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Nigeria media urged to create 21st century platforms

ITRealms : Leadership of Nigerian media industry have been urged to ensure they create 21st century platforms and professional group be...

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011: Imperative of adopting dot ng by politicians

The 2011 general elections is just near the corner, REMMY NWEKE reports that adoption of .ng by the political class would boost the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) penetration.

For over 423 years, the word ‘politician’ has existed with many of those classified as such leveraging on Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). This was overwhelmingly brought to the fore at this 21st century by the strategists led by the campaign manager for President Barack Obama in the 2008 American presidential election, Mr. David Plouffe.

Speaking in Lagos recently at MTN Life Enrichment seminar held in Lagos and Abuja, Mr. Plouffe said that any country that wants to attract the common people, mostly the youth at heart must embrace technology, noting that they are always in search of new ways of doing things, hence, technologies is a wonderful tool especially for political crusade.

Brainyquote.com defined politician as the one experienced in the science of government as well as devoted to politics; who invariably grow in skill to become a statesman. It also stated that a politician is primarily devoted to his own advancement in public office, or to the success of a political party.

It was not surprising that as the 2011 general elections in Nigeria draw nearer for the April dates, most Nigerian politicians are now taking their case online, on the internet, which has put forward the commonness of information sharing on the ‘network of networks’.

One aspect that however, worries internet stakeholders mostly in developing economies like Nigeria is how best to make Internet work for the populace. It’s on this stead that the president, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Mrs. Mary Uduma and some experts in the industry had argued that politicians warming up for 2011 elective positions should as matter of urgency embrace the nation’s country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) dot.ng, to stimulate its adoption, which is literally Nigeria’s flag on the internet.

Technically, .ng is the country-code Top-Level Domain designated for Nigeria under the sponsorship of NiRA as registered with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the administrative arm of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN’s); a global body charged with the coordination of the Internet, on March 15, 1995.

Right now, .ng has a little over 10,000 domain registrants, which could be described as dismal for a nation of over 150 million and boasts of being the most populated country on the continent, as at November 30, 2010.

Mrs. Uduma also noted that NIRA is the registry for .ng Internet Domain Names and maintains the database of names registered in the .ng country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD). Registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), as an independent not-for-profit organization NiRA manages the .ng ccTLD name space in the public interest of Nigeria and global internet communities.

Currently, NiRA says it encourages all applicants for .ng domain names to register theirs through one of the over 30 Accredited Registrars, even as Nine second level domains (SLD) are available to Nigerians, comprising .com.ng which is for commercial entities and purposes, as well as open to every Nigerian; .edu.ng, which is restricted to higher education and research institutions; name.ng is open and could be used for personalization; just as .net.ng is for Internet service, telecoms and infrastructure providers respectively; while org.ng is for not-for-profit entities, which also is opened to interested parties including political organisations.

In addition, .sch.ng is for other academic institutions and is closed; .gov.ng is usually closed and is meant for national, regional, states and local government bodies and agencies. Whereas mil.ng is a closed domain name for the military and related purposes as well as mobi.ng is for mobile devices that meet .mobi generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) standards.

Some of those who comment said that the upcoming general elections in 2011 could be a morale booster to the .ng, especially the NiRA, if all political office holders start to exhibit patriotism by using the nation’s domain name.

Investigations by ITRealms Online indicated that as at the time of filing this report, almost every Nigerian politician on the Internet, campaigning for public office in 2011 has dot com (.com) or dot org (.org) domain names. The dot com represents commercial websites hosted in the United States, while dot org is for organisation’s website equally hosted in the States among others.

For instance, ITRealms Online investigations revealed that the acclaimed consensus candidate for the Adamu Ciroma-led northern caucus and former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, could be sited at http://atikuabubakar.com for the 2007 2011 at http://www.atiku.org/. For the retired General, Muhammadu Buhari, contesting for the presidency on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the forthcoming 2011 elections, is at http://www.buhari.org.

Equally for General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida popularly known as IBB, his online presence is located at www.babangida.com, just as the incumbent governor of Kwara State, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, could be found at www.abubakarbukolasaraki.com. While the president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s presence is on facebook.com, just as his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is on dot net.

The first Nigerian Information Technology Youth‘s Ambassador and Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), Mr. Gbenga Sesan in his reaction highlighted the fact Nigerian political class for 2011 elections and beyond, the first implication for those using foreign domains is security, which entails that the so-called owners are not in control of the domains.

“It means the content is hosted on servers they have little, if any, control over. If, for any reason, opponents seek to take down such websites, it’ll be quite easy,” he said, stressing that it’s an indication that very few Nigeria-based companies play active role in web-hosting at this era.

“It also goes to show that they are politicians in a country that has very few companies that host locally due to the high cost of such - because of infrastructure problems,” he said, stressing that the way forward is that they have began to embrace ICT mainly because they want to impress the youth in exchange for their votes, although there could be a change at the end of the tunnel.

“Now that they’re embracing ICTs - or at least, pretending to reach out to youth via social networking platforms, we expect that any of them who eventually assume the position of authority will take ICT more serious,” he anticipated.

Also, the former president of Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) and chief executive of Teledom Group International, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, told ITRealms Online that it takes an intense awareness campaign to get people (politicians) at that level to buy into the concept of .ng. While insisting that politicians must take advantage of .ng, he said that it’s not acceptable to the Nigerian populace for any political office aspirant to host his online presence outside .ng.

“It must be .ng or nothing. We need to create awareness among them,” he asserted.
Commenting on the imperativeness of patronizing .ng, the Registrar of the Computer Professional Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), Mr. Sekiri Shehu Mohamed noted that it’s not in the best interest of the country for Nigerian politicians to use foreign domains against the .ng. He wondered where the patriotism of the political class has gone, saying that they need to exhibit their Nigerianness by localizing their domain names with .ng, which is their interface with the world online and Nigerians particularly, describing this kind of attitude as “unfair to the .ng ccTLD.”

Decrying the use of foreign domains against .ng, NIRA president, Mrs. Uduma urged Nigerians to make .ng adoption a passion and called for .ng to be regarded as the preferred domain names for all well-meaning Nigerians including politicians.

Security-wise, she said, the use of foreign domains against .ng should be holistically discouraged and called for strong campaign against this practice.

Uduma, therefore, implored Nigerians to support only those politicians who root for local brands like .ng, while charging politicians to believe in the Nigerian brand.

“For the citizens to support a politician, the politician should show example of their believe in Nigerian brand and promote it by proudly having their domain names on .ng for all their websites,” she suggested, underscoring the fact that having .ng should be seen as part of the rebranding project of the federal government, which is good for the country and political growth.

In his input, a director of NiRA and former managing director of Chams City, Mr. Sola Bickersteth, said that politicians need to understand that anytime they give out an internet address that does not end with .ng, it is equivalent to carrying telephone lines with +44 or +167 instead of 234 and paying their bills in foreign currencies.

The implications, he said include that in an era where nations are actually attacking themselves over the internet and the American constitutions empowers the American president to order the disconnection of Internet communications if the nation is under threat, it is vital for a nation like Nigeria to take its country code Top Level Domain seriously.

This, he said, entails that Internet communications taking place in Nigeria is directly under the control of foreign governments as exemplified by the recent leaks on Nigeria by Wikileaks.

Bickersteth explained that politicians campaigning with websites that do not end with .ng are only confirming that they are not prepared for modern leadership and should change immediately to .ng domains before it becomes too late.

“If and when they get elected, they must recognise that countries are beginning to amend their constitution to declare internet as a fundamental human right and in modern economies or information society, if you like, providing internet access is as important as building roads,” he said, stressing that even the Word of God confirms that knowledge is power.

Politicians, he said, need to recognise .ng against foreign domains like .com, .co.uk, emphasising that this should form part of requirement to confirm their readiness for leadership in 2011 as the world economy has gone digital.

Equally speaking to ITRealms Online, a politician and governorship aspirant under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State. Mr. Babatunde O. Gbadamosi, alias BOG, alleged that .ng domains appeared to be tightly controlled and are not as readily available online as the .com or .co.uk names, noting that the most efficient way of selling domains is through resellers, just the same way .com or .co.uk domains are sold, otherwise .ng arrangement is open to abuse.

He was of the opinion that the most efficient way of selling domain names is to just make them available to every domain name seller in the world, not just a few "favoured" registrars. He argued that it limits the ability to sell those domain names to the capacity of those few favoured registrars, then it would be open to abuse and tends towards cronyism.

“30 registrars are hardly enough to sell .com.ng names worldwide, don’t you think,” he retorted.

ITRealms Online gathered that BOG’s position was not correct as by simply visiting the NIRA website, could do the magic; pick a registrar of choice and ask that your website be migrated to .ng or ask your current registrar or host to migrate you to .ng he/she knows what to do, which does not cost upto N3,000 about $19.7.

Also, ITRealms Online intelligence shows that NIRA’s registrars act as resellers or retailers and that is why registrants go through them to get the .ng ccTLD, a list of registrars is available at NIRA website, but does not have any ‘favoured’ registrars in its diction as claimed by BOG. Rather NIRA registrars are scattered across the globe including Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa, United States and Nigeria to name a few.

NIRA it was further gathered has not stopped receiving applications from potential registrars but attend to them as they come using relevant committees to evaluate and recommend to the board which would then give approval or otherwise, even as .ng ccTLD has over nine domains on offer at present and not only .com.ng, as alleged by BOG.

Nevertheless, Nigeria Internet experts insisted that political office seekers particularly, should have the nation at heart, which starts with where they host their information or websites online. This underlines the fact it could be a point for good politician’s Nigerianness for campaign purposes.

They also observed the implication especially when the youths are involved, saying it’s because everything nowadays including politicking has gone online after the Obama experiment. Though being on Facebook could be said to be on the right track, but Nigeria needs forces to encourage the growth of .ng, especially politically.

Moreover, when payments are made to register or renew these foreign domains in .com, and .net among others, they encourage capital flight no matter how small, whereas the information on those domains are not safe in the event of disaster or dispute as noted by Mr. Sesan earlier.

Above all, Internet stakeholders in Nigeria maintained that as the 2011 dates for general election is just round the corner, the political class needs to look inwards in their search to have ‘political contents’ hosted online in the name of websites.

They insisted that any politician that knows his or her onion must have .ng domain for a starting point, after all, charity they say begins at home.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Connectivity: Public power deficiency, bane of 'last mile'

The deficiency in the distribution of public power supply in the country has been described as the bane of the last miles connectivity in the country.

The term ‘last mile’ qualifies a communications defining the final stage of providing connectivity from a communications service provider to a customer, especially at the rural part of a given country and is a terminology most commonly used by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) experts.

Speaking at a one-day Distinguished Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Annual Lecture (DEEEAL) organised by a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), the president, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, said in his “Pathway to connecting the Last Man” paper that the most pressing issues threatening connectivity for the last man across most of the sub-sectors of ICT in the country is deficiency in public power supply.

He said that be it Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) providers, telecom service providers as well as trainers in the sector, public power deficiency is the topmost worrisome issue for them.

Specifically for ISPs, Omo-Ettu said apart from the poor public power supply, they have to contend with the high cost of bandwidth, dearth of technical and management skills.

The aforementioned frustration, he said, is being faced by VSAT providers and telecom network operators, he outlined ubiquity which is strength for the Global System for Mobile (GSM) operators, security and unfair taxation.

Additionally, Omo-Ettu said that some trainers in the ICT sector suffer from dearth of skills to tap from as well as lacking in training tools, which ordinarily could be overcome with adequate public power supply and when the few who knows their onions come together to synergize.

According to him, the bad news about Nigeria at 50 is that power sector denied liberalization till date.

“It’s our major setback,” he declared, stressing that a relative setback was the dissolution of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 1994, which stalled the march which started just 12 months earlier.

In addition, he noted that the greed and graft that made privatization of the national carrier, the Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) plc an impossibility task, pointing out that some good initiatives like that of Wire Nigeria (WiN) and the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABi) as well as the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) were massively misunderstood, hence lost to poor communication.

Worried by the dysfunctional education system in the country, ATCON president recalled that the convener of the Transform Nigeria Movement (TNM), Mr. Daniel Elombah had lamented recently that his team had identified serious problems with the Nigerian education sector that were being ignored in the government education plan.

Omo-Ettu decried the penchant for Nigerian political office holders to educate their children abroad or in expensive private schools, saying that this does not augur well for the system, particularly the public schools.

He said that the curriculum of the educational institutions in the country fall short of synchronization with the needs of the business community of the 21st century.

“The increasing illiteracy rate in Nigeria and the high rate of drop outs in Nigerian primary and secondary schools,” he said, noting that in South-eastern Nigeria young boys drop out of school to trade and young girls drop out to marry.

Maintaining that the absence of the use of Information Technology in knowledge dissipation in our educational institutions in spite of a rapid growth in the IT industry worldwide, Nigeria inclusive.

Omo-Ettu lamented the inability of the Nigerian educational sector to tap into the resources and opportunities available via international bodies like the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) e-Africa Programme to name a few.

“The inability of the Nigerian educational sector to tap into the opportunities of rebates and discounts granted by multinationals like Microsoft for computer resources and obvious neglect of international cooperation within Africa and beyond to improve educational standards via exchange programmes for lecturers and students alike, have not been helpful,” he said.

He, therefore said that based on the above, it is hard to disagree with Daniel’s position, suggesting that it is time to address all these issues if the industry and, indeed, Nigeria is to achieve the objectives articulated here.

Moving forward, he said, there is need to keep the good among the professionals by improving the not-so-good and march-on.

“The point must be made, however, that it is not only the ICT industry that will put access at the disposal of every Nigerian. We also need, as have been visited above, the contributions of functional education, probity in public service, investment in research and development and, above all, the will to make it happen,” Omo-Ettu submitted.

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Boosting MDAs connectivity with PPP

The concept of public-private partnership (PPP) between Galaxy Backbone Plc and MainOne Cable is seen as good omen if it would trickle down to the populace, reports REMMY NWEKE.
Partnership has been severally described by experts to mean different things for different purposes. But according to free online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, “a partnership is an arrangement where entities and/or individuals agree to cooperate to advance their interests.

And for Galaxy Backbone Plc and MainOne Cable Company, who launched broadband access partnership recently in Abuja, both have common interest in providing connectivity for the nation’s public service, which by extension is for good of the populace because of its advantages.

Galaxy Backbone is a federal government-owned company whose primary mandate is the provision of ICT Infrastructure and other transversal services to Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Government.

Presently, the company has connected over 250 MDAs of the Federal Government to its network, with over 2,500 remote sites across the country and rolling out a metro-wide fibre optic network within the FCT, Abuja. Galaxy offers solutions that include: Broadband, Hosting, Remote office connectivity and a host of other related solutions.

While Main One Cable Company Limited claims the first in submarine cable offering with open access, wholesale broadband capacity in West Africa.

A wholly African-owned cable firm, Main One’s vision is to expand the much needed capacity on the African continent and reduce costs of broadband communications across the continent. The company says its vision has been realized with completion of a 7000km submarine cable system with capacity to transmit 1.92Tbps which was put into service on July 1, 2010 with initial landing stations in Nigeria, Ghana, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

The Manager, Marketing Communication at Galaxy, Mr. Franklyn Ginger-Eke, said that the chief host at the event was the Secretary to the Federal Government of the Federation, Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, while it attracted penultimate Thursday, Head of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government as well as head of Information Technology (IT) departments in aforementioned organisations.

Ginger-Eke also said at the event tagged “The Future Is Here” as other speakers include the Minister of National Planning Dr. Shamsudeen Usman and Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Prof. Afolabi Oladapo.

According to him, with the support of President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, Galaxy has made significant progress in the provision of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services to over 3,000 locations nationwide, noting that the formal launch of the partnership between came with an exceptional broadband access to Nigerians.

Ginger-Eke equally said that the current wind of broadband revolution in Nigeria has set to move to the next level as Galaxy Backbone partners MainOne Cable for the delivery of what he described as “superior data and voice services to its customers,” which comes on the heels of a recent strategic agreement between the two firms to facilitate direct procurement of bandwidth capacity for the next 15 years.

He explained that in the deal, MainOne provides the backbone infrastructure which provides superior and reliable access to broadband communication services, whereas Galaxy Backbone Plc would deliver data, Internet, voice and video services to its customers via its integrated infrastructure platform, using 1-GOV.net.

Pointing out that with the commercial launch of MainOne services on July 1, this year, Galaxy Backbone and MainOne Cable took a decision to host an event in Abuja to formally announce the service partnership which is quite strategic for both brands, which he said, promises significant positive impact on the attainment of the ICT sectoral objectives and by extension the overarching goals of the Nigerian Vision 20: 2020 strategy.

In his address at the occasion, the Chief executive officer, Galaxy Backbone Plc, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe, said that his firm is really excited about the strategic partnership with Main One Cable because it is now better positioned to help the government achieve its ICT goals by delivering enhanced quality of data, internet, voice and video services.

He noted that Galaxy’s vision is to be the leading enabler of digital inclusion in Nigeria and across the continent, while its mission is to drive national development through the provision of pervasive ICT infrastructure and services to public institutions, underserved communities and other stakeholders.

According to him, Galaxy infrastructure is made up of state of the art Network Control Centre, Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) teleport facility and National Data Centre complex in Abuja with a redundant disaster recovery and business continuity site.

He stressed that presently, Galaxy is deploying network infrastructure assets including the National Information, Communications and Education Programme network (NICEP), National ICT Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB) and a data center; a government data centre providing hosting, business continuity and disaster recovery services to government and other customers.

Also, the chief executive of MainOne, Ms Funke Opeke, said that through the deal, they have further extended the footprint upcountry which allows the parties to bring better-quality, reliable and affordable broadband communication to the Federal Government and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) within the region.

Main One, she said, has built a state-of-the-art Network Operations Centre matching the best international standards and comparable to its global counterparts. We have a strong management and technical team in place to ensure system reliability and constant availability backed by Service Level Agreements.

“Our systems are monitored 24 x 7 x 365 - every hour, every day, all year round to guarantee our customers minimum down time in service delivery,” she said, underscoring the fact that her company is accessible to all companies and organisation wishing to have an improved bandwidth under its platform.

Currently, she said, MTN Nigeria, Etisalat and Starcomms are already on MainOne and the primary vision of MainOne is to transform telecom consumerism with the mission to offer wholesale broadband capacity in West Africa, just as her firm is determined to contribute towards bridging digital divide by providing adequate capacity for effective communications including broadband services comprising data, video and voice on the continent.

Opeke outlined some of the milestones her company has made lately to include being the acclaimed first private submarine cable landing licenses in Nigeria and Ghana; first wholly African-owned, private funded, open access submarine cable in Africa with highest potential capacity to date of 4.96 terra bytes per second (Tbps) deployed on the West Coast of Africa, evolving with the project finance International: African Communications Deal of the Year 2009.

The Secretary to the Federal Government, Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed who was represented at the occasion by Permanent Secretary, General Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr. Suleiman, warned Federal Government MDAs over defaulting in the guidelines for the procurement and implementation of bandwidth, network connectivity and other ICT procurement, saying that MDAs should be conscious of this fact, especially for the procurement and implementation of bandwidth, network connectivity and other, which mandated has been given to Galaxy Backbone Plc as the sole solution provider to the parastatals.

He also said that the directive still upholds in all MDAs and remains in effect and full compliance is required from all government MDAs, maintaining that Galaxy Backbone remains the custodian of this guideline, warning that defaulting MDAs may face sanctions.

SFG further said that the partnership between Galaxy and MainOne is consistent with the Mission and Mandate of the company, which is to securely and cost-effectively provide Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure and services to the public sector and underserved communities where government is expected to intervene.

Describing the partnership as cost-saving, Yayale-Ahmed said, the Federal Government is to save in excess of 65 per cent from the broadband access partnership between Galaxy Backbone and MainOne Cable Company, noting that government saving is over previous charges on bandwidth.

“In the course of processing approval for this partnership, I understand that savings in excess of 65 per cent over previous charges will be accruing to the government,” he declared, stressing that Galaxy Backbone has shown diligent in utilizing cost saving mechanisms inherent in the procurement process, pointing out that this no doubt is in consonance with the government’s efforts at improving efficiency in the management of the available limited resources.

He anticipated that the deal has significant price reduction, which would contribute to bridging the Digital Divide to the benefit of dwellers in rural communities and boost access in educational institutions. Hence, he commended the management of Galaxy Backbone for this partnership, urging the company to seek avenues to partner with other organisations within and outside the public sector, in order to ensure that ICT becomes a critical contributor to national development and government transformation, just as he congratulated MainOne Cable Company for accepting to partner Galaxy Backbone.

“I call on both companies to ensure that their impact is manifested in all parts of the country and not just in Lagos and Abuja,” he said, emphasising that Galaxy Backbone is now in a better position to discharge its obligations as envisaged by the government.

“It’s relevant at this juncture for me to restate and revalidate that the circular containing guidelines for the procurement and implementation of bandwidth, network connectivity and other ICT infrastructure for the federal government ministries, departments and agencies by Galaxy Backbone still remains in effect and full compliance is required from all government MDAs to avoid sanctions,” he said.

Exploring his address to the occasion, the Head, Civil Service of the Federation, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, said that MDAs are currently adding value even if not part of the whole of government reform agenda, just as the government is leaving no stone unturned in its effort to entrench e-government and e-governance in Nigeria.

Prof. Afolabi cited an instance, saying that MDAs are increasingly driven individually to implement projects to improve access to services, to re-engineer service to name a few, stating that the current initiative of Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPS) is positioned to address the malaise of ‘ghost worker’ syndrome.

“e-Payment is to improve transparency and financial accountability, e-Tax by the Federal Inland Revenue Services to improve tax collection and accountability, e-Procurement is to address procurement transparency, e-Passport of the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS) and the identity verification services by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) among others.

The aforementioned efforts, he said, add value individually with the latest evolution of e-government founded on the rapidly growing connecting power of ICT to power electronically interaction with people and information virtually anytime and anywhere.

“This is the incontrovertible strength of broadband Internet,” he asserted, noting that evolutionary aspect of e-Government is the concept of the ‘Connected Government’ which is driven by the realization that the increased connecting power of ICT has enabled a shift in orientation from the vertical to the horizontal, from predominantly intra-agency interactions to increasingly inter-agency, cross-government interactions.

Afolabi described the horizontal connection of ICT as the emerging driver of fundamental changes in the way the business of government operates and the way governments provide services to, and interact with their citizens.

“The most recent developments include the rise of what are termed ‘web 2.0’ platforms offering new possibilities in mass collaboration and participation and social networking,” he said, highlighting that online platforms such as Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Wikipedia and YouTube are examples of web 2.0 in the private sector, pointing out that these platforms enable their users to easily generate, share, comment on and interact with digital content anywhere and anytime.

Connected government, he said, is now the dominant theme in e-government and cited the recent United Nations e-government survey.

ITRealms Online gathered that MainOne Cable invested a total of $240 million and the Federal Government has spent about $120 million on Galaxy Backbone since its inception in 2006.

There was also exhibition by both companies and their technical partners including Huawei and Cisco at the venue of the event.

With this, expectation is already high that public office in the country would continue to key-into this project and state governments too in replicating Galaxy example through collaboration, so as to really bridge the divide between the government and the governed and eventually enthroning e-governance across the country.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Microsoft hosts Nigerian IT bloggers in Lagos

Microsoft Nigeria recently hosted its first Blogger’s Brunch in Lagos for Information Technology (IT) savvy Bloggers.

The Blogger’s Brunch is a quarterly forum for IT savvy blogger’s organized by Microsoft Anglophone West Africa.

Public Relations and Communications Lead, Microsoft Nigeria, Ngozi Ife Anene, said the need for an interactive social media forum has become necessary in recent years with the increasingly popular growth of social networking including blog posts, sharing of videos, pictures and information.

This, she said, has been evidenced by the rapid growth and global popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, and video sharing sites like YouTube.

She also said the Blogger’s Brunch, was specifically tailored and designed by Microsoft as an interactive forum to enable Nigerian Bloggers, who are IT savvy and social media enthusiasts share concepts, tools and experiences on blogging in the country.

“Social media uses web-based technologies to turn communications into interactive dialogues. As technology leaders, Microsoft recognizes blogging as major medium for web-based communications and this is one way of bringing the major players together,” she said.

On his part, Technical Account Manager Microsoft Anglophone West Africa, Mr. Wale Olokodana, gave a presentation on Windows 7 and the recently released Internet Explorer 9.

“Internet Explorer 9 is designed to be the most trusted browser because it has a robust set of built-in security, privacy, and reliability technologies that keep users safer online”, he said.

He said Internet Explorer 9 takes advantage of the power of modern PC hardware to improve all-around Web browsing performance and integrates with Windows 7 to deliver a clean visual experience and an increased viewing area, allowing sites to shine.

He also said that the browser controls are reduced and presented in a way that allows users to see their web content first and foremost, adding that IE9 can be downloaded for free from the internet.

In his presentation, the Product Manager Windows Live Microsoft Redmond USA, Amuche Okeke, gave a detailed presentation on Windows Live with features such as Photo Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Writer, an application which makes writing and blogging less tasking.

Executive Director Paradigm Initiative Nigeria and a renowned blogger, Gbenga Sesan said, “I am so pleased to be part of this initiative from Microsoft. Windows IE9 and the features in Windows Live mean working more efficiently on my blog posts. There are so many great features and applications to work with.”

Also in attendance were Deolu Akinyemi, Loy Okezie and Tim Akano among others.

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eTranzact unveils Yuletide promo for Genesis cardholders

eTranzact International Plc has unveiled a Yuletide promo for both existing and new cardholders of its Genesis brand.

Brand Manager of eTranzact Nigeria, Mr. Adeyemi Opene, said the promo tagged ‘Genesis Yuletide Promo’ is offering cardholders discount services in over 1,000 shops across the country via the use of their eTranzact Genesis Card; cardholders also stand a chance to win 20 High-Tech Blackberry or Nokia phones and other unique instant items.

He also said that in the spirit of Christmas, eTranzact is sharing the joy of the season with its cardholders by offering over 20 per cent – 25 per cent discount in over 1,000 shops to make shopping this season more affordable and cost effective for our cardholders.

“The distinctive offer about the Genesis Card is that you can use it on all channels such as; Web, POS, ATM and your Mobile Phone. Using your card on the Web or on your Mobile Phone offers you a 24 hours online real-time payment services because you can make funds transfers, purchase airtime and airline tickets, pay your DSTV, HiTV, MyTV and your monthly postpaid subscription all from the comfort of your home or office,” he said.

The Genesis Card, he explained, is a Chip and Pin EMV compliant card produced by eTranzact under the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). With the Genesis Chip + Pin Cards into the payment market, eTranzact is determined to move Nigeria towards an advance technological era and the eTranzact Genesis Cards has potentials to be used in other Africa countries.

The Genesis Yuletide Promo began on December 20, 2010 to end March 31, 2011 and the promo is in partnership with Spring Bank Plc.

eTranzact International Plc is acclaimed Nigeria’s first award winning multi-application and multi-channel electronic switching and payment processing platform.

The company has operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa and UK and aims to provide Nigerians, Africans and ultimately the world with cutting edge payment solutions.

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Titans of Tech to focus on cybercrime, data mgt

The 2011 edition of Titans of Tech conference would focus on cybercrime and data management, according to the organizers, Technology Africa.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online by the managing consultant, Mr. Pedro Aganbi noted that the conference cum exhibition would focus on cybercrime, data management and information security.

He also said that the event has been scheduled to hold between March 17 and 18, 2011 in Lagos.

He said that Titans of Tech, which is on its sixth year would provide excellent networking with West Africa’s leading telecommunications service providers and the corporate world of enterprise network managers and business users.

“It will also provide an excellence platform to hear from the foremost companies about their strategies to compete in the global economic milieu,” he said.

Additionally, he said that apart from direct interaction, the expo would provide a unique opportunity to explore the latest ICT products and services from the leading companies.
Over 5,000 visitors, 200 delegates 24 exhibitors and 10 ten speakers from Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia graced the two-day Titans of Tech 2011

Technology Africa is acclaimed leading information communications technology (ICT) content provider.

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Widow wins Toyota car @ Verve promo

A 67-year old retired widow and medical doctor, Mrs. Adeoye Williams, has emerged the last winner of a brand new Toyota Yaris in the grand finale of Verve’s Use & Win promo which ended in Lagos last week.

The promo organised by Interswitch in conjunction with Nigerian banks, saw a total of 1,251 customers winning various prizes.

Mrs. Williams who banks with StanbicIBTC said she retired as a medical doctor in 2002 after working with the Lagos State Hospital after over 35 years, adding that when the news that she had emerged the winner of a new car was brought to her, it was received with skepticism.

According to her she did not believe the news until a manager from the Verve Business Unit of Interswitch called her.

“That was when I suspected that this could be true. I am a lazy person. I would rather use my ATM card than go to the bank. So, this is a big Christmas present for me,” she said.

While handing over the keys of the brand new Toyota Yaris car won by Williams, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Interswitch, Mr. Mitchell Elegbe said Verve’s Chip & PIN card is the most secure payment card in the industry, adding that it is impossible to clone the card or defraud users of Verve card. According to him, Verve card has enough intelligence to track suspicious behaviours.

“With MoneyGuard a Verve card user can hotlist his card if he notices any suspicious transaction” he said.

Over 1,000 bank customers who have acquired and used their Verve cards for cash withdrawal and transactions for various sum had won various gift items in the Verve national consumer promo tagged Verve Use & Win organised by Interswitch in conjunction with Nigerian banks, which kicked off on September 13, 2010.

Also, Head, Divisional Head, Verve Business unit of Interswitch, Mrs. Tobi Boshoro explained that every week six winners are drawn from each of the sixteen banks. About 2000 bank customers have so far won several prizes ranging from 32 inch LCD television, MP3 players several consolidations prizes.

She said beyond the promo, which is meant to reward cardholders through online, cash withdrawal and point of sales (PoS), cardholders would be rewarded every time they go to shop at merchant locations that are on Interswitch network.

The promo is designed to encourage cardholders to move to the more secure chip and PIN platform and it is specifically woven around Verve card acquisition and usage. Over 10 million bank customers have migrated to the chip and PIN platform of Verve card.

Williams is the third bank customer to winner the ultimate star prize of a brand new Toyota Yaris car. The first and second winners were Chioma Ndlema, a First Bank customer and Felix Okwara, a customer from Intercontinental Bank.

For cardholders to qualify for the “Use & Win” level, a cardholder is required to use the Verve debit card to carry out at least two transactions per week or engage in a transaction worth N5, 000.

However, these transactions should occur on either the web or PoS channels. For this level, bank customers have the opportunity to win gift items such as LCD Plasma TV and MP3 players, among others.

The final “Use & Win” entry level requires customers to carry out at least eight transactions on a monthly basis or carry out a transaction worth N20, 000 to be eligible for the grand finale draw. Such transactions should take place on the Internet or PoS channels. “A lucky customer gets to win Toyota Yaris car every month,” Boshoro said.

The sixteen participating banks in the Verve national consumer promo are FirstBank, FinBank, AfriBank, Oceanic, Wema, Skye, Sterling Bank and Fidelity Bank. Others are FCMB, Unity Bank, Spring Bank, BankPHB, StanbicIBTC, ETB, Intercontinental Bank and Ecobank.

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Ekuwem warns of national digital disaster

The immediate past President of the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Dr. Emmanuel E. Ekuwem, has warned of national digital disaster, saying that threat of insecurity from the cyberspace to Nigeria’s national security is real.

Ekuwem sounded this warning in Lagos while reviewing the industry for 2010 and projecting the 2011 events for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

“The threat of insecurity coming from the cyberspace to our national security is real,” he declared.

He also lamented the delays by the National Assembly in passing the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Bill, saying that it must be aggressively pursued in 2011 by stakeholders.

According to him, in the knowledge-based warfare of today, attacks and victory in cyberspace precedes physical attacks with tanks and machine guns, jet fighters and jet bombers, war ships and gunboats.

“Cyber attacks deceives, misdirects, misinforms, destroys relevant economic data before actual combat attack in the ensuing national chaos,” he said, wondering what could happen if the air and naval defense radars are compromised via cyber attacks?

“Has it ever occurred to us the tragic consequences of the wild possibility of corruption or deletion of the customer database of a bank or telecom operator? It may be wild, but it is real,” he said.

Ekuwem, who was a former president, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), also said that the establishment of a National Computer Emergency Readiness Team is long overdue and advocated for the amendment of the nation’s Evidence Act.

This, he said, would make e-payment, e-business and other electronic transactions practicable as well as ensuring that activities in Nigerian cyberspace are governed by appropriate law.

Nigeria, he said, must reiterate efforts toward fast-tracking development in the ICT sector, especially in the education subsector.

“We must rise to make concerted national efforts at accelerated development of ICT manpower in our tertiary institutions,” he said, insisting that without copious availability of expertise and skilled manpower, technical and managerial, Nigeria cannot sustain the growth in the industry.

Ekuwem, the chief executive officer of Teledom Group International, said, Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing ICT markets in the world today and certainly the fastest-growing in Africa.

He described as embarrassing that there is no single ICT event of national and global attraction and appeal that is held in Nigeria annually.

Just as he lamented non-sustainability of AfriNet, an event of NIG and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

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Int’l calls now N10pm @ Glo

Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom, has crashed its call rate for international destinations from N39 to N10 per minute in a special International Direct Dialing (IDD) promo for the festive season.

Globacom’s Head of Marketing, Mr. Navdeep Kapur, said in Lagos, at the weekend that with the new call rate, all Glo customers could now make calls at only N10 per minute using their Glo Mobile lines to both mobile and fixed lines in the United States of America, USA, India, China, Hong Kong, Canada and Singapore.

Also, he said, customers could make calls at N10 minutes only to fixed phones in the United Kingdom UK, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico and the Netherlands.

He explained that the unique offer is available till the 28th day of February, 2011, adding that the new call rate provides an easy way for subscribers to stay in touch with their friends, family and business associates overseas at the rate of N10 per minutes, and is available to both prepaid as well as postpaid customers on the Glo network, irrespective of the tariff plan, time or location.

This, he said is in tandem with the philosophy of Glo to offer more at all times, in different facets of life and indeed to offer more than anyone else, describing Globacom as an innovative operator and as well as a brand that values relationships and strives to help build family and friendship ties among its subscribers.

“Our subscribers can easily reach out to their loved ones abroad throughout the duration of the promo without spending a fortune on calls,” he said.

Glo, he further said, has been at the forefront of driving revolutionary changes in the Nigerian telecommunications industry.

“Our overall objective in this regard is to continue to satisfy our customers offering world -class services at an affordable price. Since the launch of per second billing in 2003, Nigerians have come to look at Globacom with huge expectations. We will continue to delight our customers with unique value-added offerings.” Kapur said.

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Banjo leads NIG new exco

A new set of executive board were recently elected by majority members of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) at the end of its annual general meeting in Lagos.

The new exco is led by the chief executive officer of Disc Communications, Mr. Adebayo Banjo as president, Mr. Destiny Amana was also elected the vice president.

Other members of the new exco include Mr. Dapo Adejokun who emerged the treasurer, while Mr. Dennis Edet joined them as the publicity secretary.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online by the administrative secretary, NIG, Mr. Fidelis Orji confirmed this latest changes.

He went on to note that the new vice president, Mr. Amana is the chief executive of IceCool Contracts and has been very active at the committee level before his election.

ITRealms Online recalls that NIG, a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization, promoting the Internet in Nigeria, was founded in 1995.

And to achieve its mandate, Orji said, the group engages in a number of activities which include; policy advocacy, awareness creation and education.

Speaking after the election, Mr. Banjo assured members his administration would continue what he described as good works of his predecessor, Mr. Lanre Ajayi based on the tenets of the group, which include awareness creation and education carried out through conferences, seminars, exhibitions, workshops

He noted that the activities of the group have led to a tremendous increase in awareness about the Internet within Nigeria which further led to an increased level of internet connectivity in the country.

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Broadband Summit’11 goes to FCT

The second Broadband Summit organized by e-Business Life Communication has been slated to hold at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja in February, 2011.

Disclosing this, the chief host, Mrs. Ufuoma Emuophedaro told ITRealms Online that the seminar with the theme ‘Broadband Revolution: The Next Growth Strategy – Reaching the Nigerian Consumers,’ aims to bring Information and Communication (ICT) stakeholders together to chart ways of utilizing the expected abundant bandwidth and focusing on the most viable ways for Broadband deployment in Nigeria.

“It will also look at ways of ensuring availability of Broadband services to consumers all over the country while underlining profitability for service providers,” she said.

According to her, speakers are expected from both government and private sector and decision makers drawn from the various sectors of the economy.

Mrs. Emuophedaro, who is the Editor–in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer, e-Business Life Communication Limited, noted that with the landing of submarine cables on the shores of Nigeria and the expected deluge of internet related activities, stakeholders at the event would be charting ways to further ensure the profitable use of available bandwidth to boost economic and social activities in the country.

“They are also expected to proffer direction to the deployment of broadband services around the country,” she said.

Analysts, she said, have noted that with the reality of the availability of Broadband technology on ground, the country would have to look for ways of channeling same bandwidth and ensuring that it gets to the hinterlands.

“The biggest challenge might be last mile deployment. But how do we go about it? This is one of the things stakeholders will tell us at the event”, Mrs. Emuophedaro declared.

She observed that the market is hungry for Broadband services, which is made more obvious by the growth rate in mobile technology and need for online, real-time interface; and that the market is ripe in Nigeria.

Mrs. Emuophedaro said, the major objective of setting up and operating a unified ICT infrastructure platform and a national network backbone is to realize the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) through the facilitation of digital inclusion of underserved areas and rural communities.

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Starcomms rewards loyal call-centre operators

TELECOMMUNICATIONS operator, Starcomms has rewarded its loyal Smart Centres operators, with various prizes in the third edition of the Starcomms Bonuzee Loyalty promotion, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Excited by the various prizes, the elated winners did not hide their joy and appreciation for Starcomms Plc as they poured encomium on the company for the reward.

According to press statement made available to ITRealms Online, the operators who were present at the prize presentation ceremony went home with items ranging from cars, television sets, microwave ovens, DVD players as well as huge sums of money.

Titilayo Tokun, an educationist who combines the Smart Centre business with her career said even though the car was not her first, she was so excited that the news of the new car would add colour to the yuletide celebration in her family.

Tokun who operates her Smart Centre in Ibadan said she was indifferent when the news that she had won a new Kia Rio car came to her because of the prevalence of fraudulent claims in the country.

She however, said coming to the venue of the event and seeing the cars parked outside the premises of the event increased her excitement, just as she thanked Starcomms for putting smiles on her face and that of other Smart Centre operators who have been loyal to the brand.

For Sylvester Chukwuebuka Orji, the Onitsha based Smart Centre operator who braved the odds to confirm the authenticity of the prizes from Starcomms, the prize presentation is the beginning of the yuletide.

According to him, it was thoughtful of Starcomms to reward its loyal business partners during the yuletide saying that such gesture adds value to the Starcomms brand.

For Idiong Justice who won the cash prize of N750, 000, the gift offer from Starcomms has provided an opportunity for a celebration galore for him and his other colleagues who won other cash prizes of N500, 000 and N50, 000.00.

“We are happy that Starcomms is giving us this gift at a time like this in the year when families are looking for money to celebrate the Christmas and the New Year,” he said.

Presenting the prizes to all the winners, Chief Commercial Officer of Starcomms, Tushar Maheshwari said the Starcomms Bonuzee Loyalty promo, which began in 2007 was designed to reward diligence and good business sense, noting that it is the tradition in Starcomms to reward loyalty in business.

He said as a Nigerian company, Starcomms is poised to making every citizen it does business with enjoy the fruit of their labour, adding that a total of N25 million was won in cash and item prizes.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Expert predicts rise in data breach on social media, smartphones

Information Security expert and chief executive officer of CyberSecure Africa, Mr. Peter Ejiofor has warned that the coming year 2011 would see an increase in data breach on social channels, just as smartphones would be prime targets for cybercriminals.

Ejiofor who made his views known at the weekend in Lagos, said that more corporate data breaches will occur over social media channels.

“If you thought 2010 was challenging, just wait for 2011,” he declared, stressing that top five 2011 security predictions for the coming year from Websense, include state-sponsored malware attacks, Blended threats among others.

According to him, the Stuxnet sequels are coming by targeting some critical industrial infrastructure, but it would be only a preview.

“Based on how long it takes to develop complicated attacks like Stuxnet, we predict similar exploits will be carried out once or twice in 2011,” he said.

These state-sponsored offenses, he noted, would test national infrastructure systems to determine what is effective for future attacks.

“Only the strong survive blended threats. Companies will struggle to stay secure while covering more ground,” he said.

Ejiofor also pointed out that Blended threats like Zeus and SpyEye would continue to evolve and use a variety of delivery methods.

For him, today’s threats are no longer binary files delivered in attachments, but script-based or are embedded within rich media, many of which would spread rapidly through social media.

He cautioned that strained Information Technology (IT) departments would need to defend more territory and allow more access, despite these increasingly sophisticated threats.

He further said that more corporate data breaches would occur over social media channels, noting that search poisoning would not be limited to Google, but would migrate to Facebook.

“Hackers will manipulate Facebook search algorithms to trick users into visiting fake brand and celebrity pages and increase exposure to malware,” he said.

While employees, he said, would post confidential corporate data to public pages, even as social media users will also be vulnerable to spam and malicious data-stealing content.

Malware exploit kits, Ejiofor said, would add zero-day vulnerabilities faster, increasing their use in drive-by download attacks.

“As more targeted attacks are researched, more zero-day vulnerabilities will be discovered, he said, emphasising that data loss prevention and up-to-the-minute threat protection would become increasingly more important as organizations work to keep malicious content out and corporate information in.

The iPad, iPhone and other Smartphones, Ejiofor predicted, would be prime targets for cybercriminals.

“Mobile devices are a gold mine of personal and confidential data. Cybercriminals will successfully use mobile drive-by download attacks to steal confidential data and expose users to malicious content,” he cautioned.

Maintaining that many of next year’s mobile attacks would exploit the mobile Web browsers in the iPhone, iPad and Android-based devices, just as rogue applications are anticipated to also increase in number and sophistication.

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eTranzact partners MTN on payphone deployment

Electronic payment service provider, eTranzact Global South Africa has partnered with MTN Group to deploy Community Pay Phone in South Africa.

Confirming this, the Chief Executive Officer, eTranzact South Africa, Mr. Reggie Nxumalo, in a press statement made available by the Brand Manager, eTranzact Nigeria, Mr. Adeyemi Opene, said, the initiative was authorized by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and is intended to achieve affordable telephony services in disadvantaged areas.
Nxumalo said, this would also create job opportunities for potential entrepreneurs to start their own business.

This, he said, is consistent with the South African government’s drive to create jobs and curb unemployment.

“We envisage that this project will create more than 50,000 jobs over the next year and alleviate poverty,” Nxumalo said.

He explained that MTN Community Pay Phone rate is 90 cents per minute, whilst the equivalent pre-paid rate on average is R1.50 on local calls.

“The device can sell pin-less or virtual MTN airtime and provide reduced tariff of 90 cents per minute for Talk and Pay customers. The telephone unit is mobile and can be positioned in high traffic areas and allows entrepreneurs to harness the voice clientele opportunity,” he said.

According to him, since launch of the initiative they have been inundated with calls from both city and rural areas.

“The community uptake of these community phones has been overwhelming and we continue to sign up new users daily,” he said.

eTranzact proud itself as an award winning multi-application and multi-channel electronic switching and payment processing platform with operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, South Africa and UK.

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ICT can reduce unemployment – Dr. Raji

The Director, Management Information System (MIS) Unit, University of Ibadan, Dr Ganiy Raji has identified adequate knowledge of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a tool to reduce unemployment in the society, reports DELE OGUNYEM.

He stated this in Ibadan at the graduation ceremony of over 100 people who participated in a free computer empowerment training programme organised by a Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO), the Centre for Initiatives Against Destitution and Crime (CIADEC).

Dr. Raji maintained that with ICT knowledge, youths and unemployed ones would not only make ends meet but would also be job creators. He added that through some components of ICT like website and software programme designing, wealth would be created while unemployed youths could be easily empowered.

Dr. Raji, however, cautioned youths to avoid wasting of time and resources while accessing social media platforms such as Facebook, and Youtube, noting that the page was meant for advancement of knowledge.

Earlier, CIADEC President, Mr. Abdul-Fatai Abdul-Azeez explained that the programme was aimed at providing sustainable opportunities for the trainees to face future challenges in ICT world.

Some of the ICT courses touched during the training include Office Computing & Management, Computer Engineering & Networking, Website Design & E- Commerce as well as Computer Aided Design.

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Nigerian Idol 2010: Etisalat introduces voice voting

Etisalat Nigeria has introduced voice voting to boost chances of participants in the ongoing Nigerian Idol 2010.

Etisalat’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Wael Ammar, said the voice voting is new and innovative service to enhance and ease subscribers’ voting for their favorite contestants throughout the duration of the Nigerian Idol show.

ITRealms Online recalls that the broadcast of the top 50 elimination phase began airing on Sunday 19 December 2010 on television stations across the nation.

He explained that voice voting is another innovative feature from Etisalat Nigeria and would enable Etisalat subscribers to vote their favorite contestants into the top 10 by simply dialing their favorite contestants’ number from an Etisalat line.

“Nigerian Idol has already begun to generate frenzy with the voting public as Nigerians all around the country have commenced voting for their favorite contestants,” he noted.

One of the values that have consistently stood Etisalat out, he said, is the simplicity of its products and services.

“Voice Voting for Etisalat subscribers is another way we have simplified the voting process for choosing Nigeria’s 1st music Idol. We realize that our voting public has already begun to build a strong affinity with the contestants and it is imperative that the voting process is as simple and as seamless as possible,” he said.

Ammar said that with the new unique service, voting for a contestant is even easier; simply dial a favorite contestant’s number for instance 500, and listen to the confirmation that your vote has been counted.

“It is that simple for our subscribers” he declared, stressing that everyone’s vote is important, not just the current subscribers only.

“Everybody can vote via Short Messaging Service (SMS) by texting their favorite contestants number to the short code 34365 (3IDOL) from any network. SMS voting is open to all networks,” he said.

Pointing out that the first-ever Nigerian Idol would walk home with a cash prize of 7.5 million naira cash prize and a Sony BMG recording contract worth N5Million, an ipad, a blackberry phone from Etisalat with one year subscription and a number of other mouthwatering gifts.

While the first runner up, Ammar said, would go home with N1,500,000 with other exciting prizes gifts whereas the second runner up would receive a cash prize of N1,000,000.

“Every one of the other top 10 finalists is also assured of very exciting prizes,” he said.

ITRealms Online recalls that the broadcast of the Nigerian Idol runs on select television stations for one hour on Sundays on NTA Network at 4pm, 5pm on AIT Network and then 6pm on STV.

It also airs on Galaxy TV, TVC, and Superscreen all in Lagos at various times on Sunday
evenings. KWTV Ilorin, DBSTV Asaba, IMOTV, DITV Kaduna, PRTV Jos, EBSC Enugu and GTV Abeokuta all show the programme on Sunday evenings. Behind-the-scenes actions are also aired on HiTV’s Real TV on Channel 10. Nigerian Idol will run for five months and ends in March 2011.

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Nigeria still a business haven – ATCON

President of the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu has said that Nigeria is a business haven, just as an estimated120 million Nigerians may still not have phones as at December 2010.

This is coming as ATCON has called for the replacement of the current registration of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) Cards in the country with Telephone Subscriber Registration (TSR).

Omo-Ettu who was the special speaker at the at the Distinguished Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Annual Lecture (DEEEAL) 2010 organised by a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers in Lagos, said that Nigeria is still a business haven.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Indicators, available to him as at the time of speaking, he said, hold promise for investment in the country.

He said that there is still very a huge demand for voice communications, buttressing his point by project that an estimated 120m inhabitants may not still have phones, which makes the saturation claim in some quarters as fallacy.

He expected that the next level of engagement for improving quality of service in the country would be for the independent professional regulator, which was guaranteed in the 2003 National Communications Act, which is currently under review; would be to speedily punish infringements to assert its position.

Omo-Ettu said they are looking forward to an emerging ICT industry with the kind of pressures being mounting by civil societies, professional groups and trade associations.

According to him, this assertion has two sides to it, namely the perception and reality, either of which could be misrepresented.

On the perception, he said that Nigeria telephone subscriber base has achieved about 78 million, which is literally, 78 million active telephone lines or 78m SIM cards.

He noted that in reality, this entails just 78m SIM cards issued by various telecom network operators.

“The actual number of users is yet to be determined,” he said, and called for the use of Telephone Subscriber Registration to replace the on-going SIM card registration.

He also said that the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) has declined because of deterioration of poor Quality of Service (QoS), despite the fact that some of the telecom network operators have come out to blame it all on turn of events on the global ‘economic downturn’.

Omo-Ettu explained that quality of service is usually the trend in growing ARPU in every market worldwide.

Telephone subscription, he said, slowed down in 2009, noting that though the perception was hinged on economic downturn and poor quality of service, the reality was diminishing interest of subscribers in offered telephone service, stressing that it may have underscored the fact that the euphoria was over with attendant complaint by telecom consumers that the cost is high vis-à-vis income.

He insisted that there is no dominant operator yet in the telecommunications sector, even though the perception has been that operator ‘A’ is dominating by reason of its expressed subscriber base, which he noted was not the only criterion for emerging a dominant player in any given market, except if it’s measuring the likes of mobile operators against other platforms like the fixed and VSAT.

Omo-Ettu said that while the NITEL monopoly officially ended in December 2010, its submarine fibre cable monopoly for international traffic came to a close in 2009, especially with the landing of two privately owned submarine cables; namely the Glo 1 and MainOne respectively.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bandwidth guidelines: FG warns MDAs against defaulting


The Federal Government has warned Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) over defaulting in the guidelines for the procurement and implementation of bandwidth, network connectivity and other Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).

Sounding this note of warning last week, was the Secretary to the Federal Government, Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed at the formal launch of the broadband access partnership between Galaxy Backbone Plc and MainOne Cable Company, which held in Abuja.

Yayale Ahmed in his address to the occasion, cautioned the MDAs to be conscious of the guidelines for the procurement and implementation of bandwidth, network connectivity and other ICT infrastructure for Federal Government MDAs, which mandated Galaxy Backbone Plc as the sole solution provider of such means of communication to the parastatals.

He also said that the directive still upholds in all MDAs and remains in effect and full compliance is required from all government MDAs.

According to him, Galaxy Backbone still remains the custodian of this guideline, warning that defaulting MDAs may face sanctions.

SFG further said that the partnership between Galaxy and MainOne is consistent with the Mission and Mandate of the company, which is to securely and cost-effectively provide Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure and services to the public sector and underserved communities where government is expected to intervene.

Describing the partnership as cost-saving, Yayale-Ahmed said, the Federal Government is to save in excess of 65 per cent from the broadband access partnership between Galaxy Backbone and MainOne Cable Company.

The Secretary to the Federal Government equally noted that government saving is over previous charges on bandwidth.

“In the course of processing approval for this partnership, I understand that savings in excess of 65 per cent over previous charges will be accruing to the government,” he declared.

This, he said, shows that Galaxy Backbone has been diligent in utilizing cost saving mechanisms inherent in the procurement process, pointing out that this no doubt is in consonance with the government’s efforts at improving efficiency in the management of the available limited resources.

He anticipated that the deal has significant price reduction, which would contribute to bridging the Digital Divide to the benefit of dwellers in rural communities and boost access in educational institutions.

Commending the management of Galaxy Backbone for this partnership, Ahmed urged the company to seek avenues to partner with other organisations within and outside the public sector, in order to ensure that ICT becomes a critical contributor to national development and government transformation, just as he congratulated MainOne Cable Company for accepting to partner Galaxy Backbone.

“I call on both companies to ensure that their impact is manifested in all parts of the country and not just in Lagos and Abuja,” he said.

ITRealms Online gathered that MainOne Cable invested a total of $240 million and the Federal Government has spent about $120 million on Galaxy Backbone since its inception in 2006.

Galaxy Backbone is a government owned company whose primary mandate is the provision of ICT Infrastructure and other transversal services to Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Government.

Presently, the company has connected over 300 MDAs of the Federal Government to its network, with over 2,500 remote sites across the country and rolling out a metro-wide fibre optic network within the FCT, Abuja. Galaxy offers solutions that include: Broadband, Hosting, Remote office connectivity and a host of other related solutions.

On the other hand, Main One Cable Company Limited is reputed as the first in submarine cable offering with open access, wholesale broadband capacity in West Africa. A wholly African-owned cable firm, Main One’s vision is to expand the much needed capacity on the African continent and reduce costs of broadband communications across the continent.

This vision has been realized with completion of a 7000km submarine cable system with capacity to transmit 1.92Tbps which was placed into service on July 1, 2010 with initial landing stations in Nigeria, Ghana, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

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Technology Outlook refocuses on ICT threshold

The Technology Times Outlook 2011 would refocus on threshold of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online by Shina Badaru, said that the annual Business Summit on ICT Roadmap for Nigerian economy.

According to him, the next year convergence of ICT leaders and frontier thinkers to envision measures for a growth-oriented environment in what will be a threshold year for technology growth in the country.

The event being organized by Technology Times Media Limited, publishers of the Technology Times print and online titles, he said, the summit billed to hold February 8-10, 2011, at The MUSON Centre, Lagos, will mark a threshold year for telecoms and overall ICT development in Nigeria.

Badaru said that Technology Times Outlook, which made its debut in 2008, was initiated to create the nation’s frontline technology thought leadership event where ICT leaders in industry and government annually share their experiences and insights on policy, technology and market dynamics that will shape and define the Nigerian economy over the next 12 months and beyond.
Mr. Badaru, who is the founder of the organisations said Technology Times Outlook 2011, will offer an opportunity to review the last decade of the sector and offer frontier thinking into the next decade of ICT development in Nigeria.
“Some 10 years ago, the Federal Government of Nigeria set out a landmark vision that was conscious of the role that telecoms can play in national development and subsequently committed resources to ensuring that rapid expansion of telecoms network by according priority to the rollout of digital mobile networks,” he said.
Stressing that then, Nigeria could only boast of about 700,000 installed fixed lines of which only about 500,000 were actually connected to subscribers.
“There was just one mobile network provided by the operator M-TEL, the mobile subsidiary of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL). That was an analogue network that had capacity of 210,000 lines with less than 30,000 lines connected to subscribers,” he noted.
As said by him, by October 2010, Nigeria has recorded a milestone of 84,990,100 active telephones lines, thus bringing the country’s teledensity to 60.71 while total connected lines have peaked at 104,915,200.
“The growth of telecoms network investments and expansion has also brought overall installed capacity in the Nigerian telecoms market to 157,357,716 lines,” Badaru observed, noting that the telecoms market has been a veritable driver of growth complementing the rollout of new and value added services in diverse segments of the Nigerian ICT industry.
So, the year 2011, he predicted would be a major watershed for telecoms development, since it would mark a decade after the landmark GSM auctions of 2001, which coincides with the August 2001 commercial rollout of digital services in the market.
“Technology Times Outlook 2011 will offer a broad spectrum of stakeholders, thought leaders, innovators and frontier thinkers to envision the next decade of ICT development in Nigeria and offer a roadmap that will foster an environ for a growth-oriented industry,” Badaru said.
The Summit will review the post-Unified Nigerian Telecoms Market, through insightful analysis by professionals drawn from industry, government, development agencies, media and academia to examine the impact of policy reforms on key segments of the Nigerian telecoms market.

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Web 2.0 amplifies citizens’ voice to govt – Prof. Afolabi

Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, has identified Web 2.0 as an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tool that amplifies the voice of the people to their government.

Prof. Afolabi made this observation in a keynote address at the public presentation of broadband access partnership between Galaxy Backbone Plc and MainOne Cable Company, which held in Abuja at the weekend.

Free Online encyclopedia, wikipedia.org, has described the term Web 2.0 as commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interactive systemic biases, interoperability, user-centered design and development of the World Wide Web (www).

In other words, a Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as consumers of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (prosumers) are limited to the active viewing of content that they created and controlled.

These includes social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, mashups and folksonomies to name a few.

Stressing the importance of Web 2.0, Afolabi said that the effect for government is that it has increased people’s expectations as both citizens and public servants could now contribute and participate in an interactive dialogue as opposed to passively consuming digital media.

“They can share information and collaborate across organizational boundaries,” he said.

The heads service noted that recent evolution has seen the creation and emergence of Face book users’ number about 29,000 to protest at the 2am over the lockout on bars in Melbourne CBD and followers of President Goodluck Jonathan urging him to reverse his ban on Nigerian football soon after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where the Super Eagles performed abysmally.

He pointed out that currently in the country, President Jonathan’s Face book platform has become a centre of gravity for national issues yearning for discussion.

“And citizens can have direct access to him (Jonathan) and the executive arm of government,” he said, underscoring the fact that the Face book forum has provided
access to the president to over 350,000 followers.

“The new social networking platforms provide powerful new ways for individuals to aggregate their points of view and amplify their voices to the government,” he declared.

According to him, connected government is now the dominant theme in electronic government (e-government), citing an instance of a recent United Nations e-Government survey.

Prof. Afolabi pointed out that connected government emphasises the benefits of seeking to ‘make the whole more than the sum of the parts’ by creating connected governance mechanisms aimed at orchestrating hitherto known as disjointed e-government themes.

He was quick to add that connected government is not, a universal trend nor an inevitable ‘one size fits all’ destination for all jurisdictions in the manner of the earlier government online programmes.

“Connected government deals with a more subtle and difficult set of leadership issues relating to infrastructure platforms, information sharing, coordination and collaboration,” Afolabi said.

He outlined six foundational pillars of connected government to include citizen centricity, standardized common infrastructure, back-office reorganization, governance, new organizational model and social inclusion.

Commending the partnership, Afolabi noted that as government begins to put services online and citizens begin to expect services online, the demands for bandwidth capacity, support and technical efficiency on the partnership will increase tremendously.

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Uduma, others urge politicians to embrace .ng

Internet experts in the country have maintained that the political class needs to look inwards in their search to have their ‘political contents’ hosted online in the name of websites, insisting that any politician that knows his or her onion must patronize the nation’s country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) .ng, instead of the foreign domains.

Some of those who commented on the imperativeness of patronizing .ng include the President of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), Mrs. Mary Uduma, Director of NIRA, Mr. Sola Bickersteth and Registrar of the Computer Professional Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), Mr. Sekiri Shehu Mohamed.

Speaking at the weekend to ITRealms Online, Mr. Shehu said that is not in the best interest of the country for Nigerian politicians to use foreign domain against the .ng.

He wondered where the patriotism of the political class has gone, saying that they need to exhibit their Nigerianness by localizing their domain names, which is their interface with the world.

“Using foreign domain against .ng is unfair to the ccTLD,” he bemoaned.

In her comment on the subject, NIRA president, Mrs. Uduma said that Nigerian need to make .ng adaptation a passion; hence .ng should be the preferred domain name for all well meaning Nigerians including politicians.

This, she explained is more pertinent because of security, saying that the use of foreign domain against .ng should be holistically discouraged and called for strong campaign against this practice.

She therefore urged Nigerians to ensure they support only those politicians who root for local brands like .ng, while enjoining politicians to believe in the Nigerian brand.

“For the citizens to support a politician, the politician should show example of their believe in Nigerian brand and promote it by proudly have their domain names on .ng for all their websites,” she said, stressing that having .ng should be seen as part of the rebranding project of the federal government, which is good for the country and political growth.

Equally speaking, a director of NiRA, Mr. Sola Bickersteth, said that politicians need to understand that anytime they give out an internet address that does not end with .ng, it is equivalent to carrying telephone lines with +44 or +167 instead of 234.

The implications, he enumerated to include that in an era where nations are actually attacking themselves over the internet and the American constitutions empowers the American president to order the disconnection of Internet communications if the nation is under threat, it is vital for a nation like Nigeria to take is country code Top Level Domain seriously.

“That implies that Internet communications taking place in Nigeria is directly under the control of foreign governments as exemplified by the recent leaks on Nigeria by Wikileaks,” he noted.

Bickersteth pointed out that politicians campaigning with websites that do not end with .ng are only confirming that they are not prepared for modern leadership and should change immediately to .ng domains for their campaigns.

“If and when they get elected, they most recognise that countries are beginning to amend their constitution to declare internet as a fundamental human right and in modern economies or information societies if you like, providing internet access is as important as building roads, he said, buttressing his point with the fact that even the Word of God confirms that knowledge is power.

Politicians, he said, need to recognise .ng against foreign domains like .com, .co.uk, emphasising that this should form part of requirement to confirm their readiness for leadership in 2011 as the world economy has gone digital.

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DSA plans 2-day forum on Internet & broadband evolution

Plans have been advanced for the hosting of the 2011 edition of the Nigeria Digital Sense Forum, which would hold in Lagos between March 24 and 25, with center of attention being on internet development in the country, according to the Executive Director, Digital Sense Africa, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke.

She also said that in the last two years, the Nigeria Digital Sense Forum, has been uniquely successful in creating a roundtable for the discussion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) with particular reference to Internet Governance.

This year, she said, that the forum’s theme would dwell on ‘Internet Governance and Broadband Evolution in Nigeria.’

She explained that the essence is to bring to the forefront the knitty gritty of Internet Governance likely impact on the burgeoning broadband evolution which reportedly berthed in the country with the successful landing of two submarine cables; namely the Glo 1 and MainOne cable respectively.

Mrs. Nweke confirmed that the two-day event would hold at the prestigious Golden
Gate Paradise, Ikoyi-Lagos with several speakers lined up for the event from within the shores of Nigeria and internationally.

She noted that apart from re-examining the previous dual editions, those issues of concern, especially on the preparation of Nigeria to host the West African Internet Governance (WAIG) forum is top on the agenda.

Pointing out that notable Internet Service Providers (ISP), Value Added Service (VAS) providers, network vendors and consumer groups are expected at the forum.

“Most companies would use the platform to showcase their brand offering and services,” he said.

“Exhibiting ISPs, she said, would be handy to explain to Nigerians at the event how their products would facilitate penetration and improved competition for the benefit of ordinary internet users in the country.

She further urged members of the Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) who have commenced mobile internet services to take full advantage of the forum and expo to expose their various products to participants.

DSA boss equally said, the forum and expo would attract co-location companies, thereby availing subscribers and potential cyber café operators an avenue to interact and discussion subjects that could move the country forward, especially on Internet governance in line with the global internet forum otherwise refer to as IGF.

She further said that the forum would enable Nigerian internet community to articulate their views so as to ensure that Nigeria voice is coherent during WAIGF slated to hold mid-2011.

This important outcome, she said, was reaffirmed by paragraphs 37 and 38 of the Tunis 2005 Commitment, which states in part, “… goals can be accomplished through the involvement, cooperation and partnership of governments and other stakeholders, that is, the private sector, civil society and international organizations, and that international cooperation and solidarity at all levels are indispensable if the fruits of the Information Society are to benefit all.”

In addition, the paragraph 38, she pointed as stating that aforementioned efforts “should not stop with the conclusion of the Summit … emergence of the global Information Society to which we all contribute provides increasing opportunities for all our peoples and for an inclusive global community … we must harness these opportunities today and support their further development and progress.”

The Tunis Summit of 2005 paved the way for the IGF mandate of which paragraph 72 of the Tunis agenda, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General was charged to convene a meeting with regards to the new multi-stakeholder forum, known as the IGF.

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WATRA, Phase3 to partner on connectivity

The West African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (WATRA), may have advanced strategies to partner Phase3 Telecom on regional connectivity across the West Africa sub-region.

Executive Secretary, WATRA, Mr. Nnamdi Nwokike, made this known in Abuja, last week at a dinner party organized by Phase3 to mark the end of 2010 business year.

He said that the regional telecommunications regulatory body, WATRA, is fully in support of the plan by Phase3 Telecom to build its aerial optic across West Africa.

“There is an urgent need to develop communication infrastructure within the region in order to ensure that services among the countries in West African become autonomous of Europe,” he said.

Nwokike noted that the limited cross-border connectivity infrastructure has over the years made communication among countries in West Africa to be unnecessarily expensive, as member states often have to route their calls through Europe before reaching one another.

He underscored the fact that the problematic interconnection among member countries in the region had been working separately, Nwokike said that with formation of WATRA, a decision has been taken to develop a blueprint on how West African countries could operate common communication infrastructure.

Chief executive Officer, Phase3 telecom, Mr. Stanley Jegede in his address, expressed delight at the move by WATRA to help in the development of common infrastructure.

Jegede said that over the years, his firm has had to visit every country in West Africa to seek for permits to set up, stressing that with the decision by WATRA to now have a common body in charge of regional infrastructure, time spent on getting permits, right of ways and licenses and related matters will be greatly reduced.

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Etisalat Group’s ‘smart service’ honoured

Etisalat Group has emerged the best wholesale provider of telecommunications services in the Middle East for the third consecutive year at the annual Capacity Awards ceremony, which held in Amsterdam, Holland recently.

The event organized by Capacity Media recognized Etisalat’s leadership in providing ‘smart services’ and for developing its portfolio beyond the provision of transit and interconnection.

Executive Vice President, Carrier & Wholesale for Etisalat Group, Mr. Ali Amiri, said that this year, the telecom operator introduced its ‘Smart Hub’ which is the region’s most important hub for wholesale connectivity, applications and content.

This facility, he said, enables Etisalat to provide access to a more sophisticated range of services including roaming hub, and showed that the platform allows other operators to establish a network of 600 roaming partners around the world with the minimum effort.

Etisalat, Amiri said, established the regional hub for internet traffic, thanks to its extensive investment in wholesale capacity., noting that the network has continued to grow with the addition of TEAMS cable earlier this year; one of the first cables connecting East Africa, and bringing affordable broadband access to millions of people on the continent with the rest of the world.

In 2010, he recalled that Etisalat announced, in conjunction with industry leading partners, the Regional Cable Network (RCN), the first terrestrial cable connecting the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan Syria and Turkey to Europe.

“This cable will not only provide extra capacity, but will also add resiliency to regional networks,” he said.

Reacting to the award, the Chief Commercial Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Wael Ammar described it as a direct reflection of long years of operations founded on excellence in customer service in all its operations worldwide.

“We are constantly working to understand how to improve our service to our customers in Nigeria and globally,” he said, stressing that the award is yet another testimony to Etisalat’s pioneering status among regional operators and the success of its business strategy in meeting customer needs and exceeding their expectations.

Etisalat, he said, has continued to be one of the largest carriers of voice traffic in the region and recently introduced wholesale Points of Presence around the world.

“Etisalat has also extended its MPLS Virtual Private Networks (VPN) across the region, enabling advanced services for business customers,” Ammar said.

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CWG wins 3 awards @ ADA’10

The 2010 edition of the Africa Digital Awards ended in Lagos recently with the Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) carting home three priced awards.

These include each awards coming to three of CWG’s subsidiaries, namely the Computer Warehouse Limited, ExpertEdge Software, and DCC Networks in addition to the ICT Man of the decade bestowed on the Group Managing Director of CWG, Mr. Austin Okere.

Disclosing this, the Head, Corporate Communications at CWG, Mr. Chidi Okpala said they were excited to have carted away four awards in honour of its contribution, continuous innovation and professional deployment of reliable technology solutions within the past decade, across businesses within the West African region.

He quoted ICT Watch Africa, the organizers as saying that the ceremony was held in celebration of its 10th year anniversary and also in continuation of the celebrations to mark Nigeria at 50.

According to him, for the Most Outstanding ICT Support services of the Decade, ExpertEdge Software, CWG’s software division was honoured, while DCC Networks, the communications division was awarded the Most outstanding Corporate VPN of the Decade.

Speaking after receiving the award, DCC’s Sales Manager, Mr. Sylvester Ekpo, expressed appreciation to ICT Watch Africa for the honour and pledged to all its customers to keep improving on innovative services coming from DCC Networks.

The CWG Group has for the past 18 years been known for its unique innovation and excellent service to the corporate market.

Over the years too, the company has grown from a small company dealing in the sale of hardware boxes to a very large organization with over 500 staff, skilled in hardware and infrastructure services, Communications and Software services and scattered across its offices in Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda.

The general manager, DCC Networks, Mr. Oladipo Raji dedicated the awards to all CWG’s customers across Africa.

“It is to you our customers in Africa we owe this award and we promise we shall keep providing you with innovative solutions, the right support to grow your business and we shall keep partnering with you in other to see your business grow with the times in terms of Technology,” he said.

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