" ITREALMS: 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

IT firms to incorporate via NCS

NCS awards nite-06: L-R CPN president, Prof. (Mrs) Adenike Osofisan, NCS president, Dr. Chris Nwannenna and chairman of the occasion and Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe at the event. Photo: Remmy Nweke

Hard times await new entrants into the nation’s Information Technology (IT) market, as they now have to first join the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) before proceeding to incorporate their companies at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

CAC is the federal government’s agency in charge of company registrations and allied matters. What this entails is that CAC would probably request NCS’ endorsement before incorporating computer related companies in the country, be it hardware or software.

President, Computer Professionals (Registration Council) of Nigeria (CPN) and associate professor at the University of Ibadan, (Mrs) Adenike Osofisan, gave this signal at this year’s annual Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) award held in Lagos.

Prof. Osofisan in her goodwill message to the event urged IT companies in the country to ensure that they belong to NCS in order to optimise their presence not only in the country, but also in the industry.

She said that they should be wary of the new guideline that makes it compulsory for them to register with NCS before they could be registered as a computer firm in the country.

She also enjoined members of the society to remain steadfast in their contributions to the growth of the country.

According to her CPN and NCS has grown to become inseparable and promised that they would continue in that stead for the benefit of the nation and the industry specifically.

Noting that for anybody to aspire to be a member of CPN, “you have to first of all belong to NCS.”

She pointed out that while NCS is the umbrella body of Nigerian IT professionals, CPN is the regulatory body of its members’ and related activities.

Established by Decree No 49 of 1993, CPN has the mandate to advance the knowledge of computer science, use of computational machinery and techniques related thereof, including the responsibility to control and supervise the profession and determine what standards of knowledge and skills attainable by persons seeking to be members of the profession and improving those standards as at when due or deem appropriate.

Also, CPN is to secure in accordance with provisions establishing it and maintain a register of persons seeking to be registered to practice the profession and publicize the list intermittently.

The council equally has the power to accredit institutions for the purpose of offering courses approved by council as meeting standards and approve courses that meet its standards.

In addition, CPN, which was inaugurated since Friday, March 31, 1995, has the mandate to accredit institutions offering computer science courses and conduct professional examinations as well as award relevant certificates, among others.

However, the Decree makes it illegal for any person either acting as an individual or corporate, who is not registered by CPN and does not hold a valid current license to engage himself in the practice of computing and hold himself out to the public as a member of the profession.

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Microsoft, FG deal to boost local software

Microsoft Corporation has entered a strategic partnership deal with the Federal Government of Nigeria (FG) to give a boost to development of local software industry.

The partnership according to the Public Sector Lead at Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Okey Ikpe has several ways in which the agreement will help to deliver on the government’s goals, noting that one core area is the local development of software.

Speaking after the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the strategic partnership in Abuja recently, Mr. Ikpe explained that the corporation would establish a Microsoft Innovation Centre at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja before the end of next year.

“Primarily to help the Nigerian software industry develop its skills still further,” he said. Mr. Ikpe also said that the centre would provide Information Technology (IT) professionals with solid technical training, offer local partners an opportunity to collaborate with each other or their international counterparts, and help developers to showcase their ‘made in Nigeria’ software.

In addition, he said, the pact would enable the creation of a pool of Nigerians trained as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSEs) in another way.

This, he noted, allows people to use development tools to create software applications that are locally relevant and in turn, stimulates the creation of a local software economy and economic growth of Nigeria.

Mr. Ikpe further said that the ability of government employees to communicate electronically, collaborate across departments and interact with citizens is yet another benefit of the MoU.

“Through the effective use of computer software, internal processes can be simplified, the time taken to meet public demands can be reduced and the public’s overall experience with government can be significantly enhanced,” he said.

Consequently, Microsoft will also be working to make ICT available, accessible, secure and relevant to the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria.

This includes continuing to support programmes such as the Computers for All Nigerians Initiative (CANi); to translating software into local languages such as Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba; and to protecting citizens from the threats of cybercrime.

“Given the importance of e-Government in Africa, we will be working closely with the Federal Government to transfer knowledge from projects implemented successfully in other parts of the world. This is just part of our overall support to help the Federal Government meet its clear commitment to improving accessibility and transparency,” he added.

As said by Ikpe, Microsoft through its subsidiary in Nigeria, would also be driving programmes that enable a broad spectrum in the country for the citizens to gain experience and expertise in ICT.“This includes continued investment in the Partners in Learning technology-in-education investments, as well as the sustainability of digital villages already established across the nation,” he said.

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Computer society honours 12 members

Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) has honoured 12 of its members for outstanding performance during the year under review.

They included Zinox Computers, Omatek computers, Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) Condata Systems Limited, Systemspecs Limited, Labyet Polaris Limited, Infographics Limited, Soft Solutions Limited, Shell Corporation, Adamawa and Bayelsa states government, SeedMark, AllTech Limited, AfriBank, and Accenture among others.

NCS president, Dr. Chris Nwannenna, in his address to the occasion, said that the awards were in three categories, namely for organisations that have distinguished themselves internationally,” those that have supported NCS immensely in the year 2006 and those that have paid their dues regularly.”

Nwannenna called on members to ensure regular payment of their annual dues and financial support to NCS, saying it is very important, stressing that NCS needs everybody’s support to complete its ultra-modern office complex whose construction has begun.

Chairman, Publicity committee of NCS, Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu said that estimated four firms were recognised for winning international awards, eight others for supporting NCS’s events and activities as well as payment of levies regularly.

NCS is the umbrella body of Nigerian IT professionals globally, consisting of the Nigerian IT Professionals in the Americas (NITPA), Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Software Developers Group (SDG), Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS), and Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) among others.

Presided over by the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, the event was graced by the likes of Director-General, National IT Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Cleopas Officer Angaye, represented by Director of Standards at the agency, Dr. Emeka Ezekwesili, Dr. Leo Stand Ekeh of Zinox, Managing director of Omatek, Mrs. Florence Seriki, and her counterpart at Systemspecs, Mr. John Obaro among others dignitaries.

While the awards were handed over to respective winners by the first Vice President, NCS and chief executive Labyet Polaris, Chief Anthony Ayodele and Dr. Ndukwe.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mohammed Jallo receives N15m Celtel prize

Presentation ... L-R chairman, Celtel Nigeria Limited, Mr. Gameliel Onosode, top prize winner of the first Win Your Dream Promo of N15m, Alhaji Hussein Mohammed Jallo, receive his prize, while chief executive, Celtel Nigeria, Mr. Bayo Ligali at the event. Photo: Remmy Nweke

Penlultimate Tuesday was a date with fortune for a former Commissioner for Environment in Kaduna State, Alhaji Husseni Mohammed Jallo, when he received the N15 million ‘Big Dream prize’ in the Celtel Nigeria’s ‘Win Your Dream Promo.’

ITRealms Online recalls that Alhaji Jallo emerged top-prize winner at the first weekly draw of the promo and was promptly presented with the prize by Celtel’s Chairman, Mr. Gamaliel Onosode, at a presentation ceremony in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Alhaji Jallo was presented prize along side 30 other winners of mini dreams, who carted away N250,000 each.

Celtel’s Chairman, Mr. Onosode said that the promo was just the beginning of good things to come, stressing that Nigerians should watch out for more innovative projects from the telco.

Mr. Onosode, who was accompanied at the presentation of the top prize by the chief executive, Celtel Nigeria, Mr. Bayo Ligali, also said that winners in other regions of the country would equally receive their prizes at Celtel locations nationwide.

He reiterated that Celtel is committed to change the lives of Nigerian subscribers for the better.

In his remark, chief executive, Celtel Nigeria, Mr. Ligali, noted that the presentation was in fulfilment of Celtel’s promise to make the lives of Nigerians better on entrance into the nation’s telecommunications market.

“Win Your Dream Promo is an exciting and life-changing experience for customers,” he declared.

Mr. Ligali further said that with the telco fully on ground in the country, Nigerian subscribers should aim high by dreaming of a better life, saying that Celtel would assist them to ensure that such dreams are realised.

Pointing out that it is only a company that cares that can offer its subscribers such a helping hand to better their lives.

The promo, which began five weeks ago has so far witnessed over 120,087 winners cutting across two winners of N15million (Big Dream); 65 winners of the N250, 000 (Mini Dream); 20 winners of N5,000 monthly airtime; 20,000 winners of N500 airtime; 50,000 winners of N200 airtime and 50,000 winners of N100 airtime.

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e-Waste worries United Nations

Worried by the spate of increase rate of electronic waste (e-waste) especially to developing countries, member governments of United Nations-sponsored global pact on the transport and disposal of hazardous waste have agreed to accelerate their efforts to reduce the impact and damage.

Participants a the just ended week-long conference in Nairobi on the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, delegates reportedly pledged to introduce pilot projects to take back used electronic products and to strengthen collaborative efforts to fight illegal traffickers.

The participants at the confab held with the support of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), under whose auspices the Basel Convention was adopted, said it expected a formal declaration to be issued committing governments to work towards improving their policies and prodding industry to pursue “green design.”

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Communications department reports that the conference heard how a rising global tide of electronic waste, especially in developing countries, poses serious environmental risks because of the wide range of dangerous pollutants they can contain, from heavy metals to chlorine compounds.

UNEP also informed that about 50 million metric tones of electronic waste are currently being generated every year because of the growing demand for computers, televisions, radios, mobile phones among other consumer electronics.

It was further gathered that many of these products were discarded because they are deemed to be obsolete or defunct.

Addressing participants, Executive Director, UNEP, Mr. Achim Steiner said it is important that governments develop more effective regulatory regimes so that the market has incentives to respond more positively to the issue of electronic waste.

“By partnering with the private sector and with civil society, they can promote collection chains that channel obsolete goods back to their original manufacturers for recovery and recycling,” he declared.

Estimated 120 governments and members of UN took part in the eight Basel Convention held in Nairobi.

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Telcos may spoil for war with FCTA over demolition

Telecommunications companies in the country may be spoiling for war with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).

This follows the demolition at the weekend of Base Transceiver Station (BTS) sites of telecom companies located in the FCT for alleged failure to pay what the administration was demanding as tax, which is in the neighbourhood of N3 million per annum.

BTS is equipment facilitating wireless communications between mobile stations, such as mobile phones or handsets and a given network. The network could be that of any of the wireless communication technologies like the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), Code

Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Wireless in Local Loop (WLL) to name a few; which contains the equipment for transmitting and receiving of radio signals (transceivers), antennas, and equipment for encrypting and decrypting communications with the Base Station Controller (BSC).

ITRealms Online gathered that penultimate Friday, FCTA management commenced demolition of BTS sites of telcos, which was in defiant to an earlier directive by the federal government that all matters concerning communications should be the sole reserve of the Communications Ministry (MoC) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Sources close to telcos in Abuja, especially the Global System for Moble communication (GSM) operators confirmed this to our correspondent.

“The FCTA on Friday, December 8, 2006 began the demolition of BTS sites of our member companies, in defiant to an earlier directive by the FGN that such matters concerning communications should be the exclusive reserve of the Ministry of Communications and the NCC,” our source declared.

It was also gathered that FCTA’s action was an attempt to coerce telecommunications companies to members pay what our source described as “heavy taxes for operating in the FCT.”

This, it was gathered was alleged an attempt to force telcos to embrace collocation arrangement with some private companies that are independent of telcos, which our sources defined as “arrangement that is commercially unviable and technologically unfeasible.”

Reacting to the reports, chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and General Manager of VGC Communications Limited, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, condemned the demolition, stating that the implication may have a far reaching effect on telecommunications services in and outside the FCT environs.

Speaking via the Publicity Secretary, Mr. Damian Udeh, ALTON chairman urged the government to put a stop to the FCTA demolition exercise.

He emphasized that the destruction may negatively influence on growth of the sector country-wide and Abuja precisely.

“The kind of gangsterism being exhibited in FCTA has not manifested in Lagos, saying they should be mindful of the security impact to the federal capital, being the seat of power,” he said.

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MultiChoice’s bouquet for 20 Nigerian schools

MultiChoice Nigeria has advanced plans to roll out its Multichoice Resource Centre Programme (MCRP) through the Digital Satellite Television (DSTv) educational bouquet in 20 schools nationwide

This addition would bring the number of participating schools in the country to a total of 41.

General Manager, MultiChoice Nigeria, Mr. Collins Khumalo, disclosed this in Lagos, and said that in the next few months, this figure would be actualised.

“MultiChoice Nigeria is currently planning the roll out of another 20 schools in the next few months to reach a total of 41 schools throughout the country,” he declared.

Although he did not give details on the schools, but assured that they would be structured to have a national spread, just as the project has been up and running in about 21 schools.

MCRP is part of a community development strategy to leverage on MultiChoice assets and expertise for development and growth of African communities in the various countries in which
MultiChoice is operating, just as it’s aligned with the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD’s) e-Schools initiative.

MultiChoice Africa, in co-operation with relevant stakeholders, offers the DStv education bouquet at no cost to schools in a number of other African countries, including Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia.

Locally in Nigeria, he said, MRCP is executed in collaboration with the Education Ministry and SchoolNet Nigeria, while participating schools were provided with television, video recorders and satellite decoders required to access the bouquet as well as teachers receiving training on integrating the resources into their lessons.

The DStv education bouquet, he explained, comprises of seven premium channels, National Geography, Discovery Channel, History Channel, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Africa, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) world, Animal Planet and Activate, thus leveraging on combining the sound and imagery of television to support teaching and learning.

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CAMP completes work on Campcaster 1.1

Campcaster 1.1 version code-named ‘Freetown’ has been completed and is available for download at the Campware website www.campware.org.

Head, Research and Development at Center for Advanced Media, Prague (CAMP), Mr. Douglas Arellanes, informed that the freeware hitherto known as ‘LiveSupport,’ Campcaster, is free and open source software for managing radio stations' broadcasts, archives and networking.

He said that Campcaster 1.1 includes a number of important improvements and new features, most notably the ability to allow stations to quickly and easily share programme content through the Internet.

“It also has undergone major revisions that give it greatly improved stability, speed and user-friendliness,” Mr. Arellanes said, just as CAMP team would be in Freetown, Sierra Leone to install Campcaster to Cornet, a network of community radio stations.

“We have already gotten confirmation that a number of other stations have begun installing and extending Campcaster, and we will regularly update the Campware site as we hear about new implementations,” he said.

According to him, community radio stations in Sierra Leone and in other emerging democracies will be powered by the latest release of the free and open source Campcaster software.

Campcaster, as said by him, is free and open source software that turns a PC running the free Linux operating system into an essential tool for radio broadcasting. In a user-friendly way, it enables both automated broadcast at preset dates and times, as well as allowing “live” playout from the studio.

At the same time, it also enables the exchange of radio program material both online and off-line, and provides a stable, secure, extensible archive server for storing, searching and retrieving program content.

Campcaster 1.1, code-named “Freetown,” was built with conditions in difficult environments such as Sierra Leone in mind to provide very stable playout, and runs on Linux.

He equally noted that Campcaster's relevance is not limited to the developing world as stations in the developed world are starting to adapt the system to their own needs.

For example, Vienna, Austria's Radio Orange is adapting Campcaster's playout system to work with its existing digital archive, while in Hungary, a network of independent radio stations is integrating Campcaster's storage server into its IKRA project, a generic public website engine for radio stations.

He explained that customised integration was made available because all of the Campcaster software is free and open source, stations are free to adapt it to their individual needs, but are strongly encouraged to share their efforts with others.

Managing Director, Media Development Loan Fund's Center for Advanced Media Prague (CAMP), coordinating the Campware initiative, Sava Tatić, said it provides features that used to be only available in extremely expensive commercial radio systems.

“We believe there is a strong north-south aspect to using and extending Campcaster,” Tatić added. “Every time a station in North America or Europe adapts and extends Campcaster, stations in places like Sierra Leone benefit,” Tatic noted.

Emphasising that an international team of software developers, user interface designers, media activists and radio professionals have worked for more than 12 months on the 1.1 “Freetown” release.

Campware representatives have coordinated their work with the Cornet community radio network on the software, and members of the development team will travel to Freetown, Sierra Leone later this month to provide training to partners implementing and servicing Campcaster locally.
Campcaster 1.1 “Freetown” is the latest release from the Media Development Loan Fund's Campware Initiative, which creates free and open source tools for independent media in emerging democracies.Initial funding for Campcaster has been provided by a grant from the Open Society Institute, stressing that the tools are all free and available for download at the Campware website at www.campware.org. Developers and technically-minded users can visit the developers' page at http://code.campware.org/projects/campcaster.

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2 Honda cars for Glo postpaid subscribers

As prepaid subscribers of Glo mobile, the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) subsidiary of Globacom, continue to strive for the ownership of the 40 Glo Honda cars based on patronage of recently introduced N750 recharge card denomination, the telco has mapped out additional two Honda models for those on postpaid platform.

Latest recharge denomination launched early this month enables subscribers to qualify for the telco’s end-of-year seasonal promo tagged “N750 Recharge Promo” of which 40 Honda Accord cars will be won for subscribers on prepaid.

With the addition of two cars specifically for its postpaid customers, Glo Mobile said it is a special package to also enable these subscribers to benefit from the promo.

It would be recalled that in most telecom markets, prepaid subscribers outrun postpaid subscribers.

Globacom in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, said that the debut of the postpaid promo is to afford its subscribers on the platform to benefit from the season’s promo.

The promotion, which began December 1, 2006 for the postpaid platform, the telco said be on till January 31, 2007.

Also, Glo said a postpaid customers require to use a minimum of N10,000 airtime per month in December, 2006, and January, 2007 to qualify for the draw in the race for Honda cars.

Recently joined postpaid subscribers, the telco said, have the same opportunity to win if they activate their lines from December and use up minimum N10,000 worth of airtime per month between December 06 and January 07.

According to the telco, this promo balances its on-going N750 recharge promo for prepaid subscribers, where it is anticipated that 40 new Honda Accord cars would be won.

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Symbols goes off-shore

Award winning Nigerian financial software, Symbols, would soon hit the international markets, according to indications from the proprietor, Progenics Corp Limited.

Managing Director of Progenics Corp Limited, Mr. Tony Udoh, gave this indication at the presentation of the best indigenous software prize won by Symbols at the just concluded fifth Nigerian Information Technology and Telecommunications Awards (NITTA-06) in Lagos.

Although he was sketchy over the details, Mr. Udoh said that the overture internationally on Symbols, is a signal of its acceptance in Nigeria and beyond.

“It is worthy of note that more firms both within and outside the country are already expressing their interest in Symbols,” he said.

This is coming as he the software signed estimated 15 firms this year alone.

These firms, he said, cut across investment and stock broking entities, including Zenith Securities, IBTC Asset Management, Fidelity Union Securities, Spring Capital, Greenwich Trust, Meristem Securities, UBA Asset Management, to name a few.

He expressed hope that before the end of next quarter, the deals with international concerns would be concluded, noting that the efforts are in line with the federal government’s drive to place Nigeria in the forefront of world’s technological giants.

He declared that at Progenics, they are proudly Nigerian and determined to consistently bring glory to the nation.

“We appreciate NITTA for recognising the impact and the contribution of Symbols to the investment and financial sector of the economy and honour us with this award, “ Mr. Udoh said.

Pointing out that the award was very timely, especially now that the firm is celebrating its 10th year anniversary.

He assured that success is another name for Progenics as the company would not rest on its oars, but would be prepared to put in more efforts than ever before.

He further listed the core modules of Symbols to include system administration, customer information system, general ledger, customer accounting and stock broking and portfolio management.

While Symbols also has some optional modules consisting of image management, credit management, investment management, Internet-based customer service delivery, fixed asset management and payroll management.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Typing, a prerequisite for ICT literacy

Features of the week:

Computer literacy has been canvassed as the root for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) emancipation and the need to catch them young for the 21st century has driven calls for computer literacy to begin at homes and at early ages, reports REMMY NWEKE.

Illiterate workforce:

Ms Hope Bamgboye is a working media practitioner in her late 20s, every other day at work she would depend on a colleague, Mazi Nebife, whom she met during their employment interview, to help her access an electronic mail he had created for her since both joined the company few months back.

One sunny afternoon, Mazi Nebife was busy when Ms Hope called on him to assist as usual to access her mail and other Internet related operations. This particular day, Mazi Nebife decided to tell her the home truth by first informing her of his being extremely busy and second, by giving her a keyboard to study, advising that it is the key to the future.

Nebife also made it clear to her that if she really wants to remain viable on the job, she must know how to use the keyboard, moreso as a media practitioner.

He went on to give an instance when at an international conference, reporters had not only to access their mails by themselves but also work on their stories and send it online to their local offices.

PC @ homes:

In order to avert the supposed embarrassment Ms Hope received, coupled with what he saw at the Internet cafes in the country, whereby children of school ages, who happen to be Internet savvy pick on the keyboard to write or reply to messages online, chairman, The Executive Cyberschuul, Lagos, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu cried out to mothers to take advantage of the federal government’s assisted purchase programme (GAPP) to ensure that they have Personal Computers at homes.

In addition, Mr. Omo-Ettu suggested that they should use it to teach the younger ones during what could be tagged ‘home studies,’ at least, for them to master the keyboard, which he described as the first real step in today’s adaptation to ICT tools.

As postulated by him, given the number of women in our 21st century society, mothers should be able to impact on the younger ones how to manipulate the keyboards while they are still at elementary schools.

Digital mothers:

Speaking at this year’s annual gathering of spouses of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Mr. Omo-Ettu in a paper entitled “Digital Mothers” said that it is baffling to see the number of youths accessing the web at cybercafes, saying he was not particular on what they do but how they do it.

“I can sleep with the idea of people of my age picking their ways on the key board like albinos do in the sun but I get angry when young people in their teens and twenties do no better,” he lamented.

He pointed out that this was much visible in spite of the remarkable impact Nigeria has made in the campaign on awareness of the Internet in the last ten years.

“We apparently made the mistake of not specifying typing as a prerequisite for our youths’ formal education and from toddler ages,” he declared.

Typing, a prerequisite:

As said by him, stakeholders often talk of computer literacy without stressing to the governments that such literacy actually begins from ability to type proficiently on the keyboard.

He said lack of this was the bane of proper empowerment of professionals in today Nigeria, stressing, “That is why we have ended up producing engineers, doctors and journalists who use one finger to pick their ways on keyboards.”

Mr. Omo-Ettu expressed optimism that this generational error could be reversed in no distant future.

“I feel passionately about the subject, I must confess. And I believe we can reverse it completely in the next 10 years if we face it squarely,” he asserted, advising that the school curriculum must correct it firmly and that should be the message this time around.

The political class, he charged, should assume the responsibility of making computer literacy a 100 per cent campaign concept as the nation’s general election draws nearer.

“Whoever among the politicians is unable to deliver 100 per cent literacy in two terms is not fit to lead us,” he submitted.

Catch them @ 3yrs:

He emphasised that by 2015, if every child of school age could type proficiently at the age of 11, the nation would be the best for it.

“Thus able to surf the web – not by picking letters on the keyboard but by typing skillfully even if blindfolded. This is fundamentally important because if children grow up to see computing and its applications as part of their daily lives - just like the television, digital video display (DVD) player, mobile phones, and maybe iPods for some; and not as another piece of technological innovation, the nation can groom a new generation of youth who can favourably compete with their peers, globally,” he said.

For the Managing Director, New Horizons Limited, an IT training outfit, Mr. Tim Akano, while lauding GAPP known as Computer for All Nigerian Initiative (CANi), said that the best option for the nation is to ensure that computer literacy begins at the ages of three and four. He stressed, “Just get the magic box – computer system, for the kids to start.”

The Programme Director, CANi, Mr. Soji Romeo also agrees that improved computer literacy skill and knowledge in the country would increase productivity and reduce cost to employers and staff turnover level in the country.

For the chief executive, PiNet Limited, Mr. Lanre Ajayi, there are lots of educational materials available online and off line accessible through the use of computer, which could be applied at different levels of education. Advocating that kids must take advantage of these resources if possible at the age of 2 or even below.

He stressed that the importance of typing in today’s ICT literacy drive, is the most popular input devise to computers these days, thus, “Ability to type and to type quickly gives an advantage in interacting with the computer much better.”

Nigerian keyboard layouts:

Equally nowadays, there are localised Nigerian keyboards that could be deployed in pushing this dream further in the event of the potential user not being conversant with English.

Numerous efforts were made in the past centred on keyboards comprising ALT-I Yoruba Keyboard, Paradigm Lingua Software, Konyin keyboards, YorubaOK, NITDA keyboard driver, among others.

For instance, the www.learnyoruba.com/keyboard.htm enables Bis Bus International, the promoters to engender growth in the use of the Yoruba language in a multimedia format on the World Wide Web (www). This was a goal being pushed by Mr. James Kass in collaboration with Dr. Adebusola Onayemi, resulting in the release of freeware font - YorubaOK.ttf; designed for typing Yoruba text on the computer keyboard thus making it achievable to render Yoruba in its full acceptable orthographic form that is complete with all the characters of its alphabet, accent cum diacritic marks inclusive.

Also in early 2005, Lancor, a Nigerian-based Information Technology (IT) marketing firm led Mr. Ade Oyegbola as the chief executive, introduced Konyin developed by a United States-based Nigerian engineer. It offers a range of keyboards for Latin-alphabet and African languages, with an QWERTY layout model of keyboard. Konyin could serve as the bridge for languages used officially in various countries in the continent, beginning with Nigeria, which has over 250 languages but has written English, Edo, Efik, Hausa, Fulani, Igbo, Kanuri and Yoruba.

Konyin, a keyboard technology that represents a compelling replacement of the standard 104-key boards, could be find at www.konyin.com/products/nig/konyin.

Typing tutors:

An online search on Yahoo would probably reveal over 1,030,000 topics on typing tutor; from Mr. Kent to Typing Master, Free Touch Typing Programmes down to Typing Web, to name a few, but this shows the importance of typing in 21st century; be it typing on PCs or sending a Short Messaging Service (SMS), typing has assumed a unique position in today ICT evolution.

Days are gone when those who attended what is known as ‘commercial colleges’ bemuse their luck in being among those blessed with the ‘skills for the future.’

The fact, expert said is that those who were fortunate to attend commercial colleges have a better opportunity of doing well in typing, which is seen as a core subject in such schools, therefore positioning them to take over from those who call themselves ‘mere professional.’

It is no surprising therefore that no matter what the professionals may do, commercial college graduates act as their secretary, thereby having the so called professionals’ future in their fingertips.

The earlier the Ministry of Education-led by Dr. (Mrs.) Oby Ezekwesili understands this fact and makes haste to inculcate same in the system and school curricular by making it a compulsory subject, the better for the nation and this could be a mile stone for the government.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Spam on agenda @ Telecom World-06

In order to get rid of spam in today’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts took time to deliberate on the way forward at the on-going International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-organised Telecom World 2006, holding in Hong Kong.

"Spam" as related to electronic mails (e-mail) means Unsolicited Bulk Email (UBE) and a message is Spam only if simply sent in bulk to unsolicited Internet users, most of the time, for commercial purposes.

The one-day session “Towards a Spam-Free Digital Society” ITU said would hold Friday, December 8, on the theme, "Countering Spam Cooperation Agenda."

ITU also said that some key international and regional organizations as well as experts involved in the fight against spam have been summoned in Hong Kong to discuss greater collaborative efforts to battle spam and related threats.

A number of organizations worldwide are actively engaged in the fight against spam, but a solution cannot be found unless these organizations share knowledge of the work they have undertaken to date, pinpoint potential overlaps and cooperate to address the gaps. Unsolicited commercial communications by e-mail represent a major plague threatening the Digital World.

This workshop will consider specific practical next steps that can be taken to work toward a common countering spam cooperation agenda.

The first symptoms of spam were mild irritation to users. Now the disease has progressed to the point where spammers are sending billions of messages per day, choking off the legitimate email correspondence that needs to flow freely within and between organizations and all inhabitants of the Digital World.

Today, spam represents around 90 per cent of all electronic mail (email) messages.

Deputy Head, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit, Mr. Robert Shaw, said "Monty Python's new musical Spamalot might be hot fare in the comedy fan's world, but for the Digital World spam is no laughing matter. Not only is it a nuisance, it is now the primary mechanism to deliver viruses used to hijack millions of home computers which are then used without their owner's know to relay on even more spam.”

In what he also described as "zombie armies" are used to send out "phishing" attacks intended to dupe unwary users to give up personal financial details which are nowadays used to siphon money out of their back accounts.

"Spam has got to be canned. People are losing their life savings and suffering credit problems, and businesses losing vital sales and customer trust because of downtime. Above all, it has seriously undermined user confidence in online activities, hampering the development of the digital economy. The organizations represented in this event have got a message to the world's top spammers: no matter where you are in the world, we are going to work closely together to track you down and put you out of business," he assured.

The event would be an assemble of top experts in the field who would share information on the very latest trends in scams, malware and fraud, just as the meeting would opened by ITU Deputy Secretary-General Roberto Blois, who will emphasize that it represents a reinforcement of ITU's growing focus on cyber security issues.

The event will be chaired by Constance Bommelaer, Manager of Public Policy for the Internet Society (ISOC) and encompasses a series of sessions.

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More students own cars in Glo promo

More students have continued to own cars in the Globacom’s 180 cars in 180 days promo.

The latest were the three students, namely, Demehin Monday Festus of the University of Ado Ekiti in Ekiti State, Modupe Olasumbo Ogunlolu of The Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro and Oduwole Adejumoke Adepeju of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State.

Also, Abdullah Segun, a student of the Babcock University, Ilishan Remo won a 5KVA generator while 19 others from various institutions across the western part of the country emerging with cash prizes of N25,000 each.

Speaking at the presentation at University of Ado Ekiti, the telco received kudos from the Vice Chancellor, Professor Olatunji Orubuloye.

Prof. Orubuloye, who was the special guest of honour commended Globacom for living up to its promise to its subscribers.

He expressed optimism that the draws were in no way stage-managed, he congratulated the company, noting that it had won Nigerians’ confidence with its products and services, which are among the best in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria.

“The fact that you brought per second billing system when others insisted that it was impossible warmed you into the hearts of Nigerians,” he declared.

Prof Orubuloye pointed out that Globacom, within its few years of existence had identified more with Nigerians than all others in the telecommunications market, urging the telco to remain dedicated to the people while appealing to others in the sector to take a cue from the second national operator.

Jumoke Oduwole, one of the winners said she was impressed with the fact that Globacom has in the last three years made its subscribers to be proud of what the company meant to telecommunications in the country.

“Globacom brought several innovations to bear on the industry and has set a trend which others are struggling to meet”, she said.

Modupe Ogunlolu who said she found it hard to believe that she was a car owner, showered encomiums on Globacom for being the vehicle to what she termed her “end of the year gift from God.”

Regional Manager, at Globacom for Ibadan region one, Mr. Lorenzo Gomez, restated the telco’s resolve to compensation as many Nigerians as possible with the promo as well as empower most of them with its products and services.

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ICT Empowerment Network makes a debut

Intercontinental collaboration of partners to support empowerment through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and micro-credit financing for the poor, has made a debut.

The framework to be known as ICT Empowerment Network is a partnership between Grameen Bank, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Cisco Systems, Qualcomm and latest consortium, Enclusion.

The network is part of the partners support to the Connect the World Initiative of ITU.

Managing Director of Grameen Bank and Nobel Prize laureate, Prof. Muhammad Yunus, disclosed this at a session at the on-going ITU-organised Telecom World 2006 in Hong Kong.
Prof. Yunus noted that there is need to urge the international community into action, hence the network and expressed gratitude to ITU for facilitating the dream.

"This is just the beginning of an exciting, new, open collaboration and I encourage others to join us in this global effort," he said.

He explained that the network represents the first concrete area of collaboration flowing from a broader agreement signed by Professor Yunus and out-going ITU Secretary-General, Yoshio Utsumi, earlier on Monday this week.

He stressed that this agreement opens the door to broader cooperation between the two organizations, with the aim of combining Grameen's micro-credit expertise with ITU's experience in implementing ICT development programmes and partnerships.

Emphasising that ICT Empowerment Network seeks to implement the vision outlined by Prof. Yunus when he received the ITU World Information Society Award on 17 May 2006.

During his acceptance speech, Prof. Yunus invited global ICT companies to take part in a worldwide effort in combining their strengths to support ICTs with micro-credit financing to assist the poor in earning sustainable incomes.

He pointed out that in order to ensure the success of the initiative, Grameen would reach out to more than 3,000 micro-finance organizations and 100 million borrowers globally, while ITU will use the support and participation of its 191 member states and some 650 private sector members from around the world.

"This is a truly powerful partnership that will yield benefits for years to come," ITU Secretary-General, Yoshio Utsumi noted following the signing of the agreement.

"From the moment we heard him speak last May, the entire ITU team was motivated to work with Grameen to help make Professor Yunus' vision of empowering the underprivileged with ICTs and micro-credit a reality," he added.

ITU further said that the network would consist of numerous independent, self-financed groups of partners that collaborate either in physical centres or virtually.

Each group will focus on at least one of three work streams, namely, ICT solutions, sustainable business models, and capacity building.

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UNESCO conducts survey on IFAP

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has commenced a survey on its inter-agency entity, the Information For All Programme (IFAP).

The survey UNESCO said would enable it to review IFAP activities and acceptance to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) community globally.

According to the Project Leader at the Information Society Institute (TISI) of Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town in South Africa, Dr. Michael Gurstein, the project is being supervised by TISI.

He also informed that the survey could be located at
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?A=163227117E81962 would to give the organisers some information concerning stakeholders’ perspective on IFAP and other related activities.

Dr. Gurstein also said that the questionnaire should not take more than 15 minutes and should be seen as help to UNESCO in determining how best to position IFAP for future development toward an Information Society for All.

He also revealed that the survey would end Friday, December 8, this year.

It would be recalled that IFAP prides itself as the only intergovernmental programme within UNESCO, that is, exclusively dedicated to promoting universal access to information and knowledge for development, even as they sees its implementation process as a key in building knowledge societies.

The uniqueness of this mandate and its intergovernmental nature invest the Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Programme with the authority to speak on strategic priorities and to lobby and create awareness about issues pertaining to the use of information and ICT for development at the international level.

IFAP is currently led by award winning chairman, Laurence Zwimpfer.

Historically, various activities led to what is today known as IFAP, beginning with the UNESCO discovery of the need to define its place in the information society, precisely within the framework of the former General Information Programme (PGI) and the Intergovernmental Informatics Programme (IIP).

Hitherto, experts said that information revolution resulted in an overlap of the two programmes, which have been increasingly concentrating their activities in two main areas; first, on content for the information society, and second on actions necessary to build "infostructure" for this evolving society through training, the establishment of information policies and the promotion of networking.

And as at January 1, 2001, when IFAP replaced the PGI and IIP based on the resolution passed at Decision 3.6.1 and taken at the 160th session of UNESCO's executive board.

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ATMC targets 1,000 ATMs in 3 years

Pioneer off-site independent Automated Teller Machines (ATM) deployer in the country, ATM Consortium (ATMC) Limited, has concluded plans to live up to its goal of deploying estimated 1,000 ATMs, within three years of its operations.

Managing Director of ATMC, Mr. Noble Ekajeh, who disclosed this to our correspondent, said that his firm has ordered for 200 ATMs to boost the number of its systems on the ground from its current 146 to 346 before the end of April next year.

This, he said, was facilitated by the Export-Import Bank of America (EX-IM Bank), $5 million advance, basically for its deployment of QuickCash brands of ATMs in the country.

Mr. Ekajeh also said that ATMC, which is in its one and half years of operation has installed QuickCash ATMs in seven cities nationwide, including Abuja, Benin, Enugu, Ibadan, Kaduna, Lagos and Port-Harcourt.

He equally said disclosing that one key challenge facing the emerging electronic payment solution is lack of logistics, infrastructure and capital.

According to him, ATM business is a capital-intensive investment, noting that lack of core human resources for the industry is another obstacle for the growth of the industry.

He further said that ATMC plan is that average Nigeria coming home at this seasons, should be able to use their electronic payment cards locally in the country.Additionally to operate and manage a network of ATMs under the trademark QuickCash, ATMC provides operations and management services for third-party machines.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

NITTA presents prizes to media awardees

PRESENTATION: NITTA-06 and Sony Ericsson recently presented prizes to winners and finalists at this year's event for media practitioners. L-r National Sales Account Manager, Sony Ericsson Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Nkpa congratulating Mr. Remmy Nweke the first runner up in the print category as the chief executive, Novelpotta Y & R, Mr. Celey Okogun presents the prize. With them (extreme right) is the Editor-in-chief of IT & Telecom Digest, organisers of NITTA, Mr. Mkpe Abang at the occasion.

Five media practitioners that excelled themselves at the Nigerian Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunications Awards 2006 (NITTA-06) were Friday, presented their prizes in Lagos.

Also consolation prizes were presented to the entrants of this year’s edition.

The five practitioners include Messrs Elvis Eromosele of the Financial Standard and Don Pedro Aganbi of ICT Africa on NTA, who emerged the Best ICT Reporters for print and electronics respectively with a prize of Sony Ericsson P990i each.

Equally Messrs Remmy Nweke of Daily Champion and Chris Njoku of BroadStreet Journal, named the first and second runners up for the print category as well as Mr. Tayo Adewusi of ICT Watch on Minaj Broadcasting International (MBI) who was the first runner up for electronic category received each a Sony Ericsson k750i among the consolation prizes for entrants.

Speaking at the presentation, Editor-in-chief of IT & Telecom Digest, organisers of the event, Mr. Mkpe Abang lauded the entire entrants for taking the step and also encouraged others still lagging to brace the exercise as it would help in lifting up the quality and credibility of Nigerian journalism and particularly the reporting of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in the country.

National Sales Manager for Sony Ericsson Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Nkpa, said that one key reason his firm decided to partner with NITTA was based on the credibility it has attained for itself over the past five years it has existed in the country and specifically for the ICT industry.

He also enjoined members of the media to feel free to approach his office for any information and co-operation they may need in the terms of accelerating their work by ensuring that adequate and correct information is passed on to the public.

Mr. Nkpa further said that one thing that has stand the nation’s ICT environment out is the unique challenges and congratulated the media for upholding the credibility that NITTA envisioned.

Equally at the occasion, the Managing Director, Novelpotta Y & R, Mr. Celey Okogun, advised media practitioners to always improve on their work so as to sustain the tempo of media participation at this 21st century evolutions, moreso in the country.

This, he said, could be achieved by taking the counsels of the panel of judges with the spirit of sportsmanship and sticking to correct the outlines as listed by the judges of this year’s event, which would assist them in getting international recognitions.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

ITU releases report on Digital Life

International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has finalised plans to release its latest report on the effects of ‘Digital Life’ at the agency’s organised Telecom World holding in Hong Kong.

Head, ITU's Strategy and Policy Unit, Mr. Tim Kelly made this disclosure, saying that the 200-page ITU

The themes, Mr. Kelly pointed out form the centrepiece of a new 200 page ITU report, to be released at ITU Telecom World, entitled "Digital.Life" even as 11 themes of discussion has been mapped out for the session.

Also, Chairman and founder of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), Prof. Nicholas Negroponte, has been listed among keynote speakers at ‘Digital Lifestyles’ along with eight others.

The speakers drawn from leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) firms, government and academic, also include

Chairman, Fujitsu, Naoyuki Akikusa; chief executive, Research in Motion/Blackberry, Jim Balsillie; President and Director, Hitachi, Kazuo Furukawa, Chief executive, Hewlett Packard (HP) Mr. Mark Hurd, Senior Vice President, Microsoft, Mr Pieter Knook; Executive Vice President, Intel, Sean Maloney; President and Chairman, KDDI, Tadashi Onodera; Chairman, Artificial Life, Eberhard Schoneberg, and the chief executive of China Netcom, Xunsheng Zuo, as well as Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, and Second Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts, Singapore, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

ITU informed through its Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU, Mr. Sanjay Acharya, that the assembly on Digital Life session would examine how 'digital' the world has become and explore what types of technologies that could expect to shape lives in the future.

“Digital Lifestyles is one of three of the ITU Telecom Forum domains, each designed to enable a closer look at a different aspect of our Digital World,” Mr. Acharya said in a press statement made available to our correspondent.

ITU, he also said the choice of this session, is an attempt to keep pace with the rapid advances in Digital Lifestyle technologies, which he noted is not an easy task, but with increasing demand for new converged services and ever-more sophisticated applications, staying ahead is essential.

He further said that deliberations has been structured to focus on 11 themes central to Digital Lifestyles, by raising a number of key questions that the ICT industry is searching for answers to.

He equally quoted the Head, ITU's Strategy and Policy Unit, Mr. Tim Kelly, as saying that the themes have been chosen to illustrate market trends that are of critical importance to consumers and businesses, as well as to raise some of the challenges that living in a digital world present.

The 11 themes for the session comprise ‘Anywhere, anytime, by anyone and anything: the "4A Vision" of a ubiquitous network society’; ‘Multiple Play: Are today's technologies flexible enough to supply what customers really want? And how should these services be marketed and priced?’ ‘The Digital Generation: are today's service providers really in-tune with the needs of the digital generation?’ ‘Managing our Changing Digital Lifestyles: how can interfaces to the digital world be simplified to make access available to all?’ and ‘Broadband for All: What are the consequences of possible exclusion from broadband internet access for rural and remote communities?’ ‘The Digital Home: Are wireless networks the best solution for linking together the different members of the household, and the different rooms?’ ‘Digital Lifestyles @ Work: As our personal and professional lives are merging, and boundaries blurring, what type of tools will be available to help us to manage our lifestyles and work teams?’ and ‘Digital Lifestyles @ Play: how will ubiquitous networks change the way we access the internet, create and record ideas, read books, watch movies or even participate in sporting events over Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks?

Others are ‘My Mobile Phone for My Lifestyle: the mobile phone of today is a highly sophisticated device, completely unrecognizable from that of a few years ago. How will it continue to evolve?’ ‘The Connected Workforce: what is the impact of a distributed workforce on workers, management and firms?’ ‘IPTV: Can broadband networks really become the platform for the delivery of voice, video and internet access into the home?’ ‘Contributing an additional perspective to the debate will be panellists from a range of companies and organizations including Alcatel, BT Group, Cisco, IBM, Herbert Smith, Lucent, SMART technologies, Symantec and Star TV.’

ITU also emphasised that a range of experts have been selected to moderate each of the eleven sessions, based on their extensive experience within the field of ICT, plus their ability to bring a unique perspective to the discussion.

They include Charles Henshaw, Director and CEO, China Mobile People's Telephone Company, Dr Norman Lewis, Director of Technology research, Orange Home UK, Professor Eli Noam, Professor, Finance & Economics and Director, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, Columbia University; Leslie Arathoon, Director of research, Pyramid Research; Thomas J Ramsey, Partner, Squire, Sanders and Dempsey.

Along with the world's top ICT companies, a number of industry bodies and non-commercial organizations will be represented among panellists and speakers. These include the Open Mobile Alliance and the UMTS Forum.

Expert views from the world of academia and research will also be delivered from Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute Company Limited, Mehran University of Engineering & Technology, Pakistan, and the University of Fribourg.

While leading industry analysts Camille Mendler of Yankee Group and Chris Lewis of Ovum will also give their perspective to discussions.

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There’s no bullet-proof network system – Nwabueze

Executive chairman of United States-based Sage Metrics Corporation and a member of US Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), Mr. Ken Emeka Nwabueze, has said that there is nothing like a bullet-proof network system.

Speaking as a special guest in his keynote address to the just concluded “Law Enforcement and National Security in the Digital Economy” organised by the Nigerian Cybercrime Working Group (NCWG) in the nation’s capital, Abuja, he noted that providing a secured cyberspace is a complex and evolving challenge.

“Hence, there is no such thing as bullet proof network system,” he asserted.

Nigerian-born Advisor to the United States President, also buttressed his point with the January 2003 ‘slammer worm ‘ which was reported to had infected 90 per cent of vulnerable computers globally within 10 minutes of its release on the Internet.

This, he said, severely degraded Bank of America’s Automated Teller Machines (ATM) network causing billions of dollar damages.

Equally, he said, that in the US, a hacker released intentionally hundreds of thousands of gallons of putrid sludge from the wastewater system and 17 per cent of the `100 companies surveyed reported being the target of some form of cyber extortion.

He pointed out that in February 2005, PCAST committee on “Cybersecurity: A crisis of Prioritisations” noted that Information Technology “infrastructure of the United States is highly vulnerable to terrorist and criminal attacks.”

Mr. Nwabueze went on to say that cybercrime are issues of national security, which is beyond mere electronic commerce, web browsing, and other basic online activities.

Lack of adequate national cyber security policy and systems, he said, would impact negatively on the economy and at large the society.

Therefore, it requires close collaboration with key sectors of the economy that relies on cyberspace such as governments at all levels, colleges and universities, banks and corporation as well as law enforcement organisations.
He further warned that a nation like Nigeria among other developing countries of the world continue to migrate major businesses and government infrastructure to Internet Protocol (IP) and other network-based systems, “so will the growing risks of a potential melt down of the economy and disintegration of the country’s core infrastructure.”

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Celtel completes Abuja, PH mobile switch centres

Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) Celtel Nigeria, has completed the installation of its Mobile Switching Centres (MSC) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja and oil-rich city of Port Harcourt (PH).

The telco said the completion brings to light one of its expansion strategies to offer Nigerians a better service on the network.

MSC is the engine room that carries traffic within a network and to other networks.
Also the network said that with the completion of the Abuja and Port Harcourt centres, Celtel Nigeria, is set to accommodate up to 10,000,000 additional subscribers by December 2006 providing robust and efficient services to its numerous customers by eradicating cases of drop calls.

This is in fulfilment of the promise recently made by Norman Moyo, the Marketing Director of Celtel, when speaking with newsmen recently.

Among guests at the occasion were top management staff of the three organizations and their business associates.

He reassured that Celtel is set to expand its coverage in Nigeria by ensuring its services are available in all the nooks and crannies of the country.

As said by to Mr. Moyo, with the completion of these switching centres, Celtel is set to penetrate all the remote parts of Nigeria with the mindset of reaching the rural populace.

“Our belief in Celtel is that the greater number of Nigerians live in the rural areas and our commitment is to take our services to these areas,” he said.

The completion represents a significant development in the promise made by the chief executive, Celtel International, Mr. Martens Pieters that over $700 million will be invested in the network to upgrade facilities and expand coverage.

Equipment for the switching centres were supplied by Ericsson while Impasse Technologies, an indigenous engineering firm supplied the porta kabin enclosures housing the switches and the solar energy panels, using hundred per cent local content.

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Study highlights role of ICT on gender education

A study has highlighted some insight roles of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in elevating gender education on the continent with particular reference to South Africa.

Announcing the completion of the study, the Project Leader at ICTeum Consulting, Ms Tina James and Ronel Smith of Meraka Institute, both of South Africa, said in a press statement that the exercise is a comprehensive outline on the status of women in high-level ICTs in South Africa.

According to them, the study which is comes in three parts, noted that a separate manual of possible interventions, has been produced alongside the status report.

This, they also said, involves the mapping out of six possible programmes with a breakdown of activities and possible role players should take to ensure that these actions forward and beyond the paper works.

The third report equally shares international experiences, with specific emphasis on Finland.
“This has provided useful insights for consideration in addressing South Africa ’s needs,” they added, stressing that the three documents could be accessed at: http://women-in-ict.meraka.csir.co.za.

In addition, the project pointed out that the report looks at how girls and women are progressing or otherwise, in the education system and the workplace.

“It presents gender-disaggregated data on the current situation and reflects on the perceptions of women in ICTs, including those in leadership positions,” our correspondent was informed.

Emphasising that there has been some improvement in the participation of women in the sector, but the numbers are still low and increasing the levels of participation requires urgent attention.
Various support mechanisms, the study said, are in place to help women in the ICT sector but they are fragmented and uncoordinated.

“Recommendations for addressing these needs have been expanded in the manual of interventions,” they said.

The study funded by the Embassy of Finland, South Africa was the result of a South African-Finnish partnership between the Meraka Institute (CSIR), icteum consulting and the University of Oulu, Finland (Kajaani Consortium).Other collaborators in the project, consists of Human Sciences Research Council, WomensNet and the Tshwane University of Technology.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Manchester wins £500k KT challenge prize

The University of Manchester has emerged from fierce competition as the winner of the £500k science and engineering prize of the Dragon’s Den-style contest at the inaugural Knowledge Transfer (KT) Challenge in London, Tuesday.

It would be recalled that the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) launched the KT Challenge earlier this year to celebrate outstanding examples of knowledge transfer from the academic world into industry and the public sector, and also to encourage further innovation and development in this field, presently by United Kingdom-based institutions.

The entry from the University's Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences made the five-strong shortlist after detailing the success of Transitive Ltd, which was founded in 2000 by long-standing Computer Sciences lecturer, Alasdair Rawsthorne, according to Natasha Richardson of EPSRC.

Transitive Limited, a spin-off company, develops computer chip technology that makes life easier for people around the world.

The technology allows software designed for one type of processor or Operating System (OS) to run on a different type of processor or OS, thus removing a problem that traditionally limiting the range of software that could be utilised by hardware.

The company's QuickTransit family of products has enables Apple to adapt its entire Macintosh product line for Intel processors in an extremely short period of time.

Vice-President and Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at The University of Manchester, Prof. John Perkins, described the prize as a fantastic achievement and great news for the entire university community.

"I would like to pay tribute to the team who worked so hard on the proposal and the final presentation to the judges. If the UK is to compete effectively in the global marketplace, we need to increase our knowledge transfer and collaboration to ensure innovative and novel research is put into practice,” Prof. Perkins said.

He stressed that the university, has adopted a proactive approach to ensure better knowledge transfer into many areas of industry and the injection of funding through the prize will allow the institute to build upon the firm foundations already laid and build new bridges between the institute and business sector.

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Alistair Darling, while congratulating the Manchester team and the four runners up, said "The high calibre of the five finalists shows the tremendous strength of UK research in engineering and the physical sciences. The UK has a rich history in innovation and discovery in these areas and it's great to see so many researchers continuing this trend.”

For research to be truly useful, Darling said, “it needs to be turned into the products and services that we will need in the future - these awards will support this process. The winners have a proven track record in taking their research all the way through to developing viable businesses, which is exactly the kind of work we want to encourage.”

The secretary further said that boosting innovation is key to helping to create the products and services to benefit the economy and society in years to come.After being invited down to London, the University of Manchester team had to present their proposal to a panel of industry experts and convince them they were offering the best investment for the prize money.

They also had to show the panel they have innovative ideas for undertaking future knowledge transfer activity.

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3 African states to benefit from reversing brain drain project

Three African countries of Ghana, Senegal and Zimbabwe are to benefit from the latest initiative launched by the United States-based Hewlett Packard (HP) and the United Nations Education and Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The new project code named, “Piloting Solutions for Reversing Brain Drain into Brain Gain for Africa” is aimed at assisting in reducing brain drain on the continent through provision of grid computing technology to universities, beginning with the trio of Ghana, Senegal and Zimbabwe.

Public Relations Manager at the Europe, Middle East and African office of Corporate Affairs & Human Resources, Hewlett-Packard Company, Claudia Martens, said that the project would help to improve scientific research by establishing new interconnectivity systems in university laboratories and research centres in Ghana, Senegal and Zimbabwe.

Martens also said that this would encourage students and faculties to stay in the region, just as the project would also aim at connecting scientists to international colleagues and the diaspora, research networks and funding opportunities.

At the launch held in Paris, Wednesday, were Zimbabwean Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, I.S.G. Mudenge, joined by UNESCO representatives from Senegal and Ghana, as well as Peter Smith, Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Education, and Bernard Meric, Senior Vice President External Affairs of HP for Europe, Middle East and Africa, to present the project and discuss how to move it forward.

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PIR protects .org domain name holders

The Virginia-based Public Interest Registry (PIR) has introduced a campaign to assist dot org (.org) top-level domain name holders to protect them.

PIR is a not for profit corporation formed by the by the Internet Society (ISOC) to manage the .org top-level domain in a manner that supports the continuous evolution of the Internet as a research, education and communications infrastructure.

The campaign PIR said is to educate and empower the non-commercial community on how to most effectively utilize the Internet.

Chief executive of PIR, Mr. Edward G. Viltz while announcing this development, said it is an international public awareness campaign aimed at protecting .org domain name holders from the potentially damaging consequences of allowing their domain names to expire.

The campaign, labelled "protectyour.org: Preserving the Value of Your .ORG Domain", he said, seeks to educate registrants about the value of .ORG domains, even those that are not currently being used as web sites.

“It offers steps for locating, managing, consolidating, and securing domain names in order to reduce the potential for problems that may occur when domain names lapse either intentionally or because the registrant was unaware that a name had expired,” PIR said.

In a letter to the Security and Stability Advisory Committee Liaison at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization currently overseeing the administration of the Internet’s domain names system globally, Mr. Viltz stated the concern of PIR over management of .org domain names.

PIR also stated that the “growing practice of selecting, testing, and keeping or rejecting expired domain names based on the names' monetary value and the subsequent use of those names in a manner that is contradictory to the original registrant's or organization's mission.”

Mr. Viltz equally cited the case of a rape counselling center's web site, which, following expiration and deletion of the site's domain name, was registered by another registrant and relaunched with a similar design that featured links to subscription-based pornographic pages.

"There are any number of unintended consequences that can result from allowing domain names to expire—in terms of both an organization's public image and the relationships the organization has established with its audience," Viltz said, stressing, "We believe the impact of this phenomenon on the .ORG community can be even more dire because of the level of trust that exists between non-profit, non-commercial, and charitable organizations—which tend to use .ORG domain names to convey their non-commercial status—and their members and constituents."

PIR is working in partnership with organizations that serve the needs of non-profit and non-commercial enterprises in order to spread the campaign's message to .ORG domain name holders around the world, just as a web site dedicated to the campaign and titled www.protectyour.ORG is up and running, providing information for .ORG domain name holders and registrars.

In addition, a pamphlet titled Protectyour.org: 5 Simple Steps for Protecting Your .ORG Domain Names has recently been published.

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EC endorses Nokia Siemens Networks

The Nokia and Siemens team-up of their networks which began over five months ago, has received the endorsement of the European Commission (EC) for a go-ahead.

It would be recalled that on June 19, this year, Nokia and Siemens announced the plans to combine Nokia’s Networks business group and Siemens’ carrier-related operations for fixed and mobile networks into a new company to be known as Nokia Siemens Networks.

Confirming this development, the chief executive officer designate of Nokia Siemens Networks, Mr. Simon Beresford-Wylie, described it as a welcome development, stressing that it is a remarkable step in putting the new company on its foots.

While assessing the deal, the EC said the transaction would not restrict effective competition in the relevant markets of mobile and fixed telecom networks and services.

Elated Mr. Beresford-Wylie, also said that the endorsement paves the way for the full regulatory approval and therefore good news for customers.

“We believe this decision by the European Commission is a key milestone in obtaining all the relevant approvals for the transaction. While there are notifications still pending in some countries, based on this decision we are optimistic that the merger can be closed within the timetable anticipated by both parties,” he asserted.

He equally pointed out that the benefits and strengths of the new company would be anchored on scale and broad product portfolio, which is necessary to compete globally and create value for shareholders.

“We will be well-positioned to help our customers meet the challenges of lowering costs, growing revenue, and seizing the opportunities presented by converging technology," he said.

Emphasising that the new company, with 2005 calendar year pro forma revenues of EUR 15.8 billion, is uniquely positioned to deliver compelling customer benefits with a comprehensive portfolio of products and solutions for the converging telecommunications market.

It is expected that the Nokia Siemens Networks will take off operationally by January next year.

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Yunus to address Telecom World @ Hong Kong

The 2006 Nobel peace prize laureate and founder, Grameen Bank, Prof. Muhammad Yunus, has been slated to address participants at the opening session of the International Telecomunication Union (ITU) organised Telecom World-06, which takes place in Hong Kong early next month.

ITU said that the event scheduled for December 3, would afford Prof. Yunus the opportunity to make relevant industry-based pronouncements.

A press statement from ITU, said that as one of the inspirational leaders and early supporters of ITU's Connect the World initiative, Prof. Yunus is expected to make proclamations on some milestones in the programme which aims at bridging the digital divide and "connect the unconnected by 2015".

With the theme, "Living the Digital World", Telecom World-06, ITU said the subject matter will be thoroughly explored at the weeklong event.

Earlier this year when receiving the ITU World Information Society Award, Prof. Yunus had called on the global Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies to work with governments, non-governmental and international organizations to develop technology and business models to transform ICT towards an income generating tool by the populace, mostly the poor.

"I got interested in information and communication technology because I saw this as a powerful way to help poor people, particularly poor women, out of poverty, very fast," Yunus said, stressing that he also saw how micro credit could bridge the gap between the poor and ICT.

According to him, what is needed at the moment is a business model where ICT could become an income-generating activity to the poor.

At the forthcoming opening ceremony, the out-going Secretary-General of ITU, Mr Yoshio Utsumi, will introduce Prof. Yunus to the assembly of industry leaders, government officials and the media.

Mr. Utsumi also said that that Telecom World would explore the concept of shared digital resources for access to the vast wealth of the world's knowledge, culture, education and learning, while Prof. Yunus offers the first-hand knowledge of the achievements made through technology in developing countries.

“We congratulate him on his award from the Nobel Foundation and we are delighted that he will join us on stage at ITU Telecom World," Utsumi said.

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MTN partners Lady Mechanic on training for girls

MTN Foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the MTN Nigeria, has entered into partnership with a non-profit organisation, the Lady Mechanic Initiative, to train girls on the job.

Executive Director, MTN Foundation Mrs Amina Oyagbola, disclosed this and said that MTN is supporting the Lady Mechanic Initiative financially to facilitate free vocational skills in auto care to young Nigerian women.

The project, a collaboration of MTN Foundation and chief executive, Sandex Autocare, Mrs Sandra Aguebor, is popularly known as “Lady Mechanic,” began recently with a two-day road show across Lagos, was to sensitize the target beneficiaries of the offer, even as its expected turn-out about 50 capable lady mechanics, refrigerator, pumping machine and generator technicians, plumbers and sundry artisans.

Beneficiaries, Mrs Oyagbola said, would be granted micro credits to open their own workshops or given employment by reputable autocare centres on completion of their training.

The collaboration, described as a veritable vehicle designed to rehabilitate and empower deprived and disadvantaged young women by equipping them with skills traditionally perceived as the men’s affair.

Put succinctly, the Lady Mechanic Initiative is targeted at school dropouts and other young women involved in illicit trades as well as those who have either been abused or lost hope for a better life or career.

According to Mrs Oyagbola, also disclosed that the project has three stages, namely community outreach, induction, training and franchise set-up.

“We are concerned about society’s most vulnerable; people who have been denied the luxury of hope. The MTN Foundation wants to re-assure them that it is not over yet for them as long as they are willing to learn a trade. The Foundation is prepared to assist them in getting a career,” she said.

Emphasising that beneficiaries of the programme have an option to decide the length of time of their apprenticeship.

“In the first year, beneficiaries shall learn about auto servicing, lubrication and brake systems.
Following this, they can be employed in filling stations to service cars. In the second year, they will be taught vehicle suspension and diagnostics after which they can be employed in auto care garages. Then in the third year, beneficiaries will have the opportunity to set up a micro business of their own which will be a franchise of the Lady Mechanic Initiative,” Oyagbola explained.

In her remarks, the Lady Mechanic, Mrs Aguebor, said the idea was to reach out to young women in densely populated parts of Lagos and demonstrate to them that they could earn an honest and profitable living as mechanics and technicians.

“The Lady Mechanic Initiative and MTN Foundation are determined to restore hope in the hopeless. I am a lady mechanic but my job has not taken the glamour away from me. That is what we want young Nigerian women to know. That they can be anything they want and still remain beautiful,” Aguebor said.

Successful applicants to the scheme will be trained at Peugeot Association of Nigeria, (PAN) Kaduna, General Motors, Lagos and several other pay-and-train centres in Lagos.

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Zambian wins science journalism grant

Zambian science journalist, Mr. Talent Ng'andwe, has been named the recipient of the first International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Science Development Network (SciDev.Net) Science Journalism Award worth CAD$60,000 (US$53,000) about , will allow Ng'andwe to work with the Science and Development Network (SciDev.Net) for several months to develop his professional skills as a science journalist.

Marketing Manager at SciDev.Net, Jemima Tonks, informed our correspondent that dduring grant period he would spend time working both in the organisation's main office and reporting from the developing world.

Reacting to the grant, elated Ng’andwe expresses hope that he would be working among learned science journalists, declared, "I am delighted to receive the award” he said.

Mr. Ng’andwe also praised the organisers and partners of the grant, describing the grant as a means of bridging the gap in developing nations, especially on the African continent.

"This is a step in the right direction to help build the capacity of science journalists in developing countries," he asserted.

Director, SciDev.Net, Mr. David Dickson, equally expressed delight that Talent Ng'andwe was selected to receive the award, which will allow him to work directly with SciDev.Net news team for several months in the year 2007.

"He will be bringing to us his insights and personal experience developed through his work as a journalist in Zambia. In return, we will be able to provide him with an opportunity to develop his practical skills as a science journalist," he enlightened.

The award is one of four granted this year by IDRC and SciDev.Net, on an experimental basis. Applications were invited by SciDev.Net from regular contributors to the website.

Mr. Ng'andwe will be based at SciDev.Net in London, United Kingdom; two Francophone journalists will be based at Agence Science-Presse in Montreal, Canada; and a Canadian English-speaking journalist will be based at another institution. Each award will be valued at US$53,000 to cover living and travel expenses.

IDRC has created these awards to "foster a vibrant culture of science journalism" and to "promote a field-based understanding of developing countries' scientific realities".

The journalists will spend time in a number of developing countries and take part in the 5th World Conference of Science Journalists, taking place in Australia, in April 2007.

SciDev.Net looks forward to the lessons about science communication in developing countries that it will learn, and be able to share with its readers, through the award programme. IDRC is funding this new award through its training and awards programme while its being managed and administered by SciDev.Net.

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OOU students drive home with Glo Picanto cars

Two students of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye in Ogun State, Sanya Adedamola Adeniyi and Ogunwomoju Omolara Omobola, drove home recently with Glo Picanto cars as winners in the telco’s Jumbo promotion, which offered Nigerians the opportunity of winning 180 cars in 180 days.

Adeniyi, 20, is a 100 level student of Basic Medical Sciences and Omobola, 23, students of English in the Arts Faculty of the school won Kia Picanto cars, along side Adepoju Nafisat Abiola who won a 5KVA generator as well as 11 others went home with N25, 000 cash prizes each.

Damola’s father, Mr. Omotayo Sanya who was at the presentation said he did not believe initially that his son won when he informed him of the development.

He, however, gave kudos to the management of Globacom for rescuing hundreds of Nigerians from the grips of poverty through the promotion and further prayed God to continued to lift the company up as it continues to lift poor Nigerians up, fulfilling their dreams.

Omolara was however short of words as she collected the keys to her car from Prof Kayode Ajayi, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, who stood in for the Vice Chancellor, Prof Odutola Osilesi, she could only utter, “May God continue to bless the management of Globacom.”

Prof. Ajayi in his remark said that Globacom within its few years of existence had identified more with Nigerians than any other operator in the telecommunications market.

He also urged Gobacom to remain committed to the people, as they have availed it of the support, which has sustained the company since it began operations.

Earlier in his welcome address, Mr. Henry Okpe, Regional Manager, Lagos 4 at Globacom, reiterated the telco’s resolve to reward as many people as possible with the promo as well as empower Nigerians with its products and services.

He equally said Globacom decided to enlarge the scope of the promo to benefit students who constitute 30 per cent of its subscriber base.

“As long as you recharge up to #1000 before the draw date, we are assuring you that you are eligible to win in this expanded jumbo promo,” he said.

The promotion, which kicked off in March to appreciate Globacom’s subscribers costs a whopping N.5 billion and has drawn winners from the six geo-political zones of the country.

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ICT is a double-edged sword – NAS

National Security Adviser (NAS) to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Major General Abdullahi Sarki Mukhtar (retd) has described the evolution of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a double-edged sword.

He spoke at the opening session of the ICT capacity building workshop on “Law enforcement and national security in the digital economy,” held in Abuja.

Major-General Mukhtar said that it is not enough to simply acknowledge the double-edged nature of ICT, stressing that officers and men of security agencies in the country must work assiduously to remain viable at this age.

He explained that though ICT has successfully obliterated the fundamental basis upon which traditional law enforcement and security operations were predicated, “that is, the twin notions of ‘national jurisdiction’ and ‘physical presence’.”

ICT, he pointed out today, presented a better potential for increased technical for modern day law enforcement and security.

He also said at the workshop put together by the Nigerian Cybercrime Working Group (NCWG) with the support of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), that based on the aforementioned, law enforcement and security agencies, especially in the country should work diligently in order to secure lives and property in Nigeria and protect her territorial integrity.

“By addressing all the issues that are pertinent to the increasing interplay between ICT and law enforcement on the one hand; and ICT and national security on the other hand,” the NAS asserted.

He further highlighted some issues desiring for attention in the security sphere, including how to solve the problem of online identity, and identity of devices in the networked environment.

Mukhtar equally wondered on how security agencies should track, trace and investigate illegal activities carried out in digital media.

In addition, the NAS called for solution on how security agencies could prompt electronic attacks so as to stop same before it actually happen.

“What modalities have we adopted to ensure that electronic harms, when they occur, do not spread to unsuspected users,” he said.

Above all, the successful prosecution by way of linking individual offenders with their criminal online actions is of paramount.

“We know that without establishing such a link, we cannot be said to have apprehended anyone for the crime, neither can we even begin to think of drafting a criminal charge,” he declared.

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Africa shines @ ITU Radio Regulations Board election

African continent seems to have out-shined others at the just concluded International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations Board (RRB) election held in Antalya, Turkey at the on-going 17th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference.

This came with the winning of three seats at the RRB by African nation’s namely Nigeria, Morocco and Cameroon.

RRB is a part-time body comprising 12 individual experts representing the world's five regions, namely the Americas, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia, for a four-year term.

While Mr Shola Taylor of Nigeria was elected into the board alongside Moroccan Hassan Lebbadi with 154 votes respectively, Mr Aboubakar Zourmba of Cameroon scored 151 votes to emerge into the board.

Other nine members of the new board consists of Mr Mindaugas Zilinskas of Lithuania, 154 votes, Ms Martine Limodin of France, 151 votes, Ms Julie Zoller of United States with 122 votes, Mr Baiysh Nurmatov of Kyrgyzstan, 122 votes, Malaysian Ali Ebadi scored 117 votes, Pakistanian Shahzada Malik followed with 110 votes, Indian Mr P. K. Garg got 103 votes, Mr Robert Jones of Canada 94 votes and Mr Wladyslaw Moron of Poland 93 votes.

Speaking after his re-election into the board for another four years at the event attended by over 2,000 participants worldwide, Nigerian Shola Taylor, described it as a double victory.

He expressed appreciation to all those delegates that supported Nigeria during the preparation for the election and election proper as well as calling for their continuous support.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government had earlier nominated Mr. Taylor, who also is the chief executive, Kemilinks International and a leading international telecom expert to contest for re-election.

“It is a double victory for Nigeria given that Nigeria was also elected to the ITU Council with one of the highest votes polled,” he declared.

Emphasising that as for his re-election, “I really thank God and I am indeed very grateful to our President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Minister of Communications, Dr. Femi Anibaba, former Minister of Communications Chief Cornelius Adebayo, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications Alhaji Umar Aji, NCC Chief Executive Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and the Director of Technical Services Ministry of Communications Mrs Esther Gonda, for the confidence they have expressed in me by presenting my name, and for the excellent support given towards my campaign,” he said.

Mr. Taylor further said expressed gratefulness to the Nigerian Government, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for this wonderful gesture.

“I am also grateful to all the members of the Nigerian delegation to the conference and to my family for their extensive moral support. I can only continue to discharge my responsibility as the custodian of an international public trust and I look forward to working with my other colleagues on the Board to discharge my duties effectively,” he asserted.

It is the Board's job to approve the Rules of Procedure, which include technical criteria used by the Radiocommunication Bureau in the application of the Radio Regulations, to consider matters that could not be resolved by the application of the Radio Regulations or existing Rules of Procedure, to consider reports by the Bureau on investigation of cases of harmful interference, and to formulate recommendations for resolution of such interference, among others.

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