" ITREALMS: October 2008


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

GSMA says Nigeria lacks biofuel feedstocks

The global trade association representing over 690 Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators across 214 countries of the world, the GSM Association (GSMA) has said that Nigeria lacks relevant feed stocks to sustain biodiesel project.

ITRealms Online recalled that GSMA in collaboration with MTN Nigeria and Ericsson, recently terminated a biofuel project in the country, according to the Head, Marketing Communications at Ericsson West Africa, Mr. Olabode Sowunmi Jnr.
He did not give any reason as to why the project was ended.

But reacting to ITRealms Online inquiries regarding the termination of the project, GSMA through its spokesman, Mr. David Pringle, said that as at the duration of the project, which lasted for eight months, between October 2006 and May 2007 that Nigeria lacked the requisite quantity needed for the sustainability of the project.

“The pilot found that Nigeria didn’t, at that time, have a large enough sustainable source of non-food feedstock,” he declared in an electronic mail (e-mail) made available to ITRealms Online.

Mr. Pringle also noted that the business environment continues to evolve and called on Nigerian mobile operators to come up with the kind of biofuel-powered base stations they envisaged for the telecommunications market in the country.

He further said that the pilot involved base station generator trials in Lagos to support three trial sites located in Badagry, Makurdi, Lagos with biodiesel produced from feedstock and procured in Plateau state.

According to him, potential other feed stocks were assessed from Ogun, Kogi, Benue, Borno and Kano. Stressing that the pilot established the operational feasibility of biodiesel production use in standard tower base stations.

The pilot programme, he said, came to some conclusions, including that availability and proximity of feedstock is critical.

“Although, there are significant investments in jatropha plantations underway in neighboring Mali and to a lesser extent in Nigeria (particularly in the north), a sustainable source of non-food feedstock requires years to become established,” he said.

Portrayed as a non-edible evergreen shrub found in Asia, Africa and the West Indies, Jatropha is seeds containing a high proportion of oil which can be used for the production of biofuel, even as it is noted as a genus of approximately 175 succulent plants, shrubs and trees from the family Euphorbiaceae.

While the key factors that could influence the oil yield of Jatropha plantation are climate, quality of the soil, irrigation, weeding, use of fertilizer, crop density, genotype, use of pesticide and inter-cropping.

In addition, GSMA said that the processing machinery and quality control are critical and “ingredients for transesterification must be available - methanol, fresh water, caustic soda,” he advised.

Mr. Pringle further pointed out that an operator should partner with a regional bio-fuel producer to ensure quality and economics of scale in the venture.

Till date, barely a fortnight after the initial inquiry was made to MTN Nigeria, no official comment has been received from its department of communications on the subject, despite promise by the External Affairs Manager, Mr. Andrew Okeleke who requested for time to confirm whether or not MTN has pulled out of the project finally and what ignited the current state of discontinuation.

MTN Group alongside over 20 operators on the continent were part of the GSMA renewable energy operators recent forum hosted in Kenya by Safricom.

Biofuel result is out of produce from feed stocks that have been grown on idle and marginal land that has not been deforested for the purpose of biofuel crop plantation, resulting in lower carbon emissions than diesel when calculated on a whole of life basis and taking into account the effect of land use changes as well as produced in a manner that contributes to the social and economic development of local, rural and indigenous people and communities.

This development came few weeks after GSMA identified fully with biofuel based on the likely escalation of the cost of generating power for the GSM operators, as well as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector generally.

Equally, industry watchers advocated for alternative source of energy supply, with a greater number favourably endorsing the biofuel method, saying it’s cost effective and at the same time boosting the agricultural produce.

The biofuel project was initially instituted between the trio of MTN, Ericsson and GSMA deploying the GSMA’s Development Fund, which was set up in October 2005, to provide consulting support to innovative pilot projects that use mobile technology to boost social, economic and environmental welfare in developing countries.

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FAQ about FeedBurner (1)

FeedBurner is a Chicago-based company that provides media distribution and audience engagement services for blogs and RSS feeds. Its Web-based tools, including an extensive feed and blog advertising network, help publishers promote, deliver, and monetize their content on the Web and make feed-based content more accessible and manageable for its end users.

Why did Google acquire FeedBurner?
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What are the terms of the acquisition? How much did Google pay?
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Will Google assume full operational control of FeedBurner, or will FeedBurner remain autonomous?

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DaarSAT, a harvest of democracy

Features of the week:

DaarSAT was officially commissioned in Abuja, recently. REMMY NWEKE, who was there reports that it was a harvest of democracy.

In what looks like a week long event, from the clergy to the industry regulators of both the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as well as stakeholders not devoid of political class were all in tandem in applauding the management of Daar Communications (DaarComms) Plc, under the chairmanship of Dr. Aleogho Dokpesi, almost a week before the official commissioning of its Digital Satellite Television (DSTv) also known as Direct-to-Home Digital Satellite Pay TV called DaarSAT, with over 40 channels whereas targeting 120.

Chief executive of NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and his team were at the hilltop headquarters of DaarComms to see for themselves the multimillion dollars installations. This preceded the visiting of a notable clergy, Monsignor Sylvester Osigwe. While Ndukwe and Osigwe poured encomium on Dokpesi’s leadership in the company, they enjoined other Nigerian private investors to emulate the patriotic spirit behind the success made so far by the group. And the roll call continued until the date of the official launch by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on Tuesday, October 7, 2008.

Serving 900 million viewers:
Welcoming guest at the event Dokpesi, dished out some of the features of DaarSAT, saying it would offer about 40 channels for a start, but has the capacity for120 channels. He stressed that DaarSAT stands out as the first truly African multi-channel pay-TV platform to an estimated 900 million Africans on the continent.

According to him, Nigeria is the hub of DaarSAT operations with its bouquet of world class channels’ subscription at the rate of N5,000 monthly, thereby bringing to five the number of Direct-To-Home (DTH) Pay TV operators in the country. DaarComms is the owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and RayPower FM.

Transmitting on high definition digital systems, Dokpesi explained that DaarSAT signals would be delivered digitally on Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB)-S2M PEG4/HD STB with 250 gigabyte hard disk base.

“We have paid great attention to customer satisfaction. We will, therefore, not compromise on quality service delivery, value on investment and excellent customer relations. We are working in partnership with the Indian-based Magnaquest Technologies PVT Ltd, the world’s biggest customer service firm in the management of our subscriber portfolio,” he said.

Maintaining that DaarSAT’s operating philosophy is borne out of a compelling need to provide world class service to television audiences and widen the choices available to media content consumers at an affordable rate.

Eight Years after forced take bid:
Dokpesi recalled that eight years ago a consortium of banks instigated by the government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to take over the operations of African Independent Television and Ray Power FM, due to the loans taken from them to initiative the DaarSAT project, was actually salvaged by the former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, who truly offered the succour.

As said by him, the banks had demanded the immediate repayment of the loan DaarComms borrowed to expand its television operation or the takeover of the broadcast media.

He acknowledged that although many members of the public had heeded the call to donate N50 each to save the broadcast media from takeover, enough money could not have been generated through that channel without the financial intervention of Ibori. The News Building was therefore named after Ibori.

A harvest of democracy :
Also he named the satellite building after General Jeremiah Useni for his role in 1994, at the first closure of Ray Power by ensuring it’s re-opened. The administrative building was named after Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, whom Dokpesi described as a mentor, whereas the main studio building was named after a former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, whom the Daar Communications chief said was a friend and supporter.

Nevertheless, the audience unreservedly applauded the naming of the operational building of the group after former President of the Senate, Chief Ken Nnamani, for his role in the defense of democracy, free speech and the defeat of the infamous ‘Third Term’ agenda of the former administration.

DaarSAT, the first:
President Yar’Adua represented by the Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. John Ogar Odey, at the occasion, expressed confidence that DaarComms has become the first Digital Satellite Television of Nigeria origin to broadcast to the rest of the world.

Tasking DaarSAT on the need to inform the world of positive strides Nigeria and its citizenry are making, Yar’Adua advised the media on reportage that could put in danger the security of the nation.

``This event is a potent and strong affirmation of the enabling environment created by the administration for investment and capacity building in ICT and other sectors of the economy. The growth and monumental development being experienced in the broadcast media is a positive pointer to the fact that the deregulation of the industry is indeed paying off for Nigeria and Nigerians,’’ Yar’Adua said.

Abiding with NBC code:
He also advised DaarComms to ensure that its news and programmes were guided by the National Broadcasting Code with focus on the nation’s rich cultural heritage to afford “the world to appreciate Nigeria’s huge investment potential.”

A member of the board of directors of DaarComms, Ambassador Segun Olusegun said that beyond projecting a good image of the country, DaarSAT is the beginning of forcing good governance on the country as the platform would expose Nigeria to the world.

“It would appear, therefore, that as DaarSAT gives out the right Nigerian and African image and affects a good judgment of the country and continent through the propagation of the African perspective to global issues. Governments must ensure that such positive image is not marred by visible underdevelopment and bad governance,” he said.

In all, stakeholders at the event agreed that Nigeria has made a big stride and DaarSAT seems to be the channel at this time competitors are facing mass protests both in Lagos and Abuja, over poor services and customer care. All that is now left is living up to the billing as promised by Dokpesi, after all, he delivered his promise on AIT as well as RayPower and DaarSAT, according to observers, will deliver.

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Making Abia borderless, the Glo style


Umuahia now borderless:
Can you believe that Umuahia is now borderless by virtue of Globacom’s latest intervention in the fortunes of Ubakala in Old Umuahia, Abia State? The city was turned into a festive arena recently with the expansion of its Optic Fibre Cable (OFC) backbone to this part of the country.

With this facility, Umuahia and its environs could now easily hook on to the information superhighway at the touch of a few buttons on a handset, laptop or desktop with internet configuration.

The launch threw the entire community and neighbouring clans into merry-making and praise-singing. The tempo was heightened with the expectation of the Executive Governor of the state, Chief Theodore Orji and his entourage, who was ably represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mazi Donatus Okorie.

Gov. Orji eulogizes Globacom:
The governor used the occasion to eulogize the chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr., for his passion for the industrialization and economic re-engineering of the country.

Chief Orji commended Globacom for its pace-setting initiatives in the telecommunications sector despite the initial challenges that confronted it on its emergence as the Second National Carrier five years ago. The governor’s message on the occasion was quite inspiring for corporate institutions desirous of investment in the state.

“Abia State is disposed to investors and potential investors who need a conducive environment for carrying out their genuine businesses. We render support through the provision of infrastructural requirements that companies need to function effectively and efficiently,” Chief Orji said in his goodwill message read at the event that Glo was a unique brand with unrivalled national credentials in the country’s corporate history.

Truly a Nigerian brand:
Further, Chief Orji said that Globacom was indeed a truly Nigerian brand engaged in international economic diplomacy. “With Globacom’s forays into the West Coast of Africa, having redefined telephony in Nigeria in the past five years since it began operations, Globacom deserves an ambassadorial recognition in whatever form by the Federal Government.”

He implored the company’s management to sustain the goodwill it is enjoying from its rapidly expanding customer base by ensuring that it lives up to its reputation as a competitive home-grown brand.

“Your quality service delivery profile must not be allowed to drop because your network has become a reference brand and an empowerment tool of national economic renaissance,” he affirmed.

While commending Globacom’s chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr, for his robust doggedness and amazing entrepreneurship which has created employment opportunities for the nation’s teeming youth, Orji urged him not to despair.

The commissioning was later performed by Mazi Okorie on behalf of Gov. Orji, which attracted attendance of top government functionaries and dignitaries from within and outside the state.

Royal father’s too:
Also speaking at the occasion, the paramount ruler of Old Umuahia, His Royal Highness, Eze P. E. O. Ogubuike, said Globacom had an edge over other networks because of its empowerment schemes that have helped in revolutionizing the lives of Nigerians, especially small-scale business people and artisans.

“I enjoin everyone gathered here to continue to support this truly Nigerian company because of its initiatives that address the challenges of our people, particularly in the area of rural telephony, which my community has benefited from tremendously,” Eze Ogubuike said.

Glo’s 3G Plus is the best:
In his message at the commissioning of Globacom’s nationwide OFC backbone in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, the Group Chief Operating Officer of Globacom, Mr. Mohammed Jameel, ranked the Glo’s Third Generation (3G Plus), as the best communications tool in Nigeria for internet deployment.

According to him, the 3G+ offers quality voice and data transmission to Nigerians.

“Our 3G+ has prodigiously revolutionized quality of voice and data transmission in the country, removed the drudgery previously associated with internet usage and has proved to be the best facility by any network in Nigeria for all forms of communication,” Jameel said, pointing out that the clarity, speed and cost profile of Globacom’s 3G+ currently remain matchless.

Senate commends Glo:
It is on this rising profile of becoming not just the leading national telecommunications firm but an international brand that the Senate Committee on Communications not long ago congratulated Globacom on its winning of a mobile cellular license in Ghana.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Sylvester N. Anyanwu, while commending the telecoms giant, noted that the Ghana licence, coming on the heels of the network’s launch in Benin , is demonstrative of the growing international status of the second national carrier.

“This achievement, coming shortly after the launch of your network in The Republic of Benin, is a very clear indication of your giant strides in the telecommunications industry and your unstoppable rise to stardom in the African telecommunications sector,” Anyanwu said in a congratulatory letter to the company’s Chairman.

Senator Anyanwu, who expressed joy over Globacom’s pace-setting strides not just in the country but also in the global arena, said he was convinced that Nigeria ’s preferred network will sustain its leadership pedigree on the continent’s telecommunications space.

“These accomplishments, I hope, will spur you on to justify the confidence reposed in you by the Ghana National Communication Authority to intensify your efforts towards achieving a high quality of service delivery with a competitive tariff regime in the telecommunications sector,” the lawmaker said.

All about Glo fibre backbone:
Globacom’s optic fibre backbone is an advanced and most reliable transmission network grid which offers a much faster transmission of data, voice and broadband internet and multimedia services.

Noteworthy is that the Onitsha-Awka-Enugu-Owerri axis had earlier in the year been commissioned, while the Eket-Port Harcourt axis was also connected to the high capacity optic fibre telecommunications transmission service of Globacom in July.

Chinwendu wrote in from Lagos.

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Ayonote predicts 70% Internet growth

Chief Executive Officer, Suburban Telecom, Mr. Bruce Ayonote, has predicted that in the next three years, Internet penetration would grow globally by 70 per cent per year with broadband penetration also projected at 75 per cent.

Speaking at the Internet Service Provider (ISP) forum in Lagos, organized by Suburban in collaboration with Cisco, Mr. Ayonote said that international capacity utilization would increase to 2.5 Gigabits in the next three years, while network availability is expected to reach 99.99 per cent.

He said that the essence of the forum was to collectively review the development in the Internet market, and to motivate the Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the country and provide the selection of services and products that their customers demand.

These services and products, he said, were not available before because the internet structure was inadequate.

“The new thing is that the infrastructure has been upgraded or is available. And we believe that the market will respond to that in excitement because that means Nigeria is now on internet,” he said.

Nigeria, he stressed, could now do whatever people are doing or people do positively on the internet globally.

Suburban, Ayonote said, is a major client as a wholesaler of bandwidth offering services to both telecom companies and core ISPs.

He enjoined stakeholders in the nation’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to join forces in taking the internet penetration to the expected level.

“Let us stop thinking like inside the box. Since our minds and brains are working, which are our major resources, let us use those two to take this market to the next level,” he urged.

Emphasizing that when there are open minds among stakeholders, there would be less dreadful competition and the industry would simply continue to grow.

“Yes, the problem of the issue lies in the competition. It depends, if you know the man is open minded and you know that competition might not be the best solution, collaboration might be. Then you go for that option,” he said.

He, therefore, encouraged collaboration in every form that will increase services to customers.

Suburban, he said, has taken major steps to address the supply of internet bandwidth, which is the primary bottleneck affecting the penetration of internet services in the country.

He pointed out that by making available a 10 Gigabit connection into the global internet backbone, and conceptualized the ISP forum, Suburban in collaboration with Cisco intended to open further dialogue on how additional solutions could be created to address other issues.

Equally speaking, the Director Services Provider Sales for the Emerging Africa at Cisco, Mr. Allstair MacLennan, while dwelling on the ISP and Next Generation Networks (NGN), noted that the role of the Internet in the life of a Nigerian has changed for the better.

“It used to be a luxury and has now become a necessity,” he said, stressing that it has become a major business and educational tool.

“People are addicted … evident in growth of multimedia and infotainment content have shown,” he said.

According to him, end user access remains a challenge, “… but has come a long way from dialup to Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) and now Wireless Microwave (WiMax), Third Generation (3G) and Evolution Data Only (EVDO).”

Thus, it has become a huge responsibility for service providers to manage, in spite of environmental challenges.

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HP launches Proliant server for virtualisation

Hewlett Packard (HP) Nigeria has introduced new Proliant server to help improve the quality of virtualization within organisations, REMMY NWEKE &

Virtualization is a framework or methodology of dividing the resources of a computer into multiple execution environments by applying one or more concepts or technologies, such as hardware and software partitioning, time-sharing, partial or complete machine simulation, emulation, quality of service, and many others has grown to be top of mind for most organization information officers.

Presenting the HP latest innovation, ProLiant BL495c Virtualization Blade to journalists, the company’s Enterprise Server Manager, Mr. Chuks Okpaka stated that the HP’s newest introduction is built to eliminate bottlenecks to virtual server performance.

"According to analyst, the market for Virtual machine software grew 69 percent from 2006 to 2007 and is projected to grow more than 50 percent this year and the adoption rate reflects that many business are already realizing benefits from their implementations", he said.

Addressing journalists on its latest innovation, HP urged organizations to, ‘Rethink application and IT operations management, infrastructure barriers and client architecture so as to leverage virtualization to achieve greater reliability and security as well as improved manageability, flexibility and the Returns On Investment (ROI) of end-user computing.

On the barriers inhibiting most organizations from thinking virtualization HP stated that the biggest inhibitors to appreciating and adopting virtualization are majorly connected with upfront cost, staff training and experience.

Others are the problems associated with gaining approval from corporate management and infrastructure planning and the challenges of effectively managing both physical and virtual resources.

Enumerating however the benefits derivable from "Rethinking Virtualization", HP at the presentation of its new machine stated that customers who employ the use of Virtualization devices stand to enjoy faster delivery of applications and services and will also have the advantage of being able to put unused resources and capacity to work.

Other benefits accruable from the use of virtualization according to HP are increased focus on business priorities, improved security and manageability, improved ROI and better protection of end-user data.

Listing the unique benefits that the new introduced HP ProLiant BL495c virtualization blade has in stock for its prospective customers HP’s Okpaka stated the new device built to eliminate bottlenecks to virtual server performance has the advantage of offering its users reduced costs and power consumption, better Virtual machine performance and improved manageability.

Differentiating the HP ProLiant virtualization blade from other brands, Mr. Okpaka said " the new machine we are introducing to you today has two times more memory than Dell M605 and IBM LS21 and also has two more Ethernet Nics than the other two brands" he concluded

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Omatek’s UPS is user friendly – Seriki

Group Chief Executive Officer, Omatek Ventures Plc, Mrs. Florence Seriki, has said that her company’s brand of Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS), the Line Interactive UPS is user friendly.

Mrs. Seriki who spoke at the just concluded Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) exhibition and conferences organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), said that the full range functional management and control system is an option with UPSilon 2000 software or power manager software.

"The UPS status can be directly controlled on the computer, which also supports adapter to carry out the UPS network management," she said.

According to her, Omatek Line Interactive UPS is totally digitalized micro-control unit (MCU) for effective detection and control of UPS operation and battery conditions.

She explained that these series are specially reliable and safe power supply and recommended for small and medium Internet café centres, computer room, mini intellectual device, thus a finished apparatus.

Omatek, she said, has adopted an advanced full digital control technique and reliable line interactive structure design.

"By monitoring software, subscriber also it can secure system data and network equipment full sides even without personnel guidance," she said.

Designed as a reliable online interactive medium, she said, adopted two-day switch-over converter for better battery extension usage, more reliability of UPS and power efficiency to the benefits of environment and energy saving.

"Intelligent regulation system on utility power voltage, ensures that the UPS maintain normal operation when the utility power is fluctuating, so as to reduce unwonted wear on the battery," she said.

As an intelligent battery charger, she said, Omatek Line Interactive UPS has two-stage recharging technique to ensure higher efficiency and longer battery life.
On the Omatek’s M`MBM-2 Intelligent battery monitor system, she said, is specially designed for battery’s daily monitor and maintenance include unit monitor and central monitor.

Online monitor system built with the MMBM-2, she said, could help to realize the real time monitor and record of the voltage, charge and discharge current, temperature of every battery, unique on line capacity analyze technology and alarm function assist the user find the lag battery easily, hence it reduces the labour of battery maintenance and improve the reliability of the system.

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Union Homes signs up Finacle

The acclaimed biggest primary mortgage institution in Nigeria, Union Homes Plc, has selected Finacle UBS to power her continuing growth and expansion plans.

Union Homes provides mortgage finance services, builds estates, funds estate developers and estate development, supports investors in housing schemes even at state government levels, and purchases houses and estates for resale to corporate and private customers within and outside the country.

Disclosing this, Corporate Communications Manager at Computer Warehouse Group (CWG), owners of ExpertEdge Software Systems, partners Infosys Technologies, Ms Morenike Popoola, said that Finacle UBS is the award winning core banking software from Infosys.

She noted that Finacle UBS is currently being used by several mega banks in the country including First Bank, UBA, Oceanic Bank, FCMB, Fidelity, FinBank and SpringBank.

Finacle UBS, she said, is renowned worldwide for its stability, robustness and flexibility as well as the only core banking software in the country developed using SEI-CMM level 5 certified processes and also COBIT certified for control and security.

According to her, the local technical support provider by the Computer Warehouse Group's software subsidiary, ExpertEdge Software, helps tremendously in localizing Finacle for the environment and assured users of effective support available on a 24x7 basis.

"Finacle UBS is arguably the best supported core banking application in Nigeria with close to fifty trained consultants working for ExpertEdge alone. Availability of effective local support is a critical success factor for any core banking application and an important decision point when choosing a core banking application as recommended by the Gartner Group," she said.

Popoola also quoted the Head, Information Technology at Union Homes, Mr. Tim Oviawe, as confirming the availability of local competence as one of the most significant reasons why they chose Finacle UBS. He pointed out that the pedigree of implementations delivered on time and within budget and the flexibility of the application were also major factors.

"These become more pungent given the experience of other banks, who had made the mistake of choosing other core banking applications in Nigeria. Most of these banks have had delayed implementations and are currently facing significant support challenges," he said.

Also commenting, the Assistant General Manager (AGM), ExpertEdge, Mr. Emmanuel Ene, said his firm has made it a key policy to invest in providing local expertise to support internationally renowned products like Finacle, Actimize, SAP and Oracle for which ExpertEdge are local partners.

"This local expertise reduces the total cost of ownership for our customers and helps them maximize their returns on investment in information technology," he said.

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Etisalat eyes global top 10, unveils Easy Starter

Unified Access Licensee (UAL), Etisalat Nigeria, has made its commercial debut by unveiling its Easy Starter with an eye on becoming one among the global 10 mobile operators by 2010.

Responding to questions at the launch in Lagos, last weekend, the Vice President, Marketing of Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Wael Ammar, said that locally, Etisalat would target to be on top of those who have been in the market by distinguishing its services with focus on emerging as the world’s top 10 operators in less than 24 months.

He noted that though Etisalat has introduced commercial services in seven cities its flagship product package called Easy Starter, is a ground-breaking prepaid package that offers several revolutionary features to the prevalent pre-paid experience.

He explained that Easy Starter has the innovative tariff feature called homezone, which facilitates subscribers to choose the zone where they spend most of their time in order to enjoy lower call tariffs. Easy Starter also enables subscribers, for the first time ever on a mobile network, to call collect, a feature which enables the receiver pay for the call.

"For the first time ever also, on Easy Starter, customers will be able to perform direct recharge of other Etisalat subscriber lines by Interactive Virtual Recharge (IVR)," he said.

In addition, he said, that Easy Starter offers subscribers practical innovation, simplicity, a unique tariff plan and friendly services.

According to him, "with the Easy Starter prepaid package, you have the power to choose where and how to make the best of your airtime and talk time."

Reiterating the operators claim as the fastest growing telecommunications company in the world and the largest on the continents of Africa and the Middle East, he said, Etisalat, had with the commercial launch avail Nigerians the opportunity to be part of a 74-million-strong global customer base across 17 countries in the world.

Etisalat Nigeria, he pointed out, is in a unique position to offer subscribers competitive access to a world-class suite of Etisalat products and services covering extensive voice, data and innovative value.

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Multi-Links storms Sapele, Suleja

Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator, Multi-Links Telkom, has gone live with its services in Sapele in Delta State and Suleja in Niger State.

Executive, Corporate Communications, Mr. Tayo Ekundayo, said that these were part of the on-going strategic expansion of services to the nooks and crannies of the country.

He said that Suleja is the most strategic town in Niger State after the state capital, Minna, hence Multi-Links had decided to give it a face lift with its services.

"Apart from its high profile commercial status, the town is even more strategic because of its proximity to the federal capital territory, Abuja, the nation’s federal capital," he said.

As said by him, the switch-on of Sapele is coming on the heels of the commencement of service in Warri another strategic town in the heart of Delta State.

Ekundayo in a press statement, at the weekend, quoted the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Multi-Links Telkom, Ms Dipuo Msimang, as saying that the company would not rest on its oars until the entire human communities in Nigeria are completely covered by the network.

Stressing that the company has embarked on a massive roll-out project that will see many cities, towns, villages and communities connected soon.

The national roll-out project, he said, is targeted at simultaneous roll-out in the six geo-political zones of the country.

"Services were recently deployed in Abaji, Akure, Akwanga, Bauchi, Benin, Jere, and Jos. Other areas are Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lokoja, Owo, Ondo, Warri and Zaria," he disclosed.

He noted that earlier, Multi-Links had roll-out services in Abeokuta, Abuja, Ejigbo, Gbongan, Ibadan, Ijebu-Ode, Ikire, Ile-Ife, Ilesha and Ilorin. In this category are also Lagos, Ogbomosho, Okene, Osogbo and Sagamu.

Apart from the faster rollout of services in many locations across the country, the new management has also brought stronger brand flavour to Multi-Links Telkom with the infusion of the expertise and efficient quality of service renowned from Telkom SA.

Emphasizing that Multi-Links Telkom is famous for its voice, internet and data services, recalling that recently, it was rewarded for its commitment to excellent service with the award of "Best Nigerian Fixed Telecom Operator."

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Zain consolidates growth in third quarter

Leading mobile telecommunication operator in Africa and the Middle East, Zain Group has announced the consolidation of its financial results for the third quarter of 2008, indicating significant growth in revenues, net profit and subscriber base, with exponential growth in Nigeria.

Currently in 22 countries, Zain Group said, for the third quarter of 2008, it recorded consolidated revenues of US$1.887 billion, and an increase of 25 per cent compared to Q3-2007.

Zain said that its Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) increased by 20 per cent for the same period to reach US$ 763.6 million while consolidated net profits reached US$ 326.6 million, an increase of 7 per cent on Q3-2007 profits.

Zain Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Saad Al-Barrak said that this quarter has been both the most challenging and most rewarding in Zain’s corporate history since the launch of its profitable expansion strategy in 2003.

"Thereby, laying the foundation for our 2011 targets of being a top-10 global telecommunications company," he said.

In addition, he said that despite financial turmoil across the globe, Zain was delighted to have succeeded in raising US$ 4.5 billion through its capital increase.
"Additionally the launch of services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been very successful given we have acquired one million customers in less than two months notwithstanding the fierce competition in that market," he said.

The ground-breaking ‘One Network’ service, he said, now linking two continents is playing a pivotal role in customer acquisition, contributing to the success of the Saudi Arabia launch as well as in the other 15 operations where it is available.

"The Zain brand has been warmly received across the African continent since its explosive launch on August 1, 2008 . Through one brand, we will be better positioned to offer our customers common state-of-the-art products and services such as ‘One Network,’" Dr Al Barrak said.

He recalled that in recent years, Zain has invested heavily in both license acquisitions and network upgrades on two continents so as to meet its 2011 targets of 150 million customers and US$ 6 billion EBITDA.

"Nevertheless, we continue to record impressive financial results this quarter reflecting exceptional operational efficiencies and we expect even better results in the years ahead. Our Kuwait operation continues to contribute considerably to our net profit and our team is focused on strategies to contest the 3rd mobile entrant expected later in 2008," he declared.

Stressing that its Bahrain operation has continued to be exceeding all targets, while the operations in Iraq , Jordan and Sudan maintained their respective markets share in competitive and challenging environments.

"The integration of the acquired Iraqi operation in Iraq has been successfully completed and we expect to reap the rewards in the not so distance future" he said.
In Africa, Dr. Al Barrak singled out Nigeria and said its operation in the country is witnessing exponential customer growth based on the heavy investment in network upgrades and expansion.

"We are extremely excited by the future potential in all facets of this operation. In East Africa, our Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda operations focus on customer acquisition is paying off, all three recording impressive results. We expect our revamped Kenyan operation to follow suit as the new management team is now totally geared to the challenges ahead with concerted Zain Group support on all fronts. Our Ghana operation will commence mobile services by the end of 2008,” he said.

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20,000 youths storm New Horizons fair-08

Estimated 20,000 Nigerian youths stormed venues of the New Horizons Information Technology Job fair where they received Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) empowerment, in three cities.

The seminar which took place penultimate Saturday, was the second edition of the New Horizons IT/Job fair held recently in Lagos, Ibadan and Abeokuta respectively.

The event which attracted top IT professionals in the world, including the President of EC-Council University, USA, Mr. Sanjay Bavisi and his Vice-President, Mr. Sean Lim, was described as a success.

EC Council University is an Information Security training institute with branches in over 60 countries of the world with headquarters based in the United States (US).

Speaking at the Lagos leg of the event, Mr. Bavisi said that Nigeria needs about 6,000 qualified Licensed Penetration Testers (LPTs) and right now, we have only one in the country.

Thus moving Mr. Bavisi to offer conditional scholarships to the tune of $44,000 to outstanding students that pass a pre-registration test and meets basic requirements.

A similar gesture was made earlier, at Covenant University two days before then with a conditional scholarship worth $22,000 to be awarded to one gifted student that registered for courses in the EC-Council University at the Covenant University, Otta.

The result of this particular session was that more than a thousand youths immediately indicated interest in Information Security and Master of Security Science programmes under the EC- Council University curriculum.

The event held at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Surulere, Cultural Centre, Abeokuta and CBN Hall, Faculty of Sciences, University of Ibadan, respectively, also saw the Managing Director, New Horizons Systems Solutions, Mr. Tim Akano, informing the participants on the importance of being ICT literate and compliant in a rapidly developing world where globalization and IT security which is fast becoming the norm.

He further said that the numerous ICT certification courses available and directly at the disposal of scholars and professionals alike and enjoined them to register at the fair.

As a result, majority of the participants came out more determined to pursue various IT certifications to enhance their marketability such as EC-Council Security Track and e-business track, Microsoft, CISCO, Oracle, Java, to mention a few.

“The future is brighter and clearer for Nigeria, when the right people get quality service and value for money under an unbiased and transparent environment where IT training is offered by competent and highly skilled professionals delivering first grade training materials to students,” he said.

The seminar, he said, is part of the New Horizons overall strategy of repositioning Nigeria for the attainment of President’s Yar’Adua vision 20 – 2020.

ITRealms Online recalled that New Horizons had earlier trained dozens of uniformed men in the Police, Immigrations and Customs in August this year free of charge to make them vision 2020 complaint.

Equally in attendance were the Country Manager at Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Onyeje, who spoke on the power of Microsoft Development platform, pointed out what it means and how it would help youths and corporate businesses to become entrepreneurs of successful business in Nigeria.

Others were representatives of Cisco Academy, recruitment agencies like People Prime, Clement Ashley, Iris Consulting and Money Wise consulting.

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ICANN unveils draft on new gTLD

Global internet coordinating agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has announced the unrestriction of a draft ‘Applicant Guidebook’ for the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

Media Advisor to ICANN, Mr. Jason Keenan, in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, weekend, entitled “How to Apply for a New Generic Top-Level Domain” indicated that the draft guidebook provides information for those interested in applying for new generic top-level domains.

ICANN’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Paul Twomey, said that since ICANN was founded 10 years ago, one of the foundational principles has been to support competition and consumer choice in generic top-level domains.

He said that competition is meant to promote innovation and enhance user choice and satisfaction.

The Internet, he said, has produced great openness and innovation that has led to unimagined changes, effect of which is opening up the top-level of the domain system will enable more innovation and entrepreneurial applications.

“One huge area of potential innovation will be applications for names that are in non-Roman characters, or Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). Currently there are only 21 generic top-level names and they are all in characters that look like English. There are 1.5 billion Internet users and many non-English speakers will have the opportunity to express the whole of a domain name in characters that look like their language,” Twomey said.

The draft applicant guidebook and accompanying material, Twomey noted, would be made available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish according to ICANN’s translation policy.

“The modules contain information on the evaluation fee, the application process and evaluation criteria, as well as background material,” he said.

Explaining that it was designed to accompany the draft applicant guidebook is a set of Explanatory Memoranda that are intended to assist understanding of the implementation work for new gTLDs.

In addition, two new papers tagged “Cost Considerations of the new gTLDs Program” and “Summary of Changes to Base Agreement for New gTLDs” are also being released and complete the explanatory memoranda.

Amongst the six modules and over 200 pages of the draft guidebook and memoranda, with some key areas of interest including, “How contested strings or names will be determined; How applications for geographic names will be considered; Technical requirements for new names that encompass internationalized domain names; The rights of intellectual property holders; How morality and public order objections can be raised; The cost of the evaluation process and how it is constructed.”

He further explained that there will be two comment periods of 45 days each and enjoined every government in the world to draw their interest to the revolution.

“Every government is being sent a letter to draw their attention to the draft and the draft Guidebook remains subject to further consultation and revision,” Twomey said.

Noting that there has already been robust discussion and consultation regarding many phases of the new gTLD implementation plan, but this is the first opportunity to consider the application and evaluation processes as a whole.

“There’s been a lot of thought involved in producing the draft guidebook and we’ve used best practice and outside experts to assist us in developing the application process. Now is the time for close scrutiny, questions and input that will shape the end result and make it stronger,” he said.

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NiTEX-08 expects 50 firms

The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), has announced the date for its rebranded Nigeria Information Technology Exhibition (NITEX 2008), just as over 50 firms are being expected to take part.

NCS President, Prof. Charles Uwadia said that NITEX formerly known as the Nigeria Software Expo (NISE) would hold next month, November, between Thursday 20 and Saturday 22, at the Event Centre, Agidingbi, Ikeja-Lagos.

According to him, the changing of NISE to NITEX was a strategic move to expand the scope of the event to accommodate other value added services in relation with the software industry.

Uwadia also said that on NITEX-08, NCS is collaborating with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and Small and Medium Scale Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).

Prof. Uwadia accompanied at the press conference by the NCS chairman on Publicity, Mr. Tajudeen Ejalonibu, chairman, NITEX 2008, Mr. Salisu Afolabi, Executive Secretary, NCS, Mr. Ejide Oladunmoye and a member of the executive, Mr. Adebayo Adegbiji as well as a the corporate communications officer at the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), Mr. Idowu Olusile, stressed that NITEX has been structure to be an all-embracing platform exhibition for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) developers, especially by bringing all the components of ICT together.

This, he said, would help stakeholders in the ICT sector to understand themselves and know where and when they can play complementary role.

“NITEX 2008 is set to showcase latest tends, strategies and technologies that can be used to enhance national development,” he declared.

As said by him, it serves as yet another opportunity for professionals to interact, network and be abreast of latest technology in the industry.

Also speaking, the chairman of NITEX-08, Mr. Afolabi noted that given the crucial role Information Technology (IT) is playing and will continue to play in national socio-economic and technological development of Nigeria and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), “it has become imperative for all stakeholders to partner and be stronger in moving the industry forward,” hence the expansion of NISE.

He equally said that an estimated 50 firms are billed to take part in the three-day event across core ICT and SMEs.

“But as at Monday, more than 20 has confirmed participation. Hopefully, we shall have our hands full,” he said.

NITDA, he said, is partnering with NCS in pursuit of its mandate to drive the development and growth of IT companies and institutions in the country.

Explaining the partnership with SMEDAN which he described as very strategic, Afolabi pointed out that this is more so considering the fact that most IT companies in the country are in the range of small and medium scale enterprises.

“This exhibition is expected to showcase various IT products and services in the country especially those manufactured or assembled in Nigeria. Software companies are also expected in their numbers to showcase various indigenous software developed by Nigerians,” he said.

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Who wants Ndukwe’s job?


First, let it be said that the uninformed disruption of the ICT performance indicator and in particular, the telecommunications sector is capable of setting back the tele-density gains of Nigeria by two decades if the sentimentally orchestrated greed is allowed to thrive! Let it also be remembered that by comparison, if it took over three decades to deliver only 720 thousand telephone lines out of which less than 400 lines were connected and partially working.

It therefore becomes a simple arithmetic to decipher what will happen when the current Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-enabling environment is left in the hands of Maverick Pirates who are indeed Techno-blind but mentally driven by unprecedented greed of the moment as a trade-off for our future digital disaster. This converging calamity should not be allowed to emerge nor be actualized. It should not happen through wishful thinking.

The recent Klu-Klax-Clan orchestrated call on “I want Ndukwe’s job” is to say the least, a national sabotage and an incubating national disgrace to the constructive development of Information and Communications Technology in Nigeria today. Indeed such acts which can be said to have originated by gross ignorance of the highest order in the ICT environment and clandestinely put forward to distract the development of IT should be classified as a colossal crime to the foundation of Nigeria’s global competitiveness future. Today every Dick and Dumb has suddenly arrived to become an ICT Guru. Those who were selling broken blocks, roasted yam, plantain, gala, pure water and groundnut have suddenly (shamefully) become local ICT champions and fly-by-night experts.

The crux of the matter is that to professionally deliver and sustain a functional and scalable national ICT architecture is not mastered overnight. Dr. Enrest Ndukwe unknown to many is indeed the “Digital Magician” (of high repute) of our time! This is an exceptionally gifted man who has broken all known technology leadership management and development records in Africa, nay in the world, yet greed blinds us to see beyond the immediate by covertly building very dangerous and overt self-interest impediments.

Is this why the continental brain drain erosion has intensified? Does this reveal the bane of Africa’s (Nigeria’s) technology-aided leadership development today? Whatever the hidden agenda maybe, it is time for Africa and Nigeria precisely, to understand and accept that she cannot continue to be and/or play the enemy-within. Nigeria can no longer continue to wish for technology development rather, she must earn it.

Those who myopically feel they can set back the hands of the digital clock are better be informed that this is no longer possible nor feasible, because information-sufficient knowledge process has already taken over and the creative class of the new economy has emerged – maximally equipped with the commensurate IT capabilities, tools, skills and compatible solutions to adequately respond to unforeseeable challenges.

According to Drucker, the challenge for knowledge creation and success in business has always been, as he puts it, “it is not how to do things right, but how to find the right persons to do the things to do.” Today, the most contingent and right thing to do is to perhaps clone Engineer Ernest Ndukwe and multiply his professional leadership competence and tenacity to deliver world class ICT best practice performance with an extra-ordinary computing skills. I am sure this is one of the major tasks Nigeria faces today in the transformation process of our national vision.

As the world transits into the Information Society [IS], new conditions for professional leadership, business, living, education, employment, work and entertainment are being defined, created and harnessed at almost the speed of light. These conditions are, to a large extent, dictated by information and communications technology-based innovation, skill-acquisition, support and maintenance culture.

Some view the changes effected by global networks and information technologies with great apprehension. Others consider it as a revolution with potential digital resources for worldwide cooperation. The emergence of this information-intensive knowledge society therefore challenges all nations to meet the need, not just for business, governance and industry, but more so for professional leadership, social interaction and life-long education at all levels.

The character of a nation we are informed, ‘is governed by the structure, operational dynamics and charge-management of her information systems’ – which develop and filter into core knowledge and intelligent applications. Conventional wisdom therefore dictates that in-country poverty cannot and will not be eradicated by monetary grants and loans - unless a sizeable reliable and efficient knowledge-base and critical intelligence network is country-resident.

In other words, the comparative advantage of nations this century, will be entirely based on human knowledge creation. Science propelled Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have become a critical element and the engine room for modern governance and indeed a subject of major concern to the existence of all human entities. It is therefore recognised as the core/inexcusable tool for a more purposeful, strategic and sustainable development. It also facilitates the creation and equitable sharing and distribution of community/national wealth.

In assessing the development and diffusion of Science and Technology globally – and in particular, the advent of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), - three group of countries may be distinguished: countries that are leaders in this field, including the innovation, production and generation of Science and Technology roadmap as well as the application of its research findings.

This is followed by those where some capacity for the production and application of Science and Technology has been developed but continued to depend on the first group for the survival of their production lines. Finally, the last group is those where Science and Technology is still at the embryonic stage and access to it depends solely on importation. This last group is the consumer countries, in which Nigeria is a classical example. The Global Internet Access and Usage showed a typical example of global knowledge divide also known as digital divide?

Today, Ndukwe’s ICT ingenuity has facilitated perhaps the single largest capacity building spectrum for job creation and employability opportunities for the majority of Nigerians in the last 8 years. The global information society demands higher levels of efficiency in governance, education, infrastructure, economy, culture and commerce, since there is now only one global standard in ICT. The gross implication is that Globalization can essentially be viewed as a “global technology revenue basket” where inventor participants “earn credits” and consumer nations “pay debts”. You are therefore, either buying (conspicuous consumption}, and/or selling in the delivery of services to the new knowledge economy!

Leadership, governance and in particular, educational institutions will have to face up to the challenge of facilitating lifelong learning. The task ahead is, that of transforming the art of governance and education from the inculcation of information to instilling the skill of ‘critical reasoning’ in leadership. ICT offers the potential for economic growth and increased prosperity with reduced impact on the environment and lower consumption of non-renewable resources.

The new ICT frontier is all about Information sufficiency and knowledge-connectivity for economic development and cultural emancipation. In 2002, World Information Technology Services Alliance (WITSA) – of which Nigeria is currently not a member, but many other developing nations are (including mini African countries) - entered into a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to create an Information Technology Mentors Alliance. The alliance enhances the capacity and sustainability of ICT industry associations in emerging economies to promote the ICT for economic development.
Ernest Ndukwe has demonstrated a great tenacity in mastering the tide in the turbulent ocean of ICT where many sharks have been tamed.

Today, lessons learnt from Ndukwe’s ICT due diligence performance records reveals that: “unless a meaningful chunk of developing countries IT spend (investment) is consciously and transparently deployed and managed by core and patriotic professionals (with cognate skills capable of creating knowledge domains such as Software Research, Design and Development, Critical and Specialized Infrastructure, IT Capacity Building/Training, PC Ownership Density and Internet penetration, Information Systems Services and Project Implementation and Management), they will remain perpetual consumers and digital slaves of the emerging knowledge society and digital economy - what Ndukwe has vowed to discontinue for ever.

However, one is consoled by the fact that Nigeria, with a vibrant youthful population, about 42.3 per cent stands to benefit immensely. The Nigerian Youths are the positive force of the emerging digital warriors of our future. They are the protectors of our digital future. Government should therefore shore up the political will to ploy significant resources to build formidable IT responsive institutions, infrastructure, leadership skill (such as that of Dr. Ernest Ndukwe’s) - and World-class Software knowledge-skilled capacities and capabilities.

Instead of clamoring for Ndukwe’s job, we should strategize on how to bring back ex-CEOs as layer-consultants to most of the nation’s development corridors. In any case, if you want Ndukwe’s job, - come and get it and be ready to grow gray hairs from the first nano-second in office … a word is enough for the wise.

•Chris Uwaje, President of Global Network for Cybersolutions.

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eTranzact introduces Warrant Card for Police Force

As the momentum gathers for the official unveiling of the Automated Teller Machines (ATM) Cardlex Cash and its Strong Authentication (ESA) tomorrow in Lagos, the eTranzact International Limited, has electronically empowered the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) with the introduction of its Warrant Card.

Chief executive officer, eTranzact, Mr. Valentine Obi, said that the premier multi-channel payment and switching platform launched this innovation in collaboration with Puzzles group and NPF.

He said the card has been specifically designed to assist the Nigeria Police in its effort to establish a reliable identification programme, rebrand, fight internal fraud, eliminate ghost workers and pensioners as well as make life easier and more convenient for men and women of the Force.

Describing the Police Warrant Card as one of the big dreams of the incumbent Inspector General of Police (IGP), Sir Mike Okiro, the eTranzact boss said that the card, which is a multipurpose card doubles as an identification (ID) card, salary payment card and performs other numerous functions.

“The new card being a multi-functional one tallies with Okiro’s dream of a refocused Nigeria Police,” Obi said.

Addressing the top echelon of the Nigeria Police at Force Headquarters, Louis Edet House, Abuja last Tuesday, Obi said the new Nigeria Police Warrant Card, though serves as the official identity card, its functions include that of a regular payment card, meaning that a policeman or woman could walk to any ATM and collect cash with its Warrant Card 24/7.

“He or she could also use the card for web transactions such as make payment for goods and services, like booking and paying for an airline ticket electronically with the card,” he said.

In addition, Obi said that the card, which carries the picture of the bearer, comes with specific codes unique to individual policemen or women.

He explained that the card is also distinguished by the different colours associated with the different ranks within the Police Command.

“Like an ATM card, the Warrant Card comes with a static Personal Identification Number (PIN), which is a default number that can be changed to individual’s PIN upon activation for security purposes,” he said.

Obi emphasized that eTranzact is committed to the welfare of every citizen of the country and believes that the Police Force occupies a unique position in the scheme of moving Nigeria forward.

“Hence the development of a multi-functional card to help them access their funds on regular basis without delay from any quarters,” Obi declared and lauded the IGP for making the initiative a reality and for his invaluable input into the development of its security features.

He solicited Okiro’s support in the nationwide verification exercise for all policemen and women, beginning next week, on November 4, which serves as a prerequisite to the issuance of the warrant cards to all men and women of the Force.

Expressing appreciation to eTranzact for the laudable project, IGP Mike Okiro, urged all officers of the Nigeria Police to cooperate with eTranzact and its partner banks to ensure a successful verification and issuance of the warrant card to men and women of the Force.

He stressed that with the new warrant card, salary payment will now be made directly to each policeman’s account. Each police officer will also be alerted via SMS immediately a transaction occurs on his or her account.

Asserting that January 1, 2009 is the effective date by which no Nigerian policeman or woman should parade the old identity card, IGP admonished individual police officers to present himself or herself in person for the verification exercise, as no card will be issued by proxy.

He was confident that by the end of the exercise, eTranzact would have assisted the Police with the data to state categorically the total number of men and women in the Nigeria Police Force.

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Omatek showcases Smartbook, Plasma @ ComBIT-08

The first-ever ComBIT-08 organized by the umbrella body of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) entities in the country, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) ended in Lagos, weekend with Omatek Venture Plc showcasing avalanche of products.

Some of the products, according to the Deputy General Manager (DGM) Sales, Mr. Biyi Fashoyin included the Omatek’s dual Smart books of 8 and 10 inches respectively, the Omatek Plasma TV and Omatek home entertainment speakers as well as the Omatek Inverters and batteries.

Describing the three-day event as a good outing for the company, he also said that some visitors to Omatek stand during the expo were showered with lots of branded gifts.

He said that Omatek was delighted with the kind of turn-out to the event and specifically at its stand where some staff were at hand to explain the modalities and usage of its products, mostly the Smart books.

ITRealms Online recalled that a fortnight ago, Omatek launched the dual model Smartbooks in Lagos as well as its eXpress scheme for Public Civil Servants in the centre of excellence.

Speaking at the launch, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Sarah Adebisi Sosan, commended Omatek Ventures Plc, for launching the Computer for All Public Servants in Lagos State.

Sosan who doubles as the State’s Commissioner for Education, was a special guest of honour at the event held in Alausa-Ikeja, and said the company deserved to be commended so as to encourage it to do more for the citizens of the state, especially in ensuring that they are technology compliant.

She noted that with the support of corporate organizations like Omatek, Lagos State would remain on top of most Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-driven state among equals.

“With the support of Omatek, Lagos would remain top among other states in the country,” he said.

Further, Mrs. Sosan said that the gesture of Omatek would facilitate unprecedented Information Technology (IT) penetration in the state, thereby touching the grassroots and urged civil servants in the state to eschew corruption and enlighten their colleagues about the Computer for All Public Servants being propelled by Omatek.

“Kindly enlighten others on what Omatek is doing with this launch and in the state,” she said.

The group chief executive officer, Omatek Plc, Mrs. Florence Seriki informed that beneficiaries would have the option of paying for their choice of Personal Computers (PC) in Omatek stables between 12 and 24 months from the date of initial payment.

Seriki also said that Omatek is partnering with First Bank of Nigeria Plc, AfriBank Plc, and Skye Bank Plc, encouraging any interested public, especially civil servants in Lagos State to take up this advantage being offering by the company to not only own a PC of choice but to make use of them so as to be computer literate.

Omatek, she said, has designed this initiative under its e-Xpress project that was originally launched in 2004.

She stressed “This scheme has its own funding and has been structured for the civil servants, small and medium enterprises (SMES), education sector and corporate executives.”

Omatek, she said, is the first Completely Knock Down (CKD) factory in Africa to produce computer casings, speakers, desktops and notebooks.

Just as the company now boast of five subsidiaries, namely Omatek Ventures Distribution Limited, Omatek Engineering Services Limited, Omatek Computers Limited, Omatek Distribution Limited Ghana and the Omatek Ghana Factory Limited.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Multi-Links introduces N1 per minute promo

Multi–Links Telkom, weekend, announced the introduction of N1 per minute promo tariff on its network, according to the Manager, Corporate Affairs, Multi-Links Telkom, Mr. Olubayo Abiodun.

Disclosing this, Mr. Abiodun said that the telco has raised the bar in the customer reward paradigm with the latest introduction that would enable subscribers to make on net calls at N1 per minute.

Affirming this in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online and signed by Abiodun and Executive, Corporate Communications, Mr. Tayo Ekundayo, Multi-Linis indicated that every subscriber who uses N200 airtime within a day would then be able to make N1 per minute intra-network calls for the balance of that day.

Prior to the introduction of N1 per minute tariff, Multi-Links Telkom was running a customer reward package that entitles its subscribers to monetary reward for calls received.

He quoted the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer (CSMO), Multi-Links Telkom, Ms. Dipuo Msimang, said that the N1 per minute revolutionary price offer is for every subscriber who utilizes N200 on voice calls within a 24 hour period.

She said, those who qualify for this window of opportunity would be able to make on-net calls for the rest of that day at N1 per minute, explaining that the 24-hour period runs from midnight to midnight.

“Essentially, the subscriber will enjoy on-net calls for N1 for each day after he has utilized N200 on voice calls,” she said.

Msimang explained that the N200 excludes access charges which each subscriber would still pay if applicable, aside from the N200 expended on voice calls.

The current reward campaign for all received calls by Multi-Links Telkom subscribers is already causing a storm in the industry. The way the promotion works, is that any active Multi-Links Telkom subscriber who receives a call from anyone else will receive 50 Kobo for every thirty seconds of that call.

She recalled that those who have started enjoying the revolutionary reward package described it as unheard of in the history of telecommunications service provision on the continent for subscribers to be rewarded with free airtime for every received call.

Msimang said that Multi-Links Telkom will continue to make value propositions that will endear Multi-Links Telkom to the various classes of telecoms subscribers in the country.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What to know about firewall (3)

PREconfigured programmes
Preconfigured programmes and services on the Exceptions list.
Additional items that you have added to the Exceptions list.
When you select Don’t allow exceptions, you can still send and receive e-mail, use an instant messaging program, or view Web pages.

Off: With this setting, your computer is much more vulnerable to harm from unknown intruders or viruses from the Internet. This setting should only be used when it is necessary to turn off Windows Firewall for computer administration purposes.

Except for unsolicited requests, Windows Firewall blocks or allows connections to your computer without notifying you each time. But Windows Firewall can also create a record, called a security log, that records those connections. If you want Windows Firewall to create a security log, see Enable security logging options.
Windows Firewall does not detect or block Trojan horses.

Advanced users can configure Windows Firewall using the command line tool, netsh.exe. For more information about this tool, see Configuring Windows Firewall from the command line.

Network administrators can also use Group Policy to configure Windows Firewall settings. Group Policy settings apply globally for the network. If Group Policy is enabled, individual users are prevented from changing firewall settings.

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Improving service delivery via co-location

Experts in the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector agreed on the fact that infrastructure sharing also known as co-location could immensely improve service delivery, reports REMMY NWEKE.

At the recently held three-day Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) summit organized by the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation (CTO) in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, lamented the high cost of accessing ICT on the continent and attributed this to lack of proper national and regional infrastructure.

For him, it’s extremely lamentable due to the progress made in the region in recent times, as he canvassed for an open access to the available infrastructure so as optimize sharing or co-location.

Sharing leverages on harmonized policy:
He noted that policy provision for ICT framework, application and services is a huge challenge, but by harmonizing telecommunications policies, legal and regulatory frameworks it would boost development of a regional and international reliable modern telecommunications infrastructure.

Chambas said that ECOWAS is working towards integrated regional infrastructure that could promote development in a peaceful and democratic environment, disclosing that the telecommunications infrastructure project known as SatCom-2 was designed to establish regional information and communication infrastructure for the community, and is steadily being executed by member states.

Shareable infrastructure:
Also speaking at the summit co-organised by the Ministry of Information and Communication and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which is on its sixth year, the Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone Plc (GBP), Mr. Gerald Ilukwe, advised on some shareable telecommunications infrastructure on the continent, more so in the country, where there is dearth of infrastructure.

Ilukwe who dwelt on “Pursuing Successful Infrastructure Sharing Strategies in Africa,” noted there are some immediate and most viable infrastructure that could be easily shared among operators in the ICT sector, namely electronic and non-electronic. The electronic infrastructure includes base towers stations, micro wave radio equipment, switches, antennas, transceivers for signal processing and transmission. While the non-electronic comprises of tower, shelter, air-conditioning, standby power generating sets and back-up batteries, electrical equipment, technical premises and easement and pylons.

Others, Ilukwe said, are data centres, utility and middleware applications disaster recovery as well as business continuity facilities. Accentuating that it facilitates optimization of investment in infrastructure and the use of scarce national resources like right of way. Just as it reduces negative environmental impact through co-location of antenna farms to limit radiation, incessant digging up of roads and pavements as well as proliferation of telecom masts; thus focusing on service innovation instead of network deployment.

Co-location requires rational decision:
Commenting, Deputy Chief Regulatory Officer (CRO) in-charge of Regulatory Affairs for all of Zain’s 22 operating companies in the Middle East and Africa, Mrs. Lynne Dorwood, said at the summit that successful co-location of infrastructure in telecommunications sector require rational decision.

Zain Group, she said, is currently co-locating infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and has even signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Kuwait for a similar offer.
“Infrastructure sharing needs to be a rational business decision that should be taken into account at all times,” she asserted, mostly considering the amount of investment that existing operators have already incurred which is vital for a successful co-location of infrastructure.

Mrs. Dorwood stressed that technical and operational concern should include spare capacity and cost of adding and upgrading facilities, even as the environmental decisions, is relevant to satisfy regulatory objectives of free and fair competition and ease of consumer access while at same time respecting operator’s investment made and risks taken, hitherto.

She also called for a collaborative approach by operators working together, so that telecom industry would continually witness sustainable growth.

“Let’s take a collaborative approach and work together,” she said and traced the origin of co-location of telecom infrastructure to Chile in late 1980’s due to extreme length and narrowness of the country, noting that before now this concept has taken root in the Third Generation (3G) site sharing in Germany and Sweden.

She emphasized that multiple mobile network operators in India already engaged in effective site sharing, and recalled that as the third operator in Saudi Arabia, Zain already is using site sharing, while it recently signed an MOU with Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to provide same in Kuwait.

Co-location, a natural evolution:
While on official visit to Champion House, recently in Lagos, the chief executive officer, Zain Nigeria, Mr. Adebayo Ligali, said his firm is disposed to co-location of infrastructure with other operators among service providers in the nation’s ICT sector.

Co-location, he said, is a natural evolution and Zain is presently co-locating facilities in some parts of the country, even with some competitors. “We’re currently leasing fibre optic from a core competitor among other ICT firms.”

N3bn for co-location:
However, the Federal Government in July this year announced its intensions to invest the sum of N3 billion (about $25.4m) to subsidize the cost of providing co-location infrastructure for telecommunications service providers in the country.

Chief Executive Officer, NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, who made this disclosure in Abuja, at a Co-Location Infrastructure Project (CIP) forum under the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) Accelerated Mobile Phone Expansion (AMPE) initiative of the government, said that the project is aimed at facilitating the construction of shareable infrastructure such as masts and towers, land perimeter fence, generators, storage tanks for fuel, and shelter.

He explained that the concept of co-location would assist greatly on the extension of telecommunications and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services to the underserved communities in the country.

Ndukwe further said the project was to consolidate on the progress made on Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), which were designed to take the advantage of the opportunity that the ease of deployment of wireless based technologies presents, to encourage the rapid deployment of mobile communication and associated ICT services to rural communities.

Government’s efforts:
He said, “the new initiative when properly implemented will also reduce if not totally eliminate the need for each service provider to construct and own individual masts and towers, generators and so on as well as reduce the usual concerns about associated impact on the environment.”

Reaffirmed the global acceptance of infrastructure out-sourcing through co-location as a more popular alternative to adopt in ICT service delivery, and would enable ICT providers to focus more on their core business of service provision thereby improving the over all operational efficiency.

This, he said, has become imperative in view of the amount of human and material resources that are expended for the construction and maintaining such infrastructure mechanism by individual operators especially in rural areas.
“It will obviously be a win-win situation for the operators, the co-location providers and the subscribers if the project is fully embraced by all stakeholders,” Ndukwe anticipated.

NCC vows to protect telecom infrastructure:
NCC also vowed to protect telecommunications infrastructure in the country, so as to reduce vandalism, stressing that vandalism sets back the development in the sector and noted that operators have a great deal of responsibility too as far as protecting their infrastructure is concerned.

“This means that they must take the security of their data and network seriously,” he said, advised them to set up corporate security plans and look for ways to work together on critical infrastructure protection. Insisting that the federal government considers telecommunications infrastructure as public property of strategic importance, hence, it is criminal to vandalize them.

As said by him, NCC would seek support of the police among other relevant security agencies in training those who would assist in safeguarding the infrastructure, counseled operators to minimize competition and look at the inadequacies of each other and join forces in finding solution for the benefit of their customers.

The Commission, he said, is thinking of revisiting the law of willful damage and enforces same to deter vandalism.

Collaborating with other ministries:
Mr. Val Amadi of Etisalat, suggested that NCC directs operators on how best to construct their cables as a way forward and avoid damaging of competitors’ cables. “Operators should submit their drawings to the commission to help identify the defaulter when one damages each other’s cable.”

For Mr. Martins Oluwale of Globacom the Commission should collaborate with the ministry of works, states and local governments to help ensure that telecommunication infrastructure are not damaged while constructing roads. He recommended a harmonized policy for cable installation and laws that would make operators live up to their responsibilities, advocating the need to demarcate routes where cables are installed to avoid duplication of installation by operators.

Regulators promoting infrastructure sharing:
Noteworthy is that at the eight session of global telecom regulators in Pattaya, Thailand, March 2008, under the auspices of Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-08), the focus was on best practices in regulatory measures to foster and encourage sharing of infrastructure resources as a means of stimulating investment and growth in the ICT sector.

Addressing participants at the meeting organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) presided over by the Chairman, Thailand’s National Telecommunication Commission (NTC), General Choochart Promphrasid, with over 600 participants from 96 countries, the Secretary-General of ITU, Dr Hamadoun Touré, said that innovative business models and services are helping to drive the take-up of mobile communications in emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and the Americas.

As such, “Pro-competitive and open access strategies are needed to cut the cost of deploying ICT networks, thus take a big step towards achieving the targets set by the World Summit on the Information Society as well as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.”

Dr. Touré said that sound regulatory frameworks would establish the enabling environment for telecommunications and ICT infrastructure development to help meet the connectivity targets.

GSR arrived at a consensus on a set of best practice guidelines aimed at fostering affordable broadband access through innovative infrastructure sharing and open access strategies related to pricing, efficient use of resources, spectrum sharing, licensing, neutral, fair and non-discriminating interconnection, transparency in information sharing, and sharing with other infrastructure industries; such as electricity, gas, water, sewage, railways to distribute the cost of civil works.

Six degrees of sharing and surplus fund:
Dwelling on the theme of the Symposium “Six Degrees of Sharing: Innovative Infrastructure Sharing and Open Access Strategies to Promote Affordable Access for All emphasizes,” GSR, of which Nigeria was represented by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, identified basic and passive infrastructure sharing, open access to international capacity, business-sharing regulation, active infrastructure sharing, end-user sharing, and policy and regulatory harmonization.

They also recognized the need for regional and international harmonization to ensure widespread use of best practice regulatory policies on sharing, especially in areas dealing with cross-border effects. And in order to encourage universal access and bridge the ‘digital divide’, regulators tend to consider incentives for service providers who share infrastructure, including financial subsidies on a competitive basis.

At the end of the Global Industry Leaders’ Forum (GILF), the first-ever interaction between industry and regulators which preceded GSR meeting in Thailand, it was recommended that surplus funds raised through levies, such as Universal Service Funds running into billions of dollars, should be extended to ICT access to underserved regions, support infrastructure sharing, stimulate investment by reducing taxes, tariffs and duties on handsets and telecom equipment.

This is in addition to the release of unused spectrum for productive and innovative commercial applications and services as well as strengthens any emergency communications by harmonizing rules and regulations to facilitate trans-border relief efforts as outlined in the Tampere Convention; while exploring feasibility of a single global emergency call-in number.

As the six degree agenda of GSR takes root among member nations, Nigeria inclusive, there is need to fast-track this agenda if the 2012 plan for meeting up the self-imposed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is anything to go by, then infrastructure sharing must be encouraged by all stakeholders, at least, by coming up with time table on how operators and infrastructure laying firms could benefit from the incentives, practically, including the supposed surplus USP Fund.

Therefore, the private sector that has been driving this laying of infrastructure till now, needs backing to remain steadfast. And the earlier steps are taken in this direction, the better for the industry, after all time waits for no man and 2012 is just round the corner.

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eTranzact to launch mobile cardless, tackles e-scam with ESA

FOREMOST operational multi-application and channel electronic transaction operator, e-Tranzact, has concluded plans to launch its innovative eTranzact Automated Teller Machine (ATM) CardlexCash, as the firm tackles electronic scam with e-Tranzact Strong Authentication (ESA) security solution for both banking institutions and end users.

Chief Executive Officer, e-Tranzact Limited, Mr. Valentine Obi, said that the ATM CardlexCash leverages on subscriber’s mobile phone, eTranzact platform and ATM processor of over 21 partnering banks to make funds transfer and collection convenient for the numerous unbanked persons in the country and beyond as well as the existing over 40 million mobile phone subscribers.

Obi told newsmen that eTranzact ATM CardlexCash is a product designed for the eTranzact global payment network that provides a solution which allows a transferor to transfer funds from his mobile phone to the mobile phone of the transferee, who then collects the funds at any ATM without the use of cards.

“eTranzact’s ATM CardlexCash which has been patented in Nigerian, and in Africa, US, UK and Asia is a revolutionary product which leverages on a subscriber’s mobile phone, the eTranzact platform, and ATM processors of partners to make funds transfer and collection convenient for the end users,” he said.

This, he said, would bring smiles to the faces of the numerous unbanked persons in the country and beyond.

“e-Tranzact ATM CardlexCash proposes a faster and convenient process of money transfer that eliminates going to a bank or using an ATM card,” he said.

Mr. Obi also said plans have been finalized to make the product available in all its countries of operation including Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, UK and the United States.

He also said that the product, which provides seamless transfer of funds across borders, will require the sender to transfer money using his phone to any cell phone.

“And on the receiving the text the recipient will be given details which he enters on any enabled ATM machine and withdraws cash as preferred by him,” he said.

On ESA, Mr. Obi said that it offers solution to the insecurity problem of chip-based cards and offers a harmonization of cards of various banks via a single mobile phone.

“ESA allows a subscriber to withdraw cash from any ATM through a proxy. This is done by generating a one time pass code (OTPK), to which the cash withdrawal value is tied for a one-off ATM transaction. With the eTranzact ESA, should a customer fall victim of scam or cloned website and give away both user name and password, a third party can never defraud the customer due to lack of the dynamic PIN residual on the mobile phone,” he explained.

Obi further said, ESA is a product of numerous research and findings, considering that utilization of static PIN as the singular parameter for electronic transactions has become increasingly fraud-prone and its first fully operational multi-application and multi-channel electronic transaction switching and payment processing platform has come up with a product aimed at tackling the challenges besetting all chip-based and non-chip based cards.

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Bavisi warns Nigerian banks, telcos on cyber warfare

President and Co-founder of EC-Council, Mr. Sanjay Bavisi, has warned on cyber warfare on Nigerian banking and telecommunications institutions, advocating for internal Information Technology (IT) policy by corporate entities.

This, he said, would check-mate people, especially employees using mobile tools to bring in dangerous trends into the company that could affect its smooth operations.

Speaking at a one-day seminar for bank and telecom executives in Lagos, organized by New Horizons, Mr. Bavisi, accompanied by the Vice President, EC- Council University , Mr. Sean Lim, noted that there are many implications in mobile and hospital hacking.

“Some companies have no IT policy and people can bring in dangerous tools into the company that could affect its smooth operations,” he said.

According to him, “Mobile phones also allow the use of any applications, and just allowing anybody to take in any mobile phone into a company could be dangerous because people could use mobile phones or digital devices, to install malicious software and steal data.”

He stressed that every company faces challenges of one form or the other, and when this happens, it is not advisable to depend on the army or navy to protect the country.

“Cyber warfare could be dangerous attack on any nation and could bring down economy,” he said, noting that electronic Jihad is just one way of fighting cyber warfare.

Noting that there are some groups that hack for different purposes and this should be checked.

He explained that the whole purpose of EC-Council is to reduce the rate of cyber warfare across countries, pointing out that a country must first recognise that there is a security gap before thinking of how to reduce the gap.

“A lot of countries feel that there is no need to beef up security against cyber attack, just because they have not been attacked. There are several attacks that are going on in some organisations and their computers that they are yet to find out. There is something called backdoor and there are lots of data that could be hacked,” he said.

On the implication of expanding operations beyond Nigeria’s shores more so now that some local banks have gone international in relation to online banking, the expert said, security protection is key to any nation and organisation.

“I think Nigerian financial institutions have not really branded themselves as Information security institutions. When this is lacking, they will be open to risk and online attacks,” he said.

Advising that what Nigeria needs to do is to come with an agenda on cyber security, accept the agenda and ensure that the agenda is well implemented.

“All banks and stock market need information security,” he said.
Bavisi also counselled on how cracking could be controlled globally, saying that there are several measures in which attacks could be checked, citing for instance that EC-Council would be hosting an Asia-Pacific roundtable next month, November, to brainstorm on cyber security globally.

“We are partnering with the ministry of defence in most Asian countries. We will come out with a global solution on how to reduce crime rate in cyberspace,” he said.

The National Security Agency of the United States, he said, is coming up with global solution in the area of human capital and the reason is that without proper human capital development, there will be room for attacks.

“No matter how sophisticated technology equipment a nation or organisation may buy, and no matter the huge investment of physical facilities without investing on the human capital development, then it is mere waste of energy and resources,” he said.

Pointing out that people that will handle the equipment must be trained and be knowlegeable in information security management.

“Without human capital and proper methodolagy in place, it will be difficult to controll cyber attacks,” he said.

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ExpertEdge partners Actimize on anti-fraud solutions

Expertedge software, an arm of Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) has been named the Actimize’s partner in Nigeria.

This partnership, according to the Head, Marketing Communications, at the CWG, Ms Morenike Popoola, said it would enable collaboration in successfully implementing anti- fraud solutions in major banks in the country.

She said in a press statement endorsed by Jonathan Stotts of Actimize, a NICE Systems Company, which delivers proven Automated Teller Machine (ATM) and debit, fraud prevention capabilities to MasterCard, that Actimize analytics are already deployed in production and detecting card fraud in MasterCard’s core processing environment.

“Actimize, a leading provider of transactional risk management software for the financial services industry and NICE Systems announced that MasterCard is using the Actimize technology to augment its ATM and Debit fraud detection capabilities for issuers,” part of the press statement read.

Actimize recently enhanced its debit fraud solution by acquiring proven analytic models used today by MasterCard in its Fraud Monitor service, a real-time risk scoring and fraud prevention service for PIN-based transactions offered by MasterCard to its customers.

Stotts also said that the technology has proven to fight ATM and debit fraud effectively across multiple card brands and geographies and used and tested by clients such as MasterCard and other card issuers.

“The Actimize fraud detection analytics are unique in that their multi-dimensional profiles can be created and updated in real-time to detect suspicious activities at the card, device, account level and many other dimensions,” he said, stressing that MasterCard, the industry’s security innovator and a global debit card leader, values the new relationship with Actimize in delivering value-added real-time risk scoring and fraud prevention solutions to customers.

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