" ITREALMS: September 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ITAN kicks against investment in OLPC

Stakeholders in the core Information Technology (IT) sub-sector, under the aegis of IT (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN) have kicked against the federal government recent investment in the One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC) project, saying that it negates the support of local content inclusion and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) being canvassed by the government.

Nigeria’s investment in OLPC also known as ‘$100 laptop per child’ is estimated at N185,000,000, based on the current price of $185 per unit. Even as Nigeria had in 2006 order one million units.

This was in spite of OLPC guideline that only order of 5 million units would facilitate production for that effect.

The deal was reportedly the first actual order for the project that aimed at providing Linux-powered laptops to children in developing economies.

While in March this year, the One Laptop Per Child Foundation provided L.E.A. Primary School Galadima, a public school in the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, with an XO laptop for each pupils in Primary 4, 5 and 6 and each school staff member, even as it was expected to have provided each child in Primary 1, 2 and 3 with their own laptops.

Leading the opposition to the government investment in OLPC, ITAN president, Chief Jimson Olufuye, said that such investment should have been channelled to local computer assembly plants also known as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) as interest free loans.

ITAN equally in its September charter at the end of annual summit in Lagos, weekend, described $100 laptop scheme as a project that should be discontinued alongside any other such foreign based laptops initiatives.

“They should not be patronized by the government because they would not benefit Nigeria in terms of jobs creation. Local alternatives should be engaged,” the charter stated.

Corroborating Olufuye, the former ITAN president and chief executive of Connect Technologies Limited, Chief Chris Uwaje, who spoke at the one-day summit for chief executives of ITAN member companies in Lagos, condemned the act.

He said it was not a wise investment for the country and should be reversed if possible, stressing that further investment should not be made on OLPC.

Federal government, he said, should have invested such fund into the re-engineering of the nation’s education system especially at the primary and post-primary levels as well as encourage local OEMs in creating employment for the teaming unemployed graduates.

Additionally, he said, the fund should have been focused on retraining of all the teachers in the country and other aspects of education through provision of facilities and then see the kind of change it would enthrone in the sector.

“Wonders will happen,” he declared.

Chief Uwaje also cited neighbouring country, Ghana, stressing that it has no OLPC scheme but have invested into the education sector, hence attracting some Nigerian students to go to Ghana for studies in search of better education.

He enjoined any one in doubt to pay a visit to the University of Ghana at Lagoon.

Similarly speaking at the summit, which theme was ‘3e-Strategies for Enhancing and Empowering IT Entrepreneurs for Mega Projects,’ the chief executive of Omatek Computers, Mrs. Florence Seriki, while lamenting the situation, revealed that apart from investing on OLPC by the federal government, indications have emerged that even Intel has come up with its own initiative, which was reportedly produced for the Nigerian government.

She said that OLPC lacks local content and called on the government through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), to retrace its step and encourage local computer manufacturers to create more jobs for Nigerians, especially the youth.

According to her, keeping the youth graduates busy would do the society and the nation precisely a lot of good.

For her, NITDA should wake up to her responsibility as the government agency charged with the regulation of hardware and software in the country.

Champion Infotel recalls that ITAN was established in 1991 as Microcomputer Vendors Association of Nigeria (MiVAN) following visionary initiative of the Managing Director, Worldwide Computers Ltd, Mr Tayo Adeniyi. In 1995, it transmuted into Computer Vendors Association of Nigeria (CoVAN) and by 2000 it further witnessed another repositioning and transformed into the Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN), a member of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS).

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TD, HP present cars to resellers

The management of two Information Technology (IT)-driven companies in the country, Technology Distribution (TD) and Hewlett Packard (HP) Nigeria, have concluded a joint promotion, which saw two resellers emerging at the event held at Ikoyi-Lagos.

The two winners were Messrs Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) and Alhaji Nasiru, an Ibadan-based bulk purchaser.

While CWG won in the IFF category, Alhaji Nasiru who was absent at the occasion, was the luckiest in the Image Printer Group (IPG) category.

Congratulating the new winners while presenting the Hyundai Elantra car keys to company representatives, the Country Manager, HP, Dr. Lloyd Atabansi, commended TD for advancing market penetration of HP products and described it as one of the top distributors that deserves applause.

Welcoming the guest earlier to the occasion, chairman of TD, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh said that it has been good doing business with HP.

He reiterated on the philosophy of TD, saying its embedded in the believe that Nigeria must lead among equals.

TD, he said, is currently evolving lots of investment and is faced with major expansion programmes, which would be completed in the next couple of months.

“In the next two months, TD would have new face,” he affirmed, adding that TD United Kingdom (UK) has been doing very well and TD Ghana also is not left out of recording some progress.

Dr. Ekeh described Nigeria as most emerging market in the world based on its population.

He noted that though IT market is becoming more competitive, but TD is not one of those Nigerian companies that would fizzle out.

He asserted that as far as HP remains the first in IT hardware, TD would also remain number 1, because TD is deploying the best hands in the industry in the country and any other place it has operation.

He promised that TD would not disappoint Nigerians and its customers particularly.

Dr. Ekeh further advised resellers to restrategise by investing about 50 per cent of their income in businesses and be reliable, just as TD looks forward to having more resellers in the country and beyond in the coming years.

He did not forget to appreciate again HP for supporting TD over the years.

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Key benefits of Open XML-ODF translator

In recent times, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector and precisely the software development sub-sector has witnessed several arguments both in support and against on the proposed Office Open Extensible Markup Language (OOXML).

Today, Champion Infotel is offering some key benefits of the Open Extensible Markup Language (XML)- Open Document Format (ODF), which is Translator, according to Microsoft Corporation, below.

•The translator addresses the needs of customers such as governments that must support multiple formats.

The Open XML-ODF Translator will enable customers to achieve interoperability between the two file formats and also allow them to use a wider range of applications.

•By enabling conversion of documents from one file format to the other, this free technology not only enhances interoperability, but also brings greater choice and flexibility to the market for document creation, management and archiving.

•The success of the Translator in (more than 150,000 downloads to date) demonstrates how proprietary software and open source software organisations could work together to meet the needs of customers and how Office Open XML file formats and ODF could coexist as open standards in actual products to provide more choice to customers and developers.

•Translation technology promises to enhance choice and accessibility options for technology users, including those who are disabled.

•Noteworthy is that Microsoft-funded open source Open XML-ODF Translator project was developed by CleverAge of France and Sonata Software Limited of India, while it was tested by Dialogika of Germany and India-based Aztecsoft Limited.

The project, according to Microsoft sources, would continue to be open source software on SourceForge.net, and freely available to all customers for development or use.

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Our Microsoft license is intact –Omatek

One of the nation’s leading Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Omatek Computers Limited, has said that its license with software giant, Microsoft Corporation on loading of Windows Operating Systems (OS) on Omatek brand is intact and refuted speculations that it has been withdrawn.

Recently, speculations were making a round that Microsoft Corporation has withdrawn its partnership deal with Omatek owing to misconception originating from a petition made by Alteq Limited over failed Operating System (OS) on Personal Computers (PCs) it bought from Omatek.

Operating System is the software that the rest of the software depends on to make the computer function. On most PCs this is Windows owned by Microsoft or the Macintosh OS. Unix and Linux are other operating systems often found in scientific and technical environments, even as they could be classified as Free and Open Source based.

Whereas the starter pack is supposed to serve the PC owner either as a new user or pending when he gets the licensed OS, hence starter packs do not last more than two months beginning from the date of installation and could even be downloaded freely online.

Reacting to the allegations, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Omatek, Mr. Biyi Fashoyin, said that it was unfounded and ill advised that such a speculation is coming at this time when the company is geared towards repositioning the brand.

According to him, Omatek as certified Microsoft partner in the country “is still intact” even as the firm does not have any atom of trouble with the software giant, although he lamented the manner in which the complaint first went to Microsoft rather than Omatek.

He pointed out that even at that, Omatek expected Microsoft on getting such a complaint to do a thorough ground investigations before proceeding to write the company, at least, to enable it have a first hand information.

In addition, he said that what Alteq had in the quotation prior to taken up the delivery and for onward supply to a school in Gwagwalada, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, was exactly what was supplied eventually.

A copy of the quotation was equally sighted by our correspondent in the course of this investigation.

“Omatek cannot go out of its way to give to a customer or client what was not the specification demanded,” he said.

He stressed that the quotation was very specific about the starter pack as its OS, which was duly supplied.

Omatek, he said, was enraged that Alteq petitioned Microsoft on an issue that should have been resolved with mere explanation, if the action was not ill conceived.

Champion Infotel recalls that Omatek, which began PC production in 2003, prides itself as a first factory on the continent to produce Nigerian made computer cases, speakers, keyboards and mouse from Completely Knocked Down (CKD) components in addition to producing Omatek Computers, Notebooks and servers.

Two years after, Omatek Computers beat over 42 other countries to win the ‘Microsoft Systems Builder Award for West, East and Central Africa,’ for the country, which the company said, was an attestation to quality, consistency and volume of the Omatek brand, especially when compared with foreign brands.

This, Omatek said, cannot be toyed with in any form.

Efforts to contact Microsoft Marketing Manager in the country, Mr. Victor Okigbo, to comment on the development was not successful as at the time of going to the press.

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12 Covenant students scale Sun Java exams

Twelve students of the Covenant University have scaled through International Sun Java Certified Programmers examinations.

The students were products of a partnership between Covenant University and international Information Technology (IT) training firm, New Horizons.

Disclosing this, the Managing Director, New Horizons, Mr. Tim Akano said in Lagos that the students were outcome of a recent partnership deal between the two entities, which is just four months old.

He gave the names of these students to include Ogbonna Ikechukwu, Paul Chimdi Dureke, Oladimeji Olatunde, Eze Chinomnso, Sholola Damilola, Paseda Oluwaseun, Fawosire Olufemi and Ofili Chijioke.

Others were Ukuaka Jakpo Ukuemu, Olabamijo Oluwarotimi Bamgbelu Ibilola, Emesiofor Ogonna, and Timi Soyele.

The fascinating thing about this, he noted, was that it’s a record-breaking certification for any group of students from the country to have been made.

He noted that it’s an indication that there is a brighter future for Nigeria as a nation and Africa generally in the quest to bridge the digital divide on the continent.

This, he pointed out was achieved when undergraduates of the university qualified as international Sun Java certified programmers, after a training session being coordinated by the New Horizons for the university.

According to him, the results of the students on display showed 100 per cent success rate and has been formally presented to the students, while the average score of the students was 75 per cent as compared to 59 per cent, which has been the international official pass mark for Sun Java certification assessment.

Mr. Akano added that with this form of excellence, the total man concept of the University has been given a boost as students now imbibe moral integrity, academic excellence and IT professionalism by the time the graduate.

He emphasised that the aforementioned concept will equip the students with attributes and skills to be highly employable by international and local employers as well as making those of them with entrepreneurial spirit to become wealth creators in no distant future following their graduation.

“The students were coached with world-class contents and facilities, which are the hallmark of New Horizons brand in all the 60 countries of the world where it operates,” he said.

He further said that the IT training partnership between Covenant University and New Horizons is a good example of the Federal Government’s much campaigned about Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), describing it as the surest way of jump-starting the comatose economies of most African countries and aligning same with those of the European and American countries that were IT–driven.

He recalled that India and China were one time faced with serious economic depression but were bailed out by focus on IT early enough through PPP alliances.

“And today, they are reaping bountifully from global IT outsourcing market which is in excess of $350 billion annually,” he declared.

The partnership he explained involves installation of international standard computer laboratory and deployment of contents on international IT certifications courses by New Horizons such that the undergraduates will be able to acquire a minimum of four industry qualifications in addition to their academic degrees before graduating from the university.

The students whose ages ranked between 17 and 19 years, equally expressed their joy at having become IT professionals when they are still in school.

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Quality is language of PC branding – Seriki

Chief executive of Omatek Computers Limited, Mrs. Florence Seriki, has said that the only acceptable language when it comes to certified branding of any product is its quality.

She made this assertion at the one-day summit on IT Future for chief executive members of the Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN) in Lagos.

She said that any body both individual or organisation itching to have a certified brand must equally be consistent through conscious efforts to improve on a given product.

Mrs. Seriki who dwelt on “How to create your own certified brand?” told participants at the forum that attention must be focused on the quality if the product is expected to be of world class.

“Quality is the only language that is understood when it comes to building a certified brand,” she said.

She pointed out that the process of branding should not be seen as a one-stop attempt but continuous.

“That is to say that by extension your product does not become a certified brand from day one but you build it over time,” Mrs Seriki advised.

According to her, the process of building own certified brand must begin with the builder having a vision of what he or she really wants to create.

This, she said, is very crucial because without which the dreamer could get discouraged, especially when faced with some challenges.

In addition, she said that building certified brand requires the creation of a highly unique identity for the organisation in question, which must include the name, its product or services, company logo and even colour, “are all important in building a certified brand.”

Equally very important, she said, is the determination of the visioner to promote the created image because the world needs to know about the brand.

“Our story I believe is a familiar one to most of us but it was a small beginning and today we are one of the certified locally made computers in the country,” she said, adding that Omatek as a brand is making concerted efforts to be the best that it could but nothing less than the world class.

She emphasised the importance of partnering with other world-class companies and bigger organisations and individuals in order to have adequate finance so as to effectively build the desired quality brand.

“You must be a master of the industry you are going into because knowledge is power,” Mrs. Seriki warned.

Omatek, she recalled began as a Omatek Ventures Limited and has since transformed into other subsidiaries, which commenced business in 1988 as a major reseller for Compaq, IBM, Acer, Apple and host of other world recognised names in computer manufacturing.

“The company has done so much in moving these products to the extent of being appointed a premium partner for Compaq, senior partner for IBM, Apple and Microsoft to name a few.

“To date it still polls up to $1 million turnover for these products annually,” she said, stressing that it is a process that showed that branding is on-going.

“Today, Omatek Ventures Limited, still remains a reckoning force in the provision of computer products and services to a number of banks, oil companies and government agencies.

In year 2000, she said, Omatek Computers Limited was formed under the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) scheme in partnership with two of Nigeria’s biggest banks Zenith International Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.

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Globacom pays N5m fine to NCC

... Issues another notice on QoS

Globacom Limited has paid the fine of N5, 000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the contravention of the Commission’s Direction on the suspension of promotional activities.

Head, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Dave Imoke, who disclosed this in a press statement made available newsmen, noted that the Commission had issued a Direction to Globacom on July 6, 2007 stating among others that Glo “should not embark on and also discontinue any promotional activities that could directly or indirectly degrade the Quality of service on its network for a period of ninety days in the first instance.”

He said that in spite of the clear terms of the direction, the telco on July 23, 2007 published an advertisement on page 66 of ThisDay newspaper and commenced promotional activities, which had the effect of directly encouraging subscribers to make more minutes of call and thus further deteriorating the quality of service on its network in contravention of the direction.

In accordance with the provision of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, Regulation 15 of the Nigerian Communications (Enforcement Processes, etc) Regulations 2005 and the Direction dated July 6, 2007, the Commission, he said, on July 30, 2007 imposed the fine of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) on Globacom.

HANA recalls that NCC recalled that recently NCC had directed the three dominant operators to stop forthwith any promotion and concentrate in improving quality of service (QoS).

Some of the operators affected in the initial promotion directive included MTN, Glo and Celtel, mostly on the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), which services have continued to get worse in the past few months.

Mr. Imoko stressed that based on this fact, Globacom was fined half a million Naira for each day it defaulted since the deadline of the 14-day notice to stop its promo.

He explained that on July 6, 2007, Globacom alongside other affected operators were issued a direction, but the telco failed to adhere to the direction.

“Glo should not embark on and also discontinue any promotional activities that could directly or indirectly degrade the quality of service on its network for a period of ninety days in the first instance,” NCC noted.

He explained that the amount escalated to the tune of N5 million due to inability of Globacom to pay initial penalty of N500,000 each day the fine has been unpaid.

“… Despite the expiration of the 14-day period within which Globacom should have paid the fine, it has failed, refused and neglected to pay the fine. Apart from the additional N500,000.00 (five hundred thousand naira) to be paid by Globacom for everyday the fine remains unpaid.”

NCC further affirmed that it would not attend to any regulatory request made by Globacom during this period, just as it warned that the Commission would not condone any flagrant refusal to comply with its directions by a licensee.

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418,000 SMS’ for Big Brother Africa-2

Household name in Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) on the continent and South African pay TV, DSTv has continued the tradition of availing Africans the opportunity to interact with the acclaimed great reality show, the Big Brother Africa which is in its second edition.

This, has resulted in a total of 418,000 messages to Big Brother Africa 2, which have been on screen strap line ever since.

MultiChoice Africa, the proponent of DSTv in the country said that the M-Net-based reality show has been consistent in its cutting edge interactivity via television by availing its teeming African viewers the opportunity to have their say on the programme.

According to the Public Relations Assistant at MultiChoice Nigeria, Ms Gloria Ngozi Adeshi, Africans across the continent have sent over 418,000 messages to Big Brother Africa 2’s onscreen strap-line, thus allowing their thoughts, comments and opinions about the activities in the Big Brother house to be played out to audiences in 47 African countries.

The show, she said, is building a community of pan-African TV viewers, who communicate directly with each other on a daily basis, thanks to the wonders of Short Messaging Service (SMS) and a network of participating mobile operators.

She pointed out that the 98-day reality show is proving that technology could be applied on a continental scale to give African TV a fresh new dimension.

“Behind the 12 housemates, and the 28 cameras and 48 microphones, which have been set up throughout the Big Brother house, it’s a technological triumph that keeps the Big Brother phenomenon rolling,” she said.

She emphasised, that the interactive technology viewers of Big Brother Africa 2 enjoy is part of leading pay-TV operator, MultiChoice Africa’s unparalleled technology offering.

“In providing the dedicated DStv channel 37 for the express purpose of screening Big Brother Africa 2, MultiChoice Africa’s ability to provide additional channels for special events translates directly into more value-added viewing,” she asserted.

Adeshi noted that Channel 37 has a built in data application which allows audiences the opportunity to access housemate profiles, key information and updated news for the show’s duration.

“African viewers also have access to Personal Video Recorder (PVR) technology, allowing them to record, pause and rewind live television,” she said, adding that DStv offers its viewers an electronic programme guide, which allows subscribers to set reminders, auto tune to their favourite programmes and view the upcoming week’s programming on all channels at the touch of a button.

As said by her, major investment by MultiChoice Africa over the past 15 years was to ensure that its satellite footprint extends across sub-Saharan Africa and this investment is now delivering tangible results.

“Allowing for over 50 of the highest quality audio and video channels in all 47 countries that have access to DStv,” she said, stressing that by reaching audiences across four different time-zones, the second season of M-Net’s Big Brother Africa, is replicating the success of the first series.

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Oba Agbabiaka applauds Gloworld

The Osolo of Isolo Kingdom in Okota-Isolo area of Lagos, Oba Kabiru Kolawole Agbabiaka, has applauded the Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom for opening the service outlet, Gloworld across the nation.

He described the method as very worthy retail strategy of bringing its sales and services nearer to the people.

Speaking recently at the opening of a sales and service outlet of Gloworld, at Okota in Isolo local government area of Lagos State, Oba Agbabiaka, said the telco since inception has remained people’s friendly.

It was gathered that the Okota outlet is the first in a set of six outlets, earmarked to commence operations in the next four weeks.

“Globacom is a people-friendly company that is bettering the lot of the ordinary citizens of the country,” he declared.

Officials of Globacom informed that other five outlets include the one on Aggrey Road, Port Harcourt and another on Mbiama Road, Yenagoa capital of Bayelsa State.

Other locations to get new Glo outlets are Demurin Street, Ketu Alapere, Airport Road, Ajao Estate in Lagos and Lalubu Street, Oke Ilewo, Abeokuta Ogun State.

The monarch, who was represented by the Agba-Akin of Isolo, Prince Yaya Arowoye, at the occasion, said Gloworld is the first of its kind in the Isolo area, adding that the coming of Globacom to the area would further improve the business environment and endear the network to the people.

“We are proud of Globacom, Glo is actually giving us opportunities to rule our world,” he stated.

Managing Director, Gloworld, Ms Shade Boyede said that with the plans concluded for the take off of the six outlets, it would bring the total number of Gloworlds in the country to 41.

According to her, the Okota outlet was the 36th in the country, adding that Gloworld is the fastest growing telecoms outlet in Nigeria.

She also said that the new Gloworld centres were built towards bringing world-class telecommunications services to the doorsteps of Nigerians across the nation.

“Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) replacements can now be carried out closer to our subscribers in these areas who hitherto had to travel long distances,” Ms Boyede explained.

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Good location matters in cyber cafe business – Expert

Nigerians interested in venturing into the cyber cafe business have been advised to ensure they set up their cafes at good locations, because it would determine the level of patronage and cost of maintenance to follow.

Expert in Cyber cafe and chief technical officer of an Internet Service Provider (ISP), Amsco Telecoms, Mr. Okechukwu Kalu, gave this piece of advice at a one-day workshop on Cyber café survival in Lagos, while dwelling on “Bandwidth considerations: cost effectiveness versus performance value.”

According to him, for any business to thrive, there is a need for thorough research before it could be set up.

He said, for instance, that location of a cyber café would determine the kind of customers to expected, stressing that if a café is set up in a fairly poor area, tendency is that customers could be new Internet users, therefore would attract regular maintenance of hardware especially the keyboard and mouse would be high while patronage could be in good numbers.

But if it was to be in enlightened vicinity such as Ikoyi or Victoria Island, the level of patronage could be less while cost of maintenance would be very low.

“There are locations where you have to change your keyboard and mouse every three months and there are places where you have just to change the same every 3 years,” he declared.

Where the operator has to change keyboard and mouse every three months depicts an emerging market, which, he said, requires lots of patience and understanding of the terrain.

While that of changing mouse and keyboard after one year or more showed that the residents have got cyber café etiquettes.

He noted that high volume of clients to a café at a given location does not immediately translate to profit and warned café operators of thinking in that line.

As said by him, it is very dangerous to think like that because there is other operational cost to factor into scheme of setting up a cyber café.

Some of these, he said, are office space and the model of computers deployed for the business.

He out rightly warned against deployment of second hand computers otherwise known as Tokunbo for cyber café business.

“The computer systems you use would also contribute to the success,” he asserted, advising that interested café operators should go for new ones, even as you cannot compare a new system and a used computer values.

This way, he said, they would also ensure that their computers are well equipped with relevant licensed software to make certain the business is a success through getting Operating System that is licensed, even as they could make use of Thin Client or Linux.

Mr. Kalu went on to say that potential café operators should read warrantee of any product they are buying carefully to ensure they understand every aspect of the deployment.

For him, Flat screen monitor is the best especially in this kind of Nigerian environment where power is an issue, saying that it helps to save power consumption.

Generating set, he said, should equally be factored into needs for deployment, whereas the choice of ISPs could make or mar the business.

He explained that if a café operator is being served by an ISP located in Lekki, for instance, while café is in Okota, there are in two different world of location, stressing that if there is an issue by the time the café operator gets to the service provider, a full day is gone.

Customer care services in the country, particularly in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is not the best yet, so he advised café operator who have an issue to simply work down to their ISPs, because that could be more faster than a telephone call and waiting indefinitely for the response team to come.

“Therefore, it is necessary to get an ISP that is nearer to your location of business,” he said.

In addition, he enjoined café operators to be honest in their dealings, although he noted there is no certification for honesty, but they should ensure they pay all levies by the authorities to avoid having to shot down the office.

Equally speaking, the ATCON executive secretary, Mr. Godwin Morgan, who represented the President commended the participants and urged Nigerians to embrace best practices in business transactions, even as the workshop planned to be an annual session would be adequately publicised in the future.

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Lenovo rewards Nigerian partners

Leading Personal Computers (PC) manufacturer, Lenovo, has rewarded its Nigerian partners in recognition of their immense contribution to the growth of the brand in the country, even as it assured on improved support services.

Regional Manager for Central Africa at Lenovo South Africa (Pty) Limited, Mr. Ronnie Moodley, gave this assurance while presenting the awards in Lagos.

He said that the firm is keen on educating its partners on emerging technologies and offering in order to better position them towards satisfying the customers always.

“The goal is to empower the partners so that they can take the message forward” he declared, adding that the Business Partner Award was meant to recognise efforts by its Nigerian partners in spreading awareness about the Lenovo brand in the country, which has aided in increased market share.

Champion Infotel recalls that the awards went to its Nigerian top distributor, Coscharis Technologies, top distributor in West Africa, to Tricontinental Limited, while the second runner up, Tier2 BP, West Africa, went to Aira Technologies.

Other awardees were Allied Computers for the Business Partner Award, Runner Up, Tier2 BP West Africa and Modern Business Machines for Business Partner Award, Top, Tier2 BP, West Africa, Awards.

Mr. Moodley explained that Lenovo offers support at four levels, namely on the system through access connections, productivity centre, and rescue as well as recovery, even as the web has software installer, automated solutions and frequently asked questions (FAQ’s).

Whereas on the phone, he explained the company offer technical phone support and on the way warranty services.

Moodley added that Lenovo has one of the best warranty programmes available as its partnership with IBM, which is recognized globally for providing excellent service.

The warranty service, he said, benefits customers through its worldwide technical support via the web and phone, parts and labour support, flexible terms and conditions and on-site support among others.

He pointed out that Lenovo Group manufactures home products such as desktop PCs, Tianyi notebooks, Xuri notebooks and Inkjet printers; Commercial Products such as Desktops, Soleil notebooks, Scanners and Laser printers; Servers (886 Servers and Creator of Deepcomp 6800 supercomputer) and Cell Phones (Mobile handsets).

“It is number three in global market share and has number one market share in China with sales record of $13 billion in the last 12 months and with the IBM ownership stake, long-term alliances with the new Lenovo in sales, services,” he said.

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FunAfric.com makes a debut

A Lagos-based FunAfric, has launched its website www.funafric.com, with a focus to promote music artistes and their works across the continent.

Speaking at the event held in Lagos recently, the General Manager, FunAfric, Mrs. Aramide Paul-Taiwo, noted that it would avail a unique platform for African music and videos to be downloaded easily.

According to her, top recording labels such as Sony Music, Premier Records, Westside Music, Storm Records among others have already entered deal with FunAfric to make available their musicals on funafric.com, even as some have been already uploaded.

She also disclosed that Funafric has advanced plans to enter deals with several recording labels on the continent.

This, she said, would give a boost to the penetration and acceptance of the module within Africa.

African, she said, now has a voice on the world wide web and that voice is www.funafric.com.

She added that FunAfric as the first dedicated African music and video download service based in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, that every avenue have been put in place to ensure that it provides genuine content, which would be in line with stakeholders in the music industry and promoted globally to Africans.

A director of the company and spokesman, Mr. Ayo Bankole, said that Funafric is the outcome of two years of hard work by web developers, business managers, internationals payment platforms, records labels collecting societies, artistes, banks, lawyers and other stakeholders in the industry. Funafric.com, he said, is now the number one destination for African music and videos on the Internet.

He emphasised that customers could now buy music by using their MasterCard, Visa card or InterSwitch card safely on the Internet.

He also said that with huge investments in robust digital security protocols to ensure that the cardholders can use his card safely and that the music and video are protected, Funafric’s operation is also open to right owners to monitor their content.

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NiRA targets 1m .ng domain names

The Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NiRA) is targeting to increase registration of domain names under the dot ng to 1000,000 by 2009.

This is coming as NiRA currently have achieved over 3000 domain name registration since coming on board few months back.

Chairman of NiRA and chief executive, Amsco Telecom Limited, Mr. Ndukwe Kalu gave this indication during a courtesy visit to the headquarters of Champion Newspapers Limited at the weekend.

Speaking to senior editors at the visit, Mr. Kalu accompanied by the secretary of NiRA and General Manager, Infoweb Limited, Mr. Vincent Akhimien and administrative secretary of NiRA, Ms Glory Ogbonna, said registration exercise, which is on-going is expected to attract 1 million in the next 24 months.

“Our hope is to move this figure to 1 million within the next 24 months,” he asserted adding that before the birth of the current NiRA management team in May this year, the number of registered domain names in the country was less than a 1000.

He also said that NiRA was aware that several Nigerian domains exist but were hitherto registered mostly with the international domain names.

NiRA, he said, is a child of circumstance given birth to by the immediate past administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

NiRA, he pointed out also faces some challenges mostly in curtailing advances by some disgruntled Nigerians who tried to register phoney company domain names.

“But NiRA has put some measures in place to safeguard against such attempts. We have to verify every application before registering any name,” Mr. Kalu informed.

He further said that the main function of NiRA is to administer the nation’s Top Level Domain (TLD) .ng, as seen in other countries, emphasized that a domain is like an address that facilitates a location of a given name on the Internet.

Hence, it is an address to locate an organisation or individual online, just as he equally disclosed that NiRA is collaborating with the directorate of Cyber crime and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in order to teem down the rise of Internet fraud emanating from the Nigerian-based Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

NiRA, he said, is in communication with the newly created directorate of cybercrime, and EFCC to ensure reduction and involvement of Nigerians on Internet fraud.

“The collaboration, he said, has resulted in the introduction of due diligence initiative among the service providers,” Mr. Kalu said.

According to him, NiRA supports 100 per cent trial of any fraudulent process, maintaining that technically, there are room to trace fraudulent electronic mail scams and his association is not relenting.

“We intend to do that to give people comfort through cyber forensic,” he said.

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APC-MGE, STULZ in cooling solutions deal

Global leader in integrated critical power and cooling services, the American Power Conversion (APC-MGE) and STULZ air-conditioning experts in Hamburg, have entered into cooling solutions deal to deliver comprehensive, integrated data centre cooling solutions and services to customers.

With this agreement, APC-MGE and STULZ tends to bring together industry leadership in critical power and cooling, including APC’s InRow cooling solutions, proven perimeter precision air-conditioning and complete service offerings, to deliver comprehensive cooling solutions and services to APC-MGE customers worldwide.

Regional director for Africa at APC-MGE, Mr. Carl Kleynhans, said that in this age of rising electricity prices, the performance capabilities of data centres, customer demand for energy-efficient, high-availability solutions from a single source has been on the rise.

He said, the combination of APC’s InRow cooling and the STULZ perimeter-cooling offering provides a complete data centre cooling solution.

The deal, he said would afford APC-MGE to add an APC branded perimeter cooling solution manufactured by STULZ to its comprehensive cooling offering, currently lead by its high-density InRow offering.

Just as STULZ would be able to offer APC’s InRow cooling systems to its extensive customer base. “Both firms will provide full application engineering support for these solutions and APC-MGE will offer services, including maintenance services, through STULZ service partners,” he said.

As said by him, initially this agreement would cover select countries in Europe with the intention to expand globally.

This deal was a long history of cooperation, primarily in China, Singapore and the Philippines, where MGE and STULZ worked together for more than 20 years as a sales and service partner.

“Customers can now rely on one vendor to meet all their critical power and cooling needs in the data centre,” Mr. Kleynhans, adding that APC-MGE is delighted to combine STULZ’s perimeter precision cooling expertise, solutions and services with the innovation and strong customer to better help customers to address cooling high efficiency data centres.

Also commenting, Director, Global Product Sales & Marketing at STULZ, Mr. Kurt Plötner, said that their customers would benefit from the accumulated know-how of reliable partners in every aspect of critical infrastructure.

“APC-MGE supplies the electrical systems, and together we supply the mechanics – so we complement one another in an ideal way. At the same time, we will each acquire markets and opportunities that are new to us,” Mr. Plotner said.

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NITDA, NCC support Nigerian IT youth rally

THE National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) are partnering Technology Africa to host the 2007 edition of “The Nigeria IT Youth Rally” slated to hold at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.

The event scheduled to hold on October 2, this year. is expected to be the largest gathering of Nigerian IT enthused youth.

Managing Consultant, Technology Africa, Mr. Don Pedro Aganbi, said that the IT youth rally has become imperative because of the looming digital divide between Nigerian youths and that of the more developed countries.

He disclosed that the Director General, NITDA, Prof. Cleopas Angaye, would be the chief host while the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, would deliver the keynote address.

Other notable speakers for the event with the theme: “IT & Nigerian Youths: The Road Ahead,” include the Chairman, Silverbird Group, Mr. Ben Murray Bruce, Chairman, Zinox Technologies, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman Linkserve, Chief Chima Onyekwere, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, Managing Director, Omatek Computers, Mrs. Florence Seriki, and Ambassador John Fashanu among others.

“If access to and use of these technologies is directly linked to social and economic development, then it is crucial to ensure that youths in Nigeria understand their significance and use them. If not, lack of access to Information Technologies becomes a significant factor in the continued marginalization of these youths,” he declared.

Mr. Aganbi stressed that IT has enormous potential to connection Nigerian youths to global opportunities and to make them competitive and relevant.

“However, if our IT professionals and national policy makers are not proactive in ensuring that the benefits of IT are properly harnessed, the nation may fail to reap the full potential of these powerful tools, ‘IT addicts have brighter future than drug addicts,” he said.

The 2007 youth rally theme, he said, is “IT & Nigerian Youths: The Road Ahead,” was designed to create an interface between IT leaders and Nigerian youth for intelligence discourse and chat a new course for the future of IT.

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15-nation trade group for NICOMM-07

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)-based trade groups from 15 countries are being expected at the 12th annual Nigerian International Communications Conference and exhibition (NICOMM-07).

The organisers, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) said that confirmed trade groups expected would be from United States, Britain, Hong Kong, China, India, Korea, Dubai, Taiwan, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Malaysia, Egypt and Lebanon as at date.

ATCON president, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, who disclosed this in Lagos, a step, he said, that shows NICOMM would be a mega event, just as plans have been concluded to ensure the event scheduled for MUSON Centre, Lagos, from October 22 through 24, is a success.

“It would be a mega event when one considers the level of interests expressed by foreign ICT organisations,” he said.

According to him, these trade groups have shown strong interest to participate in the event.

Dr. Ekuwem added that as part of the repositioning of NICOMM, ATCON has adopted a lot of international standardisation module to make certain that both local and foreign exhibitors find the affair very attractive and beneficial to participate.

He pointed out that ATCON leadership have attended various international ICT events across the globe in order to draw lesson that would aid in marketing NICOMM 2007 to a global standard.

These efforts, he said, have paid off with the indication of interest received from ICT trade groups from various countries of the world.

“These groups would be at NICOMM 2007 to showcase the latest technologies in the global ICT market and to establish mutually rewarding relationships with local representatives, partners, distributors, dealers and resellers,” excited Ekuwem declared.

He also noted that at the local scene, leading telecommunications operators and information technology providers have already booked their stands to be part of NICOMM-07.

“They would showcase their cutting-edge products and services as well as demonstrate to a highly discerning customer public that they are the companies to beat in the very competitive ICT market in Nigeria,” he said.

Also, ATCON, he emphasised, even some state governments who have invested in ICT projects in their states would be taking stand at the forthcoming fair.

Some of these companies, he said, include the likes of MTN Nigeria, Celtel Nigeria, Globacom, Multi Links, Intercellular, MTS First Wireless, Starcomms, Reltel Wireless, Linkserve, Ericsson, Alcatel, Siemens, Motorola, Accelon, Netcom, M-Web, Teledom International, Danisat, Juniper to name a few.

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Kolade to preside over NITTA-07

The immediate past Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Christopher Kolade has accepted to preside over the 2007 Nigerian Information Technology and Telecom Awards (NITTA).

This is coming as NITTA Board of Trustees (BoT) has formally released the entry categories for this year’s award ceremony, inviting entries in the enlarged roll call of honours for the annual event.

Making this disclosure, weekend in Lagos, the chief host and editor-in-chief of IT & Telecom Digest, Mr. Mkpe Abang, said that Dr. Kolade’s acceptance to preside over the awards this year was an endorsement for NITTA.

He quoted Dr. Kolade in a press statement made available to Champion Infotel as saying that he accepted to chair the event because it is a programme worthy of his support.

Also, Dr. Kolade said he believed NITTA was a very credible endeavour meant to guide the direction of the Nigerian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, thus merited his support.

Kolade who made his position known while receiving a delegation from the organisers led by Mr. Abang accompanied by Mr. Kevin Ejiofor, ace broadcaster and former Director-General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), gave his assurance to honour the event.

Responding, Mr. Abang said that for a personality of Dr. Kolade’s status to have accepted to preside over NITTA 2007, is a great thing to happen in the nation’s ICT sector.

“Surely, I am overwhelmed and can hardly contain my excitement over the fact that Dr. Kolade will chair the sixth edition of this yearly awards,” he declared, adding that for operators and other stakeholders that will be receiving awards that night, it will be a most historic occasion to look forward to.

In a related development, NITTA Board of Trustees (BoT) has formally released the entry categories for this year’s award ceremony and called for entries in the enlarged roll of honours for the annual programme.

The BoT informed that NITTA 2007 will feature in eight broad categories of 29 awards, namely Telephone/Telecom, Technology, Computing/Computer/Software, Internet, Media, Banking/Finance, Government and Integrity/Prestigious Recognition.

Also, the BoT said that entries for award will be for the followings: Telephone company of the year (fixed/wireless), Customer care company of the year, Corporate social responsibility company of the year, Mobile phone company of the year, International Data carrier of the year, National operator of the year, Network company of the year, New solutions/Technologies company of the year, Telecom personality of the year, Smart phone company of the year, GSM Handset Brand of the year and Telecom chief executive officer (CEO) of the year.

In the technology broad category, there are Broadband company of the year, Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) company of the year, Satellite company of the year, WiMAX company of the year; and in computing/computer and software, there would be computer company and indigenous software company of the year.

Others, BoT stated are Internet Service Provider (ISP), ICT Reporter (print /electronic) and Advert/Commercial of the year (print/electronic).

Just as the banking sector would not be left out as they have four awards for grab, comprising of Online Bank of the year, e-Bank product of the year, e-Banker of the year and Banking Solution/Application of the year.

Additionally, there would be the awards for the ICT Governor of the year, government agency/Institution of the year and Man of the year.

The awards and gala night of NITTA 2007, BoT said has been scheduled for Friday, November 16, 2007 in the Shell Hall, Muson Centre, Onikan in Lagos.

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MotoRAZR V8 gathers momentum

The recently introduced trimmy mobile handset from Motorola brands, the RAZR V8 silhouette is gathering momentum with its Windows Media Player 11 in the market place.

Officials of Motorola informed that the trimmy set of 11.9 millimetre thin, is packed with smarter features and one of which is the Windows Media Player 11, which facilities simple music management and playback.

With up to 2 Gega bytes of memory, Motorola said consumers could store up to 1,000 songs downloaded through high speed micro Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0.

Additionally, RAZR V8 has 2.0 mega pixel camera that offers multi-shot capabilities and approximately 120 minutes of video, thus making it easy to capture the important moments and share in real time through new media technologies such as blogs, even as it could be printed on a compatible Bluetooth enabled printer.

RAZR V8 also has battery talk time of about 500 minutes while the standby time is estimated to be 280 hours.

“MotoRAZR V8 delivers sharper and smarter features for a richer multimedia and music experience,” Motorola official said.

It was further gathered that MotoRAZR V8 was outfitted with extravagant materials including stainless steel, chemically hardened glass, spun metal and chrome.

Officials equally said that RAZR V8 exhibits confident and strong, thus taking the next-generation thin phone to the next level by packing it with a new, richer multimedia experience.

“RAZR V8 provides an unmatched music experience and comes complete with 512 Mega bytes end user memory or 2GB memory, reiterating that its USB offers fast music file transfers,” officials said, stressing that the Window Media Player 11 enables synchronisation for music management and a music touch screen on the external display for effortless control.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nigeria and politics of OOXML voting

Features of the week:

Nigeria in efforts to harmonise her positions on the initial draft of OOXML, recently held stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos. REMMY NWEKE who has been following the exercise reports.


Recently, Nigeria took part in the efforts to globally standardise the DIS 29500 Ecma “Office Open Extensible Markup Language (OOXML),” through a democratic means following a meeting of Information Technology (IT) stakeholders in the country summoned by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in accordance with the directives of the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

According to the ISO JTC-1 directive paragraph 48 section 9.8, national bodies are required to reach a consensus and precisely vote “NO with comments” if there remain unanswered technical problems.

The meeting paved the way for the nation’s voting pattern at the global voting on the draft OOXML on Sunday, September 2, 2007, which final voting is expected by next year.

What is XML?

Ordinarily, XML is a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) initiative that allows information and services to be encoded with meaningful structure and semantics, which computers and humans could understand. XML is great for information exchange, and could easily be extended to include user-specified and industry-specified tags.

The battle line:

On the other hand, OOXML, the Office Open Extensible Markup Language version of XML being proposed by Microsoft Corporation and over 20 allied, which has been greatly opposed by the proponents of Open Source Software, claimed that it has over 200 flaws.

But for Microsoft and collaborators, Office Open XML enjoys positive momentum, especially at the just concluded debate, as well as widespread use.

Also, Microsoft said that over 2000 partners representing 67 countries on six continents gave their green lights for the ratification of OOXML by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) prior to the initial voting on September 2.

Meeting @ SON:

Then, the stakeholders meeting penultimately held on a Wednesday, at the headquarters of SON in Lekki, an outskirt of Lagos, was presided over by the Director General (DG), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Cleopas Officer Angaye, who was represented by the Director, Zonal Coordination at NITDA, Mr. Inye Kemabonta, just as he was assisted by the Director of Standards at SON, Mr. Charles Okoro, at the occasion.

Prof. Angaye, while addressing the meeting, said that Nigeria stands to benefit immensely from the standardisation of OOXML by ISO, especially in the areas of local software development, adding that Nigeria’s support of OOXML would translate into major reduction in the cost of acquiring and managing government applications.

NITDA boss, equally said, that OOXML is interoperable and could enable optimisation of broadband utilisation in the country, stressing that though there could not be any categorical statement on the outcome of the meeting, there is still room for dynamic contributions, mostly since the final voting is due sometime next year.

He advised few dissenting voices at the occasion from the CSOs to forward their claims of multiple flaws in the OOXML online to the attendees, emphasising that OOXML could be accepted if it is technically sound.

Also speaking, Director of Standards at SON, Mr. Charles Okoro, informed that the meeting was to afford Nigeria the opportunity of harmonising her stand on the proposed standard, which is in its initial draft.

Mr. Okoro noted that the final voting on the proposal will be held next year, adding that those who do not have their say at this initial stage could still make input before the final adoption.

He promised that SON would always keep the Nigerian stakeholders abreast of development in the issue and expressed joy in their honouring the invitation to discuss the initial draft, just as Nigeria, has grown in rank of participation within the ISO schemes and currently contributed to 18 standards from previously 14.

Boycot by CSOs:

Meanwhile, members of CSOs in the country, inadvertently boycotted the meeting due to the number of attendees from the non-governmental bodies. Out of the estimated 19 participants, only four supposedly represented civil society group, while the rest were made up of government officials and Microsoft partners.

It was further gathered that top notchers of CSO in the country travelled out and could not make the meeting or even sent representatives.

Champion Infotel recalled that earlier some members of CSO had sounded a note of warning, arguing that OOXML has several flaws that made it fall short of admission into a global standard, more so by ISO at this era when its open standard module have some hidden agenda.

“The DIS 29500 “Office Open XML” (OOXML) does not meet the criteria defined by ISO and others for an International Standard,“ CSOs had insisted, stressing it is an immature documentation of one vendor’s proprietary document format, which depends on software patents held by this vendor. This, CSOs pointed out, obstructs interoperability, hence it’s in conflict with existing ISO standards.

Advancing support for OOXML:

However, responding to recent media reports on the debate, the Public Relations and Events Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Ms Ndidiamaka Victoria Uwadoka, informed that even third parties have also endorsed the standard. This included contributors from the Open Source community and those appreciative of interoperability software solutions.

“Other third parties have endorsed the standard, including contributors to the Open Source community and those who appreciate the need for interoperability among mixed software solutions,” she declared.

In addition, Ms Uwadoka said that contrary to reports, African civil society organisations, as a homogenous group, for instance, are not against the Open XML, stressing that over 2000 partners representing 67 countries on six continents have given their support for Open XML approval.

Recognised by communities:

“More than 2000 partners representing 67 countries on six continents support Open XML and its ratification by ISO,” she told correspondent before the voting on the draft, adding that this expanding community of voices recognised the fact that this format gives partners many opportunities to innovate and deliver the full value of XML-based technologies to customers.

Ms Uwadoka asserted that OOXML has been helpful to those deploying it to achieve their goals of increased productivity and decreased costs, and explained that although Microsoft has been instrumental in the development of the Ecma Office Open XML standard, “Open XML is not a Microsoft standard but an international one.”

Microsoft further said that Open XML is an international, open standard for word-processing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets that could be freely implemented by multiple applications on multiple platforms.

Standardisation of OOXML:

According to her, the work to standardise Open XML is being carried out by a technical committee of Ecma International, which includes representatives from Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, British Library, Essilor, Intel, Microsoft, NextPage, Novell, Statoil, Toshiba and the United States Library of Congress.

“The standard is under the maintenance of Ecma; Microsoft has just one vote of the more than 20 members,” she stated.

Microsoft further said that contrary to reports, United States and Germany have voted ‘Yes’ with comments to accept Open XML as an ISO standard.

As said by her, “’Yes, with comments’ means that it was a progressive outcome from the national standards body, and Ecma looks forward to resolving these comments during the ballot resolution process, claiming that South Africa only voted on Sunday, September 2.

How they voted:

At the voting proper on September 2, the required 66 per cent criteria was not met as OOXML advocates got 53 per cent, while those against recorded about 26 per cent, even as 23.5 per cent abstained.

Some of the critics with hindsight blamed the software giant of aggressive lobbying for a backlash of the voting at the draft OOXML, even as out of the 87 countries that participated, only 69 voted yes or no; 18 of those, or 26 per cent of the total, opposed the bid.

Under the voting rules, no more than 25 per cent of countries could oppose the bid.

Corruption tendencies:

The Africa CSOs equally alleged that corrupt tendencies influenced the voting of developing countries, at the debate in Geneva, Switzerland, especially from developing economies, most of who are on the continent.

Champion Infotel gathered that ISO received a total of 87 votes, out of which 70 was given either by the secretariat country (USA), participating members (“P Member”) or observers (“O Member”) and at various stages of the voting only these 70 votes were taken into consideration.

Reacting to the voting pattern, some members of CSOs from Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria concurred that corrupt tendencies must have influenced the exercise, mostly from developing countries on the continent and beyond.

They argued that about 17 countries, which took part in the exercise were perceived to be relatively corrupt, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2006 (CPI index).

“… Mostly supported the OOXML, with approval given by 13, approval with comments 2, abstention 0, disapproval 2,” a senior member of African CSOs alleged.

The 2006 CPI index was a research by Prof. J. Graf Lambsdorff of the University of Passau and commissioned by Transparency International.

CSOs further stated that of the most corrupted half (CPI index less than 3.95) 23 or 77 per cent voted for approval, approval or approval with comments) and 7 or 23 per cent for disapproval; 5 abstained.

They emphasised that of the least corrupted half in the CPI index, which is more than 3.95, that is, 13 or 54 per cent voted for approval of OOXML and 11 or 46 voted for disapproval, while 11 abstained.


Although it was deduced from what went on at the stakeholders meeting in Lagos, as being the government position based on its relationship with the likes of Microsoft, even prior to the meeting as most of the attendees were reportedly ‘Microsoft’ people, coming mostly from all over the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and government institutions.

Nonetheless, it is relevant stakeholders look inward critically to avail the nation the optimal service, just as the final ISO voting on OOXML come 2008 by ensuring harmonisation of voices, must be preceded by extensive education and sensitisation in order to make a meaning to the people and specifically the IT communities, who may not after all have equal understanding of the subject matter.

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Telecom: Africa’s ARPU to drop by 8%

The Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) on the continent of Africa, within the telecommunications sector is expected to drop by eight per cent by December 31, 2007, according to the Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, Devine Kofiloto.

Universally, ARPU is used as a financial benchmark in measuring the average monthly or yearly revenue generated for each customer unit, such as a cellular phone or pager, that a carrier has in operation. Thus, it serves as an indicator of a wireless business’ operating performance.

Commenting on the overview of African telecoms market at the weekend, Kofiloto noted that as at end of 2006, that the continent’s yearly ARPU was at $14.50 (about N1,823) and is expected to further drop by eight per cent to $13.42 (about N1,687) by end of 2007.

Kofiloto pointed out that against this backdrop, the growing demand for data, primarily for Internet access service, is predicted as the emerging, especially for wireless operators on the continent.

“Against this backdrop, the growing demand for data is the next growth market for wireless operators to stabilize if not halt the decline in ARPU,” the analyst declared.

The promising corporate sector’s increasing need for high speed broadband data access, the gradually increasing PC penetration among the middle class and the spread of internet cafés across many markets, the analyst said, has begun to create that much anticipated market demand for broadband access.

Kofiloto observed that with fixed line infrastructure relatively undeveloped across the continent, “it goes without saying wireless service providers are best poised to benefit from this growing demand.”

Also speaking, Conference Manager, GSM-3G World Series for Africa at Informa Telecoms & Media, Ms Julie Rey, said that noticeable across the continent is the impact this growing wireless data demand is having on the technological landscape.

The emergence of alternative broadband access technologies such as Flarion, iBurst, TD-CDMA and WiMAX, all claiming to deliver high data rates at lower cost, is opening up new opportunities for operators’ future data strategies and technology choice.

“The most dominant of these, WiMAX, dubbed as having the potential of becoming a disruptive technology to current data delivery technologies has continued to make headlines,” she said.

She pointed out that for the Global System for Mobile communications and Code Division Multiple Access (GSM/CDMA) operators yet to go down the technological evolutionary path of three-in-one variable of Wideband CDMA (WCDMA) and CDMA aligned to Evolution-Data Optimised (CDMA-EVDO) which are viable alternatives have also raised uncertainties as much as opportunities.

As said by her, Informa Telecoms & Media, a leading provider of business intelligence and strategic marketing solutions to the global telecoms and media markets, has concluded plans to host the telecom operators on the continent to AfricaCom 2007, holding in Cape Town, South Africa as part of the entities GSM-3G World Series.

Stressing that this year, over 3000 participants, 70 speakers and 180 exhibitors are expected to attend the event, representing the whole communications value chain, from GSM and CDMA operators, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), regulators and government bodies, telecommunications solutions vendors, investors and more.

She added that the event is supported by the GSM Association, the African CDMA Forum, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Open Mobile Alliance and the Global Mobile Suppliers Association.

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Microsoft backs Cyber survival workshop

Global leader in Information Technology (IT) software solution, Microsoft Corporation, has given a boost to the one-day ATCON/PMM Cyber Café Survival workshop and mini exhibition in Lagos.

The workshop scheduled for Friday, September 21, would now hold at the Ikeja Airport Hotel, Lagos.

Chief executive, Private Media Mart Limited, Mr. Ejiofor Agada, who disclosed this said that Microsoft has decided to support the event as part of its commitment to the development of IT industry in the country.

“Microsoft’s interest in this event is borne out of their commitment to the development and improvement of the cyber culture in the country as well as the quest to encourage discerning investors in cyber café business to maintain best practices,” he declared.

He also said that the entrance of Microsoft as a sponsor of the inaugural event is to take it to the six geo-political zones of the country.

The software giant, he revealed, would use the platform to add value to cyber café entrepreneurs by showcasing its Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) and Cyber Café solutions to the participants.

Mr. Agada further informed that the event venue has since been shifted from Sheraton to Ikeja Airport Hotel, but the date remains Friday, September 21, 2007, citing logistics advantages for the change.

He explained that the change would not affect the event in any way as adequate arrangements have been put in place to ensure that exhibitors and guests would have good time during the event.

The Cyber Café Workshop is aimed at encouraging potential investors to participate in efforts at accelerating the expansion of Internet services to sub urban and rural communities in the country.

“It is also an avenue to discuss the problems bedevilling cyber business interests as well as proffer solutions to the high mortality rate of cyber cafes across the country,” he added.

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GTB warning on emails

Recently, leading banking institution in the country, GTB Plc, sounded a note of warning to its teeming customers over electronic mails scam.

According to the bank, the perpetrators were eager to gain access to customers’ online account.

The management of bank in an email sent to customers with the subject on “Scam emails in circulation,” said that it has come to its notice that some “scam e-mails’ are being sent to our customers. The motive behind these e-mails is to gain access to customers’ Internet Banking Login details in order to defraud the customer.”

GTB also advised customers to ensure that they protect their account, hence it is important to confirm the authenticity of all e-mails with links to the Guaranty Trust Bank Internet banking page.

To confirm this, customers were advised to look out for the gold padlock at the bottom right corner of the Internet banking page before logging in.

GTB management added that by double clicking on the gold padlock to view a window that would confirm that the page is the valid Guaranty Trust Bank Internet banking page duly registered with Verisign, an international digital certificate authority.

The bank further advised that in the event the gold padlock was not found in the specified area of the Internet banking page, “please note that it is a scam and should not be responded to it.”

Equally the bank said that if customers have responded to such e-mails, they should not hesitate to contact the bank by going to the bank’s website www.gtbplc.com, to effect a change of their password immediately and accordingly inform the bank of such ‘scam e-mails’.

The truth of the matter here is that customers have an obligation to fulfill too for the services being offered to them to be fully secured, that is, being prompt in reporting incidents and sticking to official directives.

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ITAN hosts CEOs to IT Future Summit-07

Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN), has concluded plans to host its members’ chief executive officers (CEOs) to a one-day summit in Lagos, tagged ‘IT Future 2007.’

ITAN President and chief executive, Kontemporary Komputers, Chief Jimson Olufuye disclosed this to newsmen in Lagos, during his maiden chat with the media.

He also said that the event slated to hold at Protea Hotel Maryland Lagos, on Friday, has eight sub-themes, including “Appraisal of the state of IT in Nigeria & inherent potentials, IT legislation: Challenges before the National Assembly, Capacity investment strategies, The power of Collaboration & Partnership, IT Funding and local content, IT export strategies, How to create your own certified brand? and How to effectively launch a new product into the market place?” while the main theme is 3e-Strategies for Enhancing & Empowering IT Entrepreneurs for Millennium Projects.

Chief Olufuye noted that presentations would be made by some eminent professionals and members of ITAN and government to be led by the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof Cleopas Angaye; chief executive, Omatek Computers, Mrs. Florence Seriki; Chairman, Zinox Computers, Dr Leo Stan-Ekeh; Director of ECCC at ECOWAS Secretariat Abuja, Dr. Sola Afolabi; Chairman, House Committee on Science & Technology, Mr. James Baitachi; Director of Operations, Education Trust Fund (ETF), Engr A. Agunbiade; President Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), Dr. (Mrs) Adenike Osofisan, and her counterpart at the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS). Prof. Charles Uwadia, among others.

He explained that participation fee for members is N10,000.00 each, while non-members would attract N15,000 respectively, stressing that fee would cover conference materials, tea-break and lunch, even as payment could be made at the event venue.

Olufuye emphasised that the summit is being organised in fulfilment of one of the outlines in his acceptance speech immediately after his election as ITAN President on March 29.

“I made clear my intention to build a solid relationship with you towards advancing the divine project which is to accentuate IT penetration in all facet of Nigerian life particularly in governance, education and commerce,” he said.

ITAN president pointed out that the nation currently needs clear direction in terms of fiscal policies, apt legislation and leadership.

“I therefore wish to use this opportunity to commend President Umaru Yar’Adua for providing good leadership for our nation thus far,” he said, assuring that ITAN in collaboration with NCS, CPN and other stakeholders would endeavour to match the President’s focus particularly on IT matters.

The summit, he said, is to further address the issues of national importance, especially concerning the industry and attendant IT challenges, noting that in 2006, the summit was hosted at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja by ECOWAS with focus on the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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Intel unveils multi processor

A new product known as Quad Core Xeon 7300 from Intel Corporation has been specifically designed for multi-processor (MP) servers running applications requiring uncompromised performance, reliability and scalability.

Intel vice president and co-general manager of the Digital Enterprise Group (DEG), Mr. Tom Kilroy, said that such applications are typically run in virtualized environments for server consolidation and database uses, enterprise resource planning and business intelligence.

The six new Quad-Core Xeon 7300 series processors, he said, could deliver more than twice the performance and more than three times the performance per watt over the company’s previous generation dual-core products.

He explained that they complete the company’s speedy transition to its innovative and energy-efficient Core micro architecture in less than 15 months.

This platform’s energy-efficient performance, he said, coupled with enhanced virtualization capabilities, would enable customers to significantly lower their total cost of ownership.

The energy-efficient 7300 series, he added, includes frequencies up to 2.93Gega Hertz (GHz) at 130 watts, several 80-watt processors and a 50-watt version optimised for four socket blades and high-density rack form factors with a frequency of 1.86GHz.

Kilroy equally said that the Intel 7300 chipset with Data Traffic Optimizations provides a balanced platform design with several new technologies that enhance data movement between the processors, memory and Input and out connections.

He cited an instance of HP delivering a new blade world record for SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) benchmark with a result of 3,500 SD users on a HP ProLiant BL680c G5 blade server with four Quad-core Intel Xeon processor model E7340s running at 2.4 GHz.

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HP introduces dazzling PC designs

Leading technology distributor, Hewlett Packard (HP), has introduced new business product line up into the global market.

This, the company said would endure elegant designs for everyone from consumers to Information Technology (IT) to professionals.

Marketing Manager at HP Nigeria, Ms. Ijeoma Onyiuke, informed that the new product line-up features eye-catching designs and sheer performance across business desktops, notebooks, workstations and displays.

She added that the sleek new business computers have features facilitating optimal performances in virtually any business environment.

The products introduced globally at the just concluded New York’s Fashion Week, she noted, has HP Compaq dc7800 as one of the star business desktops at the show.

According to her, HP’s most secure and manageable business desktop series features a sleek, zero-footprint design, when combined with the innovative Integrated Work Centre flat panel monitor stand that conceals the PC behind the monitor.

The system, which is environmentally responsible design, she also said, offers remote power management for advanced energy-efficient business computing.

The senior vice president and general manager, PSG Notebook global business unit at HP, Mr. Ted Clark, was quoted as saying that the computer is personal for business customers too.

“For them, design is more than just a look; it’s a total customer experience,” he declared.

Clark further said that HP has expanded its business notebook portfolio with the HP Compaq 6520s, HP Compaq 6720s, and HP Compaq 6820s, stressing that the three systems offer balanced mobility and value whereas featuring a fresh new look, with wide screen displays, the latest processors and multiple wireless technologies, even as a major hit was the revamped tablet computer, 2710p at the show.

The general manager pointed out that HP has explored larger sized displays, many in wide screen format and that with the latest Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) avails consumers substantial increases in brightness, contrast ratio, viewing angle and response time when compared with previous generation monitors.

“Business customers can also now enjoy the same industry-leading image quality and world-class support of HP business monitors with the new line of HP LT Series 32- and 37-inch 720p and 42- and 47-inch 1080p Professional LCD High Definition Televisions (HDTVs), which offer exceptional image accuracy, clear pictures and rich connectivity for professional environments,” Clark said.

Among other changes on HP product line category comprised of the gaming PCs, an unprecedented expansion of the HP iPAQ handheld lineup and joint programmes with media partners MTV and Condé Nast.

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