" ITREALMS: May 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007

W.Afri.Tel, driving Nigeria’s FDI up

Features of the week:

REMMY NWEKE in this report reviews how the West African Internetional Telecommunications (W.Afri.Tel) annual show has added to the rise of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Information and Communication Technology sector of the economy.

Since the coming of the West African International Telecommunications and Information Communications Exhibition (W.Afri.Tel), seven years ago, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector has no doubt witnessed tremendous growth in driving the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria.

It is so remarkable that the contributions of FDI in general in the nation’s economy is now running closely behind the oil and gas sector and is anticipated to over-run oil and gas in no distance future.

Described severally as the West Africa’s most important, professional and respected exhibition that is attended by companies from across the world; from Europe to Asia, America down to the host continent, Africa.

In what started as W.Afri.Tel at the New Expo Centre, Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, and organised by Exhibition Management Services (Pty) Ltd of South Africa, a subsidiary of Trade Fair Investments of United Kingdom (UK).

Remarkably, W.Afri.Tel has been consistent in taking place every June since year 2001 with exceptional growth recording between 50-60 per cent each succeeding year and as persistently faced with the challenge of searching for more space to accommodate the increasing number of prospective exhibitors.

Steady growth

Although available statistics have it that core visitors to the annual show are the main telecommunications companies cutting across Information Technology (IT) sub-sector, communication sector, electronics, oil and gas, professional, banking and legal sector as well as commercial, manufacturing and building and construction sub-sectors respectively.

The role of participants in purchasing decisions from their various sectors, according to statistics made available to Champion Infotel indicated that final decision makers recorded 37.60 per cent, those recommending a decision 39.75 per cent, specifying of products 7.90 per cent and others 14.75 per cent.

Relatively, visitor’s job function include that of chief executive officers recording 40.10 per cent, sales & marketing, 12.80 per cent, senior management, 14.20 per cent, professionals 11.06 per cent, consultants 4.35 per cent, technical management 4.05 per cent, general operating management 3.90 per cent, research & development 1.85 per cent, technicians 2.35 per cent, education and training 2.00 per cent and other 3.34 per cent.

Champion Infotel also gathered that over 1,500 visitors recorded in 2001 have grown to over 2,000 in 2002, and 2,800 in 2003. Also over 3,500 was recorded in 2004, over 4,000 in 2005 and in essence of 5,300 recorded in 2006, whereas W.Afri.Tel 2007 is expected to record over 7,000 visitors.

The green leave for this growth is being attributed to the partnership EMS had with one of the leading IT & Telecom Digest, as its Sole Nigeria agent for W.Afri.Tel.

Roll call of exhibitors

Exhibitors expected at this year’s W.Afri.Tel, according to the organisers include Globacom, Celtel, Sony Ericsson, Samsung Electronics, Accat, Netcom Africa, Cyberspace, Gilat Satcom, Hyperia, Briscoe Companies, Direct-on-PC, Swift Networks, Galaxy Backbone, Reliance Telecom, Dasat Network, Danisat.

Also expected are DCC Satellite & Networks, Hakel Trade, Hansen, Mweb, Alteq (ICT), Alpha Technologies, Eurotech, and Dizengoff as well as Starcomms, iCell, SkyVision, Simbanet, Cobranet, Skylinks, Satlynks, Battery Tech and Su-Kam Solar.

Although W.Afri.Tel commenced in June 2001, two months before the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) services actually started, the exhibition has been very instrumental, at the beginning, and continuous in helping to focus global attention on the Nigerian ICT industry.

As said by the chief executive of EMS, Mr. John Thompson, W.Afri.Tel has been at the forefront in bringing global telecom equipment manufacturers to exhibit, for the first time, in Nigeria, thereby instilling confidence in the foreign investor about the Nigerian economy.

He also said, W.Afri.Tel has been growing rapidly over the last three years doubling its growth, with last year being more than double the growth in particular the number of visitors and the calibre of exhibitors.

Noteworthy is that having recognised W.Afri.Tel’s potentials in driving their businesses, many leading Nigerian ICT companies, telecom operators, mobile operators, equipment vendors have come to take W.Afri.Tel as their priority ICT show in Nigeria, hence it was not surprising that every other year, the event has become known as the biggest and the best organised professional exhibition in the West African sub-region.

Positive responses

Just as the organisers through its sole agent in Nigeria appointed Alteq ICT Ltd as the conference managers for WAFICT 2007, which would be marketed and managed by Red Sapphire Nigeria Limited, there has been positive responses for this year’s event.

“We are already receiving positive responses from various stakeholders in the ICT industry in support of the conference as several big industry players have signed up for the event. They include: Globacom, Celtel Nigeria, Sony Ericsson, Huawei Technologies, Starcomms, LG Electronics, Reltel Wireless, Mweb and several Information and Communications Technology Companies in the UK and the West African Sub-region,” the editor-in-chief of IT & Telecom, Mr. Mkpe Abang informed.

This, he said, means W.Afri.Tel is living up to its billing as the regional most sought after exhibition in Sub-Saharah, stressing that even before the advertisement campaign commenced few weeks back, “the booths for the event have been completely sold out,” in what the organisers describe as a reflection of the important role W.Afri.Tel has been playing particularly in the Nigerian ICT sector for the last seven years since the event was instituted, and has been steadfast ever since.

He added that though scores of companies’ spirited efforts to get stands at the event were unfruitful many others were lucky having planned early for the show, saying “Its unfortunately we’re not able to provide space for companies that could not get stands although and wished we could be of help.”

Leading the pack

He cited for example, that the nation’s second national carrier and the emerging toast of Africa’s telecom sector, Globacom, is among the lucky few who planned ahead and were able to secure stands at the event, noting that W.Afri.Tel has always been faced with space challenges as it has outgrown the New Expo Centre at the Eko Hotel & Suites, where it made its debut in June 2001.

In addition, leading its Africa-wide campaign, Celtel Nigeria also comfortably anchored at W.Afri.Tel, even as Sony Ericsson, which has since taken the Nigerian market by storm, and Samsung, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of mobile phones and semiconductors as well as iCell, the Middle East and Africa-wide distributor of mobile phones secured stands at the sub-regional expo.

Mr. Abang pointed out that from the Internet provision sub-sector are leaders like Netcom Africa, Hyperia, Direct-on-PC, Mweb, Cyberspace, Cobranet, just as telephone operators Reliance Telecom and 21st Century Technologies have since joined others in the show, including leading equipment vendors such as Accat and Briscoe Companies are to showcase their products and services at W.Afri.Tel 2007.

The nation’s largest Third Generation (3G) Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) network operator, Starcomms, already sitting comfortably at over half a million lines maintained its traditional spot at the front just as Dizengoff, the two-way radio equipment vendor and leading VSAT company systems integrator, DCC Satellite and Networks returns to the show full of promises.

WACIT at a glance

Champion Infotel investigations also revealed that this year’s event slated to hold from next week Tuesday, June 5 through Thursday, 7, 2007, would equally resurrect the West African ICT (WAFICT 2007) congress with confirmed participation of global, regional and national players in the ICT world.

The organisers also said that WACIT-07 would run concurrently with the exhibition at the Eko Hotel and Suites, with the theme, “Driving West Africa’s Economic Growth with ICT: Technologies, Products, Policies.”

They also said that the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, would deliver the keynote address at the opening session, while high level speakers at the conference have been drawn from senior executives of various ICT organisations in both the public and private sectors and include telecom operators, hardware and software manufacturers, policy, regulatory and enforcement agencies, internet service providers and IT executives in banks, the oil industry as well as other user organisations.

Apart from Dr. Ndukwe, other speakers billed to mount the podium at WACIT congress 2007 include the Chief Operating Officer of Globacom, Nigeria’s second national operator, Mr. Mohamed Jameel, and Starcomms chief executive, Mr. Maher Qubain, who would be leading a list of key industry operators as speakers at the conference.

Speakers being drawn from the entire industry, academia, manufacturers and network operators, are expected to address several issues including growing the Nigerian market, ICT penetration, development and shaping the evolving landscape among other sub-themes.

They would also examine the Nigerian software industry, local and international hardware Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) in the Nigerian market. Cisco Systems, a global leader in connectivity will be playing a key role at the conference speaking on the Nigerian connectivity market, just as others will look at diverse areas from Dial-Up to Broadband and Internet Service Provision in Nigeria.

The Future

In its futuristic characteristic, the conference would also discuss Nigeria’s telecommunications industry and what lies ahead, while assessing the Unified Licensing regime introduced by the NCC in 2006, as well as analysing how licence holders have performed to date and what still needs to be done as the sector progresses.

Additionally, Champion Infotel gathered that stakeholders at WACITD would be dwelling on what should be the priorities of rollout of 3G? While an attempt would be made to answer this weighty question given that Nigeria has issued four 3G licences without loosing sight of its impact on education.

The organisers noted that education in Nigeria would occupy a key area of discussion during the conference, as Jacques Van Schalkwyk, Vice President Intel Middle East and Africa, has been pencilled down to speak on this vital area, even as sub-theme has been developed in areas of education and Information Technology in Nigeria, Can one computer per Nigerian child be achieved? Teacher training and the use of ICT for learning, Digitising the curriculum for use online, Can Nigeria maintain growth without significant investment into connectivity infrastructure? What connectivity bottlenecks hurt Nigerian business most? And can Nigeria create effective public-private partnerships to deliver better connectivity infrastructure services?

Just as the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Cleopas Angaye would be dwelling on “Accelerating growth of Nigeria’s ICT penetration,” with others zeroing in on “Deploying computers in the Nigerian Market; Adoption rates in local markets, OEM challenges in the regional environment, Changing profiles of ICT needs, Aligning Nigeria with international demands.

Overview by Thompson

Celebrated as the most successful and best-organised ICT event in the West African region, W.Afri.Tel often leaves a memorable tale behind after each edition. Thus the enthusiasm at witnessing another year of the show is understandable, and this led to many companies that have become familiar with how competitive getting a stand at the event can be, preparing early and grabbing the available spaces.

Speaking further, Mr. Thompson who expressed excitement on the growth dimension of telecom on the continent and particularly of Nigeria’s leading role said the continued rise in foreign direct investment (FDI) into Nigeria’s telecom is a “renewed confidence in the country’s economy as a peaceful environment where people- foreigners and indigenes now transact businesses without let or hindrance.”

W.Afri.Tel, he noted as an event aimed at apparently in furtherance of this growth in Nigeria’s telecom sector, described it thus, “today Africa’s mobile phone subscriber-base exceeds 100 million but that is only 11 per cent of the continent’s population. The African telecoms market is booming; but the fact is only the surface has been scratched, and Nigeria sure has taken the lead proving that the potential is still immense. We are glad that W.Afri.Tel has contributed in its own way towards this growth in the Nigerian telecom sector.”

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Omatek bags IQ, African Icon awards

Foremost computer manufacturing giant in the country, Omatek Computers Limited has been honoured with the International Quality (IQ) award in far Geneva, Switzerland.

The presentation held recently at the 9th session of the International Quality ceremony in Hotel InterContinental, Geneva was received by the chief executive of Omatek, Mrs. Florence Seriki.

This is coming as Mrs, Florence Seriki also bagged the prestigious “African Icons of our Generations” award in Lagos.

The award attended by distinguished business representatives from all over the world, members of the media and diplomatic corps, and experts in public relations and corporate image, was given to Omatek in recognition of its achievements in the realm of quality culture and the company’s position as a leader in the community and information communications sector.

According to the organisers, the selection process, was a by secret ballot based on a voting process carried out among all the participating former awardees.

The final decision to award Omatek Computers, made by the Quality Convention Award Selection Committee was based on the criteria of the principles of the QC100 TQM.

These criteria are Customer Satisfaction; Communication Strategies; Benchmarking; Information and Data Analysis; Leadership; Planning and Decision-making; Human Resources; Continuing Education and Training; Processes and Production; Financial Outcome;. Business Results; ISO 9000; TQM.

Quality Convention Award is organized by Business Initiative Directions (B.I.D), a leading private organization awarding companies worldwide.

In past years, B.I.D. awards have contributed advantages to companies awarded at conventions, both in media attention and technical advantages of quality implementation

Meanwhile, Omatek weekend, was once again honour through its managing director of OMATEK Computers Mrs, Florence Seriki who bagged the “African Icons of our Generations”.

The award presented to her on May 18th 2007, in Lagos was held at the Ikeja Airport Hotel and according to Accolade Communications, the organizers of the award, Mrs Seriki deserves the award based on her pioneering efforts in information Technology in Nigeria in particular and Africa at large, and her philanthropic gestures, which have gone a long way to improve the quality of life of many Nigerians.

“It has been observed beyond doubts that you are disciplined, prudent, courageous and hardworking leader in your field of endeavor. These qualities, which have seen you through successes, are part of the criteria by which your nomination was measured,” said Luke Okojie, Editor-in-Chief of Accolade Magazine

Omatek Computers Limited is still the current recipient of the Best Systems Builder Award for West, East and Central Africa “, an international Quality award by Microsoft in November 2005 beating forty-two other countries to win the coveted award.

According to Microsoft, it was the international quality consciousness of the OMATEK brand of computers that won it the award. The award in effect confers a stamp of excellence to the quality and volume of computers produced by the company.

Presently, OMATEK Computers has offices in the six geo-political zones of the country and recently launched its factory in Ghana at the instance of the Ghana government.

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VIA introduces Pico-ITX mainboard

Innovator and developer of silicon chip technologies and PC platform solutions, VIA Technologies Incorporated, has announced the introduction of VIA EPIA PX mainboard.

This, the company said it the first commercial mainboard based on VIA’s recently unveiled Pico-ITX form factor measuring just 10cm x 7.2cm.

VIA also said that the product is powered by the 1Gega Hertz (GHz) VIA C7 processor and supports up to 1Gega Byte (GB) of DDR2 533 SO-DIMM system memory, the tiny 10-layer VIA EPIA PX mainboard is based around the single-chip VIA VX700 system media processor, which features the Assistant Vice President, VIA Platform Solutions Division, VIA Technologies Inc., Mr. Daniel Wu, said that the latest product affords VIA UniChrome Pro II IGP 3D/2D graphics core, MPEG-2/-4 and WMV9 hardware decoding acceleration and display flexibility, including support for higher display resolutions of up to HDTV for HD DVD playback.

He also said that onboard connectors and input and out (I/O) enable developers to harness the full power of the mainboard, though the VIA PX-O, a dedicated daughterboard with multiple digital media I/O ports, is available on request to assist project developers in early system testing.

Mr. Wu equally said that power efficiency is integral to the platform, with the maximum power (TDP) of the processor and chipset at 9W and 3.5W respectively combined with low power DDR2 memory enabling the VIA EPIA PX to run standard productivity and multimedia applications at under 13W.

According to him, the VIA EPIA PX mainboard sets a new world standard for ultra compact embedded system platforms, providing a full complement of multimedia and connectivity options on a platform smaller than any standard PC mainboard or x86 system-on-module.

“We’re very excited about our new ‘baby’ mainboard, and are working closely with chassis and other infrastructure partners to expedite adoption of the form factor,” he said.

Mr. Wu added that this scale of platform miniaturization has been made possible only by the reduction in size of the core silicon; the 21mm square nanoBGA2 package of the VIA C7 processor and 35mm square VIA VX700 system media processor have a combined area of just 16.7cm2, a board real estate saving of over 50% from previous generation EBGA processors plus twin-chip core logic solutions, and more than that over competing solutions.

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FG to penalise IT fund tax defaulters - ITREALMS

THE Federal Government will penalise any organisation that refuses to pay the one per cent levy on profit before tax (PBT) payable by specified companies whose annual turn over is more than N1 million, as stipulated by the recently assented Information Technology (IT) Act by immediate past President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, reports ITREALMS.

Chief executive of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Cleopas Officer Angaye, disclosed this in Lagos at the interactive session jointly organised by his office and Joint Action Committee on Information and Communications Technology Awareness and Development (JACITAD) to present the Act to stakeholders.

Responding to questions, Prof. Angaye said that his office has the mandate under the IT Act also known as NITDA Act to establish an IT Development Fund, which stipulates that the fund shall be recapitalised from 1 per cent levy on profit before tax to be paid by specified companies whose annual turn over is more than N1m.

He said that the tax is deductible and all donations made to NITDA or to the fund are tax deductible, just as it is an offense to refuse to pay the levy after assessment by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

“It’s an offence for any of those firm earning over N1m not to comply,” he declared.

The fund, according to him, would be expended in carrying out the implementation and developmental process of the agency as charged by the Act.

Prof. Angaye noted that the Act which came into being since Friday, April 24, 2007 that his office has since then set up a five-man implementation committee made up of member of Computer Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), a lawyer and three others drawn from NITDA to take a second look at the IT law and advice the agency on the best way to carry out the implementation process so as to ensure that every interest group is taken care of.

The NITDA boss pointed out that ever since NITDA was established by fiat of the federal government in 2001 it has been surrounded with scope and mandate that had made it an issue of conjecture, but stressed that now the Act is here, it has now clearly makes specific provisions as to the scope of its mandate.

Prof. Angaye also gave the highlights of the Act as made up of eight parts to include part 1 addressing the issue of establishment of the agency, part 2 on composition of the governing board, powers and functions, which must not exceed 19 stakeholders.

Equally, he said, the part 3 dwelt on staff and structure of the agency, part 4 on the establishment of the NITDA Endowment Fund, part 5 harped on Information Technology Parks, while part 6 was on financial provisions, and part seven was on legal proceedings as well as part eight was on miscellaneous.

Based on the new Act, Prof. Angaye enthused that the agency now has powers to create a frame work for the planning, research, development, standardisation, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of information technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria and all matters related thereto and for that purpose, and which without detracting from the generality of the foregoing shall include providing universal access for IT and systems penetration including rural, urban and under-served areas.

This is in addition to providing guidelines to facilitate the establishment and maintenance of appropriate infrastructure for information technology and systems among others.

Remmy Nweke/EDoP

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MultiChoice, InterSwitch partner on DStv

LEADING Pay-Television (Pay-TV) operator in the country, MultiChoice Nigeria, has announced its ground-breaking customer service partnership with Interswitch, a foremost electronic transaction switching and payment processing company, to ease payment services for its prized DStv subscribers across the country.

Disclosing this, Public Relations Manager, MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, Mr. Segun Fayose, quoted his Managing Director, Mr. Collins Khumalo, as saying that by virtue of the agreement signed with Interswitch recently, DStv subscribers in nationwide now can make subscription payments at 13 different bank institutions.

He also said the new innovation by MultiChoice Nigeria is expected to reduce, to a large extent, the need for customers to physically visit MultiChoice offices to pay their monthly subscription

He listed the banks covered by the partnership with Interswitch as First Bank, Union Bank, Access Bank, Skye Bank, Oceanic Bank, Afribank, GT Bank and United Bank for Africa .

Mr. Khumalo added that other banks consist of Intercontinental Bank, Bank PHB, Sterling Bank, Spring Bank and Ecobank, this is over and above collections being done by Zenith Bank, First City Monument Bank, First Inland Bank.

He pointed out that the new partnership with Interswitch is a glowing testimony to MultiChoice Nigeria’s customer centric vision of consistently growing its products and service options of Pan Nigeria to match consumer demands.

While announcing the list of the new subscription payment bank outlets, the Managing Director was quick to point out that First City Monument Bank and Zenith International Bank remain the primary bankers for MultiChoice Nigeria.

It will be recalled that MultiChoice Nigeria recently opened two new branches in Ikeja and Ibadan to bring the number of its offices in the country to nine as part of its continuing effort to remain the undisputable clear leader in the industry in terms of service options for its discerning subscribers. MultiChoice also revealed that it will soon roll out super dealerships to serve subscribers in the regions where the company currently does not have branch presence.

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How best to use stylus

Market Intelligence:

NOWADAYS most mobile handheld phones come with stylus; a pencil like writing tool that enable users to navigate their mobile devices with ease.

A stylus pronounced STAI-luhs, from the Latin stilus or ‘stake’ is an instrument for writing and, in computers, an input device used to write text or draw, especially these days of screen touch handheld devices.

Put succinctly, a stylus point is made of a firm but non- scratching plastic to “write” on today’s very popular Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and simply defined as a ‘pen’ that does not write according to StylusCentral.com.

PDA could be described as Pen-based computers made by Palm, Handspring, Hewlett Packard, Casio, Sony Ericsson to name a few.

Although some other tools have emerged into the market place such that is known as Styli and Stylus multi pens making it easier to write both on a PDA environment and on paper.

A Stylus Multi point pen has more than one writing point, which means that users have multi pens with 2 to 4 points. While one point could be a stylus and the others could be pencils of different colour pens or ball point hiliter.

One significant aspect of using Stylus, according our investigations has been in the joy of using it to give commands to your PDA instead of the normal pressing of buttons on the phone, therefore singling one out as a high-end phone user.

But one aspect that some PDA users are missing is that frequent drawing out of their stylus makes the holder which usually attached to their PDA phones to get loose and over time it does not hold tight the stylus any more.

This effect leaves the user with two choices; the ability to loose the stylus as possible or at best be extreme careful on how to draw your stylus in and out.

It is relevant for users of PDA’s to take note of where they place their PDAs, especially those who use belt-pouch meant for phones, otherwise you stands the chance of losing your stylus.

Though it could be replaced if lost for $9.99 (about N1000) in most cases the three in-one Lifedrive Stylus with Spring hook at the edge. While the least stylus cost about $3.99, that is about N450, this could be purchased off the counter in any telecom accessory shop, even as plenty of it could be seen on display at the Computer Village, Ikeja-Lagos.

Above all, if you are replacing your Stylus, it is better to use it on the PDA to ensure that works and even fits in within the stylus corner of your PDA perfectly.

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Owerri confab: NCS gets new dates

THE leadership of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella organisation of the all the Information Technology (IT) professionals, interest groups and stakeholders in the country, has announcement the shift in dates for its 9th international conference slated to hold in Owerri, capital of Imo State.

The society includes associations such as Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) Nigeria Information Technology Practitioners in the Civil Service, Nigeria Information Technology Corporate Members Group, The Nigerian Information Technology Academic Group and National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS).

NCS through its Acting Executive Secretary, Mr. Ejide Oladunmoye, informed that the conference earlier scheduled to hold next month, June between Tuesday 12 and Friday 15, 2007, has been postponed by one month.

“It would now be held on July 17 through 20, 2007 at the Imo Concord Hotel, Owerri,” he said.

However, no reason was given for the postponement, but industry watchers informed Champion Infotel that it was not unconnected to change of leadership at various states of the federation yesterday, May 29, after the April general polls.

Generally, the objective of NCS is the advancement of Computer Science and Information Technology systems; their applications and deployments to professional practice in education, government, the military, industry and support for work, which is important to the general community and the professions at large.

Champion Infotel recalled that last year, the 8th international annual conference of NCS was held in Adamawa State in the North East part of the country, and a year before, it was held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Transformation of NCS began in 2002 when all the relevant organs agreed to form an umbrella, hence the name of Computer Association of Nigeria (COAN) was changed to NCS to reflect the industry feeling and gain recognition.

Its annual confab involves exhibitions and conferences.

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Owerri confab: NCS gets new dates

THE leadership of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella organisation of the all the Information Technology (IT) professionals, interest groups and stakeholders in the country, has announcement the shift in dates for its 9th international conference slated to hold in Owerri, capital of Imo State.

The society includes associations such as Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) Nigeria Information Technology Practitioners in the Civil Service, Nigeria Information Technology Corporate Members Group, The Nigerian Information Technology Academic Group and National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS).

NCS through its Acting Executive Secretary, Mr. Ejide Oladunmoye, informed that the conference earlier scheduled to hold next month, June between Tuesday 12 and Friday 15, 2007, has been postponed by one month.

“It would now be held on July 17 through 20, 2007 at the Imo Concord Hotel, Owerri,” he said.

However, no reason was given for the postponement, but industry watchers informed Champion Infotel that it was not unconnected to change of leadership at various states of the federation yesterday, May 29, after the April general polls.

Generally, the objective of NCS is the advancement of Computer Science and Information Technology systems; their applications and deployments to professional practice in education, government, the military, industry and support for work, which is important to the general community and the professions at large.

Champion Infotel recalled that last year, the 8th international annual conference of NCS was held in Adamawa State in the North East part of the country, and a year before, it was held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Transformation of NCS began in 2002 when all the relevant organs agreed to form an umbrella, hence the name of Computer Association of Nigeria (COAN) was changed to NCS to reflect the industry feeling and gain recognition.

Its annual confab involves exhibitions and conferences.

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DaniSat to introduce latest Thuraya phones @ W.Afri.Tel

NATIONAL Service provider in the country, Danisat Communications Limited, has advanced plans to launch its latest brand of popular Thuraya phones at the forthcoming West African International Telecommunications Exhibitions (W.Afri.Tel) 2007 taking place in Lagos.

Managing Director, Danisat Communications, Mr. Aigbo Emigbuan, informed that his firm would be showcasing the newly introduced Thuraya Generation II Satellite phone models S0 2510 and SG 2520 at the 7th edition of WAFRITEL billed to hold June 5-7 2007, at the Expo Hall, Eko Hotel and Suites.

He also said that the new phones which have been described as the smallest -SO 2510 and SG 2520 satellite phones in the world come with superior Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation capabilities.

In addition, he said that it has General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) for Internet mobility, camera and video with high memory capabilities, Global System for Mobile (GSM) Tri-band including Universal Serial Bus (USB) connectivity, Java-enabled for third party Java applications and several other superior features than any other satellite-based mobile communications product.

Mr. Emigbuan, noted that the superior technological advancement of the phones also places it as the “most advanced in satellite phone design technology.”

Equally, he said the phones were specifically re-designed and modernized to be smaller, sleeker and sturdier to ensure it meets the growing demands for portable satellite mobile phones especially in Nigeria where slim phones have began to emerge since the introduction of GSM over six years ago.

“With the Thuraya satellite phones, subscribers can initiate and or receive calls from anywhere in Nigeria as well as more than 110 countries where Thuraya operates with the guarantee for better reception and higher call success rate,” he said.

Mr. Emigbuan emphasised that this success rate is based on satellite technology with Global Positioning System, a technology that offers subscribers the ability to determine their exact location and the phone, just as it is compatible with GSM phones.

He, therefore enjoined all visitors to WAFRITEL-07, to visit Danisat stand at the Expo Centre of Eko Hotel throughout the exhibition to experience the latest in satellite mobile telephony on display, as he further described Thuraya phones “as one that covers a third of the globe and yet fits conveniently into everyone’s pocket.”

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SAT, NetCom Africa enter deal on tourism

THE South African Tourism (SAT) has entered into a partnership with an Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications company, Netcom Africa in the country.

A press statement made available to Champion Infotel by the authorities of SAT, said that in a ground deal South African Tourism (SAT) is partnering with Netcom Africa, one of Nigeria’s leading communications infrastructure providers of satellite and wireless broadband in West Africa, to promote South Africa as a tourist destination to its database of subscribers.

SAT’s Trade Relations Manager for West Africa, Thuto Sethole was quoted as saying that the partnership would accelerate the alternative platforms to promote South Africa in the most populous nation on the continent.

“We have been looking at alternative platforms to promote South Africa to Nigeria. Partnering with Netcom Africa was a strategic decision as it is a reputable company that is trusted by the Nigerian community and industry,” Sethole said.

According to the SAT manager, current and potential subscribers using Netcom‘s services such as the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) and wireless broadband products daily in their homes and work environment afford the opportunity of presenting SA Tourism to engage with them.

The partnership, which is the first of its kind, Sethole said, means great rewards for the NetCom subscribers on the continent and especially in Nigeria.

“The Netcom and SAT partnership, the first of its kind for Netcom, means great rewards for the Netcom subscriber base in the form of promotions and easy access to travel information on South Africa as a tourist destination,” the press statement said.

Also speaking on the deal, Marketing Manager at Netcom Africa Mrs Lolade Shonubi, described SAT as a reputable entity.

“South African Tourism is a reputable organization with a similar target market. There is a strong synergy between Netcom and SAT that will enhance the Netcom brand greatly,” she said.

Mrs Shonubi pointed out that as an award winning company, “our partnership strengthens our mandate to bring a premium variety of IP services to our subscribers and promote the Netcom brand internationally,” she declared.

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Briscoe to showcase products

MAJOR distributor of Motorola two-way communications products in the country, Briscoe Technologies has said it would be displaying avalanche of telecommunications handy solutions at the West African International Telecommunication otherwise known as W.Afri.Tel-07.

Sales and Marketing Manager at Briscoe Technologies, Mr. Aloy Ezugwu, said that the company has already concluded preparation for the 7th W.Afri.Tel coming up next week Tuesday through Thursday at the popular New Expo Centre, Eko Hotel & Suites Lagos.

Some of the products earmarked for display at the expo, he said, include the MOTOTRBO, the first digital two-way radio solutions, MOTOWi4 - a portfolio of wireless broadband solutions, TETRA radios as well as the ARTEVEA T-Matrix hi-tech TETRA base station.

He also disclosed that the MOTOTRBO, which has special customized features and capabilities of boasting twice the talk channels of conventional analogue two-way system that comes with Global Positioning System (GPS) that facilitates its tracking and internet protocol data applications.

This, he said is a unique combination, that has the capacity to improve workforce productivity for professional organisations involved in transport, education, construction, manufacturing, security, aviation, oil & gas and other specialized industries.

As said by him, MOTOWi4 is a portfolio of wireless broadband solutions that has the capacity to deliver unprecedented bandwidth coverage via broadband technology for virtually all applications used everyday by service providers, government, municipalities and other businesses.

He also stated that the new digital products can also work in analogue mode; by this, organisations that are already using analogue products can equally use the digital radios in both analogue and digital modes while gradually migrating to full digital mode at their own pace.

While extending invitation to the general public and specifically the corporate organisations and visitors at large to visit Briscoe Technologies stand at W.AfriTel, he said that it would afford them the chance of embracing the new solutions as a way of improving productivity and efficiency.

Just as he did not forget that they could also take advantage of Briscoe’s public IP-TETRA network which enables customers to hook up to the radio network without worrying about licenses or owning their infrastructures.

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MTN presents cars to Love bug promo winners

Telecommunications giant in the country, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, on Sunday presented cars to the winners of its Love Bug promo that ended in Lagos recently.

These winners were led by the star prize winner and an Akure-based civil servant, Mr. Biodun Ogunwoya who went home with BMW 1 series wagon car.

The presentation came in the heels of the winners return from their weekend treats for two for the 10 winners and return of the star prize winner from one week trip to Paris with his partner.

Speaking, the General Manager, Consumer Marketing at MTN Nigeria, Mr. Ikechukwu Kalu, informed that the pomo witnessed tremendous participation of about 93 million subscribers.

He also said that the star prize winner, enjoyed a trip to Paris with his partner and following the winners return to base, MTN has decided to present them with their brand new cars, recalling that the star prize winner, also had in addition the sum of $3,500 for a change of wardrobe.

Also, 72 subscribers on the network, he said, won N100,000 each at various electronic draws for the promotion as well as four journalists, even as 10 other subscribers benefit by having a weekend trip to any resort in the country for two in addition to their ownership of new Toyota Corolla cars respectively.

The MTN Y’ello Love bug promo was a Valentine campaign launched by the telco to avail its subscribers the opportunity to win BMW 1 series, a trip to Paris for two plus $3,500 cash, 10 customers won weekend trip to a resort in Nigeria in addition to a Toyota Corolla and N100,000 for wardrobe make over.

Another 50 customers also went home with N100,000 each, 100 customers were treated to a special Valentine’s day dinner with free hotel accommodation, yet another 5000 subscribers won N5,000 airtime each and 500 customers won exquisite hamper for the season.

MTN Nigeria prides itself as a leading cellular telecommunications company, which launched its GSM operation on May 16, 2001 in the country.

Since its commercial launch in August 2001, MTN has steadily deployed its services nationwide covering over 223 cities and towns, more than 10,000 villages and communities and a growing number of highways across the country, spanning the 36 states of the Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Many of these villages and communities are being connected to the world of telecommunications for the first time ever.

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Glo boosts prepaid offer with Classic Plus

SECOND National Operator and Third Generation (3G) licensee, Globacom Limited has give boost to its prepaid subscribers as it availed its prepaid subscribers on the Classic 200 package to take advantage of the competitive rates offered in the new Classic Plus package.

Globacom also said its offering these Classic subscribers further opportunity to migrate free onto to its new Classic Plus platform.

Company sources said that the enhanced Classic Plus package offers among other things a new off-peak on-net call rate of 40 kobo per second and 48 kobo per second for on-net calls at peak period.

Glo’s peak period is from 7a.m. to 9:59pm Mondays to Fridays, while off peak is from 10pm to 6.59am and all weekends.

“Old prepaid subscribers who are still on the Classic 200 platform, but wish to enjoy the very low tariff of Classic Plus, have the opportunity to migrate free of charge to Classic Plus by simply dialing 125,” a statement from Globacom’s marketing department informed.

Classic Plus was launched in October 2006, with a lower tariff plan than what then existed in the industry including Classic 200, the standard Glo prepaid package. Subscribers were invited to migrate to the new package for free, or move to another package called Easytalk for a token fee of N300.

As part of its plans to give Nigerians a friendly mobile package through Classic Plus, Globacom slashed tariff for calls made between midnight and 5.00 am everyday within the network to as low as 5 kobo per second on net and 35k per second off net .

Glo’s midnight call rate and the on-net tariffs are considered the lowest in their category in the industry. Glo’s midnight call period of 12midnight to 5a.m. is also the longest. Taken holistically, a combination of the rebate from the long off-peak period and low tariffs, gives the Glo Mobile subscriber a very competitive bargain through the Classic Plus package, without access fees and migration charges.

According to the statement, SMS on the Classic Plus package costs only N5 on net, and N15 for SMS to other networks and international destinations. International calls to all countries of the world, except small islands, cost 65k per second.

The statement from the company said that Glo Mobile, by this value enhancement package, is giving subscribers a mobile line that is easy to use, pocket friendly and reliable.

“We want to give our subscribers an excellent network that keeps them happy,” the statement said.

Meanwhile the Glo Mobile has appealed for subscribers’ understanding over disruptions of service currently being encountered on the network in Shendam, Plateau State and some parts of Makurdi in Benue State.

The company’s Executive Director for Marketing Communication, Okon Iyanam, explained that the disruptions are occasioned by an ongoing network expansion by Globacom, and deployment of optical transport network in the affected areas.

“We sincerely apologise to our subscribers in the affected areas for the difficulty in making and receiving calls. Globacom’s commitment to ensuring that our subscribers enjoy the highest quality has necessitated network expansion which is causing temporary disruptions in making and receiving calls”, Iyanam explained.

“We crave their patience and understanding and assure them that our network engineers are working round the clock to ensure that network quality in the affected areas is improved within the shortest possible time”.

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Celtel to reward Nigerians with N220m

Third Generation (3G) compliant telco, Celtel Nigeria is dangling an anniversary package worth N220 million to thank Nigerians for acceptance of the brand in the country in the last one year.

Disclosing this, Celtel’s Head of PR, Events and Sponsorships Division, Emeka Oparah, said the telco has announced a N220 million free airtime offer for its customers to mark its one year of operating in Nigeria under the Celtel brand name, and to express appreciation to its customers for their loyalty.

According to him, the offer, which commences May 28, 2007, would provide Celtel subscribers the opportunity to win 100 free minutes each every week by simply recharging their phones with N500 weekly. The offer will end on June 25, 2007.

Mr. Oparah, also said precisely a year ago, May 28, 2006, Pan-African Mobile Operator, Celtel International acquired 65 per cent controlling equity in then Vmobile, leading to a change in the brand name to Celtel Nigeria.

“We look back those weeks and months with pride and excitement having reasonably achieved our core objective of ‘making life better’ for Nigerians-a philosophy which underpins our every single action,” he said.

Mr. Oparah added that at Celtel the marking of the anniversary, which coincided, with the celebration of the gradual coming of age of democracy in Nigeria is intended to appreciate Nigerians and especially its subscribers.

“As we mark the anniversary, which fortuitously coincides with the celebration of the gradual coming of age of democracy in Nigeria, we say thank you to Nigerians, customers and intending customers alike,” he said.

He further said that during the offer, Celtel would give its esteemed customers the chance to win a total of 10 million free minutes, stressing that about 25,000 customers would emerge winners weekly over the four-week period.

“A total of 10 million free minutes is up for grab and about 100,000 lucky winners are expected to enjoy the free airtime,” he said.

Mr. Oparah explained that in order to qualify for the weekly draws, customers are expected to recharge their phones with N500 weekly. The recharges could be N500 recharge card denomination/Mobile top up or several recharge cards denominations (e.g. N200, N100, and N300) totalling N500.

As said by him, to enhance their chances of winning, customers could make many entries by recharging their phones with multiples of N500.

He pointed out that draws will be done every week and customers who qualify for the week’s draw by recharging their phone with N500 will be offered the opportunity to win 100 free minutes.

Further, to ensure transparency in the selection of the winners, a leading International firm of auditors, Alexander Forbes, has been appointed to collate and verify the entries and to supervise the weekly draws.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

InfraStruXure bags Infotel award

By Remmy Nweke

Over the years, business organisations of various sizes, have suffered untold hardships in the area of data loss and manpower wastage due to inadequacies in power supply.

As such, erratic power supply has become a major limitation to survival of many businesses in Nigeria. Some of such power problems include frequent outages, spikes, surges and phase failures.

However, this is more prevalent in developing nations of the world of which the West African region falls within Nigeria.

Also given the prevalence of burgeoning evolution of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) more and more people and organisations are now dependent on technologies to not only safeguard their data but needs advantageous solution to preserve both their data and ICT tools.

Hence it was not surprising that global leader in power management solutions, the Rhodes Island-based American Power Conversion (APC), came up with InfraStruXure, an innovative architecture for Network-Critical Physical Infrastructure (NCPI) solutions.

InfraStruXure was developed using an open, building-block approach that is standardized with modular components, to fully integrate power, cooling, and environmental management within a rack-optimized design.

Country Manager for APC West Africa, Mr. Charles Iyo, informed that InfraStruXure enables customers to install only what is required today, yet easily scaled to meet future demands, just as it increases system availability while decreasing design and install time from months to days. Also, it is an architecture suitable for environments of all sizes, from wiring closets to large data centres.

For the wiring closets, for instance, he said that rack-based power, cooling, and environmental management could be accomplished with 1-3 racks. Rack or rack-mounted, is a unit of electronic equipment that is housed in a metal framework called an equipment rack and is commonly used by deployment technicians in reference to the assembly of computer hardware within a system, computer rack or computer cabinet.

Standardized components

But all InfraStruXure systems, Mr. Iyo said, are built from standardized components that are modular, manageable and pre-engineered to work together, emphasising that it would be customised according to the orders of the end-user organisations.

According to him, the modular systems affords the customized-to-order theme facilitated through the online APC design portal, which generates price, value and performance solutions using your – customers - input criteria.

Customers, he said, could explore InfraStruXure for data centres on demand via online so as to discover the very real benefits of its fully integrated power, cooling and environmental management within a rack-optimized design.

“Surf the top level of typical InfraStruXure configurations, or drill down to the component level. Learn just what you need to know, at your own pace,” he asserted, advising interested end-users intending to explore this online tour to ensure they select the typical configuration and then register, adding, “Once in the tour, you may view other configurations.”

Another instance of optimising InfraStruXure, Mr. Iyo said, is that computer rooms are regarded as the heart of many small and medium businesses, often are not originally or specifically designed to provide the ideal environment for Information Technology (IT) equipment, so, special attention is given to NCPI when deploying racks for servers, switches, and other IT equipment, even as these are required to ensure availability.

APC, he said, based on its renowned expertise offers solutions for the computer room to include Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), racks, rack Protocol Data Unit (PDUs), air-conditioning/airflow, environmental management, and other related accessories to achieve the level of availability required by customers.

The country manager was specific that several challenges have evolved in the computer room environment over the past few years due to trends such as server consolidation, technology compaction, and the convergence of voice, video, and data. He also outlined some of these challenges to include getting enough power and power receptacles to each of the racks to support today’s increasing power densities, effectively cooling all of the IT equipment deployed, organizing the large amount of data and power cables, providing security, and managing the complete system.

Installation Services

Underscoring the essence of InfraStruXure, Mr. Iyo said, that a set of service options have been designed to deliver the vital resources, expertise, and tools needed to quickly and efficiently implement the APC solution by way of system integration and interactive.

He explained that InfraStruXure systems could be installed by application via integration of the APC’s NCPI solutions targeted at specific server rooms and data centres applications, just as APC avails customers the opportunity of self-paced online tour, which is a quick and easy way to learn about InfraStruXure’s innovative approach to network-critical physical infrastructure.

He maintained that InfraStruXure is a solution that provides optimal availability, increased adaptability and a lower total cost of ownership, whereas its design process enables customers to quickly design a solution to individual exact specifications.

The evolution of InfraStruXure, APC said, was based strictly on white papers cutting across airflow uniformity through perforated tiles in a raised-floor data centre, cooling strategies for IT wiring closets and small rooms, the essentials of cooling system and power system requirements for Next Generation Data Centres (NGDC) respectively.

Equally, InfraStruXure has been found to adhere strictly to the essential rack system requirements for NGDC, mean time between failure: explanation and standards, performing effective MTBF comparisons for data centre infrastructure and mechanism for preventing data corruption in the event of an extended power outage as well as 10 cooling solutions to support high-density server deployment and understanding as well as its downtime risks.

He also explained that in building the InfraStruXure design, APC considered that large data center should contain 100+ racks, medium data center 20-100 racks, small data center 5-20 racks, computer room 1-5 racks, while wiring closet ranges between 1 and 3 racks, even as other rack solutions such as Personal Computer (PC) workstation, servers, storage array, Voice Internet Protocol (VoIP) and telecommunications, and networking devices were catered for.

Miscellaneous devices such as fax machines and printers, notebook batteries, UPS batteries and upgrades, service selector and cables, were not left out of consideration by the power company.


For the Head, Information Technology (IT) at Kenyan Imperial Bank, Mr. Don Ochola, whose environment is akin to Nigeria, if the APC InfraStruXure solution was not in place “it would be impossible for Imperial Bank to function and service our customers,” stressing that it would amount to instability and likelihood of loosing data and facing furious customers as well as heavy fines from the Central Bank of Kenya and a loss of reputation.

“From a long-term perspective, our profitability would be eroded and it would be difficult to conduct business in the future,” he said, adding that in monetary terms, this would amount to a loss of income of at least US$ 300,000 to 400,000 per day.

He was quick to add that the challenges faced in attempting to manage data centre include maintaining availability, centralised manageability, the provision of adequate power and cooling and the optimal use of space within the data centre.

“We decided to implement the InfraStruXure after conducting a comparison against other uninterruptible power supply (UPS) solutions, which revealed not only the cost effectiveness of InfraStruXure, but its redundancy and simplified management capabilities. The APC solution also utilised our data centre space most effectively while enabling us to cater for future growth,” Ochola said.

InfraStruXure integrates Smart UPS

Elucidating this fact, Jacqui Gradwell of APC, said that InfraStruXure requires a much lower upfront capital expenditure and fully meets the requirements of a stable and reliable power output.

InfraStruXure’s best feature, Gradwell noted is the effortless management from anywhere as alerts could be sent to a designated employee and the bypass switch allows maintenance to be carried out without bringing down user’s servers.

Commenting on this production, the immediate past, APC president and chief executive officer, Mr. Rob Johnson, 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 1,000 employees.

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

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

Mr. Johnson expressed believe that its prime objective is to ensure continued excellence in global brand building and more efficient demand creation.

Noteworthy is that InfraStruXure system now integrates its Smart-Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) VT power module. The integration comes with hot-swappable batteries and integrated power distribution, even as the new InfraStruXure system offers quick connect components and turnkey features to speed up deployment time.

“Since the InfraStruXure with Smart-UPS VT architecture uses a modular and scalable design approach, users can expand the system by adding APC’s innovative in-row cooling, centralized management and security products for enhanced capabilities,” he said.

APC underscored that the new InfraStruXure with Smart-UPS VT is ideal for server rooms and small data centres as well as for remote locations including regional offices, even as it is available in 30KVA and 40KVA, 400V input and are now available in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Sum up

Based on the aforementioned innovative deployment of APC InfraStruXure, continental award-winning Information and Communication Technology (ICT) newspaper, Daily Champion, through its Champion Infotel, renowned for excellence in science and technology reporting, after due evaluation, hereby declare InfraStruXure, the best solution for server room for the first quarter of 2007.

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‘Obasanjo may not commission IXPN’

Despite the approval of the seed fund for the take-off of the nation’s Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the outgoing president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo may not after all have the benefit of commissioning the exchange before leaving office.

Champion Infotel gathered at the weekend that NCC has approved the take off fund for the IXPN board of trustees led by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) magnet in the country, Chief Chima Apugo Onyekwere.

It was also gathered that the fund would mature for access as from today, Wednesday or at most before Friday.

Although the actual figure of the seed fund for IXPN expected to be in billions was not disclosed by our sources, Champion Infotel was reliably informed that it does not give the apple time needed to actively put some structures in place before it could be commissioned by President Obasanjo, who is to leave office in less than five working days, that is, by Tuesday, May 29, 2007.

It would be recalled that Chairman, Linkserve Limited, Chief Onyekwere, was recently appointed as the chairman of the newly inaugurated 11-man board of directors of the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN).

While announcing this, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, said that it was in tandem with the directives of Mr. President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Also, Champion Infotel notes that following the conclusion of the second phase of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis 2005, the need for Internet Exchange Point/Gateway for Nigeria came to the forefront in the nation’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) development.

Consequently, President Obasanjo directed NCC to urgently establish an Internet Exchange Point (IXP) for the country.

This paved the way for the setting up of a Presidential Committee on the Nigeria Internet Exchange Point headed by Mr. Ndukwe Kalu of Amsco Telecom, at the first quarter of 2006. The committee has since completed the first phase of the project, which was to set up the Lagos branch made of three exchanges, namely Ikeja, Victoria Island and Neccom House, Onikan-Lagos.

The Presidential committee also supervised the registration of a company by the name Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria Ltd (IXPN) by guarantee to handle the operations of the exchange.

IXPN is also a Public Private Partnership where all the nation’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and content providers are stakeholders to collaborate, just as the company is neutral and not-for-profit organization.

Members of the board drawn from stakeholders and academia and to continue the process of expansion of Internet exchange presence in other parts of the country that was initially slated to be seven in number.

They include Mrs. Zubaida M. Rasheed of Transcorp, Dr. Sylverster A. Ehikioya, NCC, Mr. Sam Adeleke of Digitek Teevee Cunsulting and president, Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), Prof. K.R. Adebayo of FTU Minna, Mr. Aminu Tijjani of Multilinks, Mr. Yen Choi of Netcom, Mr. Chioke Ogugua of Celtel, Mr. Sunday Afolayan of Scannet, Mr. Akinwale Goodluck of MTN and Managing director of IXPN, Mr. Muhammed Rudman.

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Stakeholders root for broadband deployment

Participants at the just concluded one-day Stakeholders forum in Lagos have declared support for the deployment of broadband in the country.

Speakers at the event included the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, Executive Commissioner, Engineering and Standards at NCC, Mr. Stephen Bello, Afolabi Oni of PPC Limited and Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin among others, agreed that Nigeria should take advantage of this technology to advance penetration of ICT.

In his remark, Dr. Ndukwe reiterated the resolve of NCC to foster Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services through broadband deployment, hence the commission declared 2007 as “year of broadband for Nigeria.”

He said that NCC is determined to live up to this dream, stressing that “we intend to make Nigeria the best, if not in the world but in Africa in the deployment and usage of broadband.”

Dr. Ndukwe noted that the recent award of Third Generation (3G) licenses to four entities in the country is a testimony of NCC decision to boost both the fixed and mobile as well as nomadic networks.

Mr. Bello in his paper, “Frequency Resource and Technical Guidelines for Broadband Service Roll out in Nigeria,” said that why the commission choose to focus on broadband deployment was because it enriches user experience and in commercial applications such as banking, broadband enables transaction to take place faster, thereby allowing more clients to be served in a given time.

“This, ultimately translates into higher turnover and profit,” he said, stressing that in telemedicine, Internet shopping or electronic education (e-edu), broadband facilitates the transmission of high quality pictures.

He went on to define broadband as a communication system that has the capacity to convey high quality video, data and sound signal.

“It is a communications system whose bandwidth allows it to transmit signals in excess of 1 mega bits (MB) per second,” he said, adding that from a user’s experience, a broadband network enables Internet download of music or large files in seconds rather than in minutes or hours as in the case of dial-up or shared bandwidth networks.

Mr. Bello also said that NCC core policies regarding deployment of broadband, entails that its technology and service should be neutral, while ensuring spectrum efficiency.

Thus, he said, operators are free to deploy any efficient technology for their services, emphasising that unified licensing which is currently existing in the country, avails voice, video, broadcast, telecom-multicasting could be deployed as the operator deem fit to meet market demand.

Mr. Bello further said that in order to ensure spectrum efficiency NCC allows for some mixture of license-free spectrum while shared and exclusive spectrum would be made available for broadband roll out, just as it would be flexible in quality of service.

For the Director General of the National Action Committee on Aids (NACA), Prof. Osotimehin, it is time for ICT professionals to come on board of the NACA campaign to drastically reduce the number of aids victim in the country, whereas increasing the awareness level, mostly now that Nigerians are finding their ways into the mainstream of ICT.

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Role of ICT in Idols West Africa

Market intelligence:

Have you watched Idols West Africa of late? If not then you are definitely missing something.

Although dominantly sponsored by Celtel Nigeria, the joy has been in watching those young talents come on stage, then the bulk is passed to the audience or fans as the case may be for them to vote for their choice of artistes through the Information Communication Technology (ICT) tools, either by the Internet at the Idols’ website or the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) through the Short Messaging Service (SMS).

Though the event’s last voting was scheduled for Monday, May 21, the musical talent hunt was basically introduced in search of the first West African Idols via solo singing; a fellow who is anticipated to command lots of sensation and be able to represent West Africa both at home and abroad.

With the hunt rounding off, Nigerians among other enthusiasts in the sub-region are also using what they have to get what they want by either using their Short Messaging Service or electronic mails (e-mails) to solicit votes for their favourite artistes on weekly basis.

Check this e-mail out: “Hi friends, if you have been watching Idols West Africa, you will agree that (names withheld) has all it takes to become the West Africa Idols 2007. Don’t you agree that his passion to deliver his various details is legendary. He also has the best voice in the competition and he comes from a very poor background.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is an opportunity to bring smiles and hope to a humble boy, his family, his people, his friends, our nation and West Africa.

“All you have to do is to text the number … to 33351 from any GSM provider. Do this as many times as possible or even once. Note that you must do this before 12 noon on Monday, so that your vote can count.”

However, voting lines are opened after the Sunday night show and will remain open for a publicized amount of time, because every Monday night results are shown, and votes announced while contestants with the least number of votes exit the competition until the last two.

According to the Public and Communications Managers at MultiChoice Nigeria, Mr. Segun Fayose, voting lines are opened for just less than a week for the public to vote and decide who is crowned the first West African Idols.

He also highlighted that the public are asked to vote for their favourite singers and for those in Nigeria, they could send their choice to – 33351 across all networks, Ghana Areeba Network –1444, Kasapa, Tigo and One Touch Networks - 15626 Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Malawi -15626. Senegal: Orange - 50050 Tigo - 67167 Mali: Orange - 7574 Cameroon - 8704 South Africa – 34626.

He noted that GSM Value Added Service (VAS) rate for SMS applies per message sent, advising that fans could alternatively vote online.

Mr. Fayose equally informed that in order to shun syndicated voting, there is a cap of 50 SMS votes per line per week, whereas, each person would be able to vote once per day on the website.

Idols West Africa is being produced for M-Net by Pan African and International Entertainment company, Fremantle Media, the originators of the Idols concept.

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Involve citizens in policy making, increase ICT access – Report

The first in the series of annual reports from Global Information Society Watch (GISW) came on stream at the weekend with a focus on measuring progress made in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) globally, stressing that more involvement of citizens in policy-making would increase access to ICT.

According to the report released by the Third World Institute, otherwise known by its Spanish acronym, ITeM and Association for Progressive Communications (APC), pointed out that more citizen involvement in policy-making is key in increasing access to ICTs.

The report, however, said that this increase in ICT access would not reduce poverty, the two organisations stated in their introduction to the 2007 report.

Equally, the report, which spotlight was on the state of ICT policies at local and global levels, particularly focused on how policy impacted on the lives of people living in developing countries.

Karen Bank of APC informed that the studies were conducted in 22 countries from four regions of the world.

He noted that the four regions comprised of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

In Africa, Bank said the report was carried out in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda, while the Asia region was made up of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the Philippines, the Latin America region covered Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru and Eastern Europe via Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, where accommodating one report from West-European country of Spain.

The report wrapped up by saying that when it comes to ICTs for development, there were some conspicuous similarities between countries in the 21 countries where the research was carried out except Spain.

“The other 21 countries each showed obvious evidence of the digital divide which impacted on the majority of people negatively,” the authors were quoted as saying in its introduction.

According to Brazilian authors RITS, the absence of a people-orientated policy framework in Brazil runs the risk of condemning the vast majority of people to “eternal disconnection.”

The report also includes provocative, analytical essays on five international institutions, namely on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), questioning the extent to which they allowed all stakeholders to participate in their processes. There is a special section on how to measure progress.

Commenting on the report, Executive Coordinator of the Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Dr. Markus Kummer, said it is an important effort at a critical time of ICT evolution globally.

“It is of utmost importance to know the extent to which the people affected have a voice in the policy-making organisations,” he declared, stressing that participation of all stakeholders in policy processes is a key element of good global governance.

He emphasised that the report will also be good input to the IGF in its continuing work on a development agenda for Internet governance and the special emphasis being placed on capacity building for all stakeholders.

In addition, he noted that while so much attention is being put on the effort to overcome the inequities in global information access it is important to make sure that the people who need this access are actually served by those efforts.

Senior adviser, Danish Institute for Human Rights, Mr. Rikke Frank JÃrgensen noted that currently, there is lack of ICT indexes on policy decisions.

“There is a lack of ICT-oriented indexes which focus on inclusion and exclusion in ICT policy decisions. Global Information Society Watch is a serious attempt to bridge this gap.”

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Brian, Osun sign MoU on CANi

Balog Technologies Limited, proprietors of Brian brand of computers in the country, has announced the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the company and Osun State government for the supply Personal Computers (PC) through the government assisted purchase programme (GAPP) known as Computer for All Nigerians Initiative (CANi).

Managing Director, Balog Technologies Limited, Mr. Tunji Balogun, said that the ceremony took place at the Bola Ige Governor Office complex in Osogbo, and was presided over by Head of Service, Elder Segun Akinwusi, who also represented the state governor.

He described the MoU as a testimonial of the quality of Brian PCs being assembled by his firm.

“This is particularly so with the Information Technology (IT) consciousness and appreciation of this state that has taken the lead in investing heavily in the best IT highway in the country,” he said, stressing that Balog Tech is proud of the partnership with the Osun State government.

Also speaking on the development, General Manager, Brian, Mr. Sam Adeyemi, said they are fully prepared and mobilized to put high quality CANi computers in homes of every civil servant in this state.

“We’re here in Osun state to partner with both the government and a number of institutions both private and public and we call on all Nigerians particularly, residents of Osun state to cease this opportunity to own their personal computers,” he urged.

Champion Infotel recalls that Brian brand of PCs was among the four indigenous Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) endorsed by the Federal Government to participate in the CANi project.

This, Mr. Adeyemi noted, is in tune with the government’s drive at improving the local capacity and increasing computer penetration in the country, just as Brian has also been Microsoft WHQL certified to meet international standards.

He further said that the brand was recently awarded the ‘Most Improved PC Company of the year’ at the Titans of Tech and premiere partner 2007 by Intel Corporation, emphasising this was as a result of the purchases made by the company through approved channel.

“The figures of which surpassed that of representatives from other countries, won us the award, which was presented at the just concluded Intel Partners Summit held in Paris,” he said.

The ceremony witnessed by Permanent Secretaries of various state ministries also saw other partners represented including, Managing Director, CANi Project Office, Mr. Soji Romeo, Regional Director of Skye Bank, Mrs. Osibogun, and Mr. Emmanuel Udoise of Microsoft among others.

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CNP to invest N5b on varsities

The Computerize Nigeria Project (CNP), has announced its readiness to invest N5b in tertiary institutions nationwide.

CNP is a non-governmental organization (NGO) and an initiative of Zinox Technologies Limited with a focus to drive penetration of Personal Computer (PC) usage among Nigerians.

This development came on the heels of the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CNP and Ministry of Education.

Head of Computerize Nigeria, Mrs. Vivian Abii informed that the latest investment plan is in line with the MoU, which would facilitate the running of a highly discounted computer ownership scheme for faculty and staff of tertiary institutions, as approved the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

According to her, the MOU encapsulates the vision of the Federal Government as stated by President Olusegun Obasanjo in his remark at the signing, which held in Abuja.

“ … In our effort to upgrade all our tertiary institutions to world-class standard, it has become even more critical that staff of our institutions become digitally skilled in order to achieve all round success,” Mr. President was quoted as saying in a press statement made available to Daily Champion and signed by the Corporate Affairs Manager at Zinox, Mr. Echika Ezuka.

Mrs. Abii also pointed out that CNP position is that no man can teach what he does not know.

Over the years, she said, CNP has worked relentlessly through the provision of subsidies and discounts to build an enabling IT environment in tertiary institutions with remarkable success in the some, including Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, University of Lagos, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Federal College of Education, Omoku, Rivers State, just to mention a few.

She explained that in the process, students have embraced a new intellectual world, staff have been recertified, IT infrastructure has been built entirely anew and host communities have been connected to the information super highway, just as IT related micro-economic activities have sprung up inside and outside campuses.

Mrs. Abii emphasized that the major contents of this exclusive agreement is to avoid turning the nation’s higher institutions into a dumping ground for all brands of unserviceable computers.

The Computerize Nigeria Project, she said, “shall recommend appropriate configurations of quality laptops, desktops and accessories for staff of participating institutions to choose; shall provide comprehensive warranty for all these products at least for a minimum period of 12 months; and set up an after sales support office on campus in order to reduce downtime.”

Each institution, she added is however, expected to provide an office space for the on-campus support center, even as other conditions include that CNP shall allow an installmental payment period of between three to 24 months to all staff; extend 5 per cent discount interest on market bank interest rates; any staff any staff could trade-in their old and dysfunctional computers at a discount for a new one.

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Sulaiman, Akinyemi lead ATMC board

Technology-led electronic payment entity, ATM Consortium Limited, has appointed Mr. Adedotun Sulaiman and Mr. Dele Akinyemi, its chairman and vice chairman, Board of Directors.

ATMC is Nigeria’s premier Independent ATM Deployer (IAD) and operator of the QuickCash brand of ATM network.

Mr. Sulaiman who doubles as Chairman of Accenture Nigeria, InterSwitch Limited and SecureID Limited, is a first class honours degree holder in Business Administration from the University of Lagos and a qualified chartered accountant, while Mr. Akinyemi, an Executive Director, Diamond Bank and notable figure in the e-payments space in the country, is a Computer Sciences graduate of University of Lagos (UNILAG) and an alumnus of Lagos Business School.

In addition, Mr. Akinyemi is known to have accumulated a rich experience spanning over 17 years in Information Technology, even as he presides over the Technical Sub-committee on Securities & Settlement, National Payment Systems Committee and is also a member Central Bank of Nigeria National Payment Systems Strategy Team.

They took over from the pioneer Chairman, Mr. Mike Okonkwo, former Executive Director of Union Bank, and Vice Chairman, Mr. Victor Osadolor, Executive Director of United Bank for Africa.

Their appointment have been receiving commendations from industry observers as it is expected that they would bring their highly influential personalities and wealth of experiences to further support ATMC in its quest to rapidly modernise e-payment systems in the country.

A highly placed company sources, noted that these appointments were strategic, coinciding with the recent completion of Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) certification interface by ATMC, which made it the first independent ATM operator in the country to implement the highly secured chip-based e-payment platform for Visa and V-Pay cards.

ATMC has rolled out its QuickCash brands of ATMs to over 110 locations in Abuja, Benin, Enugu, Ibadan, Kaduna, Lagos and Port Harcourt, amongst other locations, just as its currently engaged in deployment of an additional 200 ATMs on the QuickCash network scheduled to be completed by August 2007.

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Sony Ericsson plans more investment, launches W880i

Mobile phone giant, Sony Ericsson has plans to drive more investment into the country, according to its National Account Manager, Mr. Emeka Nkpa, just as it launches one of its Walkman series, W880i in Lagos.

Speaking at the launch, weekend, Mr. Nkpa said that in order to sustain Sony Ericsson’s penetration and steady growth in the mobile phone market place, that the telco has since realised that there are lots of opportunities yearning for its attention in the country.

“One thing is to sustain the growth of technology we’re bringing into the market and there are lots of opportunities for us to invest in Nigeria,” he said.

Mr. Nkpa noted for instance that Sony Ericsson’s desire to accomplish would involve in investing in language input, which he said, is common to most African countries.

“Right now we are working on computing local languages, which has culminated in dividing our launch in phases,” he said

He pointed out that ever since the company made its debut into the nation’s market Sony Ericsson has been consistent in ensuring availability of its mobile phones in order to break seemingly communication barriers through usage of innovative handsets for communication among Nigerians.

He explained that at just 9.4mm thin, the W880i is the slimmest Sony Ericsson phone and combines the full Walkman phone experience with a device that fits easily into the pocket.

The W880i, he said, comes with 1Giga Byte (GB) memory stick micro (M2) provided in-box that gives users the room to store up to 900 full-length tracks.

“The host of innovative music applications, such as Walkman Player 2.0 & Disc2Phone makes it easy to get music onto your phone, and search through play lists once it is there,” he said.

Mr. Nkpa said that there is no doubt that W880i, one of the slimmest music phones available, has the true beauty of its design in a brushed stainless steel finish which stood it out in colour variants; either Steel Silver or Flame Black.

The Disc2Phone music management software, he said, allows the user to transfer their tracks easily and with no fuss from PC straight onto the phone.

“With Bluetooth Audio Streaming, all of that music can be enjoyed wirelessly on a Stereo Bluetooth Headset or by streaming music directly to a home or car stereo via the new Music Bluetooth Receiver (MBR)” he explained.

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