, has said the nation would through the agency restrategise its Information Technology (IT) policy to ensure implementation according to the outcome of the summit.

Nigeria's IT Policy
NITDA is the parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology overseeing the implementation of Nigeria’s IT policy which came into being since 2001.

Mr. Olatunji said that what his agency is trying to do is to act as catalyst by working closely with stakeholders in view of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) development in the country.

Collaboration
He also said that NITDA has been in close contact with the Ministry of Communications, even as there is a national committee on WSIS.

“What you are seeing at this pavilion is what we are trying to showcase as part of revolution happening in this area of ICT and that is what we are telling the whole world at WSIS” he declared.

He pointed out that the issue of ICT involves all stakeholders’ collaboration, hence NITDA is planning to restrategise by ways of getting stakeholders together at end of this summit to know who is doing what currently.

“We would also allocate duties to every organization among the stakeholders, both those in the private and public sectors respectively,” he said.

Only Nigerian company @ WSIS
Also speaking, the General Manager of Omatek Computers Limited, the only Nigerian firm at the stand, Mr. Yomi Soyinka, tasked government to ensure continuous improvement on the enabling environment.

This, he said, would pave the way towards making Nigerian products compatible with foreign brands.

Stressing that why his firm is showcasing at WSIS-05 is to let delegates from other countries of the world know what efforts are being made by Nigerian firms towards bridging the divide and to enable them rank side-by-side with notable products in the world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nigeria, Egypt, four others lead benefactors of $100 laptop

Most populous nation in the black continent has been listed as first beneficiaries of the initiative to reduce the digital divide among developing countries through cheap laptops.

NIGERIA has been chosen along five other countries of the world, as the initial benefactors of the One-Laptop-One-Child initiative, says the chairman of the initiative, Prof. Nicholas Negroponte.

Other countries, according to him, are Egypt, India, Brazil/Argentina, China, and Thailand.
Making this disclosure at a media session Wednesday in Tunis, Prof. Negroponte accompanied by Mrs. MaryLov Jepsen and Mr. Alan Key, top members of the initiative, said that Nigeria is one of the six nations designated for the distribution of the initial $100 laptops through the governments.

Initial distribution of this model of laptops is expected by first quarter of next year, as he hoped that the Nigerian authorities would buy into the idea although interest has been shown by the government.

Why we partner with govts
Prof. Negroponte, who said he was in Nigeria last week, also noted though dealing with governments strictly is difficult, but the concept is because the laptops are slated for usage in improving standards of education mostly in developing countries.

“This is because education is a public good,” he said, stressing that it does not make sense to deal with people who are keen on making profits.

Emphasizing that open source is the best thing that could happen to the initiative as it would boost the project penetration.

UN support for $100 laptop
In his remarks on the initiative, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Mr. Kofi Annan, said that it is inspiring in many respects as much as it is impressive technical achievement.

“It is impressive technical achievement, able to do almost everything that larger, more expensive computers could do. It holds the promise of major advances in economic and social development,” he said.

He also lauded Prof. Negroponte and his team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States.

Nigeria’s interest
Speaking exclusively to correspondent, member of the board of the project in-charge of Nigeria’s phase from the Club of Rome, Mr. Roland Burger, revealed that President Olusegun Obasanjo had earlier on Wednesday accosted him, demanding to know when the laptops would be visible in Nigerian schools.

Mr. Burger accompanied by executive committee member of the Club, Prof. Raoul Weiler, said due to the interest shown by the president and his minister in Tunisia, at the second phase of World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-05), a meeting has been scheduled between them and the Nigerian top government officials.

Strengthening the interest
This team, he said, would comprise the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Turner Isoun and Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, and would be this Friday, to strengthen the drive for the computer which mass production is scheduled early next year.

“The president is active and has indicated interest that he would like to have the $100 laptops as soon as possible,” he said, even as the project team is expected in Nigeria next week to further discussion on the initiative.

Note for sale
Noteworthy, however, is that the $100 laptops is not yet in production and will not be available for sale to the public, but only be distributed to schools directly through large government initiatives.

No one has come to takeover ICANN’s role – Annan

Following pressures to know the fate of the Internet after the on-going three-day summit on Information Society in Tunis, the secretary general of United Nations (UN), Mr. Kofi Annan, has made it clear that no one has come to the second phase with intension to take-over the role of ICANN.

In a press conference Wednesday at the Kram PalExpo, Mr. Annan said that he did not envisage anyone has come to the summit with such notion in mind, especially the management of the internet.

“I don’t think that no one came to this summit to takeover the role of management of the Internet or that of the ICANN” he said.

Mr. Annan also thinks that the role of managing the technical aspect of the Internet root servers should be left to technical institutions.

“Lets assume that it is another country other than US, lets assume that it is Germany, do you think US would fold its hands. But what we are saying is that there should be a multi stakeholders’ participation,” he explained.

As for the likelihood of the Internet Governance coming up in the global summit, he said, that he would not give any definite answer to that, but “I think it should be given an opportunity to succeed”.

”As for the issue to come up again, I would not give you any answer but think it should be given an opportunity to succeed” he said.

On Internet access restriction in the host country of the second phase, Mr. Annan pointed out that the opportunity to host this event is an added advantage, because there is no longer doubts if Internet access is restricted in some countries, hence the summit is opening up this access via discussions.

“As I said earlier, that internet access is limited is of concern to every one here to discuss the issue because we are interested in internet access opening up” he said.

He maintained that since 2003, there has been some achievement in the area of deployment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), which he listed to include improved number of access to internet, mobile telephone, tele-medicine and many others.

He did not foresee another summit on Information Society, at least, for now but there could be some review mechanism to be put in place, probably after five years.

“What is important is that your ideas and views are taken into consideration and it is the responsibility of those in government to fashion this views, otherwise there would be additional pressures,” he asserted.

Nigeria redeems pledge to DSF

Nigeria has redeemed its pledge to contribute the sum of 500,000 Euros (about N76,380,882.16), to the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF), just as the nation is ready to provide office space for the regional office of DSF.

President Olusegun Obasanjo disclosed this while speaking at the DSF session held at the on-going World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-2005), in Tunis.

Chief Obasanjo, who also is the chairman of the African Union (AU), said that the fund pledge was made in Geneva during the inauguration of DSF in March this year.

“During the inauguration of the DSF in Geneva, I pledged a
contribution of E500,000. This has been redeemed,” he declared.

In addition, his government has pledged to provide regional office for the DSF in Africa at the nation’s seat of power, Abuja and that office space to this effect, has been discussed with the President of DSF, Mr. Guy Olivier Segond, whom he noted, was in the country last week.

“I am happy to inform that Nigeria would provide the DSF with the assistance required for the immediate take-off of the regional office” he said.

He pointed out that the office when off the ground would have the task of mobilizing support for DSF in Africa as well as project monitoring and implementation.

According to him, the responses so far, on DSF has been on the increase and there is need for the board of governors to be constituted early and for more information on the objectives, funding sources, disbursement and management to be made available.

This is especially important to the rural communities that are the main targets of the fund’s project, who he said, would like to know to access the fund’s projects.

“I am confident that the DSF would be a catalyst and make significant contributions to help achieve a win-win situation for the goals and objectives we have set for ourselves at the Geneva and Tunis phases of the WSIS,” he said.

Meanwhile, one minute silent was observed to honour the Nigeria’s late first lady, Chief Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, who died recently in Spain during a surgery.

Utsumi optimistic about outcome of WSIS-05

Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Mr. Yoshio Utsumi, has expressed optimism on the outcome of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-05) taking place in Tunis, the Tunisian capital.

Mr. Utsumi at a press conference Tuesday evening at the Kram PalExpo center in Tunis said that 173 countries’ ministers would be at the three-day event which begins Wednesday and last through Friday, November 18.

He said that the level of preparation is satisfactory, even as he expects the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) to succeed.

According to him, DSF is focused on supporting local government contributions which he expects to grow from its baby stage.

“We count on local governments to make contributions and its still a baby and must be nurtured to become a big tree,” he said.

Mr. Utsumi also recalls that about 70 per cent of the goals set at the beginning of the first phase have been achieved.

Stressing that when the idea of the summit started, it was hard to convince any of the heads of governments on the goals, saying he was glad that now the aims are being passionately proclaimed by these political leaders and even better than he could do.

“When ITU started this (process), no head of states want to listen, but now they speak about it eloquently more than me, meaning they are committed to this programme,” he explained.
On the raging fate of the Internet Governance, he said, that now IG is transparent because people are interested on how it is managed.

“May be like some opted, every one has to interconnect with each other like in the telecoms network,” he asserted.

Noting that over 8,000 villages are unconnected worldwide with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and in order to connect them, a budget of about $1 billion is needed annually to support this course.

He also disclosed that about 50 heads of states are expected to grace the occasion, with estimated 30 coming from developing countries.

The scribe additionally said he look forward to a concrete mechanism, although many advanced countries were not keen on concrete implementation mechanism, but the least developing countries were concerned.

“I am expecting however, as much as possible a concrete mechanism,” he told newsmen, emphasizing that mere talking to each other by stakeholders, is very important to ITU.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

‘Media needs funding … HA is beyond ICT coverage’

Internet as a new media is posing threats to the ‘old’ media with unpredictable future, reports Remmy Nweke at WSIS 2005 ground.

MEDIA as an agent of change would require public funding to survive in the next decades to come, says chief executive of Malaysiakini.com, Mr. Premesh Chandran.

Just as the motivator of the Highway Africa (HA) project at Rhodes University, Grahamstown-South Africa, Prof. Guy Berger, said that the initiative is not only interested in the coverage of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), through its Highway Africa News Agency (HANA).

Mr. Chandran and Prof. Berger made their views known as panelist in a session at the on-going second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS 2005) holding in Tunis, the Tunisian capital.

Other members of the panel included a German political scientist, Ms Jeanette Hofmann, who works for the Social Science Research Center Berlin and the founder of the Grassroots Media Inc based in the United States (US), Mr. Dan Gillmor.

Internet as threat
The Malaysian media chief said at the session tagged, “How does the Internet change journalism?” that the call has become pertinent due to the threat by the new media, pointing out that the Internet, for instance, has paved the way for both the old and new media to converge.

He noted that Internet journalism especially the ‘citizen journalism’ makes journalists to be responsible to their citizens.

This is because reactions to online stories could come in minutes rather than taking days as in the case of traditional media.

He also said at the event co-chaired by Messrs Luckson Chipare and Werner Eggert, that journalism is increasingly becoming a public good, which is confusing, but added that modern journalism is a shared space.

“Journalists need to be creative in order to be part of the media in convergence,” he said.
Therefore, he said, the media needs support to be able to deliver most of its expectations from the public.

Beyond ICT reporting
Prof. Guy Berger, on the other hand, said that HANA, is beyond reporting on ICT and Information Society (IS), emphasizing that the use of information for development also counts in the organisation’s priority.

Berger who was discussing the recent study of Highway Africa on African media coverage of ICT policies, lamented the anticipated absence of media in this area.

“African media websites are very weak, sometimes they are updated and some times it takes week,” he declared.

He stressed that journalists in the newsroom need to play catch-up to be able to compete with their colleagues in the coverage of international events, especially on ICT and information society.

Prof. Berger summed up by saying that African media also needs education, sensitization, access to the internet and skills.

Ms. Hofmann, said, Internet Governance requires cross national political solutions, even as Internet is the only media not controlled at the national levels.

Legitimacy
She called for legitimacy and accountability in practicing the profession, saying that only then would journalists live up to the expectation as one of the bridges between the people and technology.

“Journalists are those who would build on the Information Society,” she said, describing Information Society as “imagined communities”.

Self regulation
Mr. Gillmor in his contributions said that modern journalism should be based on the order of positive consciousness of individual practitioners.

He maintained that control over ‘citizen journalism’ otherwise known as bloggers has been generating heat and advocated that it be allowed to regulate itself, than government marshalling out regulations.

Taxi driver's impression of WSIS-05


Arriving Tunis from Berlin-Germany early on Sunday morning could pass for one of those flight’s odd timing which affords visitors only a short sleep before the day fully breaks.
It became more interesting when you discover that even a taxi driver has his own impression of foreigners and indeed the world gathering in the soil of Tunis.
And as the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-2005) gains momentum in the host country’s capital, Tunis, most Taxi drivers in the city are also looking forward to a booming business week.
Taxi drivers in Tunis are very vibrant especially if you really want to see the city in and out, although their charges are costly when considering the exchange rate of the country’s Dinar currency, which is almost at par with the United Sates Dollar.
Most taxi drivers’, who spoke to correspondent on WSIS, said they were excited about the summit and what it would bring for the citizens of Tunisia.
One of them, Mr. Sadoq Ahmed informed that he learnt about the summit through the promotions given it on the state-owned electronic media such as television and radio.
The man in his 50s, said that he expects good business during the week, especially from 16 to 18 of November, 2005.
According to him, he heard about the summit from a local TV station.
He also said that the report indicated that about 17,000 participants from various countries of the world would be in Tunis for the summit.
Mr. Sadoq went on to say that the Tunisian Capital, has constant electricity and SIM cards for mobile phones, for instance, are cheap as they cost five Dinars.
Wearing smiles throughout the trip from Avenue Ouled Haffour to La Marsa in Gammarth it was undoubtedly excited as the summit takes offs Wednesday, November 16.
Mr. Sadoq further said, he hopes that the outcome would be beneficial to common man like himself, a taxi driver.
Some taxis in the city are decorated with the symbol of the World Summit on the Information Society.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Before the 'summit of solutions'

Features of the week:

Plans to make the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-05), also christened the ‘summit of solutions’ for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Development, a success have been advanced, reports REMMY NWEKE.

As the dates for the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS 2005) draw nearer and precisely just days away, it is pertinent to recall certain issues that would dominate the meeting.

These include the issues on the Internet Governance, Financing Mechanisms and WSIS follow-up and implementation, which form the top-three agenda for the summit’s Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom-3) due to resume Sunday, November 13 through 15, prior to the official opening ceremony to be performed by world leaders led by the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Mr. Kofi Annan, on Wednesday, November 16.

Therefore, the aforementioned top-three agenda are expected to take centre stage, whereas the last on the list – WSIS follow-up and implementation becomes a module for continuity and sustaining the Plan of Action, which evaluation after two years of experimentation by member nations bugged by the need to reduce the gap of digital divide would also be examined.

The evaluation is crucial to ascertain the actual efforts being put in place to determine the gap between the rich and poor as concerns the access to information and in achieving the goals stipulated for making Information Society a relative realty, since the first phase in 2003.

ITU resolve

Interesting thing, however, is that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as lead agency of other arms of UN and in alliance with the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and possibly the UN Development Programme; have resolved not to set up any new body to manage the follow-up, as they have to contribute resources for the follow-up to be kept alive via coordinated meetings of coordinators and reporting of implementation on country levels.

According to ITU’s position paper on implementation and follow-up, (WSIS-11/PC3/contro/97-E), there is a widespread agreement that the multi-stakeholder nature of WSIS should be maintained through the overall implementation and follow-up process after Tunis.

CCBI too …

In the same vein, the Coordinating Committee of Business Interlocutors (CCBI) for the summit has also indicated in a position paper made available to Champion Infotel that key focus should be on people-centric Information Society thereby bringing to the people the benefits of ICTs through development, capacity building, education and training are all welcome concept.

CCBI further said that clear commitment to create the necessary enabling environment to attract investment, promote innovation, stimulate infrastructure development, and foster entrepreneurship must not be over looked.

International level follow-up and implementation, CCBI stated, must not be left to be led, coordinated, moderated or even facilitated by one single UN agency, and must involve all stakeholders on an equal footing, thus ICT and development should be mainstreamed and integrated into the agenda of UN bodies.

The $100 laptops

Chief, Media Relations at ITU, Ms Sarah Parkes and the Communication Officer at the WSIS Executive Secretariat, Mr. Sanjay Acharya, disclosed in a joint statement that highlights of WSIS phase two, alongside the three days of plenary sessions, include the launch of the $100 laptop system developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT's) Media Lab, which will serve as the cornerstone of the One Laptop Per Child global development initiative.

The new system would be unveiled at the occasion to be hosted by the Media Lab's Professor Nicholas Negroponte, UN scribe, Mr. Annan and Mrs. Nane Maria Annan.

The ITU’s ‘Connect the World Roundtable’ featuring around 20 top-level representatives from government, the private sector and civil society, comprising European Union (EU) Information Society Commissioner, Vivianne Reding, Chief Executive officers (CEOs) and chairmen of leading global Information Technology (IT) players namely Mr. Narayana R. Murthy of Infosys, ICT development pioneer Professor M. S. Swaminathan, and Mr Noah Samara of WorldSpace, along with heads of UN agencies and leaders of ICT-oriented civil society organizations.

The launch of a ground-breaking new ITU report, ‘The Internet of Things’, at a media panel debate featuring senior technical gurus from Alcatel, KDDI, Microsoft, Nokia and Sun Microsystems, would also make the event.

ITU’s high-level panel featuring ICT ministers from India, Mexico and the Republic of Congo, top level representatives from the European Commission (EC), the Grameen Foundation and the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion, as well as senior executives from Nokia, Sentech and Skype, is expected to be exciting.

A programme of about 300 parallel events featuring presentations and debates by WSIS participants on topics central to the development of tomorrow's Information Society equally would take place.

ICT4All

Five-day Information and Communications Technology (ICT) trade fair located at 10'000 meter exhibition center, would enable showcasing of activities from over 100 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and private sector enterprises, focusing on developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is billed to attract over 40,000 participants including chief executive officers of private organizations, according to Mr. Edoardo Bellando of the United Nations Department of Public Information.

ICT4All, organized along with the main WSIS would this year start on November 15, a day earlier before the official opening of the summit at Kram Pla Expo and to end on Saturday, November 19.

Mr. Bellando also said that companies from developed and developing countries would use the chance to showcase innovative ideas and practical solutions, meet and forge new partnerships, noting that corporate partners of the Tunisian Organising Committee for WSIS-05 include Alcatel, Ericsson, Huawei, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE.

Champion Infotel recalls that in 2003 at the first phase of WSIS held in Geneva, 175 countries reportedly adopted a Declaration of Principles, outlining a common vision of the Information Society and a Plan of Action, which sets targets on how to improve connectivity and access in using ICT.

Task before stakeholders


As stakeholders assemble in Tunis, they must not forget individual national agenda or so soon the ITU’s recent report that estimated 942 million people living in the world's developed economies enjoy five times better access to fixed and mobile phone services; nine times better access to Internet services, and own 13 times more personal computers than the 85 per cent of the world's population living in low and lower-middle income countries.


ITU also estimates that 800,000 villages still lack connection by telephone line, the Internet or any other modern ICT tools.

Therefore, it is very important that the outcome of this second phase of WSIS must be worthy of aiding efforts to really bridge the Information Society gap already existing, mostly as demanded in the Plan of Action and we all will be better for it.

NISSCOM deadline shifted

AWARD winning Nigerian software house, and the organizers of the Nigerian Students Software Competition (NISSCOM 2005), SystemSpecs Limited, has announced a postponement of the deadline for submission of entries for this year by 30 days.

The deadline previously fixed on October 30, was shifted to give room for more participants.

This follows reports that when the competition was announced late September, most institutions in the country claimed to have received the information late, according to the Senior Manager, Marketing at SystemSpecs, Mr. Moses Braimah.

“The registration deadline for the NISSCOM has been extended to November 30, 2005 and this is due to huge interests shown by students of different tertiary institutions spread across the country who claim to have received detailed information about the competition late,” he said.

Responding to inquiry, he also said that so far, close to 200 student competitors have registered at the competition website, www.nisscom.net.

A review of the entries made so far, he said, showed that talents abound in the country and also gives the feel that the 2005 edition would be very competitive than the 2004 edition.

He quoted the Assistant General Manager (AGM), at SystemSpecs, Dr. Hakeem Bakare of SystemSpecs, saying “Students are advised to make one entry at a time, whether as an individual or group,” in order to ensure that a competitor is properly focused and energy well directed to develop a good entry.

Earlier, while unveiling the curtain of this year’s edition, the managing director of SystemSpecs, Mr. John Obaro, said that the first place winner would receive a trophy, N100,000, and certificate.

The second place finalist would get N75,000, and a certificate while the third place finisher is to receive N50,000, a certificate whereas all the three would be offered internship placement at SystemSpecs.

The winners of the competition, he further said, would be selected and presented with prizes at the forthcoming national convention of the Nigerian Association of Computer Science Students, NACOSS.

NISSCOM is organized in collaboration with NACOSS in fulfillment of SystemSpecs’ management promise when NACOSS’ executive members visited the office recently.

InfraStruXure @ ICEPT 2005

Rhode Island-based end-to-end leading power solution provider, American Power Conversion (APC) showcased its InfraStruXure at this year’s International Conference and Exhibition on Power and Telecommunications (ICEPT 2005) held in Lagos.

ICEPT is organised by the Electrical Division of the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), and centered on building sustainable capacities, standards and regulations within the power and telecom industry. It was held at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Lagos.

District Manager at APC for Nigeria and Ghana, Mr. Charles Iyo, said that by offering InfraStruXure, especially in the West African region, APC is enabling organisations to increase the availability of Information Technology equipment.

This was in view of NSE believe that clear foresights based on cutting edge technological innovations, must be brought to bear in the proper planning of the power and telecom systems in the country as well as to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Mr. Iyo also said that InfraStruXure solution improves adaptability and speed of deployment in addition to lower total cost of ownership (TCO) within the IT environments.

“InfraStruXure is an on-demand architecture for Network-Critical Physical Infrastructure (NCPI)” he said, stressing that the design integrates power, cooling, rack, management and services, which allow for selection of standardised, modular components by creating a customised solution.

According to him, "businesses across Africa are adopting APC’s InfraStruXure offering to flexibly add capacity as the company grows, permitting organisations to purchase only what is needed at present while still permitting future growth.”

He emphasised that InfraStruXure facilitates IT managers’ choice from a number of standardised components is to create a customised solution.

"This approach provides the reliability, affordability and predictability of standardised solutions, yet is completely customised to meet their specific needs,” he declared.

Jensen proposes strategies for reduced interconnection rates

Independent consultant based in South Africa, Mr. Mike Jensen has proposed strategies for minimising current disparities in interconnection rates, mostly in the developing countries.

Mr. Jensen in a recent paper prepared for the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) on ‘Interconnection Costs’ said that much needed to be done by developing countries and their partners, which could have greater effect on the cost of bandwidth.

He noted that there are two types of interconnection, especially nowadays that most interconnections are viable through the Internet rather than the traditional circuit switches system, namely, peering and transit.

He also said that internet backbones interconnect under this two different arrangements, avail peering plans to agree to exchange traffic with each other at no cost, but not for a third party.

While on other hand, transit arrangement, he said, means one backbone has to pay another for interconnection.

According to him, the interlinked strategies consist of accelerating the restructuring of the communications sector, supporting the establishment of a national and international internet exchange ports, as well as building local demand for both national and international backbones.

Mr. Jensen said, that increased competition above all strategies stand better chance in telecom and Internet sectors for minimising the costs of connectivity.

Pointing out that the biggest cost of circuit is not the Internet Protocol (IP) transit fees or foreign end of the link, but the local and international charges by the monopoly telecom service providers.

“Elimination of monopolies or duopolies and generally increasing national and international competition in communication services would have the biggest impact in reducing the largest cost component of bandwidth charges,” he said.

Mr. Jensen further said that additionally, this would fuel investment in the much needed national and international backbones.

“… Only once competition has reduced infrastructure access charges to cost-related tariffs could peering and transit issues be addressed,” he asserted.

He suggested that government involvement in fostering the development of competitive backbone provision, especially by providing ducting for cable along all routes of transportation such as roads, railways and electricity networks is essential.

“Participation by government in using open access models (non-discriminatory) is seen as a particularly viable approach to building infrastructure,” he said.

Mr. Jensen also warned that by ensuring that public monopolies are not simply replaced with private monopolies is additional vital step required.

On sector reform, he said, would enable competitive local market for bandwidth to guarantee that benefits of increased competition in the international market are passed on to the end-users.

Adding, however, that effective competition and anti-trust laws would usually be needed for this, which would not only prevent anti-competitive consolidation among Internet backbone providers, but to ensure incumbent operators including mobile operators do not abuse their dominant positions.

HANA @ Tunis for WSIS-05

Highway Africa News Agency (HANA) has concluded plans to send a strong made up of multi-lingual and renowned team of journalists to cover the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) holding in Tunis, from next week.

Director, HANA, Mr. Chris Kabwato disclosed this and said that the second phase of WSIS commencing November 15 through 18, would witness a HANA team, comprising journalists and students from various African countries, who would supply multi-media coverage of the summit through its web site http://www.highwayafrica.ru.ac.za/hana/, blog http://www.newsagency.blogspot.com/ and via e-mails (listservs) to any African news organisation that wishes to make use of this service.

He also said that while in Tunis, the team would produce a daily newspaper, sponsored by the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa, thus providing delegates with an African perspective of the Summit.

“The English and French pages of the newspaper will be made available online,” he asserted.

Champion Infotel recalls that HANA was conceptualised in September of 2003 ahead of the first phase of the WSIS meeting in Geneva.

According to Mr. Kabwato, also director of the annual Highway Africa conference co-hosted by the Rhodes University School of Journalism and the South African Broadcasting Corporation, and a number of other visionaries participating in the conference, was the realisation that the debates and resolutions at the summit should not only be conveyed to African audiences through the eyes and ears of Western news agencies.

“Unless something is done about it, Africans would have to follow the moves to transfer control of the internet from a single nation to a UN agency through first world eyes. As very few African news organisations could afford to send reporters to Geneva, their readers and viewers would only learn about efforts to bridge the digital divide from foreign news agencies,” he explained.

With this need identified, he pointed out that Rhodes School of Journalism kick-started HANA initiative and the SABC seconded Executive Producer Steven Lang to work as editor of the news agency.

He further said that the mandate formulated by the 2003 Highway Africa conference, to report on and explain the relevance of the WSIS for African readers, was successfully carried out in Geneva and in other ICT related conferences in the run up to the second phase of the summit in Tunis.

HANA has in the meantime broadened its scope and plans to develop it into an agency delivering continuous coverage of the information society and ICTs in Africa.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

e-waste and Nigerian state

Features of the week:

The issue of electronic waste otherwise called e-waste would pass as one of those things, but for the recent outcome of the Basel Action Network (BAN) study in some developing countries including Nigeria. REMMY NWEKE reports from Germany that the outcome of the study is as revealing as it is shocking.

"… What Africa needs is clean jobs. Africans want to live like other human beings, they want to enjoy life. This (e-waste) is shortening their lives … If somebody know [s] that something is bad, and you give this to somebody who is poor, you are terrorizing him. I call this toxic terrorism really, because it’s only beneficial to one side …." – Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, Director, Basel Convention.

Nigeria’s known toxic waste anxiety in 1988 was found in Koko in the southern part of the country, but the news report of "The Digital Dump: Exporting Re-Use and Abuse to Africa," re-echoed with some sense of alert recently in Lagos, the commercial nerve center of the nation.

e-waste, an electronic and electrically equipment (WEEE) generated waste has find another route into the country, as most of supposed fairly used ‘second-hand’ Personal computers (PCs), monitors, Television (TVs) and cell phones; which are either usable and repairable are being shipped into developing countries from developed nations.

The report released by the Seattle, Washington-based organization, Basel Action Network (BAN), advocates of global prevention of toxic trade from rich to poorer nations, was conducted in conjunction with San Jose-based Computer TakeBack Campaign.

Current situation

As stated by the report released penultimate Monday, October 24, 2005, United States (US) and Europe, were aiding and abetting the creation of a ‘digital dump from re-use and repair’ trade, established on the number of ‘unexpected’ exports to developing countries like Nigeria, who are struggling daily to reposition their economic quagmire saturated with corruption and inexplicable debt to Club of Creditors nation led by the Paris Club.

Although US’ National Safety Council, was reported to have disclosed that over 63 million computers in US only would be obsolete by end of this year.

BAN had also in 2002 conducted similar study in Asia, where it found that over 50 per cent of electronic waste collected for recycling in the western US, ended up being recycled in unregulated and unhealthy conditions in parts of China, India and Pakistan.

Parts of BAN’s latest report read: "A new investigation … has revealed that large quantities of obsolete computers, televisions, mobile phones, and other used electronic equipment exported from US and Europe to Lagos, Nigeria for ‘re-use and repair’ are ending up gathering dust in warehouses or being dumped and burned near residences in empty lots, roadsides and in swamps creating serious health and environmental contamination from the toxic leach ate and smoke".

A computer monitor, for instance, expert said, on average contains estimated eight pounds or three and half kilogrammes worth of lead, in addition to plastics laden with flame retardants and cadmium.

Re-use is good but …

In Lagos, BAN led by its coordinator, Mr. Jim Puckett noted that there is a legitimate robust market, ability to repair and refurbish old electronic equipment including computers, monitors, TVs and cell phones, by local experts who also complained of estimated 500 40-foot containers shipped to Lagos monthly, with 75 per cent of the imports presumably "junk" which are not economically viable through repairs or marketable.

Mr. Puckett, also said, "Re-use is a good thing, bridging the digital divide is a good thing, but exporting loads of techno-trash in the name of these lofty ideals and seriously damaging the environment and health of poor communities in developing countries is criminal."

The report traced corroboration on numerous computer identification tags from schools and government agencies as well as forensic examinations of hard-drives picked up by BAN in Lagos, unveiling some very personal information about their previous owners.

Lack of enforcement

This kind of trade, he said, is illegal under international rules governing trade in toxic waste such as the Basel Convention, but blamed governments and specifically the US for refusing to ratify, implement or properly enforce these rules for toxic electronic waste, from its end.

Proper enforcement of these rules, Mr. Puckett said requires all such e-scrap exports, whole or in parts to be properly tested for functionality and certified to be going to re-use destinations rather than for disposal or recycling, warning that everybody including users of electronic equipment need to be extremely careful.

"Things are completely out of control, manufacturers have got to get toxic chemicals out of electronic goods, governments have got to start enforcing international law, and we consumers have got to be a lot more careful about what our local ‘recycler’ is really doing. It’s time we all get serious about what is now a tsunami of toxic techno-trash making its way from rich to poorer countries, and start taking some responsibility," he declared.

A time bomb

Presently, there exists Decree 42 in Nigeria on hazardous waste which stipulates complete ban, but was not specific on e-waste. According to chief environmental scientist at the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Olakitan Ogunbuyi, "the Basel Convention has been ratified (by Nigeria) but not domesticated" and importers are taking advantage of this to ship in e-waste which comes as technologies – cell phones and PCs. Additionally, she said burning of this junk generates dioxin which is not visible but has dangerous effect in the long run.

Director, Basel Convention regional coordinating center, Ibadan, Nigeria, Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, described the study revelation as a time bomb. "… I was shocked to see these tones, heaps of e-waste. People believe out of sight is out of mind. Burn it off and it disappears. Of course, you just changed it from solid to gaseous phase; it’s still the same problem". Prescribing that what is good for the goose should also be good for the gander.

Total ban

In his reaction, President of the hardware group of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) known as Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Mr. Will Anyaegbunam, told Champion Infotel, though he had always known that there are lots of junks coming into Nigeria in the name of second hand or fairly used PCs and primarily into the Otigba computer village, "it is quite a surprise to me that the figure is as high as 500 containers".

Mr. Anyaegbunam, who also is the managing director, Beta Computers, said it is high time the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) declare a total ban on the importation of these PCs among other electronic gadgets, mostly within a specific thresh-hold and years after manufacture.

He was quick to visualise that even the specification threshold and age limit will be difficult to enforce, hence he advocated for a total ban on second-hand IT equipment.

"Except for tested and verified imports for donation to educational institutions," he asserted, insisting that this way, "No second hand PCs or other IT equipment should be allowed for resale". Further, he disclosed that ITAN would soon come out with a stand after reviewing the BAN’s study.

Mitigating the effect

Therefore, it is time for some recycling companies currently over 40 located in US to extend their offices and ingenuity to developing nations, like Nigeria to assist in cushioning the third leg effect of these unwholesome exports.

Whilst waiting on government and its agencies like SON and Customs to brace up, as well as the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) to, maybe, come out of the shock of the e-waste dump in Nigeria, it is another confirmation of how developed nations are under-developing the continent as noted 32 years ago by Walter Rodney in his 1973 book, "How Europe under-developed Africa".

Study ranks African media low on ICT policy

Recent study on the quality of media coverage of contemporary Information and Communications Technology (ICT) policy issues on the continent has ranked African media low, even in Nigeria, it is “he who pays the piper, detects the tune”.

The study funded by CATIA through its policy advocacy programme in Africa, was published as the Highway Africa project at Rhodes University, South Africa, indicating that the media was silence on ICT policy issues in six African countries where the study was carried out, including Nigeria.

Other countries covered were Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Senegal and Kenya while it was coordinated in South Africa.

The report made available to Champion Infotel also showed that in Nigeria, media ICT policy coverage could be found as inserts targeted at the IT industry, while business and private sector interests were given priority because “they pay the piper”.

Whereas the government and industry are the main users, consumers and spokespersons of ICTs were not left out.

The study which lasted for over six months was basically conducted by African researchers, for Africans to redress the attitude of Northern-based researchers´ treating the continent as merely research object, without addressing her assumptions around human capacity.

Key findings of the study indicated that while the activities of the ICT sector varies in each of the countries, the media in general showed little interest in ICTs.

Except for Ethiopia, which showed a significant amount of coverage during the study period, including letters to the editor, it added that ICT coverage whether in an ICT excerpt or in the main newspaper, shows no analysis or critique of ICTs sector generally, which points to “lack of understanding in the media of ICT policy issues in general”.

The executive summary of the report said that except for Kenya, each of the aforementioned countries, where monitored based on what was described as ‘policy-influential media’ for a duration of four weeks.

It also stated that where ICT policy-related events were held, media coverage was monitored in the periods, before, during and after the event.

“In the latter case, researchers also attended these events to further assess the media’s interpretation of the event versus the realities which they themselves experienced,” it stated.

Additionally, interviews were conducted across ICT policy and media contexts of these countries under review and on the whole, about 150 persons participated, which included vox pop.