" ITREALMS: July 2006

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Repositioning Nigerian youths with ICT

Features of the week:

The need to upgrade the nation’s education embellished with Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) at all levels, will reposition the youths for tomorrow’s competitiveness, reports REMMY NWEKE.

Computer science graduates:
Recently, six Computer Science graduates were invited for a job interview in an ICT firm in Lagos. The similarities they had were that they were between the ages of 21 and 22 and had just graduated from six different universities located within the six geo-political zones of the country.

Unfortunately, they had no practical knowledge of what they purportedly spent four years studying and in most cases; some spend five or more years when strikes disrupt the school calendar.

But one unforgettable experience about these graduates was that none of their universities’ curricula has any of the applications being used by this firm during the interview.

This did not only automatically disqualify them but left them in despair of clinching the job on offer.

As was later discovered from these graduates, most of them had no working computers at their institutions for practicals. This further widened the gap between them and technologies. That is in addition to deficiency in curriculum and even where available, it is guarded like an egg.

Investigations however, revealed that most lecturers in computer science departments of our universities are still engrossed in teaching students the likes of COBOL series and computer first century applications. This was found to be the curriculum, thereby leaving out current number of increasing applications available today.

The chief executive, InfoSoft Nigeria Limited, Mr. Pius Okigbo Jnr, lamenting the deplorable situation of the university system in the country, said ICT firms spend huge sums on retraining graduates that find themselves into the sector.

Supposedly, he noted, at one of the ICT events at MUSON Centre Lagos, that these were youths expected to have graduated from the computer science departments of Nigerian universities. But more awesome, he said, was that about 70 per cent of these students do not have access to Personal Computers (PCs) let alone laptops.

A re-engineering of the system, he said, must begin with providing adequate infrastructure at the primary, secondary and university stages, such as PCs and teaching tools as streamlined in the New Economic Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) e-School initiative with private sector.

Reacting to some pupils and students’ quest on how to uplift the education sector so as to raise the standards and empower the youths who are the future leaders, at a recent ICT seminar in Lagos, President, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, pointed out that the curriculum for Nigerian education system and specifically the universities must be upgraded as well as the knowledge of teachers in the course at all levels.

This, he said, would pave the way for collaboration with the industry’s organised private sector (OPS) like ATCON to canvass support for the schools. He urged Nigerian students to also take extra steps in advancing themselves positively, through the lots of knowledgeable information available online via the Internet.

According to him, as much as the teachers and lecturers need upgrade, they cannot offer tutorials on abstracts. Pointing out that once these lecturers are knowledgeable in contemporary issues, they would be able to offer the same in tutorials based on current experiments, which must include updating the curricular. Also, these experiments, encompass constant research and development on ICT sector, among others.

“Once our lecturers are upgraded, the market would be flooded with ICT-related text books with local context,” he declared, warning, however, that days are gone when who you know gets you there.

“It’s not who gets you there that matters now, but what you have there – the brain. Faith, without adequate work is dead,” Dr. Ekuwem stressed, advising the youths to eschew clubbing and other irrelevances while in school as they would have enough doze on graduation.

Also commenting on this at a one day convention put together by the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) last December, President, Computer Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) and a lecturer at University of Ibadan, Dr. (Mrs.) Adenike Osofisan, acknowledged the decay in the system, but said that some teachers like her are striving to update themselves via personal efforts.

The first CPN lady president, also called for understanding of students and school management, while advocating for enabling fund to help teachers at all levels attend train-the-trainer programmes. That way, the society will be saving for the future.

A new vista:
For chief executive, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) Abuja, Dr. Olusapo Ogunfemi, it is the curriculum and methodology that distinguish DBI among institutions of learning with specialty on ICT.

This, he said, is why DBI through the collaboration of Federal Ministry of Education is working to incorporate its curriculum into the universities curricula nationwide.

Additionally, he said, this could be extended to post primary education and primary eventually to avail Nigerian youths and future leaders to be 21st century competitive.

To this end, he said, that DBI in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education is working out plans to align current curriculum in Nigerian higher institutions with that of DBI which is updated. This, Ogunfemi stressed, would raise both the curricula and institutions at par with their counterparts in other parts of the world, just as it would pave the way for DBI to partner them with ease in stirring up relevant courses for contemporary society.

Focus Nigeria:
A contributor to the Focus Nigeria, a phone-in programme on the Africa Independent Television (AIT), Mr. Olaruwaju from Effurun in Warri, Delta State, while dwelling on Education, noted recently that everyday we change the education system which is a reflection of lack of focus and it seems the leadership of the country, and education ministry are lacking in focus.

He wondered that if United States (US) was able to send some people to the moon, “why can’t we strive to improve our education and get near to such innovations.”

Also, a panelist at Focus Nigeria, penultimate Wednesday, Mr. Lai Mohammed, said, “If government is really interested in science and technology, let government spend a third of what budget they have for aborted third-term agenda on equipping the educational institutions structurally, pay our professors well and then sit back and watch the difference.”

Another contributor from Jos said misplacement of priority from public interest to personal aggrandizement, has been the bane of education development in the country. “Let us emphasise institutions and good leadership and de-emphasise self” he said.

Mr. Dele Momodu, a Nigerian residing in Accra called in to say that it is all about management, noting that infrastructure is very relevant to development and our neighbour, Ghana is far ahead of Nigeria when it comes to development and education is not left out.

Yet for another contributor, the professors are just there taking salaries in their offices without fund for research, which he said is the root of universities. He likened Nigeria to an uncaring parent of many children.

He also recalled that in the days gone by there was what was called handiwork exercise in primary schools on weekly basis and from there teachers and parents would discover what their children are likely to major on in the future. But the 6-3-3-4 system, did not help in this regard.

The alternative:
President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Dr. Chris Nwannenna, further corroborated the fact that education system in the country requires refocusing, mostly in the school curriculum. This challenge is gradually infesting the privately owned tertiary institutions.

He described it as sad that many university students do not have access to PCs, especially computer science students.

To this end, he said, NCS has set up a committee on education to redraft the curriculum in the system. For the next one year, NCS intends to focus on bridging this gap by organizing one week hands-on workshop for university students, especially those in the computer science final year, to further prepare them for the labour market.

The workshop, according to Dr. Nwannenna, who also is the chief executive, Condata Systems, would be held in the six geo-political zones in the country, thereby taking it nearer to the students, even as NCS awaits sponsors’ green-light on the project.

He equally noted that the workshop may not take all of them, but the basics would be on programming tools.

Government, he advised should be alive to its responsibility of providing qualitative education to her people, mostly the future leaders, the youths, and by partnering the likes of NCS in order to upgrade the school curriculum.

That way, it would be repositioning Nigerian youths for the 21st century leadership with ICT, while strategically re-examining the primary and secondary levels.

He believes that if you teach a child on how he or she should live, that the child will not depart from it.

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Wireless’ll reduce bandwidth cost – Ekuwem

...Tasks PHCN on ICT

Remmy Nweke

PRESIDENT, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, has said that deployment of wireless ubiquitous broadband access, embedded in WiMax and WiFi, would reduce the cost of bandwidth.

Just as he said that to boost the penetration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the renamed national electricity power generating organisation, Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), has a key role to play.

Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) is the popular term for a high-frequency Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) technology, while Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax) is known as industry term for a long-range wireless networking standard with potential to deliver high-speed Internet data rates.

Speaking at a one-day seminar organised by the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) in Lagos, in a paper titled “The Future and Fusion of WiFi and WiMax in the Unified Licensing Regime.”

Dr. Ekuwem, who also is the chief executive, Teledom Group, said that in a knowledge-based economy, data and information make up the factor of production.

In order to keep the pace, ease and speed of access to relevant knowledge and translation of same into production, “gives one a competitive advantage in any field of human endeavour,” he said.
Stressing on what he called, “simultaneous broadband bombardment of the human senses, there is need for continuous productivity via ubiquitous broadband access.”

He emphasised that emancipation of WiFi and WiMax, would drastically reduce the cost of bandwidth, moreso in developing countries like Nigeria.

According to him, industry reports showed that by 2008 estimated 50 per cent of household will have cable-based broadband access globally.

“There is a huge opportunity for WiMax to fill the gap,” he said.

Pointing out that wireless is the alternative to the deployment of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), cable and leased line services.

This opportunity, Dr. Ekuwem said, would avail more potential to mobile telephony investors, especially with WiMax ability to support transmission speeds at over 70 Mega bits per seconds (Mbps).

Explaining further, he said, at the NIG seminar with theme, “Unified Licensing and Internet Service,” that both WiFi and WiMax would not become obsolete in the near future when new technologies emerge.

He traced WiMax origin to the creation by Alvarion and Intel in April 2002, with lots of potentials for wireless digital communication systems.

Its standard of International Electrical Electronics Engineers (IEEE) resolution 802.16 is defined in alignment with WiMax forum and is intended for Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs).

This technology, he said, could be deployed by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in both licensed and unlicensed frequencies, even with more bandwidth and higher data rates over long distances, among others.

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Onyekwere hopeful on new NITEL

Remmy Nweke

Chief executive of a leading and pioneer Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the country, Linkserve Limited, Chief Chima Apugo-Onyekwere, has expressed optimism over the new management of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), the Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) meeting up after the deadline for it to pay-up 65 per cent total payment of purchasing NITEL.

It would be recalled that on July 3, Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) and Transcorp announced the acquisition of NITEL 75 shares by Transcorp in a joint press conference in Abuja to the tune of $750 million, about N9 billion.

Transcorp it would also be recollected failed to meet the initial deadline to pay up 50 per cent of the deal after 10 working days, which is $500 million, but by Monday, July 17 National Privatisation Council (NPC) through the BPE accepted Transcorp’s request for extension by 60 days.

Speaking to ITREALMS Online exclusively weekend in Lagos, Chief Apugo-Onyekwere, declared, “On NITEL, yes they can raise the money for sure.”

Although he noted that the nature of due diligence required in NITEL is much more than a few weeks of looking at books of a company.

Financing the purchase of that magnitude, he said, is significant and for a place that has not returned significant profit over time, “it is important to ensure assets claimed do really exist! However NITEL is a good buy for so many reasons.”

He further expressed surprise on why NITEL was not sold with government incentive to Private Telecom Operator (PTO) and local players or an encouraged management buy out.
“Has Globacom not proven that it can be done, that is, building a solid telecoms company in the country,” he enthused.

Linkserve Limited and its subsidiaries were established principally for the provision of Internet solutions amongst other information technology businesses and as a wholly owned Nigerian company incorporated in 1996, the firm commenced operation in 1997 with an IP connection to the Internet offering full Internet services to the public on real time.

Its client base cut across financial institutions, foreign missions, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), the oil sector, government establishments, manufacturing sector and trading concerns.

The firm’s vision is to be the leading ISP in West Africa, as measured by, the number of subscribers, customer satisfaction and profitability.

Linkserve has its own hub in Homdel, New Jersy, United States (US) with a 15 megabit (mb) installed bandwidth capacity supporting her Ku-Band customers.

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Enhanced Symbols @ Progenics

Remmy Nweke

Electronic solution provider, Progenics Corp Limited, has announced the enhancement of Symbols, with a web-based module.

The company said the improvement was a reinstatement of its commitment to the deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) software solutions, particularly in the capital and money market sub-sector of the economy.

Symbols, is Progenics investment software solution developed indigenously but for both locally and international market.

Progenics said that the enhancement came in form of a distinct module which is an Internet-based interface that has been structured to work efficiently with Symbols.

Named Symbols’ web front-end, the interface affords users the ability to give their customers access to view the current positions of their investment account online among other features.

Head, Business Development at Progenics, Mr. Tunde Yemi-Daniel, explained that this translates to business with these firms now having remote access to the state of their investments using the Internet.

“The new Symbols web front-end was designed to boost investors’ access to both their investment holdings and their brokers or assets managers from anywhere in the world,” he said.

The module as said by him, enhances the timeliness of investment information by equipping the investor with requisite propensity such as the ability to view current prices of instruments traded on the floor of the exchange, current investment portfolio(s) with the firm, and place orders remotely.

Also, Mr. Yemi-Daniel said, offers the viewing of financial transactions carried out on one’s portfolio, list of trades the stockbroker has executed on behalf of a portfolio owner as well as view the current state of certificates lodged with the stockbroker or asset manager.

According to him, other value added services provided by this module include the online viewing and printing of contract notes and current CSCS statements, ability of Location based managers, agents and jobbers to transact business on behalf of clients with Head Office via the internet.
The new Symbols Web Module is a prelude to several other enhancements, which will be unveiled very soon by Progenics.

This application not only meets the requirements of stock stockbrokerage companies but also goes a step further to satisfy the requirements of investment and asset management firms.

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Five jumbo winners receive prizes @ Benin

Remmy Nweke

Five out of the six lucky winners of brand new Kia Picanto cars won in the on-going Glo Jumbo offer promo of 180 cars in 180 held penultimate week in Benin, have received their prizes at a colourful ceremony.

They included Mrs. Benedicta Teuch, Mrs. Mercy Francis, Mr. Godspower Onoyake, Mr. Nnamadi Ukpaka and Mr. Daniel Daje.

Responding after receiving her prizes, Mrs. Benedicta Teuch, said that the event was “unprecedented, unimaginable and unbelievable favour,” expressing happiness and appreciation to God and Globacom.

For Mrs. Mercy Francis, who also came with some of her relations to receive the brand new Kia Picanto car, said that when she was first informed, “I almost fainted because I did not believe it was real, but now I believe it is real and I thank God for Glo. I feel very happy and very proud.”
Mr. Nnamadi Ukpaka, a Benin–based petty trader said that winning the car prize of Kia Picanto was like winning a visa to the United State (US).

According to him, “when I was informed that I won a brand new car, I feel like someone that has traveled to America. At first I thought it was 419 but now I know it is real. It is not 419.”

Another lucky winner of the Kia Picanto car, Mr. Gabriel Daje said that his joy would have known no bounds but for the fact that his wife was lying incapacitated by an accident.

Besides the lucky winners of the Kia Picanto cars, four out of the seven winners of 5KVA generators were physically present to take possession of their prizes.

Mr. Amama Isaac said that he found it difficult to believe that he was a lucky winner of the generator, while Mrs. Risikat Olusesan Adenokun who travelled from Ijebu Ode to collect her prize in company of other relatives said her wish for Globacom was for “Glo to Glo higher, higher and higher.”

Idris Hassan who also won a generator, recalled that when he was initially informed of his winning, he thought it was a scam.

Fifty other subscribers also won N25,000 each at the Benin draw of the Glo N.5billion Jumbo offer promo.

Condata’s landREC makes a debut, demos @ South-East

Remmy Nweke

Software experts at the Condata Systems Limited, has developed a land records management application, landREC, which made its debut recently at the National Technical Development Forum on Land Administration held in Enugu, South-eastern Nigerian.

The firm used the workshop to make a demonstration of the application to participants.
landREC is a web-enabled portal application for the management of the operations of any land registry. Its processing function starts from the point of submission of applications requesting for land allocation to processing of the applications, allocations of land, processing of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), monitoring of payments and generation of management reports on land use and accruable revenues.

Chief executive, Condata Systems, Dr. Chris Nwannenna, informed that the application has two major components, namely a database which provides for the maintenance of textual attribute information, such as land ownership, assessment information, land use, charges and payments against the land to name a few.

The second part is its Geographic Information System (GIS) component, which provides for the location of plots of land on cadastral digital maps.

He also said, landREC came on stream, as a result of most current web development tools that integrates the latest Internet and database technologies together with the business processes and regulations of land registry authorities.

“That is, the application will be hosted in an Internet or Intranet website for users to access through a web browser thin client such as Internet Explorer or Netscape,” he said.

Stressing that when hosted on the Internet, its functionalities will enable plot owners and applicants to access their records from an Internet point anywhere, thus minimizing frequent visits to the land registry offices.

landREC, he further said, generates a rich suite of information for monitoring and managing all land records and this includes reports concerned with processing applications for plots, allocation of plots, developed/undeveloped plots, processing applications for C of O, issuance of C of O, overdue applications, payments of rates and rents, payment defaulters, issuance of debit notes, regular reports on all categories of payments, among others.

Dr. Nwannenna, who also is the President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), pointed out that landREC was developed with special attention to security, hence it’s very user-friendly integrating adequate drop-down menus, and tool-tips to guide user input activities, even as it could be customized to suit the peculiar needs of any land registry in nationwide.

The National Technical Development Forum on Land Administration was set up by the Federal Ministry of Housing to, among other things agree on ideals for uniform operation of land administration throughout the country to include data capturing and software standards to enable future interoperability.

The forum has technical assistance from the Department for International Development (DFID), section of the United Kingdom’s government.

At the forum to preview landREC were various stakeholders from various federal and state government agencies of the country in-charge with land registration and administration, including Mr. John Llewellyn, the consultant from Her Majesty’s Land Registry in UK.

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CANi justifies CNP vision – Agbakoba

Remmy Nweke

Zinox Technologies initiative to establish the Computerize Nigeria Project (CNP), has been vindicated by the Computer for All Nigerians Initiative (CANi), according to the Head, CPN Project, Mrs. Loretta Agbakoba.

She made this assertion while speaking to newsmen and described as a welcome development the fact that, five years after, CANi was replicating the vision and modus operandi of the CNP.

Mrs. Agbakoba observed that the launch of CANi underscores the need for enhanced awareness and action towards the acquisition of computers and Information Technology (IT) skills.

She also said that CANi was a clarion call to mobilize all tiers of leadership in the country towards the complete adoption of IT, “because no nation can lay claims to growth without IT.”

Mrs. Agbakoba expressed optimism that the implementation of the project would compliment CPN’s objectives rather than undermining it.

She also expressed confidence in the key actors of the project namely – PC manufacturers, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the banks.

Mrs. Agbakoba assured that Computerize Nigeria Project would seize the opportunity of CANi to consolidate its position as Nigeria’s foremost NGO in the provision of computers to homes, schools, and work places.

Pointing out that CNP has already developed more creative ways of passing discounts, subsidies, and other benefits to the end user to make computer ownership gainful and enduring.

She explained that as part of the CANi team, CNP would continue to offer very high quality systems backed by the unparalleled Zinox No-Story-Warranty.

CNP boss further urged Nigerians to take advantage of CANi to become active participants in the global IT revolution.

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Contact Solutions ready for Nigerian market

Remmy Nweke

CONTACT Solutions, a technology inclined out-sourcing service provider, has declared its readiness for the Nigerian market.

Chief executive, Contact Solutions, Mr. Sunny Oyediran, gave this indication in Lagos, saying that nightmares by government institutions, corporate bodies, politicians and other high net worth individuals, desirous of having a first hand information about specific issues, policies, events as they affect the public through world class market research is over with the coming of his firm.

According to him, the firm, is set to provide research, market and consumer satisfaction monitoring activities and opinion polls, whose processes and outcome will compare with what obtains globally.

The company championing initiative to take Nigeria to the global level in outsourcing services, said, that cutting edge technology and latest equipment have been deployed at its Lagos office to render this services in the best tradition of globally acclaimed opinion poll experts, such as Merrill Lynch.

“We wish to express with all sense of confidence and sincerity that we boast of an impressive array of state–of-the-art equipment, which places us on competent footing to discharge this undertaking to impressive satisfaction,” he said.

The firm, he also said, is poised to complement this with experience and expertise, to accomplish new assignments in such impressively innovative way, which puts Contact Solution above competition.

“We promise our clients the best and we assure them of our readiness to harness our expertise to bring about a major turn-around in their businesses,” he asserted.

Presently, he said, Contact Solutions has installed state of the art communication equipment with voice, Short Messaging Service (SMS), electronic mail (e-mail) and web chat capabilities.
The equipment, he explained, are also capable of live agents recording, which captures real time interactions between our Customer Service Representatives (CSR) and the caller.

“These voice files can be delivered to client for record and service standard audit purposes,” he said.

Mr. Oyediran further said, for the security and confidentiality of client business, close circuit real time visual monitoring of activities in the contact centre is made available via streaming video, which is easily accessed through remote internet connection.

Additionally, the firm boosts of its capacity to seat 900 CSR within a three-shift period per day. Operation is on 24/7 inclusive of public holidays and weekends.

ITREALMS ... deliverying ICT news for development

GistMe alternative access coming

Remmy Nweke

Upcoming Information Technology (IT) firm, GistMe Communications Limited, has advanced plans to launch its alternative means of accessing the Internet.

Chief executive of the company, Mr. Kenneth Nwabueze, said the planned launched would revolutionalise how Nigerians use their telephone and Internet.

With the new technology put in place by his firm, Nwabueze said, all a subscriber needs to do is to dial the Internet for instant access to the World Wide Web (www), data and information with the aim of bridge the digital gap on the continent.

The launch, which has been slated for this month, he said, would avail users to gain access to the Internet anytime, anywhere, using any phone.

This, he said, would be facilitated by simply dialing in from any phone, “using your own voice and your GistMe electronic mail (e-mail) account.”

According to Nwabueze, the subscriber, requires a phone either wired, cordless, wireless, touchtone and an active GistMe account.

“Every Nigerian is entitled to at least one account on GistMe and the e-mail account is free if the subscriber do not have one already,” he said.

“GistMe will tow the line of innovation in communication. There is so much we can do with mobile handsets than just making phone calls. Our partnership with private telecom operators (PTOs) will soon start yielding dividends for average Nigerians,” he assured.

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Ndukwe, Soludo, Attah for telecom investment forum

Remmy Nweke

Chief regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, would this Friday, lead experts along with the Central Bank Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo and Governor Victor Attah of Akwa-Ibom State to a one-day Telecom Investment and Finance Forum.

The forum slated to hold in Lagos, is being organised by the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).

According to ATCON President, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, the forum would be presided over by the Minister of Communications, Chief Cornelius Adebayo at the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Center’s Agip Hall, Onikan-Lagos.

While the Executive Vice Chairman at NCC, Dr. Ndukwe would present the lead paper on “Investing in the Nigerian Telecom Sector: Strategic Opportunities for Recapitalized Banks and Non-Bank Financial Institutions in the Unified Licence Regime,” CBN Governor, Prof Soludo, would take floor on special presentation entitled “Recapitalization and Consolidation of the Nigerian Banking Sector: What Next?”

The Akwa Ibom State governor, Obong Victor Attah, would also make a special presentation on “Vision for ICT Development in Akwa Ibom State and the Gains of AKSG’s Strategic Investments in Telecoms.”

Other state governors who have invested in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in their respective states, Dr. Ekuwem said, are also expected to actively participate in the forum.

He explained that the forum was designed to stimulate and encourage local and foreign investments in the fast growing telecommunication sector in Nigeria.

“ATCON believes that there are great potentials in the sector begging to be explored and harnessed for the socio-economic development of our nation. We believe also that investments in the telecommunications sector would not only help to facilitate service penetration but has the potentials to ensure good returns for the investors,” he said.

Emphasising that telecommunications is a vital and essential vehicle for driving national economic and social development, it becomes imperative for all stakeholders to encourage more investors and potential investors in the sector for obvious benefits to both the investors and our national economy.

He expressed optimism that the recapitalized banks now have excess funds which could be invested in telecommunications projects for maximum yields.

“It is our belief that the banks are now in good stead to go into strategic partnership with telecom sector operators in financing short and long term projects that will help grow the telecom sector and, on the other hand, yield good returns to the banks,” he said.

Noting that with the introduction of the Unified License Regime (ULR) in the telecom sector, the consolidated banking sector now has an important role to play to enhance the pace of expansion of telecommunication networks in our nation.

He disclosed that ATCON has equally invited a whole lot of local and foreign participants to make the forum very interactive and worth the while with distinguished participants cutting across state governors, ministers of finance, science and technology, commissioners and director-generals of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), National IT Development Agency (NITDA), diplomatic missions, international development and funding agencies, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), NACCIMA, chief executives of telecom companies, banks, insurance, oil and gas as well as other sector companies, high net-worth individuals, the mass media and a host of other distinguished personalities.

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ITU, Starcomms others route for VoIP forum

Remmy Nweke

A high-level delegation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has confirmed participation at the fourth coming third African Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) forum.

Also, Unified Licensed Operator (ULO), Starcomms Limited, and the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT-1) project, Direct-on-PC, Teledom Group, among others, have signed-up for the three-day event scheduled for Lagos.

A press statement from organisers of the forum billed to hold August 21 through 23, AITEC of London and endorsed by its chief executive, Mr. Sean Moroney, confirmed that the attendance of Head, Standard Co-operation and Communications at ITU-T, Geneva-Switzerland, Paolo Rosa, would lead the delegation from ITU headquarters.

They would be joined by expert ICT speakers drawn from four continents.

The speakers include the chief regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and Communications Minister, Chief Cornelius Adebayo.

The duo would give keynote addresses along with the President, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), and chief executive, Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem.

The forum is supported by the African ISP Association, ISP Association of Nigeria, Nigeria Internet Group, and the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) giving it an impressive stamp by the industry.

Also the VoIP forum, third in its series in Africa, is coming to Nigeria for the first time. It is being organised jointly by AITEC of London and IT Edge, Nigeria’s leading content-focused IT magazine.

Host country partner is the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) hailed globally as a proactive regulatory authority that has steered the country’s telecom sector to become one of the most successful stories in recent times.

The Forum is featuring leading VoIP experts in the field. They include General Manager, Sky-Stream, United Arab Emirates, Mr. Tom Koster, Executive Director, Africa, PCCW Global, Hong Kong, Mr. Yossi Barkan, Managing Director, Skannet Nigeria, Mr. Sunday Folayan, Sales Director, Africa, iBasis, Mr. Mawuli Tse, and chief executive, Balancing Act, UK, Mr. Russell Southwood.

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LG unveils Chocolate phone in Lagos

Remmy Nweke

Korean telecommunications manufacturer, LG Electronics, has unveiled a new mobile phone, Chocolate in Lagos.

Speaking at the launch, General Manager, LG Mobile Communication for West Africa, Mr. Sang Kil Park, said the phone is the first of the black label series being showcased to the market by LG.

“It has Media Player (MP-3) separate chips,” he said, stressing that Chocolate is a touch pad multi-key mobile tool which does not start calling because an instrument in your pocket touches it.

Chocolate, he also said, is a sweat sensitive phone, because nothing else activates the slim-slide stylish phone.

This, Mr. Park further said, is the first of its kind and has been a very big success in Europe after its initial launch four weeks earlier.

In addition, Chocolate comes with an extra battery and two ear-phone; one for the phone and another that could go with the MP-3 device.

The extra battery, he said, is a Value Added Service (VAS) by the telco, even as the phone book has the capacity for 1,000 entries.

Also speaking, Assistant General Manager, LG Electronics Nigeria, Mr. Vishwas Saxena, said they have all it takes to offer support services to sustain the Chocolate among other brands in the Nigerian market.

LG, he noted, has a one-year warranty with a service centre to back-up its products locally.

“We’re on ground,” he asserted, even as the Regional Marketing Manager, LG Electronics West Africa, Mr. Anudeep Sharma, also graced the event.

LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of Universal Mobile Telecommunications System cum Wideband Code-Division Multiple Access (UMTS/W-CDMA), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) handsets.

Its parent company was established over 25 years ago.

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Firm toasts experts on local knowledge forum

Remmy Nweke

American Power Conversion (APC) has expressed support for local knowledge forum for the Nigerian market.

This, APC said, was to boost the local expertise of Information Technology (IT) engineers particularly.

The support came by way of super heading the initiative to bring valuable information to consulting engineers and their clients based on the need of new ‘server’ or ‘data centre’ environs.

Also the firm said, it raises new hope of addressing some industrial issues omitted hitherto and experienced with ‘legacy’ data centres.

In one of the forum which took place in Lagos recently, APC said it was a follow-up to the forums in Denmark.

Commenting on the Nigerian forum, Country General Manager for Africa at APC, Mr. Carl Kleynhans, said, “We decided to introduce this type of event to the local market to boost our input in reaching the customers.”

The forum, APC further noted, covered updated information on the latest Network-Critical Physical Infrastructure (NCPI) solutions available from its stable for solving data centre design problems.

Equally, the GM said, includes the company’s InfraStruXure offering, an integrated, scalable solution for NCPI that incorporates not just the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), but also equipment racks and cooling along with many other features.

APC, founded in 1981, has grown to become a leading provider of global end-to-end solutions for real-time infrastructure.

Its comprehensive products and services for home and corporate environments have been acclaimed to have improved availability, manageability and performance of sensitive electronic, network, communication and industrial equipment of all sizes.

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Digitest-06 outlines programme

Remmy Nweke

Digital Peers International (DPI), a Non- Governmental organization (NGO) set up as an ICT club for young people in primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities in the country and West Africa has outlined the programme of Digitest-06.

According to DPI, this year’s time table for of its annual camping and training programme, otherwise known as Digitest would hold in Obudu, Calabar, just as its Digitest abroad goes to Singapore.

A press statement signed by founder of the NGO, who is also the Deputy Chairman of its board of Directors, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, indicated that this year’s edition would take a new dimension starting with Digitest Abroad holding in Singapore between July 28 and August 11 2006.

While there, she said, Nigerian children will join their counterparts abroad to find solution to the theme, “Perfecting international culture and tourism with information and communication technology.”

She also said that an exciting version of Digitest Nigeria will hold at Obudu, Calabar, Cross Rivers State, between August 20 and September 1 to tackle the theme of International Culture and Tourism Development through Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

It is the first time since inception six years ago that Digitest is holding outside Nigeria and facilities are being made available for the blind, mute and dump who are interested in the programme to attend.

ITREALMS Online, recollects that Digitest since inception has continued to create an avenue for teaching young people basic ICT skills, as well as a number of social values of life, dignity of labour, appreciation of our culture and such related values.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hurdles before Transcorp

Features of the week:

Still battling to settle the initial 50 per cent of its preferred bid, Transnational Corporation (Transcorp), latest owner of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), has some hurdles to surmount, reports REMMY NWEKE.

ON July 3, this year when the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and Transcorp announced the disposing and acquisition of the first national carrier, NITEL, for $750 million, about N96,401,250,000 billion, lots of excitement arose in the industry, which were both positive and negative.

No doubt, there are some hurdles awaiting the new management of NITEL based on some stakeholders’ perspective.

Whereas Transcorp intends to wake NITEL from its elongated slumber by turning it to a more effective and efficient telecom provider on the continent in the areas of wireless, broadband, video, voice and data markets. Some stakeholders are concerned over the future of NITEL in the hands of its new management, Transcorp, mostly beyond 2007, when a new administration is expected to come in.


Incorporated on Wednesday, November 17, 2004, Transcorp Plc, as said by its advocates came as a response to the need to establish a “Mega Corporation” in the country and owned by Nigerians.

It plans to respond to market opportunities that require heavy capital investment not just at home but in the sub-African region and globally. Whilst serving as a vehicle to reposition Nigeria for global competitiveness and acting as conduit for mobilizing highly skilled Nigerians in the diaspora to return home and contribute to nation-building.


Incorporated in 1974, NITEL, was a dominant fixed line operator in the country before the liberalisation of the telecom industry. The company with approximately 77 per cent of the market has operational presence in all 36 states of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, with MTel as its fully owned subsidiary.

MTel ranks fourth among the four Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators in the country, with approximately 1 million subscribers as at December 31, 2005.

NITEL is reputed to have the most extensive network in the country, with the ability to provide telecom services to its customers throughout the country.

In addition, NITEL has 7.33 per cent share in South Atlantic Telecommunication/ West African Submarine Cable Organisation (SAT3/WASC), 6.91 per cent share in Regional African Satellite Organisation (RASCOM), 0.21 per cent share in International Maritime Satellite Organisation (INMARSAT), 0.60 per cent share in International Telecommunication Satellite Organisation(INTELSAT) which was liquidated last year as a result of Intelsat privatization, and 0.07 per cent shares in ICO Global Communications Ltd (I-CO).

And in this deal, Transcorp is partnering with British Telecom (BT), with which it has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). BT recently had undergone a similar transformation from public to privately managed telecom institution.

Transcorp dreams

However, Transcorp is optimistic that it could make a major contribution towards transformation of the telco via its offerings and coverage nationwide and globally.

According to Transcorp chairperson, Dr. (Mrs) Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, NITEL presents a unique opportunity to convert under-exploited group of assets into a formidable telecommunications entity through aggressive build out of networks and planned spending of additional $1 billion before the end of 2008. Just as it will focus on providing services that enhance personal and professional experiences of Nigerians.

Next steps

As said by Dr (Mrs) Onyiuke, new NITEL will endear itself to customers, and consequently embrace the new competition in the industry represented by the Universal Licensing Regime (ULR).

So, the acquisition is touted as the only logical step for the firm in its vision of developing a world class enterprises and infrastructure under strong Nigerian management and leadership.

She also said that the development of the industry is key to the future of the country and the economy, hence, “the acquisition will create substantial value for customers of NITEL, stockholders of Transcorp, and all other stakeholders. It will benefit customers through new services and expanded service capabilities.”

Pointing out that the firm is confident that this is an acquisition Transcorp could execute, “... As the company has assembled a first class team to be led by a highly talented team of Nigerian professionals with experiences in the leading telecom companies around the world, to be supported by the skills and technical knowledge of BT engineers.”

She further said, Transcorp is to “pursue a simultaneous programme of internal efficiency and aggressive rollout at NITEL,” noting that hitherto, the firm, was uniquely positioned to capture the benefits of a turnaround of NITEL whose assets have been historically under-managed and have suffered from under-investment in network and customer propositions.

State of Transcorp in NITEL

At the proclamation of NITEL sale, BPE had indicated that Transcorp would pay 50 per cent of the total bid, which amounts to $500m, within seven working days, but as at Friday, July 13, Transcorp paid only 10 per cent, which is N9.6bn, while asking for renegotiation of the terms from 51 per cent share for Transcorp and 24 for its technical partners led by BT to 38 and 37 respectively. Equally it reportedly asked for 60 days extension to pay-up, which has been granted by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).

Government is expected to use this money to settle its outstanding commitment to NITEL employees prior to the latest deal.

Negotiated deal option

BPE led by Mrs. Irene Chigbue while explaining the reason behind the choice of negotiated deal with Transcorp, said it was precipitated by several factors including the antecedent of selling NITEL over the years on three occasions, which proved abortive.

These consist of the Investors International Limited (IIL) failure to make payments after bidding $1.317b, Pentascope failure to meet contract obligations, resulting in cancellation of same and Orascom Telecom’s bid of $256.53m which faced outright rejection.

BPE also said, a fourth round of competitive bidding would likely take 12 months or longer during which time NITEL’s value would continue to decline as liabilities/debts increase, service/market share decrease, and investors grow cautious as Nigeria’s election approaches.

Investors’ caution, BPE noted, in turn, will lead to less interest, less competition, and lower prices bid for many reasons. Overall, these add up to a single, compelling reason for its sale sooner rather than later, and that is, NITEL value declines as its financial condition continues to erode; as seen in a summary of its liabilities, revenue, and market share.

Initially, BPE said, NITEL loses value daily as liabilities increase and revenue declines and that in 2003, for instance, NITEL liabilities amounted to N73.8bn. But as at October last year, liabilities had increased to approximated N130bn and had continued to grow. The information further stated that since 2002, NITEL on an annual basis generated N15bn pre tax income, whereas, as at September last year it only generated N1.5bn in pre tax income, even as the national carrier generated N40.9bn in revenue, with N33.9bn only collected.

Similarly, in 2005, the telco generated N22.8bn in revenue, N16.9bn was collected, indicating that collection rate falls from 83 per cent to 73 per cent, just to show its depreciating value.

“Given that Nigeria’s bargaining position regarding NITEL’s sale can only decline over time, Nigeria is well served to close a transaction while it can still negotiate from a position of strength as qualified investors remain interested. The only question that remains is how quickly to close the deal and make it the best possible for Nigeria? Hence, the negotiated sale, a commonly used process for many major transactions the world over, including telecommunications,” BPE submitted.

For its Director-General, Mrs. Chigbue, negotiated sale of NITEL was the best option. “This is a great day for all NITEL stakeholders and a significant step for NITEL that will drive real choice for customers on a national basis.”


One issue that has been on the mind of stakeholders since July 3, has been the antecedents of Transcorp and its promoters. To some stakeholders who demanded anonymity, the vexed issue that some sponsors of third term agenda which some National Assembly members led by Chief Uche Chukwumerije opposed were once listed as owners and directors of Transcorp, as well as funders.

Scuttling of the amendment of the constitution in this regard is seen as another victory for democracy. Out of 14 directors of Transcorp, at least, seven were fingered in the aborted scheme.

It was not surprising, therefore, that chairman, sub-committee on NITEL in the House of Representatives, Mr. Nasir Garba Dantiye, informed afterwards of his committee’s desire to probe the sale. He accused BPE of collaborating with FG to dispose NITEL at what he called “a give away price.”

Additionally, he alleged Transcorp was fronting for a top government official, with a specific interest in the changed rules of the game from 51 to 75 per cent shares meant for sale as was offered for bidding before now.

Stakeholders’ view

Responding to the development, United Kingdom-based Nigerian professor of telecommunications, Austin Odinma, told our correspondent that the sale of NITEL to a business outfit that is predominantly owned by Nigerians is a very welcome one.

He expressed optimism that efforts would now be made to make NITEL function effectively.

“NITEL is a gold mine as I have said in many of my papers; I believe that with the proper people in place to manage NITEL, NITEL/MTEL would surpass its competitors in less than 15 months,” he said.

Noting, there are infrastructural changes needed to differentiate MTEL and if properly handled, it should not take up to December 2007, before the new NITEL will silence those who thought that it could never be revived.

For the chief executive, Telecom Answers Associates, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, privatisation of NITEL has really never been an issue of money but an issue of track record of the core investor.

Regrettably, he said, nothing in the BPE’s strategies respects this position and these results are therefore largely predictable.

“When the IIL failed to meet its financial obligation in those days, the reason many analysts did not recommend a staggered payment option to government was that IIL’s track record was in question and the fallout was probably a blessing in disguise,” he said.

He wondered what really distinguishes Transcorp from IIL, observing that moving the goal post from 51 per cent to 75 per cent is mere gimmick of bankers’ as what has happened is that the offer price of $1.3b has been slashed to $500m.

He said, “I do not know if that is a good offer but my mind tells me it is ‘over the bar’ yet you never can tell, we may be pleasantly surprised.”

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Govt adopts hi-tech to curb cybercrime

Remmy Nweke

Tough days await online fraudsters in the country, as the Federal Government (FG) through collaboration between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the National Working Group on Cybercrime (NWGC), is now installing security cameras and software at selected cybercafes nationwide.

This is in effort to curb the growing involvement of Nigerians in cyber related crimes which has gruesomely painted the nation in the bad light.

President, Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and immediate past president, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, while disclosing this at a one-day Telecoms/IT summit organized by the City People Media Group in Lagos, said it would assist greatly in downsizing the number of Nigerians engaged on cybercrimes.

Ekuwem, who is the chief executive, Teledom Group and member of the Presidential Committee on Online crimes, said the installations would take shots of customers at cyber cafes as they come in.

Also, he said, the proposed software is to keep records of electronic exploits on every system or server through which 419ners, who have since gone online could be traced.

“So that they could be specifically traced to a café and Internet Protocol (IP) address extracted for persecutions,” he said.

He further said at the summit held on the theme, “Taking Advantage of the Opportunities in Telecommunications Sector,” that these efforts by the government was in line with the nation’s resolve to reposition for global competitiveness.

Also deliberating on the need to update curriculum for tertiary institutions, so as to empower the youth for tomorrow, Dr. Ekuwem noted, that its relevant to insure Nigerian youths as truly future leaders.

He enjoined youths in the country and particularly the students to manage their time well and positively.

This, he said, could be achieved by concentrating on their studies and using the Internet for good purposes capable of leapfrogging them to the next level of human development anchored on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) deployment, both at schools and cafes.

ATCON, he said, is joining forces with other stakeholders to ensure that curriculum upgrade takes effect.

He pointed out that until this is done, lecturers could now upgrade knowledge-wise, to enable them impact correct knowledge to the youths.

“Once our lecturers are upgraded, the market would be flooded with ICT text books,” he asserted.

Stressing that, its not who get you there that matters nowadays, “but for what you have upstairs – brain.”

Faith without hardwork, he said, is dead, mostly when some students would abandon their class works for unending vigils and night clubbing.

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45m Africans to benefit from Microsoft deals

Remmy Nweke

ESTIMATED 45 million Africans are billed to benefit from series of partnership deals between Microsoft Corporation and some African governments, agencies and United Nations (UN) entities before the end of 2010.

The deals, known as Public and Private Partnerships (PPP) include collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

Microsoft Chairman, Mr. Bill Gates gave this indication at the just concluded Microsoft Government Leaders Forum for Africa 2006, held in Cape Town, South Africa.

The event also graced by former United States (US) President, Bill Clinton, highlighted the importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and public-private partnerships in creating change and a strong, vibrant future across the continent among developing countries.

In his keynote, Mr Gates pointed out that Microsoft’s long-term approach to investment in Africa, includes collaborations with local and global organisations.

Through these partnerships, he said, the company planned to deliver the benefits of ICT training to more than 45 million people in Africa by 2010 and help governments create sustainable economic growth.

“For Africa to truly become competitive in the global economy, strategic collaboration between businesses, governments and non-governmental organisations is essential,” he said.

Emphasising that by this single step more affordable access to technology and helping partners build strong local software economies, “Microsoft could help create knowledge-based economies on the continent that will generate new jobs and offer new opportunities for growth, prosperity and innovation.”

Former US President, Mr. Clinton, said, "Technology has expanded opportunities of millions of people around the world and — whether expanding access to information, education or healthcare or increasing the collective power of individuals — it has an important role to play in creating a thriving, competitive Africa."

According to him, with efforts from the likes of Bill Gates and companies like Microsoft, partnering with governments, Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs) and other private-sector organisations, are helping Africa in its push to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In support of the eight MDGs, Microsoft’s efforts in Africa focuses on investments in education to increase skills and create opportunities, partnering with local businesses to increase trade and grow local industries and software economies, and working with government to develop ICT infrastructure through affordability and access.

The MDGs form a blueprint agreed to by UN countries and leading global development institutions. The MDGs range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education by 2015.

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NITEL employs more telecom engineers in Africa–DBI boss

Remmy Nweke

Despite the lukewarmness in the public sector, the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) has been pronounced as having great collection of telecom engineers on the continent.

According to the chief executive, Digital Bridge Institute, Utako-Abuja, Dr. Olasupo Ogunfemi, “NITEL has the greatest collection of telecom engineers in Africa.”

He made this assertion at a telecom and information technology (IT) high-level meeting in Lagos.

Nigerians, he said, are very enterprising, stressing that is what made the rollout of telecom networks in different parts of the country, a success.

He enthused that in some rural areas in the country, Nigerians even without formal education are using one or two technology tools to boost and extend service rollout at their communities.

Dr. Ogunfemi, therefore, advocated that getting expatriates to run the newly privatized NITEL, would cost lots of money and defeat the purpose of the privatization.

Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator, he said, can now tell better, having spent so much at the initial stage of rollout on expatriates.

With the enabling environment provided by the government, DBI boss said, enterprises would benefit immensely when they train at DBI, which he said, is a government institution but is being run as a private entity.

“DBI was created directly to cushion the lack of manpower development in ICT sector for the nation and on the continent as a whole,” he said.

DBI management, he said, is streamlining its activities so as not to go back to the government cap in hand asking for resources.

According to him, DBI courses, are very interactive and hands on approach.

The summit was put together by the City People media group with the theme, “Taking Advantage of Opportunities in Telecoms Sector.”

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VGCCL signs up Siemens, plans 10 cities rollout

Remmy Nweke

Hopeful compliant of the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR), VGC Communications Limited (VGCCL) has sign new contract with Siemens Group for the supply of switches, even as it plans to rollout in 10 new cities soon.

General Manager (GM), VGCCL, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, revealed this to ITRealms Online in his office at Victoria Garden City (VGC) Lagos.

He said, that the planned roll out in 10 new cities is not dependant on its recent application for unified license from the apex telecom regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Although, he did not name the 10 new cities, but said it will be spread across the six geo-political zones of the country.

The wired line telephone operator, he said, would leverage on the proposed license to expand its rollout plans.

“If the license come as expected it would be right on time to complement the efforts of moving into these new cities,” he told our correspondent.

On the recent contract signed with Siemens Group, he said, its mainly for the supply of infrastructure and precisely switches.

In order to further enrich its readiness for ULR, he said, VGCCL is now constructing a three-storey building to serve as its corporate headquarters, within the VGC environ.

On completion, he said, the building would have its first floor serving as equipment apartment, the second floor would house the management team while the third floor would serve as an open office.

He looks forward to its completion before the end of this year.

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Cross River to name Glo official telco, opens Gloworld

Remmy Nweke

PLANS may have been advanced by the Cross River State government to name the Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom, an official telecommunications service provider in the state.

Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief Johnson Ebokpo, disclosed this at the opening of a GloWorld, a state-of-the-art customer care centre at the state capital Calabar.

As disclosed by him, the state has initiated moves to partner the SNO in this respect, expressing optimism that the opening of GloWorld would definitely pave the way to the actualization of that dream.

Chief Ebokpo, later declared the centre open, commending, Globacom’s Chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga jnr. for his foresight and people-friendly telephone enterprise.

He said also that the coming of Globacom to the state, has made the world a truly global village, having made communications easy with the network reaching even the most remote villages in Cross River State.

In keeping with the vision of Glo, Ebokpo noted the telco has even made itself closer to the people with the GloWorld, saying the state has been waiting for Globacom to open its office and outlet in the state.

The state, he further said, has a soft spot for Globacom because it is a home grown telecom company.

He was later attended to as the first customer, followed by Chief Linus Okom, the Ada Bekwarra, and Dr. Phillip Obaji, Permanent Secretary, Cross River State Ministry of Health.

Managing Director, Gloworld, Miss Shade Boyede said Globacom’s plan is to open the outlet cum customer care centre in every state of the federation, thereby positioning the company nearer to its teeming customers nationwide.

This, Ms Boyede, said, would afford customers not to travel far to access its quality products and services or to resolve complaints.

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Karrenberg presides over new BoT @ ISOC

Remmy Nweke

CHIEF scientist at the Réseaux Internet Protocol (IP) Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC), Mr. Daniel Karrenberg has been elected the new chairman of the reconstituted Board of Trustees (BoT) at the Internet Society (ISOC).

He took over from Mr. Fred Baker, even as ISOC also elected four new members into the BoT, including the Director-General, Computer Network Information Center at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Dr. Baoping Yan, Senior Director Advanced Networks for CANARIE Inc., Canada’s Advanced Internet Development Organization, Mr. Bill St. Arnaud and vice-chairman of the Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society, Mr. Franck Martin.

Equally in the new board ratified at the recent ISOC meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, is the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) representative in conjunction with the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), Mr. Patrik Fältström.

They joined current board members Fred Baker, Erik Huizer, Daniel Karrenberg, Veni Markovski, Desiree Miloshevic, Glenn Ricart, Stephen Squires, Patrick Vande Walle, and Lynn St. Amour, ISOC President and CEO.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Karrenberg, said “The Internet Society has much to contribute to the continued success of the Internet and the diligent work of my predecessors, the trustees and staff has put the society in a very sound position. Building on this foundation we will intensify our work in the areas of public policy and education. We will ensure that the IETF has the administrative support it needs to continue its exemplary standardisation work.”

He also assured on the willingness of his team to continuously build a healthy network of chapters for local activities close to the Internet users. This, he noted, will help ISOC to realise its motto, ‘The Internet is for Everyone’.”

Speaking also, President of ISOC, said, “I very much look forward to working with Daniel as we continue to build on ISOC’s past achievements. At the same time, I thank outgoing Chair Fred Baker for his excellent stewardship of the organisation over the past four years.”

ISOC is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet related standards, education, and policy.

It has offices in Washington, DC, and Geneva, Switzerland, touts itself as dedicated to emancipation of the people through open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of people throughout the world.

ISOC is the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

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Easter promo winners get prizes @ Starcomms

Remmy Nweke

UNIFIED Licensed Operator (ULO), Starcomms Limited has presented prizes to winners of the recently concluded Easter Gift Rain promo in Lagos.

The promo, which kicked off on April 3, ended on Wednesday, May 31, 2006, after which a draw was conducted and various winners emerged.

At the Lagos leg of the prize presentation ceremony, Starcomms Commercial Director, Mr Prakash Pantham said the promo was part of the firm’s commitment to reward the loyalty of its subscribers, who have, over the years, kept faith with the company’s vision of delivering world class services.

‘‘Without doubt, at Starcomms we have over time appreciated how important our subscribers are to us. We realized that for us to achieve our target of being a front runner in the country’s telecommunication industry we have to treat our subscribers specially, they are the reason we are in business,” he said.

The promo, Mr. Pantham noted, was yet another way to say that Starcomms appreciate patronage and belief in its ability to meet their total telecommunication needs.

After receiving the star prize of two return tickets to London, the winner, Anne Modupe-Uaifo, who expressed her deep appreciation to Starcomms for the rare opportunity, said she was surprised and excited when she was contacted as the star prize winner for the promo.

Modupe-Uaifo, a civil servant, pledged not only to be a faithful customer but also a passionate brand advocate of the company. She further noted that the transparency displayed by the company in the promo was capable of attracting to it an improved patronage.

Mr Ifeanyi Nwaobi won a 2-door refrigerator while 29 Digital Video Display (DVD) players and 51 hi-fi music sets were also given out at the ceremony.

The promo was open to all subscribers in all the cities where Starcomms currently has coverage (Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Maiduguri). All a subscriber needed to do was to buy and activate a new Starcomms line (fixed or mobile) within the promo period.

It would be recalled that Starcomms recently extended the validity accumulation for its subscribers to a maximum of 365 days from the previous duration of 90 days. This means that a subscriber can receive incoming calls for up to 365 days even after the expiration of his/her air time.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Farroukh takes over from Dabengwa @ MTN Nigeria

Remmy Nweke

Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) giant, MTN Nigeria, announced the appointment of Mr. Ahmad Farroukh as its new helmsman, as the chief executive.

Mr. Farroukh replaces the immediate past Managing Director for the last two years, Mr. Sifiso Dabengwa, who doubles until now as the MTN Group Chief Operating Officer.

According to a press statement from its Corporate Executive Officer, Mrs Amina Oyagbola, said Mr. Dabengwa has since returned to South Africa to focus on his Group role as Chief Operating Officer (COO).

She also said that Mr Farroukh has resumed duty and comes with a wealth of experience in the telecoms industry.

As said by her, he has most recently served as the Regional Manager, West Africa of Investcom and Managing Director of Scancom Limited, in which position he ran the Areeba Network in Ghana.

It would be recalled that Dubai and London-listed Investcom LLC was recently acquired by the MTN Group.

She also said, this would make the MTN Group one of the world’s largest emerging market players in telecommunications and the leader in Africa and the Middle East, operating mobile networks in 21 countries, covering a population under license on a combined basis of approximately 488 million people and serving nearly 30 million subscribers.

Mr Farroukh, holds an MBA and belongs to a host of high profile professional bodies including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the New York State Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Lebanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
He is happily married with two children.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

VGCCL goes for unified license

Remmy Nweke

ACCLAIMED leader in wireline telephony in the country, VGC Communications Limited (VGCCL), has formally submitted application for the unified license to the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The regulator, had on Saturday, May 13, this year, announced the award of the first batch of Unified Licenses to Starcomms Limited, Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited, Prest Cable & Satellite TV Systems Limited and Intercellular Nigeria Plc.

Close sources at both the telco and NCC, informed that a meeting was held between the regulator, NCC and representatives from VGC, led by its General Manager, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo.

But confirming this in a response to our inquiry, Mr. Adebayo stated in a Short Messaging Service (SMS), “Yes, we have applied.”

As stipulated by NCC, any interested telco in the Unified Licensing Regime (ULR) must have up to 10,000 subscribers, with evidence of financial ability to deliver its services nationwide and on any model it may wish.

Potential telco, according to NCC, must have an existing and operating network infrastructure justifiable evidence of financial capability for substantial network rollout, must be up-to-date on submission of annual audited accounts, payment of company tax, and equipment type approval as well as be up-to-date in settlement of interconnection obligations.

ULR license when granted behooves benefiting firm’s to provide services on a non-exclusive basis in the designated license area and other operators even as prospective operators could also be granted license in the same license area.

Provision of services under the new regime will be subject to the geographical limitations contained in the existing license. However, expansion to other regions could be allowed subject to availability of spectrum.

While Unified Licensing is expected to enhance competition in the various segments of the telecoms market, prices of services are bound to come down.

VGC, a Limited Liability Company with the main objective of carrying on the business of providing communication and information technology related services is currently savouring its license permits to provide cabling and radio telephone services nationwide.

The telco also integrate voice and data technology into its network system by creating and supporting the basic conditions required for speech and data communications. VGC is also NCC licensed Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Currently, VGC has services dominantly at the Victoria Garden City (VGC) axis among other parts of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

Its capability is evident on rare complaint on its offerings at the monthly NCC organised Telecom Consumers Parliament, which has stood the company out as an upward looking operator.

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Internet: Interoperability allows for growth – ICANN

Remmy Nweke

INTEROPERABILITY in the management of Internet engenders growth, says Regional Liaison Policy Analyst for Africa at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Ms Anne-Rachel Inne.

Speaking at a two-day Internet Governance Training Course for African Policy Makers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, recently, Ms Inne said, that is one of the core reasons for involving stakeholders in ICANN’s policy initiatives.

These initiatives are embodied in ensuring unique, secure and stable Internet globally.

According to her, “Interoperability allows the Internet to grow, change, and remain open to new users.”

New protocols and services, she said, are very much welcomed, because they give credence to diverse and distributed data networks avalanche on the Internet today.

The tripod of having a generally accepted Internet, she noted, is centred on secure and stable Domain Name System (DNS), Internet Protocol (IP) Number Resources, Protocol and port parameters.

She stressed that the uniqueness of Internet currently is that there are variety of data technologies and applications.

Pointing out that all these Internet resources must be consistent and interoperable.

To this end, she cited an instance, with the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), which is an advisory body to ICANN and has 21 African nations in its membership of 110 government and international representations.

In addition, the policy expert said, this is apart from the membership of GAC by the African Union (AU), African Telecommunication Union (ATU), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Emphasising, however, that GAC was constituted to ensure that each country is represented within ICANN.

“And to secure public policies related to the management of the DNS, globally and nationally, as well as express the diversity of countries’ views regarding Internet law and policies,” she asserted.

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No prepaid card operator licensed as ISP – Regulator

Remmy Nweke

Telecommunications regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC), has said there is no prepaid calling card operator that has the license to operate as Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Chief regulator, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, made this clarification in a media parley in Lagos, recently, even as he said, prepaid card operators are currently under NCC searchlight.

“No prepaid calling card operators are licensed to operate as ISP,” he asserted.

He also warned that any one doing that would not be allowed by the regulatory body.

Reacting to the recent meeting his office had with some of the operators in Lagos, he said, those invited for that specific meeting, were actually being investigated.

The on-going investigations, he said, was precipitated due to enormous complaints from consumers in recent times.

“So, anybody who has prepaid calling card license, we want to know, what state are they in, are they operating and what kind of services are they giving?” he said.

Further, Dr. Ndukwe said that the commission would like to know if any of them is among those jeopardizing the just privatized first national operator, Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).

“Are they one of those cheating NITEL and doing things at the backdoor,” he declared.

NCC, he insisted, do not want people to be ripped off when the card does not work.

Equally, NCC, he said, is working on a new guideline which would include that, calling card operators must publish their addresses and phone numbers on the cards they are selling.

“So that if any subscriber has a problem, he would know where to go for complaints,” he said.

Pointing out that some of them are operating the card businesses with different names from what was used to obtain their licenses.

“Therefore, we want to also trace all that and ensure that the right people are doing the right thing,” he reassured.

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Omatek partners banks, telcos on e-Xpress

Remmy Nweke

LEADING Personal Computer (PC) manufacturer in the country, Omatek Computers Limited, is partnering three banks and two telcos on its e-Xpress scheme.

This deal would facilitate acquisition of Internet-connected PCs through e-Xpress.

Managing Director, Omatek, Mrs. Florence Seriki, disclosed this in a chat with newsmen at the factory in Oregun-Lagos, and said her company has negotiated funds specifically to boost the scheme from three top banking institutions, namely, Skye Bank, Wema and First Bank, while collaborating with Starcomms and Glo to bundle the offering with Internet access.

The scheme, which has four components comprise of e-Consumer, e-Tertiary, e-Mobile and e-Youth, are targeted at various segments of the society.

Mrs. Seriki noted that the partnership was in furtherance to ease the process of owning PCs by Nigerians by her firm.

“The scheme would help to improve the nation’s Personal Computer penetration,” she said.

She explained that participation in the scheme is open to all Nigerians who are ready to pay a monthly installment over a 12-month period through post-dated cheques paid up front.

Stressing that Omatek negotiated funds purposely for the acquisition of computers with a low interest attached to repayment by beneficiaries.

Also, she said that the e-Consumer initiative, for instance, is Omatek’s contribution to accelerate the uptake of digital technologies.

“It is to ease the acquisition mode of the average citizens toward owning their own computers and to enhance the technical competence, effectiveness and continued professional development of Nigerians,” Mrs. Seriki declared.

On the e-Tertiary, she said, Omatek introduced this initiative to compliment the e-learning projects in universities by encouraging lecturers and students alike with the opportunity to own PCs.

This, she said, would address the current low level of skills in the Information Technology (IT) literacy and contribute to the empowerment of Nigerian youths in its quest for a digital revolution.

Additionally, Omatek boss disclosed collaboration with both Starcomms and Glo mobile to provide Internet connectivity anywhere, anytime, under its e-Mobile initiative.

Beneficiaries of this initiative, she said, will acquire an Omatek notebook already equipped with an internet modem card; a Global Packet Radio Service (GPRS) or Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) wireless modem.

Equally on the e-Youth, Mrs. Seriki said, it’s being positioned as a Catch-Them-Young initiative towards empowerment of the youths and bridging the digital divide that currently exists between the nation’s future leaders and their counterparts in other parts of the world.

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