Wednesday, September 03, 2008

‘Broadband is essential to convergence’

Chief telecom regulator and executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, has identified broadband infrastructure as essential to successful convergence.

Making this declaration at the second edition of the ITEdge West African Convergence forum in Lagos, Ndukwe said NCC had adopted a proactive approach to convergence through the introduction of the unified licensing regime and had also decided to address some of the key challenges so as to drive convergence particularly in the area of broadband infrastructure through the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative (SABI) and Wire Nigeria (WIN) projects.

NCC, he said, established the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) to build capacity for the expansive growth in the industry as well as address its inherent dynamics including the shift towards convergence.

“We recognized that the industry faces serious challenges in the area of capacity to manage and sustain the growth,” he said.
The commission, Ndukwe also said, recognized the fact that part of the challenges facing the industry constantly has been that of knowledge advancement.
“Our support for initiatives such as the IT Edge Convergence Forum is borne out of the need to foster knowledge building in the sector,” said Ndukwe.
ITRealms Online gathered that over 20 speakers from Nigeria and Ghana led deliberations at the one day forum put together by Knowledge Media International (KMI) Limited publishers of IT Edge, while participants also cut across Rwanda.
The forum, according to the organizers, was designed to allow stakeholders articulate the way forward. “We see bumper growth ahead and the merging of opportunities that were once separated across different regulatory areas thus the convergence forum was conceived to help in getting stakeholders optimize these opportunities” said chief executive KMI and editor of IT Edge Segun Oruame.
The speakers included consultant to the United Nations on ICT4D, Ghanaian Prof. Clement Dzidonu, CEO of Ibadan based ISP Skannet, Sunday Folayan, and CEO of Connect Technologies Chris Uwaje, who set the tone for discussions at the forum with their opening session on ‘West Africa: The Convergence-Environment and Policy Implications,’ chaired by former President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Alhaji Ladi Ogunneye. Other speakers include UN consultant and former boss of the Computer Professional Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), Dr. Gabriel Obi and ICT consultant and CEO of Alteq, Dr. Armstrong Takang.
For Folayan, the mobile TV and other devices are challenging the way people look at convergence and its implications on equitable resource utilization and fair competition.
The convergence craft, he said, is driven by twin propellers of technological digitization and market liberalization.
“Traditional modes of communication and their economies of scale are giving way to environments that are more fragmented and competitive, but more international in nature. Regulatory domains are fast blurring and there are already talks in the direction of regulatory convergence,” he said.
“Convergence would be more meaningful if it can impact on people within the context of practical development for the people and not just within the context of its commercial value for operators,” said Dzidonu, adding that government and policy makers have a responsibility to ensure that the benefits of convergence is brought closer home to the grassroots.
Equally for the chief executive Disc Communications, Mr. Bayo Banjo, both the NCC and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) have mutually complimentary roles, arguing that the concept of convergence should not be taking to mean the erosion of roles for any of the two government institutions.
“There is room for regulation of content and the adoption of information that affects public reasoning,” he said.
The forum’s partners and key sponsors led by the NCC and the National Space Research Development Agency included Phase 3 Telecom, Galaxy Backbone, NeGSt Limited, Backbone Connectivity Network and leading IT training institution NIIT.

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