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Monday, February 28, 2011

Uploading digital content without rights is illegal – Onyekwere

Group chairman, Linkserve, Chief Chima Onyekwere has said that with the explosion of broadband internet access in the country, that any upload of digital content without authorisation is illegal.

He warned that this could put lots of people against the law.

Onyekwere who was speaking at the 2011 edition of joint Broadband Forum hosted by Messrs eWorld and eBusiness Life in Lagos, last Thursday said that Nigerians need to know their digital rights to be able to use the broadband at their disposal positively.

He noted that it’s always illegal to upload any recorded material in its entirety to any site.

“Remember that this applies to anything copyrighted, even though most of it will be movies and albums, uploading the digitized version of a book is just as illegal as uploading a movie,” he said.

According to Onyekwere, who heads the pioneer Internet service provider in the country, when a user buys a product such as a movie or an audio recording, they do not own it outright, but they own a license.

Part of the terms of the license, he said, requires that the material will not be duplicated or sold and violating this license could get the user in a lot of trouble.

“There are many legitimate ways to get free entertainment online,” he declared, stressing that some bands offer tracks from their albums on social networking sites.

“Some bands have even combated piracy by allowing their fans to set their own price for purchasing an album,” he said, noting that stealing in whatever ramification is always wrong.

He insisted that by making no bones about it, piracy is simply stealing just as running into the video store and pilfering a Digital Video Display (DVD) would be stealing; many entertainment companies have begun making free offerings as an enticement.

Many television programmes, Onyekwere said, also have all of their episodes online, advising Nigerians to ensure they look out for these legitimate sites.

“Not only are they safer and legal, they also offer much better quality than do pirate versions of movies and television shows,” he said.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

2011: ITAN, ATCON to host presidential candidates’ dialogue

Information Technology Industry Association of Nigeria (ITAN) and the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) may have advanced plans to host some 43 presidential candidates of political parties to an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry dialogue.

ITAN was established in 1991 as Microcomputer Vendors Association of Nigeria (MiVAN) and transmuted into Computer Vendors Association of Nigeria (CoVAN). By year 2000 it transformed into Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN) and is a professional member of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS).

ATCON) is a professional, non-profit umbrella organisation of all telecommunication companies in Nigeria, inaugurated on December 10, 1993 as a national trade organisation, with membership drawn from Nigeria and multi-national companies which provide telecommunications and information technology products and services in the country.

The presidents of ITAN and ATCON Messrs Jimson Olufuye and Titi Omo-Ettu respectively, confirmed this in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online at the weekend.

They said that by a joint action of the two associations, initial contact and a first follow-up action has been made to all political parties in respect of the proposed dialogue with their Presidential candidates.

The response, they said, has been positive and few follow-up steps will fine-tune the plans.

According to the leaders of both organisation, its objective of engaging the contestants for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a non-partisan, ICT industry-related discussion with their members is to decipher what could be realistically expected should they win the 2011 election.

“We will like to impress that the meeting is not a debate among Presidential candidates and anticipate it will take place sometime in March in Lagos, with further details of when and where to be announced when all plans are more definite,” part of the statement read.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Globacom, ETB partner Edo State on EDOMEMCIS

The second national operator, Globacom, Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB) and the Edo State Government have partnered on Okada riders’ insurance.

The partnership would empower over 5,000 commercial motorcycle transport operators in Edo State with life insurance policies and easy access to credit facilities.

The credit facility is to enable the Okada riders to upgrade their status to car owners within six months.

Tagged the Edo Motorcycle Riders Empowerment, Micro Credit and Insurance Scheme (EDOMEMCIS), is designed to use the platform of the Glo network to collect statutory revenue from motorcycle taxi operators.

To achieve this, the individual operator would send a Short Messaging Service (SMS) to a short code provided by Globacom at the rate of the revenue-payable.

A part of the funds collected through SMS, would be used as premium to provide insurance cover for the motorcycle rider and one passenger, while ETB would open a credit line for the contributor.

At the end of six months, the most consistent 200 contributors will receive brand new cars to use as taxi cabs, thereby upgrading them from commercial motorcycle operators to taxi cab owners.

Officials of Globacom explained that the cabs were also unveiled at the launch of the scheme attended by Edo State Deputy Governor, Mr. Pius Odubu, members of the Edo State Executive Council including Head of service, Mr. Anthony Edokpayi and special adviser on Commerce and industry who equally coordinates the scheme, Sir Osato Ize Iyamu.

Head, Globacom’s Public Sector Department, Mr. Tunde Amunikoro, said that the scheme was the first of its kind in the country and would help push back the frontiers of poverty in the state.

Also speaking, Odubu disclosed that the scheme has the dual purpose of solving the challenges of revenue collection and providing welfare for citizens.

Amunikoro said that Globacom’s involvement is driven by its operating principles which transcend the need to make profit.

“We are always on the lookout for how to make the lives of Nigerians better,” he said.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Symantec boosts storage with FileStore

Symantec FileStore, the latest in shelf from Symantec Corporation, a software management solutions company, is to boost storage infrastructure for customers.

Regional Director for Africa at Symantec, Mr. Gordon Love said that the new solution would enable organizations to build scalable, high-performance file-based storage services for their enterprise, including private and public clouds.

FileStore, he said, has already earned ground-breaking results for file serving in Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) tests, which far exceeds the current benchmarks.

He said that a system using FileStore software yielded record results of 176,728 operations per second with an overall response time of 1.67ms in the tests.

Using currently available software, FileStore, he said, has demonstrated 47 per cent greater throughput and 14 per cent faster overall response time than the NetApp FAS6080 results posted in August 2009.

As said by him, Symantec presently deploys FileStore as the file-based storage architecture in its own cloud services, with more than 40 petabytes (PB) of online storage for more than nine million active users; the largest Software as a Service (SaaS), storage environment in the world.

Mr. Love pointed out that Symantec also uses Veritas Storage Foundation for Windows and Veritas Cluster Server to manage this backup storage, stressing that with FileStore, Symantec delivers reliable, high-performance online backup services at a fraction of the cost by driving up storage utilisation rates and eliminating planned downtime required to scale performance, capacity or daily administration tasks.

He, therefore, expressed satisfaction over the industry-leading results and the unparalleled price-performance advantages of the new software.

“The SPECsfs benchmark demonstrates that FileStore software delivers the high performance today’s enterprises need for their cloud storage environments without locking them into an expensive, proprietary hardware infrastructure,” he said.

Further, he said that, FileStore integrates natively with Symantec’s leading security and information management solutions, including Symantec NetBackup and Symantec Endpoint Protection. These services run directly on the FileStore nodes, thereby reducing performance bottlenecks, enhancing security and simplifying operations by eliminating the requirement for additional server and storage resources for backup and security.

He explained that a single FileStore system scales up to 16 nodes, and 2 PB of total storage, so the product was designed to scale from entry-level configurations in affordable increments that match the IT organisation’s need and budget.

“A simple implementation process self-deploys and self-configures based on just a few administrator-provided parameters, yet meets the performance requirements of demanding large-file applications such as medical imaging and geophysical exploration,” he said.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Telecomm services: Is customer still the king?

It is not a new mantra to say that ‘Customer is the King’ of every business and in provision of telecommunications and related services in the country, this mantra has not changed.

It was not startling, therefore to note that every other day, customers are daunted with one programme or another, especially initiated for their sake and enjoyment as long as their purse keep exhuming the hard earned Naira notes to make the customers so called the king to depreciate in wallet size.

One thing nobody can definitely take away from the telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is the pioneering status of its Telecom Consumer Parliament under the oversight function of its Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB).

So, through the CAB, the regulator realized that information and education are the best instruments for protecting consumers of telecom products and services in the country. CAB also said it’s concerned with giving consumers the skills, information and confidence they need to get the best deal possible from the market place.

CAB currently led by Mrs. Mary Uduma, noted that generally, consumers need to be equipped to be able to shop around, know where to go to obtain comparative information on products and services.

Even though it seems possible to rely on the market to provide consumers with the necessary information and advice they need, experiences with the Communications market in Nigeria, CAB pointed out, showed that this has not always been the case.

Consumer Affairs Bureau beliefs that more often than not operating companies are not keen in providing adequate information about their products and services and even where they do, the employees tasked with such responsibility could be over-whelmed at the point of customers’ need.

This necessitated NCC to consistently devote significant time and resources to information and education of telecom consumers nationwide, stressing that with adequate information and education, consumers would not only able to make informed choices from the surplus products and services already flooding the market, but they would be able know where and how to seek redress.

Some of the essential issues consumers are educated on, CAB said, include consumer rights and obligations; methods of seeking redress; encouraging consumers to ask questions before they buy a telecom product or sign a contract; giving confidence to consumers to read and understand the fine prints; read all contracts before they sign them and keep copies in a safe place; consumers to read advertisements carefully, both large and small print in addition, consumers are enjoined to ask about extra charges or hidden limitations as the case may be.

Further, CAB’s mandate covers the encouragement of consumers to always ask about refunds and/or exchange policies and warranties before they purchase a product; watch out for fraudsters who always come out with mouth-watering offers or promos to entice them; advice to consumers to always remember that if the price or promo sounds too good to be true, warning that it probably could be a scam.

Equally, the chief executive officer of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah had noted recently in his maiden media parley in Lagos, said that of the salient issues that confronted him on assumption of office, was the fact that of Quality of Service (QoS). This, he said, motivated his setting a Task Force promptly soon after to focus on the matter, which also formed part of the theme for his first encounter with the CEOs of operating telecom companies on October 8, 2010.

Key achievement of that task force, he said, was the fast tracking of the regulation on QoS which has been longstanding.

“With this regulation, every service provider will now be held properly accountable by telecom consumers and the regulator,” he said.

Although NCC have received both local and international accolades for its contribution in making the consumer to be properly positioned to assume the kingship in the telecommunications, the same may not be said of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) of Nigeria, presently being steered by Mrs. Ify Umenyi.

The CPC operates under the Consumer Protection Council Act No. 66 of 1992 which provides for the holistic protection of the consumer in line with the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection of 1985. Though CPC said it’s dedicated to leading change in the society … towards a population of knowledgeable, vigilant, assertive and discriminating consumers.

CPC, thus, is the apex consumer protection agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria established to promote and protect consumers’ interests in all areas of products and services, provide speedy redress to their complaints, inform, educate and empower them – consumers; to act as discerning and discriminating consumers in the market place.

However, CPC notes that there is disparity in the ‘power relations’ between consumers and producers of goods and services. But due to consumers’ lack of knowledge of the characteristics and technical components of goods and services, the superior bargaining power of the supplier of goods or services over the consumer, and the fact that producers of products and services are much more endowed in terms of resources, the consumer is considered as the weaker of the two in this power relations.

This, CPC said, makes it imperative for the existence of a third party, especially a government agency that would assist in balancing the power relations between consumers and producers thereby supporting the former in their dealings with the latter.

For the above reason, CPC in Nigeria exists as the third party that protects the consumer in dealings with producers of products and services.

Yet, as far as telecom consumers are concerned, CPC may not be in existence, mostly as it involves those who subscribe to data services, who are usually neglected when it comes to compensation. This fact has been a re-occurring fact that could make Nigerians to have a different view of CPC, when it decides to wake up to the challenges on the table.

Nevertheless, investigation across the mobile telecom operators who have assumed the back and front-bone of the nation’s ICT industry showed that each operator has a nickname for its customers. From all about you to the most valuable assets various service providers have coined name for their customers, which industry observers described as part of marketing strategy.

For instance, for the acclaimed largest mobile operator in the country, MTN Nigeria, the customers is the first. For them at MTN Customer Care, the mantra here is ‘all about you.’ Thus, the mobile operator went on to create various customer care services including ‘MyCustomer’ insisting that they are committed to providing customers with best in class service aimed at enriching their lives.

To get MTN Nigeria Customer Care also known as Friendship Centres, for specific needs, subscribers are advised to dial 180 or by sending an email to customercare@mtnnigeria.net, even as they can log their queries via the Customer Feedback Form, asserting that its customers provides them the guts to promise to serve, backed up with central customer care center in Ojota, Lagos.

For the second national operator, Customers are the most valuable assets; hence, the company value each and every customer, describing subscribers as more than just a number.

According to Glo customer care representatives the above assertion forms the reason the operator invested such a lot of time and resource into its customer care department, urging anyone on their service “if there's anything we can help you with, be in touch.”

Globacom apart from having two dedicated lines for its customers’ interface; that is 121 for prepaid and 200 for postpaid, Glo also enjoins customers to send an electronic mail (email) to customercare@gloworld.com.

Glo says it’s Customer Care centers functions 24 by 7, which is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with determination to answer all questions on the phone, claiming a specialized Call Centres for Glo Business and BlackBerry Customers in addition to a special help desk division for government and major corporate entities.

Also, Glo says its Call Centres ensure that customers are attended to and issues resolved promptly as well as efficiently, from information and enquiries, to requests or complaints.

With the belief in ‘customer delight,’ Gloworld shops, which manages the customer care centres of Globacom said it has strong presence in the marketplace with extensive chain of retail and service outlets, reflecting Glo’s mission to deliver a world-class service experience to its customers.

Promising that at the Gloworld shops customers are bound to find all the products and value-added features that Glo offers in addition to a highly motivated and knowledgeable Gloworld attendants are always on hand to assist with advice on packages, information on technologies and applications, guidance on usage and billing, and resolution of complaints.

Etisalat which rolled-out over two years, now has over 20 Standard Experience Centres, equivalent of customer care centre apart from the Mini Experience Centres across the state capitals.

By dialing 200 from any Etisalat line, consumers on the ‘Eti-Naija’ network as some Nigerians fondly call Etisalat, has options of also using 200 from Etisalat line on 0809-0000200 from any mobile or fixed line, while those subscriber who may have traveled abroad and needed helping hand at the Experience Centre, +234-809-0000200 is available from any international line.

Equally of note is that on 19 December, 2005, NCC and CPC entered an agreement for collaboration. While NCC prides itself as the sector specific regulator in the telecommunications industry with a statutory mandate to protect consumers as well as operators in that sector; CPC is the apex agency of the federal government with a statutory mandate to seek redress for and protect consumers in all sectors of the economy including the telecommunications industry.

Interestingly, the bottom line of the collaboration is to avoid regulatory overlaps and create regulatory certainty for the benefit of all stakeholders in the telecommunications sector; the parties recognize a need for collaboration in the discharge of their functions as it relates to consumer protection in the aforesaid telecommunications sector.

It’s a dream of every telecom consumer in the country to see the implementation of this collaboration to the letter. Until then, ensure you exhaust the opportunity offered by customer care centres across all telecom network operators among other value added service providers before reaching out to NCC and CPC as second layer of report when not satisfied, that is the only way to really know as a customer if you are still the king of your service provider or is it a lip service?

REMMY NWEKE
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mobile phones unconnected with brain cancer – Study

Scientists at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, have re-echoed that mobile phone use does not relate to an increase in brain cancer associated risks.

The scientists who relied on their recent study opined that radio frequency exposure from mobile phones and its usage does not appear to increase the risk of developing brain cancers by any significant amount.

Media Relations, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, the University of Manchester, Mr. Aeron Haworth confirmed to ITRealms Online that the researchers used publically available data from the United Kingdom (UK) Office of National Statistics to look at trends in rates of newly diagnosed brain cancers in England between 1998 and 2007.

Haworth said that the study, also published in the journal Bioelectromagnetics, showed that no statistically significant change in the incidence of brain cancers in men or women during the nine-year period under review.

He quoted the lead researcher of the study, Dr Frank de Vocht as noting that mobile phone use in the United Kingdom and other countries has risen steeply since the early 1990s when the first digital mobile phones were introduced.

De Vocht, who is an expert in occupational and environmental health at the University of Manchester’s School of Community-Based Medicine, pointed out that there is an on-going controversy about whether radio frequency exposure from mobile phones increases the risk of brain cancer.

“Our findings indicate that a causal link between mobile phone use and cancer is unlikely because there is no evidence of any significant increase in the disease since their introduction and rapid proliferation,” he said.

The authors were also quoted as saying that because there is no plausible biological mechanism for radio waves to damage genes directly thereby causing cells to become cancerous.

They argued that radio frequency exposure, if related to cancer is more likely to promote growth in an existing brain tumour.

As such, the researchers said they would expect an increase in the number of diagnosed cases within five to 10 years of the introduction of mobile phones and for this increase to continue as mobile-phone usage became more widespread.

The 1998 to 2007 study period, the researcher said, would therefore relate to the period 1990 to 2002 when mobile phone use in the UK increased from zero to 65 per cent of households.

The team, which included researchers from the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh and Drexel University, Philadelphia, found a small increase in the incidence of cancers in the temporal lobe of 0.6 cases per 100,000 people or 31 extra cases per year in a population of 52 million.

“Brain cancers of the parietal lobe, cerebrum and cerebellum in men actually fell slightly between 1998 and 2007,” the study showed.

Further, Dr de Vocht said that the research suggested that the increased and widespread use of mobile phones, which in some studies was associated to increased brain cancer risk, has not led to a noticeable increase in the incidence of brain cancer in England between 1998 and 2007.

“It is very unlikely that we are at the forefront of a brain cancer epidemic related to mobile phones, as some have suggested, although we did observe a small increased rate of brain cancers in the temporal lobe corresponding to the time period when mobile phone use rose from zero to 65 per cent of households. However, to put this into perspective, if this specific rise in tumour incidence was caused by mobile phone use, it would contribute to less than one additional case per 100,000 population in a decade,” part of the study stated.

The study led by the trio of Frank de Vocht, Igor Burstyn, and John W Cherrie tagged ‘Time trends (1998-2007) in brain cancer incidence rates in relation to mobile phone use in England,’ additionally showed that though the researchers could not exclude the possibility that there are people who are susceptible to radio-frequency exposure or that some rare brain cancers are associated with it, but they insisted that data available to them was not indicate a pressing need to implement public health measures to reduce radio-frequency exposure from mobile phones.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Nigeria to host GUS hub for ECOWAS

The Economic Community for West Africa States (ECOWAS) is to foster electronic economy in the sub-region across its member states with plans to establish the Global University System (GUS) hub in Nigeria.

This plan would enthrone electronic learning (e-learning), electronic healthcare (e-healthcare) and electronic governance (e-gov) among other sectors of the economy for the benefits of ECOWAS member states.

Chairman of the United States based Global Systems Analysis and Simulation Association (GLOSASA-USA), Dr. Takeshi Utsumi, made this disclosure last weekend in an online chat, saying that ECOWAS plans to establish this through collaboration of relevant bodies; government and private sector enterprises by constructing national simulation models of 15 member countries of ECOWAS. According to him, this would be achieved among member countries with Peace Corps helping a country like Nigeria by the use of its domestic satellite like the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSAT).

This much, he said, has been suggested to the federal government through the Ministry of Science and Technology under Prof. Turner Timinipre Isoun tenure.

As said by Utsumi, this would be a win-win solution at a global scale, since it may utilize unemployed college graduates in Nigeria whopping about 80 per cent the figure as at 2004.

Already, he said, the Millennium Institute has been contracted to construct national simulation models of 15 member countries of the ECOWAS, even as work has started with Nigerian model.

“They are the world renowned think tank with system dynamic methodology, and they will work on our gaming cum simulation about the verification of energy proposition made by Gore/Obama,” he said.

A demonstration, he said, would analyze the consequences of various policy alternatives in ‘what-if’ trial mode with graphic presentations on large Television screens ­ in a sense, hands-on experiential learning based on ‘facts and figures.’

“Not on ‘political illusions’ as it is often done by more traditional approaches,” he asserted.

Emphasising that this demonstration, would be the very first step of promoting a paradigm shift in international political science when utilizing both ‘normative (role-playing)’ gaming and ‘quantitative (model-based)’ simulation approaches for globally collaborative education and training.

“A very new and Non-Traditional approach for policy analysis and evaluation,” he said. Utsumi expressed hope that the success of this demonstration event will lead to the subsequent similar ‘normative’ gaming plus ‘quantitative’ simulation between School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) of Columbia University and a Nigerian higher educational institution to rekindle previous approach to them to part of the global e-learning course.

“We will then hope that the same would be realized with higher educational institutions in other African countries leading to the Globally Collaborative Network of the Centers for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (GCN/CCPMRs) which may become one of the Research and Training Center (RTC) programmes of the United Nations University (UNU) ­ for example, on the water usage issue along the Nile River basin mentioned.

On economic, social and environmental issues in various countries such as Nigeria, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to name a few, he noted that the models of each countries will be interconnected through broadband Internet to enable two-tier system to exist.

Dr. Utsumi listed these tiers to include one, centering on training young would-be decision makers to understand interwoven world phenomena with rational analysis and critical thinking on policy analysis and evaluation, as well as on crisis management, conflict resolution, and negotiation techniques based on ‘facts and figures.’

Additionally, he said, that it would help decision makers to develop and use a globally distributed decision-support system for policy analysis and evaluation with positive sum/win-win alternatives to conflict and war.

While soliciting the partnership of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Dr. Utsumi said they are working through creation of a hub of Global Early Warning System (GEWS) in Nigeria for ECOWAS countries, riding on broadband initiatives.

The GEWS, he said, would be for Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote D¹Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togolese),starting at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU).

This will also include a system dynamics seminar for Nigerian local intellectuals including government bureaucrats and graduate students to name a few.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Broadband forum set to hold in Lagos

All roads would this week lead to the venue of the Broadband forum which is holding in Lagos, this Thursday.

The organisers, Messrs eWorld and e-Business Life said that all is now set to ensure the successful hosting of the event scheduled for Golden Gates, Lagos

Several key industry speakers have reaffirmed their acceptance to attend the event, so are several telecommunications and ICT companies.

Organisers of the event said at the weekend that all arrangements to make the 2011 a huge success have been concluded.

Aaron Ukodie of eWorld said that the event would afford the industry to re-appraise the Nigerian broadband market and align its growth and development to global imperatives.

He said, broadband is seen as an essential driver for the new economies and the plank on which human interaction would be effectively played.

“Most especially, mobile broadband is the global rave of the moment and its various application ecosystems are been developed and exploited,” he said.

Also speaking, Ufuoma Daro of e-Business Life said that Nigeria cannot be left behind in the Broadband march, even as the organiser’s view that the 2011 forum affords the industry, policy makers, government and services providers a common platform on which strategies could be articulated and sharpened.

“Services and products markets must avail themselves the opportunity to unveil their products,” she advised.

ITRealms Online recalls that Chief Olawale Ige, one of Nigeria’s foremost Communications Minister and Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) would preside over proceedings at the event.

The Minister of Information and Communications, Labaran Maku, himself a media guru is expected to attend the Forum as Special Guest of Honour. He will be supported by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr Eugene Juwah who is expected to give a keynote address.

While the chairman of OpenMedia Group, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe would be attending the event as a guest, he would make some remarks and proffer some insights on the topical issue.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Signal Alliance deploys unified communication in Edo, Akwa Ibom

Signal Alliance, a key provider and integrator of information technology systems in the public and private sectors, has deployed a unified enterprise collaboration solution based on Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Unified Communications in Edo, Akwa Ibom States as well as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The Solutions Expert, Unified Communications Division for Signal Alliance, Mr. Nnaemeka Okwuchukwu, said that the Exchange Server, regarded as the cornerstone of Microsoft’s Unified Communications solution, is a flexible and reliable communications platform that could help lower corporate messaging costs by as much as 50 to 80 per cent, increase productivity with anywhere-access to business communications, and safeguard business with protection and compliance capabilities that help manage risk.

“Microsoft Exchange Server is the server side of a client–server, collaborative application product developed by Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft Servers line of server products and is used by enterprises using Microsoft infrastructure products. Exchange’s major features consist of electronic mail, calendaring, contacts and tasks; support for mobile and web-based access to information; and support for data storage,” he said.

By deploying the range of collaboration solutions and the unified communications system from Microsoft, he said, these public sector clients could now communicate with colleagues from anywhere in the via voicemail, instant messaging, web, audio/video conferencing, telephone calls and live meeting.

He explained that by relying on its very robust architecture, the Exchange Server and Office Communications Server (2007 and 2008), have the ability to cost-effectively provide enterprise users the freedom to securely access all of their communications—email, voice mail, instant messaging, and more—from virtually any platform, Web-browser, or device to get more done wherever they are.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

UberTwitter shots access to Blackberry

Millions of Twitter users, including top celebrities and sports stars, are without access to the micro-blogging site.

The application which allows BlackBerry to tweet from their phones, UberTwitter, was suspended last Friday, reports Washington Post.

Twitter officials blocked the popular UberTwitter app from being able to use its services due to violations to Twitter’s terms and conditions.

UberTwitter holds a 20 per cent share of all Tweets globally, especially with some of the most followed users on the Twitter-sphere, including celebrities and professional sports stars.

It is suspected violations include UberTwitter’s ability to lengthen the maximum 140 character limit. Both UberTwitter, which is available for the iPhone and the most popular Twitter app for BlackBerry phones, as well as Twidroyd for Android phones, are built by Pasadena-based UberMedia.

More than three million smart phone users access Twitter though UberMedia applications and Web-based services like UberTwitter, according to the company’s LinkedIn page.

It was also revealed that the big celebrities affected with the most Twitter followers include singer Rihanna, Lance Armstrong, Russell Simmons, Questo of The Roots, Donnie Wahlberg, former NFL player Warren Sapp, and NBA player Baron Davis.

In addition to violating its policies on limiting tweets to 140 characters, Twitter also argues UberMedia altered the content of Twitter users’ posts to generate money.

UberMedia, the parent company of UberTwitter and Twidroyd, has accumulated a large number of third-party Twitter clients, such as Tweetdeck, which rivals Twitter’s web and mobile clients according to a report by TopNews in New Zealand.

“UberMedia, which has been generating tones of money, was launched as TweetUp in April 2010. After some time the app changed itself to become PostUp, and following the deal with UberTwitter, it emerged as UberMedia,” the site noted.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

FOSSFA, OSFON take Idlelo-5 to Abuja’12

The Free and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) has endorsed Nigeria’s quest to host its fifth African conference on FOSS and Digital Commons, known as IDLELO 5.

The conference which has been slated for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja will be held on March 19, 2012 and hosted under the auspices of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Open Source Foundation for Nigeria (OSFON).

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online endorsed by the FOSSFA chairperson, Ms Nnenna Nwakanma and OSFON chief proponent and Managing Director, Mandriva Linux Africa, Mr. Dele Ajisomo said IDLELO 5, will be held on the theme “Open Source Solutions for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”

They also said that IDLELO 5 is coming on the successful series of conferences held in Cape Town, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Dakar, Senegal and Accra, Ghana.

Equally, they noted that IDLELO is the premier African continent’s open source gathering, which held every two years, the continent dedicates a one-week period to appraise its open source and free software initiatives, expertise, community, challenges and experiences.

“This March event is the continent’s rallying point for critical issues in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as they are directly related to the development of its people, governments and business enterprises,” they said.

IDLELO 5 will be one event for FOSS practitioners, developer and advocates as well as governments, education and businesses to showcase results, share experiences and challenges, review progress on the continent in diverse domains and chart a way forward for an African future grounded in true ownership of technology that will help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The FOSSFA and OSFON leadership pointed out that IDLELO 5 will consist of hackathons, awards, tutorials, hands-on trainings, demos, field visits and presentations on key FOSS and information technology areas.

“It will welcome a diverse number of parallel events, an exhibition and a business round table. The conference will welcome FOSS and IT keynote speakers, project, companies, solutions and innovations, not just in Africa, but across the global FOSS community,” part of the statement revealed, even as IDLELO 5 will mark the 10 years FOSSFA.

Therefore, they said, IDLELO 5 offers a real opportunity to discuss new issues, tackle complex problems and find advanced enabling solutions able to shape new trends in FOSS and related technologies on the African continent.

Remmy Nweke
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3Line unwraps Freedom Network platform for un-banked

A licensee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for operating of an end-to-end electronic payment (e-payment) infrastructure, 3Line Card Management Limited, has unwrapped it’s Freedom Network platform to strategically accommodate the unbanked in the country.

Speaking at the official unwrapping ceremony held in Lagos, the General Manager, 3Line Card Management Limited, Mrs. Funke Ade-Ojo said that the Freedom Network platform conforms to the guidelines of CBN for entrenching electronic payment and covering the unbanked and unserved in the nation’s financial coverage.

She said based on CBN regulatory guidelines that her company designed, developed and implemented a pre-banked model for both merchants and customers, which provides needed anti-fraud guarantees for all stakeholders and participants on the Freedom Network.

This platform, she said, aims to bring about expansion of the aspiration of good percentage of Nigerians in under-served and un-served communities across the country by making available for them a secured platform and infrastructure that is open to all.

Mrs. Ade-Ojo disclosed that 3Line plans to attract the informal sector into the network through the deployment of Point-of-Sale (POS) devices to provide universal service access to financial and light banking services known as ‘Street Banking.’

She explained that Street Banking is a customer friendly and cost effective way of providing secure, light banking services to groups of people in a community using existing merchants within the same community who are known and trusted.

“To achieve this, we are collaborating with some banks and other payment providers to build an end-to-end integrated infrastructure through a common platform,” she said.

Freedom cards, she said, are already accepted on the Interswitch network for the Automated Teller Machines (ATM) cash withdrawal countrywide.

“We began tests with the National Central Switch, and have collaborated with several technology and marketing service providers. This is a herculean task and one we recognize requires co-operation,” she declared, stressing that the likes of FinBank, First Bank and several other banks have since embraced the platform with expression of positive interest to collaborate on Freedom Network.

Banks, she said, are strategic to the successful roll out of the Freedom Network, mainly because the Freedom card would be issued to the users on the platform.

Freedom card, she said, is an Europay, MasterCard and VISA, which is a global standard for inter-operation of Integrated Circuit (IC) cards chip, plus Personal Identification Number (PIN) smartcard and is available in the market with security benefits, online and offline capability.

Mrs. Ade-Ojo underscored the edge Freedom cards have over other cards, saying it has Dynamic Data Authentication (DDA) technology, while other cards use mostly Static Data Authentication (SDA).

“Our DDA card protects the users against cloning and hacking in ways the other cards cannot. It also enables off-line transactions. With this capability, Freedom cardholders have the opportunity to transact business on the PoS terminal in rural areas and the city even when communication signals are poor,” she explained.

Responding to questions, the Group Head, Information Technology (IT) and Strategic Marketing at 3Line Card Management Limited, Mr. Toyin Oloniteru, said that Freedom Network is to boost infrastructure used in processing of electronic payment for low value transactions.

“Thus, the first and only e-payment company to design a bouquet of network services for the bottom of the pyramid,” he said.

Oloniteru described Freedom Network as a community of banks, service providers, government agencies and merchants that offer instant financial services such as cash withdrawal, money transfer, airtime vending, ticketing, pay-as-you-go vehicle insurance and utility bill payment at authorized retail shops and service points within a given neighbourhoods.

He pointed out that the brand’s objectives include the provision of a single, common platform to provide street banking services to stakeholders, provider of financial and non-financial services in Nigeria.

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Group faults US proposal on gTLDs

The Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) has described the United States Government proposal (USG-proposal) regarding the scorecard on the new Generic Top Level Domains (GTLDs) as alarming.

NCSG is one of the four Stakeholder Groups established within the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN’s) Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) framework.

The group in a position paper made available to ITRealms Online at the weekend, said that USG proposal if adopted would threaten the fundamental human right of freedom of expression.

NCSG believes the USG proposal would be setting a dangerous precedent for governmental dominance in the multi-stakeholder arena of Internet governance.

The group alleged that the USG proposal was presented in the form of a proposal to be adopted by the full Government Advisory Committee (GAC); hence NCSG response outlines the flaws inherent in the proposal and presents reasons why it should not be adopted.

NCSG listed three key areas of interest in its response including the objection procedures, vertical integration, and Intellectual Property Protection as contained in the USG proposal.

The public comment quoted NCSG as saying that specifically, the USG Proposal ignored and completely overturned both the process and result of carefully-negotiated community consensus that led to the latest version of ICANN’s Draft Applicant Guidebook (AGB) for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

They alleged that it’s a clear attempt to wrest control over the assignment of new gTLDs away from ICANN and vest it in the hands of individual governments.

“We wish to emphasize that an appeal to the ‘universal resolvability of DNS cannot possibly justify giving any individual government the power to prevent the creation of a TLD ‘for any reason,’” part of the comment read.

The group also noted that one does not advance the cause of a globally interconnected internet by encouraging any individual government to exercise a global authority to prevent the creation of top level domain applications.

“The only effect of such a policy would be to multiply one country’s controls and regulations to all countries. There are in fact no technical harms to the Internet as a whole caused by the blocking
of a single TLD by one or a few countries,” it further stated.

Although the NCSG has raised issues with ICANN’s accountability and transparency practices in the past, it stated that ICANN’s model is based on multi-stakeholder participation involving not just governments, but also industry participants and individual Internet users.

“In this model, and as enacted in ICANN’s Bylaws, individual national governments – through the GAC – may be influential participants and are entitled to offer advice to the ICANN Board on Internet domain name policy, but do not override the voices of businesses large and small, non-profit organizations and individual consumers,” the group stated, insisting that the community-based model of bottom-up consensus decision-making in use currently is the most appropriate framework for Internet domain name management and governance.

In light of the fact that the Internet is a global network whose evolution, maintenance and growth has depended, and continues to depend, on the participation of each of the stakeholders who are represented in the ICANN model,” NCSG maintained.

Underlining the reasons of NCSG for rejecting the USG Proposal, the group said faulted the recommendation by USG for eliminating the current Limited Public Interest objection procedure entirely, and adding to the Initial Evaluation phase for a proposed new gTLD the ability for “any GAC member” to object “for any reason” (which objection must result in a denial of that gTLD application by ICANN if no other GAC member opposes the GAC’s support of that objection).

In addition to the general reasons aforementioned, NCSG said, this particular proposal is troubling because “It ignores the recommendations made recently by a cross-community working group (“CWG”) that carefully considered and proposed refinements to the Limited Public Interest Objection procedure.

“The CWG, which included several participants from GAC member countries in their individual capacities, made recommendations to modify the AGB-prescribed procedure that were responsive to GAC’s concerns. The CWG recommendations are still under consideration by the ICANN Board and have been publicly available for some time. It would have been far more helpful – and a welcome acknowledgment of the role of each stakeholder (including governments) in ICANN decision-making – if the USG Proposal had addressed the CWG’s concerns and recommendations so as to arrive at an improved objections process rather than simply reject it when it has been subject to community comment and suggestions.

Equally, it recommended that Initial Evaluation process be amended to allow the GAC to decide whether or not a particular gTLD passes muster subverts the basis upon which ICANN functions, renders an applicant vulnerable to internal GAC politics and lobbying, and arrogates only to the GAC the right to decide what is in the “global public interest”.

NCSG noted that a better, more balanced and less high-handed way to address the apparent concern that strings here is ultimately to be rejected through the Limited Public Interest objection process which deals with much earlier in the process would have been a recommendation to amend, improve and/or speed up either the objection process or the related “Quick Look” procedure.

Though NCSG seem to agree that the blocking of numerous strings by individual governments is not a desirable outcome, they noted that the USG Proposal does not provide ICANN any leeway or discretion at all, as the outcome depends entirely on whether the GAC fails to oppose – a different concept from whether the GAC actually supports - an objection raised by a single GAC member.

NCSG stated that its reasons for rejecting USG proposal number 3 on liberalized cross-ownership rules completely ignores two of the three expert reports commissioned as well as the extensive analysis and discussion carried out in the Vertical Integration Working Group.

In particular, the group said, the ICANN policy roughly corresponds to that recommended by the Salop and Wright report and by several sizable groups within the Vertical Integration Working Group.

Lamenting that when the USG asserts that ICANN had no reason for changing its position between March and November 2010, it ignored the fact that an entire working group process had been conducted, with extensive development of alternative proposals by experts in the industry and among ICANN stakeholder groups.

“The USG analysis is flawed in a more fundamental manner: it seems to not understand that a new TLD which is the only group, to which the new regulations would apply, cannot possibly have “market power” because it has no market share and no individual or organization is required to register within a new TLD.

"The USG also ignores the extensive evidence demonstrating that current separation requirements act as a barrier to entry and obstacle to the success of many small prospective TLDs,” part of the NCSG comment read.

Finally, the group noted that the USG Proposal in relation to intellectual property protection would resuscitate proposals previously rejected by the community-wide consensus through the Special Trademark Interests review team formed by the GNSO at the ICANN Board’s request, and introduce mechanisms rejected even earlier, by the Implementation Recommendations Team that was formed by the Intellectual Property Constituency at the ICANN Board’s request.

“We note, further, that the ICANN Board has done considered the various mechanisms put forward for addressing trademark issues in new gTLDs; Put forward the possibility that additional or emerging issues in this regard be further addressed through policy development by the GNSO; and indicated that in its view trademark issues have been sufficiently addressed by a sufficiently consultative and inclusive community-wide consensus process,” the group insisted.

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Ericsson’s power solution wins GSMA award

Ericsson’s community power solution in Liberia, has won award at the just concluded 2011 Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) held in Barcelona, Spain for the Best use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development.

Head, Media and Public Relations for Ericsson West Africa, Ms Omasan Ogisi, said that the award was in global recognition of excellence and innovation.

She noted that MTN Liberia, which deployed Ericsson Community Power Solution, the first solution of its kind benefitting about 15,000 people from access to excess energy generated from mobile sites.

The award presented to Ericsson and Swedish telecom site solution supplier, Flexenclosure, under the “Best use of Mobile for Social & Economic Development” category.

Head, Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Lars Linden, said they were honoured to have been presented with this award.

“This initiative reflects Ericsson’s ongoing commitment to harnessing our technical leadership in developing innovative products and sustainable business models that form the building blocks of a connected and sustainable Africa. We will continue to seek new ways of driving sustainable business growth for our customers and expand the reach of networks in Africa,” he said.

Linden noted that having adopted the Ericsson Community Power solution, MTN in Liberia becomes the first operator in the world to implement a system of this type.

“With this, many of the residents of Liberia’s Kokoyah District could soon enjoy access to electricity in their homes for the first time,” he said, stressing that it would take what has started in some markets as a way of charging mobile phones to a whole new level, to enabling the electrification of the world’s remotest villages.

Kokoyah is one of several Millennium Villages in Africa located in the far south-east of Bong County, which has a population of approximately 15,000 people.

The Ericsson Community Power solution was developed in partnership with Swedish green site solution specialist company Flexenclosure as part of a portfolio of innovative services and products for the Millennium Villages Project (MVP).

The solution comprised Ericsson Community Power and Flexenclosure’s E-site solution, is a revolutionary product that combines an off-grid base-station site powered mainly by renewable energy sources such as sun and wind, with the ability to share excess power with surrounding local communities, institutions and individuals.

Linden explained that the Community Power solution allows subscribers to recharge their mobile phones with excess power generated from the station, which in turn drives network usage and thereby revenue. In more mature and large-scale deployments, several sites can be combined to create a mini-grid to power services such as streetlights, clinics and schools for an entire community. It would even be possible to feed power from the base station into the national power grid which can help to alleviate power shortages.

He was quick to recall that most part of Africa, much basic infrastructure is lacking, and there are more people with mobile phones than access to electricity.

Citing the recent report by the International Energy Agency, which stated that 585 million people had no access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa in 2010, yet mobile-phone penetration levels in Africa were at about 50 per cent.

He asserted that Ericsson Community Power offers groundbreaking opportunities to transform the lives of individuals, businesses and communities that have traditionally been excluded from numerous services due to their lack of access to power.

“Now, they have been given the platform to enjoy products and services that were previously impossible to access, and also to expand their commerce and trade beyond their immediate environment,” Linden said.

For the chief executive officer, MTN Liberia, Mr. Frans Joubert in emerging markets this solution allows operators to bring much needed services to the community in a sustainable way, and offers additional value to the customer, the operator and the community at large.

“Beyond meeting the basic electricity requirements of the community, this solution can serve utility companies worldwide, and MTN is proud to be part of this initiative, which can change so many lives,” he said.

Additionally, he said, the solution has been tested in the Dertu Millennium Village, a remote settlement in north- eastern Kenya.

“There, one site generated about 4,000kWh in excess energy a year, theoretically the amount of energy needed to generate power to support mobile phone charging stations, illuminate street lights and supply power to community buildings such as clinics and schools in a small village,’ he said, noting that the base station in Dertu powered a fridge that stored medicine for the local community.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

AUN alumni develop POS software for cafeterias

TWO alumni of the American University of Nigeria (AUN) Yola, Messrs Ogbonnaya Kalu and Luke Dalughut, have developed cafeteria management application on Point-of-Sale (POS) code named ‘Cafeteria Manager.’

This, they said would be useful in schools, universities, hospitals, and all the places where meals are prepaid and served in large numbers.

Kalu, a graduate of the School of Information Technology & Communications, in collaboration with Luke Dalughut, a Business Economics major, both from the same, said their tested point-of-sale (POS) software, could be customized to aid in accurate, instantaneous and hassle-free recording of cafeteria transactions.

Confirming this to ITRealms Online, Deputy Director, Communications, AUN, Mr. Innocent Nwobodo, said the software has a video-display terminal that could track individual transactions at the cafeteria and deduct a single meal from each student’s prepaid meal plan.

He also said that the application – Cafeteria Manager, is currently in use at the AUN cafeteria and is ready for commercial deployment soon.

Mr. Nwobodo quoted Mr. Kalu, a 2009 graduate as expressing pleasure with the achievement.

“It’s the first of its kind from my company’s perspective,” he declared, stressing that the software, known as AUN Cafeteria Manager, eliminates possibilities of forgery and record manipulation while it provides an effective monitoring system for all cafeteria activities.

Mr. Kalu is the chief executive officer, Hit-d-wave Technology Services Limited, a company he established after graduating from AUN. He is also a graduate of “Information Systems with Network Security” at the Cleveland Institute of Electronics in the United States (US).

The collaborator in the project and another 2009 graduate of AUN, Mr. Dalughut brings his knowledge of business practice to the project, saying it would help Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) known for managing such business like cafeteria.

“It is custom-designed to deduct a single meal from a student’s meal plan when used at the cafeteria,” he said.

Dalughut outlined some of the features of the software to include incorporation of the ability to display the total meals served during a particular mealtime, and an instantaneous counting mechanism.

“As students swipe their cards, it displays the owner’s portrait at the point of sale, thereby ruling out fraudulent re-use of the same card by a third party, and it links every meal served to a particular student’s identity card,” he explained.

Further, Nwobodo said, this development has been a big relief to the university, even as gone are the recurring headaches associated with loss of meal tickets, students faking meal tickets, and the loss of time needed to sort and submit used meal tickets by the caterer, as well as the time-consuming process of counting and confirming the authenticity of the submitted meal tickets.

Speaking on the development, Assistant Vice-President of Finance and Budget, Mr. Francis Eze, said he was proud of the alumni’s achievement in designing and applying the software.

“We are happy at this development as we will not have to deal with printing of meal tickets, complaints arising from loss, verification of used tickets, and such other related issues.”

AUN professor of software engineering, Dr. Nwojo Agwu said, today’s technology has taken a whole lot of stress off people and this is what these alumni have demonstrated, and they have helped the university.

AUN’s programmes, Agwu said, focus on helping the development process and contributing to the betterment of society.

“We want our students to be productive, that is why our programmes are technology-driven and every student undergoes an entrepreneurial course,” he said.

Both developers of Cafeteria Manager plan to continue hone their dream to assist businesses achieve and surpass their goals by providing them with the most effective and efficient IT solutions to increase productivity.

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PIN to host 2nd Ajegunle.org town hall meeting

Programme Manager, Ajegunle.org, Mr. Ugo Nwosu has confirmed that would the group’s second town hall meeting would hold this week’s Wednesday, February 23, in Lagos.

Ajegunle.org is a project of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), a social entreprise for the empowerment of Nigerian youths.

Nwosu also said the meeting would provide an opportunity to update partners, the community, volunteers and alumni on the journey so far and future plans.

“Participants would get first-hand details of experiences from the project graduates, students, family members and internship host organizations, and we will discuss elements of how this project successfully trained 138 young people – who have in turn trained over 306 peers. We will also honour outstanding graduates, and our partners as well as volunteers,” he said.

Nwosu explained that Ajegunle.org has received tremendous media coverage and has been presented in various fora locally and across the world as a Case Study on how Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) could be used to aid development in underserved communities.

He revealed that this year’s town hall meeting would be chaired by Prof. Pat Utomi, chairman of PIN’s board, adding that guests would include family and friends of graduates, and PIN’s partner organisations including Afrinvest WA, DHL, London Metropolitan University, Microsoft Nigeria, Lornamead Africa, First City Monument Bank, Teledom International, among others.

Also speaking PIN’s Executive Director, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, said that meeting PIN will be presenting the model of its community-focused innovation centre which will provide facilities for training additional students, incubation space for project graduates and serve as a major hub for community development.

“Having worked with government, civil society, private institutions and international organizations including the United Nations, PIN has set standards in ICT education, telecenter support, ICT applications in rural areas, and other ICT interventions in Nigeria. PIN’s projects include Ajegunle.org; Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria and TENT,” he said.

PIN is a social enterprise that connects underserved Nigerian youth with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) opportunities; with specific concern about the ill effects of unemployment and cybercrime among other vices that limit the potential contribution of young Nigerians to the nation’s economy.

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Momentum thickens for broadband investment forum

Momentum is thickening for the forthcoming Broadband investment summit slated for Lagos on March 1, this year.

The organizers said that the event would be a gathering of heavyweight organizations and individuals from the world of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The event tagged Internet for Nigerians forum and sponsored by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is organized by Nigeria CommunicationsWeek and has been scheduled to hold at the Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi and aims to set the agenda for the future of the industry.

Experts from telecoms and internet service providers will join the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) and IT vendors’ representatives in giving presentations on the future of some of the internet most exciting innovations.

The organizers said that the theme of the forum is “Broadband Investment and Solutions for Nigerians” would see representatives from Gateway Communications, Glo 1, Main One, Computer Warehouse Group (CWG), Internet Solutions (IS), and Linkserve Nigeria presenting “Tailor-made Solutions and Investment for Financial and Oil & Gas Industries.”

The executive vice chairman, of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwa, would present the keynote address while the chairman of Licensed Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, would chair the occasion.

Others billed to speak at the event are Mohamed Rudman, MD/CEO, Internet Exchange of Nigeria (IXPN), Biodun Banjo, President, NIG, Peter Iwegbu, GM/Group head IT, Access Bank, Kenneth Omerou, Founder, Techtrend, Wale Jones, IT lawyer.

Ken Nwogbo, editor-in-chief of Nigeria CommunicationsWeek said that ICT and indeed internet challenges to the oil and gas services and financial sectors are greater than they have ever been, primarily as a result of the: policy somersaults, sub-prime mortgage market crisis, volatility of the oil prices and the overall financial state of the economy.

According to Nwogbo, the high costs of international bandwidth are an obstacle to social and economic development and that infamous SAT-3 cable that operates in fits and starts has not helped matters.

“The situation is changing dramatically with fibre optic investments by Globacom, MainOne and WACS. They are all stirring positive outlook for Internet penetration in the country. Globacom, MainOne Cable Company and MTN Nigeria (co-owner of the West African Cable System) have taken the lead by investing in fibre optic cables to improve broadband penetration in Nigeria” he said.

He also said that the multiplicity of Africa’s fiber cable projects has raised the hopes of many, that the ubiquity of high capacity, low cost internet bandwidth will bolster ICT-for-development initiatives of the country and Africa.

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