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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

e-Voters’ registration: Between INEC and local content


Following the transformation anticipated in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) desire to recapture the voters electronically, REMMY NWEKE, reports that stakeholders want INEC to look wards locally to ensure that local Information and Communication Technology (ICT) firms participant actively in the exercise.

A fortnight ago, the National Assembly comprising both the Red and Green chambers formally approved the N87.7 billion, demanded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the anticipated successful organisation of the 2011 general elections expected to begin with the recapturing of the eligible voters in the country out of the estimated 150 Nigerians.

Some school of thought have defined electronic voting (e-voting) as any voting process where an electronic means is used for votes casting and results counting and this applies to registration of voters. Yet, others said e-voting is an election system that uses encryption to allow a voter to transmit their secure and secret ballot over the Internet. The fact remains that this cannot take effect without effective Direct Digital Capturing (DDC), also known as e-registration.

As at date, reports have it that some seven Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-related companies are vying to provide this service to INEC for the 2011 and beyond general elections. But one concern heavy on the minds of the ICT stakeholders is the ability of INEC to look inwards by giving local ICT entrepreneurs the opportunity to further prove their capabilities as far as ensuring the accomplishment of this exercise among the lot that have already submitted proposals to the Commission.

While giving audience recently to the executive of the Joint Action Committee on ICT Awareness and Development (JACITAD), during a courtesy visit in Lagos, to applaud the firm’s latest ranking as the number one selling laptop in the country by the United States-based International Data Corporation (IDC), the chairman of Zinox Technologies, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh, declared the willingness of his company to deliver the estimated 120,000 information technology-based equipment for the actualization of the exercise, otherwise known as Direct Digital Capture (DDC) of the INEC in preparation for the forthcoming 2011 general elections within seven weeks.

Also, he told the team comprising ICT media practitioners and corporate bodies led by its national president, Prince Osuagwu that Zinox has the capacity to deliver all the 120,000 machines required by INEC if given the opportunity.

Pointing out that on the issue of capacity of a local company like Zinox to deliver the INEC required quality and quantity of DDC machines on time, Ekeh recollected that firstly, the DDC machine was a Zinox making when the company was invited to intervene to save the voters registration of 2006.

Maintaining that Zinox has the capacity with factories in Nigeria, Taiwan and China; logistics arms in Europe and research and development arms in Taiwan and Nigeria; to deliver these units within seven weeks from date of confirmed order, stressing that these facilities are open for physical inspection.

He pointed out that Zinox Group would match the pricing of any foreign competitor, if given a chance, declaring, “We’re a Nigerian company and this is not a sin and we have rescued INEC and major national projects in the recent past. We don’t blow our trumpet because we pay attention to only the science of business and not the politics.”

Additionally, Dr. Ekeh said that the Zinox Group has enhanced its capacity since the last three years in spite of the global financial melt-down and could assure INEC that Zinox is bigger than most of these foreign companies flooding Nigeria with unverifiable claims and no cultural responsibility.

He said that the INEC DDC machines could only be delivered by a company with manufacturing, distribution and integration facility with at least 75 per cent control of resources internally to meet the eight weeks deadline. “Zinox has these in Nigeria, South Africa, Europe and Asia, including a 14-branch-local nationwide office network to facilitate support, in addition to having already obtained written commitments from Intel Corporation, Microsoft and No. 1. webcam and finger print scanner manufacturers in the world to deliver the last unit of product by the 5th week complete with an after sales support package,” he disclosed.

These companies, he emphasized, assisted Zinox in 2006 to intervene for INEC within 10 days, insisting that Zinox, has obtained these commitments in anticipation that the company may be considered as there is no time.

“If you fail with this sort of project, you take a total loss. It is not a business for brokers. They must watch commission takers because you have little options if you are disappointed and I think 2006 was enough lessons,” he said, commending the attributes of Prof. Attahiru Jega-led INEC, saying that another source of worry is delivering the products into Nigeria at this time of the year that there is huge traffic out of Asia, because they are export oriented.

“You need to charter about fourteen 747 cargo Aircraft to deliver these units to Nigeria at a tight season like now in Asia. The logistics arms of the Zinox Group in Holland and the United Kingdom have equally geared up in case the company is considered,” he revealed, highlight the fact that this project demands corporate integrity at this last hour and not cash, thus, he advised Jega and his team to look inwards as their success should be total success with Nigerian content.

Ekeh further thanked the JACITAD executive, reminding them that there would always be problems and opposition sometimes arising from short sightedness but they should remain focused. He advised INEC that development of ICT in Nigeria gets priority attention, most importantly in provision of support services to INEC at this critical moment of conducting free and fair elections in Nigeria.

Also, awash in the news was the fact that the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSAT) Limited, has already applied for the worldwide patent of its e-voting registration application in readiness for the 2011 general elections, just as the company advised INEC leadership to look inwards in deployment of ICT for the exercise, so as to encourage local IT entrepreneurs, especially in the hardware sub-sector.

Affirming this, the Managing Director, NigComSAT, Mr. Ahmed T. Rufai, noted that there is need for Nigeria t do self-searching in order to tap from the local companies’ capabilities in providing part or holistic deployment for the exercise expected to be a transformational step for the country.

He said, by deploying computers, especially laptops needed for the project through the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Zinox, Omatek, Beta and Brian with NigComSAT e-voting suite, to name a few, it would reduce capital flight and spur local companies in creating more jobs for the populace.

“We should believe in ourselves and look inward in developing this country because for every Naira you throw out of this country, you are developing the economy of another country,” he warned, wondering what policies are in place to ensure that Nigeria have developmental agenda.

Rufai stressed that the Local Content Act recently passed into law by the National Assembly should not just be restricted to the oil industry alone, but should apply in so many other sectors, mostly ICT at this time. “We should try to enhance our local industries for them to be competitive enough over other foreign counterparts,” he declared, wondering “if you are talking of creating employment and reducing crime, to what extent are we matching our words with actions.”

Pointing out that now that INEC is seeking to conduct direct digital capturing of voters’ registration for the forthcoming general elections, it is vital that local content is brought to bear on the exercise by encouraging Nigerian companies to participate actively in the deployment.

Further, Rufai described the exercise as the simplest form of software engineering, because the hardware required includes laptop and a webcam, stressing that what makes the e-registration complete is just the software platform; “the template that enables the hardware to connect together, not just an intelligent table if I can call it, but a table that we design not with the Microsoft Window, for every Window there is a software behind the Window that is not seen. But to create table itself there is a command and the template will be used for data analysis, storage and production eventually.”

He emphasized that what is actually uploaded would comprise a special table for the capturing of the picture, finger print and bio-data of the voters as well as where they would want to vote, insisting that what is really needed for DDC is a modern laptop equipped with webcam and biometric machine.

“So, all these things were what we have produced locally and it’s owned by Nigerians because we are government-owned. Whatever is our product is owned by Nigeria; they can decide to take it free of charge without paying N1 for it,” he asserted, noting that a computer could be used for more than three wards.

Though, he said, Nigeria is not yet there for e-voting, in terms of allowing citizens to vote electronically, Rufai disclosed that flexibility has come to the system, based on the recent study by NigcomSAT, maintaining that his firm has experimented on this technology in the past two years, citing an instance of staff attendance system based on smart card.

“In fact, it is from this system we graduated, because everything we place there represents entire register system of workers, giving them smartcard and authentication of their presence; when they come to work and when they close from work,” he said, explaining that it’s a system that has been used over time and is resilient.

NigComSAT demand, according to him, is that it’s high time to look within, because there are multiple advantages in INEC taking these decisions correctly, even as he alleged that INEC intends to provide vendors with 30 per cent worth of the contract, saying that this amount is enough to build a micro-electronic computer line in the country.

“Imagine if we start producing our own computer, television as it used to be in Phillip in Ojota in those days, imagine if we start producing our own handsets for 50 million mobile telephone users in Nigeria,” he declared. This is how you grow the economy toward vision 2020 and not exporting all the money to foreigners,” he canvassed.

He maintained that what is really needed for the direct capture machine is a modern laptop equip with camcorder in addition to the biometric machine.

He charged INEC to use this voters’ registration exercise to challenge and encourage local capacity building, just like former President Olusegun Obasanjo did in a 2005 memo, thus, giving support to local IT hardware manufacturers.

“They can ride on that and the beauty of it all is that we have created an electronic ballot system which cannot be snatch and you cannot snuff ballot paper into it because the entry is mechanized and there is magnetic reader that recognizes whether this ballot paper will enter it or not. If the answer is yes, it is the one way to accept the ballot paper from you. You cannot even vote with the ballot paper unless you are programmed to vote in that ward,” he said.

Elucidating on the electoral ballot papers, Rufai said, they would be biometrically inclined as well as the finger tips.

“Why can’t we just look at it for once, and the beauty of it is that we can export this to Ghana and some other West African countries, and even export this to Europe and America,” he said, insisting that if China is exporting technological product to America, he does not see what could stop Nigeria from doing same.

He revealed that NigcomSAT has already applied to the United States (US), Europe and worldwide, for patent of this product and that they are very confident about this application for e-registration and voting.

“It is still pending, they have not replied us, which means nobody has done it because once you apply for United States patent and worldwide patent, they will start doing their research. So, we believe that if we adopt this solution, it will put Nigeria on the path of technological progress and diversifying our economy and the path of attaining our vision 2020, so that we match our words with actions,” he submitted.

For the chief executive of one of the leading OEMs, Omatek Group, Mrs. Florence Seriki, there should be collaboration with local factories, so as to create local capacity and assist in employment, especially with the current situation in the country. She assured that if things are done well that Nigerians would invariably be happy at the end.

National president, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Charles Uwadia, told ITRealms Online that local OEMs should have at least 60 per cent of the data capture machines to be deployed and same is for software for the exercise.

President, Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Dr. Jimson Olufuye, warned that they are not against part of the DDC ingredients being assembled here like the mini-laptops, noting that DDC machines are presently manufactured mainly in the South-East Asia, insisting that with the appropriate and proactive arrangement, it could be delivered on time.

According to him, though the core equipment cannot be entirely manufactured locally, like the DDC, it is of essence to domesticate some of these solutions, so as to avoid limited local contents to just consultancy and usage. “Our hope is that it’s used well for data integrity for credible elections,” he said.

In conclusion, the need to look inwards would go beyond spurring more jobs for Nigerians, but sustain the available number of local employees, OEMs and then the multiplier effects. Therefore, if INEC want to truly succeed, it must embrace local content and mindful of just ‘portfolio business men,’ which have been described as commission agents.

With assurances by Prof. Jega’s INEC on credible exercise, noteworthy here also is the time factor; time to get relevant credits to facilitate the job order eventually, is of utmost importance, given that the DDC exercise may not exceed two months. After all, time waits for nobody and then, let the electoral transformation begin with ICT.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Non-usage of internet exchange constitutes capital flight – Rudman


Managing Director of Internet eXchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) Limited, Mr. Muhammed Rudman, has decried non-usage of the nation’s Internet exchange by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), culminating in payment of huge sums to international carriers in delivery of internet services, which constitutes ‘capital flight’.

He also called on international companies, like Google, Microsoft among others in the country to localize their deployment of content distribution network, even as IXPN plans to acquire a spectrum for the Nigeria Research and Educational Network (NREN).

Speaking at a one-day maiden edition of Nigeria Internetworld Conference and Exhibition (NICE), organized by Embolden Limited, held at the Afe Babalola Hall, University of Lagos (UNILAG) recently, he said that international companies should emulate Akamai to increase local development.

“We depend entirely on international connections for regional and local communications,” he said, maintaining that the huge amount paid to international carriers constitutes ‘capital flight,’ adding that traffic going overseas means transit charges are paid to upstream ISPs.

He also said that in changing this tide positively would encourage the massive campaign for local content development and deployment of critical internet resources, underscoring the fact on the need to establish the first Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in the country.

Although he did not disclose the sum ISPs are paying to international carriers to deliver services originating from the country, Rudman noted that in moving forward, there is need to interconnect all the West African-based Internet eXchange Points (IXPs) towards realization of a Regional Research and Educational Network (RREN).

Rudman, who dwelt on “IXP as catalyst to National Research and Educational Network” at the occasion, said that collaboration with the Nigeria’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) forum to connect all higher educational institutions nationwide to the exchange point towards the establishment of Nigeria Research and Educational Network (NREN), has become imperative.

In addition, he said that there is an on-going training and retraining of administrators of the nation’s higher education institutions on network planning, Internet Protocol version (IPv6) and Local Internet Registry (LIR) in partnership with Mauritius-base African Network Information Center (AfriNIC)

Equally, he said, collaboration with the nation’s telecommunication regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) towards the acquisition of spectrum for NREN.

He traced the establishment of IXPN to the 2005-held World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) summit in Tunisia, followed by the presidential directive to the Federal Ministry of Information and Communication (FMIC) to establish an IXP in Nigeria.

Further, he said, NCC called a stakeholders forum in February 2006, with the implementation committee presided over by the Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) leadership, hence, Internet eXchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) Ltd GTE is a not-for-profit and neutral organization.

This, he said, was followed by the inauguration of an interim board in March 2007 by NCC, stressing that the concept of IXPN is to make available a physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers could exchange Internet traffic between their networks autonomous systems.

An IXP, Rudman said, interconnects Internet service providers in a region or country, thus allowing them to exchange domestic Internet traffic locally without having to send those messages across multiple international hops to reach their destination.

Historically, Rudman noted that the first ARPANET link was established between the University of California, Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute on 22:30 hours on October 29, 1969.

“The early Internet was used by computer experts, engineers, scientists, and librarians,” he declared.

IXPN boss explained that that the major providers connect their networks and exchange traffic, pointing out that simple concept is that of any place where providers come together to exchange traffics.

Lamenting the current approach of an electronic mail traveling for instance, from UNILAG to London through New York and landing at Yabatech as the destination point, saying that the cost is high and definitely slower speed.

According to him, unscheduled electricity power outages affect everyone and everything at this time.

“It hinders local content development,” he asserted, maintaining that with optimization of IXPN, would save money for the country and local traffic would remain local.

Money used in foreign exchange, he said, could be channeled towards providing better local infrastructure and services for customers, who now pay less for Internet access.

“Therefore more customers sign up, better business as well as enhancing local connectivity and improving internet experience of end users,” he said.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

NiRA’s new president emerges tomorrow

As a new president and leadership are expected to emerge tomorrow, the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) has said that all is now set for its Annual General Meeting cum elections scheduled for Thursday next week in Lagos.

Vice president of NiRA, Mrs. Mary Uduma confirmed this to newsmen, saying that the AGM is coming after enough time has been given for the public enlightenment as stipulated in NiRA’s constitution, according to a press statement endorsed by the administrative secretary of NiRA, Ms Ugo Akiri.

She noted that the AGM would provide members the chance to receive the annual financial report ended May 31, 2009 and 2010 respectively, in addition to the auditor’s reports.

Also she said that the inability of the association to receive the 2009 report was due to the passing away of the pioneer, NiRA president, last September in Lagos.

Mrs. Uduma was equally quoted as saying that the board of NiRA has decided that the third AGM, previously scheduled for Thursday, September 3, 2009 and postponed owing to the sudden demise of Mr. Ndukwe Kalu, has been now scheduled for Thursday, August 26, this year.

She pointed out that the general elections into the executive board of NIRA, which had been due since 2009, would also hold at the forthcoming AGM.

She listed some of the contestable positions in NiRA to include president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and six members of the board.

Further, she recalled that presently the executive board of NiRA are made up of late Ndukwe Kalu as president, Mrs. Uduma, vice president, Mr. Vincent Akhimien secretary, Mr. Abimbola Olayinka, treasurer, while Mr. Sunday Folayan, Mr. Sikiru Shehu and Mrs. Yetunde Johnson, Mrs. Ufuoma Daro and Messrs Tope Fashedemi and Biyi Oladipo, are serving board members.

As said by her, the provisions of NiRA’s constitution showed that two-third members of the current Executive Board are expected to resign and their positions declared vacant prior to the next elections of the internet group.

For her, at least two officers of the board, and three members of the board, underscoring that nomination of candidates to any of the positions is open for an eight-week period, which must close 21 days prior to the AGM.

She revealed that nominations for elected positions, she said would not be permitted from the floor of the AGM unless there is a shortfall of nominations for a position.

Just as she warned, that only financial members may nominate candidates or be nominated as candidates for an elective position and no member may propose their own nomination. Underlining that members who are admitted into membership later than 21 days prior to the date of the AGM, would not be eligible to vote.

“A Seven-day period is stipulated for the processing of membership application,” she explained.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Facebook adds location sharing feature

Facebook last week, added location sharing to its multiple social networking features to known as Facebook Places.

Announcing, the chief executive officer, Facebook, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg said last Tuesday that the company’s latest creation, a foray into the world of location-based services called Facebook Places, reports PCWorld.

“This is going to be a really fun and interesting summer,” said Zuckerberg, stressing that they have got a lot of new products coming out.

First of these new products, he said, is Places, a smartphone-based service that takes on much of the functionality provided by existing services such as FourSquare and Yelp.

According to him, Facebook Places has been designed to facilitate three main objectives including helping people to share where they are in a social way, see which friends are nearby, and discover nearby places and new places through friends’ profiles.

Also speaking, Facebook product manager for Places, Mr. Michael Sharon, while demonstrating the service’s capabilities noted that most of the functionally seem identical to the features already popularised by FourSquare.

Through an updated version of the iPhone app or by browsing to touch.facebook.com on a mobile browser, he said, users would find a main menu that shows nearby friends and offers a list of nearby places to check into, of which the friend could write about the Places feature in the Facebook blog.

The report also indicated that by choosing a place from the list and tapping the “check in” button to check in, or tap the plus symbol to add a new place, and users will see a security notice explaining that they’re about to share their location.

In addition, he said, the service includes the ability to tag friends who are in the same location and check them in at the same time because, explaining that not everyone has a smartphone that supports Places yet.

In light of recent concerns over Facebook user privacy, the company made a point of highlighting Places’ security features.

By default, check-ins is visible to friends only, though this setting is customisable to allow broader sharing or to restrict it down to just a few specific people.

Users will only be able to tag people who are on their friends lists, and then only when they first check into a place. This ostensibly limits the chances of mischief with the service, particularly because the only way to check a friend into a potentially embarrassing location will be to check oneself in as well.


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Intel acquires McAfee, unveils processors to manage stress

Intel Corporation, last weekend, announced the conclusion of a deal to acquire McAfee Incorporated by purchasing all of the security solution firm’s common stock at $48, about N7,221, per share in cash for approximately $7.68 billion, about N 1,1 trillion.

This development came as Intel unveiled its 2010 core processors for the management of stress.

Intel president, Mr. Paul Otellini, confirmed this development, saying that both boards of directors have unanimously approved the deal, which is expected to close after McAfee shareholder approval, regulatory clearances and other customary conditions specified in the agreement.

He said that the acquisition reflects that security is now a fundamental component of online computing, hence today’s security approach does not fully address the billions of new Internet-ready devices connecting, including mobile and wireless devices, TVs, cars, medical devices and Automated Teller Machines (ATM) machines as well as the accompanying surge in cyber threats.

He also said that by providing protection to a diverse online world requires a fundamentally new approach involving software, hardware and services.

He disclosed that Intel tends to prioritize security to be on par with its strategic focus areas in energy-efficient performance and Internet connectivity.

McAfee, he said, which has enjoyed double-digit, year-over-year growth and nearly 80 per cent gross margins last year, would now become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel, reporting into Intel’s Software and Services Group.

The group is managed by Renée James, Intel senior vice president, and general manager of the group.

“With the rapid expansion of growth across a vast array of Internet-connected devices, more and more of the elements of our lives have moved online,” Otellini said, noting that in the past, energy-efficient performance and connectivity have defined computing requirements.

“Looking forward, security will join those as a third pillar of what people demand from all computing experiences. The addition of McAfee products and technologies into the Intel computing portfolio brings us incredibly talented people with a track record of delivering security innovations, products and services that the industry and consumers trust to make connecting to the Internet safer and more secure,” Otellini said.

Also speaking, Renee James said that hardware-enhanced security would lead to breakthroughs in effectively countering the increasingly sophisticated threats of today and tomorrow.

“This acquisition is consistent with our software and services strategy to deliver an outstanding computing experience in fast-growing business areas, especially around the move to wireless mobility,” she said, adding that the next step in this kind of strategy for McAfee was the right security partner.

“Our current work together has impressive prospects, and we look forward to introducing a product from our strategic partnership next year,” she said.

For the chief executive officer, McAfee, Mr. Dave DeWalt, the cyber threat landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years, with millions of new threats appearing every month.

“We believe this acquisition will result in our ability to deliver a safer, more secure and trusted Internet-enabled device experience,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an effort to address the Hourglass Syndrome and reduce time waste, Intel unveiled the new 2010 Intel Core family of processors, smart technology that is faster with new feature called Intel Turbo Boost Technology1.

Hourglass Syndrome is a term coined by Intel to describe the situation that many consumers face while waiting for their technology to keep up with the speed of life.

With this new feature, Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors can automatically adapt to an individual’s performance needs, giving the boost users need to speed up and save energy thereby reducing the waiting time.

Applications are faster, and the PC is more responsive, even as you multi-task.
Director of Intel’s Consumer PC Marketing, Karen Regis was quoted as saying that over the past five years, much has changed in the way people use technology, including the launch of YouTube in 2006, Facebook exploding to more than 400 million users, high-definition (HD) content online, massive growth in digital photography sharing sites and consumers demanding faster and easier video streaming and editing capabilities.

“Consumers need a PC that gives them the freedom to handle it all without suffering from the Hourglass Syndrome,” he said, stressing that Intel understands how stressful technology could be, therefore it is determined to design products that could improve the quality of life and lower stress levels of computing, as opposed to increasing them.

Intel further announced the teaming up with psychology expert Cooper Lawrence to provide people with tips on how to better handle stress.

“Mindful stress management is very important,” said Lawrence, noting that the more prepared people seem, the easier it could be to manage their stress.

“Simple tips to deal with increased stress include having a support network, developing a sense of control and generally just changing your outlook,” Lawrence said.

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SMS aids fight against fake drugs

With the announcement that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) subscribed to the concept of using Short Messaging Service (SMS) to check the influx of fake drugs in the country, more African countries are likely to key-in, reports AP.

ITRealms Online recalled that last July, NAFDAC said that with the introduction of SMS with a given code consumers in the country should be able to use on all medicines as soon as possible after certification via SMS.

“Consumers can now take the war against counterfeit drugs into their own hands,” according to the Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul B. Orhii, while announcing this development.

The report also noted that for Africans wondering whether the malaria drugs they’ve bought are real, there may soon be a quick way of finding out, basically through sending a text message.

Equally, the report noted that across the continent, over 30 per cent of malaria medicines are estimated as fake, and are usually difficult to identify.

According to the report, a new project called mPedigree allows consumers to send in a code via text message which enables them to check if their drugs are genuine, especially on malaria drugs.

Ghanaian entrepreneur, Mr. Bright Simons, who developed the mPedigree system noted that its technology and security infrastructure are now being provided by Hewlett Packard (HP).

The report added that the system assigns a unique code to genuine malaria medicines, printed on the back of medicine blister packs under a sheet that is scratched off like a lottery ticket.

Thus enabling customers to send a text message to a central hotline with the code and instantly get an “OK” response telling them if the drug is registered and thus real. The system, it was gathered could also send additional information like the drug’s manufacturer and expiration date.

And in the event of a fake drug, the system, the report said, would, consumers are to receive a text message saying “No. Please recheck code.”

The system is free for consumers and is paid for by pharmaceutical companies and governments.

Health officials say the innovative system could help Africa curb the tide of fake drugs and potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Experts think about 700,000 people die from malaria or tuberculosis every year after taking counterfeit drugs, with some containing little more than sawdust, baby powder and water.

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Nokia introduces dual SIM handsets

Obviously responding to the clamour by its customers, especially in Nigeria, leading manufacturer of mobile devices, Nokia, has introduced dual Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) handsets, Nokia C1, into the nation’s market.

Making this disclosure, last weekend, the General Manager, Nokia West Africa, Mr. Philip De-La-Vega, said the move validates the fact that a dual-SIM phone has become inevitable in developing telecommunications nation like Nigeria.

Nokia C1, he said, is the device most affordable among competition across brands and is the first Nokia’s mobile phone to feature a 2-in-1 SIM solution.

Also, he said that Nokia as a listening brand introduced this to showcase its determination to continually seek ways to surpass the expectations of its customers.

De-La-Vega said that by simply holding down a key, users of Nokia C1 would be able to switch between SIM cards.

He explained that it would enable users to take advantage of reduced call rates, flexibility when traveling from one country to another, or helps with sharing a phone within a family and still use their own SIM.

According to him, Nokia C1 users would also benefit from a standby battery time of up to six weeks, the longest ever for a Nokia mobile phone, especially useful in those areas where access to electricity is sometimes limited.

“On the Nokia C3 phone, the standard flashlight is often someone’s only means of bright light - is paired with a vivid color screen and Frequency Modulation (FM) radio with standard headphone jack, meaning that the Nokia C1 is as much about entertainment as it is about convenience,” he said.

He maintained that Nokia is the world’s number one manufacturer of mobile devices by market share and going beyond its leadership status as a manufacturer of devices, Nokia is fast becoming a leading solutions provider in the converging Internet and communications industries providing internet services that enable users to experience media, messaging, maps and games.

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Starcomms launches BBW dual SIM

Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Starcomms, has launched a new product tagged the Best of Both Worlds (BBW) dual subscriber identification module (SIM)-based mobile phones.

This, the Chief Commercial Officer of Starcomms, Mr. Tushar Maheshwari, said, would undoubtedly free its customers who own GSM lines from the stress of carrying more than one handset always.

He said that BBW cell phone is a product of state-of-the-art technology that facilitates Starcomms customers to combine elegance with multi-functionality.

Describing it as an ideal for aspiring customers who love to combine the clear signals and value of Starcomms with a GSM network without the encumbrance of moving around with multiple devices, he said that it is a device made available by
Starcomms to make life easy for the customers.

“That is why we break technological barriers to get them products and services that meet their needs,” he declared.

He also said that BBW is comfortable and affordable as well as built to make it possible for Starcomms’ customers to enjoy the value of cost effective local and international rates associated with the use of the Starcomms network whilst at the same time giving the customer the convenience of carrying a spare GSM line in the same phone.

Further, he listed some of outstanding features that make the phone irresistible to own to include the international roaming possibility, the long lasting life of the battery as well as the FM radio cum speaker designed to entertain the customer.

Maheshwari also disclosed that the dual SIM phone is an effort by Starcomms to make better quality and feature rich phones available to its CDMA customers.

Recalling that over the years, the company has invested millions in new technologies and innovations towards improving the quality of its products and services with the ultimate aim of building a solid network for voice and data to cater for all categories of its customers.

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Presidential committee commends DSA on IGF

The Nigeria’s presidential Inter-Ministerial Committee on the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has commended the management of Digital Sense Africa (DSA) over its unalloyed interest in creating awareness in the industry, especially on Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in the country.

The presidential inter-ministerial committee was set up following the end of the two-phased World Summit on the Information Society which held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunisia in 2005 with active participation of the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

While, DSA is a proudly Nigerian entity with specialisation in Information and Communication Technology focused consultancy and perception management with experts’ affiliation across African continent and prides itself as the organisers of the Nigeria Digital Sense Forum series, one of which delves on Internet Governance.

The committee made this commendation through its secretary, Mr. Solomon Ingba at the weekend in a mail addressed to the management of DSA, saying he is proud of DSA commitment.

“I am proud of the ICT awareness which DSA is carrying out ... which includes Internet Governance (IG) issues,” he said, stressing that these issues are currently being discussed at various levels of Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

Ingba pointed out that since issues of Internet Governance are all-inclusive, it is a welcome development that all stakeholders join forces to ensure that Nigeria take its rightful place in the comity of nations.

“All the ICT stakeholders in Nigeria need to close ranks for Information and Communication Technology development in the country and beyond,” he added.

Reacting to the commendation, the Executive Director, Digital Sense Africa, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, said that it gladdens one’s heart to note that the efforts by the likes of DSA is getting attention at the federal level.

She reiterated the call by Ingba for collaboration among all relevant stakeholders in moving the nation and particularly the ICT sector forward for a better future.
Also, she promised to continue to inspire her team at DSA to do their best and work alongside the WSIS committee in delivering on their presidential mandate.

Further, she extended the commendation to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), who saw reasons for the noble course by way of collaborating alongside other private operators in the country.

Noteworthy is that the immediate former chairman of the committee, who is now the Permanent Secretary, Nigeria Ecological Fund, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, had during the DSA forum on Internet Governance 2010, extended a similar commendation Digital Sense Africa (DSA), for putting together the annual Nigeria Digital Sense Forum, for its initiative in sustaining the programme as a prelude to the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

She noted that DSA as a private initiative has succeeded where government agencies failed.

Meanwhile, Engr. K. Binga has since assumed office as the chairman of the committee after Mrs. Odusote’s exit.

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We dominate online aviation - Aero

The management of Aero, has declared that its offerings in the market currently outweigh any other services as far as online aviation products are concerned.

Speaking recently on Aero’s offerings, head, Commercial, Mr. Robert Prophet, noted that they have become a leading e-airline in West Africa.

This, he said, could be substantiated with Aero leads with various innovative online products and services aimed at saving passenger’s valuable time as well as making their travel experience more convenient and pleasurable.

According to him, the airline has also launched a new more vibrant website, which comes with a fresh new look and increased functionality for the user. On the website the user will find full details of Aero routes and schedules, contact details, products, services and a host of information about the company.

He explained that Aero ticket voucher is an innovative product that enables customers to book and pay online for flights. The ticket voucher is a 16 digit code generated together with a 4 digit pin number, with which Aero customers can pay for their bookings online. Customers can buy aero ticket vouchers online from Aero’s website and pay with any of the existing and currently acceptable electronic payment cards, and it is also available for sale at all Aero’s sales desk on cash payment.

Equally amazing online offer, he said, is the Excess baggage voucher, which is an electronic voucher generated online via Aero’s website www.flyaero.com which enables passengers to make prepayment for their excess baggage. It is a highly discounted medium to purchase and pay for excess baggage weight (kg),as this medium current offers 80% discount on our airport excess baggage charges. Excess baggage voucher can only be purchased by passengers with confirmed booking.

On the Aero’s Online check-in, he said, it has been making life easy for the passenger on the day of travel ,as they will no longer have to queue up for boarding passes at the airport. This is an online access given to all aero passengers with confirmed flight booking to be able to select their preference seats, check-in and print their boarding pass by them selves’ days ahead of their scheduled travel date.

Additionally, he said, that Aero’s ‘Book-on-Hold’ is a process whereby bookings made online are held for a period of 24hours and payments are made at any approved Bank Branches nationwide using Cash and ATM channels of member banks on the Interswitch network.

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Six cities vie for Mobile World congress 2013

Six cities are currently vying for the hosting right of the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA)-organised Mobile World Congress (MWC) from 2013 for five years.

Chief executive officer, GSMA Ltd, Mr. John Hoffman, affirmed this, last weekend, saying that line up for the Mobile World hosting right include Amsterdam, Barcelona, Cologne, Milan, Munich and Paris.

He said that these cities have are contesting to become the home of Mobile World Congress for the five-year period from 2013 through 2017.

The GSMA, he said, is expected to identify a short list of finalist cities in January 2011 and to complete the evaluation process by announcing the city that won the bid in mid-2011.

“The mobile industry continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace and the GSMA is also advancing its business to meet the changing requirements of constituents across the global communications industry,” he said.

Hoffman also said that Mobile World Congress has grown significantly since inception in 23 years ago, stressing, “We look forward to shaping the future of the event with one of these outstanding candidate cities.”

The Mobile World Congress is widely considered the industry’s ‘must-attend’ event and is expected to draw more than 50,000 visitors at the 2011 Mobile World Congress, which will be held in Barcelona 14-17 February, 2011.

The four-day conference and exhibition, Hoffman noted attracts executives from the world’s largest and most influential companies across the mobile industry and adjacent sectors, as well as government delegations.

He recalled that Mobile World Congress has been held in Barcelona since 2006 and the city will continue to host the event through, at least, till 2012, when a new city is expected to take over the hosting right after scaling the conditions of GSMA.

“The GSMA is committed to holding the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona through 2012. In partnership with the city of Barcelona, the region of Catalonia, the Fira de Barcelona and all our city partners, we have experienced tremendous success and our association with Barcelona has been extremely positive for the GSMA, for our exhibitors, for our attendees and for the wireless industry,” he said.

ITRealms Online notes that GSMA represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry, across 219 countries, and uniting about 800 world's mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

West African IGF takes off in Dakar


All is now set for the 2010 West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) in the city of Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

This is coming as WAIGF takes off today for a three-day session, it has been gathered that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and Open Source Institute for West Africa (OSIWA) among others endorsed the forum and saw to its success.

Disclosing this, a key player and a member of the Local Organisation Committee cum chairperson, Free and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) Ms. Nnenna Nwakanma, said that the two organisations drummed support for WAIGF.

“ICANN is giving support. OSIWA is supporting the participation of 20 international participants and l’Initiative pour la Gouvernance de l’internet en Côte d’Ivoire (IGICI) also supported some participants from Côte d’Ivoire. Certainly, the African Network Information Center (AfriNIC) would be supporting some people too. Then we cannot forget the national telco and the national regulatory authority in Senegal,” she said.

According to her, participants did not only come from West Africa, but were from all over the world, stressing that they were happy to welcome participants from all walks of life.

“Dakar is a nice place to be and lots of places to visit,” she declared, urging Internet enthusiasts in the region to join any national discussion group at https://lists.waigf.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi, while some volunteers to moderate for the outstanding countries that are not yet covered, were asked to take the lead.

She also called on enthusiasts to subscribe to the general team list, support the regional meeting itself, “this year, next year or any other year” as well as follow events remotely on #waigf.

Meanwhile, the West Africa Internet Governance Forum is expected to deliberate on “Promoting the Multi-stakeholder Model for further Internet Development in Africa.”

ITRealms Online gathered from the LOC that a voting structure was created to enable members of the West African Internet community to exercise their franchise and at the close of the voting session, on Wednesday, July 14, 2010, majority voted for ‘Promoting the Multi-stakeholder Model for further Internet Development in Africa’ while the alternative suggestion, was on ‘Developing the Future Internet in West Africa’ which could not make a vote.

This also confirmed by Ms. Nwakanma, who said that West African have spoken with their votes.

“The theme for WA-IGF 2010 is ‘Promoting the Multi-stakeholder Model for further Internet Development in Africa’ and thank you all for your time,” she said.

The FOSSFA chairperson also disclosed that they recently opened call for Internet Governance Forum core team in West Africa to be hosted in Dakar between August 23 and 25, this year, noting that her organisation, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and other partners, with support from the Open Society Institute of West Africa (OSIWA) launched a call for West Africa Internet Governance Forum preparation.

The terms of reference for West African IGF consortium group, she said, comprised of the formation of the core team, which entails background for the key members of the consortium group of organizations who would be contributing to the development and organization of the 2010 West African Regional Internet Governance Forum.

The Consortium, she said, include members and organizations from the seven targeted countries, namely Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon; as well as the convening organizations.

Interest members of the Internet community in the sub-region, she said, especially those countries in West Africa but not listed above were free to apply.

She outlined the objectives of the WAIGF to include the facilitation of Internet policy discussions on a multi-stakeholder platform for issues relating to the development and the governance of the Internet in West Africa.

In addition to increasing awareness of Internet governance issues in the sub-region and encourage participation of a broad range of stakeholders in the IGF process within West Africa.

WAIGF, Nwakanma said, tends to create an opportunity for West Africans to engage in, contribute towards discussions regarding spam, Internet and security, and other IGF related issues at the global Internet Governance Forum.

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ICT firms scramble for entrepreneurship awards 2010

Over 2,000 firms are now scrambling for the 2010 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship, including Information and Communication Technology (ICT) entities from Nigeria among other 14 African countries for the 2010 session.

The Entrepreneurship awards is organised by Legatum, a privately owned international investment group based in Dubai, in conjunction with Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, which promotes commerce as a driving force on the continent of Africa for economic growth.

ITRealms Online gathered that the some ICT firms in the country have expressed interest in contesting for the 2010 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship, including Teledom, Omatek, Zinox, SystemSpecs to name a few.

Confirming this, the Managing Director, Legatum, Mr. Alan McCormick, said that the Africa Awards focuses on celebrating the standards of business excellence within Africa and building a strong network of African entrepreneurs as a source of learning and shared best practices.

According to him, the total number of entries has exceeded previous years by 40 per cent with over 2,000 companies making entries to compete for the grand prize of US$ 100,000, about N15 million and five other prizes of US$ 50,000, estimated N7.5m, each.

He pointed out that the competition remains open for applications at www.AfricaAwards.com, until Tuesday, August 31, 2010.

“This year’s Africa Awards has far surpassed our expectations and sends the message again that Africa is open for business. We know that entrepreneurs play a vital role in the development of any economy and through the Africa Awards, Legatum is able to identify and support the leaders of remarkable companies and the contribution they are making to promoting prosperity across the continent,” McCormick.

He also said, entrepreneurs from 15 countries on the continent are participating in the 2010 awards and submissions are being accepted from Botswana, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.

McCormick noted that a total of US$350,000 will be awarded to the winners, with the funds directed towards growth and strategic reinvestment within the respective companies, stressing that the competition is open to all profitable businesses that have been in existence for a minimum of three years and have annual revenues between US$2-$25 million.

“With the August 31 deadline for applications fast approaching, interested companies are encouraged to visit the Africa Awards website soon to ensure their submissions are included,” he said.

Finalists, he said, would be invited to make formal presentations to an international jury of business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors in Ghana early this December.

Equally, the Managing Director, Omidyar Network, Mr. Matt Bannick said his firm and Legatum share the conviction that entrepreneurs are vital to creating new opportunities in Africa.

“As we approach the final weeks of the entry period, we encourage dynamic business leaders to share how they are driving innovation, economic growth and opportunity across the continent,” he concluded.


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Globacom extends MMS to 24 countries

Globacom has announced the presence of its international Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS) across 48 networks in 24 countries globally.

These countries include United Kingdom, United States, Norway, Canada, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Spain, China, Pakistan, Oman and Switzerland.

Others are Portugal, Hungary and Liechtenstein, Denmark, Hungary, Sweden, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Ukraine.

Head, Glo Gateway, Mr. Pankaj Pradhan, confirmed this in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, saying that the extension of this service to more countries was done to allow millions of prepaid and postpaid subscribers on the network to enjoy the service.

“Glo subscribers can now send International MMS to their loved ones in any of these destinations at the flat rate of N30 per message,” he declared, adding that this is in line with Glo’s commitment to continue to empower its subscribers and make services available to them.

He noted that Glo had in July 2009 become the first telecommunication network in Nigeria to introduce international MMS, which enables subscribers to exchange multimedia messages with their loved ones overseas.

Pradhan explained that with this latest, subscribers could send extra long texts, pictures, videos, voice recordings, music or a combination of media in a single message to loved ones in a really personal way and be part of the changes or important events in one another’s lives.

“We’re delighted that we are able to foster relationships through our MMS offer. We are bringing our subscribers closer to their loved ones within and outside the country as they are able to use the service to share special and memorable occasions such as marriages, birthdays, arrival of new babies and graduations,” Pradhan said.

He further said that Glo subscribers could get a full list of available networks which they can send and receive International MMS to from any Gloworld outlet or by calling Customer Care on 121 or 200.

The service can be activated by sending MMS to 667 and stating the handset type and model.

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Starcomms excites customers with N4 night calls

Starcomms has said its customers are bound to get great value with the introduction of night time calling on the network for N4 per minute on-net calls between the period of 10 pm and 7 am.

Chief Commercial Officer, Starcomms, Mr. Tushar Maheshwari disclosing this, said that the offer is to enable Starcomms customers, particularly the Muslims to share warm thoughts during the Ramadan period, while also giving opportunity to non-Muslims to extend warm greetings to their Muslim and other friends.

He said that the latest tariff on the network was designed to add value to the social life of all customers, stressing that this unique offer is available to current and new customers in all cities where there is Starcomms coverage for a period of one month.

“What it implies is that customers of the innovative CDMA company would have to pay less to savour the excitement and communal activities that require people getting in touch during the Ramadan period while also enjoying other value added services on the Starcomms network,” he explained.

Additionally, he noted that the promo is a boom for those who are not involved in the Ramadan fast as they could have longer discussions on the Starcomms network during the off peak hours. Mr. Maheshwari equally said that as a responsive network, Starcomms understand that Nigerians love to keep in touch with their loved ones; hence they are using this opportunity to enable not just the Muslims on the network, but the non-Muslims too, the privilege of doing that during the Ramadan period.

This, he said, is just part of the operator’s numerous ways of making our people happier, as a network that speaks their language.

He said that as a customer focused company, like Starcomms, is mindful of the needs of its customers and will often look for opportunities to make talking easy for them.

ITRealms Online recalls that Starcomms, is the current winner of the Superbrand award for 2010 and a two time telecom company of the year.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

e-Voters’ registration: NigcomSAT applies for global patent, advises INEC to look inwards


The Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSAT) said it has applied for the worldwide patent of its e-voting registration application in readiness for the 2011 general elections.

This came as NigComSAT advised the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), under Prof. Attahiru Jega, to look inwards in deployment of Information and Communication Technology for the exercise so as to encourage local IT entrepreneurs, especially in the hardware sub-sector.

Speaking to newsmen recently, the Managing Director, NigComSAT, Mr. Ahmed T. Rufai, noted that there is need to look inwards so as to tap from the local companies’ capable of providing part or holistic deployment for the exercise expected to be a transformational step for the country.

He said, by deploying computers, especially laptops needed for the project through the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Zinox, Omatek, Beta and Brain with NigComSAT e-voting suite, to name a few, it would reduce capital flight and spur local companies in creating more jobs for the populace.

“We should believe in ourselves and look inward in developing this country because for every Naira you throw out of this country, you are developing the economy of another country,” he warned, wondering what policies are in place to ensure that Nigeria have developmental agenda.

Rufai stressed that the Local Content Act recently passed into law by the National Assembly should not just be restricted to the oil industry alone, but should apply in so many other sectors.

He noted that there was a time the government tried to domesticate the textile industry by banning the importation of lace material, but said that it is not about banning a product.

“We should try to enhance our local industries for them to be competitive enough over other foreign counterparts,” he declared, noting that though textile industry is still talking of bail out and the money has not even gotten to stakeholders.

He further noted that before now the textile industry has been the largest employer of labour in the country.

“So, if you are talking of creating employment and reducing crime, to what extent are we matching our words with action” he queried, pointing out that now that INEC is seeking to conduct direct digital capturing of voters’ registration for the forthcoming general election billed for next year, it is paramount that local content is brought to bear on the exercise by encouraging Nigerian companies to participate actively in the deployment.

Rufai described the exercise as the simplest form of software engineering, because the hardware required includes laptop and a camcorder.

According to him, a foreign branded laptop could cost $1000, about N150,250, or at least, $850, an estimated N127,712.50, that is, coming with a camcorder.

“What makes the e-registration complete is just the software platform, the template that tie to enable them connect together, not just an intelligent table if I can call it, a table that we design not with the Microsoft window, for every window there is a software behind the window that is not seen. But to create table itself there is a command and the template will be used for data analysis, storage and production eventually,” he stressed.

Emphasizing that what is actually uploaded would comprise a special table for the capturing of the picture, finger print and bio-data of the voters as well as where they would want to vote.

“So, all these things were what we have produced locally and it’s owned by Nigerians because we are government. Whatever is our product is owned by Nigeria; they can decide to take it free of charge without paying N1 for it,” he asserted, noting that a computer could be used for more than three wards.

He said, all these capabilities are there in an electronic register, in such a way that given an interaction when an election is going to take place, voters are given an opportunity to choose where to vote, “so if you are in Abuja and want to vote in Lagos.”

Though, he said, Nigeria is not yet there, in terms of allowing citizens to vote electronically, Rufai disclosed that flexibility has come to the system, based on the recent study by NigcomSAT.

Rufai further said that NigComSAT has experimented on this technology in the past two years, citing an instance of staff attendance system based on smart card.

“In fact, it is from this system we graduated, because everything we place there represents entire register system of workers, giving them smartcard and authentication of their presence; when they come to work and when they close from work,” he said, explaining that it’s a system that has been used over time and is resilient.

What NigComSAT is saying, according to him, is that it’s high time to look inward, because there are multiple advantages in INEC taking these decisions correctly.

Just as he alleged that today, INEC is thinking of providing vendors with 30 per cent worth of the contract, saying that this amount is enough to build a micro-electronic computer line in the country.

“Imagine if we start producing our own computer, television as it used to be in Phillip in Ojota in those days, imagine if we start producing our own handsets for 50 million mobile telephone users in Nigeria,” he declared. This is how you grow the economy toward vision 2020 and not exporting all the money to foreigners,” he canvassed.

He maintained that what is really needed for the direct capture machine is a modern laptop equip with camcorder in addition to the biometric machine.

He charged INEC to use this voters’ registration exercise to challenge and encourage local capacity building, just like former President Olusegun Obasanjo did in a memo during his tenure thus, giving support to local IT hardware manufacturers.

“They can ride on that and the beauty of it all is that we have created an electronic ballot system which cannot be snatch and you cannot snuff ballot paper into it because the entry is mechanized and there is magnetic reader that recognizes whether this ballot paper will enter it or not. If the answer is yes, it is the one way to accept the ballot paper from you. You cannot even vote with the ballot paper unless you are programmed to vote in that ward,” he said.

Rufai explained that the ballot paper is biometric inclined as well as the finger tips.

“Why can’t we just look at it for once, and the beauty of it is that we can export this to Ghana and some other West African countries, and even export this to Europe and America,” he said, insisting that if China is exporting technological product to America, he does not see what could stop Nigeria from doing same.

Revealing that NigcomSAT has already applied to the United States (US), Europe and worldwide, for patent of this product and said that they are very confident about this application for e-registration and voting.

“It is still pending, they have not replied us, which means nobody has done it because once you apply for United States patent and worldwide patent, they will start doing their research. So, we believe that if we adopt this solution, it will put Nigeria on the path of technological progress and diversifying our economy and the path of attaining our vision 2020, so that we match our words with action,” he submitted.


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‘Nigeria is Epson’s hub for West African markets’

The Head, Regional Sales for Africa and Europe at Seiko Epson, Mr. Michael Hunt, has said that Nigeria would be the hub for its market outreach in the West African
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) markets.

Speaking at a one-day customers’ forum organized by Epson Nigeria in Lagos, Mr. Hunt noted that bringing this forum to Lagos, Nigeria, is an indication of how serious Epson Africa takes the market.

Africa, he said, is the second largest continent with 54 countries and AFIS region
consists of 24 countries with 32 distributors made up of businesses and retail.

He also listed Nigeria as being among the top 10 economies on the continent for Epson products led by South Africa and includes Algeria and Angola to name a few.

“Nigeria would be the base to market Epson in West Africa across Ghana, and Sierra Leone,” he said.

Equally he listed two key distributors of Epson in the country including Technology Distribution (TD) and Nakanwura Technologies, saying that both have offices across the country for retail purposes, in addition to maintaining warranty centre at Computer Plus, even as they also uses the United Kingdom-based distributors like WestCon Africa and Tri-Continental and DistAfrica to name a few.

Further, he said that the 50 per cent of Epson revenue annually still comes from Dot Matrix printers in Africa and the demand would continue to rise, though it’s being used mainly by banks.

In his address at the occasion, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Seiko Epson, Mr. Tadaaki Hagata, tasked its partners and customers in African to share in the company’s goal of exceeding their vision.

Hagata also said that the ultimate goal of the company is to ensure that its partners and customers alike buy into its goal of making certain that whoever gets in contact with them for business purposes exceeds his or her vision.

He urged them to always remember that the sole platform being created by the company is for all its partners and customers specifically to achieve beyond their imagination.

“In partnership with Epson, you can exceed your vision and always remember that,” he declared.

Mr. Hagata who was equally accompanied at the forum by the Account Manager for Africa, Mr. Shaun Robinson, Support Specialist, Mr. Maier Roberts, Accounts Manager for Nigeria, Mr. Joseph Ejiogu, Sales Expansion Manager, Mr. Fukaishei Acitino, Product Business Manager-Africa, Ms Chiyo Kubota and Business System director, Mr. Whley Jason, said that they now have in-country accounts manager in the person of Mr. Ejiogu, to further strengthen Epson presence in the country.

Epson, he noted has been doing business in Nigeria with both public and private sectors, stressing that the company made over $12 billion in annual turnover, though he was not specific about the figure originating from Africa and Nigeria precisely.

Hagata further said that they are working at making the market better by engaging more sellers with good offering.

On the future goal of Epson for Africa, he said that they have challenged themselves to maintain the provision of the products that would avail customers to exceed their goals as they go about their businesses.

For the Director, Business System, Mr. Whley Jason said that in Epson, they have since realized that planning for the future is unrealistic without consideration for the environment, hence, the company came with an environmental friendly vision towards 2050.

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Zinox eyes Zambia, gets JACITAD commendation

Zinox Technologies said it has concluded plans to open country office in the Republic of Zambia, just as the Joint Action Committee for ICT Awareness and Development (JACITAD), has commended Zinox management on its latest ranking by the International Data Corporation (IDC) as the top selling laptop brand in the country.

Disclosing this, at the weekend, the chairman, Zinox Technologies, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh said that in a less than two weeks, his company would open office in Zambia in addition to the already existing offices in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia and South Africa to name a few on the continent.

This, he said, is in fulfillment of the dream to build a continental Information and Communications Technology (ICT) company for Africans.

Also, he said, Zinox is ready to collaborate with any other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) in the country for national development, which eventually would cut down cost of operation.

“I am ready to collaborate for a consortium,” he declared.

Ekeh also expressed appreciation to the members and executive of JACITAD for finding it worthy to congratulate Zinox on IDC ranking, at least for even the thought in the first instance.

He prayed that Zinox leadership would continue to be in the right path to be undeterred in supporting genuine organisations like JACITAD, that are driven by the urge to development the Nigeria nation.

Speaking earlier, President, JACITAD, Prince Osuagwu, recalled that in 2005, Zinox was rated by IDC as second to Hewlett Packard (HP) and has strived to emerge lead in 2010, describing it as a remarkable feat worthy of commendation, hence the executive of his group decided to recognize its value by paying a courtesy call to the management of Zinox in this regard.

Osuagwu, noted that Zinox had promised to make Nigeria a force to be reckoned with in Information Technology and based on the scope and quality of jobs rendered both at the private and public sectors as streamlined by the IDC ranking, Zinox has delivered on that promise.

He also expressed confidence that Zinox’s achievements are reassuring to the nation’s youths that definitely Nigeria would partake in the sharing of emerging global wealth generated by knowledge and pledged the group’s support to Zinox for continuously flying the nation’s flag in the digital arena.

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APC, Cisco collaborate on Smart+Connected project

Global leader in integrated critical power and cooling services, APC by Schneider Electric recently collaborated with Cisco at the 2010 expo in Shanghai, China.

Commenting on the participation and collaboration, the vice president, Global Strategic Alliances, APC, Mr. Alistair Pim, said that the company provided its expertise and solutions by demonstrating the EcoStruxure architecture, which incorporates the company’s InfraStruXure architecture for data centers in support of the Cisco Smart+Connected Communities initiative intended to help communities save up to 30 per cent off their energy bills.

He pointed out that from managing the complex operating environment of factories, operating a data center more efficiently or meeting the efficiency targets for the building, Schneider Electric makes the connections and helps companies manage their energy usage more efficiently.

He expressed delight in working with Cisco to bring the Smart+Connected vision to life through the collaboration in the Cisco Pavilion at Expo 2010.

APC’s energy efficient physical layer solutions, Pim also said, helps to ensure availability on the Cisco Unified Computing System and the EMC Vblock solutions that are powering the Cisco Pavilion, showing the modularity, scalability and manageability of the solutions when used in the enterprise data center.

Outside of the data center, he said, Schneider Electric’s building management solutions and APC’s InfraStruXure management software portfolio integrate with Cisco EnergyWise to provide for more visibility and management of connected devices over the Internet Protocol (IP) network, resulting in decreased energy consumption across the Cisco Pavilion, demonstrating how Smart+Connected Communities of tomorrow can make the most of their energy.

Also speaking, director for the Cisco Pavilion, Mr. Anthony Elvey, said that this collaboration shows that both companies share vision for the Smart+Connected Communities.

“Just as the Internet has transformed our businesses and personal lives, so it will now transform our cities and communities. Everything will be connected, from health care to education, government, buildings, physical security and much more — truly everything,” he said,

Elvey pointed out that cities which embrace technology will be those who lead in the future, achieving significant environmental, social and economic sustainability.

In addition to the Cisco Pavilion, Schneider Electric energy management solutions will be showcased within following pavilions at Expo Shanghai 2010.

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ATCON, ITAN enter alliance for ICT4D

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and Information Technology Industry Association of Nigeria (ITAN), last weekend, entered into an alliance to share information on Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) with a consummation of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Giving the summary of the alliance at a media briefing in Lagos, the President, ITAN, Dr. Jimson Olufuye, said that this Memorandum of Understanding is for exchange of information for the benefit of the emerging ICT industry in the country.

He also said that each of the parties in the alliance would forward a copy of an input it has already made to the government to the other parties for information only.

“The purpose is to enhance understanding and minimize discordance in the different input from which governments base their decisions,” he said.

According to him, the independence and the right of content of opinion on input to governance are retained for every party involved, stressing that it would make it possible for any other association at take off in order to allow for any other willing industry association to have known the scope before opting to be part of the alliance.

He stressing that Internet Protocol (IP) enables convergence of hitherto disparate services for telephony, broadcasting, computing, communications, postal services to name a few, which has transformed the multi-polar world into a uni-polar world now referred to as a global village.

“The apparent global transformation has affected the way we live, play, study, work and particularly do business,” he said, adding that entities once thought to exist in silos are now driven by a common thread called the internet.

He noted that the objective of this alliance include to facilitate the need for governments to receive a common voice from advocates of the emerging ICT industry in the country, which benefits comprised improved industry base for the sector, accelerated development of the sector due to synergy and coordination of efforts towards one goal capable of leading to development and creation of business for members.

Additionally, Olufuye said that it would bring about increased political reckoning for the industry, fast-tracked public policy articulation and effectiveness as well as promotion of critical industry confidence desirous for accelerated attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Vision 20-2020.

In his remarks, ATCON president, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu reiterated that the scope of the alliance is limited to each partner sending a copy of any input it made to any government on issues relating to ICT industry development.

He warned that a few people may read meanings into the alliance and are likely to go aware with the notion that a body of association has been formed, stressing that some other people would find reasons as to why one association will eventually swallow another.

“This is not so … It is not so and it is not intended,” Omo-Ettu insisted.

He pointed out that the major benefit envisaged in the alliance is to facilitate assistance to the government in terms of reaching decision from advices from professional associations in manner that such advices will not be discordant.

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Abosede opens Etisalat’s shop @ Sabo-Yaba

The Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Francesco Abosede has opened the Etisalat’s Experience Centre at the e-Center, Sabo-Yaba in Lagos.

A press statement from the operator quoted Etisalat Acting Director Sales, Mr. Ken Ogujiofor, as saying that this was to further bring its unique products and services closer to new and existing customers on the network.

Customers who visited the centre, he said, during the unveiling had the opportunity of enjoying the Etisalat experience.

According to him, Mr. Abosede who was special guest and represented by the Permanent Secretary, Architect Mrs. Yetunde Ajayi, commended Etisalat for bringing its services to the neighborhood.

He also said Etisalat has come to this community to open a store, which is exciting, adding that it’s a chance for more people to have access to different benefits available on the network and not have to go far to take advantage of these benefits.

Ogujiofor, said at the event that the new Etisalat Centre offers the people of the area and its environs easy access to various services offered by the brand.

“In fulfillment to serve our customers ever better so they can enjoy the Etisalat experience, this Centre will provide easy access to the people in this neighborhood to a point of purchase for data devices, SIM packs, and handsets,” he said.

Additionally, he said the ever ready sales specialists would also be available to help solve customer-related issues and offer information to Etisalat subscribers on how best to enjoy the unique benefits of the products.

As said by him, the Centre located within the E-Center, Sabo, Yaba, has been designed in signature with Etisalat style and colors.

Etisalat currently has Centres at GRA and Allen Avenue in Ikeja, Murtala Muhammed Airport 2, Awolowo road in Ikoyi, Silverbird Galleria, Mega Plaza, Saka Tinubu and the Palms all in Lagos; other Centres are in Kano, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna, Maiduguri and Abuja.

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Glo assures associates of better days ahead

*@ awards nite

Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom has assured its business associates of better days ahead.

Group Chief Operating Officer (GCOO), Mr. Mohammed Jameel, who gave the assurance at the Glo business associates rewards nite in Lagos, last weekend, noted that the company is aware the business associates have issues with profitability, but assured that Glo would not claim ignorance of their situation.

“As a responsive, flexible with the feeling of corporate entity, their anxieties are being looked into,” he said, promising that Glo would continue to strive so as to make certain that its business associates get rewarded for their uncommon loyalty.

For Jameel, “We have been collating feedbacks from the field in the last few months. I assure you that all your concerns would be looked into,” insisting that Glo would continue to share a bit of returns on investment with its business associates.
On market penetration, Jameel said, the SNO would not rest on its oars as it strives to make its presence felt in every nook and cranny nationwide with its superior bouquet of products and services.

Further, Jameel pointed that the desire to ensure high quality of service, in addition to a number of projects, especially building of additional base stations to add to the already near 5,000 on ground, would continue.

Equally speaking, Director, Marketing Unit, Mr. Ken Hall, said the determination to expand its presence and services is going to be total as its products would be made available at every school gate, places of worship and inhabited by man nationwide.

He said the operator has launched the territorial campaign which makes every state in the country a “sales region.”

Emphasising that Glo would expedite action on the payment of their incentives, Hall said, frequent changes have become inimical to the growth of the business.

Some of the business associates were rewarded with in several categories including silver, gold and platinum, with some going home with about 30 new Toyota Hiace, three brand new Land Rover Jeeps and about a 100 motorbikes, laptops and printers for their loyalty to the brand.

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ZOOMmobile unveils free calls

One of the nation’s leading Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), ZOOMmobile, has introduced a 24-hour free calls on its network for customers as part of the Nigeria’s 50 year anniversary, tagged as ‘Awooof’.

Chief Strategy Officer, ZOOMmobile, Mr. Usman Amodu-Shuaibu, who made this disclosure in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online said that the move is targeted at giving subscribers more value for money.

He explained that the new package called Awooof was because it is targeted at anybody who could afford N50 per day to make unlimited call on the ZOOMmobile network.

“This package introduction coincides with our 50th anniversary and is intended to give Nigerians a good deal and a voice to talk for free,” he said.

According to him, the package is unique in the sense that all other operators offer free call service for a limited number of hours mostly on promotional basis at midnight.

He stressed that with the new package, subscribers on ZOOMmobile are at liberty to talk unlimited for twenty four hours without having to wait till midnight.

“The new package is not a promotional offer but an ideal tariff plan that has come to stay,” he declared.

He explained that in order to enjoy unlimited free on-net calls, subscribers on the Awooof package could make calls to other networks at 27K per second or N16 per minute, stressing that the package is the most affordable tariff plan so far in the industry.

Amodu-Shuaibu also informed that to get connected, new customers only need to purchase a phone at any ZOOM shop or dealership outlets nationwide, while both new and existing subscribers could migrate to the new plan by texting ‘100’ to ‘333’.

ITRealms Online recalls that ZOOMmobile offers a comprehensive range of wireless communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users.

The company has won most of the high profile industry awards in her category for mobile voice telephony and Internet services.


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Symantec acquires VeriSign’s security business

Symantec Corporation has announced the acquisition of VeriSign’s identity and authentication business.

This includes the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Code Signing Certificate Services, the Managed Public Key Infrastructure (MPKI) Services, the VeriSign Trust Seal, the VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Authentication Service and the VIP Fraud Detection Service (FDS).

Symantec’s president, Mr. Enrique Salem affirmed this in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online at the weekend, saying that enterprises and consumers alike expect simple and secure access to information from any device, protection from identity fraud, and online experiences that are user-friendly and hassle-free.

These, he noted, motivated Symantec to go the acquisition of VeriSign identity and authentication business arm. The combination of Symantec’s leading security solutions with VeriSign’s security products, services and recognition as the most trusted brand online, uniquely he said, positions Symantec to drive the adoption of identity security and restore trust online unlike any other company.

Also, SVP Platform Services at Charles Schwab, Andrew Salesky explained that, “Symantec has acquired a strong technology suite and team that we hope to continue to leverage.” He said that users will benefit by having a single primary security partner for our enterprise and client facing applications, and look forward to further enhancing these capabilities with Symantec.

The VeriSign check mark is the most recognized symbol of trust online with more than 250 million impressions every day on more than 90,000 websites in 160 countries.

Symantec has begun the process to transition to a new corporate identity incorporating the VeriSign check mark. This will include a new corporate logo, as well as a new version of the Norton consumer logo, to convey that it’s safe to communicate, transact commerce and exchange information online. The external global roll-out will begin in the December quarter.

With the completion of the acquisition, Symantec’s current portfolio, along with assets from VeriSign, provides the depth and breadth of technologies to make identity-based security of information part of a comprehensive security solution. Integration efforts are expected to:

The integration efforts will provide VeriSign’s SSL Certificate Services with Symantec Critical System Protection through the sales channel. By quickly enabling the sales force to begin cross-selling these offerings, Symantec will help organizations ensure and verify a higher level of security on their web servers, providing users with the trust and confidence to do business online.

It will align the VeriSign SSL and client PKI authentications services with Symantec Protection Center (SPC) to provide a unified enterprise security management solution.

The integration is expected to strengthen user access security by expanding Symantec’s Data Loss Prevention solutions and Data Insight technology with VeriSign’s identity security services to ensure that only authorized users have access to appropriate information.

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Security: Digital Sense, ATCON endorse summit on ICT intervention

Stakeholders are gearing up for the first summit on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) intervention on national security, scheduled for next month in Lagos, just as some notable industry groups and organisation have endorsed the summit.

Event coordinator, Mr. Godwin Morgan said that the proposed stakeholders’ summit has been endorsed by well-meaning Nigerians at home and abroad, saying that it indeed an idea whose time has come.

Some of the organisation that endorsed the summit at the weekend included
He quoted a letter endorsing the summit from the apex telecom industry association, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), saying that the initiative deserves commendation, endorsement and support as it has great potentials to facilitate the efforts of our national security forces in combating crimes and making Nigeria a safe, attractive and preferred investment destination for the international community.

In her reaction to the idea of the proposed summit, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, Executive Director, Digital Sense Africa (DSA) endorsed the initiative and announced the agreement of DSA to partner with other collaborating organizations in actualizing the laudable goals of the summit.

Citing national and public interests as the driving force for supporting the initiative, Mrs. Nweke said it has become embarrassing that Nigerians now live with kidnapping scare when they have advanced digital options to turn the tide against criminals, as it is the case in advanced countries of the world.

She also called on ICT industry players to team up and evolve appropriate digital networking that will assist the federal and state governments fight crimes effectively in our society.

Also commenting on the initiative, Prince Osuagwu, chairman, Joint Action Committee on ICT Awareness & Development (JACITAD) said the summit is a welcome development.
He also confirmed that his committee is working with the ICT sector to ensure the success of the summit leading to the implementation of an integrated ICT-based security network across the country.

Osuagwu noted that in recent times, Nigerian media practitioners have become targets of hired killers and kidnappers, recollecting the incident involving four journalists recently kidnapped in Abia State, who later regained their freedom last June.

He said that it would not have taken the mobilization of almost the whole of the security forces to Abia State to search for the kidnapped journalists if Nigeria had developed modern surveillance and monitoring technologies that would have captured and replayed footages of the criminals’ movements.

Further he observed that even the ICT sector operators have been victims of criminal activities in our society.

“Operators often complain of vandalized equipment, youths’ hostilities in some communities, theft of machines and equipment, etc. and these incidences affect business operations adversely. So, if we now come together and plan how to develop a national ICT-enabled security system, it will be easier to monitor, detect and arrest these criminals and make Nigeria a secured and safe place to do business. Everybody will be happy at the end of the day”.

Concerned Nigerians in the diaspora firmly believe the planned technology intervention will reduce the level of insecurity in the country. Dr. Clifford Maxwell, a London-based telecom expert said the move by the ICT sector in Nigeria is commendable as it will help stem the increasing rate of criminal activities that almost returned Nigeria to the dark age.

He said in advanced countries, technology has made homeland policing much easier because footprints of criminals can be traced to their doorsteps leading to arrests.
He also insisted that Nigeria cannot be recording advancements in the ICT sector yet the government at federal and state levels display helplessness in fighting crime and corruption in Nigeria, the giant of Africa.

Also, speaking in support of the planned summit, Patrick Edemson, international coordinator of Nigeria Advancement Alliance (NAA), a US-based interest group, described the initiative as a positive step in the right direction. He pledged the support of his group to ensuring the success of the initiative in anyway possible.

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Juwah commissions GateWay network, promises support

The newly inaugurated Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah, Monday, officially in Abuja, commissioned the network of GateWay Africa Business, just as he promises the network of NCC’s support in conduct of its business in the country.

The commissioning signaled the commencement of commercial services for provision of wireless broadband services in as part of the provision of services in six states of the country by Gateway Business.

This followed the company’s successful roll out of its Airlink wireless internet and Metrolink broadband solutions in Lagos.

“You products and services are interesting and we will give you support to roll out to the benefit of your subscribers. We hope that your services will be reliable and affordable to the Nigerian subscribers and that the enterprises will be for the benefit of the subscribers and the nation. We wish you well” Dr. Juwah said.

Earlier, the company team led by its Chief Executive Officer, GateWay Africa Business, Mr. Wally Beelder and Managing Director of GateWay Business Nigeria, Mr. Guy Clarke, paid a courtesy visit to the NCC headquarters, where they made a presentation about the facilities being provided by the company in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano and Kaduna.

They also told Dr. Juwah and his team that Gateway Business’ broadband wireless access provides organizations with fast and secure broadband connectivity, for reliable last-mile service, without the risk of potential interruptions and downtime on a terrestrial (fibre) “local loop”. AirLink or MetroLink could be installed and activated in a single day, giving customers immediate connectivity.

Gateway Business Nigeria, promises to roll out high speed access services across five further states before end 2010; Benin, Abia, Onitsha, Enugu and Warri.

According to the team, the company has committed to complete the roll out of the network to 36 states in two further phases.

This, they said, furthers Gateway Business’ drive to build a pan-African Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network that covers every major African city based on terrestrial (fibre) infrastructure with access to submarine cable.

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Ericsson Academy now open to all

Ericsson has launched a new Internet portal known as the Ericsson Academy, where users can access learning services, online courses, lectures, tutorials and learn more about cutting-edge technology such as HD Voice, 4G etc through interactive webinars and specially developed tutorials created by Ericsson experts at no charge.

In a world of rapidly evolving technologies the Ericsson Academy allows the world to tap into one of the richest sources of technology and business expertise. It is a new entry point to Ericsson’s expertise and knowledge about managing competence in rapid technology shifts, competence-related support and learning opportunities.

Originally launched to employees, the Academy which features content developed by Ericsson alongside online lectures from renowned professors of Harvard Business School has now opened its doors to the world. By making available its expertise and learning opportunities, Ericsson aims to inspire people and organisations throughout the industry to collaborate, exchange ideas and stimulate innovative thinking and behaviours.

Ericsson’s training portfolio comprises more than 1000 courses covering different technology systems and service areas.

For easy navigation, courses are grouped into predefined training packages within a certain area and participants receive a printable course certificate upon successful completion.

With an extensive portfolio of online and instructor-led training packages made available through the Academy and Education Centers around the world, Ericsson
Academy guarantees strong, flexible, end-to-end educational and people performance offering through a combination of learning, consulting services and broad spectrums of learning products and delivery methods.

According to the Head of Ericsson Academy for Region Sub-Saharan Africa, Tade Oyinlola, “This new approach to learning, leveraging on the use of technology to bring development initiatives closer to users across Africa, is received with much enthusiasm and will greatly aid Ericsson’s drive towards improving competence development on the continent.”

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