" ITREALMS: December 2006


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

IT firms to incorporate via NCS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Microsoft, FG deal to boost local software

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Computer society honours 12 members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mohammed Jallo receives N15m Celtel prize

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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e-Waste worries United Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Telcos may spoil for war with FCTA over demolition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MultiChoice’s bouquet for 20 Nigerian schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CAMP completes work on Campcaster 1.1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2 Honda cars for Glo postpaid subscribers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Symbols goes off-shore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Typing, a prerequisite for ICT literacy

Features of the week:

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

Illiterate workforce:

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

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

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

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

PC @ homes:

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

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

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

Digital mothers:

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

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

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

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

Typing, a prerequisite:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catch them @ 3yrs:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nigerian keyboard layouts:

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

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

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

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

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

Typing tutors:

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Spam on agenda @ Telecom World-06

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More students own cars in Glo promo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ICT Empowerment Network makes a debut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UNESCO conducts survey on IFAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ATMC targets 1,000 ATMs in 3 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

NITTA presents prizes to media awardees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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