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Monday, March 30, 2009

Foundation commends Multi-Links

The Indo Eye Care Foundation has commended Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator, Telkom Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited over its support to the Save-The-Sight campaign.

This support, the foundation said, has given hope to over 1,360 beneficiaries in three cities, namely Lagos, Abeokuta and Yola, in the past two months free of charge between February and March.

The Executive, Corporate Communications, Telkom Multi-Links, Mr. Tayo Ekundayo, in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online quoted a letter of commendation from the foundation, addressed to the Managing Director of the telco, as stating that in acknowledgement that free phones provided by Multi-Links was instrumental to the success of the work of the foundation at effectively and efficiently performing 1, 360 surgeries free of cost at the three locations across the country.

A trustee of the foundation, D. S. Mirani, was also quoted as saying, “Our organization works on the principles of ‘Save the Sight’ and without your significant contribution we could not have achieved our objectives effectively.”

Underscoring the intensity of the work already done by the organization, Mirani noted that the Foundation’s free eye camps have become a house hold name among the local masses across the nation in the past five years.

According to him, “in the past five years we have performed approximately 7,000 surgeries (absolutely free) including transplant of corneas.”

Noting though that the medical team who performed the operations has since returned to base in India, the legacy of their good work continues to cheer the patients who have benefitted from it.

“We shall not be exaggerating if we say that most of these persons who are treated by our doctors under the auspices of an Indian community may not have gotten their eyes treated in their life time. Most certainly many of them would have become blind, partially or wholly,” he asserted.

In savouring the partnership by Multi-Links, the foundation said, “We appreciate your kind support, association and participation and convey our hearty gratitude to you.”

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Glo enhances Voice SMS

Second National Operator (SNO) Globacom, has announced the enhancement of its Voice Short Messaging Service (Voice-SMS) with additional five new features.

A press statement from the operator made available to ITRealms Online enumerated the latest features to include “Save, Replay, Forward, Group Messaging and Reply.”

Globacom’s Head of Value Added Services (VAS), Mr. Samson Isa, while confirming this, said a user could now save a Voice-SMS on his phone, replay it any time he chooses and also forward it to his friends and relations, stressing that the group messaging feature enables the subscriber to send a voice message to a group of persons.

 According to Isa, complementing these are the skipping and validity features added to the service recently.

He explained that skipping enables subscribers to select and listen to any desired mail out of the lot in his mail box, instead of listening to all, one after the other before he gets to listen to the desired mail.

“With the service, the subscriber is able to skip some messages in order to listen to the intended mail,” he declared.

Isa also said that the Validity feature, avail users to save received voice messages for 10 days within which the recipient could still listen to them.

“This gives the subscriber the opportunity to read a message at his own time and at his discretion,” he said.

Recalling that Globacom had in February 2007 pioneered within the Nigerian telecom space the Voice Short Messaging Service, a package which allows subscribers to record and send a voice message to a recipient.

Isa emphasized that the service is a “talk” and “listen” messaging alternative to the regular “type” and “read” service provided by short messaging service (SMS).

“Glo Voice-SMS enables the user to add a personal touch to his message by recording his own voice and sending it to a recipient who in turn is able to listen to the voice of the sender. Thus the new service has the advantage of conveying the sender’s mood, passion and emotion along with the voice message, which the conventional SMS does not do,” he said.

Noting that with the conventional SMS, a subscriber could ‘type’ and ‘send’ his text message which is read at the receiving end, while the Glo Voice SMS allows the user to ‘dial’, ‘talk’ and ‘send’ the recorded voice message which is listened to by the receiver.

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MTN set to launch Mobile Lite in six geo-zones

Leader in telecommunications provisioning, MTN Nigeria is set to launch its latest in shelf, Mobile Lite, in the six geo-political zones of the country, just as it unveiled the service in Abuja.

Mobile Lite is a mobile assistance centres, launched in what the operator said is to take customer care to another level.

Customer Relations Executive, MTN Nigeria, Mr Akin Braithwaite, revealed this recently at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, during a customer forum in the city.

He said that Mobile Lite will be rolled out in the next couple of weeks in all six geo-political zones of the country.

As said by him, the mobile centres are the first of its kind in Nigeria, and are intended to assist subscribers with service-related challenges and are part of an ongoing strategy to improve the customer experience on the network.

He explained that Mobile Lite, which is essentially a state-of-the-art van equipped with broadband internet access and other essential facilities available in a traditional walk-in centre, will move around communities to assist MTN subscribers.

“It will bring succour to subscribers who, because of distance or their daily schedules, are not able to seek help for their service-related challenges at a traditional Customer Assistance Centre,” he said.

Since 2008, Braithwaite noted that MTN has invested millions of Naira into improving its customer care processes and infrastructure, comprising acquiring of the cutting-edge technology that now enables the company to treat its teeming customers as individuals with distinct tastes and preferences.

“Today, if any customer calls our customer assistance centre he is able to elect to converse in any of Nigeria’s major languages. Subsequently, when the same customer calls again, our intelligent   system automatically recognises him and routes his call according to his language preference.  This is just one of the many changes we have made in the way we relate with our customers,” he said.

Pointing out that MTN currently has about 2000 Connect Stores, and has plans to raise the figure to 6000 by next year.

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Kaspersky anti-virus wins award

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009 has been awarded the prestigious Choice of Channel 2008 Award in the Best New Product category for the Middle East and Africa, reports Charles Okoh.

The winners of the various Choice of Channel 2008 Awards were chosen by more than 1000 representatives from leading IT companies, major retail chains and computer stores based in the Middle East, of which the result saw Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009 emerging the Best New Product category.

Kaspersky Lab, a leading developer of secure content management solutions affirmed this weekend in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, quoted the Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa of the firm, Garry Kondakov, as saying that they are delighted to receive such a top award and are grateful to its partners for their support.

“Throughout 2008, Kaspersky Lab placed a lot of emphasis on developing the company’s business in the Middle East and Africa, and achieved some remarkable results – our sales in the region grew 410 per cent compared to the previous year. The Choice of
Channel 2008 Award is a clear reflection of Kaspersky Lab’s leading position in the Middle East’s IT market,” he said.

Kaspersky Lab received a similar award from EMEA distributors in February 2009, when it was named software vendor of the year.

Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009 were launched on the Middle East market in August 2008.

Kaspersky Lab represented in Nigeria by Priceworth Business Connections Limited delivers protection against IT security threats, including viruses, spyware, crimeware, hackers, phishing, and spam.

Priding itself as the provider of superior detection rates and industry’s fastest outbreak response time for home users, Kaspersky serves small and medium businesses (SMBs), large enterprises and the mobile computing environment.

Kaspersky technology is also used worldwide inside the products and services of the industry’s leading IT security solution providers.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fraudulent promos, sites worry operators


Operators of telecommunications across the networks in the country are now worried over the avalanche of fraudulent websites and promotions as well as the use of their trademarks for fraudulent purposes by scrupulous people.

ITRealms Online recalled that recently a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) had warned that it was not employing or hired any other recruitment agency apart from its human resource unit, to front for the company in engagement of staff, even as the operator disclaimed a website which was demanding money from people in pretence to register them for job opportunities in the telecom firm.

Just a fortnight ago, a leading Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and the Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom raised alarm over the usage of their recently ended promotions or even the on-going ones to engage subscribers fraudulently.

The unfortunate aspect is that these fraudulent acts could still be perpetrated through these networks as even Short Messaging Services (SMS) are deployed in the ugly scheme, most at times with cloned customer care numbers.

Alerting telecom users on its network on the fake promo website, Globacom said, it has become imperative for them nationwide to be wary of the activities of fraudsters who are bent on exploiting the on-going Glo Win n Rule promo to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians.

A press statement signed by its Executive Director, Legal Services at Globacom, Mrs. Gladys Talabi and made available to ITRealms Online, said the unscrupulous persons have designed a fake website, www.glowinners.com to defraud un-suspecting innocent Nigerians.

“What they do is to send SMS to innocent subscribers informing them that they have won huge sums of money in the ongoing Glo Win & Rule promo. They then ask the subscriber to call a number or go to the promo website to provide detailed information required to claim their prizes,” Mrs. Talabi said.

According to her, such information may then form the pool of resources which the swindlers could use to exploit the innocent subscribers, explaining that on the fake website, the scammers wrote: ‘’If you have received a message from our SMS Gateway as one of the promo winners, you are requested to verify your code here.”

She also enlightened that the fake site then provides links to other pages where personal information about the subscriber are to be provided, which include age, address, next of kin and so on.

Globacom, therefore, said, it had already sent SMS to alert its subscribers to beware of the fraudulent text messages.

“Officials of the telecom company disassociated Globacom from the website, promising that it would work with relevant government agencies in the country to combat the menace of cyber crime,” part of the statement read.

Clarifying that Globacom, does not send SMS to its subscribers when they win in any promo.

“Apart from this, when subscribers are called to inform them of their winning, they are directed to go to Globacom office nearest to them, where they meet Glo staff openly to verify their ownership of the line and to confirm their identity only.

Besides this, no other personal information is requested,” Mrs. Talabi stressed.
Hence, Globacom advised its subscribers to beware of such fraudsters whose stock in trade is not just to rip people of their hard earned money immediately, but also to gather information that would be used to con such subscribers, their families and friends in the near future.

Globacom promised that it would not rest on its oars in rewarding its subscribers in an open, transparent and verifiable manner.

In its own reaction to usage of its trademarks for fraudulent promos and fake websites, MTN Nigeria said it does not use Short Messaging Services (SMS) to call up winners, insisting that subscribers who won in any of its promos are called like Globacom, informed of their win and directed to approach any of its Friendship Centres nationwide, which are painted in the company’s colours.

Chief marketing officer (CMO), MTN Nigeria, Mr. Bola Akingbade, accompanied by the Corporate Services Executive, Mr. Wale Goodluck, at a recent media parley, warned Nigerian subscribers on the network to be wary of fraudulent promotions being perpetuated by a few Nigerians, insisting that MTN does not have any promo tagged ‘Yello Hunt’ for now.

MTN, Akingbade also said concluded its successful Treasure Hunt last February and subscribers need to be cautioned because the operator has never used SMS to notify any winner in its promo, but maintained that any campaign by MTN is carried out to compensate loyal customers and prizes presented publicly.

Hence, the telco has no reason whatsoever to demand sending of recharge cards for winners to redeem their prizes.

“Nigerians must be wary of what scammers are doing. MTN runs promos to reward customers and when people win, we call them and not via text messages,” he declared.

Akingbade equally warned subscribers to disregard any such SMS even if the scammers use his name or the names of any of MTN’s management staff as the sender.

“It does not mean it’s from us and we (MTN) don’t require you (subscriber) to bring this and that before claiming your prize in any of our promos,” he cautioned.

Akingbade explained that the moment a winner emerges in any of the promos and such a person can show proof of ownership, “we will give you your prize.”

Also speaking, the Corporate Services Executive, Mr. Wale Goodluck warned Nigerians, especially those on MTN network not to divulge any of their details to anybody for the sake of releasing their promo prizes.

“Don’t give out any details, be it an account number, Personal Identification Number (PIN) or any other personal details, because MTN does not need such information to redeem your prizes,” he advised.

Citing an instance, that even the MTN Treasure Hunt that ended last month, some Nigerians are still receiving SMS on that, insisting that MTN has no new promo called ‘Yello Hunt’ as being insinuated by fraudsters.

According to Goodluck, in recent times, MTN Nigeria has been mindful of couple of scammers and noted that it’s very necessary to warn Nigerians of this ugly development.

Stressing that technology is a good omen, but a few faceless Nigerians are deploying it negatively, which does not help in the drive to rebrand Nigeria as a country.
MTN Customer Care line, 180, he said, has even been cloned and could be used by these fraudsters to send messages that negate the purposes of technological development, which Nigerians are in dare need of.

Goodluck further decried a situation that has given rise to duplication of the operator’s real website among others.

“The best thing to do when you receive these fraudulent messages is to simply ignore them and delete. Never you reply them,” he advised.

In her comment, General Manager, Corporate Services, Mrs. Funmi Omogbenigun, reiterated that list of winners in any MTN promo is published in national dailies and MTN official website.

She counseled anybody in doubt to make good by contacting any of the MTN friendship centres nationwide for clarification.


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Copyright Commission and controversial raids


The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has been lately enmeshed in controversial piracy raids over rebroadcasting rights with some local channel operators. REMMY NWEKE x-rays contending issues and way forward.


Recently, both local and international media stormed their readers with various activities of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) in its bid to curb piracy-related issues in the country.

Particularly, the raid on some Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) operators, which left stakeholders wondering if actually officials of NCC were working for the growth and development of the industry or just operating within ‘its’ own laws invariably different from the Nigerian constitution.

Of precise attention was the revelation that NCC does not re-verify reports before raiding an organization under any allegation not mindful of the implications, let alone agree to apologize for a purported raiding, which turned unpleasant.

During the recent appearance before the National Assembly, especially, before the lower house’s committee on Justice based on the complaints registered by the management of Multimesh Communication Limited against NCC, it was astonishing to learnt that NCC does not engage suspects even indirectly before carrying out raids, at least, via thorough investigations, over what Multimesh termed as illegal closure of its broadcast stations, vandalization of transmission facilities and falsely  accusing it of indulging in piracy.

This, it was gathered was as a result of a dispute between Multimesh and HiTV, since last year over some contractual agreement that went sour, in which HiTV reported Multimesh to the NCC, alleging it was pirating its programmes. On the other hand, NCC said, it raided Multimesh station in Calabar, not knowing that its broadcast of HiTV programmes were based on a contractual agreement between the two companies, but refused to apologise.

Recounting the ordeal, the chief executive officer, Multimesh, Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa submitted to the Committee that on January 8, 2009, operatives and agents of NCC “vandalised, harassed and carted away transmitters and other equipments consequently shutting down the station on allegations by HiTV that they were pirating their programmes. In the course of this, we had to shut down transmission for three weeks. We lost about N36 million worth of equipments and about N30 million losses in revenue as we were unable to broadcast for about three weeks within the period.”

Sir Godfrey also said his company suffered a lot of credibility problem by the mere fact that the NCC branded it, Multimesh as pirates, insisting that his firm has a contractual agreement with HiTV to broadcast their signals in the South-South political zone with no restriction to channel.

“We cannot understand why this action was taken by the NCC, because we have already informed them by writing about the contractual agreement we have entered with HiTV before they raided us. We have tried to settle the matter between us, the NCC and HiTV after the intervention of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC),” he said, underlining the fact that his firm is not asking for damages, but wanted NCC to apologize over their actions, “So that we can restore our good name.”

The Legal Adviser to NCC at the session, Mr. Jacob Fagbemi told the committee that it had no prior knowledge of the two parties having a contractual agreement before the incident. “We are surprised to find out that the two companies had a contract. We acted based on the petition that HiTV sent to us that Multimesh was pirating its programmes from the station in Calabar. After we have made our surveillance we confirmed that Multimesh was actually broadcasting HiTV programmes. So, we clamped down on the station. We did not do it to please HiTV, but to enforce the law”, he said.

Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Hon. Henry Dickson (PDP/ Bayelsa) in his reaction ask if NCC would have raided the station if it knew of the agreement, Fagbemi said they would have acted differently, pointing out that it was not part of the Commission’s procedure to reach out to suspects before the raid. Dickson also expressed worry over the development, saying the Copyright agency was going out of its mandate to enforce contractual agreement that favours one side, instead of dealing with piracy or even bringing the two warring party to a roundtable.

Most of the members of the Committee equally expressed shock at the hard stand of NCC against Multimesh, more so that the company simply demanded an apology, not compensation, but promised to have a verdict that would be favourable to all parties in the case.

Although, Multimesh may have not ruled out plans completely to sue the Copyrights commission, but not after exhausting every other avenues for peaceful and amicable resolution of the issues at stake. Multimesh insisted that NCC raid was illegal.

Reports had it that NCC enforcement team led by one, Mr. Ajala and made up of armed police men, reportedly raided Multimesh office in Calabar, Cross River State and took away transmission equipment and damaged quite a number in the process.

Confirming this via a petition dated, January 8, 2009, and addressed to the Minster of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Mike Aondaokaa, and copied the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Sir Godfrey said the raid was malicious because the bone of contention was not piracy, but a business dispute as claimed by Entertainment Highway, even as he decried that NCC instead of resolving the issue amicably, deployed its enforcement team to Multimesh office in Calabar, describing the raid as “maliciously vandalizing its station in Calabar for reasons best known to them - NCC.”

“For the purpose of clarity, we have a subsisting three years agreement with Hitv and have paid for the rights for Rivers State; we have provided Hitv a N30,000,000 million, Bank Guarantee with another N18,000,000m upfront payment made into their account with GTB. We are not pirates as falsely reported by Mr. Toyin Subair,” Sir Godfrey stated in the petition. Appealing to the Minister for his personal intervention, saying that what happened was that since the initial execution of the agreement and payments made to Hitv Ltd.

“We have had a lingering misunderstanding over the rebroadcast rights and channel carriage license,” he said, noting that the development was well reported to the NCC and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), stressing that NBC was shunned by Subair in their attempt to settle the differences.

Raising a special complaint against the current Director General of NCC, Mr. Adebambo Adewopo, Sir Godfrey noted that Mr. DG had from inception of the relationship between Multimesh and HiTV been intimated with all the developments, but chose not to do anything, instead, he sent his men and policemen to raid Multimesh office.

Sir Godfrey alleged that Hitv plan is to sustain very strict monopoly and exclusivity which are in sharp contrast with the NBC laws. “My Lord, we are of the strong opinion that Mr. Toyin Subair and Management of Hitv and Highway Entertainment Ltd are deliberately harassing us and other cable operators in Nigeria in their greedy plan to maintain monopoly and exclusivity in airing the English Premier League (EPL) in Nigeria, which is completely against the National Broadcasting Code and the Federal Government Policy in deregulating and deepening the broadcast industry in Nigeria,” Multimesh boss said, insisting that two clauses under Dispute Resolution in contract status have not been exhausted before the latest NCC closure.

In his response via a telephone chat on the raid, the chief executive of HiTV, Mr. Toyin Subair, had told ITRealms Online then that he has one question for Multimesh; “Was there any agreement with us to cover which state?” Arguing that the only relative relationship HiTV has with Multimesh was of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital and even at that, it was inconclusive.

As said by Subair, Entertainment Highway believes in doing business the right way, hence, everything being offered to the Nigerian public have been paid for ahead of time. Decrying the attitude of some cable operators in the country who engage a company like Entertainment Highway, for the first time in a location and afterwards went ahead to broadcast it nationwide.

“They never intended to do business the right way,” he decried, explaining further that usually HiTV acquire its rights with three years bank guarantee, but local cable operators would want to pay monthly, which does not mean well for his company.

Attributing this attitude to the problems that have left the industry unprogressive before the coming of HiTV, about 20 months ago. Subair noted that it’s not even right for the economic growth of the country and advised Nigerians and cable operators, mostly, to learn how to do business right.

Also in a telephone conversation with the Director, Public Affairs at the Copyright Commission, Mr. Olisa Obi, confirmed the raid and eventual resolution, saying he read it in the newspapers, because he has been on vacation at that time. He was categorical that NCC, though a government agency do not destroy or demolish people’s equipment in the bid to enforce the law. ”We don’t demolish things, we can dismantle but we don’t demolish or destroy. We can only dismantle equipment and seize them during raids,” he said.

But, following the prompt intervention of NBC, the misunderstanding was put to rest with some clauses and agreement. Details of the resolution reached by NBC led by its Director General, Mr. Yomi Bolarinwa, between Multimesh and owners of HiTV, over rights to rebroadcast EPL signals in the South East and South South, established that a contract had earlier existed between the two organisations since 2007.

Thus giving credibility to the claims by Multimesh that what transpired was a mere business dispute and not a case of piracy. The deal which was signed by both parties read in part, thus in “Pursuant to Section 2 (1) (Q) of the National Broadcasting Commission Act No. 38 of 1992 (as amended), the NBC met with the representatives of Entertainment Highway Ltd and Multimesh Communications Ltd to resolve the dispute on Channel Carriage License Agreement for the broadcast of the EPL matches.

”Also resolved was that the Channel Carriage Agreement signed in 2007 between the parties still subsists; that Multimesh Communications Limited has agreed to pay for Calabar, Port Harcourt and Yenogoa where the premiership matches were being broadcast. Furthermore, Multimesh was directed to send a three (3) months upfront payment in advance and another three on post dated cheques, covering the season which ends in May 2009 to Entertainment Highway Limited. This latest resolution was confirmed via a telephone chat with the chief executive, HiTV, Mr. Toyin Subair.

Before now, a satellite and cable television provider, Metro Digital also based in Port Harcourt and led by Mr. John Nwafor, equally alleged misappropriation of justice by NCC based on HiTV allegations. It denied all piracy charges and even took both the Copyright Commission and HiTV to court. This follows the raid by NCC taskforce of Metro Digital before last June.

Subsequently, Metro Digital, filed lawsuits against the NCC for trespassing and human-rights violations. The cases were before Justice G.K. Olotu of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, asking for damages to the tune of US$200,000. Additionally, Metro Digital alleged monopoly case against HiTV, which initiated the complaints against it that led to the raids.

Nwafor, further said the raids were not conducted in line with legal procedures, and that HiTV wield undue influence on NCC toward implementation of its so-called mandate. His claim was that NCC entered their premises by force in Port Harcourt on December 30, 2007, with about 25 armed policemen, purportedly rented from a local police station without a court order or search warrants as required by the Nigeria law.

“They vandalized the facility using knives and pliers to cut transmission lines from transmitters and damaged almost everything that has any value at the broadcast station. They left no information on why they vandalized the facility. They also carried away most of the damaged equipment.”

Nwafor claimed that when Metro Digital tried to recover the equipment from the authorities - Police, the company was not able to make much progress because, alleging “HiTV has already paid them and gave them the instruction not to release our equipment to prevent us from getting back to air to service our subscribers.”

Pointing out that when he personally went to the Police station to recover the property, they – Police – had insisted that he must write a statement before going.
On discovering that Metro Digital purchased a new set of equipment and went back on air, Nwafor stated that NCC “attacked again on the instruction from HiTV,” vandalizing two Metro Digital facilities.

Responding to Metro Digital’s claims, head, legal and regulatory affairs, HiTV, Mr. Charles Ebuebu, said that Metro had been written previously over the piracy of the sporting channel, but all to no avail, before the matter was reported to NCC and the raid soon followed, noting that HiTV had acquired the rights to the English Premier League (EPL) for Nigeria for a three-year period beginning from the 2007/2008 season.

“The signals to the EPL matches meant for the mid-east territory were illegally down-linked by the use of Showtime smart cards purchased in the mid-east and re-transmitted to subscribers in the Port Harcourt, Onitsha and Asaba areas of the country by Metro Digital. Consequently and upon an incessant breach of our rights to the matches by Metro Digital as stated above, a report was made to the NCC,” Ebuebu said, insisting that it was based on further noncompliance by Metro Digital that the antipiracy enforcement raids were carried out by NCC. The raids took place on Dec. 30, 2007, and on May 6. NCC spokesman, Mr. Olisa Obi equally confirmed HiTV’s position.

Above all, one thing seemed consistent with the allegations by the operating companies against NCC, which centers on the legality of its actions, especially on the reported undue influence of HiTV, so also is the monopoly issue. Although ITRealms Online gathered that HiTV boss, Subair and NCC chief executive, have been friends even before the birth of HiTV.

Industry observers, agreed that there is need to draw a line between their relationships, which tasks NCC to limit its activities within the ambit of the law transparently for the growth of the industry in addition to probably setting up probe to ensure that such incident or loophole as witnessed in the case of Multimesh does not re-occur. Whereas, NCC is urged in all tents and purposes to accept to offer an apology to Multimesh, after all, the company was not demanding damages of its equipment, which have been put in millions.

As stakeholders await the outcome of the House Committee on Justice resolution, it is expected that once more, the committee would demonstrate that truly the nation is in democracy by encouraging NCC to offer the apology with caution that every due process must be followed to ensure that such massive error does not repeat itself.

Also imperative here is that public office holders must begin to learn the trade of courtesy, by apologizing when they are at fault, either by themselves or by proxy, since such apology would not reduce NCC or its leadership from what they are presently. Rather, it would portray them as civilized and law abiding agency.

Hence, NCC may be lucky with Multimesh, but definitely not with someone else. It is a fundamental stipulation that enforcement must be based on facts and not mere petitions, thus its advisable to reach out to suspects, even indirectly before eventual clamp down.

As said by one of the observers, if Multimesh had to take the option of court action, NCC cannot survive it, but has to pay for the costly mistake with tax payers’ money.

A word is said to be enough for the wise.

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IMPACT houses GCA, strengthens networks

The global headquarters of the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) was weekend, inaugurated in Cyberjaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to house the Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA).

GCA is an international framework for cooperation aimed at finding strategic solutions to boost confidence and security in an increasingly networked information society, spearheaded by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The new IMPACT headquarters was inaugurated by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi, who is also chairman of IMPACT’s International Advisory Board, and ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Touré.

IMPACT is the world’s first global public-private initiative against cyber-threats. This collaboration between ITU and IMPACT provides ITU’s 191 members states with the expertise, facilities, real-time information, and rapid access to resources to effectively address the world’s most serious cyber-threats. It will also provide training and skills development on the technical, legal and policy aspects of cybersecurity.

Commenting on the development, ITU chief scribe, Dr. Hamadoun Touré, said that cybersecurity is one of the most critical issues of this century.

“It is a global issue, demanding a truly global approach and it is therefore gratifying to see - and to be part of - this growing coalition against cyber-threats worldwide. The collaboration with IMPACT complements our efforts in strengthening cybersecurity and we look forward to expanding the cooperation between governments, the private sector and educational institutions,” he said.

According to the Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU, Mr. Sanjay Acharya, while the GCA will be housed at the IMPACT Centre, ITU will have a ‘virtual showcase’ in Geneva of the early warning system, crisis management and real-time analysis of global cyber threats.

“IMPACT initiatives, such as the Global Response Centre as well as training and skills development, security assurance, research, and international cooperation will be conducted under the auspices of the GCA,” he said.

On top of this, ITU said its Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) will facilitate the deployment of IMPACT services, such as the Global Response Centre (GRC), which aims at providing state-of-the-art cybersecurity capabilities for ITU member states to strengthen network security worldwide.

“The first phase of physical deployment has already been launched in some 20 countries. Further deployment in 50 countries is planned over the next year,” he said.

Chairman, IMPACT management board, Mr. Mohd Noor Amin, said, they were proud that IMPACT progress has been steady.

“We’re proud to announce that IMPACT’s operations have progressed positively since our inception. From 27 member countries during our launch in May 2008, the collaboration with ITU now allows the 191 ITU member states access to IMPACT’s facilities and enhanced international cooperation,” he asserted.

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ITAN hosts WITSA @ ‘09-ADIPENG

HARDWare interest group in the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN) in collaboration with the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), has advanced plans to host an international conference at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, next month, April 2009.

ITAN President, Dr Jimson Olufuye, made this known at a press conference in Lagos, weekend, revealing that a delegation from WITSA led by its chairman, Mr. Dato’ Dan E. Khoo is expected at the three-day meeting holding at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja between April 21-23, with theme: Advancing the Dynamics of ICT Policy Engineering for e-Government (ADIPENG-09).

He also said that the delegation is billed to promote Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria as part of nation’s benefit of its membership, inaugurate the WITSA/ITAN/NCS Government Advisory Group on April 23rd and play active role in ADIPENG 2009.

Olufuye, who was accompanied by the Regional Director, D-Link, Mr. Chris Uwaje, noted that a handful of state governments, business entities and the Federal Government have IT policies, and there is no doubt that these policies needed to be taken to the next level for better government service delivery on the e-platform for the people and for effective governance across the government and organisations.

“It is an opportunity for states, local government and entities without an ICT policy to adapt better practices for a leapfrog experience,” he declared, stressing that the international meeting would focus on ICT policy decision makers across all levels of government in the country.

“Federal, States, Local governments and corporate concern ICT decision makers are welcome,” he said.

ITAN president further said that WITSA chairman, Mr. Dato Dan E. Khoo, would be joined at the occasion by the World Bank Chief Economist to Nigeria, Mr. Ismail Radwan, chief executive, Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia, President, Nigerian Academy of Sciences, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Prof. Cleopas Angaye, NCS President, Prof. Charles Uwadia, as well as President of the Computer Professional Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) Prof. (Mrs) Adenike Osofisan.

The aforementioned guests, he said, would form part of the eminent Information Technology (IT) experts to make keynote presentations on April 21, which is the opening ceremony.

In addition, he said, Kano State Commissioner for Science and Technology, Dr. Bashir Galadanci, Mrs Clara Vrom of Ghana Investment Council, Director General, Koffi Anna Center for ICT Excellence, Dorothy Gordon, Director ECOWAS CCC, Dr Sola Afolabi, President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, and President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Dr. Emmanuel Ekunwem, would grace the occasion.

Others, he said, include the Managing Director, Programos Software, Mr. Emmanuel Amos, plus President AfriHub Ltd, Prof. Manny Aniebonam, chief executive, The Executive Cyberschuul, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu and Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola have been slated to be some of the key speakers at the event.

State Governments like Kano, Ogun and FCT Administration, he said, will be making presentations on their e-Government programmes.

“The workshop indeed will provide opportunities for local, state and federal governments to engage the visitors and one another on ICT investment potentials across Nigeria. It will also afford WITSA delegation ample opportunity for first hand assessment of the tremendous IT investment potentials in Nigeria,” he said.

Further, Olufuye said that it would open-up the non-oil and gas sector particularly the ICT, which is lagging behind in FDI into Nigeria, recalling that oil & gas currently attracts more than 55 per cent of the estimated US$9 billion yearly FDI into the country.

“With the Federal Government target of US$50b FDI yearly till 2020, this workshop is no doubt critical to the attainment of the Vision 2020 of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he said.

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Ogun, Omatek deal boost GICT

The Ogun State government owned Gateway ICT Limited has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Omatek Ventures Distribution Limited.

This is part of the state government’s strategies to boost the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in its domain.

Just as the state government said it was in the resolve to make the domain an information and communication technology (ICT) hub in the country.

Head, ICT and Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Gbenga Daniel, Mr. Soji Akin-Bankole, said at the ceremony that the MOU marks a turning point in ICT development in Ogun State.

Omatek, he said, has already entrenched itself in Ogun State and is recognized already by virtue of its wide distribution system to engender easy and convenient computer acquisition by all and sundry in the state.

Also, he said, Omatek would bring to bear, its competence in quality production cum after sales services, while GICT would act as the exclusive distributor of the co-branded Omatek-GICT laptops, desktops as well as other Omatek products in Ogun State.

An estimated 1,000 teachers, he disclosed have already been penciled down as beneficiaries, while there are plans to reach out to local governments in the state.

“The essence of the MOU is to ensure the sustainability of the mutual relationship between Ogun State and Omatek, even after the expiration of the tenure of the current administration,” he said.

In her remarks, the Group Managing Director, Omatek Ventures Plc, Mrs. Florence Seriki (MFR) expressed appreciation, especially on the trust the government and people of Ogun State repose on her company and the Omatek brand particularly.

According to her, the MOU with GICT would impact on more employment opportunities for Ogun State indigenes, as she foresees a factory eventually springing up from the new relationship.

Apart from employment opportunities, Mrs. Seriki noted that students also have the opportunity to have hands-on experience through the creation of Resource Centres to be cited in various locations in the state.

This, she said, would empower the youths, encourage technology transfer and know-how as well as bridge the digital divide.

Further, she said the partnership would also go a long way in creating window of
opportunities for resellers and franchisee in Ogun State to retail and distribute Omatek products.

Managing Director, Gateway Holdings Ltd, Mr. Gbenga Isiaka, the General Manager of GICT Limited, Mrs. Irene Ayorinde, Omatek representatives- the General Manager, Sales, Mr. Sunday Mukoro and the Chief Operating Officer of Omatek Engineering Services and Omatek Ventures Distribution Plc, Mr. Femi Numa witnessed the ceremony.

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IT, panacea to economic meltdown - Ndukwe

The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has said that deployment of Information Technology (IT) is the panacea for executives to scale through the current economic meltdown.

Addressing members of the Abuja branch of the Institute of Directors (IOD), last weekend at a session tagged: 2009 Information and Technology Evening, Dr. Ndukwe said advancement in modern technology has put Nigeria at par with the rest of world.

He also said that the Nigerian Directors, whether in Public or Private practice have no excuse to fail, because they have equal enablement like their counterparts in any other part of the world.

He pointed out that instead, the Directors have the advantage of the assemblage of these technologies, which if properly harnessed, could lead to efficiency and heightened productivity gains.

“The primary responsibility of Senior Executives and Directors is to run the affairs of their organizations efficiently by employing the most modern of facilities that enhance efficiency and consequently lead to better corporate performance,” Ndukwe said.

Liberalization of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry since 2001, he said, has led to widespread availability and networks, just as he enumerated some of the tools to include Blackberry, iPhone, Universal Serial Bus (USB) Modem Stick, Enterprise Application Software, Mobile Enterprise/Applications (Mobile ERP) e-Business Tools, e-hr, e-Audit, e-Banking and Internet Banking, among others, properly harnessed would lead to productivity gains and workflow efficiencies.

This, he noted, can only happen when Executives have access to their e-mails, calendars, and documents at a moment’s touch.

According to Ndukwe, a recent survey of Blackberry users, for instance, showed that on average, they recovered about 54 minutes a day, by being able to work remotely, which translates to a gain of 196 business hours a year.

As said by him, this tool, also improves workflow efficiency, because executives were able to remain fully functional members of their team while they were out of the office.

He further enlightened them on some key features of Blackberry, driven mainly by mobile technology, including integrated voice and data.

The USB Modem Stick has fully demystified the Internet technology as the enhanced stick provides it on the go.

Looking at the stick closely before the Directors, Dr. Ndukwe pointed out that the USB Modem Stick like the ones provided by all major telcos in the country presently, is “broadband on the Go.”

Powered by 3G technology, he explained that the sticks are almost identical to the data storage USB sticks, which enable the user to browse the web, send e-mails and download large files at high speed.

Arguing that no forward looking business executive can succeed without using ICT for his business, noting that even with the presence of secretaries and Personal Assistants (Pas), gone are the days when executives can successfully work without the use of ICT business tools.

“For the first time in our history, Nigeria is at par with the rest with the developed world during a global revolution. Thanks to our participation in the global telecommunications revolution, Nigerian Executives have access to the same tools employed by successful business and business Executives in the developed world. We can do what they do, access the same data that they do at the same time as when they do it,” he said.

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Stakeholders root for Titans of Tech expo

Stakeholders are warming up for this year’s edition of the Titans of Tech expo to be held in Lagos.

According to the organisers, led by the Managing Consultant, Technology Africa, Don Pedro Aganbi, some of those who have enlisted for the expo include Zinox Technologies, Systemtech and Karox.

He said that there is a strong indications that the number of exhibitors for the Titans of Tech 2009 expo and conference may exceed earlier expectation as Information and Communications Technologies firms scramble for space.

He also said that the like of Programos Software and Signal Alliance, have since booked their place for the exhibition.

“They join a hugely exciting list of companies which include Chams Plc, Wadof Software, Omatek Computers, Teledom Group, New Horizon, Helios Towers, NIIT among others,” he said, stressing that the focus of the Titans of Tech 2009 will be on enabling Nigeria and Nigerians to harness the benefits of creating a converged economy.

The event scheduled to take place between Wednesday 7 and Thursday, 8 April at the Muson Centre, in Lagos has the theme: “Realising the Potentials of a Converged Economy”.

Aganbi pointed out that the companies that have indicated interest to attend have demonstrated immense understanding of the potentials of convergence and will be at the exhibition to showcase latest technologies.

“And thus help to fast track deployment and adoption of converged devices and services in the country,” he said.

He further cited an instance with Karox, saying it is expected to storm the expo with its latest training models, courses and programmes in addition to opportunity for discounted training for selected visitors to the firm’s stand during the two-day event.

Zinox Technologies would be on hand with its top of the line, PCs, laptops, UPSes and home entertainment systems among other products.

On the theme of the two-day extravaganza, Aganbi said that theme was chosen in recognition of the fact that globally this is the era of convergence.

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Experts predict minimal meltdown in ICT sector

Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) experts, at the weekend, said that though the global economic crunch is real, it’s impacts are minimal in a developing economy like Nigeria.

They also said that demand for ICT product and services may decline despite that ICT remains an enabler for the survival of other sectors of the economy, thus an economic issue.

Chief executive officer, The Executive Cyberschuul, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu and Vice President, Academic and Student Affairs at the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Dr. Okey Ugweje, agreed that though the global economic meltdown is real, but its impact would not be felt so much in Nigeria.

Both spoke at the two-day seminar at the Centre for Management and Development (CMD) Lagos, organized by the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) Lagos Council in conjunction with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Global Economic Meltdown: Effect on ICT with focus on ICT and Telecommunications Fundamental.

According to Ugweje, ICT sector may suffer set back in terms of lack of fund to continue on-going projects or no immediate fund to commence a new one.

“Existing projects would suffer because there would no fund for sustaining them,” he said, pointing out, however, that predictions have shown that this year the meltdown effect would continue till next year, when things may be reversed.

The effect on the Nigeria’s economy, especially ICT sector is negligible, he said.

Also speaking, Titi Omo-Ettu said that what else is expected of anyone who is already down, saying that he does not expect such economy like Nigeria to fall below what it is now.

Omo-Ettu dwelt on Introduction to Data Networking and interconnection modules during his lecture while Ugweje discussed Public and Private Networking by Broadband Technologies on the second day. Whereas the first day saw Ugweje and Fidelis Onah from NCC handling the theme of the seminar and introduction to Satellite Communications and overview of issues in telecoms regulation, spectrum management respectively.

Earlier, the NUJ council chairman, Wahab Oba, who was represented by the vice chairman, Mr. ‘Deji Elumoye, commended NCC for the support for the seminar, saying that participants were able to x-ray the effects of the ravaging economic recession on Nigeria and ICT sector.

According to him, experts in ICT sector, delivered relevant papers on topical issues which left participants more educated in telecommunications fundamentals.

Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, who was represented by the Acting Head, Public Affairs at the commission, Mr. Reuben Muoka at the event, expressed determination to ensure due process in reduction of tariffs, while soliciting for continued support of Nigerian media practitioners in enlightening the public on how telecommunications work so as to gain optimally.

Certificates were later presented to participants.

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RADWIN products reduce CAPEX, OPEX

Customer Services Manager for Europe, Middles East and Africa at RADWIN, Mr. Amit Shlosberger, has said that his firm’s products are mainly targeted at reducing estimated capital and operational expenditures also known as (CAPEX) and (OPEX) for the end-users.

Responding to questions after presenting the product overview from RADWIN at a one-day seminar last week, organized by the local partner, Dimension Data in Lagos, Mr. Shlosberger said that their brands of wireless solutions significantly reduce CAPEX and OPEX.

Enlightening on WINLink 1000, for instance, he said that it is a point-to-point wireless broadband solutions with capacity to distribute carrier-class performance at a very competitive price.

Stressing that WINLink 1000 solutions are packed legacy on Time Division Multiplex (TDM) and has Ethernet services over the 2.3 – 2.7 Gega Hertz (GHz) spectrum bands range, and of course complies with the international standards.

“WINLink is an ideal connectivity needs for cellular operators, service providers, enterprises and private networks, providing high capacity connectivity of up to 48 Mega bytes per second (Mbps) at ranges of up to 80 kilometres and 50 miles,” he declared.

Shlosberger, who was joined at the seminar by the Channel Marketing Manager, RADWIN, Ms. Anat Hot, General Manager, Communications & Customer Interactive Solutions at Dimension Data Nigeria, Mr. Yuval Shoshany, and Sales Manager, West Africa & Middle East, Mr. Aviad Marco, also said that RADWIN 2000 Radio series, for instance, is a carrier-class solution that comes with high-capacity sub-6 Gega Hertz (GHz) backhaul result.

RADWIN 2000, he said, provides native TDM and Ethernet over a single wireless link and incorporates advanced Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) and Orthogonal Frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) technologies.

OFDM, he explained is a technology that transmits multiple signals simultaneously over a single transmission path, such as a cable or wireless system, with each signal traveling within its own unique frequency range (carrier), which is modulated by the data text, voice, and video.

Additionally, he said, the flexible multi-band radio delivers 2.3 up to 2.4 GHz and 4.9 upto 5.9 GHz frequencies on a single platform.

Both WINLink and RADWIN 2000 radio series, he said, are available in multiple frequency bands and configurations, cost effective solutions as well as extremely simple to install and maintain, hence they reduce CAPEX and OPEX for organisation.

Equally commenting, the General Manager, Communications & Customer Interactive Solutions at Dimension Data Nigeria, Mr. Yuval Shoshany, said that they have been on ground for the past five years and have been working as backhaul ‘engine’ for most of the telecommunications operators in the country, cutting across the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA).

He outlined that their major hiccup has been power outage and extensive lightening.

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Winners applaud Glo on empowerment

Some winners of Globacom’s Win ‘n’ Rule promo, weekend, applauded the telecom operator, saying that it has become a major factor economic empowerment of Nigerians.
One of the winners, who spoke after receiving his prize, a BMW car, Mr. Toyin Ogunse noted that Globacom has created jobs and wealth opportunities.

According to him, Globacom has contributed greatly to the transformation of the Nigeria’s economy and spread joy to common people.

“Globacom is doing exceedingly well,” he declared, presentation took place at the Deals Event Centre, Festac Town Lagos.

Also speaking, a retired teacher, Mr. Balogun Wakil Olasupo, and a Physics postgraduate student of the University of Lagos, Mr.Ologolo Ahmed, who were among 12 winners who received their prizes last week commended Globacom.

For Mr. Olasupo, Globacom is making life easier for ordinary Nigerians, stressing that the network has quality, hence, he was proud of the Nigerian service provider.

Equally, Mr. Dolapo Alo, a marketing executive with a Nigerian bank, FCMB, who received his Peugeot 307 car prize at the Union Bank Sports Centre previously, spoke in the same vein.

“Globacom has positively affected lives, empowering Nigerians economically locally and internationally,” he had said.

Apart from the BMW 3-series that was taken home by Mr. Toyin Ogunse, Peugeot 307 saloon cars went to Mrs. Chinyere M. Patrick and Mr. Adiele Maximus. Others who drove home in brand new Kia Rio saloon cars they won were Mrs. Esther Olanrewaju Ajibade, Kazeem Segun, Adegoke Adesola Fakoya, Kolawole Maye, Aremu Olusola, Morufu Oluwo and Hassan Mohammed.

The lucky Glo subscribers were among the 100 winners drawn in Lagos during the mega draw of the promo.

Globacom said the prizes were being presented to the winners in batches in their home states. Some of the winners of the mega draw had earlier received their prizes in Abuja, Aba, and Ibadan.

Speaking on the occasion, Globacom’s Head of Win ‘n’ Rule Promotion, Mr. Tonye Briggs, said that Glo would always deliver on its promise to consumers.

According to him, more presentations would be held in the weeks ahead nationwide.
The Win ‘n’ Rule promo is offering 500 cars to subscribers who recharge with various sums every month. The other prizes are 1000 power generating sets, 1000 motor-bikes and 1000 bicycles.

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IST-Africa goes to Uganda

Based on priorities identified by the current African partners, Uganda has been slated to host this year’s Regional Impact of Information Society Technologies in Africa project “IST-Africa” under the 2008 – 2009 project.

The project being funded as a Specific Support Action by the European Commission under the ICT Programme of Framework Programme 7 (FP7) is to focus on a limited number of complementary activities that over time will facilitate wider impact of applied ICT across the sub-Saharan Africa.

Disclosing this, the Project Director at the Commonwealth Network of Information Technology for Development, (COMNET-IT) Malta, Ms Yasmeen Ariff, noted that the conference which is two-phased were mapped out to hold in Windhoek, Namibia, which held last May, while this year’s edition will be hosted in Kampala, Uganda in the forthcoming May between 6 and 8.

She gave insight into the three primary activities to be carried out during 2008 – 2009, including promotion of research cooperation between European and African organisations under FP7-ICT, and to promote the inclusion of African partners in proposals to address some challenges, comprising “Pervasive and Trusted Network and Service Infrastructures, Digital Libraries and Content, Towards sustainable and personalised healthcare, ICT for Mobility, Environmental Sustainability and Energy Efficiency, ICT for Independent Living and Inclusion and Research Infrastructures (Capacities Programme).”

The two phased workshops are expected to deliver 14 FP7 training in IST-Africa partner countries to raise awareness of opportunities to participate in the FP7 ICT research theme, provide insight into open calls, and provide necessary follow-up support and mentoring to high potential organizations.

COMNET-IT, she said, is a foundation set up by the Commonwealth Secretariat in conjunction with the Governments of Malta and India to promote ICT collaboration and technology transfer between Commonwealth member states.

“Its specific role in IST Africa is to promote collaboration in European FP7 projects between African and relevant European institutions,” she explained.
Emphasizing that the main objectives of the initiative are among others to establish a better understanding of extant Applied ICT base in Africa and opportunities for adaptation and implementation of European developments; fund ICT research and promote collaboration between African and European institutions, establish a collaboration framework for researchers and government institutions in European and African States and, promote partnerships between African and European research institutions in FP7-ICT projects.

Additionally, she said, the programme is a collaborative initiative between IIMC (International Information Management Corporation Ltd - Ireland, Coordinator), Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (Botswana), Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (Lesotho), COMNET-IT, ICT Policy Implementation Technical Unit (Mozambique), Ministry of Education (Namibia), Wits Commercial Enterprise (Pty) Ltd (South Africa), COSTECH - Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology.

She outlined that the ICT research and development opportunities within the EU’s current Science and Technology Framework programme (FP7), would afford participation of African institutions in the programme to achieve some mileage.

“Participation of African institutions may go some way to improving access to ICT applications and information which would in turn greatly benefit economic and social development in communities,” she said.

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Seriki urges Nigerians to celebrate local brands

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Omatek Ventures Plc, Mrs. Florence Seriki, has urged Nigerians to celebrate local brands and patronize them as a way of creating wealth and preventing the country from being a dumping ground for anything foreign, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Mrs. Seriki also implored the federal government to seek new ways of empowering entrepreneurs through policies so as to eliminate the many challenges confronting them.

Seriki who made the call at this year’s Economic Summit organized by the Trinity Leadership School in Lagos, over the weekend, advised young entrepreneurs to ensure they have the passion and focus in their endeavours.

“There has to be a public statement, the public sector can empower us more, we did not need to have started the hard way if the government itself bought what we were trying to build,” she said.

The Omatek boss also called on the banks to change their attitude towards startup entrepreneurs, especially the young ones, noted that banks hardly believe that customers are knowledgeable enough to deal with them.

“Again, I will like to appeal to banks that the kind of accounting officers we had in the past contributed to our success, because they will seat with you and plan with you, and then package it for you. Today we no longer have that kind of accounting officers; they believe you do not know what you are doing. I am insisting on this because funding is key for SMEs in the information technology (IT) sub-sector,” she said.

Further, Mrs. Seriki who spoke on the ‘Importance and use of IT in a global world and the opportunities in a developing economy,’ said there is an urgent need for seminars to be organized for the public sector.

“I think this kind of summit should be arranged for the public sector, this is what China did, they made it a government thing and it was a whole country’s affair,” she said.

The first few years will not be easy, local brands will campaign for people to patronize their products and at the end of the day pricing will not be cheap either.

She cited an example, saying that at times suppliers are required to buy upto 10,000 pieces of mother boards per month.

“And for a completely knocked down factory, the amount is enormous as we will need to buy several components from 13 or 14 different factories scattered in as many towns and provinces in Asia, therefore, the supply chain is a challenge,” she lamented.

She advised young startups to lean to use consultants in the particular area of business venture they engage in stressing that there is a lot to be done in the IT sector and there is a lot to do in the SME scheme and entrepreneurship is something to be promoted now.

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Lull in PC accessories worries traders

THE impact of the current economic meltdown across the world has begun to take its toll on the popular Computer Village in Ikeja, as traders and dealers alike complained of low patronage.

A visit to the once boisterous largest computer market in West Africa, revealed that all the traders who spoke to ITRealms Online, attributed the lull in business to the impact of the economic meltdown and the rise in the dollars which currently exchange for about N185 to a dollar.

Chief executive, Amen Computer Network, Mr. Gabriel Igwe, noted that at this time 2008, his company had recorded a turnover of over 100 million naira, but this year, nothing has happened as he has not being able to take delivery of a single container since January, this year.

“Can’t you see that my staff and the labour men are all idle? If you were here this time last year you will hardly find a place to stand,” he lamented.

He said the devaluation of the naira coupled with the activities of men of the Nigerian Customs have crippled business for them.

“The increase in the value of the naira has badly affected sales because the exchange rate is a determinant of the prices of our products,” he said.

He called on the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria, to do everything possible about the situation as this could lead to social insecurity.

Mr. Tayo Akande of Eminent Computers, also complained of the lull in activities in the market. He also called on the government to intervene and arrest the continued decline in the value of the naira.

A quick round check at the market showed that a Sharp AR 5316E photocopier which formerly sold for N125,000 in December 2008, now sells for N155,000. Also an HP D7094 laptop which sold at N80,000 now sells for between 125,000 and 130,000. HP officeject K7100 printer which sold for N32,000 now sells for N45,000.

Some of the customers who spoke to our reporter also complained about the astronomical increase in prices.

Mr. Tunji Ayeni, a student from Ondo State, who came to the market to buy a laptop said what he saw was not what he anticipated. He said the prices he got were very different from what a friend of his got when they came to the market in November last year.

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Consumer protection roundtable gets new date

This year’s stakeholders forum tagged ‘Protecting the Consumer’ slated to hold in Lagos, yesterday has gotten a new date of April 30, 2009.

Managers of the forum, IT & Telecom Digest confirmed this development to ITRealms Online, they attributed it to the Senate Communications committee forum which coincided with the initial date. The forum, initiated by IT & Telecom Digest magazine in 2006 in close collaboration with Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is a roundtable for stakeholders in affirmation of the regulator’s disposition to protecting telecommunications consumer.

While apologizing for the inconveniences the change in the date may have caused for stakeholders, the organizers promised that event would bring together under one roof, operators, equipment manufacturers, government officials, consumers and other interested parties, essentially to find ways to better protect the consumer in the emerging convergence in the industry.

The fourth in the series, the organizers also said that Stakeholders’ Forum, is now scheduled to take place on April 30, at the Golden Gate Restaurant in Ikoyi, Lagos, with theme: “Protecting the Consumer in an era of ICT Convergence.”

“It is expected to attract the key industry players, companies and individuals in the support industry like power, software, equipment suppliers, as well as the academia and consumer advocacy groups, among others,” Mr. Mkpe Abang who endorsed a press statement to that effect.Abang, who is the editor of IT & Telecom Digest magazine, noted that the forum is coming at a time when the industry is under pressure from the global economic meltdown, as this year edition is to proffer solutions to problems in the ICT sector.

“The outcome will be used keenly by the Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of the NCC as a medium of reaching out to operators and the various businesses that have developed around the increasingly successful ICT industry in Nigeria,” he said.

Stressing that with a view to getting them all serve the consumers best in an atmosphere free of rancour in the emerging global village being further brought about by convergence in the ICT industry.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Jatori, Coral Telecom partner on PABX, wireless solutions

INFORMATION and Communication Technologies (ICT) service provider, Jatori Nigeria Limited, is partnering Coral Telecom of India on provision of outstanding Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX/PBX) switching equipment and wireless broadband into the nation’s market.

Chairman and chief executive officer, Jatori Nigeria Limited, Mr. Abdul-Lateef Mac-Isuman, who made this revelation in Lagos, said that his firm was encouraged to venture into this based on the love Nigerians have for quality and dynamic products.
According to him, these products range are sine qua non, stressing that this is more needful now that demands that business be conducted at the speed of thought makes it very apt.

“Telecom acts as the backbone for companies wanting a foothold in every corner of the globe,” he said, noting that by providing the right combination of products and services as well as deploying them with professional expertise has become imperative to understanding the way technology is constantly evolving.

“At Jatori and just like our partnering company, we’re passionately driven by this singular belief. We identify requirements of organizations small and large, and constantly develop new products, and deploy services to serve communication needs ranging from voice and switching products to setting up next generation multiservice access gateways on the communication backbone of our clients,” Mac-Isuman said.

He pointed out that his firm has the in-house expertise to deliver on the products on offer.

This, he said, would ensure that convergence is at the core of all product offerings, be it meeting requirements of small and medium sized companies or applications widely used by enterprise, last mile service providers and large government bodies such as defense, oil & gas sector, and railways to name a few.

Mac-Isuman recalled that in the past, Jatori had partnered with two United Kingdom-based companies, namely ENTEL UK to bring quality submersible two-way radio transceivers (Walkie-Talkies) and XVission Group UK in the area of close circuit security cameras (CCTV) of world class quality.

“At Jatori, we believe in good quality products and not just anything to make money,” he asserted.

While calling on telecom operators, especially the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) companies as well as, banks, hotels, corporate bodies, government parastatals to watch out for this ‘Big Bang’ that will hit the market very soon.

“Private home owners who believe in quality are not excluded as we have something for them too,” he said.

The first three set of products to be expected in the market soon, according to him, include the PABX/PBX series also known as Coral SBDX Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) designed for applications of small offices and residential customers.

“A portable business genius designed specifically to serve you better in this era of fast changing technologies. A compact and smart business ‘switch’, equipped with a bouquet of digital features you usually associate with large switches. It can handle various telecom connections, but yet retains the user-friendly commands for system configuration and use,” he said.

On the Coral DX 2000 series, Jatori boss, said digital communication switching system is available in a variety of configurations.

“The system is based on Time Division Multiplexing (TDM), Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) switching technology,” he said, explained that an advanced Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) chips are used to ensure optimum processor speed and minimum power utilization.

Each card in the system, he said, is provided with a Switched-Mode Power Supply (SMPS) to convert 28-volt dc to its own operating and logic voltages. The system has a combination of active and passive bus to ensure reliable communication between the cards. All the cards are plug in type to ensure ease of maintenance.

Equally speaking on the Coral Integrated Voice and Data Exchange (IRIS - IVDX), he said, this could handle data as freely as it would handle voice traffic. It can be extended from 128 ports to 8,000 ports. It meets last mile switching requirements for provisions of voice, data and video in large enterprises, campuses and even small townships.

Emphasizing that the wireless access point ‘Bubble Gini’ which has the reputation of being the smallest access point in the market is part of the first range of products to hit the market.

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Akunyili speaks @ CTO e-Gov forum

MINISTER for Information and Communications, Prof. (Mrs) Dora Nkem Akunyili, has been slated to be among lead speakers at the annual African e-Governance conference schedule to take off tomorrow in Kigali, Rwandan capital.

The third in the series, e-Governance Forum 2009 is organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), and hosted by the Rwandan Ministry in charge of Science and Technology at the Office of the President. It is billed to take place at the Kigali Serena Hotel, between March, Tuesday 24 and Thursday 26 this year.

Manager, International Events & Corporate Communications
Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, organisers of the event, Mr. Samuel Fletcher, informed in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online that African ICT Ministers, regulators and operating company executives are expected to use ICTs to fight the global recession and to renew their commitments to more effective governance through better and faster deployment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in their respective countries when they meet in Kigali, Rwanda.

Among the ministers attending the event include the host minister Hon Prof Romain Murenzi, Minister of Science and Technology, Rwanda: Hon Samuel Pogishio, Minister of Information and Communications, Kenya: Hon Maj Gen Gier Chuang Aluong, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Government of Southern Sudan: Hon Aggrey Awori, Minister of ICT, Uganda: Hon Patricia Kaliati, Minister of Information and Civic Education, Malawi: Hon Prof Dora Nkem Akunyili, Minister for Information and Communications, Nigeria: Hon Alhaji Ben Kargbo, Minister of Information and Communications, Sierra Leone: and Hon Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Botswana.

According to Fletcher, participants would be joined by a number of executives from ICT manufacturing companies, infrastructure and technology providers, as well as from international donor agencies, academics, consultants, non-governmental organisations and other key stakeholders to discuss e-governance best practices.

The event, he said, would be officially opened by President Paul Kagame, tends to address policy, regulatory, legislative, legal, operational, technological, commercial, financial and implementation issues with respect to the use of ICTs to improve the access of businesses and citizens to government information and services.

Discussions will also include how e-governance could transform Africa through the applications in the related fields of e-health or telemedicine, e-commerce, e-agriculture, e-education and distance or e-learning.

Speaking on the forum, chief executive, CTO, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, noted that in recent years, emerging economies and emerging democracies have come to appreciate how ICTs could help promote economic growth as well as good governance.

“In Africa, in particular, the rapid access to mobile phones, the Internet and continued popularity of radio and TV has made it possible to empower the citizenry and to make some recent elections, such as those held in Ghana in December 2008 and January 2009, to be recognised globally as generally free and fair. By enabling businesses and citizens to gain access to a growing list of public services through the Internet and mobile phones, and by making it possible for entrepreneurs and citizens to communicate their concerns to public institutions through these devices, the ICT community is helping Africa to bridge the digital divide. But there are many lessons to be learnt, best practices to be replicated, and more to be done. This conference will help to advance this important cause,” he said.

Although he said that about 6.5 billion people in the world, about one half are estimated to have mobile phones and almost a quarter have Internet access, the figures for sub-Saharan Africa is still pale in comparison, at less than 20 per cent average mobile penetration and less than 5 per cent Internet access.

Pointing out that a number of presentations and interactive sessions would take place at the conference with attention given to measures to reverse this situation.
A member of the Rwandan legislature, Senator Gasamagera Wellars, for example, will deliver the first keynote address focusing on “The Role of African Parliaments in the Development of an Equitable Information Society.”

A second keynote presentation touching on the need for African governments to embrace ICTs for effective, inclusive and transparent governance will be given by Hon Dr Ham-Mukasa Mulira, Senior Presidential Advisor on ICT, and former ICT Minister of Uganda.

A strategic partner for the high-level conference is the West Indian Ocean Cable Company, the facilitator of the EASSy cable project covering the East African Region.
Investing in additional fibre cable capacity and increased broadband access in Africa are generally agreed to be amongst the major actions that governments and business are expected to take if ICTs are to play an even greater role in fostering democracy and good governance in Africa and spurring economic growth even at a time of a global recession.

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Vatican launches Chinese website

AS Pope Benedict XVI concludes his first papal visit to Africa, increased efforts have been put in place to unite the church in Asia and around the world, with the Vatican dedicating a Chinese section of its website on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, reports Catholic News Agency (CAN).

According to a press statement from the Press office at the Holy See, the Chinese “will be the eighth language to be represented on www.vatican.va, which also includes Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Latin.”

Also, the new service will expand the reach of Pope Benedict’s speeches and documents to the Chinese-speaking world. The texts will be available in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters, the press office said.

Meanwhile, while in Cameroon, the Pope met with President Paul Biya, though no details of the meeting was made available to the media as at press time. Mr. Biya has been in power since 1982, and is one of Africa’s sit-tight presidents.

Amnesty International, the human rights watchdog group, recently accused Biya of seeking to crush political enemies.

The Pope also met with Cameroon’s 31 bishops, urging them to promote the sanctity of marriage given that secular forces threatened the traditional African family.

He also warned them that while the Catholic Church in Africa is the fastest growing in the world, it faces competition from increasingly popular evangelical movements and “the growing influence of superstitious forms of religion.”

The Pope said it is the duty of all Christians, but particularly those with political and economic responsibilities, to spare the poor from the impact of globalization by building a “more just world where everyone can live with dignity.”
The Pope later visited Angola.

In a related development, Pope recently at the town of Oies, the birthplace of a canonized Italian missionary, Pope Benedict XVI said China is growing in international importance but must also “open up” to Christ.

“We know that China is becoming increasingly more important politically and economically, and also in the life of ideas,” the Pope said at a church in the small town, reports ANSA. ‘’It’s important that this great continent opens up to the Gospel of Christ.”

He said St. Joseph Freinademetz—an Italian missionary to China whose grave he was visiting--showed that “faith does not alienate any culture or people, because all cultures are waiting for Christ and will not be destroyed. In the Lord, they reach their maturity.”

The saint lived and died as a Chinese man, but in heaven too he remains Chinese, the Pope declared, saying the missionary “identified with these people and with the certainty that they will open up to the faith of Christ.”

St. Joseph Freinademetz was ordained a priest for Bressanone at the age of 22 but decided to become a missionary, arriving in Hong Kong in 1879. Despite the threat of persecution, he remained in China until his death from typhus in 1908.

On Sunday after reciting the Angelus in Bressanone, Pope Benedict sent his best wishes to China as it prepares to open the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Pope Benedict XVI has been attempting to open greater dialogue with China.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Economic meltdown: Govt must focus on technology devt - APBN

Umbrella body of chartered professional organizations in the country, the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), has said that with the current economic meltdown ravaging the globe, Nigeria should focus on technology acquisition with the right educational framework.

APBN President, Mr. Mohammed Jimmoh Faworaja, gave this advice, last weekend, at the end of the first board meeting for the year hosted by the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) at its secretariat, Alausa-Ikeja, Lagos.

Faworaja, who was accompanied by board members including Publicity Secretary, APBN and Managing Director, International Control Systems Limited, Mr. Allwell Achumba, and Executive Secretary, APBN, Mr. Adebayo Babatunde, among others, were welcomed on arrival by the Executive Secretary, NCS, Mr. Ejide Oladunmoye and the Vice President of the society, Dr. David Adewumi.

APBN boss also said that although the nation’s economy was already down before the current financial crisis, the meltdown offers Nigeria an opportunity to look inwards by focusing on how to evolve its Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) to serve as a mitigation system, so that the impact would not be felt so much by Nigerians, especially the common man.

This, he said, could be achieved by way of structuring the nation’s economy via technology acquisition that must have its roots in the right educational system.

Faworaja noted that the nation’s foreign earnings come from crude oil and America records the highest patronage year in year out, stressing that due to economic meltdown among other strategic reasons, America is now paying more attention to biofuel.

He pointed out that this is enough reason for Nigeria to rethink and in doing this, focus should be on technology acquisition, which must be deeply rooted in the right kind of education and encourage mechanised farming and even continue to supply the likes of America with biofeeds for biofuel generation.

“Definitely, we need to acquire technology like the Indians, but we must get the educational system right,” he declared.

India, he said, spent so much fund on education to be where they are today, especially in software development and physics, stressing that the board is seriously concerned and it is high time the nation realizes that the tide has changed in terms of economic growth by giving 80 per cent attention to the development of ICT and 20 per cent to oil.

He bemoaned that Nigeria which requires over 6000 megawatts of electricity can only boost of about 2000 and now the federal government has announced removal of subsidy, assuring that APBN would study the white paper before responding appropriately.

APBN further noted that in all the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) there is one mineral endowment or another, advising that states should look inwards by exploring these minerals so as to increase their
Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

“There is no state in this country without one mineral deposit or another. So, we’re well endowed,” he said, suggesting that exploration of these minerals should form major part of the budget on annual basis instead of waiting for the federal allocation as the case is presently.

APBN presently has 24-member professional chartered bodies, while we have about four undergoing processes of joining the body, while NCS become a member three years ago.

In his welcome address, NCS President, Prof. Charles Uwadia represented by the vice president, Dr. David Adewumi, said the society evolved in response to the pervasiveness of computing and other information technologies in the lives of the 21st century Nigerians.

Noting that the goals from inception of NCS as enshrined in its constitution remained the advancement of Computer Science, Information Technology & Systems and their applications/deployments to professional practice in education, government, the military and industry.

“It shall seek to confer valuable professional responsibilities, on its members and encourage them to support work. This is important to the general community and the professional at large,” he said.

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We’ve spent $300m in rolling out telecom towers - Fazal Hussain

Chief executive officer, Helios Towers, Mr. Fazal Hussain, spoke to newsmen on the activities of his company, during which he revealed that his firm has the capacity to accommodate new telecommunications entrants into the Nigerian market. Senior Reporter, REMMY NWEKE was there.
Excerpts.

What infrastructure do you provide for telecom operators? 
In essence we provide two services at the moment. We build sites for co-location, meaning sites that allows at least four different operators whether GSM, CDMA, WIMAX to co-exist within one base station. Secondly, we manage sites on behalf of the operators.
We guarantee 99.9 per cent uptime and so far we have more than 1000 sites nationwide
 
What is your assessment of the telecom industry in Nigeria?

The telecom industry in Nigeria is still growing. First, it was the voice, 2G  the GSM and the CDMA obviously, that has been growing  after the deregulation  and probably  at the end there will be about 80 to 100 million subscribers because Nigeria is a large country.
The second wave of technology which is to provide value added services on top of the voice and the third which is data base services of broadband internet based on 3G and Wimax. I believe as far as telecom sector is concerned the consumers will benefit because it is a competitive market and it is very positive as far as I am concerned.
  .
What are the environmental challenges you have seen so far?
This is one of the challenges that we are facing in the industry. What we try to do on our part is to work with the community .We go further by engaging the services of the people by employing them to render services in these communities. So, generally speaking, we have been having a good relationship with the host communities.
 
Do you operate in other countries apart from Nigeria?

Not at the moment, we still have a lot of work to do in Nigeria, but very soon we will be expanding to other African countries.
 
How about the legal battle between Lagos state Government and some service provide and operators?
First of all, it is legal issue between the government and telecom operators. We are a service provider to operators and we actually provide services that are environmentally friendly, which is one of the biggest concerns of government entities. The concern of the government is that building sites everywhere is not good and that the environment will be degraded if not checked.
So, what we do is to build sites so that four to five operators can make use of that site and the concern of government is taken care of. It is very cost effective for the service providers and in turn they can provide cheaper services to consumers.
 
Does co-location affect the quality of service in any form?
Absolutely. Let me explain, first of all, we build the sites and we build it to the highest specification and it is designed for multiple tenants. We provide everything power, security, and if any operator wants to launch, all they have to do is to bring their electronics so as to provide service much more efficiently for their consumers and on top of that we guarantee a 99.9 per cent uptime. The market average is 70 per cent and it’s even lower sometimes. There is 24/7 power supply and security. As you know in Nigeria you get public power supply for about six (6) hours in a day, so, 18 hours in a day you don’t have power. So, what we do is to provide battery backup then we have a generator and then backup generator. Also we have personnel on that site with a mobile generator for quick response if there is a problem with the battery and the two generators. This is to ensure that the site does not go down at all.
Today, quality service is relatively poor but in two years time and with the emergence of new operators, Quality of Service (QoS) will be taken seriously as consumer will not tolerate any operator that provides poor quality of service.
What of the capacity to cover the requirements of operators?
We’re very relevant to speedy roll out of telecom and related services in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, we’re the heart of wireless operators.
We do have the capacity and even with the coming of new entrants into the market. We are rolling out as fast as we can.  First of all we are rolling out in the major cities and the smaller cities and then the villages. So far, we have spent over $300 million in rolling out so as to meet the demand of the operators. Finance is not a problem to us as we are well funded to provide efficient services to the operators.
 
Tell us about the corporate social responsibility of your firm?
We create job opportunities for the communities we are operating from by engaging the services of the people in host communities and in all, we have created close to 3000 jobs and apart from that we participate in school projects and other community-related activities.
 
Congestion of the landscape by the erection of towers and masts?

We are a very responsible corporate citizen and therefore obtain approvals from the appropriate authorities. We have a high specification of our sites and our towers does not fail, they are designed for 25 years .They are not local standard but international standard, so we ensure that we get the approval of the government entities concerned before we build our sites
 
What is the relationship like with the regulator? 

We have a very good relationship with the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and they have been supportive to us . We are the pioneers and as a matter of fact, we started the collocation so the relationship has been very good.
   
What other challenges are faced by your company in Nigeria?
Financially, we have not really faced challenges in the sense that we have been able to raise money internationally. We are actually a company registered in Nigeria but investment comes from abroad.  The biggest challenge that we are facing is finding a good quality sites. If, for example, you are given the license to operate telecommunication services in Nigeria, and you want to roll out nationwide, you will spend a lot of money in getting a good quality site and besides it will take you years but we have the money, you don’t have to spend your money, it is a wonderful value proposition .It even allows small Nigeria companies to compete with the big players out there.
 
How affordable are your charges?


Our charges are very affordable. It depends on the space that you want to hang your equipment, if you are a GSM or CDMA operator, you will probably take more space but the cyber café or Wimax operator, radio station, television station to name a few; you will take small space and you will pay less than the former.
So, our charges depend on the space and specifications of your equipment.
 
What should we expect from Helios Towers in the next few years?

We hope to see Helios Towers in other African countries. Right now, we are still serving Nigeria because Nigeria is a big market but very soon we are looking forward to exporting our skills to other Africa countries apart from Nigeria.

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Omatek beefs up distribution channels

Nigeria’s leading computer manufacturer, Omatek Ventures Plc, has beefed up its distribution channels through the creation of series of showrooms, reseller outlets and franchises to boost service delivery nationwide.

Disclosing this in Lagos recently at the commissioning of the Omatek Resource Centre and E-Learning Laboratory at the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu, Lagos, the Group Managing Director (GMD), Omatek Ventures Plc, Mrs. Florence Seriki (MFR), said the decision to enhance the distribution channel was borne out of the need to empower Nigerians.

“With financial, greater brand visibility as well as bringing its services closer to the customers,” she said.

Mrs. Seriki also said that the growing demand for Omatek brand of products such as the 8” and 10” Smartbooks, Desktop Computers, Plasma Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) TV, Home Entertainment Products, Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) cum inverters and other products have made it crucial to consider expanding channel marketing.

She noted that her firm was conceived to empower the mass of Nigerian students and their instructors who lack access to practical knowledge in computer education.

Omatek computers, she said, would continue to champion the dissemination of information and Communication Technologies (ICT) knowledge in the country through the provision of standard industrial attachment centres, human capacity development through internship programme, student exchange programmes among others.

Apart from providing hands-on experience to student, she noted that the Resource Centre would serve as a service centre to offer after sales service to customers with Omatek products within the vicinity.

On his part, the Rector, LASPOTECH, Mr. Ayodeji Babatunde Iginla, said the Omatek Resource Centre and E-lab marked a turning point in the way ICT-based courses would be taught in the institution.

“Omatek has once again demonstrated it leadership ability and foresight in the area of promoting the awareness on the use of computers and other applications. Your support in this area would further boost learning in this institution,” he said.

While enjoining students of LASPOTECH to avail themselves of the opportunities inherent in the E-Xpress scheme, being an easy and convenient computer acquisition initiative, he stressed that the aim is to improve the standard of ICT-based education module in the country.

Present at the event were members of the LASPOTECH governing council among whom was its Chairman, Prof. Ajose and prominent members like the chairman, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Chief Ralph Alabi, to name a few.

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Supercard introduces GoCard

Reputed information technology (IT) company with specialty on electronic card technology, the Supercard Limited, has introduced Go Card into the nation’s electronic-based (e-based) service market, even as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) presented the company with International Standards Orgnisation (NIS ISO-9001-2000) certificate.

Supercard, a subsidiary of Chams Nigeria Plc is famous for its avalanche of cards solutions currently in the Nigeria’s market.

Speaking at the occasion, Director-General, SON, Dr. John Ndanusa Akanya, who was represented at the occasion, commended Supercard for achieving the feat of certification for ISO 9000-2000 and urged the company to continue to strive for better services for its customers.

In his introduction of the Supercards latest in shelf, Go Card, the Assistant General Manager, Mr. Michael Folarin said that GoCard is the first of its kind in the country, mostly because it comes with contactless electronic payment (e-payment) solution for the transport industry.

According to him, with Go Card, Nigerians no longer need to carry cash when entering any form of transport, though they are starting from the sea and land.

He explained that the power of GoCard is embedded in an electronic ticketing (e-ticket) formula that could be used in any Nigerian cities, especially on public transport services.

GoCard, he also said, could serve as a credit card because it comes with storable value which could be loaded into the card due to its contactless feature, through designated agents who are authorized by Supercard or affiliate transport companies.

As matter of fact, he said that potential Nigerian passenger who uses GoCard need not to pay cash when entering transport, saying that it could be flashed through on the turnstile gate on entry and could be perfectly read by a device, which will authenticate the card and make the relevant deductions for a given fare.

“You can also flash your card on balance display to check your balance,” he declared.
Listing the benefits of GoCard, the AGM said it is convenience, accurate secured transaction and his company has deployed balance display at every terminus, be it a station, jetty or even airport.

“It is easy, fast and no loss of cash or change,” he said, stressing that it has its own peculiar merits for transport companies, including improved cash management, security, service level agreement, increased revenue margin, service delivery and better branding, because it could be customized to meet the taste of individual companies.

“Transaction reports can be requested on the web as online reports,” he said.
Enlightening further, he said that the GoCard offer equally comes in various components, encompassing passengers’ card, staff card, agent service card, terminals, turnstiles and server.

“Passengers card comes in card type category, for example, adult, student cards respectively with values of Naira can be loaded on it immediately after purchase,” he said, pointing out that the staff card enables the card to be used for starting off a given system where he or she is in-charge, whereas the agent service card allows an accredited agent to store more value and its value could be transferred into passenger’s cards for retailing.

On the turnstiles, he said, it’s an automated barriers that debits the toll fare from a passenger’s card, thus allowing such a holder passage when the transaction is successful, while the server is the back-end that facilitates report module for online generation.

The special guest at the occasion, Transport Secretary at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Segun Awolowo, who was represented at the occasion, applauded Supercard for this initiative while pledging the support of FCT administration in this effort at improving the transport sector, especially making it electronic, saying that its less stressful.

He enjoined Nigerians to support the initiative by accepting the evolution, noting that since the world has become a global village, Nigeria cannot afford to remain in dark while the world goes on development electronically.

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