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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nigeria and e-inclusion


Cover of the week:

As stakeholders assemble in Abuja today for a two-day national forum on National Information Communication and Education Programme (NICEP) network, REMMY NWEKE appraises Nigeria’s effort at ensuring e-inclusion takes its rightful place in the country.

Recently, during a Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO)-organized Information and Communication Technology (ICT) forum at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, a call was made by an expert to the 36 states of the federation in Nigeria on the need for digital inclusion, otherwise called e-inclusion.

Popularized by its specific references within the European Union (EU), this term has since assumed a global dimension to connote the possibilities of using ICT tools to bridge the digital gap existing among the people, especially between urban and rural dwellers, the haves and the have- nots.

The Free Dictionary by Farlex, described digital gap as the difference in technologies used and/or deployed in two separate entities, companies, countries, ethnic groups, to name a few; where one is more advanced than the other. Also, it could be said to be the difference involving those who have computers and high-technology devices in general and those who do not, equally tagged as ‘digital divide.’ As well, it could be the disparity dividing the current-day products and the technology on the drawing boards.

Thus, digital inclusion becomes imperative to shore up the livelihood of rural and underserved communities, which would eventually lead to bridging the poverty gap through the empowerment of the citizens, invariably through ICT infrastructure and usage of the available tools, positively.

One main advantage of ICT tools in our daily lives is the enthronement of a knowledge driven society, which leapfrogs into a knowledge economy and even evident in several parts of the world including Africa, with clear records in Egypt and South Africa, as shining examples.

Principal of a Philadelphia-based digital inclusion consultancy firm, Karacomm, Ms Karen Archer Perry, in one of her contributions toward ensuring socio-economic inclusion, especially in developing countries of the world, which includes Nigeria, outlined ‘Eight Ways to Promote Digital Inclusion Now!’ She prescribed the reading of “Innovating for Inclusion: A Digital Inclusion Guide for those Leading the Way,” sponsored by Microsoft and authored by Maria Wynne, Lane Cooper and herself.

As said by her, innovating for inclusion offers a framework for creating an inclusion initiative in a given community, which includes excellent references and success stories from around some parts of the United States.

In addition, she prescribed checking-out the Pew Internet and American Life Project as well as the Brookings Institute by considering how these reports could impact on individual’s community, social fabric and economy.

She suggested a few favourites comprising the adoption of broadband technology and effects of broadband deployment among others. Just as making sure all of related websites to the e-inclusion project are accessible to those with visual impairments.

For instance, beginning with the Web Content Accessibility (WCA) guidelines by making certain that the version in use is the most current available.

Equally, she suggested the promotion of the use of technologies that could assist users with visual and physical disabilities. Setting up a meeting with community leaders from the local government chairman, supervisory councilors, house of assembly members, governors, chief information officers as well as the members of the National Assembly; as in the case of Nigeria, is vital.

Efforts, she said, should be made by opening up a discussion about policies and investment in Digital Inclusion, which could be likened to the recent visit of House Committee on Governmental Affairs to Galaxy warehouse in Lagos. Very importantly, according to Ms. Perry, is the ability to spend some time at local libraries to feel the pulse of the people and learn what could help them to become ‘digital citizens’ by using broadband-connected computers among others.

Essentially, there is need to always update Community Technology Centers where they exist. In Nigeria, for instance, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) with the support of some state governments and members of the National Assembly sited several Digital Awareness Project (DAP) and Advanced Digital Access for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI) across the nation, alongside its State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABI).

However, Perry suggested as motivational step to ask youngsters and school teachers how pupils adapt to usage of technology to support and reinforce core curriculum.

“While most people think about the digital divide in terms of access, there is a new divide forming around efficacy. Make sure your clients and your kids are using the web to deepen their understanding of concepts, create new ideas and expand their own learning communities,” she declared.

Adding his voice to the e-inclusion campaign at the CTO forum in Abuja, the Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone Plc, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe, beckoned on Commonwealth member states to embrace ICT as a platform for bridging the poverty gap in their regions.

Noting that Galaxy Backbone Plc, a wholly independent company of the Federal Government was established to provide a common platform for the provision of network connectivity and transversal services to the public sector, facilitate digital inclusion of rural and underserved communities.

Ilukwe underlined the fact that his company aim is geared towards effective connectivity for a socially inclusive and commercially vibrant Nigerian society. Recollecting that not quite long ago, GBB signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) for the provision of broadband connectivity to all of the 1,500 post offices across the nation.

Stressing that the partnership affords his company the opportunity to drive key objective of delivering e-education, e-health, e-agriculture and e-government solutions through National Information Communication and Education Programme (NICEP) network; offering opportunities for Galaxy to secure partnerships with leading ICT establishments, bandwidth wholesalers, equipment vendors, funding and development partners and solution providers.

Emphasizing on inherent opportunities in (NICEP) for the country, Mr. Ilukwe said, during a recent presentation for the members of the National Economic Council (NEC), that more than ever before, mostly with ravaging global economic crisis and falling prices of crude oil, there is no doubt the Federal and State Governments should seek alternative ways of leapfrogging the country into the 21st century knowledge economy.

“Nigeria can strategically position to compete in the knowledge economy by acquiring the right infrastructure and implementing human capacity development strategies relevant in the new millennium,” Ilukwe said, proposing a sustainable partnership framework through which the 36 state governments could extend the reach of NICEP services to cover all state capitals and local government areas countrywide.

NICEP, he explained, is an ICT intervention programme of the Federal Government to provide connectivity for broadband internet, data, voice and video communications to rural and underserved communities including educational institutions in the country.

He noted that the network, when deployed could be leveraged upon to bring about continuous growth initiatives to all Nigerians, even as it will facilitate the digital inclusion of underserved communities, assist in the area of human capacity development and deliver beneficial e-services to citizens.

Already, he said, more than 1,000 locations across the country have been connected to this network, stressing that to provide internet access, the network is capable of supporting ICT-based solutions targeted at universal access, health, education, poverty alleviation, wealth creation, as well as those focused on enhancing public sector efficiency.

“With so many public services going online, for example, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), National Examinations Council, (NECO) registration and recruitment into some government agencies, the need to provide access to people in rural areas can never be overemphasized,” he said.

While calling for partnership between the public and private sectors in the pursuit of national development, especially using the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as tool, Ilukwe said, any agency involved in e-inclusion should not be driven primarily by a motive to make profit, but to serve the under-served communities.

“We have also had situations where people say Galaxy is competing with the private sector, and we say a large part of where we go and provide services have always been out there and the private sector did not provide those services simply because the private sector operates with a single primary motive and that is profit. Government is not solely profit-driven. However, there will always be room for partnership,” he said.

Pointing out that the culture of competition instead of collaboration among customers and service providers alike as well as challenges with critical infrastructure especially, power, have become impediments to digital inclusion.

However, he said that from these challenges there are emerging trends and opportunities, identifying some of these to include a shift from reactive to proactive services, industry and government regulation, encouraging and enforcing sharing and collaboration, strong investments and subsidies from government in critical information infrastructure. Observing that private sector service providers are re-investing earnings and seeking for new revenue streams and large enterprises are focusing on core missions and competencies as well as outsourcing ancillary services.

Ilukwe said that there are lots of opportunities opening up as networks grow and that these abound within local governments, community centres and post offices, stating that these locations are severely under-utilized.

“Quite a lot of people who manage these locations do not know the potentials that are out there. The post offices in particular are located in strategic and prime areas. I observed recently, during a trip to Enugu that in one of the post offices’ warehouse I visited, somebody could put down 300 personal computers (PC) there,” he observed.

Above all, as the stakeholders gear up for the two-day national forum on NICEP, which is at its third edition, at Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, there is apparent need for the states and local governments across the country to come up with strategies for heeding the call made earlier by GBB boss, through partnerships with the company.

Industry observers, therefore, look forward to an enlightened session that would further reposition Nigeria as a thriving nation with digital inclusion at heart through political and technocracy collaboration, especially if we expect any reasonable progress to be made in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the key objectives of the 7-point agenda and Vision 20: 2020.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Uncertainty engulfs NITEL

... Over search for new core investors

SEVENTY-TWO hours to the expiration of the May 30 deadline allowed for Expression of Interest (EOI) for the sale of, at least, 51 per cent of the Nigerian Telecommunications Plc (NITEL) to new core investor, uncertainty appeared to have surrounded events leading to the exercise.

Transnational Corporation (TRANSCORP), the current owners of the 51 stake in NITEL took over the management in 2005 after a widely criticized ‘preferred bidder’ option purportedly concluded at the presidency and ever since then it has been crisis after crisis either on the part of Transcorp or NITEL and its mobile subsidiary, MTel.

Coupled with the inability of Transcorp to meet the desire of the Federal Government and NITEL workforce, it was agreed that the current stake of 51 per cent be offered for sale, which could even be adjusted upward to 71, if need be.

The height of present uncertainty within the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector with particular reference to NITEL, which built up due to several issues capable of forestalling the ‘unending’ efforts to dispose NITEL by the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE), were drawn from the turn of events in recent weeks leading to the deadline for the search for new core investor.

For instance, the unrest of the workforce since Transcorp took over, created a faction and latest exposure on alleged fraudulent activities in high circles within the organization, leading to the arrest of NITEL board chairman, Mr. Mr. Tom Iseghohi and some top management staff, which came after the purported sack of the American chief executive, Mr. Kevin Caruso, few weeks to the deadline for the expression of interest.

Piqued by the inability of NITEL and Transcorp management to settle their salary arrears for the past 11 months, NITEL workers have decided to take their destinies in their hands by engaging debtors of the organisation, including the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, for its inability to remit over N1.1 billion collected on behalf of NITEL in the past six years.

Industry observers said that as at press time, there is yet no hope for any keen core investor for the moribund NITEL.

While the closure of this bidding process is said to be a key trial for the newly appointed Director General of BPE, Dr. Christopher Uloneme Anyanwu, given the unfruitful attempts of his predecessor, Mrs. Irene Chigbue in the past four years.

BPE in its addendum call for EOI for the sale of at least 51 per cent equity stake in NITEL plc, noted that as published at the end of March 2009, the shareholders of Nitel “The Shareholders” thereby expressed their willingness to consider selling NITEL and its wholly-owned Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) subsidiary, MTEL, either as combined or as two separate entities.

According to BPE, bidders will have the opportunity to submit proposals for the acquisition of the combined operation or for the acquisition of the two separated companies.

“At the submission of their Expressions of Interest, interested parties may indicate their preliminary preference to bid for either, NITEL, MTEL or both,” part of the BPE public statement read.

Equally, NITEL shareholders said they were aware of the need to eliminate from the proposed transaction any uncertainty over the amount of debt carried by both companies before conclusion of the transaction.

The prequalification criteria for the EOI stage, they said, have been adjusted to include the minimum of 1.2 million aggregate fixed and/or mobile subscribers; telecom operators with operations in only one country are eligible to apply.

“Where interested parties express interest as a consortium including a qualified telecom operator and other investors, the telecom operator will be required to own at least 20 per cent of the consortium’s post-acquisition equity,” it read, stressing that with the all other pre-qualification criteria remain unchanged, preference will however be given to investors that meet the original published prequalification criteria in its entirety.

BPE pointed out that every ‘Expressions of Interest’ must be submitted with the documentation supporting qualification, latest Saturday, May 30, 2009 by 5 pm Nigerian time to “The Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises(BPE) office in Garki, Abuja.

ITRealms Online recalls that just last week, embattled NITEL employees under the aegis of the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTAC), in Abuja gave the management of First Bank Nigeria Plc, a seven-day ultimatum within which to clear a $7 million debt (about N1.1billion) owed the organisation or face the anger of the workers, who report indicated were determined to prevent the bank from carrying on with its services.

A letter addressed to the Managing Director of the bank which was made available to ITRealms Online, weekend in Abuja, SSACTAC said, the in-house union has been left with no other option than to issue a seven-day notice to the bank to clear the matter in both parties interest to avoid crisis.  

Stating that the letter signed by the President and Deputy President of the Association, Comrades E.Y. Kazzah and Gabriel Abah, listed the debt accruing from non remittances of collection, unauthorised debits of account and letters of credits not completely drawn with the bank since 2002.

However, most outrageous aspect of the pervading crisis in NITEL was the fraudulent case of millions of dollars which blew open earlier this month, involving the Group Managing Director of Transcorp and who also is the chairman of NITEL board, Mr. Tom Iseghohi and two other management staff, namely, the company secretary, Mohammed Buba and director of operations, Mr. Mike Okoro, even as they may be facing criminal charges of fraud, cheating, theft, obtaining by false pretence and breach of trust, money laundering and forgery among others.

Trouble was said to have started for Messrs Tom Iseghohi and Co, when he purportedly sacked Mr. Kevin Caruso, who discovered to his chagrin the shortchanging that occurred in his monthly allowance of about $75,000 (about N11m), whilst he was being paid just $25,000.

This eventually linked to the intervention of security agencies, mostly the State Security Services (SSS), who effected the arrest.

Speaking to ITRealms Online at the weekend, the deputy president of the Senior Staff Association of Transport, Telecommunications and Corporations, (SSATTC) MTel branch, Mr. Chidi Oparauwakwe, said that they are praying, because “we cannot continue like this with Transcorp.”

Meanwhile, the staff of Transcorp recently wrote the corporation, saying that it has nothing more to offer and apparently handicapped in meeting the expectations of its stakeholders.

Those who spoke to ITRealms Online on the state of their respective organizations, both the factional president of the Senior Staff Association of Transport, Telecommunications and Corporations, (SSATTC) Nitel branch, Comrade Elias Kazzah, the deputy president of the union at MTel, Mr. Chidi Oparauwakwe, and the purportedly deposed President, National Association of Telecommunications Employees (NATE) at NITEL, Mr. Charles Amankwe, all agreed that Transcorp has overstayed its welcome.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

ipNX partners NCC in accelerated broadband

Provider of infrastructure-based Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services in the country, ipNX Nigeria Limited has entered into a partnership with the regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to deliver State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABI) project to the people of Kano State.

ITRealms Online gathered that the deal would be consummated tomorrow in the city of Kano, thereby bringing broadband internet access to every part of the state.
Affirming this, in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, the
Executive Director, ipNX, Mr. Ifeanyi Amah, noted that the partnership is to accelerate unlimited internet access to Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country and encourage innovation.

“The move to empower Nigerians with broadband Internet access started almost two years ago, our intention is to take our products and services to other regions. Our commitment in that direction can be seen through our partnership with NCC on SABI,” he said.

Reiterating that the company is consistently leading the industry with innovative, value laden products and services, saying the company introduced “i wireless broadband, a reliable, high speed wireless broadband solution designed to offer residential and small business subscribers the ability to browse, talk and fax documents all at the same time. The first of its kind in Nigeria.”

ipNX Nigeria Limited which started business in 2001 is one of the few operators that successfully rolled out and utilized its 3.5 Gega Hertz (GHz) spectrum which it won during NCC’s Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) auction in 2002.

Although ipNX is highly recognised for delivering reliable data communications services to corporate organisation especially within the banking sector, ipNX is now extending its broadband Internet and VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) services to small and medium sized businesses and residential customers through its newly deployed 3.5G fixed wireless access network.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

SAP customer base increases in Africa

Director of a leading business software solutions provider in-charge of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) business at SAP Africa, Mr. Derek Kudsee, has declared that the future is rested on SME, even as the company now has increased its customer base to1,300 across the continent.

Speaking to ITRealms Online during the one-day session of SME world tour of SAP, which stopped over in Lagos, last weekend, Mr. Kudsee, noted that based on this SAP has developed two business solutions; namely the Business One, and All-in-One.

He explained that Business One is a product for small businesses that enables SMEs to discover day-to-day processes and work challenges, noting that every small business has multiple business processes.

According to him, with fast growth and change, it’s no wonder that sometimes those processes don’t work together as well as they could.

He said, SAP Business One assists SMEs to integrate and streamline business processes, stressing that the entry level is the major thing and special attention, hence SAP come up with this product and usage depends largely on customer’s needs.

Like the name sounds, All-in-One product, he said, is all-encompassing, even as SAP tend to serve as an alternative where local software providers are lacking.

He explained that most SMEs do not have access to technology, “So we have to condense it and resell it for SMEs, because they are the future.”

Kudsee said that SAP made up to between 1 and 2 million Euros in the last business year and is projecting to grow its business by at least 12 customers this year, especially through the resellers.

As said by him, the global markets have established that the world is under recession, pointing out that when eventually this trend would spur new business models and strategies.

He underscored the fact that it is no secret that SME market is the driving force of innovation and job creation in the economy, stressing SME is also the most section of the economy affected by global recession.

SAP, he said, has made significant progress in providing solutions for SMEs in response to their peculiar needs. Pointing out that the SAP SME World Tour is a flagship event that stops in 50 SAP regions.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Arit’s ESET antivirus hits market

This year’s Computer, Telecommunications and Online Service (CTO) may have ended, but the echoes from the week-long event continue to make the air waves, as Arit of Africa showcased its ESET antivirus solutions among others at the expo.

Executive Director, Arit of Africa Ltd, Mrs. Ronke Okeremi, noted that productivity level of professionals and executives have been boosted with the advent of Essential Security against Evolving Threats (ESET) antivirus and security software. which has been developed to eradicate the greatest threat of viruses and save valuable man hours.

According to Okeremi, the compact and intuitive user interface to its minimal use of alerts, users receive the best possible proactive detection against viruses, malware and spyware without enduring excessive system slowdowns and alerts, reboots or annoying false positives by simply deploy ESET antivirus.

She also said that her company, the exclusive distributor of ESET for Nigeria and Ghana, has made ESET available to financial institutions, insurance, oil and gas, government and other sectors of the economy.

“That is why we have adopted this year’s CTO as a starting point. The CTO is quite suitable for the commercial push of the ESET antivirus and smart security software, so that SMEs, professionals and other executives would benefits from its effective protection against today’s huge volumes of Internet and email threats. We are taking
ESET to the CTO and other parts of the country. To achieve this target we have accredited over 20 resellers across the geo-political zone of Nigeria for this purpose,” she said.

Mrs. Okeremi explained that ESET is also one of the fastest antivirus solutions as users usually are unaware it is actively running.

“For IT and security professionals, it’s easy to build group policies and manage updates. For end users, it’s incredibly easy to use and highly effective, hence you’ll record an almost nil in terms of help desk calls for virus outbreaks”, she declared.

In addition, she noted that computer and Internet virus, malware and spyware pose the greatest threat to security of business and financials, stressing that cyber criminals flood the Internet with over 100,000 new attacks every day.

“Some attacks target only a few users, making them very hard to identify using traditional antivirus technologies. ESET provides award-winning proactive antivirus and antispyware protection without affecting the user’s computer’s performance, while offering high level management control,” she said.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Yayale to address forum via video conference

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Madmud Yayale Ahmed, would today, deliver a keynote speech at Galaxy Backbone organized stakeholders’ two-day forum via video conferencing.

The event which is the 3rd public sector ICT Infrastructure forum is being put together by Galaxy Backbone (GBB) Plc in partnership with the National Economic Council and Nigeria Governors’ Forum as a 2-Day National Stakeholders’ Forum on NICEP, at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Manager, Corporate Communications at Galaxy Backbone Plc, Mr. Franklyn Ginger-Eke, said that the forum is an avenue to enlighten state governments on the developmental opportunities represented by National Information Communication and Education Programme (NICEP), which is aimed at accelerating provision of connectivity for broadband internet, data, voice and video communications to rural areas and under-served communities including health and educational institutions at State levels.

Ginger-Eke told ITRealms Online that highpoint of the opening day of the forum would be the live broadcast of the keynote address by the guest of honour, Alhaji Madmud Yayale Ahmed, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation via video conference powered by Galaxy Backbone.

“As a leading enabler of digital inclusion in Nigeria, Galaxy has built and operates one of the most sophisticated state of the art ICT infrastructures in the public sector. Other value added activities that will take place during the forum includes the setting up of a Cyber CafĂ© with ten PCs so that interested participants who wish to get on the internet can browse within the venue,” he said.

There would also be a demonstration of an interactive distance learning mathematics class involving students of School for the Gifted, Gwagwalada broadcast live from GBB’s Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) studio at its Network Operation Centre located in the central business district of Abuja to the audience at Yar’Adua Centre, the venue of the 2-day national stakeholders’ forum.

According to him, a key component of NICEP is the IDL through which Galaxy enables the delivery of multiple, live synchronous e-learning lessons to an unlimited number of geographically dispersed students to either PC or TV-based classrooms using a friendly student/instructor interaction.

“The IDL project combines high quality bi-directional video, voice and educational tools like slide projection, whiteboard, chat and application projection,” he explained.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Know your Skype end user license (9)

No Removal of Notices: You agree that You will not remove, obscure, make illegible or alter any notices or indications of the IP Rights and/or Skype’s rights and ownership thereof, whether such notice or indications are affixed on, contained in or otherwise connected to any materials.
Use of Skype API

2.7.1 You may make use of the Skype API provided that:
(i) You comply with the Skype API Terms of Use at http://www.skype.com/legal/terms/api/ ;

(ii) Your use of the Skype API is for legitimate purposes only and shall not adversely affect the functionality or performance of the Skype Software or services provided by Skype; and

(iii) You will monitor the Skype Website in order to ensure that You are aware of any changes in the Skype API Terms of Use. If such changes are not acceptable to
You, You will immediately stop using the Skype API and, where applicable, the Skype Software.

2.7.2 If You are interested in using the Skype API for a purpose which is not permitted under this Agreement or the Skype API Terms of Use, You will have to obtain Skype’s prior written consent and explicitly agree upon any further commercial terms.

2.8 Skype Promotional Materials: Nothing in this Agreement will give You any right to use the Skype Promotional Materials.

3. What You should and should not expect from Skype.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

MTI wins 146-site deals

•Unveils 3 subsidiaries

MTI Nigeria Plc has won over 146 deals for the execution of cell sites nationwide. This will run across four network operators, just as it unveiled three subsidiaries into the nation’s market, MTI Engineering, MTI UniTower and Mass Power.

Vice chairman, MTI Nigeria Plc, Mr. Frank Kirkitie gave these insights at the investor’s forum organized by the company in Lagos, last weekend.

These operators cut across MTN, Zain, Multi-Links and Siemens Networks, aside from the one being executive across the sub-region for the likes of Globacom, MTN and Zain.

Confirming this, the Managing Director, MTI Engineering, Mr. Selwyn Watkins, said that his own subsidiary, which focuses on co-location build out, won 91 sites deal out of the 500 Greenfield sites for MTN Nigeria, which amounts to 18 per cent of the total project.

MTI Engineering, he said, won 121 from Zain out of the 400 basic co-location build out, which is the 30 per cent and Multi-Links has awarded 10 sites with a further 20 sites depending on performance, while Siemens Network has given the company 24 sites with awaiting 50 sites.

Also, Watkins said MTI Engineering presently handles fibre optic and copper, as well as currently maintaining Glo fibre lines across the country.

Welcoming participants to the forum, MTI chairman, Prince Chibudom Nwuche, noted that the forum was to update core-stakeholders of the company with its foreign partners deals and avail them the opportunity to understand the path the company is taking, especially the team from the United States-based Span LLC led by the chief executive, Mr. Garald Zadikoff.

The delegation, he said, is made up of key secondments from Span LLC to manage the joint venture, MTI-Unitower Services Limited, which includes a Director, MTI-Unitower Network Services Limited, Mr. Steve Wiseman, CEO, MTI-Unitower Network Services Limited, Mr. Andre Claeys, chief technology officer (CTO), Mr. Luk Jonchheer as well as chief marketing officer (CMO) Geoffrey Critchon, MTI-Unitower Network Services Limited.                             

ITRealms Online recalls that MTI Nigeria Plc in the bid to reposition itself for global competition, recently signed the final shareholder’s agreement with Span LLC, thereby formally creating MTI-Unitower Network Services Limited, as a joint venture company, to provide and manage tower infrastructure for wireless telecom operators.

Nwuche said that this deal with Span would enable MTI to the setting up a world class telecoms infrastructure company made up of a management and technical operatorship with knowledge and expertise in co-location telecommunication infrastructure networks, in addition to run, operate and manage MTI Unitower Network Services Limited on a day to day basis.

The first part of the agreement with SPAN was endorsed in June 2008.

Equally, ITRealms Online, notes that MTI Plc had acquired an infrastructure sharing and co-location license from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),for its joint venture company, MTI-Unitower Network Services Limited, to facilitate its commercial operations in tower leasing, infrastructure management and asset acquisition and lease back, in the telecom infrastructure sub-sector.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Mobitel targets September roll-out

•Plans 40,000 fixed lines

Still in the euphoria of its latest 2.3 Gega Hertz (GHz) license, the returnee Mobitel Nigeria Limited, has awarded various contracts worth over $37 million (about N5.4 billion) to hasten its targeted roll out of 40,000 fixed lines by September this year.

Sources close to the company, informed ITRealms Online in Lagos, last weekend, that the telco has concluded plans to hit the market with 40,000 fixed lines, which it would offer alongside 1,400 free minutes on voice for each of its subscribers.

According to our sources, all efforts are geared towards going to the market on or before September 2009, just as Mobitel may have invested over $300 million till date.

ITRealms Online reliably gathered that Mobitel which expended over $100 million to return to the active table in the industry, is expected to engage some 600 staff.

Equally, it was gathered that out of the $37 million contracts awarded so far, VocalTec got $6 million for the first phase of a cutting-edge Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platform, Alvarion of Isreal got $8 million for the first phase roll-out of 50 base stations in four main cities.

Also, Mobitel said it has awarded Main One Technologies the sum of $23 million for 2.5 Gega bit for a five year deal, just as co-location infrastructure providers, IHS and Helios Towers, have been signed on, while a forth night ago, the telco signed on Phase3 for its national transmission, even as Gateway Communications was given some contracts too.

Mobitel, a pioneering provider of telecommunications services in Nigeria is wholly acquired by a consortium led by Omni Ventures in 2008 and offers fixed and wireless voice, data and value-added services focusing on small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and high-end consumers across the country.

Mobitel maintains nationwide frequency spectrum allocations and a set of licenses that could be converted into a unified access service license. Powered by leading-edge WiMAX technology and a rigorously engineered network enabling the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective solutions, Mobitel provides a tailored service offering through an innovative sales-channel and customer-care strategy.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Nokia launches 3 entry phones

Mobile device giant, Nokia, has launched three new entry phones; Nokia 7020, 2330 and 2720, into the Nigerian market.

Vice President at Nokia for Entry Category Markets, Mr. Alex Lambeek, who performed the launch in Lagos, said that Nokia tends to bring the Internet into emerging markets closer to the people.

The latest from the Nokia shelf, Lambeek said, would encourage mobile information and entertainment flow among families and friends.

The Nokia 2720, for instance, he said, comes Internet-ready and works with Nokia’s range of emerging market services such as Nokia Life Tools and Ovi Mail, thus creating solutions that help people get ahead.

As said by him, the power of the internet is undeniable and Nokia as a mobile device company has since realized this fact.

“We’ve seen mobile technologies catalyzing the growth of the informal sector across the world, empowering local entrepreneurs and having an immediate and lasting impact on people’s lives. Services like Nokia Life Tools and Ovi Mail, combined with the mobile phones we’re launching today, bring powerful solutions that can be the gateway to knowledge, entertainment and people, without the need for a PC,” he said.

Extensive Nokia consumer research, he said, indicated that about half of the emerging market customers connect to the Internet over a mobile phone than a Personal Computer (PC).

“As a result, Nokia has developed locally relevant solutions that consist of affordable mobile phones and applications, designed and built from the ground up to meet the specific needs of customers in the developing world. Whilst many people are still primarily using voice and text, the Internet does offer a whole new range of opportunities,” he said.

Lambeek pointed out that Nokia Life Tools, for instance, is a service that enables people to make better informed decisions, find timely and relevant information, access learning opportunities and enjoy entertainment regardless of time or place.

A pilot study in India, he said, showed that the services had high appeal for livelihood and life improvement services. Nokia Life Tools will soon be available in Nigeria.

Another service aimed at the developing world is Ovi Mail, which has the potential to be the first digital identity for many people in emerging markets. Unlike most other email services, an Ovi Mail account can be created and used directly on a Nokia device without ever having to use a PC. Since the launch of the beta service in December 2008, around 90 per cent of the accounts were created on a Nokia phone.

Lambeek stressed that with the longstanding commitment in emerging markets, Nokia customers could now be confident that any product from its stable meets a strict and consistent set of high-quality standards.

This, he said, is particularly important in markets where technical assistance and repair shops are not easily accessible.”

For Nokia 2720, a compact fold phone with an exciting mirror-effect design, he said, helps people stay organized with easy access to email, calendar, Internet connectivity and file sharing applications.

“Email can be activated by completing a simple three step set-up process,” he asserted.

On the Nokia 2330 classic, he said, it comes with discreetly premium looks and trusted quality offers easy access to Nokia Life Tools, Mail on Ovi, and the internet. In addition, the Nokia 2330 classic includes a camera.

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Weco, Cisco deliver contact solution to Access Bank

Systems integrators, Weco System International is partnering with Global inter-networking service provider, Cisco Systems and Oracle Corporation to deliver contact centre solution to one of the nation’s leading bank, Access Bank plc.

Mr. Richard Edet of Cisco Nigeria, said that the decision by the management of the bank to go for a full scale multimedia internet protocol contact centre was to re-position itself for the challenges ahead and create a competitive advantage through excellent customer service delivery.

This, he also said, would enable the bank to focus on wholesale business, while harnessing opportunities in the retail banking market segment in the nation’s financial industry.

A contact centre is a central portal in an enterprise from which all customer contacts are managed and is flaunted generally as part of an enterprise’s overall Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

He explained that typically this kind of CRM is equipped with software that allows contact information, enquiries or service requests to be routed to appropriate people, contacts to be tracked and data to be gathered.

Although he noted that Cisco does not deploy its solution directly to customers’ sites, it, however, has relevant local partners like Weco Systems to deliver this solution at the door steps of the customers.

Weco, he said, was recently awarded the highest Cisco certification for the sub-Saharan Africa, hence they were at home with what they have been doing for the industry.

Edet said this explains why Cisco was confident that Weco could deploy and deliver the right solution to assist the Nigerian financial institutions including Access Bank to achieve global relevance.

Head, Public Relations at Access Bank, Mr. Austin Edoja-Peters, said in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online that the state-of-the art contact centre, was launched in August last year, as a multi-channel service-enhancement platform that is already facilitating un-restricted interaction between the bank and its valued customers.

He revealed that the solution has enabled its customers the option of reaching it through several customer interaction channels like live telephone-based interaction, telephone self-service tone, telephone self-sales, e-mail management, SMS, live chat and fax.

The solution, involves the installation of Interactive Voice Response (IVR), telephone banking, which accepts a combination of voice telephone input and touch-tone keypad selection and provides appropriate responses for effective and efficient telephone banking services.

The world-acclaimed CRM application, he said, facilitates customer resolution processes; wall board solutions and other monitoring tools to display real-time activities in the contact centre; inspiration pro compact application which enables real time voice and screen monitoring, in order to ensure delivery of excellent customer services; automatic call distributors, which is a telephone facility that manages incoming calls by routing them to the available operators as well as live chat application, which facilitates the communication process between customers and the company real time via the website.

Edoja-Peters said the benefits of the solution over its competitors since the launch of the solution have been enormous. According to him, the bank is now proud of convenient 24/7 telephone banking service to carry out transactions like balance enquiry on all customers accounts including the visa card account, mini statement enquiry, funds transfer between accounts and third-party accounts within the bank, booking term deposits, cheque book requisition, draft requisition, account statement requisition among others from the comfort of the bank’s customers’ homes, offices or cars.

Affirming this development, Executive Director and chief technology officer, Weco Systems, Mr. Obinna Ekwonwa, explained that this solution is indeed the first in Sub-Sahara Africa, where there is a live and full integration of Oracle Siebel CRM solution with Next Generation CISCO IP Contact Centre.

“We are indeed proud to have provided the systems integration practice across this deployment with our OEM partners, Cisco Systems and Oracle,” he said.

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Forum seeks input on plan of action

The Technical Committee of the just concluded Co-Location forum, which held in Lagos recently, has called for input into an evolving industry plan of action soon to be made public.

The event organized by Telecom Answers Associates (TAA) in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is expected to use the post-event comment to strengthen its proposed Plan of Action.

“We invite you to contribute to the Co-location and Infrastructure Sharing Sector plan of action,” Managing Consultant of TAA, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu said.

According to him, a business forum of telecommunication industry players and financiers was held in Lagos on May 19, 2009 with 227 delegates, 38 of them drawn from the chief executive level of telecommunications companies and financial institutions in attendance. Also, eight presentations were made and discussed.

Pointing out that the committee is, at this moment, working on the presentations and discussion to prepare an Industry Plan of Action.

“The document, which will also contain a compendium of industry on the subject matter when completed, will be forwarded to telecommunication authorities with a view to giving an industry view, which we expect will be of immense assistance to the regulatory authorities in their work,” part of the statement read, even as email copy will be sent to all delegates.

While appreciating Senator Sylvester Anyanwu, senate committee chairman on communications, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, executive vice-chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Helios Towers, the forum sponsor, the co-sponsors and the event partners for endorsing the initiative and for making it the success that it was, the committee requested those who have input, on behalf of TAA, to make on the proposed Plan of Action, whether they were at the Forum or not, to make such input by email to titi@cyberschuulnews.com.

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Panabiz reiterates commitment to service delivery

Leading office automation and telecommunications equipment provider, Panabiz International Limited, has reiterated its commitment to customer service delivery.

General Manager, Panabiz International, Ms Nisha Sajnani, gave this assurance at a session with customers in its Surulere-Lagos office, last weekend, stressing that the firm is committed to delivery of high quality products and service delivery as a way to maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Sajnani also said that the company is strongly committed to building on its core competencies, particularly in after sales service.

This, she explained, has enhanced the capacity of the company to pursue its mission of providing the need based solutions to its consumers.

“Over the years, by adhering to the corporate philosophy of customer satisfaction through high quality service, the company has grown from strength to strength.

Today, Panabiz has become a Total Solution Provider for all office automation and telecommunications requirement of its customers”.  Sajnani declared.

Pointing out that all Panabiz products are backed by a team of highly professional and trained engineers to provide effective after sales service and support with adequate supply of spare parts, consumables among others, in order to ensure that the company delivers the very best quality to its consumers.

She equally said that as part of its continuous endeavor to offer the latest generation product solutions, the company has concluded plans to introduce new products in the coming months.

She listed some of the products as telecom solutions, which include call management solutions, hotel management solutions, call centre solutions, and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions.

Addition, she listed security surveillance solutions and digital signage solutions, which include Panasonic range of network cameras and iPro CCTV cameras and Panasonic Plasma display panels.

Over the years, Panabiz has been responsible for the launch of latest and state-of-the-art technology Panasonic colour copiers into the Nigerian market.

The new generation copiers is a very useful tool for government departments, educational institutions, oil & gas companies, banking, manufacturing, engineering, advertising agencies, churches to name a few, to help them make beautiful presentations, scan, fax, and email their documents effortlessly.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

‘Mobitel met all criteria for 2.3GHz’

Management of the resuscitated Mobitel Nigeria Limited, has described as spurious, some media report alleging that the telecom company was not capable of acquiring the latest 2.3 Gega Hertz (GHz) license, saying that it met all the necessary criteria under the Communications Act as being implemented by the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

ITRealms Online recalls that some news report had it that a waiver was granted to Mobitel allegedly amounting to about 90 per cent of the telco’s debt, yet it was able to pay over N1.3billion within five days for the 2.3GHz license.

Responding to the reports among others in a chat with ITRealms Online, last weekend, a senior management staff of the new Mobitel, who does not want the names in print, denied the reports, maintaining that NCC would not revalidate the operating license of Mobitel if it has not done its own checks and made sure that everything is correctly sorted out.

Mobitel, our source, said, has a letter of revalidation of its license from NCC signed by Director of Legal, Mr. Steve Adzenge, outlining all the outstanding and clearances obtained thereof in order for the commission to endorse the return of Mobitel.

Our sources explained that the supposed amount of money owe NCC by Mobitel before now were accumulated annual operating fees, of which the company was not operating since the murder of its founder, Chief Alaba Joseph, in 2005, in other words, company cannot be paying debt while not in operation.

“There is an annual operating levy of 2.1 per cent, which the old Mobitel has not paid (while in comatose), which amounted to about N746 million and we paid N500m and pleaded with NCC to understand that for about five years Mobitel was not operating and we engaged NCC. As for other operators we have negotiated settlement.

ITRealms Online were told that there was no waiver per se, but very necessary steps were taken by the regulator towards the resuscitation of the company through a concession

Omni Ventures, our sources said, on acquisition of Mobitel in 2008 paid estimated $30 million after settling all outstanding and renegotiating terms with indebted operators, most of which were actually written off, citing an instance of MTN Nigeria Communications, which encouraged Mobitel’s return by cancelling its outstanding debt.

According to our sources, the NCC should not have revalidated Mobitel license if it had not met all the necessary measures to reposition itself in the market or met the payment guidelines in the latest licensing granted in 2.3G by the regulator, of which it was one of the first to pay the stipulated fixed price through electronic money transfer.

Recalling what happened to CIL owned by Globacom Limited during the Digital Mobile Licensing (DML) offer, culminating in late payment, our source said, they took precaution, therefore on conclusion of the meeting between all the 40 bidders and NCC, Mobitel team within the next available working hours paid the required licensing fee by electronic transfer, which took about 20 minutes to hit the account number.

“Mobitel raised its fund via SkyeBank, which is leading other consortium of financiers and we paid N1,368,000 million, some days before the cut-off date,” our source declared, stressing that Mobitel has come to stay with one desire, “to play actively in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.”

The seeking of 2.3GHz, ITRealms Online gathered, was to enable the returnee Mobitel to play in the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) platform to re-launch itself into the nation’s ICT market.

Mobitel is a pioneering provider of telecommunications services in the country. Wholly acquired by a consortium led by Omni Ventures in 2008, Mobitel offers fixed and wireless voice, data and value-added services focusing on small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and high-end consumers across Nigeria.

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Group applauds process for 2.3GHz spectrum

The Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) has applauded the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the granting of the latest three licenses on 2.3 GHz), describing the process as ingenious.

President, NIG, Mr. Lanre Ajayi said that for NCC to have been able to peg the price for this frequency and yet conduct a transparent sale is inventive and deserves commendation.

He noted that auctioning is an easier process because the spectrum, which is a limited resource but desired by many, will simply go to the highest bidder. But this may drive broadband Internet out of reach of many Nigerians.

On the other hand, pegging the cost is more challenging, since it is more difficult to select who should have it out of many contestants.

“Pegging the cost of spectrum is certainly a way of lowering the cost of broadband Internet to Nigerians and guaranteeing deeper broadband penetration in the country,” he said.

NIG, it would be recalled has always canvassed a low cost of spectrum for broadband Internet to accelerate broadband penetration in Nigeria.

“We are glad NCC has been able to accomplish this,” he said.

In a press statement made available to newsmen in Lagos, the Group noted that many countries of the world are subsidizing broadband Internet to their citizens, Nigeria government should not over burden her own citizens by over pricing the cost of broadband spectrum.

While auctioning may be suitable for voice spectrum like in (GSM), it is certainly not appropriate for broadband spectrum because of the need to urgently get every Nigerian connected to broadband Internet.

“NIG is proud of the ingenious way NCC sold the 2.3 GHz, which pegged the cost of the spectrum and yet created a level playing field for the companies that earlier showed interest,” he declared.

Also, he said, that NIG believes that the transparent manner with which the transaction was concluded and the resultant lower rate of the spectrum, would spur affordable internet for the citizens.

“We had always believed this is one way to make internet affordable in Nigeria,” he said

The group maintained that the process was ingenious, explaining that if NCC had allowed it to linger into auction, highest bidders would pick the licenses but at a high cost, which would be translated eventually to the end-user.

“We applaud the outcome of the process. With this development, Nigerians should braze up for explosive e-Education, e-Health, e-Commerce, e-Government, and other e-Services which ride over Broadband Internet” NIG president said.

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CFIN’s online scheme’ll boost Nigeria – Olayiwola

Chairman, Certification Board, Computer Forensics Institutes Nigeria (CFIN), Dr. Peter Olayiwola has described the recent launch of the online training programmes of the institute as a turning point in Nigeria’s quest for technological development, reports CHARLES OKOH.

He also said that the nation will be the greatest beneficiary of the programme, noting that through this initiative, the door is open for all Nigerians including those in Diaspora to take advantage of what digital forensics has to offer in terms of knowledge, skills, expertise, experience, employment and consulting opportunities, wealth creation and digital computer security.

Dr. Olayiwola who spoke at CFIN national secretariat in Lagos, recently, said that CFIN, a professional organization approved by both the Federal Ministry of Education and Federal Ministry of Justice is about to develop digital and computer forensics experts who will  be equipped to contend with the challenges of digital-crime of different dimensions.

He emphasized that since the organization started operations last year, it has opened offices in Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna, even as he said that arrangements are on to appoint state coordinators for each of the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), just as it has presence in each of the geographical zones of the country.

The CFIN chairman said the aftermath of the boot camp held in Lagos, in March this year informed the decision of the organization to conduct online training based on the recommendation of participants at the residential boot camp training. 

According to him, CFIN annually conducts research and development into new and emerging technologies as well as methods in the science of computer forensics, stating that the certification offered by CFIN is the Chartered Computer Forensics Examiner, which is the result of CFIN’s desire to increase the level of professionalism and advancement  in the field  and science of computer forensics.

“The Certification board maintains a fair, uncompromised process for certifying the competence of computer forensics examiners and sets high forensics and ethical standards for digital and computer forensics examiners. CFIN administers the Chartered Computer Forensics Examiner certification to both law enforcement and non-law enforcement digital and computer forensics examiners who must not at first be computer science graduates,” he said.

Olayiwola said the online training programme is not only convenient but also allows one to complete all courses via the internet, and is flexible while allowing students to attend class work at any time and from anywhere adding that this will also help prospective examiners with assignment questions providing them with additional educational resources, among other benefits.

He assured that CFIN will begin to export digital and computer forensics experts to other countries in the nearest future.

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NITEL workers to recover N1.1bn from First Bank

... Give 7-day ultimatum

Embattled Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) workers under the aegis of the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTAC) Thursday in Abuja gave the management of First Bank Nigeria Plc seven-day ultimatum within which to clear a $7 million debt (about N1.1billion) owed the organisation or face the wrath of the workers who are poised to prevent the bank from carrying usual statutory services to its customers, reports AUSTIN ASHAMU.

The group in a letter addressed to the Managing Director of the bank which was made available to ITRealms Online weekend, SSACTAC said the in-house union is left with no option than to issue a seven day notice to the bank to clear the matter for both parties interest to avoid crisis.  

According to the letter signed by the President and Deputy President of the Association, Comrades E.Y. Kazzah and Gabriel Abah, they said the debt accrued from non remittances of collection, unauthorised debits of account and letters of credits not completely drawn with the bank since 2002.

The union recalled that NITEL appointed financial consultants to screen and recover the monies. The consultants have established that First Bank as a consequence of the above reasons owes NITEL Plc monies running into millions, though it is disputed by First Bank.

“Several meetings, reconciliations and negotiations have been held with the management of the First Bank towards resolving this issue for years running now,” it said.

The union stated that the NITEL management at one point sought for the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), but the matter is yet to be resolved.
 
“In spite of all the effort, it has come to our understanding that First Bank Plc is still foot-dragging and has not displayed the willingness to resolve these issues diplomatically. NITEL staff are being owed 11 months salary arrears and this money will go a long way to ameliorate their sufferings,” the union said.
 
Further, the letter stated that after the seven days ultimatum, and the debt is not cleared, the workers would paralyze activities in all First Bank offices nationwide. 

Meanwhile, all the effort to reach the management of First Bank and precisely Mr. Steven Omanufeme, of the Brand Management Corporate Planning and Group Coordination at the bank proved abortive, at the weekend, as he was not responding to phone calls.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

.ng redelegation, a plus for NiRA


The successful conclusion of redelegation of the nation’s country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name .ng, stands as a major achievement for Nigeria, reports REMMY NWEKE.


Penultimate Wednesday, May 13, 2009, no doubt, is a date to remember for every loving Nigerian Internet enthusiast, mainly because it was the day another landmark history was made with the conclusion of the nation’s country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name .ng, with the current global coordinating internet agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

ICANN in the saddle:
It must be recognized that this feat is coming after over 13 years of the .ng registration with ICANN, an international not-to-profit corporation championing standardization of the internet community globally. Formed in 1998, ICANN involves participants from all over the world and is dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable, as well as bent on promoting competition by developing policies on the Internet’s unique identifiers and over the years it has impacted on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.

What’s TLD?
A country code top-level domain is an Internet top-level domain generally used or reserved for a country or a dependent territory. Some examples of ccTLD are .us for United States, .uk for United Kingdom, .de for Germany, .ng for Nigeria, .nz for New Zealand, and .eg for Egypt to name a few.

President, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), Mr. Ndukwe Kalu, said it is a milestone for the country to achieve the full local management and control of its ccTLD, .ng.

ITRealms Online recalls that .ng ccTLD expedition began precisely in 1995, with the first delegation to Mrs. Ibukun Odusote as the then administrative Point of Contact (POC). And by 2004 stakeholders were engulfed in controversy over who hosts the ccTLD locally, majorly between a non-governmental organization, the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) and Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), which attracted the attention of the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who consequently, directed the Nigerian Internet community represented by the G22 to reach a consensus on a not-for-profit and all inclusive entity to manage the .ng ccTLD, thus giving birth to NiRA board of trustees in 2005, proceeded by the election of the NIRA executive board in May 2007.

NiRA’s Vision 20-2011:
NiRA president, Kalu, described the conclusion of the exercise as a turning point in the existence of .ng ccTLD, having scaled through the processes as demanded by ICANN’s administrative affiliate, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

“For us, we have set our Vision 20 2020 as Vision 20 2011, that is, for Nigeria to make the ccTLD top 20 by year 2011,” he declared.

Also, Ndukwe said that with the conclusion, NiRA executive board inaugurated since May 2007, at an all-inclusive stakeholders meeting in Lagos, can now go full-length into the commercial aspect of the .ng management, which was entrusted on NiRA at inception.

As said by him, precisely 4pm GMT, May 13, 2009, Verisign implemented ICANN approved root server changes to the .ng ccTLD; while a few hours later IANA followed the board approved redelegation of the Nigerian ccTLD on its website, www.iana.org, stressing that effectively this brings to a close the much agitated local hosting of .ng ccTLD by Nigerian Internet community.

However, after the inauguration of the current exco, top on the agenda of NiRA was to ensure this conclusion among other challenges, due largely to the controversies .ng has generated in the recent past and also the emergence of NiRA into the polity.

Yet the executives were undaunted as they initiated one process after another, restructuring things by putting in place the required structure and infrastructure that would sustain the .ng ccTLD eventually.

Today, most stakeholders in the nation’s internet community agreed that those structures have paid off owing to the diligence of the exco-led by Ndukwe Kalu and his vice president, Mrs. Mary Uduma, who also represents the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) at NiRA, just as .ng ccTLD promises to offer its domains with the most robust technical infrastructure on the continent.

Standardizing .ng ccTLD:
“The .ng ccTLD is the only ccTLD with multiple anycast name servers offering local resolutions of .ng domain in over 40 cities in five continents with a 100 per cent uptime guarantee,” Kalu said, pointing out that Nigeria, as matter of fact, is the second country in Africa to have a fully automated registry with full Enhanced Parallel Port (EPP) making its access to be of a global standard that allows registrars from all over the world to interact with it.

EPP also known as Enhanced Capability Port (ECP) is a standard signaling method for bi-directional parallel communication between a computer and peripheral devices that offers the potential for much higher rates of data transfer than the original parallel signaling methods.

In other words, with the Nigerian registry, anyone can register .ng in seconds and be sure that the name would always be available and visitors to such websites would get translations of their domain names in over 40 local cities; making room for a better web presence.

For the Nigerian Internet community, this is truly a defining moment, which made NIRA the sponsoring organization and manager of the .ng ccTLD, hence bringing the .ng as desired to the greater participation of all stakeholders, both in government and private sector.


Respect for late Ajayi:

This landmark act has also accorded the former Director General, National IT Development Agency (NITDA), late Prof Gabriel Ajayi, to invariably have his final rest, with his name also rested from the IANA website; just as with the change, NIRA has deemphasized personalization of the domain managers, but rather used roles with the admin contact as the role of NIRA President, which could be any body occupying such a position.

NIRA, therefore, has exhibited commitment for the population of .ng ccTLD and would soon outline key projects toward achieving its Vision 20 2011. Kalu also noted that with this development in the Nigerian cyberspace countless opportunities would be available to both the state and citizens.

MOU for .ng:
Noteworthy is that last year, NiRA entered an agreement with NITDA which spurred the end result of today, the redelegation without controversy, attracting commendations from stakeholders and the Internet community precisely, most of who described the development as a positive chapter in the annals of Internet development in the country.

And following the MoU, NiRA filed for the redelegation without forgetting to invite comments on 13-policy documents to guide its operations.

The first sets of policies, he said, were 11 domain related including policy development process, domain name policy, special domain name policy, fees policy, privacy policy and dispute resolution policy. He listed others to comprise policies on general registration rules, registrant agreement, registrar agreement, registrar accreditation process and glossary as contained in the policy documents.

Kalu pointed out that apart from the above 11 named documents, there were two policy documents specifically mapped out to ensure good corporate governance in management of affairs of NiRA, thus aligning its procedure with international best practices.

Warming up for 2010 public meeting:
This redelegation is apt, mostly now that Nigeria has proposed to host ICANN’s international meeting by 2010, of which ICANN official recently visited Nigeria and had meeting with NiRA officials and NCC in Abuja, just as Nigeria has already set up a Local Organising Committee (LOC) led by the Director of Licensing at NCC and Vice president, NiRA, Mrs. Mary Uduma.Confirming this, the Regional Manager for Africa at ICANN, Ms Anne Rachel Inne, informed that Nigeria has sent an Expression of Interest to host the 2010 meeting to the ICANN team in-charge, and applauded NiRA and Nigeria for a successful redelegation of .ng.

Stakeholders comment:

For the chief executive, IceCool, a team of website developers, Mr. Destiny Amana, when Mr. Kalu and his team were elected into NiRA exco, stakeholders were at lost as to what to expect as the task of moving .ng into the hands of Nigerians had eluded the internet community for a long time.

“But, after a trying time and through so-tricky Information Technology maneuvering, the president has successfully changed delegation from Randy Bush, whom we are thankful to for hosting .ng for as long as he did,” Amana said.

Ndukwe’s team, he said, has established a standard compliant registry as a legacy for future generations and has involved the pioneer registrars all the way through the process.

Amana further commended the technical committee for pulling redelegation processes off and tasked the registrars to ensure the Vision 20 2011 is realizable byway of “make .ng number 1.”

NCS president, Prof. Charles Uwadia, while reacting said that the nation’s Internet community is happy for finally taken charge of its own online identity, .ng. “The nation has all it takes to manage it effectively both administratively and technically, so stakeholders are happy,” he asserted.

Tapping .ng advantage:
Like Amana noted, the responsibility of popularizing .ng, apart from resting on registrars, equally lays on both public and private sectors in the country to embrace .ng, the nation’s identity in the cyberspace, so as to help Ndukwe’s dream team in achieving yet another mile stone of 20 2011 for the country, more so, when .ng is touted as the cheapest domain name to get in recent times.

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Starcomms lights up Awka, Umuahia... 3 other cities

THE Anambra State capital, Awka and its Abia counterpart, Umuahia, are now connected on the Starcomms network. This was in addition to three other cities, namely Nnewi, Ilorin the Kwara State capital and Sapele in Delta State, where Starcomms has established its presence.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Starcomms Plc, Mr. Maher Qubain, while announcing these latest additions on the network, said it is part of the telecom’s determination to take quality services to more Nigerians that spurred the completion of the expansion plan which commenced over a year ago.

Starcomms Plc, as a leading telecommunications operator in the country, he said, has extended its coverage to five more cities in the country, with South East having three, viz Awka, Umuahia and Nnewi.

Mr. Qubain explained that Starcomms’ effort at linking-up to these cities, was expression of its poise to give quality products and services backed up with cutting-edge technology to more cities in the country.

At Starcomms, he said, the operator believes in giving people value for their money, hence the new cities on the network are bound to have quality communication through it offerings.

“At the disposal of our prospective subscribers would be world-class telecom services, products and packages, all tailored toward meeting all communication needs. We are known for bringing innovative and affordable solutions and access devices to all areas under our network,” he declared.

The operator, he assured, would always be on the lead in bringing innovativeness to telecommunications services in the country and has also initiated a feedback access direct from subscribers to the CEO of the company.

“In cases where challenges are not satisfactorily addressed by other departments, we have made available an email address, ceo.customercare@starcomms.com, where customers can reach me directly,” Qubain disclosed.

Starcomms subscribers, according to him, in these five new cities would be offered products and services that would revolutionize their communication experience.

“These include the fixed wireless service which is available on Starcomms network in all the other cities already under its coverage. The subscribers will also have access to the 07028 & 07029 roaming services. These come with value added services like call waiting and missed call notification,” he asserted, stressing that the call waiting services would allow them to carry out two conversations interchangeably without losing any of the calls.

On the missed call notification, he said, it would keep subscribers abreast of all the calls that come into their phone when they switch off or move out of service range.

He further said that apart from this, Starcomms customers will also enjoy several other products and services, including the 1x CDMA Internet access, especially the Starcomms Neo, which offers them the benefit of surfing the web at a cost effective rate.

On the ongoing Starcomms talktime bonanza, he said, it is another package that will come to Awka, Umuahia, Nnewi, Ilorin and Sapele with the current roll out.

Enlightening that in this offer, for every N500 recharge, subscribers would enjoy a bonus airtime of N50, bringing a total airtime of N550 or 10 per cent free airtime on recharge.

While N1,000 recharge card attracts airtime bonus of N150 and a total airtime of N1,150.

Equally, he said that subscribers who recharge with N2000 will be richer by N500 as airtime bonus.

“Thereby enjoying 20 per cent free airtime,” he said, noting, however that N5000 recharge will attract an airtime bonus of N1,250, bringing a total airtime of N6,250 or 25 per cent of free airtime.

In addition, he said, that Starcomms Smart Centre an innovative concept aimed at revolutionizing the pay phone business in the country, would form part of the package prepared for the cities for the empowerment of the citizens.

“It provides more profit and more opportunity for call operators to tap into the cutting-edge technology of Starcomms. With two models in place: Smart Centre for the youth and business people, the ultimate aim is the economic prosperity of the operator in terms of profit,” he submitted.

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750,000 laptops up for grabs @ CNP promo

Computerize Nigeria Project (CNP), is collaborating with four global Personal Computer (PC) brands in dangling 750,000 laptops before Nigerians in a joint project promotion, aimed at encouraging the use of computers in the country.

Chief executive officer, Computerize Nigeria Project, Mrs. Vivian Abii, who disclosed this at the weekend, said that history has been made as the leading four international original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have come under one umbrella for a common purpose.

She listed the four OEMs in this promo to include ACER, Hewlett Packard (HP), Toshiba and Zinox, noting that by injecting such number of laptops into the Nigerian market, definitely the offer is coming at bottom prices.

She explained that the promo seeks to enhance computer ownership, Information Technology (IT) competencies and increased productivity on a national level is endorsed by Microsoft, world Number1 software house.

She pointed out that primarily, the 750,000 laptops promo would empower civil servants at the three tiers of government, staff of organized private sector, military and para-military personnel students and staff of educational institutions as well as cooperatives.

The promo, according to her, eases out the problems of the many computer ownership or purchasing schemes in the market today.

“Firstly, it addresses the often expressed consumer desire to have a wide range of brand choices from which to choose, as traditionally, an OEM would offer only its own brand in its ownership scheme,” she said.

CNP, she said, has broken all the barriers of competition and the OEMs ACER, HP, Toshiba, and Zinox are offered to consumers under one roof at prices hitherto unmatched.

Mrs. Abii enumerated other consumer benefits to include no bank guarantees, thus bringing an end to the tedious documentation and the endless come-today-come-tomorrow that have frustrated many prospects.

“Consumers enjoy value for money whether they pay in cash or take advantage of the flexible payment terms with interests below bank prevailing rates,” she said.

The result of this kind of promo, Mrs. Abii said, is that the 750,000 laptops promo has made laptops cheaper and easier to purchase, while encouraging the growth of a credit culture in the economy.

“That was the ultimate aim for this partnership between leading OEMs in Nigeria,” she said.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online, weekend, quoted the Country Sales Representative for ACER, Mr. Charles Igboa, as saying that ACER’s participation in the 750,000 laptops promo underscores the company’s commitment to empower people.

He also said that ACER, like the other participating OEMs has made substantial discounts to bring prices down because of the belief that this promo would help break the barrier between technology and people.

Mr. Igboa urged the working class in the country to take advantage of the unique incentives of this promo and computerize their offices and homes.

Toshiba’s Business Manager for West Africa, Mr. Simeon Gotley, said that the promo has a huge opportunity for Toshiba to make remarkable contributions in the country.

Further, he said, that the timing of the promo signified the conviction of the OEMs that only appropriate technology could help Nigeria to survive the on-going global economic crisis.

ITRealms Online, recalls that Computerize Nigeria Project Ltd was launched in 2001 by the NLC President Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is currently the Executive Governor of Edo state, in the presence of the then Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim, Executive Governors, Senators, Ministers, among others.

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SAP to host SME world tour in Lagos

Software technology-driven company, SAP Africa, has concluded plans to host a one-day Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) world tour in Lagos, tomorrow.

This is coming on the heels of a similar tour hosted recently in South Africa.

A statement endorsed by the director of SME business at SAP Africa and Managing director, Messrs Derek Kudsee and Pfungwa Serima, respectively, indicated that top on the agenda is why the SME market in Nigeria is positioned as intelligent business in, making investments in the current economic meltdown.

Highlight, they said would focus on how SAP is gearing this market up for success beyond the current economic situation.

According to them, the global markets have established and come to terms that the world is under recession, but “we are also told that this recession will pass sooner or later.”

Pointing out that when eventually that happens, companies that have managed to fend themselves against this situation will surely emerge with new business models and strategies for the future, stressing that it is no secret that SME market is the driving force of innovation and job creation in the economy, but this is also the section of the economy that is facing most challenges.

They explained that many software companies have recognised that the economic growth will come from the SME sector, thus becoming the seed for the next wave of large enterprises.

Kudsee, therefore said, that SAP has made significant inroads into the SME market and would be ready to answer the question: what will the future SME look like, noting that SAP’s world tour holding in Lagos, tomorrow, Thursday, May 21, would afford participants to share in the firm’s visions on the approaches that the organisations need to take.

The SAP SME world tour is a flagship event that stops in 50 SAP regions. The event is hosted for the first time in Nigeria; its third stop of four in Africa after its huge success in Johannesburg last year.

SAP Africa has announced that it is building on the success of last year’s inaugural SAP SME world tour by hosting this event in major centres in South Africa, as well as Nigeria.

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Ndukwe harps on ICT tools

THE Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Ernest Ndukwe, has said that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) tools remain veritable means for any nation to achieve greatness without it which, it may be difficult to explore full potential in today’s world.

Ndukwe who was speaking at the recently concluded Computer, Telecommunications and Online Service (CTO) conference and exhibition in Lagos, also said that a World Bank report has shown that firms that use ICT grow faster and are more productive and profitable than those that do not.

“Two new reports by the World Bank on the world economic forum underline the facts that economic development depends on overall progressing countries ICT sector, and that without such progress the economy and the companies in the business sector suffer. The study also shows that firms that use ICT grow faster and are more productive and profitable than those that do not,” he said.

Speaking on Partnership in Technology “The best way to diffuse technology and empower the citizens,” the NCC boss said access to broadband remains a key to keeping small business competitive in any modern economy, stressing that, investment in ICT can reduce the burden of inadequate infrastructure, access to rural and poor economy, particularly in transportation and rural access.

“ICT can enable them to save both time and money, if they are able to access information and services closer to where they live and operate from. ICT is increasingly becoming critical to local producers to co-ordinate their activities, avail themselves of national and global opportunities as well as withstand competition in their domestic markets,” he said.

Ndukwe further said that survival and growth depend on innovativeness in the use of ICT, which, he noted, is becoming embedded in production, distribution, marketing and planning process at all levels.

In the informal sector, he said, the source of livelihood of most of the world’s poor and a large percentage of women, ICT can assist with the delivery of social services with microfinance, strengthening strategies and income generation.

He equally said there is need to encourage technology diffusion in order to enhance performance generally, noting that all it takes is for one to embrace ICT and use same to the advantage of all.

The EVC said the Nigerian government is passionate and committed to forging partnership and diffusion of technology in the country.

The CTO which began Monday, May 11 and lasted till Friday 15, is an annual event organized by the commercial section of the United States embassy in Nigeria.

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Winners emerge in Nigeria Imagine Cup

Amid stiff competition, Team X, last weekend emerged winners of the Nigeria Microsoft Imagine Cup, which held at the Information and Communication Centre, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka.

According to Mr. Ade Famoti of Microsoft Nigeria Limited, Team X whose members are Ezeokoye Celestine (leader), Bello John and Akinnawo Opeyemi, all of computer science department, UNILAG, will represent Nigeria at the Microsoft World competition in Egypt this July.

Mr. Famoti during the award presentation said that Team X won based on the multi-channel approach the group used in packaging their soft ware as well as the mode of presentation saying that “a good product with a bad marketer cannot sell”.

He stressed that the use of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Global Positioning System (GPS) and Short Messaging Service (SMS) by the group, targets the different classes of the Nigerian population and as such, will help in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations especially as it affects the third world countries like Nigeria.

He also urged the contestants to teach others their innovative ideas so that the knowledge will spread and have a positive impact on others.
Meanwhile, Team Ekah who won the most innovative solution award, emerged second runner up in the competition as a result of poor presentation of data while Team Indwell emerged the first runner up.

Explaining what is Imagine Cup, the Public Relations Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Mrs. Victoria Uwadoka noted that basic education is out of reach for too many people but this year, the Imagine Cup challenges the world’s most talented to “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today”.

“The United Nations has identified some of the hardest challenges in the world today in its Millennium Goals. IT students across Nigeria have seized the opportunity created by the Imagine cup as a guiding light to propose innovations that have the potential to drive change all over the world”, she said.

Mr. Clement Onawole of Softcraft Technology, congratulated all the students and urged them to be more focused on their efforts and to shun all forms of distraction and not to limit themselves as well as to see beyond their today’s potentials.

The seven participants from different universities across the nation were given 25 minutes for presentation of concept and demonstration by each team and after the judges’ deliberations, certificate of presentation was given to all the participants.

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FG regrets dysfunctional website ... Launches new sites

THE Federal Government on Monday said it regretted the dysfunction of its official website, www.nigeria.gov.ng, just as it launched two new sites.

ITRealms Online, last week, reported exclusively that the official federal government website was stale and has not been updated holistically in the last eight months, thus misleading.

The Federal Ministry of Information and Communications (FMIC) in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, signed by the Director, Information Technology at the ministry, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, said Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, regretted the inconvenience the dysfunctional national portal must have caused the public.

While acknowledging ITRealms Online’s report last Wednesday, she attributed the dysfunctional and inaccessibility of Federal Government’s website to a disagreement with the Internet Service Provider (ISP), which has taken long time to resolve.

“This unfortunate situation compelled the Ministry to launch a new website which became up and running for the past three weeks,” part of the statement read.
Mrs. Odusote add that government has launched two new websites in pursuit of its rebranding campaign.

“As part of the Re-branding Nigeria Project, the Federal Ministry of Information and Communications (FMIC) recently launched a new website, www.fmic.gov.ng, which will avail Nigerians and foreigners timely and important information about the people and government of Nigeria,” she said.

She added that the ministry’s website would help the Federal Government to have an interactive polling system that would engage Nigerians through a seamless feedback mechanism on government policies and programmes.

She also said the ministry set up another website, www.nigeriarebrands.com, for the re-branding Nigeria project, which will contain all materials relating to the scheme.

“The two websites are up and running as they are regularly updated,” she said.
Stating that while efforts are underway to resolve all issues surrounding the national portal, www.nigeria.gove.ng, the ministry said, Nigerians and foreigners alike who desire information on Nigeria, the Ministry and the re-branding project should visit www.fmic.gov.ng or www.nigeriarebrands.com.

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Multi-Links Telkom joins WAFICT sponsors

MULTI-Links Telkom has joined the array of sponsors of this year’s West African ICT Congress (WAFICT Congress 2009) and West African International Telecommunications and ICT exhibition (W.Afri.Tel).

The Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of Multi-Links Telkom Nigeria, Mrs. Ijeoma Abazie revealed that the telco is battle-ready for the show by confirming its status as silver sponsor for the congress, while at the same time declaring a major stake at the exhibition.

A letter signed by her equally confirmed that the Managing Director, Mr. Thami Msimango will actively participate at this year’s edition, especially as a speaker.

Msimango, she said, would be speaking alongside the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah of Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

The letter addressed to the organizers of the events affirmed Msimango participation, part of which read:

“We refer to your letter in respect of the WAFICT Congress 2009 inviting Mr. Thami Msimango, the Managing Director of Multi-Links Telkom as a key speaker at the WAFICT, running concurrently with W.Afri.Tel from June 2-4, 2009.

“We are pleased to inform you that Multi-Links Telkom’s management has accepted your invitation to speak at the plenary and also approved silver sponsorship of the Congress and our participation in the exhibition,” Mrs. Abazie said.

Reacting to the Multi-Links Telkom sponsorship of the congress and exhibition at West Africa’s biggest show, the Editor-in-chief, IT & Telecom Digest, the local organisers of the event, Mr. Mkpe Abang noted that when it was not clear whether private telephone operations could thrive in Nigeria, Multi-Links blazed the trail by becoming the first privately owned company to begin operations in December 1997.

“When many thought that the CDMA market was beginning to slow down in Nigeria, Telkom of South Africa knew otherwise, and came over and acquired Multi-Links, thereby transforming into Multi-Links Telkom,” he said.

Emphasizing that it was not surprising that this company is signaling that it has a clearer vision of the Nigerian telecom market than many thought, thus pitch its tent correctly.

“Surely the Nigerian CDMA market needs robust and dynamic players; and Multi-Links Telkom has proved that it is ready to take on the market very seriously,” he declared.

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MTN Project Fame-II kicks off in June

THE second edition of the MTN Nigeria’s sponsored youth talent contest for West Africa, would next month, June, kick off.

The organisers of the MTN Project Fame West Africa, a talent discovery and nurturing musical reality TV show, Ultima Studios Limited, seeks applications from youths across West Africa to register for auditioning.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online informed that prospective candidates are to indicate their interest by sending a Short Messaging Service (SMS) to 35850, in order to get their Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access the registration form on the official website: www.projectfamewestafrica.com.

They could also pick up registration forms at any of the MTN call centres across the country.

Affirming this, the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Bola Akingbade, said, the company is out to discover a new set of musical talents whose lives will be transformed in extraordinary ways.

“This is an opportunity for young individuals with artistic talent to be part of a musical academy, where they will be groomed in voice and dance training, musical performances as well as other creative techniques,” he said.

ITRealms Online recalled that the maiden edition achieved massive popularity among television viewers across West Africa.

The maiden edition also saw to the discovery of Inyanya Mbuk of Nigeria, who emerged the winner of the star prize of N2.5million, a fully loaded Toyota RAV 4, and a one-year recording contract.

Others were Nii Ankra of Ghana, the first runner up, with a prize of N1.5 million and a fully loaded Toyota Corolla; Praise Adejo of Nigeria, the second runner-up won N1million, and a Toyota Yaris while the third runner up, Annette Cookey, won N1million.

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Egwu commends Omatek’s e-learning scheme

Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, has commended Omatek Ventures Plc over its positive contributions towards the development of education in the country, saying the firm’s e-learning initiative is adding value.

Speaking recently at the launching of Omatek e-Learning Initiative and the unveiling of Omatek 8 and 10 inches Smartbooks for Schools in Abuja, Dr. Egwu said the administration of President Umaru Yar’adua recently unveiled the Ministry of Education’s Road Map, which is intended to harness and give direction to the Federal Government’s efforts aimed at strengthening capacity building and quality of education at all levels.

He also said the Omatek e-learning initiative is therefore a viable means of adding value to the Federal Government’s programme on e-Learning.

In addition, he reiterated that the FG road map considered the advantages of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) will bring to the academia, stressing that the unveiling of the Omatek products for the education sector is a testimony to the role the private sector could continue to play in the actualization of the country’s hopes for a brighter future for education.

Chairman, Omatek Ventures Plc, Dr. Tim Farinre, in his speech to the occasion, said, the Omatek e-learning initiative is a one-stop shop which provides a platform to ensure that information and communication technology tools are deployed to schools/classrooms under a carefully structured learning environment, equipped with internet connectivity to create virtual connectivity between students and teachers/lecturers. Thus he said, also involves the deployment of a robust content /curriculum development.

Also speaking, the Group Managing Director (GMD) Omatek, Mrs. Florence Seriki said the launch of Omatek e-learning initiative would help to transform the education sector, as well as create the needed path towards achieving sustainable growth especially in the development of ICT in all cadre of schools across the nation.

Seriki pointed out the scheme is a holistic solution to consolidate Omatek’s position in the education sector and would involve the provision of internet connectivity via the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) technology to stimulate the provision of hot-spots around schools, thus creating an enabling environment for teachers and students to deploy their Wirreless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) connectivity at will.

According to her, the e-Learning scheme is divided into modules for ease of deployment and these modules will help to streamline the processes where the practice of teaching and learning can enjoy intervention by the introduction of IT tools required to create an e-Learning environment across schools.

Mrs. Seriki said the hardware components of the scheme; the Omatek 8” and 10” Smartbooks, are specially designed with 60 Giga Bytes (GB) harddisk space and 512mb and 1Gb Random Access Memory (RAM) respectively for students and teachers in the educational sector and equipped with robust Wi-Fi coverage, portable and come in various attractive colours.

She explained that alternatively, there is available the 15.4” laptop for Teachers/Leacturers.

Also available under the scheme is the Omatek All-In-One compact PC which comes with a 14-17” flat screen with inbuilt CPU and Monitor. It is ideal for schools, computer/ ICT laboratories. The Omatek Compact comes with 80 gb HDD, combined PC and CPU, Wireless Mouse, Wi-Fi ready and its equipped with DVD Writer.

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POD launches online curriculum for students

An online educational curriculum focusing on conflict resolution and non-violence for teachers and students across the world is now available at http://education.peaceoneday.org.According to the Coordinator, Education Research and Development at Peace One Day (POD), Olivia Rainford, the two free education resources have thus far been created and the curriculum, is highly recommended for grades 6-12 in the United States (US) and KS 3 & 4 in the United Kingdom (UK).

Ms Rainford also said that the curriculum is aimed at fostering discussion among young people about peace and non-violence in their schools, local communities, and the world at large.

The resources work in conjunction with Jeremy Gilley’s award-winning documentary film The Day After Peace.

“As the founder of Peace One Day (POD), Jeremy Gilley was responsible for the unanimous adoption by United Nations (UN) member states of a day of global ceasefire and non-violence with a fixed calendar date, Peace Day - 21 September,” she said.

Peace Day, she said, has now been proved to save lives and inspire and empower individuals everywhere to take action toward a more peaceful world.

“On Peace Day 2007, 100 million people according to UN were actively engaged in Peace Day activities in over 200 countries,” she said.

She pointed out that the POD education resources look to advance active learning in the areas of conflict resolution, global citizenship, human rights and the link between sustainability and peace, using Peace Day 21 September as a focus.

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