Friday, April 28, 2006

ONYEKWERE: Stickler for IT excellence

ICON
By Remmy Nweke

At a first contact, his frame may be intimidating and he could pass for one of the superfluous, unassuming folks around. But Mr Chima Onyekwere, calm as a lamb and humble as a butterfly, is one personality who like a rare gem, cannot be ignored. He is the chief executive of the premier Internet Service Provider (ISP) firm, Linkserve Limited.

A geologist, he is also the founder of SAAP-TECH (Nigeria) Limited and Dealers Warehouse Limited, and also is on the board of numerous companies at various levels of management, including Dealers Warehouse Limited. They all deal with the promotion of Information Technology (IT). Little wonder he is better referred to as a professional and technology entrepreneur.

Currently a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) and also that of Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria, Onyekwere is acknowledged as a visionary in the industry.

He made history in 1996, when he registered Linkserve as Nigeria’s first ISP. Although the company did not commence operation till 1997, and he has stamped his footprints over the years on the IT sector, like a beautiful bride who nobody can forget her beauty in a haste, Onyekwere has secured himself a place in the hall of fame of IT professionals.

A Geologist cum Geophysicist, Onyekwere is an alumnus of the University of Ife, Lagos Business School (CEP3) and Harvard Business School (Owner President Management Programme).

Expansion is the soul of any progressive business. And in line with this philosophy, Onyekwere is presently occupied with the expansion of the services Linkserve offers into the Sub-Saharan Africa; spearheading the firm’s challenge for the West African satellite communications market, and leading what some stakeholders would describe as “a highly motivated team of top-notch professionals.”

His journey into the IT world did not start today. His philosophy has basically been the provision of Internet solutions amongst other information technology businesses, through an indigenous company, which operates with an Internet Protocol (IP) connection, offering full services to the public on real time.

Under him, Linkserve has become a leading firm with a clientele base that cuts across financial institutions, foreign missions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the oil sector, government establishments, manufacturing sector and trading concerns; a firm that measures its foresight by the number of subscribers, customer satisfaction and profitability.
It also has her own hub in Homdel, New Jersy, United States, with a 15 Megabit (mb) installed bandwidth capacity supporting its Ku-Band customers.

Onyekwere has ensured that the firm’s three (3) Point-of-Presence (POP) locations in the country have installed massive Internet infrastructure with multiple connections to the Internet at an international bandwidth of 8.5mb.

He has also ensured that corporate values and principles operate at low cost as a way of life. Mr. Onyekwere is a stickler for excellence, constantly innovating to deliver superior values to customers who are treated as kings.

Onyekwere’s hunger for diversity is rapacious. That explains the presence of Linkserve in the Garden city of Port Harcourt with POP facilitating direct Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) access to the Internet.

In Abuja the POP in that city has a direct VSAT access to the Internet, just as Mr. Onyekwere’s leadership plans to integrate the trio together via satellite, while sharing a total bandwidth of 1 mega bit per second (mbps) for the uplink and 2.5mbps for the downlink.

Onyekwere, an advocate for the establishment of an arbitration panel in preparation of settling likely disputes emanating from the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR), is one person who sees unified licensing as a welcome scheme.

He believes that setting up such a panel is a key to the smooth implementation of unified licensing in the country, and will ensure that such issues as interconnect are resolved on a timely basis and situations of disconnection among operators would not arise as well as reduce some of the problems that might result from interconnect disputes during the new regime.

Concerning the deregulation of the industry in Nigeria today, it is Onyekwere’s belief that for a vibrant telecom industry to emerge and be enjoyed to the fullest, the deregulation drive should be sustained if not further pushed up to ensure ATCON’s membership evolves modern technologies in their deployment of services.

This would undoubtedly, place the nation in leapfrogging status rather than trying to catch-up with the rest of the world.

*Also published in Daily Champion today, as ICON.

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