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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ekuwem: ICT evangelist

PHILOSPHY plus intellectualism plus spiritualism equal to success. These ideologies anchored on three concepts, is what makes Dr. Emmanuel Efiong Ekuwem, President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) and Executive Vice Chairman, Teledom Group International Limited, too tick.

An epitome of intertwining of fate, his humble beginning started as a pupil of
St. Paul's Catholic Primary School, Ofi Uda, Mbo local government area from a
strict discipline family, and later a seminarian at the Queen of the Apostles
Catholic Seminary, Afaha Obong, Abak in Akwa-Ibom State, Efiong Ekuwem seems to
have learnt to take after his elder brother, the Catholic Bishop of Uyo Diocese,
His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Ekuwem.


An alumnus of the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) formerly University of Ife, Ile-Ife, he holds a Bachelors Degree in Engineering Physics and two Masters degree in Physics and Electronic and Electrical Engineering respectively, in addition to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Electronic and Electrical Engineering since 1992.

His post Ph.D fellowship research focused on Networking and Radio Propagation Laboratory at the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. Dr. Ekuwem is a fellow of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA/ICTP) on Intelligent Computer-based Real-time Environmental Data Collection, at E-Tel Snc Laboratory in collaboration with Radio Propagation Laboratory of the ICTP between 1993 and 1994.

Born on April 19, 1956, Dr. Ekuwem, a well traveled professional has attended over 46 conferences, seminars and workshops within the past decade, with over 66 publications to his credit both in locally and internationally reputed specialist journals.

These include "Internet Presence/Content and the Indigenous Software Industry: Wither Nigeria? delivered at the first Joint Action Committee on ICT Awareness and Development (JACITAD 2004); Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi): The Future Fusion of Internet and Wireless Access; 2nd Internet Convention 2003, Broadband Wireless Access Solutions as a Platform to Bridge the Digital Divide: A real life experience from Africa, School on Digital Radio Communications for Research and Training in Developing Countries, ICTP 2004, Italy.

Others include “Infrastructure Broadband Service Delivery in Africa – Potentials, AfriNet February 2005; Participation of Akwa-Ibom in the Digital Revolution: A Sure Way To Sustainable Wealth In The Global Knowledge Based Economy - Ibom Democracy Day Celebration Lecture, May 2005.

There is also “Strategy and Technique For The Design & Implementation Of A
Science & Technology Park With A Strong It Component, July 2005 as well as
Safe Internet Use, Seminar Safeguarding Family values on the Internet –
Constraints and Possibilities of Safe Internet Initiative HelmBridge Study
Centre, Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria, December, 2004".


He also has to his credit "A Click To Real Wealth - ICT For Youth Empowerment In The Niger Delta, ICT for Nigeria Delta, June 2004. Business and Investment Opportunities in the Nigerian Telecom, Information and Communication Technology Industry, Chartered Institute of Bankers, Lagos, 27-28 July, 2004."

Ekuwem, whose Teledom Group, an indigenous company with expertise in Information Technology (IT) and wireless solutions provision, serves as the distributor of Alvarion Wireless Access products in West Africa; derived the firm's name from telecommunication kingdom.

His time at the Ministry of Aviation saddled him with the responsibilities to design, develop and construct computer-based instruments for introduction into the network of national meteorological telecommunication to ensure scalability to incorporate new technologies.

As coordinator of the RAI Task Team on the new technologies, he advised the RAI president on new technologies and the procedure for the introduction of same into national network; monitoring of global development in telecommunications for introduction and immediate past member, representing Africa at the Advisory Working Group (AWG) level of the World Meteorological Organisation's Commission for Instruments and Methods of Observation (CIMO), before voluntarily retiring as a young Assistant Director Technical Services, crowning it by winning a 'Ministerial Award for Outstanding Productivity'.

His numerous papers and messages at public and private forums have been marked him out as a guru in telecommunication and IT, centering on sound management as a tool to improving and integrate the nation as well as Africa into the global ICT world.

Eloquent in English, French and Italian, Dr. Ekuwem, was recognized by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2001 with the Most Productive Order of Merit (NPOM) award and year 2002 Teledom Group under his distinguished leadership won the Regional Best Performance award as a distributor of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) equipment from the BWA world leader in collaboration with Israeli Alvarion Limited.

By December 2002, his community through the Ibaka Traditional Rulers Council in Akwa-Ibom, recognised his contribution in what was described as a diffusion of knowledge via Information Technology deployment, conferring on him, the 'Obong Ifiok' chieftaincy, meaning custodian of knowledge in the council area.

Last year, at the 10th anniversary of the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Obong Ekuwem was presented with ATCON's National Telecommunications Merit Award. He also emerged the Nigerian IT & Telecom Award Personality of the Year 2004, and received Distinguished Scientist Award by the Faculty of Science, OAU, Ife.

This year did not pass unnoticed as he was in the first quarter honoured
with the Kwame Nkrumah Africa Leadership Award in Ghana, just as he was
appointed in April, the Nigerian Representative to the ICTP (Trieste) – IT/BDT
(Geneva) on “ICT Technology Observatory and Training Unit”.


Last August also witnessed another honour for the custodian of knowledge when he was presented the Award of Excellence for contribution to the networking of academic minds and institutions for the exchange of scientific knowledge at the Nigerian Institute of Physics (NIP), during centennial anniversary of Albert Einstein's famous discovery of relativity, in commemoration of the World Physics Year, proclaimed by the United Nations (UN).

He belongs to a number of professional bodies namely, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), IEEE's Computer Society and Communication Society respectively and the Internet Society (ISOC) and Nigeria Internet Group (NIG).

His other caps outside Teledom Group include membership of Infrastructure committee of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group; Presidential committee on 419 on the Internet and cyber-crime; Nigerian Cyber-crime Working Group; infrastructure sub-committee of the National IT Strategic Action Plan and external member of Faculty Board of the Faculty of Technology, OAU Ile-Ife, as well as Chairman, Technical Committee of the Nigerian Universities Network (NUNet) and Nigerian Universities Management Information System (NUMIS) – NUNet/NUMIS.

As UNESCO’s ICTP Regional Coordinator of the Nigerian Universities Network (NuNet), Dr. Ekuwem, is visiting associate to the ICTP under the umbrella of the Aeronomy Laboratory and Programme on Training and System Development in Networking and Radio communication; consultant to UNESCO (Nigeria office) on IT component of United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).

Obong Ifiok was a winner of the Third World Academy of Science (TWAS) award for research on the effects of Meteorological phenomena on Radio Communication - Very High Frequency and Ultra-High Frequency (VHF/UHF), in the lower Troposphere. He also was principal investigator in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)/R experiments on radio propagation phenomena in non-ionized media focusing in Africa.

Ekuwem, is President of Knowledge Media International, publishers of IT Edge Magazine and web-based ITEdge online (ITEdgenews.com); Chairman, Mbo LG Economic Summit that has drawn up a roadmap for the economic empowerment of Mbo people via Local Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LEEDS); encompassing Ward Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (WEEDS), Village Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (VEEDS), Family Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (FEEDS), Personal Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (PEEDS).

Additionally, Dr. Ekuwem is currently a consultant to Akwa Ibom State government on Information Technology/Science and Technology Park, even as he presides over Technology Development Company Limited -local Hi-Tech development and Industrial IT, Web Inn Limited - web-based software development, and IT Mart Limited an InfoTech hardware supermarket.

Little wonder then that the likes of National e-Government Strategies (NeGst) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on IT services, seeking for his expertise as adviser, while availing Teledom the wherewithal to emerge the strategic partner to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on the Public Service Information Network (PSNet).

However, as the current President, NIG, he anticipates to take Internet to the greatest height with a view to using it to boost the national economy. This was evident in his contribution to the resolution of the controversies surrounding the nation's Top Level Domain (ccTLD), dot ng, as soon as possible.

Ekuwem sees himself as some one the good Lord has spoiled, not in the negative sense but positive sense of it, because whatever he aspired for God has enabled him to achieve such.

Grateful for this, Ekuwem makes no pretension about his religion. Born a Catholic, his conviction in Catholicism has remained unwavering. This has helped him to use the little resources at his disposal to uplift the less privileged.

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