" ITREALMS: November 2006


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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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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nigeria sets Internet exchange record with 17 ISPs

OVER 17 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) listed for the take-off of the Nigerian Internet Exchange Point (NIXP), Nigeria is setting a record as the largest Internet exchange on the continent.

Chairman, Presidential Committee on NIXP, Mr. Ndukwe Kalu, disclosed this in an interview in Lagos and said that by end of November this year, the exchange must have concluded its primary acceptance testing which lasted for weeks.

He said that amidst some challenges that NIXP had, “we’re very confident that the exchange would be fully ready this November.”

According to him, the acceptance testing began over two weeks ago with about 17 ISPs in the Lagos area.

This, he said, was in addition to some of the big names in the Internet service provision in the country and Private Telephone Operators (PTOs) were also included.

“As a result, we expect that after the acceptance test that we would run for about one week, then we should be able to issue a public statement about the performance of the exchange that has been installed and upon which it would be fully up for our members and others to connect,” he asserted.

Pointing out that for the initial take off of the exchange, NIXP has concluded plans to start with the 17 ISPs.

“We are actually setting a record as the largest Internet exchange in Africa,” he declared.

Mr. Kalu who double as the chief executive of Amsco Telecom Nigeria Limited, lauded the government for an improved environment, saying “it is getting interesting, and very, very interesting at that and in the sense that it has been the reason for us at Amsco to have carved niches for ourselves in three areas.”

He also commended the government over the setting up of the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABI).

According to him, SABI would boost the local content on the exchange, stressing that Internet is not an end and a network is not an end but a means to an end and the end really is the content.

“So the environment is looking very, very interesting and promising mainly because of policies that we see these opportunities and Nigeria is an enormous market,” he said.

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CANi suffers set back over funding

LACK of funding mechanism may stall the federal government’s Computer for All Nigerian Initiative, otherwise known as CANi.

This indication caved in following lamentations of some of the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) who are partnering with the federal government, who are currently seeking for financial support from the major component producers, namely the Microsoft and Intel Corporations respectively.

According to them, there has not been any form of special discount or price incentives from the two core foreign product manufacturers – Microsoft and Intel.

Just as speculation abound over the actual sponsors of CANi project in the country as some industry observers also have expressed fears over whom the real sponsors of the project are.

To some, Microsoft and Intel own the project and to another school of thought, it is the Federal Government of Nigeria.

However, commenting on the latest development, Managing Director, Omatek Computers, Mrs. Florence Sereki, confirmed to our correspondent that although both Microsoft and Intel promised to make some funds available to slash the cost of operating systems, and processors incorporated into every Personal Computer (PC).

As said by her, both foreign sponsors of CANi have failed to provide necessary funds to the local builders to market, promote and drive the initiative, instead they have assumed the marketing and promotion of the initiative themselves, mostly through their agents in CANi.

Also, she said the bankers are not helping matters as they are yet to reduce interest rates in enabling relevant funds for the continuity of the project.

“Unfortunately, Intel and Microsoft did not drop their prices on the Intel’s processors and Microsoft’s operating system for CANi,” she said.

CANi computers are to be sold for $300, about N45,000 for the least price and non-upgradeable category, but inadequate funding mechanism may force a price increase on the products.

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High speed 3G access for Celtel

Celtel Nigeria is partnering with LM Ericsson Nigeria Limited and Huawei Technologies Nigeria, in a trial launch of the first batch of its thrd generation mobile technology (3G) and High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) in the country.

The trial launch, which took place in Abuja, was to pave the way for the country to join the club of nations with access to higher mobile technology.

Attended by notables in the National Assembly lead by chairmen of the Communications Committees at both Senate and House of Representatives, the attendance included representations from the Federal Ministry of Communications, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Investment Promotion Council, Nigerian Consumer Protection Council and the media to name a few.

Chief Commercial Officer at Celtel Nigeria, Mr. Chuma Okoye, noted that the telco in association with Ericsson and Huawei, took firm decision assuming the front seat in creating value for customers through implementing the best affordable new solutions or technologies in the Nigerian market of today.

He enlightened that the trial of HSDPA, avails the companies the opportunity to demonstrate their readiness to usher the country into the new mobile frontier, providing Celtel subscribers to be the first to experience broadband speed connectivity on the move through mobile phone.

Demonstration at the event offered video streaming and downloads from the web with over six times faster than traditional 3G, even as the response time for web site browsing, were placed at several times quicker than currently available.

High Speed Downlink Packet Access is currently referred to as the latest 3G module and Universal Mobile Technology System (UMTS), capable of performing a turbo-charger or supercharger for 3G phones and 3G-enabled laptops as well as Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) among others.

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3 directors emerge @ ITU plenipotentiary

Three Bureau Directors have been elected into the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to work with the newly elected Secretary-General of ITU, Dr. Hamadoun I. Toure of the Republic of Mali and his deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Houlin Zhao of China.

Out of the three, two where entirely directors while one was re-elected.

The latest directors are Messrs Sami Al-Basheer of Saudi Arabia and Mr Malcolm Johnson of the United Kingdom who were elected as Directors of the Telecommunication Development Bureau and Telecommunication Standardization Bureau respectively in a third round of voting.

While Mr Valery Timofeev of Russia was re-elected for a second term. He is to take charge at the Radiocommunication bureau of ITU.

Mr Timofeev, who reportedly received almost unanimous support from the Plenipotentiary, expressed great pleasure in reporting that the Radiocommunication Bureau (BR) had fully carried out all the programmes set four years ago, including allocation of satellite frequencies and organizing major radio conferences such as Regional Radiocommunication Congress (RRC-06).

He said, "In the next term I expect once again to fulfill your expectations owing to the high level of expertise available in BR."

For Mr. Johnson, "To win an election is an emotional moment, a life-changing event. I feel very humbled by the Plenipotentiary's confidence in me and I shall be determined to meet the expectations."

Mr Johnson is well known to many of the key players in ITU with over 20 years of experience in the Union's activities.

Equally, for the newly elected Director of BDT, Mr Al Basheer, he pledged to work as a team to achieve the goals and objectives of ITU.

"The challenge is great, the task is heavy but I am confident in our ability to serve the Union and all mankind," he said.

In his congratulatory message to the newly elected directors, the scribe-elect of ITU, Dr Hamadoun Touré, invited them to join his team, which hopes to work with congeniality.

"We will strengthen team spirit and mutual trust between the staff and management," he said. Mr Touré and expressed gratitude to the outgoing team of Mr Utsumi and Mr Blois and thanked them for their assistance and support.

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FCTA launches GMP cards

Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has launched a General Multi-Purpose Card (GMPC).

This was facilitated by a leading turn-key and innovative chip card solutions provider, SecureID Limited in Abuja.

The authorities said this would enthrone the city as the first Nigeria’s e-government multi-application smart cards implementation.

GMPC, is an innovative e-government and high-profile initiative in the multimedia smart card industry, which in the case of FCTA, was designed and executed by SecureID team.

The card, according to management of SecureID is a strong credit card-sized plastic with embedded microchip, mifare contactless chip and magnetic stripe, which is deployable globally and comes with about 8 kilobytes of JAVA.

Managing Director, SecureID, Mrs. Kofo Akinkugbe, said that the card allows the card issuer to easily append applications to the card after issuance and makes use of biometric technology for identification.

Also, Mrs. Akinkugbe said the project is a single but multi-application card that could be used for the purposes of identifications, access control, Automated Teller Machines (ATM) cashcard and even personnel management functions.

“GMPC supports easy and flexible payment and can be used on any ATM on the Interswitch network,” she said.

Storage of data on the card, she explained affords users the 32k memory chip on the card is used to store the bio-data of the cardholder, his or her human resource (HR) management, fingerprints and other biometric features.

Mrs. Akinkugbe equally noted that the card’s contact-less chip enables authorization commands for access control, just as the chip feature facilitates SecureID to transfer the GPMC to smartcard platform as demand increases and the nation adopts the Europay, MasterCard & Visa (EMV) solutions.

For Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai, the Minister of Federal Capital Development Authority, speaking on GMPC, it is an indication of how the new Nigeria Identity Card project should look like.

This, he said, would replace the old plastic identity card used by over 20,000 work force in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The project regarded as a multi-application card that serves as identification, access control, payroll/salary as well as in pension management, just as the card could serve as electronic payment device and accommodates other government applications in the future.

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Singapore, CTO sign MoU on mediation

Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC), to facilitate the provision of alternate dispute resolution (ADR) within the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in the Asia-Pacific region.

Corporate Communications Manager at SMC, Ms Foo Kim Leng and Senior Manager, Programmes at CTO, Mr. Lasantha De Alwis, informed ITREALMS Online that the MoU would avail ICT companies in the Asia-Pacific region access to a new alternative mechanism for resolving disputes.

The deal they also said was the resolve of both entities to contribute their respective experiences to offer services to help minimise the impact of disputes arising between policy makers, regulators, operators and consumers.

According to a press statement endorsed by the duo of Ms Leng and Mr. De Alwis and made available to ITREALMS Online, said, “An MoU to this effect was signed by Mr Loong Seng Onn, Executive Director of SMC and Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Chief Executive Officer of CTO.”

The United Kingdom-based CTO said it has worked extensively on telecommunications and ICT projects with its member countries in Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

In recognition of this, CTO further said it is essential to ensure that disputes are resolved quickly, effectively and economically, thus it has set up the CTO Alternate Dispute Resolution Centre to provide all types of dispute resolution services to the ICT sector, in alternative to litigations.

On the other hand, SMC, a non-profit organisation under the Singapore Academy of Law has successfully spearheaded the mediation movement in Singapore since 1997 with over 1,300 civil disputes of all types to its credit.

Under the terms of the MoU, both the CTO and SMC will promote each other’s dispute resolution services, even as the two parties would also cross-refer cases to one another when mediation services are required.

SMC, as stated in the MoU would equally develop an ADR training programmes, seminars and workshops to cater to CTO’s requirements. Pointing out that the MoU is the first collaboration CTO is having with a mediation service provider outside the UK.

Commenting on this, Dr. Spio-Garbrah said that CTO member countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and those in the South East Asia will find Singapore an attractive location to hold mediation given the challenges presented in Singapore itself, within these countries and the dynamics between the countries themselves.

“Singapore will also be a central and neutral venue for cross border disputes involving Japan, Korea and China,” he said.

For those from the United States and UK, France and Germany, Dr. Spio-Garbrah noted that Singapore presents a viable, low cost option compared to mediation in a western country.

Also, Mr. Onn of SMC pointed out that the collaboration with CTO would enable his organisation to promote mediation services globally.

“This is also in line with our government’s plan to promote Singapore as an ADR hub,” he declared, stressing that CTO has extensive experience working with governments, regulators, telecom service operators and other ICT stakeholders while SMC will definitely benefit from their expertise in dealing with all types of telecommunications related disputes.

“CTO and SMC will also explore including ADR experts such as mediators and evaluators accredited by SMC in CTO’s panel of resource personnel,” he said.

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Celtel lifts African Students with £500,000

Newly established Mo Ibrahim Foundation scholarship for sub-Saharan Africa, and named after the chairman, Celtel International, has lifted African students with £500,000, about N122 billion.

The scholarship, the foundation said is aimed at helping to produce exceptional leaders for the continent by attracting and supporting outstanding sub-Saharan African students on the full-time MBA Programme at London Business School.

Remarkable is that the scholarship is the first grant to be made by the newly founded Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which was also presented to South African, Mr. Richard Hasson for MBA2008.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation Scholarship is the largest award in the School's Scholarship portfolio. Each year, one full fee scholarship plus a stipend together totalling £50,000 will be awarded to an exceptional student from sub-Saharan Africa who has been offered a place on the full-time MBA programme, and who demonstrates both merit and need. The initial pledge of £500,000 will support one student per year over the next ten years.

“The focus of the Foundation is on the issues of governance and leadership in Africa. We believe that these are the most important challenges facing Africa today and that if we succeed in these areas all other things will follow,” Mo Ibrahim said.

In addition, he said, that by investing in the development of senior leaders, “We’re also developing a programme for aspiring leaders and in that context my fellow trustees and I are delighted that London Business School is the first beneficiary of the Foundation. What better place to start than by helping the very best talent from sub-Saharan Africa to study for an MBA at one of the world's top business schools.”

It was gathered that the inaugural award was presented in London at the LBS, recently Mr. Hasson, who plans to use his MBA studies to gain experience in management with a view to starting his own business consultancy in South Africa, where he feels strongly about creating business and job opportunities.

“I am honoured to receive The Mo Ibrahim Scholarship for Sub-Saharan Africa. It has given me an amazing opportunity that I would otherwise not have been able to accept – to come to London Business School and obtain an MBA.

Here I will have the chance to meet like-minded people from around the world, both faculty and students, who can help me in developing my global perspective of business,” he said.

Mr. Hasson further expressed his delight and honour to be the first recipient of the foundation’s grant.

Associate Dean of the MBA Programme at London Business School, Julia Tyler, noted that the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Scholarship “is the first scholarship in the School's history dedicated to support African students. It provides a wonderful opportunity for talented individuals from sub-Saharan Africa to acquire the management and leadership skills essential for individual, corporate and national success at one of the most global business schools in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.”

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SaharaReporters.com shut over alleged gift, accuses FG

Publishers of web-based journal, SaharaReporters.com, has accused the federal government of being the mastermind behind the shut down of its website and other inoperable challenges faced by the website.

According to them, the government is using their web host company and United States based lawyer, especially since its recent publication on the alleged money laundering involving some top government aids.

In a press statement made available to ITREALMS Online, publishers of SarahReports.com alleged “"www.saharareporters.com, www.saharareporter.com and www.saharareports.com," have been shut and vows to return soon.

The press statement read in path thus: “Since we published the story effectively and undisputably linking President Obasanjo to the Andy Uba money laundering scam, he has used every means available to get back at us.

“You are all aware that he has been using a lawyer based in Maryland, USA to harass our publication, but since we sent an appropriate response commensurate with his legal threat, they are possibly up to other tactics.

“First, our site was shut down on the day we published the Andy Uba story for two hours.

“However, we restored the site as soon as was possible, Yesterday (Tuesday) just as President Obasanjo admitted to accepting close to $46,000 "gift" for his Obasanjo Farms from Andy Uba And Loretta Mabinton, through his "International Legal Counsel on Persoanl Matters" Mr. Kunle Fagbenle, our webhosting company complained to us that our website was 'abusing their server and using their CPU (Central Processing Union) at 100 per cent' and as such had to shut down SAHARAREPORTERS because it was rendering others sites on their server 'inoperable'.

“Again, these are technical jargons that points to one direction only: There is a conspiracy to put our site out of existence.

“However, this will not happen, as such we will be working round the clock to resume our activities online ASAP.”

They also seek understanding and patience of their readers during this time and seriously implore all lovers of transparency, accountability and good governance who may be willing to share their technical knowledge on how to “reinforce our online presence to please contact us at saharareports@aol.com or call our publisher at 1-347 489 3765.

“Ultimately we will need our own server and SAHARAREPORTERS will appreciate possible suggestions and dedicated support from our teeming readers,” the statement said, declaring, “We will soon be back!”

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

We’ve made EMS pro-active – PMG

The Post Master General (PMG) and chief executive of the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST), Mr. I.M. Baba, has said that they have made the courier arm of the agency, Expedited Mail Service (EMS) Venture to become a pro-active entity.

He made this revelation at a one-day Customer week and award giving ceremony put together by EMS in Lagos on Tuesday.

This came as EMS unveiled three cargo depot centres for Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

He said that in order to maintain and consolidate the position of EMS in the nation’s courier market, “We have made the EMS Venture to be more pro-active, innovative and technology driven in the provision of quality services at competitive prices.”

Stressing that this year’s event marks a milestone in the collective desire to move the EMS/Speedpost to the next level through the improvement of the quality of infrastructure and technology used by the venture.

He described the event as a unique due to EMS used the platform to recognise individuals whose contributions have impacted in the improvement of the communications sub-sector of the economy.

“For the first time too, we have also included in the programme, a lecture on very sensitive topic which I believe will educate our people,” he asserted.

He also traced the history of EMS to 1986 when it was set up as a direct response to customers increasing demand for faster and more reliable delivery service.

“I am glad to inform you that given the spread of our network, NIPOST through EMS/Speedpost remains a clear leader in the business,” he said.

Speaking on the newly cargo depot, the General Manager, EMS Ventures, Mr. Adedamola Osuntuyi, said the depots were set up to facilitate what he called a six-hour ultimatum for delivery, saying that was the reason behind the unveiling of the three cargo depot centres in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

In his welcome remark, chairman, NIPOST board of directors, Alhaji Muritala Ashorobi on the occasion, said that the board would continue to support the venture through the provision of the necessary infrastructure such as vehicles, motorcycles and other working tools.

“Hard word and honesty would continue to be rewarded just as indolence and other vices would be appropriately sanctioned,” he cautioned employees.

The chairman, also urged both the management and staff of all NIPOST offices to redouble their effort in serving the customer satisfactory and promptly.

Pointing out that introducing new products into the market is a welcome development, but efforts should be made in selling same to the populace.“One of the doing this is to keep and even exceed your promise to the customers,” he advised.

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Forum tasks govts on ICT integration

Participants at the two-day Commonwealth Secretariat (CS) organised from in Sydney, Australia have tasked government to come up with strategies to integrate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into national development plans.

They also outlined the importance of ICT in public administration, saying that by this integration plan, ICT tools would promote electronic leadership (e-leadership) towards implementing an integrated service delivery within the public sector.

A communiqué from the forum made available to our correspondent, said that the event attended by over 100 participants was put together with the support of the Government of Australia and the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM).

The communiqué issued by the office of the director, Governance and Institutional Development Division (GIDD) at CS charged the government to development strategies to facilitate the integration of ICT.

The participants drawn from 30 member nations of commonwealth also noted that modernised governance would transform into sustainable public sector reform, even as integrated service delivery via ICT would engender monitoring of report publicly on the outcomes of service improvement initiatives within the public sector.

The benchmark of Commonwealth, the forum said are good practices, therefore, developing a better practice guide on integrated service delivery would definitely take care of comparative research on alternative service delivery.

Also, the participants called for renewed human resources for leadership development, stressing that it would support a global dialogue on building human resource capacity and managing global skills distribution.

In addition, renewed human resource would strengthen and enhance the relationship between the political and executive leadership through learning from good practices around the Commonwealth.

“Invest in executive leadership capability in the delivery of public services,” they stated, indicating that this would evolve through Commonwealth attachments and leadership programmes, which in turn would ensure that there are human resources plans in place to recruit, retain and develop public service human capital.
They further charged CS to prepare and disseminate a report on the forum proceedings as the basis for on-going consultations, examine the options for scheduling future forums, such as CAPAM biennial conferences, which would be facilitated regionally and periodic progress report should be instituted.
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FG begins certification of CANi PCs

The federal government has began certification of branded Personal Computers (PCs) for the Computer for All Nigerians Initiative (CANi) through the office of the Project Management Office (PMO) in the Presidency.

Programme Director for CANi, Mr. Soji Romeo, disclosed this and said that for a state, the initial 14,500 computers ordered by the government for civil servants would be the first set of PCs to undergo certifications.

He also said that the certification exercise is to ensure that the computers meet the required standards on quality while the configuration of the PCs match what has been ordered, in addition to ensuring integrity for all installed software is maintained.

He noted that the contracts for the production of the 14,500 CANi-branded PCs was given last August to two local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) at the cost of N1.27 billion (US$10 million equivalent).

He explained that in the contracts made possible courtesy of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), each beneficiary of the PCs would enjoy a subsidy of N20, 000 of the actual cost.

He also clarified that the certification was part of the PMO’s oversight functions, as contained in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology contract offer letters, dated August 31, 2006.

This, Mr. Romeo, said clearly mandated PMO office, in conjunction with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), to carry out a certification exercise before the delivery of the computers.

He further the mandate included coordinating the scheme, monitoring delivery, handling and enforcing strict conformity to the approved contents (operating system, office suite, anti-virus) and other specifications as well as ensuring that suppliers provide the expected warranty.

“The idea here is to protect the ordinary Nigerian end-users by ensuring independent validation of the product they are buying.

The ministry has instructed the PMO that each of the 14,500 computers must be checked, and we intend to discharge this responsibility to the best of our ability.

We look forward to commencing the checks as soon as on-going arrangements are complete,” he said.

Stressing that it is a well-thought out social programme that would boost penetration of qualitative and affordable personal computers and laptops for use at homes.

“500,000 PCs are targeted for distribution in the first two years of the scheme,” he declared.

The initiative was launched on July 6, 2006 by President Olusegun Obasanjo, is a government-assisted personal computer ownership scheme targeted at employees in the public and private sectors, to purchase quality computers at discounted prices under affordable and convenient repayment plan that spans 24 months through direct salary deductions from source.

A public private partnership (PPP) scheme, CANi is promoted by the Federal Government in partnership with Microsoft Corporation and Intel Corporation, the two giants in Information Communication Technology (ICT), as sponsors.

The scheme is coordinated by AMB Multiserve, which serves as the PMO while CANi partners include the Original Equipment Manufactures (OEMs), which comprise Beta Computers (Speedstar), Brian, Omatek, and Zinox, while HP and IBM are the foreign distributors.

The financing partners include Skye Bank, Fidelity Bank and UBA, while the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are Suburban and Netcomm. Other partners are Pallet, anti-virus software providers; as well as ICDL who are providing the training software.

To ensure hitch-free execution of orders for supply and facilitate direct collection by the benefiting civil servants, Zinox and Omatek are providing warehouses in Abuja where the PCs and laptops will be stored for subsequent assessment and certification by PMO/NITDA and PTDF.

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APC offers foundation power solution - Kleynhans

Continental General Manager for Africa at the American Power Conversion (APC), Mr Carl Kleynhans, has said that the company provides foundation power solution systems through its introduction of Symmetra line up of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).

Speaking on the recent purchase of Symmetra UPS by the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc, Mr. Kleynhans said that the power company, which is undergoing acquisition processes by Paris-based Schneider Electronics, builds a system to accommodate any kind of power disruptions.

According to him, in a site report made available to our correspondent, “Symmetra is a single unit composed of modular components, providing the foundation of building and scaling near-continuous availability power systems with a flexible range of power capacity.”

He also said that it is available as a tower rack-mount with scalable sizing to meet a growing company’s needs.

The Manager further explained that the scalability of power and runtime offered by this product protects any investment and allows one to meet the power needs at all times.

It would be recalled that NAHCO recently announced the usage of APC power protection products ranging from the backup-UPS 650, Smart 1.5KVA to the Symmetry LX power array and have been consistent users for over fifteen (15) years.

It was gathered that NAHCO made its purchase of APC power solutions from Saap Technology Nigeria Ltd.

Meanwhile, APC, a leading provider of a global and end-to-end solutions provider for real-time infrastructure is in the process of being acquired by an European leader in electrical distribution, industrial control and automation projects, Schneider Electric SA of Paris, to the tune of $6.1 billion.

Disclosing this at the weekend, the two companies said they have executed a definitive merger agreement under which Schneider Electric will acquire all outstanding shares of APC for $31.00 per share in cash which aggregated transaction value is placed at $6.1 billion.

Currently, APC has offices in more than 160 nations worldwide as well as in Nigeria.

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ADR is core function of NCC – Ndukwe

Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has asserted that the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism is a core function of the NCC in settling disagreements among stakeholders in the sector.

Speaking at a workshop for selected panel of neutralists in Abuja recently, he said that increased activities in the telecommunications due to liberalisation of the sector has engendered rise in different forms of disputes which if not properly managed could hamper the immense success and development currently being experienced.

The EVC went on to describe resolutions by Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) as one of the core functions of the commission under Section 4(p) of the Nigerian Communication Act, 2003 ("the Act"), noted that by virtue of this section, the commission was bound to examine and resolve complaints filed by and disputes between licensed operators, consumer or other persons involved in the communications industry.

Under this Act, Dr. Ndukwe said NCC is empowered to use such dispute resolution methods as it may determine from time to time including mediation and arbitration.

According to him, Resolution of disputes using the ADR mechanism has a lot advantages over the traditional court system of adjudication, saying it is faster, cheaper, devoid of legal technicalities and user friendly because it allows parties to choose their panel and make considerable inputs into the proceedings."

Such processes he also observed, must however be guided by the objective of establishing a sustained dispute resolution process that is not bound by technicalities, legal form or strict rules of evidence and must at all times be in accordance with the ethics of justice and the merit of the case,” he said.

The NCC boss also explained that the commission engaged the services of disputes resolution specialists to partner with the commission in the development of the guidelines and selection of Neutrals.

"Further to the establishment of the NCC Dispute Resolution Guidelines, the Commission has constituted a panel of seasoned and well experienced panel of Neutrals to handle disputes that would be settled under the Guidelines", he highlighted.

In addition, he said that the selected neutrals were are expected to play a crucial role in the successful implementation of Dispute Resolution Guidelines and effectively contribute to the development of ADR mechanisms in the telecommunications sector.

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DHL enters US cargo market with stake in Polar Air

Express delivery arm of the Deutsche Post, DHL has announced the purchase of 49 per cent stake in the United States-based Polar Air Cargo.

This, the company said is in the bid to strengthen its presence in the trans-Pacific parcel and freight markets.
In return for its $150m investment in Polar, DHL is to secure a guaranteed capacity on the airline’s routes across the pacific for upto 20 years.

Polar, which is known as one of the largest US cargo airlines, is owned by New York based Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings.

The deal represents a challenge to UPS and FedEX, the US express delivery groups, which currently dominate the tightly regulated market between Asia and the US.

DHL has a large parcel network in Asia and is also investing heavily in the US but before the Polar Air deal, it lacked its own air capacity between the two markets.

Demand for trans-pacific delivery services is increasing sharply as trade between the US and China soars.

Chief executive, DHL's express division, Mr. John Mullen, described the deal as a key strategy to ensure rapid growth in that part of the world.

"This key strategic partnership ensures we can meet the rapidly rising demand for air cargo capacities between the US and Asian destinations," he said.

It would be recalled that UPS and FedEX each have more than 20 weekly flights between the US and China and the routes have become a powerful source of growth.

The US groups have each ordered 10 Airbus A-380 Super jumbos to increase capacity across the Pacific.

DHL's investment in Polar is part of a broader battle for global dominance among the express delivery groups.
DHL's harmonised international network links more than 220 countries and territories worldwide.

DHL, said it would continue to be at the forefront of technology and, with over 170,000 dedicated employees, guarantees fast and reliable services aimed at exceeding customers' expectations.

Based in Brussels, Belgium, DHL is 100% owned by Deutsche Post World Net.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Celtel and good governance in Africa

Features of the week:

The $5m leadership prize for Africa set aside for good governance by the chairman, Celtel International, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, stands as motivator for attitudinal change in leadership and investment potentials on the continent, reports Remmy Nweke.

Leadership to some schools of thought is only born, others made, while yet others achieve it by mere skill or luck.

Defined as the “Capacity or ability to lead by showing the strong leadership during” a given term of office or service, according to the American Heritage dictionary, it is now awash to see programmes on leadership from different tertiary institutions globally as a means of grooming future leaders, especially in developing continents like Africa where leadership rather than being seen as module of capacity to lead others by way of exemplary lives, has become a means of siphoning public funds and impoverishing the populace farther and farther.

For the World Bank Institute, which has become synonymous with good governance and transparency, it defined leadership as important as elements of sustaining economic growth, which “is the key to reducing poverty and the vulnerability of the poor.”

Good corporate governance, as a leadership converse symptom is also an important factor in ensuring a more transparent, fair and just society.

According to World Bank, the coming of information revolution anchored on the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), has transformed the way organizations look at transparency and openness, which further upholds that technological advances have made public administration possible for vital information to be readily available to the public. Thus it is no longer obtainable for companies, institutions or countries to act in isolation.

Leadership, for experts at the www.leadersdirect.com is a knowledge driven world and has since shifted even as it could be bottom-up or top-down.

“Those at the top sometimes lead, sometimes just manage, other times operate as venture capitalists investing in the best ideas of leadership, emerging from below,” the experts said.

They also noted that traditional leadership theory is scarcely concerned with top-down leadership in large organizations, as a result, leadership exists in every aspect of life.

Above all, the concept of indirect leadership, they said, involves every person who sets an example for others every day without trying to persuade anyone explicitly to follow suit. Citing an instance of innovators in knowledge-intensive industries as exhibiting a type of leadership that is not associated with the top-down direction of subordinates.

They recognised one characteristic of true leaders, saying that apart from being charismatic, leadership should have a commanding presence, action orientated, honest and ethical.

“All leaders have a drive to differentiate themselves from their peers - whether the individual is a person, a team, a business, a sports club or a nation,” the experts postulated.

Worried by the spate of leadership tussle and corruption that have beheld Africa over the years, chairman of the Pan African mobile operator, CelTel International, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, recently voted the sum of $5 million, about N639,250,000 for African leaders who distinguish themselves without rancour of corruption during their trnure.

Giving details, Dr. Ibrahim, explained why he introduced a prize for Leadership to the tune of $5 million for African leaders, which is bigger than what the popular Nobel Prize Committee offers to winners, as a desire driven in order to salvage the leadership on the continent and basically due to his longing to encourage the development of Africa, mostly in fighting corruption.

The initiative, which has already received endorsement of the outgoing United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, former United States President, Mr. Bill Clinton, United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair and World Bank president, Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, is to better the lives of Africans at the end of the tunnel.

He pointed out that corruption for instance, embedded in bad leadership is one of the strongest strings that tie Africa to underdevelopment and poverty, mostly through self-perpetuation in government by leaders.

The prize which is $5 million, he explained, would be spread over ten years, plus $200,000 a year for life for African leaders who rule well and handed over power to a democratically elected successor.

Each year, he said, selected African leader will receive the prize based on criteria developed by Harvard University professor Robert Rotberg, and given each year as long as there is a candidate who meets the criteria, with the first prize slated for presentation in the later part of 2007.

Dr. Ibrahim further recollected that on the continent, most Heads of State or government leave office with no chance of sustaining a lifestyle equivalent to the one they enjoy whilst in office.

“The continent’s problems will not be solved unless governance improves radically. Nothing is more important to African development than good governance. A situation in which leaders face poverty, term extension, or corruption is not conducive to good governance. Today I am launching a foundation, which aims to change fundamentally the choices faced by African leaders,” Ibrahim asserted.

Dr. Ibrahim who built a hugely successful mobile phone business, Celtel, in countries, where most companies would have ordinarily rebuffed with a wave of hand as unfeasibly poor markets such as Chad, Niger, Sierra Leone, Malawi, made a fortune in 2005 when he sold the company to MTC, a Kuwaiti firm with operations in Iraq, Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwaitwith huge global ambitions, just as the telco is worth about $3.4 billion.

Reacting to the initiative, ICT Programme Officer at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Mr. Ben Akoh, expressed appreciation for such a project, saying since he noticed the development via the story he has been wondering on the scheme’s pros and cons, yet its pros far exceeds the cons.

“You and I will agree that a certain level of ‘push’ is required to get African leaders to go - or rather cajole them into statesmanship. Perhaps this was what was needed,” Mr. Akoh observed, stressing that the problem is that some die-hard leaders would rather latch onto the power, than leave.

“ They would quantify the cost of their current hold onto power and benchmark that against $200,000 for a year for the rest of their lives and definitely see the scale tip in favour of them remaining solidly in power,” he noted. Emphasising that another question is how this fund could have the potential of growing through willing donors, to sustaining the project.

“I see future generations challenging it … it was a damn good idea. Simple but direct to the point,” he said.
As we look forward to the first prize to be taken before the end of 2007, African leaders should realise too that the whole world and not only Africa is watching.

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