" ITREALMS: November 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Transforming Damaturu with WiMAX

Features of the week:

Observers have described the Yobe State Integrated Technology Wireless access as the first of its kind in Nigeria. REMMY NWEKE who was there recently reports.

It was a very sunny Friday and of course travelling to northern Nigeria by any means of transportation is not an easy task and like was gathered later, touching ground at the destination could take as long as three hours using the air, that is, to get to the nearby airfield, the Maiduguri International Airport enroute Damaturu, capital city of Yobe State.

And given the businesses of the day, the trip has been conceptualised to last approximated eight hours, including one hour drive from the airport to the government house.

Of course, by the time the team arrived the Maiduguri airport, the protocol team was already waiting, thanks to the Executive Governor of Yobe State, Senator Mamman Bello Ali and the entourage led by the Minister of State for Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki-Nakande and chairman, Zinox Technologies Limited, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh among the 15-man delegation.

One thing was however certain, the passion, for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and this time around the passion had its focus on commissioning of three key projects for the state powered by Zinox consortium; the launch of N317 million worth of Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) initiative; ICT Resource Centre and the Zinox computer ownership scheme for the civil servants, in what one of the beneficiaries informed our correspondent is 3-in-1 project and little wonder then it was named the Integrated Technology Wireless initiative.

For instance, ICT Resource Centre currently powered by over 50 Zinox brands of desktops, would soon give birth to another, which is expected to be bigger so as to accommodate about 200 Personal Computers (PCs), equally to be powered by Zinox for the training of top functionaries of the state on Information Technology.

While the WIMAX initiative would not only avail the state to have 24 by 7 Internet access, but would afford its citizenry the access to make free telephone calls among themselves within a given radius, especially in the capital city.

Whereas the Zinox computer ownership scheme is expected to boost penetration of PCs usage in the state with the compliment of full Zinox after sales services.

Just as 30 per cent discount awaits indigenes wishing to own Zinox brands of PCs and laptops, being dangled by the government.

The consortium:

The consortium for the integrated technology wireless Internet includes Zinox Technologies Limited and GAAT Investment Limited under Zinox Consortium.

Zinox prides itself as leading Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEMs) in the country, which in over sixth year, acclaims its birth to the urge to technologically position Nigeria’s competence largely on current scientific knowledge acquired, organised, developed, domesticated and put into use, thus an initiative to create an international information technology identity for the country.

Zinox is in a strong partnership between Stan Technologies of Nigeria, Mustek of South Africa, the No 1 IT company in South Africa and Alhena Ventures of France, even as Zinox introduced the Computerise Nigeria Project (CNP) on launch, a campaign, Dr. Ekeh said, is to take quality internationally certified and affordable computers to every offices, homes, and educational institutions in order to place Nigeria and Nigerians digitally ahead.

What to know about WiMAX:

WiMAX is the new wireless broadband with a range of up to 80 kilometres (km), with a bandwidth of up to 75 bits per second (bps). It is the successor to Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) and is a telecommunications technology aimed at providing wireless data over long distances in a variety of ways; from point-to-point links to full mobile cellular type access based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 802.16 standard, which is also called WirelessMAN, according to experts.

Technologically born-again state:

In his address to the occasion, Zinox chairman, Dr. Ekeh, accompanied by Managing Director, Zinox Technologies, Abuja, Mr. Amasike Emelonye, while congratulating Yobe State for the commissioning, described the state as the first technologically born-again state in the country in terms of wireless compliance.

He also said that Yobe is the current modern state on the continent and is yet to get any equal in the country, even as he enjoined other states in the federation to open up by partnering with the Zinox consortium so as to empower their citizenry with technology, especially with wireless communications.

“Other governors should open their states. What you’re witnessing here is the first in Nigeria and only just two weeks ago the city of California deployed WiMAX,” he asserted.

Commending the Yobe State government for believing in Zinox as its choice of technology partner, Dr. Ekeh enjoined the citizens to ensure optimal usage of the facilities, assuring of Zinox support services to keep the project alive 24 hours a day and seven days in a week.

He added that WiMAX would propel electronic governance in the state and its attendant values such as electronic learning and e-health to name a few, saying that Yobe, is far ahead and is the only best place that is investor friendly.

Dr. Ekeh expressed confident that Yobe indigenes would enjoy the deployment of WiMAX in the state and assured of his office determination to assist the state to develop its human capacity to knowledge capacity.

Zinox, he said, has finalised plans to open an office in Damaturu in order to draw its services nearer to the populace, mostly in the state, adding that it would open up employment opportunities for the indigenes.

Digital leap:

Special guest to the occasion and Minister of state for Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande, portrayed the project as a major leap being spear-headed by the Yobe State government and lauded the leadership of Senator Bello Ali.

The minister also said that the project would galvanise the socio-economic status of Yobe and assured them of his ministry’s support especially in areas of manpower development and equipment of a school with 20 Zinox PCs.

His ministry, Nakande said, is ready to assist by training some of the state indigenes in its world-class Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) institute, the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) located at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

Alhaji Nakande noted that the weapon to survive at this era of ICT is knowledge and urged them to ensure adequate use, even as he solicited for the certifications of any certificate to be given to graduates at the resource centres.

He further urged citizens of Yobe to make good use of the facilities now in place and improve their life style, stressing that it does not belong to any single individual but the state in general.

The minister later commissioned the projects to the glory of God and good use of humanity as well as growth of Yobe State.

Connecting the ministries:

At the occasion, executive governor of Yobe State, Senator Bello Ali, who was accompanied by his deputy, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam, said that the project is an integrated telephony access, stressing that all ministries would in no distance time be connected to the world of Internet.

He recalled that on assumption on May 29, this year, his administration resolved that there would not be any form of Tokunbo of anything to be owned by the state including ICT tools, hence they went to Zinox to ensure that what they want is what they got.

“That’s why we are partnering with Zinox. So its a promise fulfilled,” he declared, adding that Zinox stands out among equals and is internationally certified, even as the state workforce would be trained on ICT, beginning with the 30 per cent discount to desiring civil servants to encourage them to migrate to the new world order both in Personal Computers (PCs) and laptops.

To this extent, he said, that currently some of the state functionaries are undergoing training both at home and abroad to keep up to the kind of investment the government is making to ensure that Yobe remain the state to beat in the country when it comes to ICT deployment.

He reiterated the resolve of his government to continue in this direction, describing it as the right path in this era of ICT.

We have NCC license:

In a separate chat with newsmen after the launch, Senator Bello Ali, at the government house in Damaturu, capital of Yobe State, said that the state-owned WiMAX project, was licensed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),

Although he did not disclose how much was paid for the license, Gov. Bello Ali noted that his administration would not be part of any illegality and the same applies to the Ministry of Information and Communications, hence the minister has the confidence to not only grace the occasion, but also accept to perform the commissioning physically.

He also said that the state has employed a Nigerian Information Technology (IT) professional with decades of experience to ensure that the project is managed as a private concern in order to be self sustained, but to a world-class standard.

As said by Gov. Bello Ali, sooner than later, he expected the managing entity of the WiMAX project for the state to be self reliant and generate enough revenue to move it beyond sustaining of its operations and payment of staff salaries adequately.

The era, he noted is over when indigenes of Yobe would go to other cities to get IT education from mushroom training centres, and tasked the managers to facilitate the standardization of tutorials and certificates to aid participants and youth in particular in securing jobs.

This, he said, would afford beneficiaries on graduation to value the certificates.

Digitally ahead …:

Champion Infotel recalls that Yobe State was created on August 27, 1991 by the then President Ibrahim Babangida’s administration from the former Borno State, and is touted as one of the largest states in terms of land area.

With this step of transforming the state technologically, observers said that Gov. Ali knows his onion and is digitally putting Yobe ahead of others.

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NCS advocates review of CANi

The umbrella body of computer professionals in the country, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) has advocated for the review of the government owned computer purchase programme known as Computer for All Nigerian Initiative (CANi).

CANi, is purportedly Federal Government plan to make the ownership of Personal Computers (PCs) cheaper for the civil servants in the country as a Government Assisted Purchase Programme (GAPP).

This, the government said was designed to expand the usage of computers and Information Technology (IT) within the country even as the same initiative was implemented in other countries of the world, including the United Kingdom, United States, Singapore, Japan, China and Egypt among others.

Thus, CANi is a public-private partnership programme between the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology through its agency, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and two giants in the IT industry; Microsoft Corporation and Intel Corporation.

Alongside the trio, the initiative has Hewlett Packard (HP) and some four local OEMs, namely Zinox Technologies, Omatek Computers, Beta SpeetStar and Brian Computers, some banks as key participants on the project among others, until lately.

Affirming this call was the newly elected President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Charles Uwadia, in an exclusive chat with Champion Infotel, at the NCS secretariat.

He said the review has become important in the face of lapses witnessed in the implementation of the CANi scheme.

“So, I think what needed to happen is that there is a need for a review of CANi,” he asserted.

Prof. Uwadia also said that the inability for stakeholders to optimise CANi is an indication that something is actually wrong with the policy initiative, stressing that it is a very big set back in the nation’s development plans.

He insisted that CANi is not yet a failed project, because it is yet to be fully tapped by the local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), even as some of them until now have not fully delivered on the number of computes already paid for by the government.

He insisted that CANi could not be said at present to be a failure, “But what we‘re saying is if a project was conceptualised to be able to deliver certain services and some way in doing that those who are to deliver these services are complaining that it’s not too positive, then it means something is wrong.”

Prof. Uwadia who also is the director, Centre for Information Technology at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), pointed out that though the CANi project was primarily set out to empower public servants in the country, beginning with the federal, every step must be taken to ensure that CANi scheme reaches out to all Nigerians and not just public servants.

“We must be able to work out schemes that empower in terms of computing powers in new different strata of the Nigerian society,” he declared, noting that good number of private sector are actively involved in improving computer literacy as far as Information Technology (IT) is concerned.

“What about the states, what about the local governments, the communities? You see, all these issues need to be taken together when we’re talking or making plans to get certain things done in the areas of our computing powers and in rural infrastructure and so on,” Prof. Uwadia said.

For him, stakeholders, especially the government need to take the other strata of the society along, which he noted is not happening currently.

“Maybe a few states are doing well, there are several states that are doing virtually nothing,” he noted.

However, he commended the government for the steps taken in improving computation in the country, especially the immediate past government of President Olusegun Obasanjo for some of the giant strides in IT and telecoms in the past eight years.

He outlined some of these to include the promulgation of the nation’s IT policy in 2001 and setting up of the National IT Development Agency (NiTDA), which Act was enacted at the first quarter of 2007.

“I think we have some things in place being done by the government or some development actions going on,” he said.

Prof. Uwadia further decried the state of lack of coordination of different activities geared towards implementing the IT policy such as CANi.

He described CANi as a policy initiative by the government to allow public servants own computers but at affordable rates and at the same time assisting the local OEMs to improve on their productive capacity.

CANi, he pointed out did not go the way it was envisaged, mostly by stakeholders and OEMs in particular.

“They envisaged a situation where it would be profitable to them, but I think something must have gone wrong in the packaging in terms of pricing,” he submitted.

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Fashola praises Omatek Computers on ICT centre

Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, has praised one of the leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Omatek Computers Limited, for powering the Radlag.com Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Centre located at Ijede-Ikorodu suburb of the state.

The commendation came at the commissioning of the ICT Centre with full deployment of Omatek brands of computers through a special arrangement under the company’s e-Xpress computer acquisition initiatives.

Fashola who later commissioned the centre, expressed gratitude to Omatek for partnering with Eko FM and also for bringing ICT to the rural area like Ijede in Ikorodu and enjoined other ICT companies, especially with offices in Lagos State to emulate Omatek and see to the extension of ICT values, mostly through computer diffusion as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Also speaking, Managing Director, Omatek Computers, Mrs. Florence Seriki, said that her greatest delight was to see more communities benefiting from the company’s easy computer acquisition programme.

e-Xpress, she said, allows individual and corporate bodies to buy computers and pay for it by instalments over a period of 12 to 24 months.

She explained that the project, a partnership between Eko FM, Omatek Computers Limited and First Bank, is a digital institute for the use of indigenes of the area.

She insisted that organizations should take a cue from Eko FM in rendering social corporate responsibility to their environment by tapping into the Omatek e-Xpress thereby ensuring that their areas benefit from the initiative, even as she described the Ijede ICT centre as a welcome development.

“What has happened in Ikorodu is good and will go a long way to make information available at the finger tips of the people of the area that would inevitably transform the entire community. It is interesting to note that many more states are embracing our e-Xpress Initiative,” she asserted.

Champion Infotel recalled that recently Omatek entered a N1 billion pact with the First Bank Nigeria (FBN) Plc targeted at encouraging easy computer acquisition by Nigerians under the e-Xpress initiative.

In addition, Omatek and Afribank Plc, is financing computer acquisition to the tune of N1.5 billion, each in about seven states across the federation encompassing Lagos, Ogun, Cross Rivers, Abia among others.

The bank is also in strategic computer acquisition financing partnership with Omatek worth N500 million, each for four universities under the computer firm’s e-Xpress initiative.

Some of the dignitaries at the commissioning were General Manager, Radio Lagos\Eko F.M. Mrs. Tinu Aina-Badejo, Alajede of Ijede accompanied by his chiefs among others.

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Fraud Alert: www.interswitchnig.com is fake

Market Intelligence:

Premier payment switching solutions providers, InterSwitch Limited has warned Nigerian Debit Card (NDC) holders not to disclose their cards’ Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to anyone under any guise, insisting that www.interswitchnig.com is fake.

The fraud alert in a jointly press statement made available to Champion Infotel by InterSwitch and 23 member banks, said that the warning has become necessary as the company’s attention has been drawn to Short Messaging Service (SMS) purported to have originated from InterSwitch, asking millions of ATM card holders to register their cards online at www.interswitchnig.com

InterSwitch’s management, explained that the site was specially developed by the fraudsters to defraud unsuspecting debit cardholders.

“The website address www.interswitchnig.com is fake. InterSwitch’s registered address is www.interswitchng.com”, the company stated.

InterSwitch equally said that however, the fraudulent website has since been shut down after InterSwitch contacted the organisation hosting the website in the United State.

The organisation has since sent an apology to InterSwitch and “In the interim, we have reported the case of the fraudulent website to the appropriate law enforcement authorities for investigations.”

While assuring numerous card holders in the country that their cards issued on InterSwitch platform remain valid.

“We are reassuring all ATM card holders that all ATM cards and other cards with the InterSwitch logo remain valid on all our channels such as ATMs, Point of Sale (POS), Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), mobile phones and web,” the statement read.

InterSwitch member banks are Access Bank, Afribank Nigeria, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, Equatorial Trust Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Inland Bank, First Bank of Nigeria, First City Monument Bank and GT Bank.

Others include IBTC Chartered Bank, Intercontinental Bank, Nigeria International Bank (Citibank), Oceanic Bank, Platinumhabib Bank, Skye Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank, United Bank for Africa, Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.

However, banks should have taken additional steps in intimating their customers of this development like Zenith did via GSM phones, because not every cardholder has Internet access to begin with, let alone buying newspapers on daily basis.

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$100 laptop now sales for N47,000

The initial popularised $100 (about N14,000) laptop now sales for $399 (about N47,407.18), according to the chairman of the non-profit association, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), Prof. Nicholas Negroponte.

Champion Infotel recollects that at the official launch in Tunisia during the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), $100 laptop was the toast of every participant, including Nigerian government led by then President Olusegun Obasanjo, who took interest in the project and subsequently ordered for 1 million units.

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

In what Dr. Negroponte tagged as ‘Buy one, get one’ offer by his organisation, people now have the opportunity to buy one of the OLPC laptops and get one free at the latest price.

The chairman in an electronic mail, said that the offer which commenced since November 12 and was initially scheduled to end last Monday, November 26, but has now been extended to December 31, 2007 in the United States and Canada.

During this period, he said, buyers are expected to donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in their homes or any location in recognition of their contribution.

“Thanks to a growing interest in the programme, we’re extending ‘Give One Get One’ until the end of the year,” he affirmed, stressing that through this extension, and the increasing public interest in OLPC, its hoped to give many more children the opportunity to grow, explore, learn and express themselves.

“You have the opportunity to give-one-get-one for $399, or give many, if you wish,” he enjoined, adding that by popular demand, there are ways to direct 60 or more to any favourite school of the buyer’s choice, as well.

OLPC, he said, is an education project, not a laptop project, describing children as a mission, rather than a market.

After over 30 years of research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab and based on Seymour Papert’s theories of constructionism, OLPC was experimented for three years in primary schools around the world, including Cambodia, India, Nigeria, Brazil, Peru to name a few, just as the XO laptop is now in mass production.

“Our goal is to reach the poorest and most remote children, in countries where as many as 50 per cent do not even go to school. The long term purpose is to eliminate poverty,” he said.

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Aniebonam outlines roles of Technology Parks

National President, Nigerian Information Technology Professionals in the Americas (NITPA), Prof. Manny Aniebunam, has outlined the roles of Technology Parks (TPs) in the new world order.

Speaking on the Abuja Technology Park, Prof. Aniebonam, said that after over 30 years of existence of TPs as a world-wide movement, there is of course much to be said about their roles and nature.

These roles, he said, are in two forms, namely that TP must be regarded as a tool and must prove to be powerful elements for regional development.

According to him, TP as a tool serves as a means towards achieving certain goals and objectives, rather than being objectives in itself, even as TP as a proof of powerful elements for regional development, becomes a success if provided with adequate model.

He stressed that for TPs to attain its utmost best in effectively promoting national or regional development must focus on companies and entrepreneurs, saying that it helps firms to become more innovative and competitive.

“The main aim of a TP is to help companies to become more innovative and therefore more competitive and in general, to increase the economic level of their region or municipality.

Prof. Aniebonam who is equally the chief executive, AfriHub Nigeria, pointed out that through global perspective, the key word for today’s economic success is technology, research and development, knowledge management and innovation.

“TPs are the bridge between universities and companies,” he declared, adding that TPs are the ‘translators’ of the often-different languages and interests of the academics and entrepreneurs.

Therefore, TPs are very significant in helping the universities to increase their own competitiveness and in other words to better fulfill the new role that today’s society demands as well as remaining active agents of economic development.

“Last but not least, is to increase their income via research contracts with the industry,” he said, decrying the implementation of the Abuja Technology Park.

For him, there is a need to have at least, within 20 miles radius of the park, several first-class institutions, universities or national centres of excellence.

TP, he said, must provide for high-quality and adequate infrastructure, which includes space, landscape, communications and transportation access, good location and other facilities.

Good value added services, he highlighted, would leverage on efficient links to universities and research institutions, researchers, laboratories and equipment facilities to name a few.

Even as incubation units would encourage and facilitate the creation of new local companies, whereas international links and contacts would avail the access of these companies to the global networks, while technology cum knowledge monitoring and observatory, would assist their clients in updating their knowledge-base, especially on their competitors.

“To know where there are new sources, relevant technologies and knowledge,” he said.

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UkpakaReports.com makes debut

AN online news journal, www.UkpakaReports.com, has made a debut with a mission to use information in addressing socio-political, economic and other issues in the nation’s geopolitical zones.

Revealing this, the publisher, Mr. Ikenna Ellis Ezenekwe, said that the portal is already attracting visitors across the globe.

A press statement made available to Champion Infotel on Monday, informed that the portal would provide global community with adequate information needed in a democratic society, especially in a developing economies like Nigeria.

“With UkpakaReports.com, it is our resolve to move Nigeria forward, rid her of the systematic corruption that has continued to plague the country,” he said.

Mr. Ezenekwe also said that they believe in the true exercise of the rights as accorded the citizens of Nigeria in the constitution.

“We aspire for the betterment of the nation through the strict adherence to human and moral laws” he declared.

As said by him, with the news portal, readers would be able to decipher the foggy politics, associated financial and moral corruption.

“UkpakaReports.com is an independent monitor of those entrusted with powers to be accountable. We will change the face of news reporting with timeliness, objectivity, responsible journalism, among others,” he said.

The internet based news journal will not only change the face of online journalism but will explore new media technology dynamics which is imperative for the survival strategies in the electronic knowledge economy.

The digital revolution, he pointed out, has continued to change the way newspapers collect, produce, and distribute information, creating wide range of new challenges and opportunities for today’s editors and their journalists.

“More than 10 years after the beginning of digital breakthrough and the changes it has brought to the news business, real time journalism, online news and information, multi-platform distribution and one-to-one relations with readers, “ he said.

Emphasising that it is now time for Nigeria to embrace online journalism wholistically as an imperative for the survival of the knowledge economy, hence, he said, UkpakaReports.com has come to stay.

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Diaspora Nigerians commend Glo’s fibre optic launch

Nigerian Information and Communications Technology (ICT) professionals in diaspora have commended the second national operator, Globacom over its last weekend launch of landing point of its nationwide fibre optic backbone in Minna, Niger State.

Some of the Nigerian professionals who spoke on the development gave kudos to the Nigerian telecommunications giant, include Prof. Bolaji Aluko, Messrs Dele Olawole and Aiseokhuoba.

For Prof. Aluko, the launch of the fibre optic backbone estimated at N83.2 billion is a sign of a new dawn in the nation’s telecommunications industry and development generally.

Equally for the chief executive of Norway-based D-Net Communications, Mr. Dele Olawole, it is the way to go and “Congratulations to the management and staff of Glo.”

And for Mr. Aiseokhuoba from Idi-oro, Lagos, Nigeria is on course of real development with the Glo fibre backbone, noting though that evolution in the nation’s telephony could be Obasanjo’s legacy, and the onus is now on President Umar Musa Yar’Adua to eradicate power supply problems.

“My people, we are getting there inch-by-inch,” he declared.

Champion Infotel recalled that Glo’s fibre optic backbone also known as OFC project, is an infrastructure that propels information super highway through transmission of voice and data at the speed of light and tends to boost communications in Nigeria and eliminate the challenges associated with satellite and microwave transmission mediums.

The launch of the Abuja-Minna route is a milestone for the telco as it’s the first of its kind in any part of the country.

Meanwhile, speaking at the penultimate Thursday in Minna, Niger State, the telco informed that it took the step to position itself on the continent to a higher level.

The backbone covering Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan route, Lagos-Ijebuode-Ore-Benin and Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano routes, on completion, according to the Executive Director, Marketing Communications at Globacom, Mr. Okon Iyanam, the network spanning over 10,000 kilometres (km), transcend all the major cities nationwide, with presence in Benin-Warri-Port Harcourt, Port-Harcourt-Aba-Umuahia-Owerri, Owerri-Onitsha-Enugu, Enugu-Oturkpo-Makurdi, Markudi-Lafia-Abuja and Ibadan-Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Bida-Minna-Abuja routes.

He also said that the Minna-Abuja route of the fibre backbone, would carry all the traffic for Niger, Kebbi and Sokoto states with accompanying benefits to nearby cities and communities.

Commissioning the project, Niger State Governor, Alhaji Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, described the project as a new dawn in telecommunications services in the state and environs as well as neighbouring states, adding that the facility would boost government and private businesses in the region.

He also said that the project would further reposition the state for e-governance, stressing that only the best of telecommunications infrastructure would enable Nigeria catch up with the rest of the world in the match towards the digital inclusion.

The Glo Optic Fibre project, he equally said was a step in the right direction and one more demonstration of Globacom’s innovativeness to the telecom revolution.

“I recall that Glo pioneered per second billing, made the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) affordable and introduced a number of value added services (VAS) such as multimedia messaging and Blackberry,” he declared.

For him, Glo has indeed made apart from the Nigerian nation, the whole of Africa proud with its avalanche of innovative products as far as telecommunications is concerned.

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24 ICT champions honoured @ NITTA-07

The sixth edition of the Nigerian Information Technology and Telecom Awards (NITTA 2007) ended with a total of 24 awards dished out to deserving industry champions.

According to the awards organisers, IT & Telecom Digest, these awards were the highest ever number of awards in the nation’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry, thus making NITTA the sector’s most consistent since 2002 when it was inaugurated.

Speaking at the occasion, chief executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe applauded the zeal of IT & Telecom Digest magazine, organisers of NITTA, stressing that the awards have become a way of showing appreciation to operators in the industry for a job well done.

The ceremony, presided over by the immediate past Nigeria ’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Dr. Christopher Kolade, was anchored by the duo of Ayo Makinde and Ronke Olufiade, as well graced by who-is-who in the ICT industry, including the chief executives of Nigeria ’s leading telecom operators like Mr. Adebayo Ligali of Celtel Nigeria, Chief Operating Officer of Globacom, Mr. Mohamed Jameel, former Communications Minister and a member of the board of NCC, Chief Olawale Ige, Managing Director of Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, Chairman of Zinox Computers, Chief Leo-Stan Ekeh, Deputy Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Geidam who stood in for the state Governor, Senator Mamman Bello Ali, Mr. Joost Jetten, Business Development Manager-Southern and West Africa of Sony Ericsson, among others.

The award winners encompassed Starcomms which emerged the Telephone Company of the Year (Wireless), Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Company of the Year went to NETCOM Africa, while the Internet Service Provider of the Year was won by Direct-On-PC; New Technology Solution Company of the Year prize went to T3 Communications, even as the Satellite Company of the Year was taken by Gilat Satcom.

Also, prize for the Mobile Phone Company of the Year went to Glo Mobile and Telecom Equipment Supplier of the Year was won by ACCAT, even as multiple awards were received by Globacom as the National Operator of the Year and two individual awards by its chief operating officer, Mohamed Jameel and Chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga, Jnr; as Telecom Personality of the Year and Man of the Year respectively.

Equally outstanding was the performance of Direct On PC, which carted home three prizes as of Internet Service Provider (ISP) of the year, broadband company of the year and WiMAX company of the year.

Relatively, three governors shared the ICT Governor of the year prize namely the Ondo State Governor Dr. Olusegun Agagu, his Akwa Ibom and Yobe states counterparts, Obong Godswill Akpabio and Senator Mamman Bello Ali.

Just as for the second consecutive year, Zinox picked the computer brand of the year award while the sister company, Technology Distributions (TD) won the computer distribution company of the year.

Celtel and MTN took their turns as the customer care company of the year while MTN Foundation won the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) company of the year with Sony Ericsson clinching for the second year platinum sponsor with its with the Sony Ericsson P1i.

The ICT Reporter of the year award went to Mr. Elvis Eromosele of Financial Standard for the second year running, even as Symbols from the stable of Progenics won again this year the Indigenous Software award alone, while NCC picked the African Telecom Regulator award, Mr. Lanre Ajayi of PiNet Informatics came top as IT Personality of the year prize.

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Nakande, Ndukwe laud Celtel’s one network

Minister of state for Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande, and chief executive, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, have lauded the recent launch of one-network by Celtel Nigeria.

Champion Infotel recalled that Celtel at the weekend launched the second one-network at the federal capital territory, Abuja, availing its subscribers in West African countries to roam freely without change of their Subscribers Identification Modulation (SIM) cards.

Benefiting countries of the latest launch are Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Congo, Tanzania, Kenya and Sudan, even as Celtel had last year September launched the first one-network in east Africa, bringing the number of countries with one-network to 12 across the continent.

Both Nakande and Ndukwe spoke at the launch of the one-network and commended the management of Celtel for living up to its dream of uniting its subscribers without boundaries.

While congratulating the telco, Dr. Ndukwe, noted that this kind of evolution was what the West African Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (WATRA) had in mind on inception and was actually set up to help bring about a borderless area for phone users.

He also said that NCC was determined to use WATRA to ensure that Nigerians could have one network service rather than continuous change of SIM cards whenever they are on the move, mostly in the West African region.

“At least, for the first time, Africa has something that it can export to the other parts of the world,” he asserted, noting the difficulties subscribers face, especially making international calls before now within the African continent and within the sub-region precisely,” he said.

For Alhaji Nakande, who led delegates to unveil the ‘One Network’ its an indication of the pride of place Africa has in the business of telecommunications based on Celtel evolution, which underscores that Nigeria is giving a good environment to the telecommunications industry to survive and develop.

He promised that the government would continue to partner with all telecom service providers in the country to ensure that subscribers base remain on the rise.

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Nokia hires 10 LEAP graduates

The management of Nokia Nigeria has hired 10 graduates of LEAP Africa among the 350 beneficiaries currently trained on critical leadership skills.

Head, Corporate Social Investments at Nokia, Middle East and Africa (MEA), Ms Micheline Ntiru made this disclosure at the LEAP African Nigerian Youth leadership awards held recently.

In address to the occasion, she acknowledged the efforts of LEAP team in the past four years, especially in grooming future leaders and for sustaining the vision of this noble initiative that strives for youth leadership and empowerment.

She explained that those hired included field force, which illustrates the commitment of both enhancing skills and providing employment.

In addition, 250 have designed change projects in their communities, preventing crime, providing skills to youth and promoting HIV and AIDS awareness.

“LEAP is changing the lives and future of many in Nigeria as each participant has a good foundation that can be built on as they embark on their journey of success,” she pointed out.

Describing the teenage era as a very fragile time, Ntiru stressed that it a period when decisions about developing skills, starting families, embarking on financial independence and being a part of the civic community commence, and these decisions will have long-lasting impacts that endure beyond them, into the next generation.

“These decisions form the basis of human capital to be productive workers, heads of families, citizens and community leaders,” she said, adding that there is need to develop the capabilities of young people and empower them to make judicious, well-informed decisions.

“As the capacity to learn is greater for young than it is for older people, we need not miss this opportunity,” she advised.

Nigeria, as the most populous nation in Africa, she pointed out have youth constituting a majority of the population and Nokia recognises this fact, that youth have an enormous difficult time getting into the job market, or moving up the ladder.

“It is a tough economy and in order to survive, we know that young people need to be fully armed with a myriad skill set, if they are to be part of the increasingly competitive workforce. We do not just literacy skills, but an extra load of life and leadership skills, including decision-making, negotiations, communications, problem solving among other skills,” she noted.

According to her, a further challenge remains in the rapid advances in information and technology, which demands more from workers than basic skills.

Young people, therefore, need to participate in civic life if they are really to have a positive impact on their communities, hence Nokia believes in this philosophy strongly.

“This is because the opportunities to be heard as citizens and to participate in community activities will no doubt impact upon the quality of the delivery services that will affect young people directly,” Ntiru asserted.

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Undue criticism of NCC

Remmy Nweke

In the light of the dearth in quality of services among the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), mostly in the last four months stakeholders seem divided over the causes, thus trading blames ignorantly.

This is in spite of efforts being made by the telecommunications regulator in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)

Equally subscribers in the country have all of a sudden forgotten their experiences in the past six years, which saw mountains of kudos for the regulator and hailing of the revolution that has taken place in the telecommunications industry.

For some experts, the sudden turn of events seem natural to man as subscribers have been criticising both the operators and some even requested that they be crucified.

From then on it was as if nothing good had happened in the telecommunications industry.

It was firstly, the consumers that began the cry; the politicians quickly found a platform on which to rest their politicking the Nigerian way trying to impress all that all their calls for a probe into the telecommunications industry and the interest they seem to be showing for what is going on in the NCC was for the good of the Nigerian people.

Again, a new twist was added to the issue of quality of service; the Nigerian Communications Satellite Agency (NigComSat) which had been launched early this year to act as a transmission backbone to telecommunications services providers, those referred to in telecommunications parlance as last mile providers was failing in its core task of getting customers to hook on to its satellite services. Its business plan had not impressed its target market. Its claim that it could offer cheaper bandwidth and help last mile services providers offer better quality service had not struck any new cord in the operators.

Even government agencies, such as the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who have been using the services of other orbital satellite providers such as Intelsat over the years had not seen the attraction in the NigComSat’s business claims.

Their officials who had been asked to patronize NigComSat by government had argued that for them to do that they had to change the ground equipment to align with the Chinese technology that the NigComSat offered. According to these government agencies, the cost of hooking on to NigComSat transponders was huge and they can only do that if government offered to provide the fund.

Thus, between the launch of the satellite organisation and the time Nigerian phones services quality got to their lowest ebb, NigComSat had not gotten a customer. “Nigerian businesses are not patronizing us, cried a marketing official of NigComSat during the NICOMM 2007 which just last October in Lagos.

This was the dilemma that NigComSat found itself when it decided to design a huge propaganda machinery that was focused on ‘deceiving’ the presidency and unsuspecting Nigerian phone users and a section of the Nigerian press that NigComSat was the answer to poor quality phone service. The bait was their argument that if the NCC provided it with a free GSM license it will offer cheaper and better phone services to Nigeria.

Phone users got hooked to the bait; the presidency which had initially decided not to grant NigComSat license based on the recommendation of its own technical committee reversed itself and ordered the NCC to grant NigComSat License.

A section of the House of representative which had been mandated to look into the issue of quality of phone service took the matter to a higher gear and went political to pursue an agenda which was partly NigComSat driven and also buoyed by efforts to throw mud at the NCC and its chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe through the contrivance of unfounded allegations in a bid to unseat him.

The Leo Ogor ad-hoc committee recommendations points to the political direction NCC traducers were willing to go to unseat the management. They recommended the reorganization and probe of the NCC because according to them the regulator was responsible for the bad quality of service.

In their bid to hang the NCC, they closed their eyes to the truth preferring to canvass half truths by claiming that the NCC was both the regulator and the operator, which must provide the answer for good quality service. Secondly, they recommended that the NCC be punished for an act of the Ministry of Communications and the presidency, which awarded rural telephony projects to the Chinese government and its companies; ZTE and Huawei. They also, in an attempt to deceive Nigerians, that the NCC was denying Nigerians good quality and cheaper phone services for disobeying the order of the presidency that license be issued to NigComSat.

But all these claims and allegations are contrary to the NCC many Nigerians and the international communities know before these months of deflecting the wheels of telecommunications development in the country, through undue criticism.

Unfortunately, while a section of the House of representative and a few others who bought into the venture are labouring to throw mud on one of Nigeria ’s best, the International community continues to pour ecomiums on the NCC and its Chief Executive, Ernest Ndukwe whom they continue to ask over to present the Nigerian model to emerging telecommunications markets.

Many have soon forgotten that the NCC whose board was constituted in 2000 by the Olusegun Obasanjo government with seasoned technocrats such as Ahmed Joda, former Communications Minister, Olawale Ige has been acclaimed as one of the best run public enterprise in Nigeria.

This has been attested to by the numerous awards it has received from local and international bodies. The NCC processes have largely been acclaimed as following the rule of law, transparency, fair play and accountability to its various stakeholders. Before the banking consolidation that came last year, the telecommunications sector was the most vibrant, purposeful, well run and beneficial to Nigerians and the government.

Perhaps a few statistics will suffice. In January 2001, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, came up with the auction model for Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) licenses in Nigeria . That process proved effective as its result was adjudged locally and internationally as one of the best in the world due to the high level of transparency with which the exercise was conducted. Three mobile networks - ECONET Wireless (now Celtel), MTN and Mtel, a subsidiary of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL were successful after agreeing to pay $285 million each to obtain the DMI license.

So in August 2001, Econet and MTN rolled out their services. Later on, Mtel followed. However, in 2002, a fourth Digital Mobile Licence (DML) was issued to Globacom through another transparent auction process.

Other licensing auctions followed the transparent manner with which NCC handled the DML. These include the Second National Operator, SNO, granted to Globacom, Fixed Wireless Access, FWA, licences granted to 24 companies on Regional Basis, the Unified Access Service Licence, UASL, and 3G Licences granted to four companies.

Through the award of these licences, the NCC facilitated a phenomenal expansion of telephone line in Nigeria such that while it took 40 years (between 1960 and 2000) to achieve 700,000 telephone lines, though only about 450,000 lines were functional in May 1999, it took the NCC only seven years to achieve about 40 million (from 2001 and 2007), boosting teledensity from 0.4 to 24.

Before 2001, access to telephone was the exclusive preserve of the rich and mighty in the country. Prior to 2001, it cost as much as N100,00 to obtain a phone line provided by the licensed fixed wireless operators, while you could pay officials with as high as N150, 000 to N200, 000 to get NITEL fixed lines. Application for telephone lines, which were not available, could take over a year to process. Never forgetting the poor quality of service that attended the NITEL services with the notorious ‘all trunks are busy, please try later’ sound that came from the NITEL network.

But today, thanks to the GSM revolution, all that is now history. GSM phones can now be found in over 10,000 villages and cities, even in the remotest parts of the country. Both the lowly and the high have access to phone services, which has become affordable and accessible. With as little as N300 a GSM line can be acquired and with as little as N3000 a handset can be purchased.

Apart from the phenomenal growth in subscriber base foreign direct investments inflow has also continued to pour in, moving from their 1999 level of $50 million to their current level of $10 billion. Earnings to government from the sector have also risen geometrically to peak at over N300 billion, from licenses, taxes and duties.

The various operators have employed thousands of Nigerians and through its multiplier effect millions of Nigerians are now gainfully engaged in one form of enterprise or the other that is telecommunications related.

Today, Internet services are becoming available on even mobile phones, making it possible to transact a wide range of services formally only available using a computer device.

Successes in the sector over the past seven years have brought benefits to several other sectors of the economy. Such benefits include investment inflows, increased revenues to government, job creation, improved revenues to advertising agents, real estate agents, among others.

Many have attributed the success to the stable and internationally acceptable regulatory environment, which has allowed for a level playing field, competition, operation of market forces and transparent licensing regime. This is the position of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which sets global telecommunications standards.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BBA-2: Between reality and immorality

Features of the week:

The second edition of Big Brother Africa (BBA) widely aired on Digital Satellite Television (DSTv) channels globally has ended, but the marks thereafter left people wondering between the reality show and immorality it has become. Remmy Nweke reports.

At home with Usmans:

Middle class marketing executive based in Lagos, Mr. Usman Josephat, recently got a Digital Satellite Television popularly known as DSTv subscription for his household of teenagers in the neighbourhood of 16 and 18 years of old, based on his wife’s endorsement.

Not quite long after the second phase of the Big Brother Africa (BBA-2) began and these youths sooner than later commenced vacation and the best household friend became the television set as everyone seemed to be glued to the DSTv channel being disseminated through the MultiChoice Nigeria.

One day, and precisely on Saturday, October 27, 2007, Usman felt sick at the office and had to be home earlier than usual, unfortunately, that was the beginning of another chapter in his family as he discovered the kind of immorality going on at the supposed reality show, which he was made to understand was designed to bring Africans together to live and learn from each other in estimated 98 days, an approximated 14 weeks.

Of course, he was disappointed and by the time the wife returned, they took a decision to disconnect the DSTv channel or better still lock it pending the conclusion of BBA-2.

Drawing a line:

For him, there must be a line between reality and immorality TV shows. Reality, according Longman dictionary of contemporary English, defined it as “things that actually happen or are true, not things that are imagined or thought about,” while immorality is the “behaviour that is morally wrong.”

Mr. Usman’s main reason of discomfort was that if Tanzanian randy boy, Richard Bezuidenhout, could come on air to be committing infidelity, especially since he claimed to be married and even went ahead to have his ring on all this while in the house; yet he carried on as if nothing was really wrong with his freak actions, then, something is wrong somewhere, moreso with the Big Brother supposedly watching 24/7.

And to his utmost bewilderment, the same randy Richard was eventually proclaimed the winner against others, most especially the Nigerian lady, Ms Ofunneka Molokwu, whom he gathered from the words of some eminent Africans and Nigerians particularly, was ‘an epitome of African woman.’

Obviously for some industry analysts, the first question that came to mind on learning about Richard winning was how the scores came about.

Home truth:

According to the organisers voting came in inform of Short Messaging Service (SMS) from various countries, especially participating 13 voting blocks, which means to emerge a winner, must receive overwhelming votes from viewers in these countries and in the case of Richard who got 7 against Ofunneka who got 5 and Richard’s concubine, Tatiana getting votes from her home country, Angola.

The basic home truth about it all is that the family values have continued to degenerate on the continent and most people seem unbothered and now that we have seen it vividly showcased not only on the continent by our own people, the fact remains that families, especially in South-Eastern Africa need to wake up, otherwise very soon, the whole continent could be painted ‘red’ as in HIV/AIDS.

Clearly, the indication of the voting pattern at the Big Brother Africa 2 was that morality is fast giving way for immorality and in a reality show like BBA-2, there seem to be non-stop.

Although concerned Africans have continued to cry out like the days of Jeremiah of the evil that is gradually taking over our values. Particularly, one of those voices was that of the Federal Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. John Odey, who sent out the government congratulatory message with a footnote, that Ms Molokwu represented true African woman and made Nigeria proud.

He urged the organisers to ensure that future shows place premium on the upliftment of high moral values for the youths, even as he commended Ofunneka for her performance throughout the event, which depicted virtues that are important to Nigeria.

For an avid moralist follower of the BBA-2, it was unbecoming for Richard to strip his fellow housemates of their clothes when they were drunk, the intent not withstanding, considering his escapades in the house as sex maniac.

October 27 episode:

Frankly speaking, every moral person thought that the incident of October 27, which the show analyst, Sara Spivey, described as ‘sexual assault’ in her piece, Who-is-big-brother-to-big-brother-africa-2; should have sent Richard packing on moral grounds, but here he is definitely smiling with his sack of $100,000 and of course generating bad blood for the BBA-2 organisers, M-Net.

For a screenwriter, broadcaster and producer, Ms Bolanle Aduwo, though, the contest ended penultimate Sunday, November 11, with the winner going home with $100,000, but lamented that only even if Ofunneka had won, that was still chicken change compared to what she could get on leaving the Big Brother house to watch the footage of her very public humiliation, moreso bothering on BBA sex scandal.

Nigerians back ban on BBA:

Yet for another concerned Nigerian, Mr. Vesper Owei, while reacting to the entire episode and reported ban on airing of future BBA in Nigeria, especially when it does not project any moral value to the future generation, by the lower house of the National Assembly (NASS), at the weekend, noted that ‘prostitution’ could be “entertaining” for some.

He stressed that it is not seen as immoral by this kind of people and really does not require any philosophical discourse to recognize what is sex or immoral in a given society.

“To argue that immorality is subjective would mean that other socially, or even culturally, unacceptable practices, such as murder, armed robbery, white collar theft, and so on, could become justified and, therefore, accepted on subjective grounds. These practices are highly entertaining to the depraved ones,” he pointed out.

Also, he said that such a pithy axiom does not in itself provide an argument for the social appropriateness of the conduct in question. And that is the whole point, emphasising, “It is a question of social appropriateness.”

Yet for another concerned Nigerian, who choose the part of anonymity, though “One man’s immorality is another’s entertainment,” any right thinking African who had watched BBA2, “you’d agree that it was nothing but sleaze, prostitution, marital infidelity, sex, morbid immorality, gushing sensuality at its most offensive public display.”

He asked those who argued that it was ‘entertainment,’ since when have immorality become entertainment? Is morbid voyeurism fun, especially when it is on a continental scale?

He observed that the age restriction warning carried by the station did not free them of any responsibility, because it was mere intellectual, and rather ineffectual, chicanery to argue otherwise.

Adding that the only regret he had was that the NASS members did not pull the plug while the whole sickening display was unfolding.

However, he commended, NASS for at least, stepping up for once to make a proud statement about the mother country!

The ban in retrospect:

The lower house rose from last week, Wednesday session to declare a ban on airing of BBA in Nigeria by directing the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to discontinue the airing of any clip or debate on Big Brother Africa (BBA), especially among electronic media in the country.

The reality TV show, ended penultimate Sunday with a Nigerian girl, Ofunneka Molokwu, emerging second.

Reacting to the entire incident that transpired, the House Committee on Information and National Orientation, summoned the Director-General, NBC, Mr Yomi Bolarinwa, who informed the committee that the commission had earlier drawn the attention of the MultiChoice Nigeria management to the nudity being shown on the pay TV being managed by them in several countries of the world including the nation’s airwave.

According to Bolarinwa, NBC had invited MultiChoice on two occasions when it initially observed that the company was contravening the laws guiding broadcasting in the country.

However, handing down the order, committee chairman, Honourable Dino David Melaye, said that even though, the show has ended, the House was against showing the clips of the nudity displayed, noting it was not in consonant with African cultures and values.

“We will not tolerate a foreign company to abuse and insult the sensibility of our people. What was showed on the BBA was an insult on the image of Africa. This is why we ordered NBC, who regulate what goes on air to stop hence with any serialization, analysis or clips of the BBA.

“We condemned in totality, what happened on October 27th when a Nigerian was abused in the glare of the public. It is against the code of NBC and we have told the commission to discontinue any broadcast that has to do with BBA,” Dino declared.

He added that in view of the recklessness of the broadcasting outfit, MultiChoice cum M-Net, that the National Assembly would determine the future of MultiChoice in Nigeria, adding that it was incumbent on every nation to protect the choice and values of the people.

Notable vexing issues was the live cast of inmates having sex and the emergence of a married man as the winner of the show equally attracted negative comments about the future of BBA.

Waiting for the prostitutes:

Basics here is that future BBA will be saturated with prostitutes taking up the forms to showcase their talents and poses a big challenge to the family values, although its glaring the differences between the Southern and Western hemisphere in terms of the continental culture on issues of morality, immorality and reality of the TV show.

An issue management of BBA, M-Net and MultiChoice in terms of Nigeria, should have been proactive in taking relevant steps, knowing fully well the implication of what has now become the outcome.

Besides, the truth however is that as we tend to wait for the ‘prostitutes’ in the coming editions of BBA, Nigeria as a country must wake up to the neo-colonialism by Southern African firms especially in entertainment and Information and Communication Technology (ICT), which tend to submerge Nigerians life style, and is something the authorities ought to watch carefully. Yet, House members were engulfed in the Etteh-gate that they could not had interjected earlier, even the Senate without the serious unannounced recesses like the lower house, concerned and should have acted promptly to save the situation.

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‘Yobe WiMAX project is licensed by NCC’

Yobe State governor, Senator Mamman Bello Ali, has said that the state-owned Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) project, commissioned at the weekend, was licensed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Champion Infotel recalled that the Yobe State WiMAX project known as Integrated Technology Wireless Internet, is powered by Zinox Technologies Limited and GAAT Investment Limited, at the estimated cost of N317 million.

The new wireless broadband with a range of up to 80 kilometres (km), and a bandwidth of up to 75 bits per second (bps), WiMAX is the inheritor to Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) which is a telecommunications technology aimed at providing wireless data over long distances in a variety of ways, from point-to-point links to full mobile cellular type access and based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 802.16 standard, which is also called WirelessMAN.

Senator Bello Ali made this clarification in a chat with newsmen after the launch by the Federal Ministry of State for Information and Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande, at the government house in Damaturu, capital of Yobe State.

Although he did not disclose how much was paid for the license, Gov. Bello Ali noted, his administration would not be part of any illegality and the same applies to the Ministry of Information and Communications, hence the minister has the confidence to not only grace the occasion, but also accept to perform the commissioning physically.

He also said that the state has employed a Nigerian Information Technology (IT) professional with decades of experience to ensure that the project is managed as a private concern in order to be self sustained, but to a world-class standard.

As said by Gov. Bello Ali, who was accompanied at the occasion by his deputy, Alhaji Ibrahim Geidam and top functionaries of the state, sooner than later, he expected the managing entity of the WiMAX project to be self reliant and generate enough revenue to move it beyond sustaining of its operations and payment of staff salaries adequately.

He pointed out that apart from the initial 50-seater state of the art Information and Communication Technology (ICT) centre with Zinox brand of Personal Computers (PCs), the government is planning another 200-seater to be used basically for training of all-comers on ICT in the state.

The era, he noted is over when indigenes of Yobe would go to other cities to get IT education in mushroom training centres, and tasked the managers to facilitate the standardization of tutorials and certificates.

This, he said, would afford beneficiaries on graduation to value the certificates, especially in using it to getting skill jobs.

Earlier, during the launch, Minister of state for Information and Communication, Alhaji Nakande, urged citizens of Yobe to make good use of the facilities now in place and better their lives, stressing that it does not belong to any single individual but the state in general.

Chairman Zinox, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh expressed confident that Yobe indigenes would enjoy the deployment of WiMAX in the state and assured of his office determination to assist the state to develop its human capacity to knowledge capacity.

Zinox, he said, has finalised plans to open an office in Damaturu in order to draw its services nearer to the populace, mostly in the state, adding that it would open up employment opportunities for the indigenes.

Champion Infotel recalls that Yobe State was created on August 27, 1991 by the then President Ibrahim Babangida’s administration from the former Borno State, and is touted as one of the largest states in terms of land area.

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Senate plans review of CPN Act to protect OEMs

Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator (Mrs) Joy Emordi has disclosed that the National Assembly would soon commence review of the Act 49 of 1993 that established the Computer Professional Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN).

Speaking at a one-day working visit to CPN secretariat in Lagos among other parastatals within the committee’s purview, Senator Emordi, said that the Act is due for review given the avalanche of evolutions within the Information Technology (IT) core industry in the country, especially to protect the Original Equipment Manufacturers and upgrade standards of practice.

She said, this would also give CPN more powers to leverage best practices on the industry, mostly in the areas of ensuring quality and standardization of IT core sector.

“You want us to amend the law. I think its necessary to get that (amendment) done,” she declared, adding that she would personally sponsor the bill to facilitate the relevant changes to have a high quality computer standard identical to world-class.

Senator Emordi equally noted that in the actual sense, CPN should be performing the work similar to that of NAFDAC in the IT sector.

“I will sponsor that (amendment) bill as a private bill, because it will be faster and it will help in curbing crimes in the sector,” she said, stressing that the OEMs, including Zinox, Omatek, Beta and Brain, among others, for instance, need support of the government and the Senate would soon do something about their predicament given the kind of upper hand they suffer from foreign brands, via access to government top functionaries, so as to enable them survive and create more jobs for the populace in the country.

She further commended CPN for the efforts so far in uplifting the level of IT education and practice in the country.

Welcoming the Senate committee chairman and her entourage to the secretariat earlier, CPN president, Dr. (Mrs) Adenike Osofisan, had requested the amendment of Act 49 of 1993 to give CPN more powers to deal with any unprofessional act by members and make it mandatory for any foreign brands to register with the council as well as its core IT personnel.

She lamented that most of the foreign brand have turned Nigeria into a dumping ground in that some of the products they cannot deploy in their home base are being shifted to developing country like Nigeria, because of easy access to nucleus of government than their local counterparts.

According to her, CPN needs more powers in order to firmly sanitise the IT industry, recalling that CPN mission is to develop the potentials of IT as a veritable source of income earning for the nation.

“We’re conscious of the tremendous progress made by several countries especially the Asian Tigers in IT and how it has impacted positively on their economies,” she asserted.

Also, Dr. Osofisan said that CPN believes that a similar feat could be achieved here if enabling acts are put together.

“Apart from being a critical sector in the attainment of sustainable development for the nation and the betterment of life for our people, IT industry can attract a lot of foreign exchange to the country, if it is properly harnessed,” she noted.

And in order to make the desired impact, she said that CPN has embarked on accreditation of computer programmes in private and public training institutions, launched computer studies curricula for primary and junior secondary schools, developed a code of ethics and professional conduct as well as annually publishing the lists of registered members.

“So that it would be very easy for employers of labour, government and members of the public to know the real professionals and make use of their services,” Dr. Osofisan asserted.

She emphasised that CPN had recognised the importance of enhancing the quality of computer products, hence it’s collaborating with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), establishment of national academy of IT and continuous professional development programme for its membership.

“We, therefore request that you help us in ensuring that IT contract jobs are given to properly licensed IT professionals and companies to ensure accountability and promote due process,” she submitted.

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NSE: Leaving media behind automation

Market Intelligence:

Recently, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) commissioned its reportedly world-class automated trading floor in Lagos.

Although the unveiling has come and gone, one fact remained worrisome to some stakeholders who used that opportunity to peep into what is going on at the Capital Market and one of this being that despite the automation spray by NSE, Nigerian media covering the market seems to have been relegated to the background.

This was more evident given the number of Personal Computers (PCs) available for media representatives to use, probably in working on their stories, which investigations from various media houses proved to be most late news material.

This is in addition that by the time the market is closed, say officially around 12 noon, and the collation of data amongst the over 100 stockbrokers are finalised and cross-checked for computation, online upload and printing out for those on the floors of the market, it would be between 4pm and 5pm.

Then individual media representatives are expected to head to their offices to analyse the daily market print-out for their customers and considering the heavy daily traffic on Lagos roads, these individuals are bound to arrive late depending on which part of Lagos their offices are located.

However, Champion Infotel investigations revealed that only one PC is made available to media representatives at the floor of the market. Although connected to the Internet, it witnesses an average of five persons usage per day, that is, if they decides to be brief in turns.

Observers, therefore, lamented this situation in a nation’s leading capital market especially when the media centre is located at 23rd floor, while the market is 8-9th floor.

It may not be necessary that every media organisation in this country have a PC representatives at the centre, but at least one for over 20 media organisations focused on the capital market is grossly inadequate.

It would be in the utmost interest of the nation’s stock market if its media is made to grow along with the supposedly evolution taking place at the market.

This could be achieved through both empowering the media representatives and organising of regular hands on training, at least quarterly for them.

The earlier we start, the better, just as the use of intercom among stock brokers could save lots of money for those without loud voices and stipends on Tom-Tom sweets or bitter kola fruits as the case may be.

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Progenics delivered on schedule – Udoh

Progenics Corp Limited has said that it delivered on schedule for the automation of the trading floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos.

A press statement from Progenics Corp Limited, quoted the Chief Executive, Mr. Tony Udoh, as saying that delivering on the highest level was remarkable in the essence that the achievement of fully automated NSE floor was made possible using the competence and skills of a Nigerian Information Technology (IT) integration company based on Progenics Corp Limited input.

He recalled that recently a unique history was made as the Nigerian capital market industry officially unveiled its world-class automated trading floor in Lagos, just as the feat, was described by the President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua as “an indication and confidence boost that the stock exchange is a key tool in the building of our economy.”

According to him, for a project that started less than two years ago, the NSE automated trading floor project was a true test of the technological competence of Progenics.

“As the company was not only able to deliver on schedule, it also made it possible to automate about four branches of the Stock Exchange in Abuja, Benin, Ibadan and recently Uyo with others coming up,” he said.

Mr. Udoh equally recalled that NSE recently launched an aggressive plan to re-engineer the trading floor to make use of the most sophisticated technology of the time in order to enhance the quality, capacity, efficiency and productivity of virtually every aspect of trading floor activities.

The aim, he pointed out was to remodel the market to compete with the New York Stock Exchange and other leading global economies, where technology plays major roles at the trading floor.

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Omatek launches smallest notebooks in Ghana

Leading Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in the country, Omatek Computers Limited, has launched its smallest notebooks, the 8 and 10 inches series, in the neighbouring country of Ghana.

Managing Director, Omatek, Mrs. Florence Seriki, who was accompanied by the General Manager, Omatek Ghana, Mr. Kobina Jackson, said at the launch that the products were designed specifically for the Ghanaian environments and the youths both at the tertiary and secondary levels.

“Our special Omatek 8” and 10” notebooks are built specifically with the youths both at tertiary and secondary schools and the Ghanaian environment in mind. It is sleek, tight and very durable. Its compactness makes it very easy to take to lectures, take notes and for meetings,” she said.

Mrs. Seriki also said that the new products, which are the most current classics have not only replaced the tablet notebooks but that it’s light natured and incomparable with any notebook in the world.

She stressed that they were assembled locally and have added technology transfer required for the country.

“In addition, it’s adding to the technology upgrade, employment generation and youth empowerment in the country. They are obviously backed locally by a robust technically supplied back-up,” she asserted.

Mrs. Seriki urged schools interested in the products to write an undertaking indicating their interests in the products to Omatek bankers who would ensure collation and remittance of rentals directly on behalf of the students, teachers and lecturers to enable the banks deal directly with students and individuals.

Equally, Mrs. Seriki expressed confidence that Ghanaian schools will take advantage of the company’s special offer to be benefactors of the initiative towards bridging the digital divide in the country and the rest of the world.

Also speaking, Mr. Jackson explained Omatek’s plans of introducing e-youth, e-tertiary, e-consumer and e-mobile schemes, is to allow for easy acquisition of the notebooks in a flexible manner.

“This initiative will allow payment that can span for between 6, 12 and 24 months. The rentals could also be built inside the school fees for one to two sessions to reduce the financial burden on parents to a minimal level,” he added.

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APC-MGE searches homes for old UPS

Critical power solutions company and a member of Schneider Electric, APC-MGE, is now searching homes for its old brand of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).

The search, which is coming with a reward, according to the Marketing Manager, Africa at APC-MGE, Mr. Jacqui Gradwell, is a global exercise.

He pointed out that APC had built more UPSes since 1984 than any other company and wanted to know if any such oldest UPSes are still working.

Mr. Gradwell added that the five oldest UPSes would be rewarded with an upgrade.

“The five oldest UPSes will win a free upgrade courtesy of APC-MGE,” he declared, stressing that those with relevant information could visit http://promo.apc.com and enter the following key code: 63845T to tell their stories.

He explained that to be eligible, customers must include the UPS model and serial numbers, which could be find on the barcode sticker on back of the UPS.

“The top code is the model number; the bottom code is the serial number,” he said, urging such customers to add digital pictures if possible.

In a related development, Regional Director for Africa at APC-MGE, Mr. Carl Kleynhans, said the availability of its latest data centre offering, the NetShelter SX 1200 mm Deep Enclosure, is a complement to its existing NetShelter SX enclosures.

“All APC enclosures help manage and protect equipment in a reliable rack-mount environment for high density server and networking applications,” he said.

Mr. Kleynhans emphasised that with deeper servers and larger volumes of cable, companies are continuously looking for ways to maximise space in their enclosures.

He noted that with the NetShelter SX 1200 mm deep enclosure, customers now have a model that is 130 millimetre (mm) (5”) deeper than the standard 1070mm deep enclosure.

In addition, he said, NetShelter SX 1200 mm offers an innovative cable management design, including an extra pair of cable channels at the rear of the enclosure to enable organisation of more power and data cables.

“These rear cable channels also offer additional room at the back of the enclosure to mount power distribution and enable the mounting of as many as four vertical rack Power Distribution Units (PDUs) on one side of the enclosure,” he asserted, stressing that the rear cable channels neatly dress cables and keep PDUs away from cable management arms.

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Swift embarks on roadshow

Broadband services provider, Swift Networks, has kicked off a road show aimed at familiarising potential business and residential subscribers to interface with its services and their immense benefits.

Making this disclosure, the Managing Director, Swift Networks, Mr. Charles Anudu, said that the reason for the road show is to enable subscribers have better understanding of how broadband could afford them to work smarter, communicate better, learn faster and entertain better, thereby achieving more productivity and relaxation.

“Broadband is often called high-speed Internet, because it usually has a higher rate of data transmission. In general, any connection to the customer of 256 Kilobits per second or more is considered broadband Internet,” he explained.

Mr. Anudu also said that the month-long activity would take Swift Networks to many strategic locations in Lagos and environs, including major shopping malls, clubs and markets where potential subscribers converge.

“It will also enable the company to interface better with current and potential subscribers, so that more people can feel the Swift brand and give the company feedback on what is most important to them when it comes to communications services,” Mr. Anudu said.

He further said the exercise would bring more awareness to Nigerians on how they could have better quality of life by plugging onto the global village via a platform that is faster, more reliable and affordable.

Mr. Anudu added that during the road show, customers could test-run the broadband Internet, voice and Lagos traffic camera services of the company, free-of-charge.

“They will also be able to subscribe to Swift bundle of Internet and voice services, if they so wish,” he said.

Equally speaking, the General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Swift Networks, Mr. Chidi Nwosu, pointed out that the road show offers subscribers the advantages of hooking up to reliable service provider.

“Swift broadband road show was designed to demonstrate that the reality and convenience of converged telecommunications services is here with us in Nigeria,” he declared.

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TTC offers EDX SignalPro training

Transfer Technology Company (TTC Mobile) has introduced cutting-edge training programmes topping the pack with EDX SignalPro in the country.

Disclosing this, Managing Director and chief executive, TTC Mobile, Mr. Akin Aregbesola, said the making of debut of EDX SignalPro is to reiterate its position as a leader in offering telecommunications training to Nigerians.

The EDX training, he said, would run between December 3 through 9 at TTC Mobile Centre, Ikeja GRA, Lagos and the Surulere out-reach.

This introduction, he noted, came as the firm’s top management recently returned from United Kingdom on research cum training programme in the bid to upgrade its tutorials to the Nigerian public.

He also informed that the objective of the trip was to consolidate arrangements with technical partners and purchase equipment for practical sessions of all TTC training.

“As TTC Mobile has become a force to reckon with in the business of IT and Telecom training in Nigeria, we can no longer afford to take things for granted. It is against this backdrop that we deemed it necessary to go and prepare ourselves for the challenges of the future as well as establish yet another TTC training centre in the UK”, he said,

Champion Infotel recalls that TTC has trained quite a number of Nigerian youths, who are now employees of major telecom operators and vendors across the country, including MTN, Celtel, Globacom, Huawei, Starcomms, Reltel to name a few.

Mr. Aregbesola emphasised that training at TTC has become even richer now with the inclusion of WiMax and EDX RF planning tool.

“With the EDX software, you can design, plan and implement a complete wireless network for Wireless Fidelity (WiFi), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) or Wireless Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax) category,” he declared.

He stressed that the EDX SignalPro Wireless design cum planning tool offers all the study types potential student needs to design wireless networks including area studies, point- to-point studies, and route studies.

He explained that EDX SignalPro also incorporates the finest telecom-specific mapping features, meticulous equipment data storage capabilities and convenient utility functions.

He urged individuals and organizations to join forces with TTC Mobile at the one-week practical session.

“There will be an assessment based on an end-of-training project and the best trainee will be sponsored by TTC Mobile on further training in the United Kingdom (UK),” he declared, stressing that the second best trainee will secure automatic employment with a telecom company via TTC Mobile, even as the third best trainee will be awarded a laptop.

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