" ITREALMS: February 2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Telecom: ALTON defeats Lagos over regulation

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has defeated the Lagos State Government over a law suit instituted against the state government over intents to regulate telecommunications within its territory.

It would be recalled that state government had constituted an agency known as the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance Regulatory Agency (LIMRA) through which it has been chasing operators around over the state levies and taxes, which included that of mast, towers and earthing and unearthing of cable and fibre optic equipment for telecommunication development.

Noteworthy is that most telecommunications operators in the country have their major infrastructure situated in Lagos State.

Delivering his judgement at the Federal High Court Ikoyi-Lagos on Friday, February 23, 2007, the presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, pointed out that he has the jurisdiction to hear the suit No: FHC/L/CS/517/2006; The Registered Trustees of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria & Six Ors v. Lagos State Government & 4 Ors.
Subsequently, Justice Auta stated on the objection to jurisdiction taken by the Lagos State Government, that he had jurisdiction to entertain the matter being a matter dealing with telecoms.

Also on the issues contained in the Originating Summons (OS), the Judge maintained that though the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance Regulatory Agency (LIMRA) law looks innocent on the surface, its provisions obviously indicated regulation of telecoms and arrogation of the functions of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to itself.

Justice Auto went on to describe the Lagos State law as an attempt to regulate telecoms, noting, the danger is that if allowed similar legislations would definitely manifest in other states of the federation.

Although he noted that the driving force of the law seems to increase the revenue earnings of the state government with regard to the high charges in the law and the existence of other general laws on urban planning in Lagos State.

Justice Auto, therefore declared the law unconstitutional and granted a permanent injunction restraining the Lagos State Government and its agents from implementing the law.

However, reacting to the development, ALTON chairman, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo informed HANA that it is a welcome development and a victory for the industry and mostly the teeming subscribers of telcos nationwide.

“We’re delighted at the judgment,” he said, stressing it is an assurance that in the near future, the era of multiple taxation would be rested once and for all.

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No free 3G license for existing operators - NCC

Telecommunications regulator in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has explained why Third Generation (3G) licenses would not be free for existing telecom operators.

ITRealms Online, recalls that some telecommunications operators in the country recently canvassed for a free frequency allocation, mostly now that Third Generation (3G) license
Giving this explanation while receiving in his office, executive of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, said that there is no place in the world where frequency licenses are offered for free.

“There is nowhere in the world that frequencies are granted free to operators,” he said.
On the issuance of frequency licences and fees, he noted that

Dr. Ndukwe also said that the essence of the fee is to discourage speculation and charlatans.

The fixed fee, he added is to deter operators especially those who do not have anything to do in the industry to come for license.

He, however, noted that the rate charged by the Commission is based on some criteria.
He further said that the criteria could be adjusted if need be.

“As a listening organisation, if there are serious suggestions from anybody that could convince the board of NCC that the rate we have are not competitive or represent something that is different from international norms, then we can look at it again,” he said.

Speaking earlier, Chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, requested NCC to introduce an amiable relationship with the association.

He also urged NCC to introduce a means by which it would establish the true names and figures of the licensed operators in the country.

In addition, he said this has become relevant due to the number of registered telecommunications companies is quite below the number of companies granted various operational licenses.

Mr. Adebayo disclosed that ALTON currently has within its membership, 28 companies.

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Zinox rolls out 6,700 Pcs with low consumption

Top of the brand in PC local assemblers in Nigeria, Zinox Technologies, has concluded plans to roll out 6,700 of its latest in stock, Zinox Power PC into the market.

Chairman of the company, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, disclosed this to correspondent and said that the roll-out would be in honour of the outgoing Nigerian president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as he is expected to hand-over government on May 27 this year.
According to Dr. Ekeh who spoke at the unveiling of Zinox Power PC in Lagos, Obasanjo’s administration has been very Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-friendly, both to the stakeholders and citizenry at large.
“It is the greatest thing to have happened to this country and send off for our digital President Obasanjo,” Dr. Ekeh declared.
He noted that it was during his tenure that the likes of Microsoft and Intel entered the nation’s market fully.
He stressed that Zinox Power PC was berthed due to a tripartite partnership between Zinox Technologies, Microsoft and Intel.
Zinox chairman also said that the PC would be sold at cost not upto N50,000, about ($390.472) and urged Nigerians especially schools to take the advantage of crashing prices of PCs in the country to equip their homes and offices.
He also said that it is a high quality PC that was discounted based on partnership Zinox had with Microsoft and Intel Corporation.
“Zinox Power PC was designed and manufactured in association with Intel and certified by Microsoft,” he said.
Dr. Ekeh who was accompanied by the chief executive of Computerise Nigeria Project (CNP), Mrs. Vivian Abii, described Zinox Power PC as a sleek and elegant personal computer with full features any Pc could boast of, emphasizing that a team of engineers from Intel supervised the production, hence it has Intel’s seal of authority and guaranty.
He explained that the PC runs on Intel Mobile processor 1.2 Gega Hertz (GHz), 256 Mega bytes of Random Access Memory (RAM), 40 Hard Disk Drive (HDD), fax modem, compact disc (CD ROM x 56) and international keyboard and mouse.
In addition, he said, Zinox Power PC has Microsoft Window XP Starter edition pre-installed and runs on optimal power consumption, faster bus and in-build anti-shock device.
“It comes standard with unparalleled 12 months comprehensive no-story warranty by Zinox and Intel,” he said.

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MTC establishes $10.5 b Africa investment fund

Mobile Telecommunication Company (MTC) Group of Kuwait, parent company of Celtel International, has set aside US$10.5 billion, (about N1.4 trillion) investment fund to expand mobile telecom operations in Africa through Celtel International.

MTC owners of Celtel, a mobile phone service provider with presence in 14 African countries including Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others, said that with fund Celtel Africa becomes the first mobile service provider on the continent to invest such a huge sum into improved network and expansion.

Managing Director of MTC, Dr. Saad Al- Barrak, who disclosed in a press statement from the organization, said the company chose this part in order to double its coverage in Africa.

"We have embarked on an issue of becoming a global company hence we have to double our coverage by investing in latest technology," he said.

ITRealms Online, recalls that last month, while in touring African operations, MTN had announced it was embarking on an expansion programme code-named Acceleration, Consolidation, and Expansion (ACE).

This the telco said is aimed at tripling the company's customer base to 70 million subscribers by 2011, just as Celtel Africa currently has about 25 million subscribers.

He also disclosed that Celtel has commenced discussions in high quarters with the African governments so as to enable them understand the immediate future plans of the company.

Dr. Al-Barrak noted while in Uganda fortnight ago, that he took up the expansion issues with President Yoweri Museveni.

He said that the Africa telecom development funds would be used primarily to expand network in various African nations, mostly where Celtel Africa has operations, even as he looks forward to new exploits.

Noteworthy is that although shareholders manage MTC, the Kuwait government has 24.6 per cent stake in the company. Celtel currently ranks third as the biggest mobile provider in Africa after Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN) and Vodacom, both of South Africa.

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ATCON strategises for Pan-Nigerian ICT awards

UMBRELLA body of the telecommunications firms in the country, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), has said its going to reclaim the pioneering position it established in the 80s by introducing Pan-Nigerian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Awards.

Also ATCON said it would soon unveil its official website to avail both stakeholders and potential partners of its members to gain more insight into modules of the organization and telecommunications companies in the country.

Disclosing these in Lagos in a chat with newsmen, to place the group’s agenda for this quarter on the table, ATCON President, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, said the introduction of Pan-Nigerian ICT award has become imperative given the avalanche of all manner of recognition to stakeholders in recent times.

He said that ATCON has persistently received complaints from concerned stakeholders over recognitions based on what some industry watchers described as ‘higher purchase’ rather than on merit.

He lamented the influx of all manner of awards in the industry, which to a great extent was not the true reflection of things, thereby negating the excellence that should be the watchword of the industry.

To this end, he said, this award and franchising in the telecommunications sector would dominate its stakeholders’ forum being put together by ATCON in March.

He said that the level of industry awards in telecommunications have become alarming, hence ATCON is taking the bull by its horn to institute the pan-industry award.

Details in respect of categories and criteria, he said, would be made known at the end of the group’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled for March 31, this year.

He further said that the award would be determined by cohesive discussion.

“If we want Pan-industry award, we should really work for it and come out with something very good,” he counseled.

He assured that ATCON would maintain transparency and merit for the awards.

“The award must be handled in such a way that it would reflect pan-industry. It would be transparently done,” he said, just as he expressed confident that there is no industry wrangling among its members.

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Globacom lifts Ghana with N13.9m

Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom Limited, has taken its corporate social responsibility off shore by lifting the Ghanaian government with a donation of 1 billion Cedis, about N13.9 million.

Head, Outdoor Advertising of Globacom, Mr. Bode Opesietan, disclosed this in a press statement made available to our correspondent, said the donation was to support the development of the country by the government, especially in preparation for its 50th anniversary.
Globacom's Head of New Markets and Special Projects, Mr. Yinka Olafimihan who presented the cheque of one billion cedis on behalf of Globacom Chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr, to the Ghanaian Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr Kwawo Mpiani, at the weekend.
Mr. Olafimihan said the donation was a token of love and admiration to the government and good people of this great country.
“We believe that we do not have to wait till we launch our operation in Ghana before contributing our own little quota to your celebrations" he said.
He also applauded the government and people of Ghana for nurturing peace and tranquility in the country and for their friendly disposition towards investors.
"We wish to note that since we expressed our interest to do business in Ghana, we have been accepted with open arms by both the people and government,” he said, assuring that Globacom sees Ghana as home also, just as the telco desires to be an integral part of nation’s life as the telco have been in Nigeria in the past three-and-a-half years.
Receiving the donation on behalf of the government, Mr Mpiani who doubles as Chief of Staff to Ghanaian President, commended Globacom Limited, for the gesture and described the telco as Africa's fastest growing telecommunication network, that is credible with good corporate citizenship worthy of invitation to invest in Ghana.
The presentation ceremony was held at the presidential Castle, Osu, Accra.
Earlier, Globacom had donated US$50,000 to the CAN 2008 Business Club in Accra as a modest contribution towards the successful hosting of the 2008 African Cup of Nations by Ghana.
Globacom Limited began operation in Nigeria in August 2003 as the country’s second national telecommunications carrier and in line with its vision of building the biggest and most efficient network on the continent, Globacom deployed its acclaimed world class telecommunications infrastructure across Nigeria, crashing the cost of telephony in the country backed with introduction of innovative products and services.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

70 countries yet to embrace liberalisation

The Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) has said that liberalisation has facilitated reduction in the cost of international call tariffs in some African countries, including Nigeria, just as it decried lack of similar policies in 70 countries globally, while 21 of such nations are on the continent.

Nigeria was specifically mentioned as witnessing a slash in international calls by 90 per cent since liberalisation of telecommunications sector in 2001.

GSMA in a study released recently on “Gateway Liberalisation: Stimulating Economic Growth” noted that Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom, for example, received an international gateways license in 2006 and was able to cut international call prices by 70 per cent, whereas, “the price of international calls from Nigeria has fallen by more than 90 per cent since liberalisation.”

The association also said that consumers enjoy more reliable and cheaper services after the introduction of liberalisation of telecom market in any given country, thereby boosting competition.

According to the study, with liberalisation on stream, “the economy benefits from increased investment, job creation and export-led growth.”

The study noted that some of the 21 affected African countries are Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Cape Verde Islands; Central African Republic; Chad; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gambia; Libya; Namibia; Niger; Sierra Leone; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania; Tunisia; Zimbabwe.

The group pointed out that by contrast, monopolies hold markets back, citing an instance with Bangladesh, where it was discovered that an international gateway monopoly is maintained, telecoms investment as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is 70 per cent lower and call prices are two to three times higher than the average for developing countries.

Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer at GSMA, Mr. Tom Phillips, noted for “Bangladesh-based businesses, competing in the global market, the cost of communicating is substantially higher, putting them at a competitive disadvantage.”

He pointed out that since countries first began introduction of competition into the international gateways market more than 20 years ago, the trend has gathered pace and the benefits to consumers, business and governments in an increasingly global economy, are now beyond doubt.

He also said that the study showed that as many as 70 countries have yet to recognize the importance of competition in this vital gateway to international markets. In a mobile-centric world, and particularly in developing economies, monopolies throttle development and add significant costs.”

Equally, the study found that the old arguments used to sustain international gateway monopolies are simply no longer valid because, whether competition is outlawed or not, new technologies, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSATs), could bypass the monopoly, and account for up to 6 per cent of international call volumes, even though use of such technologies is often illegal.

“The incumbent international gateway monopoly business model is past its sell-by date; governments should liberalise this market immediately and all stakeholders will benefit,” he said.

Average calculated from the case study sample were driven from Kenya, Malta, Morocco, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt and Bangladesh.GSMA noted that VoIP, a category of hardware and software enables people to use the Internet as the transmission medium for telephone calls, while VSAT an earthbound station used in satellite communications of data, voice and video signals, excluding broadcast television.

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UNESCO supports refurbishing PCs

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has given its support for refurbished Personal Computers (PCs).

UNESCO in its weekly Communication and Information (CI) bulletin made available to correspondent, said that in most countries of the world, PC refurbishing initiatives are now active, covering a whole range of tasks from mobilizing donors of second-hand PCs to procurement, refurbishment, transportation, distribution, installation, maintenance and training on the use of refurbished PCs.

The organisation said that shared experience in the past proved that there is a need for improvement of these overall programmes to make them holistic, sustainable and scalable.

“UNESCO strongly believes that much is to be gained from exchanging experiences, improving PC quality standard, sharing know-how, validated processes and tools to enhance access of local populations in the developing countries to low cost or free quality hardware,” the agency stated.

According to the bulletin, UNESCO is fostering international cooperation in this field to enhance impact and further sharpen economical models behind the PC refurbishment pipelines, saying “its at the core of UNESCO’s concern.”

The UN agency also pointed out that it has created a portal on PC refurbishment to enable further understanding on this issue.

It also that part of UNESCO's Observatory on the Information Society, is that this portal was meant to be a clearinghouse of activities, resources, best practices, research and open content in the field of PC refurbishment, between NGOs, associations, private industry and governments.

This UNESCO noted, enables emphasises to be focused on low cost of hardware solutions, open content for off-line PC, programmes, quality requirements for refurbished PC, research, training as well as volunteer services.

It would be recalled that governments at the end of electronic waste confab held last December agreed with the support of the United Nations to work toward minimising e-waste globally.

In particular it aims to foster international cooperation and facilitate collaboration and partnerships (logistics, funding, resource sharing, capacity building development) between NGOs, associations, private industry and governments.

The e-waste confab was an outcome of the first international meeting of PC refurbishment specialists on "New Synergies for Recycling Information Technology Equipment", which took place in UNESCO headquarters in Paris in March 2003.

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Kalam leads delegates to C’wealth ICT summit

Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is to lead delegates to this year’s Commonwealth Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) summit scheduled to take place in New Delhi in March.

According to Sunayna Sethi of Commonwealth Secretariat (CS) office in London, Dr. Kalam is expected to formally declare open the event with taunted the Commonwealth Connects International e-Partnership Summit.

The two-day global ICT meeting, Sethi informed is aimed at fostering partnerships between the public and private sectors in addition to civil society is planned to enhance the capacity of the Commonwealth nations in the use ICTs as tools for development.

It was further gathered that the summit would be graced by ICT ministers from across the Commonwealth and key players from organisations such as the World Bank, Intel, Cisco and Vodafone.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon and Malta’s Minister for External Affairs Michael Frendo, who also chairs the Commonwealth Connects steering committee, are slated to address the event.

Sethi equally said that the meetings, jointly organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Business Council and the Government of India, intended to bridge the deepening digital divide across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Connects Programme was formally launched last year, just as India, Malta, Mozambique, and Trinidad and Tobago, which are members of its Steering Committee, have begun funding the programme to the tune of about £1 million (1,957,038.19) spread over three years.

The first project launched under the programme in August 2006, ‘Rebuilding After the Tsunami: Using ICTs for Change,’ offers web development, e-communication services and training to organisations working on tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka and India.

The programme is coordinated by the Commonwealth Connects secretariat within the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Governance and Institutional Development Division.

The Commonwealth Connects Programme is helping to bridge the deepening Digital Divide across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

In an attempt to mitigate this increasing digital fragmentation, a collaborative effort of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth partner agencies and member countries has formed the Commonwealth Connects Programme.

It is a multi-stakeholder partnership whose aim is to facilitate strategic action by governments, the private sector and civil society organisations to fast track positive change. It is a unique initiative that enables the transfer of technology and expertise across the whole Commonwealth.
In 2005, the 53 Heads of Government met under the theme “Networking the Commonwealth for Development”.

At a previous CHOGM, Heads of Government had endorsed what was previously the 'Commonwealth Action Programme for the Digital Divide', now known as the 'Commonwealth Connects Programme', which identified broad programme areas where the Commonwealth had a comparative advantage, in the context of international collaboration, due to a shared legacy of institutional and regulatory development.

The Programme further tends to building on policy and regulatory capacity, modernising education and skills development entrepreneurship for poverty reduction, promoting local access and connectivity, regional networking, local content and knowledge, focussing on these well-defined areas, the commonwealth connects programme will enhance and support the global effort of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The summit aims to foster effective global partnerships between the public and private sectors to help develop and deliver the objectives of the Commonwealth Connects programme.

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12,500 jobs to go @ Lucent-Alcatel

Indications that recent subtle merger between Lucent Technologies and Alcatel would leave 12,500 employees out of job.

This job cut, according to company sources, was in response to business setback the merger suffered in the last quarter.

Lucent-Alcatel is touted as the largest network infrastructure supplier,, but instead boosting its net in the last quarter, it was awful.

The figure of 12,500, it was also gathered as being in excess of earlier projections with 3,500.

CNN reports that while presenting its provisional figures Alcatel-Lucent had already talked of implementing cost cutting measures in excess of those already planned.

Presenting the group's final balance sheet for the fourth quarter, the company announced weekend, that instead of only 9,000 it will during the next three years slash as many as 12,500 jobs.

These measures, according to the company's chief executive, Ms Patricia Russo, would help the group to save 1.7 in place of 1.4 billion euros.

Alcatel-Lucent employs some 80,000 people in 130 countries.

The group is the world's largest supplier of fixed-network technology and the world's second-largest supplier of mobile-network and Internet technology.

Alcatel-Lucent was focused "on supporting the overall transformation occurring in our industry," the group's CEO said.

"This includes the transformation of networks to all-IP, video and multimedia content to enhance communication services, broadband mobility as well as high value services," she added.

Sales of Alcatel-Lucent, which for the first time since the merger of the French company Alcatel and the United States (US)-based telecoms supplier, Lucent presented a quarterly balance sheet for the joint company, saw sales in the fourth quarter of the previous fiscal year drop quarter-on-quarter to 4.421 billion euros from 5.249 billion euros.

Additionally, sales revenue for fiscal 2006 as a whole dipped slightly in year-on-year terms to 18.254 billion euros from 18.574 billion euros.

The telco said that its operating profit in the fourth quarter plummeted quarter-on-quarter (q-on-q) from 566 to 21 million euros; instead of a net income of 381 million euros, this time around the company in the fourth fiscal quarter posted losses of 618 million euros.

In fiscal year, 2006, as a whole operating profit dropped y-on-y from 1.411 billion euros to 1.025 billion euros; net income shrank to 522 million euros from 1.674 billion euros.

In the fourth quarter Alcatel-Lucent reported an EPS loss of 27 eurocents, whereas in the same quarter of the year before there had been an EPS profit of 14 eurocents.

For the year as a whole Alcatel-Lucent posted earnings per share of 23 eurocents; for fiscal 2005 the equivalent figure had been 72 eurocents.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Nigeria bars foreign operators on 3G

Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has announced the barring of foreign interests from participating in the Third Generation (3G) and the 450 Mega Hertz (MHz) auction processes announced weekend.

Announcing this development came through the telecommunications regulator in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), FGN said that participation on the proposed auction slated for April this year, is limited to local operators.

“Participation at the auction process will be limited to existing Nigerian Licensed Network Operators,” NCC said in its website.

The announcement, which came as the first public notice for the year, titled “Licensing of Spectrum in the 2 Gega Hertz (GHz) otherwise known as 3G and 450 Mega Hertz (MHz) bands,” NCC said, the notice was to inform and update interested parties on the bands in which spectrum would be allocated.

“… This spectrum can potentially support a wide range of services and technologies including 3G and Fixed Wireless Access,” NCC said.

NCC also said the notice would enable interested parties to know the allocation process and indicative timetable.

According to the timetable, NCC said it would auction the 3G licenses on April 2, and the 450 MHz bands would take place April 16, 2007.

NCC noted that the proclamation was to strengthen and develop the telecommunications services on the continent and Nigeria particularly. Stressing that this step is in line with its charges to implement the objectives of the nation’s telecommunications policy and Nigerian Communications Act 2003.

The Commission highlighted that interested parties would be expected to make submission of their issue on information memorandum for 3G before Friday, February 23, just as the 450 MHz would be expected on Friday, March 16, 2007, this year.

Bidders’ applications, NCC said, is required to reach the Commission for 3G interests by March 16, whereas submission date for the 450 MHz applications are due on March 30, 2007 respectively.

The auction date for the spectrum, NCC said will be in April with the 3G auctions scheduled for April 2, the 450 MHz has its date on April 16, 2007.

NCC said, the aforementioned timetable is subject to change, and advised interested parties to visit the Commission’s website on a regular basis for latest information.

Over the years, NCC has proved itself as an independent national regulatory authority for the telecommunications industry in the most populous nation on the continent.

Equally, NCC announced that information relating to the process will be made available through its website while applicants seeking further information should contact: spectrumauction@ncc.gov.ng.Meanwhile the three dominant telecommunications operators in the country, Globacom, Celtel and MTN have already expressed interest to that effect to NCC.

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NCC debunks non-transparent of MDC license

Apex telecommunications regulator in Nigeria, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has debunked news reports that granting of Unified Access Service License, recently granted to the Mubadala Development Company (MDC) of the United Arab Emirate (UAE).

It would be recalled that the granting of MDC unified license access to the tune of $400 million about N51.4 billion, came unannounced to stakeholders.

But reacting to the speculation of lack of transparency, which was the haul mark of the initial licensing of the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) in the country in 2001, NCC said it was not true that the latest licensing was devoid of transparency.

Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, while refuting this allegation in a chat with correspondent at Owerri, Imo State, recently after commissioning the two Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Parks, furnished and built by Zinox Technologies Limited.

He said that the granting of the license was an outcome of the federal government’s decision, stressing that it is only the federal government that has the authority to grant frequency allocation.

According to him, the decision was that of the government and all NCC has to do was to verify the viability of the company in this area, that is telecommunications.

He emphasised that the decision was capsulated by the recent plans by the government to improve the bilateral relations with the UAE.

He noted that NCC would continue to keep pace with the transparency level it set in 2001, assuring that they would not disappoint Nigerians at this time.

Noteworthy is that MDC met the NCC, requirement to pay the full licensing fee of $400 million within eight days of acquiring the license.

However, confirming this development, Head, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Dave Imoko, said that MDC adhered to time by completing payment before the close of business last Friday, January 19, 2007.

As said by him, NCC was pleased to announce the award of a Unified Access Service Licence to Mubadala Development Company of the United Arab Emirates.

This, he said, followed the confirmation of the payment of the full licence fee of $400million.
He also said that the license includes a mobile license and spectrum in the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) on 1800 and 900 Mega Hertz (MHz) bands.

He equally said that the latest license would increase telecommunications offerings nationwide through the award of radio spectrum to MDC.

He reiterated that it was granted based on a bilateral agreement between UAE and Nigeria.
Just as he recalled that the terms of offer specified that Mubadala pay the full license fee on or before 19th January 2007 and failing which, the offer shall automatically lapse.
Mubadala has accepted the terms of the offer made on January 11, in full and in accordance last Friday, made full payment to that effect.

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ITU, GSMA sign MoU to advance mobile access

Worldwide telecommunications regulator, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance mobile access in the least developed countries and developing countries.

The signing, which held at the 7th ITU organised Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) in Dubai, Tuesday, was endorsed by the Secretary-General, ITU, Dr Hamadoun Touré, and Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs officer of the GSMA, Mr Tom Phillips.

They said that the accord would strengthen cooperation towards improved access to mobile phone services aimed specifically at bridging the digital divide in both least developed and developing nations.

A press statement authorized by the Head, Corporate Communication at ITU, Francine Lambert, and Mark Smith of GSMA, which was made available to our correspondent, said the agreement focuses on fostering the development of information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in least developed and developing countries.

It was gathered that the deal was driven by the overall objective of implementing the action lines of the two-phased World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005, as well as the World Telecommunication Development conference, held in Doha 2006.

Speaking after the signing ceremony in Dubai, Dr. Touré said he was pleased with the development and looks forward to future collaboration between ITU and GSMA in developing wireless access to connect the unconnected globally.

"ITU is the leading United Nations agency specializing in ICT-related issues and represents a global forum for its 191 Member States and over 600 Sector members. GSMA represents a strong voice of the mobile industry and they are making real contributions towards increasing worldwide mobile penetration, including access in rural and underserved areas of the world," he said.

Also speaking, Mr. Phillips of GSMA, said, the organisation recognised the value of government policies that support private investment, as he expects that through this new relationship, operators would create a means of overcoming some evolution hiccups to pave way for new investment in telecommunications globally.

“Operators hope to create a dialogue that will cut through today’s hurdles and bottlenecks, creating new investment opportunities and integrating our members’ commercial agenda closely with that of government," he said.

The MoU would concentrate on three key areas, namely supporting developing market projects for low cost access to ICT in underserved areas, industry and government cooperation and global industry benchmarking.

Recently, it would be recalled that GSMA established a Developmental Fund to invest in sustainable projects that seek to extend access to and the value of mobile services in the developing world.

GSMA noted that by riding on these efforts in the context of ITU’s Connect the World initiative, attention will focus on identifying ICT development projects where the contributions of industry and governments can be leveraged to "connect the unconnected," particularly through low-cost solutions as well as the innovative use of mobile technology and connectivity in least developed and developing countries.

On the industry and government cooperation, the MoU tends to facilitate closer dialogue between industry and governments by building partnerships aimed at solving problems and facilitating future planning and investment, with special emphasis on developing an enabling policy and regulatory environment in addition to innovative approaches for the use of universal service funds to expand access to ICTs in rural and remote communities.

Just as the global industry benchmarking would be based on coordinating, enhancing research and statistical databases with a view to improving decision-making by compiling comprehensive shared resource of key industry performance indicators and benchmarks.

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DCU commences Associate programme

Data Centre University (DCU) has commenced the offer of Associate certification programme.

DCU is the American Power Conversion (APC) certification programme that validates knowledge, skills and ability for designing, building and operating data centres.

Regional Development Manager for the Middle East and Africa at APC, Mr. Carl Kleynhans, who disclosed this, said that DCU online curriculum now offers an Associate Certification, an international, vendor-neutral credential that recognises foundational knowledge in data centre infrastructure including power, cooling, racks, cabling, fire protection, management and physical security.
According to him, the DCU Associate Certification affords the Information Technology (IT) industry with a global standard for measuring competency in the core elements of a data centre.

He also said that the new certification bestow on today's data centre professionals the opportunity to advance their status in the designing, building and operating of data centres and gain credibility and respect within the industry.

He stressed that a recent survey conducted by AFCOM's Data Centre Institute (DCI), showed that by the year 2015, the number of qualified senior-level data centre professionals will have diminished by 45 per cent.

As the talent pool diminishes and the demand for these professionals grows, certifications will offer the assurance that individuals have the knowledge, skills and the ability to successfully implement data centre solutions.

Mr. Kleynhans said that certification is awarded to those passing an exam of approximately 75 conventional test questions administered by Thomson Prometric testing centres, an international testing provider.

“It is recommended, but not mandatory, that candidates complete the DCU Associate Certification e-learning curriculum that consists of 14 online courses covering a variety of data centre subjects,” he asserted.

He emphasised that since its launch in January 2006, DCU's on-line courses have become an invaluable resource for IT professionals seeking real world training on the fundamental issues surrounding data centres.

“Tens of thousands of registered students speak clearly to the increased need for education in the face of increasing server densities and increasing energy costs,” he said.

The Country Manager further said APC was pleased to offer the certification to individuals who want to validate their qualifications to design, upgrade or operate a data centre.

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Telecom transcends other economies - Ligali

Chief executive, Celtel Nigeria, Mr. Bayo Ligali has said that the role of telecommunications in today global development transcends into other sectors economy and not limited to telecom sub-sector alone.

Speaking at the second annual West African Forum in Abuja, weekend, Mr. Ligali who was represented by Head of Department, Commercial for the North Central Region at Celtel Nigeria, Mr. Ken Ogujifor, explained the impact of telecommunications in economies.

He noted that the development of full bodied telecommunications infrastructure and access, creates job opportunities, advancement in the mode of banking operations, increases speed of broadband services, improves productivity in terms of speed of decision making, just as family and social relationship as well as security and policing would be enhanced.

He stressed the effect of telecommunications in the grassroots areas, citing several examples from Tanzania and Nigeria.

“In Tanzanian, a recent survey revealed that fishermen use mobile phones to find out prices in distant markets thus determining where to land their catch, which is also the same thing that the fishermen in the Niger Delta experience” he said.

Mr. Ligali explained that even poultry farmers in Jos, Plateau State in the north-western Nigeria, use mobile phones to confirm the price of eggs in Abuja to locate attractive markets before undertaking delivery, which could not have happened before the introduction of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM).

He reiterated that the next level of growth in GSM would witness deeper penetration into unserved areas, wider range of services enhanced with data offering and optimal quality of service.

Also commenting at the forum, Minister of State for Information and Communications, Dr. Obafemi Anibaba noted that Nigeria has greatly advanced the development of telecommunications on the continent.

“Nigeria is recognised widely as a major market for telecommunications equipment and services in the African continent,” he declared.

Dr. Anibaba stressed that the government equally recognises the role of communications in national development, hence committed towards ensuring that telecommunications facilities and services are rapidly expanding nationwide.

“Telecommunications holds the promise of achieving even greater gains and will continue to perform a crucial role in the transformation of the economy and the lives of Nigerians,” Anibaba said.

The telecommunication session was presided over by the International Trade Director at the Commonwealth Business Council based in the United Kingdom (UK), Mr. David Wakeford, while the likes of Joseph Tegbe, Partner, KPMG and Mr. Kaikai, Minister of Information and Communications, Sierra Leone.

The forum provided an avenue for dialogue among business executives, potential investors, policy makers and visionaries, to contribute to the development of the West African region.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Microsoft Nigeria appoints Mba-Uzoukwu country manager

Microsoft Nigeria, has named the managing director of Infographics, a Lagos-based software company and partner of Microsoft, Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzo-ukwu as its new country manager.

His emergence follows the resignation and subsequent appoint of immediate past country manager of Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe as the Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone last September.

Confirming this development, Public Relations & Events Manager at Microsoft Nigeria, Ms Ndidiamaka Victoria Uwadoka, said that they were excited over the completion of the selection process of which Mr. Mba-Uzoukwu came top.

According to her, plans are underway for a formal media introduction when he resumes expectedly on February 1, 2007.

“We have finally selected a Country Manager. Indeed we’re really excited to have Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu of Infographics. We will formally introduce him to you as soon as he resumes,” she said.

Mr. Mba-Uzoukwu, who was until his appointment the chief executive/managing director of InfoGraphics Nigeria Limited, which was incorporated in 1992 as a multimedia company to pioneer first-rate multimedia authoring, development and allied services.

He led the company into re-positioning as a leading edge creative design firm using state-of-the-art technology to develop integrated communications programmes.

Microsoft entered into the Nigeria’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) market six years ago following its local incorporation.

Currently having about 20 employees, Microsoft Nigeria’s functions focuses on driving sales of software solution by developing and managing the channel alongside improved customers and partners experience in Nigeria and Ghana.

It has some key partners in the country including :Infosoft/Infographics, CIS Ghana, IPMC Ghana, ATDS, DCK, Bitrax-Axxent among others, while its customers cut across the Federal Government of Nigeria, MTN Communications Nigeria, Ghana Telecoms, ADB Bank Ghana, UBA Plc, Vmobile Nigeria, NLNG Limited, Zinox Technologies, Omatek Computers Limited to name a few.

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Davis becomes VP-CMO @ APC

Global leader in power management solution, the Rhodes Island-based American Power Conversion (APC), has appointed Mr. Aaron L. Davis as the Vice President to head its newly created Communications and Marketing Office (CMO).

Revealing this development, APC president and chief executive officer, Mr. Rob Johnson, said that in this role, Mr. Davis is expected to direct the overall branding and demand creation strategies for the company's global go-to-market teams.

According to him, APC's strengths include its broad presence across multiple product categories, apart from depth in multiple sales channels, and a strong, recognizable brand in all major geographies.

He said, “However, optimizing the solutions presented to our customers and ensuring that global brand communications enforce our competitive positioning has become more of a challenge as our success has grown in both transactional and relational sales segments.”

He expressed believe this organizational change will ensure continued excellence in global brand building and more efficient demand creation.

Mr. Johnson also said that a recent survey by Ogilvy Research of IT and Facilities professionals demonstrated the tremendous success the company has had positioning its innovative InfraStruXure architecture, with respondents from companies with greater than 1000 employees.

He noted that the study showed APC as a "trusted and reliable partner" for data centre solutions at twice the rate of the leading incumbent supplier of cooling products.

Describing Mr. Davis as an active speaker and commentator in the high-tech marketing community, Mr. Johnson further said that Davis has more than 17 years of experience at APC, during which he has held a variety of marketing, channel management and sales positions at the company, including worldwide vice president of sales and marketing for the Small Systems Segment (1999-2003), and most recently serving as vice president, worldwide marketing and communications.

In 2003, Computer Reseller News named him a Top 25 Executive and he has received nominations for Marketer of the Year from Marketing Computers.

Mr. Davis holds a bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master's degree from Columbia University Journalism School.

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Alcatel-Lucent, Glo enters N78b network expansion pact

Telecommunications solution provider, Alcatel-Lucent and the Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom Limited, has entered into a network expansion deal worth over $600 million, about N78 billion.

Announcing this development in a joint press statement by the two companies, they said that the deal involves a series of network expansion projects.

It was also gathered that under the terms of the deal, Alcatel will deploy nationwide fixed and mobile networks as well as next generation IP/MPLS and optical network solutions.

This, the chief operating officer at Globacom, Mr. Mohammed Jameel, said, would expand Globacom’s national mobile network capacity from its current 12 million subscribers to 35 million by December 2007.

In addition, this covers the Alcatel-Lucent multi-standard Evolium radio access and core network solutions as well as transmission solutions.

According to the telcos, the project will boost network performance and support delivery of advanced multimedia, converged services such as triple play, a service that allows provisioning of high-speed Internet, television; video or regular broadcasts and telephony over a single broadband connection.

It would be recalled that Globacom was the first Nigerian operator to offer 2.5 high-speed network data transmission, mobile Internet, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) as well as Blackberry services.

Additionally, Alcatel-Lucent is expected to 292,000 multi-service access lines covering thirteen of the country’s major cities, even as the fixed network solution will facilitate Globacom’s ability to offer voice, high-speed internet access and broadband multimedia services such as video-on-demand, video conferencing and broadcast video to its customers.

Further, the deal affords Alcatel-Lucent to deploy a new DWDM optical transport network to boost Globacom capacity and extend the reach of its existing infrastructure, broadening its service offering to new areas.

“The optical network will cover 40 cities in Nigeria and will be the largest DWDM and IP/MPLS nationwide fibre backbone network to be rolled out in Africa,” the press statement indicated.

Hitherto, Globacom had invested over $3 billion on network expansion and with the new contract the telco brings its investment within the last three years to $4 billion, the biggest in the industry so far.
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