" ITREALMS: June 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

ITAN nominates Seriki for WITSA committee

The Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN) has nominated the group chief executive, Omatek Plc, Mrs. Florence Seriki as its lead representative to the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) committee on Global Trade.

ITRealms Online recalls that Mrs. Seriki was recently named ITAN Founding Partner for Asia.

ITAN President, Dr. Jimson Olufuye, in a letter to the Global Trade Committee (GTC) Chairman, Mr. Soo Pei Ling, said that he was pleased to nominate Mrs. Seriki, as
ITAN’s representative at the WITSA GT committee.

In a similar development ITAN has nominated its national treasurer and chairman of the Abuja chapter, Mr. Arinola Akinyemi as the deputy representative. Akinyemi is also chief executive officer of Omar Ventures Limited.

“As mentioned by the GTC Chairman, the main role of the GTC member is to assist the committee in identifying potential areas of increasing the Global ICT – Information and Communication Technology - Trade and in due course benefit all WITSA members,” part of the letter read, stressing that the committee, will also have a secretariat team to assist in the operation and implementation of the GTC targets and objectives.

Responding to the nomination, Mrs. Seriki expressed her sincere appreciation as ITAN’s representative at the WITSA Global Trade Committee. “Please accept my warm gratitude” she declared.

Already, at its recent board of directors meeting at the Hague, last month, Dr. Olufuye said that WITSA had concluded plans for its 2009 Global Public Policy Summit taking place in Bermuda, stressing that an update of its 2010 IT Olympiad to be hosted by The Netherlands in May 2010 was also reviewed.

Also nominated into ITAN Public Policy Committee are Ambassador Michael Toluhi , who is the chief executive officer of Abadata Nig Ltd and doubles as ITAN Founding Partner (Europe); chairman;  his counterparts in CiTAD, Sagita Systems, PiNet Informatics, Messrs YZ Yau, Matthias Ifesieh, and Lanre Ajayi as the chairman, secretary and advisor in that order to the forum, while former ITAN President, Mr. Chris Uwaje, is the assistant secretary to the forum.

Other members of the forum include Mr. Oludaisi Joseph, CEO Sephix Ltd, Mr. Oamen Okhilua, CEO Yobel Integrated Services; Mr. Sagir Mohammed, CEO InterSystems Ltd, Oluwole Owolabi, MD/CEO Accentech Media and Dr. Sam Braimoh of MicroTechnologies Inc.
Part of the responsibilities of the committee include, but not limited for the determination and recommendation of key public policy priorities to ITAN NEC for approval; on approval to articulate strategies for the implementation of such policy by relevant public institution.

In addition the reference evolves pursuing new bills for the promotion of ICT trade and development in Nigeria as well as liaison with the ITAN Public-Private Forum special committees for accelerated implementation of policies, while implement other responsibility that they may be assigned by the Council of ITAN.

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Aladekomo commends Datacard, Chams partnership

The Managing Director of Chams Plc., Mr. Demola Aladekomo, has commended the partnership between his firm and Datacard Corporation, especially in delivery of electronic payment solutions.

Speaking at a special session held for the company’s channel partners in Lagos, Aladekomo, stated that Datacard had provided the needed support and assistance that had made Chams to become a leader in the printers and terminals segment of the Information Technology industry.

He said the products offered by Datacard were not only of the best quality in the market, but had been backed up with adequate support through effective training of local engineers and marketers.

Aladekomo noted that Datacard had stood firmly with Chams ever since both firms entered into business, as against many other foreign firms that did the contrary and were only keen at exploiting opportunities even if it was to the detriment of the development of the local market.

He said the firm as a Fortune 500 firm, Datadcard had not allowed its position to negatively affect its dealings with partners as the firms treats its partners with a lot of respect.

The Head Terminals and Printers Unit, Chams Plc, Mr. Tunji Adekoya, said the Datacad printers have become marketers’ delight as they are quality products that meet users’ expectation.

Adekoya stated further that Chams appointed channels partners in order to make it easier to reach users of the products and to also provide quick support to its customers.

He added that even though Chams might be perceived by some people as big firm, the firm believed that the key to success was based to partnership.

He said, “The decision to appoint partners is based on our desire to bring in more people to share in our success story. We do not believe in doing it alone. We believe in effective partnership”

He added that under the arrangement that Chams had with its partners, its terminals and printers are sold to customers at the same price across the country.

He explained that the decision to take this approach was based on the need to give everyone value for their money and for them to recognize that the firm cared about them.

The African Regional Manager, Datacard, Mr. Ian Brown, noted that there was still a lot of potential for the local market to develop, noting that provision of support was crucial factor to achieve success.

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Michael Jackson causes ‘go slow’ @ networking websites

Following the break in the news of the passing on of the musical icon, Michael Jackson, at the weekend, social networking sites have witnessed ‘go-slow’ on the World Wide Web (www).

Investigations last weekend showed that one of the social networking sites, Twitter, the volume of Jackson-related messages went up to 5,000 per minute, basically at the peak of the news break, thereby putting such a demand on the site that it slowed down to a large extent.

Michael Jackson died last Wednesday night (Nigerian time) at the age of 50. Even as local electronic stations; both radio and television were saturated with tributes and music of the King of Pop.

Confirming this development, co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone said that they witnessed doubling of participants on its platform as soon as the news broke.

“We saw an instant doubling of tweets per second the moment the story broke. This particular news about the passing of such a global icon is the biggest jump in tweets per second since the U.S. presidential election,” he declared.

According to him, regarding performance, “there were reports of slowness following the spike in activity. It highlighted an opportunity for improvement which we’ll be acting on right away.”

Online chatterers reported slowness at other social hubs, including AOL’s popular instant message system and at the blog site LiveJournal.

It was also reported that the Los Angeles Times website creaked beneath the weight of the story as well, with nearly 2.3 million page views in one hour, more traffic than during any single hour last Nov. 5, the site’s highest-traffic day.

Another social networking site, Facebook, equally saw a frenzy of activities, as affirmed by the spokeswoman, for the company said the number of status updates during the hour after the Jackson news emerged was triple the average. She said Facebook remained free of performance issues.
Traffic to the leading online news sites throughout North America was at least 20 per cent above average, according to Akamai’s Net Usage Index, which monitors online news consumption around the world.
The intense interest among Web users was evident on sites that track which terms are most popular among users. Phrases such as “Rip MJ,” “King of Pop” and “Thriller” were among the most frequently used on Twitter, and on Google.com, “Michael Jackson died” became the most popular query.

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How to select ideal UPS – Kleynhans

Regional director for Africa, Indian Ocean Islands and South Caribbean at APC by Schneider Electric, Mr. Carl Kleynhans, has outlined how best to select an ideal Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), especially in Nigeria.

According to him, in a country like Nigeria, where power problems are common, companies require specific power protection features to help ensure uninterrupted computer availability.

“Based on this, it is important that organisations and computer users in general select the best uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to protect themselves from the damage to hardware and lost data that can be caused by a power outage,” he said.

Mr. Kleynhans said that in choosing an ideal UPS is easy to do only if consumers are ready to follow expert prescription.

For him, the first step a potential user must take is to walk around their home or office and list the equipment that would need to be protected by the UPS, remembering to include monitors, terminals, external hard drives and any other critical equipment.

“The next step is to look on the back of each piece of equipment for a nameplate that lists its power requirements in amps. For each item, the number of amps that will be plugged into each UPS must be calculated,” he asserted.

This figure, he pointed out, must then be multiplied by 120VA. The result is the VA requirement you’ll need your UPS to supply.

For example, a computer is 2 amps, the modem is 0.3 amps and the monitor is 1 amp, totaling 3.3 amps, that is, 120VA x 3.3 amps = 396VA.

He advised that if the components were measured in Watts, then the user must multiply the number of Watts by 1.4 in order to get the accurate VA figure.

“You can then select the UPS product with a VA rating that supports your VA total or is higher,” Kleynhans said.

ITRealms Online recalls APC by Schneider Electric, a global leader in critical power and cooling services, provides industry leading product, software and systems for home, office, data centre and factory floor applications.

And through its unparalleled commitment to innovation, APC delivers pioneering, energy efficient solutions for critical technology and industrial applications.

In 2007, Schneider Electric acquired APC and combined it with MGE UPS Systems to form Schneider Electric’s Critical Power & Cooling Services Business Unit, which recorded 2008 revenue of €2,6 billion and employed 12,000 people worldwide.

APC solutions include uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), precision cooling units, racks, physical security and design and management software, including APC's InfraStruXure architecture, the industry’s most comprehensive integrated power, cooling, and management solution. Schneider Electric, with 114,000 employees and operations in 100 countries, achieved sales of €18,3 billion in 2008.

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How to select ideal UPS – Kleynhans

Regional director for Africa, Indian Ocean Islands and South Caribbean at APC by Schneider Electric, Mr. Carl Kleynhans, has outlined how best to select an ideal Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), especially in Nigeria.

According to him, in a country like Nigeria, where power problems are common, companies require specific power protection features to help ensure uninterrupted computer availability.

“Based on this, it is important that organisations and computer users in general select the best uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to protect themselves from the damage to hardware and lost data that can be caused by a power outage,” he said.

Mr. Kleynhans said that in choosing an ideal UPS is easy to do only if consumers are ready to follow expert prescription.

For him, the first step a potential user must take is to walk around their home or office and list the equipment that would need to be protected by the UPS, remembering to include monitors, terminals, external hard drives and any other critical equipment.

“The next step is to look on the back of each piece of equipment for a nameplate that lists its power requirements in amps. For each item, the number of amps that will be plugged into each UPS must be calculated,” he asserted.

This figure, he pointed out, must then be multiplied by 120VA. The result is the VA requirement you’ll need your UPS to supply.

For example, a computer is 2 amps, the modem is 0.3 amps and the monitor is 1 amp, totaling 3.3 amps, that is, 120VA x 3.3 amps = 396VA.

He advised that if the components were measured in Watts, then the user must multiply the number of Watts by 1.4 in order to get the accurate VA figure.

“You can then select the UPS product with a VA rating that supports your VA total or is higher,” Kleynhans said.

ITRealms Online recalls APC by Schneider Electric, a global leader in critical power and cooling services, provides industry leading product, software and systems for home, office, data centre and factory floor applications.

And through its unparalleled commitment to innovation, APC delivers pioneering, energy efficient solutions for critical technology and industrial applications.

In 2007, Schneider Electric acquired APC and combined it with MGE UPS Systems to form Schneider Electric’s Critical Power & Cooling Services Business Unit, which recorded 2008 revenue of €2,6 billion and employed 12,000 people worldwide.

APC solutions include uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), precision cooling units, racks, physical security and design and management software, including APC's InfraStruXure architecture, the industry’s most comprehensive integrated power, cooling, and management solution. Schneider Electric, with 114,000 employees and operations in 100 countries, achieved sales of €18,3 billion in 2008.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Functional website, key to rebranding

The official Nigeria’s government website, www.nigeria.gov.ng was reportedly stale. REMMY NWEKE in this write up examines FG’s efforts in rising up to the occasion.

Recently, the Federal Government’s official website, NigeriaDirect located on www.nigeria.gov.ng, which serves as the external service of Voice of Nigeria (VON); the website is the apparent gateway to accessing official information, was reported to be stale.

It was believed among stakeholders in the Nigerian project that such a medium of communication will contain not only relevant, but current information about the country, her people and policies forming part of its daily agenda.

Relating these to the current efforts to rebrand Nigeria, it is expected that the functionality and efficiency of government would be exhibited on its official website to the extent that it will present itself as the dependable reference platform. But all that is not to be going by what was recently discovered at the site.

For over eight months, the official website of the federal government was stale considering that information contained thereon were not updated.

The bad news!
The bad news then according to ITRealms Online investigations as at May 13, was that majority of the 20 former ministers dropped last September by President Umaru Yar’Adua, were still in office, based on the official information gateway of the federal government, the NigeriaDirect, www.nigeria.gov.ng.

This was an indication that the official website was not being holistically updated for upward of eight months after some changes were made in the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Created in 2005, at the wake of the campaign to rebrand the nation via the Heart of Africa by the Federal Ministry of Information and Communications (FMIC), NigeriaDirect, the official website of the Federal Government of Nigeria, still has the Heart of Africa running instead of the ‘Nigeria, good people, great nation’ campaign, thereby misinforming the world and defeating its purpose.

Before now ...
A visit before now to the website by ITRealms Online revealed that such former ministers as Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre, were yet to hand-over to her then Minister of State, Dr. Alhassan Bako Zaku, who is the incumbent minister.

According to NigeriaDirect, the current Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mahmud Yayale Ahmed was still a Minister and his then Minister of State, Mrs. Fidelia Akuabata Njeze, was yet to be redeployed to Agriculture and Natural Resources among others, eight months after.

However, in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili and Alhaji Aliyu Ikra Bilbis were reflected correctly as the Minister and Minister of State respectively. Just as Mr. Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, SAN, also correctly retained his office in the Federal Ministry of Justice as minister, together with the Minister of Interior, retired Major General Godwin Abbe, while the former minister of state at the Interior Ministry, Hassan Alhaji Haruna was yet to vacate his position according to NigeriaDirect, to name a few.

Additionally, it was learnt that the ministry in-charge, which is FMIC, may be having an issue with the website developer – contractor - warranting the irregular up dates; which from all intents and purposes negate the current rebranding drive by the government being championed by Prof. Akunyili.

Above all, industry observers called on Akunyili and her ministry to refocus the official website of the government in all aspects; be it ministerial and presidential as most of the information are currently sought after by foreign researchers and media practitioners, which cannot impact any change with obsolete content.

FMIC affirims site dsyfunction:
But affirming the efficacy of the exclusive report by ITRealms Online, the Federal government, a week later, on May 19, said it regretted the dysfunction of the official website, www.nigeria.gov.ng, and announced the debut of two new sites; www.fmic.gov.ng and www.nigeriarebrands.com.

Also, FMIC said, Prof. Akunyili regretted the inconveniences the dysfunctional national portal must have caused the public, according to a press statement issued by the Director, Information Technology in the ministry, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote.

While acknowledging the report, she attributed the dysfunctional and inaccessibility of FG’s official website to a disagreement with the Internet Service Provider (ISP) contractor, which has taken long time than expected to resolve.

“This unfortunate situation compelled the Ministry to launch a new website which became up and running ...,” part of the statement read, as Mrs. Odusote added that the two new websites were in pursuit of its rebranding campaign.

“As part of the Re-branding Nigeria Project, the FMIC recently launched a new website, www.fmic.gov.ng, which will avail Nigerians and foreigners timely and important information about the people and government of Nigeria,” she said, stressing that it would help the government to have an interactive polling system to engage Nigerians through a seamless feedback mechanism on policies and programmes.

Even as the ministry had set up another website, www.nigeriarebrands.com, specifically for the re-branding Nigeria project, which will contain all materials relating to the scheme.

“The two websites are up and running as they are regularly updated,” she said, enjoining that as efforts are underway to resolve all issues surrounding the national portal, www.nigeria.gove.ng, Nigerians and foreigners alike who desire information on the country to take advantage of visiting www.fmic.gov.ng or www.nigeriarebrands.com.

What’s a website?
Website, defined by experts at the Princeton University as a computer connected to the internet that maintains a series of web pages on the World Wide Web (www); another experts at wiktionary.org said a website, is a collection of web pages, images, sound, video and files to name a few, linked together and available on the www, basically on a given subject with a home page.

Akunyili solicits support:
In her epistle to Nigerians, especially Internet enthusiasts, the Minister of Information, Prof. Akunyili noted that all people, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or age, should be allowed to recognize the development issues they themselves face, participate in addressing them and enjoy the fruits of such endeavours.

For this reason, she said, FG came up with a brand new website to re-evaluate how best it could reach the populace and provide them with a veritable platform to contribute towards this all inclusive war to reform, re-engineer and reposition our great country for the 21st century development race.

The new website of the FMIC, she said, is the Nigerian government’s way of acknowledging the relevance of its citizens as key allies in the sustainable advancement of the country.“I therefore pray that whatever information you think we need to populate this site or whatever you think that is not available in it, do not hesitate to communicate to us,” she urged

NIG on FG’s stale website:
Commenting on the stale website of the federal government, the chief executive officer, PiNet Informatics and President of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, told ITRealms Online that though the story of government’s website going static and projecting stale information is not peculiar to Nigeria.gov.ng, managed by the Ministry of Information and Communication, as it has become a common trend in almost all Nigerian Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA).

As said by him, what makes the case of Nigeria.gov.ng worrisome is the fact that it was meant to be an authoritative source of official information about the Federal Republic of Nigeria with links to other MDA’s portals. “It ought to be the default location for anyone looking for information about the government of Nigeria and such information should be authoritative,” he said.

Un-updated site casts doubts:
Ajayi pointed out that when information on such portal is not updated, it cast doubt in the mind of visitors on the genuineness of the claim of the website to being the official website of government, thus portraying the government as not living up to its responsibilities.

Underlining the fact that a number of visitors may have even based their entire judgment of the country completely on the state of the official government portal, hence, Ajayi said, it is important that due attention is paid to such a website.

He canvassed for the appropriate government agencies in charge of Information Technology to ensure that this website and other ones by the other MDAs are kept up to date including the newly created two websites. “Rules guiding the set up and management of government website should be set and compliance to the set rules should be ensured by appropriate regulatory agency,” he declared.

Noteworthy is that as at last week ending Saturday, June 20, 2009, the new website www.fmic.gov.ng, has generated over 8,359 visitors. Based on this analogy hitherto, it shows that an average of over 200 visitors per day visited the site daily in the last one month.

Therefore, it is commendable for the technical session of the ministry led by Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, to come up with the two websites within a short time after the staleness was exposed.

And as the team continue to maintain the ministry’s website, there is overtly the need to involve other technical sections of MDAs, to harmonize their individual websites, because, it is not enough to provide links to them from www.fmic.gov.ng only to meet a stumbling block of yet un-updated website as obtained currently.

Even as rebranding website could easily pass for an extension of Akunyili’s personal exploits, rather than what it was meant to deliver. Although, it should have been better to simply collapse the two websites in order to optimise the value, more so if efforts at updating the two sites pose hiccups.

The good news, however, is that even www.nigeria.gov.ng has partly repositioned by trying a subtle update, as the likes of Dr. Alhassan Bako Zaku has taken possession at Ministry of Science and Technology and Mrs. Njeze rightly routed at Ministry of Agriculture among others.

But essentially, FMIC must ask itself some relevant questions of how redeemable www.nigeria.gov.ng will be eventually and how long it could take to settle the differences with the contractor. These are imperative because ours is ours and that of the Ministry remain its own. Nigeria as a nation needs its own information gateway online. As a result, the earlier the issues surrounding the www.nigeria.gov.ng is resolved, the better for the nation, otherwise, it should as matter of urgency be brought down pending such a time when peace will prevail.

As an information resource, website may provide information on any topic on earth, therefore, for a nation like Nigeria, battling with rebranding syndrome, it is fundamentally crucial to urgently fix its information gate at this era, even as website has been described as a market place that never gets closed; because as one country is going to bed, another is awake for business and runs for 365 days in a year.

And like one observer noted recently after the report on stale website, “if you have the right information plus a dysfunctional website it equals to a colossal failure in the efforts at rebranding Nigeria.” So, Nigeria needs to leverage on this aspect of the Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D), if the rebranding campaign must succeed by building upon the current efforts seen in recent weeks with the debut of dual websites by FMIC.

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2.3 Ghz controversy: Reps set to release Report

Lower house of the National Assembly, the House of Representatives, would this week receive the report from the House committee on Communications on the lingering 2.3 Gega Hertz (GHz) controversy.

This is coming as the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has cautioned the Federal Government (FG) over its ‘sidon look’ attitude on the matter, saying that its intervention is of national importance.

Chairman, House Committee on Communications, Mr. Dave Salako made this disclosure at the weekend, while fielding questions from newsmen after leading his team on facility tour of the fifth Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator, Etisalat Nigeria’s data centre, at Lekki, Lagos.

Salako who was responding to the query that the lower house of the National Assembly and his committee precisely have been adamant over the protracted controversy surrounding 2.3 GHz sale recently, exonerated the house from such attitude, but rather said that they have taken various steps to ensure that a lasting solution prevails at the end of the day.

According to him, the House Committee on Communication had earlier invited all the feuding parties, especially the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili and leadership of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) under the Executive Vice Chairman, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe.

Also, Salako said, that his Committee is not just folding its arms watching the crisis degenerate and that they were actually at the final stage of compiling their reports, which is likely to be presented to the house this week.

He equally assured Nigerians that they are doing everything possible to make sure that investments in the country, especially that of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) are not undermined in any way that would further aggravate the poor image of the nation internationally.

Meanwhile, ALTON has cautioned the federal government not to take the 2.3GHz controversy seating down, and brace up to the occasion by making certain that its intervention supports the rule of law and of internationally accepted best practices.

They warned that the global telecommunications community, is watching the Nigerian market and these developments with keen interest.

ALTON said, the intervention of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s Federal Government (FG) on the controversial sale of 2.3 Gega Hertz (GHz), has become of the essence to protect the integrity of the nation.

Chairman and publicity secretary of ALTON, Messrs Gbenga Adebayo and Damian Udeh, noted in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, that this intervention has become vital for the sustenance of the nation’s telecommunications industry and even spur the continuous growth and development of the nascent telecommunications industry.

The intervention, ALTON insisted, has become very important in the face of the controversies the 2.3GHz has generated in the past weeks, expressing concern for appropriate and prompt intervention by the presidency.

“This intervention is of the essence to preserve the continuous growth and development of our yet nascent telecommunications industry,” ALTON warned.

ALTON further pointed out that the independence and stability of the regulatory function is a prerequisite for the evolution and sustainable development in the telecommunications industry.

“Global best practice in developed and emerging markets advocates the separation of the regulatory function and oversight from government functions, which seek to protect the modern day regulator from interferences, and this has been reduced into statute in Nigeria by the provisions of the Nigeria Communications Act 2003,” he said.

In a related development, the alleged petitioner that purportedly led to the imbroglio, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Galaxy Wireless, has opened up to say that it did not petition anybody, be it the ministry, minister or the presidency.

Though Galaxy Wireless agreed it was not pleased with the outcome of the frequency sale, it has referred the matter to its attorney, according to the manager, media relations of the company, Ms Joy Idoko, in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online.

ITRealms Online recalls that the minister had alleged that based on the petition from Galaxy Wireless over its inability to clinch the 2.3G frequency to her office that she initiated complaint to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which culminated in the invitation of the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe.

Whereas Galaxy was disqualified for its inability to make payment on time, the Ministry alleged lack of due process in the entire exercise based on the alleged petition.

While successful companies, included Mobitel Nigeria Limited, Spectranet Limited and Multilinks Telkom Limited, according to NCC.

However, reacting to media reports on the issue, Galaxy Wireless said it did not petition President Umaru Yar’Adua or any person either, directly or indirectly regarding the recent controversial licensing of national frequencies in the 2.3GHz band by NCC.

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Starcomms says iZap is revolutionary

Leading Code Multiple Access Operator (CDMA) operator, Starcomms Limited, has said that its iZap is revolutionary and keen on changing the face of internet business in more cities nationwide.

Chief executive officer, Starcomms, Mr. Maher Qubain, said that in the quest to make premium data services on its network available in more parts of the country,
Starcomms Plc, has connected Ibadan and Calabar with iZap.

He described iZap as the award-winning super fast broadband data service launched into the market with lots of excitement.

According to him, with iZap in both Ibadan and Calabar, Starcomm’s business-minded subscribers now have the opportunity to upload and download large data files and emails with attachements while ‘on-the-go.’

“Whenever existing iZAP users find themselves in these cities, they can now conveniently use their devices as if they had not travelled out of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt where they operated from,” he said.

Also, he noted that with Starcomms data customers in these cities can upgrade to the super-fast device for premium services.

He explained that apart from the effectivensss of iZAP, the introduction of the package in the two cities will further empower Nigerians to become masters of their own destinies, with the diverse opportunities that the service presents for entrepreneurs, professionals, students, cyber café operators as well as tertiary institutions communities.

Qubain further said that Starcomms is always happy to provide telecommunications solution in areas around the country.

“We are proud to say that the extension of iZAP to Ibadan and Calabar is just the beginning of a fresh move by Starcomms to provide fast data service in more cities where the need for it is pressing,” he declared.

Additionally, he said, Starcomms recognize the fact that business takes the existing iZAP subscribers to major cities in the country, therefore giving them the opportunity to make use of their data services for their various transactions.

“It is also important to us that we are bringing a super-fast data service to Ibadan and Calabar where it can enhance activities in the two cities iZAP will go a long way in solving their data problems Starcomms prides itself in the culture of bringing world class innovative products and services for the benefit of its subscribers at affordable prices as a continuing business strategy,’ he said.

He equally disclosed that it is the plan of the company to make internet access available to everybody.

“That is why for instance, we have introduced the 1x CDMA data service to Maiduguri,” he said.

Stressing that data services users in Maiduguri, for instance, will be offered as part of the package of their 1x internet service.

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Etisalat gets pioneer status

•As Reps applaud service

The fifth Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator, Etisalat Nigeria, has been granted pioneer status for its entry into the nation’s telecommunications market.

Even as the company has been commended for maintaining steady quality of service on its network.

Making this disclosure at the weekend during the visit of House Committee on Communication, the Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Dikko, said it was granted the status soon after the telco launched commercial operations in the country, last year.

He said that the pioneer status is necessary to enable the company to operate for some period with tax grace, more so in an environment like Nigeria, so as to enable investors to recover a little of their financial ventures, which usually are ploughed back into the market for further development of the network.

He also applauded the interest of the House committee in knowing whether the telecom operator has benefited from this, although he was not specific of how long the pioneer status would last.

According to him, it is critical to note that as a new operator, the company is not likely to make profits in the next three years.

“This is to encourage pioneers to come and invest in a country like Nigeria…. It is likely we are not going to make profit in the next three years,” he said.

Before now, ITRealms Online recalls that first entrants in this market were granted a five-year grace as pioneer status by the relevant government agencies, led by the Nigeria Import-Export Promotion Council.

Meanwhile, members of the House Committee on Communications, have commended Etisalat for the kind of quality of service it’s offering to Nigerians, mostly based on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recent key performance indicator.

They gave this commendation during a visit to Etisalat’s data centre in Lekki-Lagos, led by the committee chairman, Mr. Dave Salako.

ITRealms Online also recalls that the regulator, NCC had rated Etisalat as the number one GSM company in the country in terms of quality of service in the last published key performance indicator.

Speaking at the occasion, Salako expressed satisfaction at Etisalat’s outstanding quality of service as indicated by the NCC report and commended the company for the huge investment so far made in the country.

The committee also urged the company to continue giving Nigerians outstanding and qualitative service as a way of gaining competitive advantage.

While charging other GSM operators to wake up to the challenge posed by the rating through provision of good and quality service to Nigerians, Salako noted that this has become necessary to ensure that subscribers get value for their money by offering quality and friendly services.

Equally speaking, the chief executive officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Steve Evans, reaffirmed the company’s commitment to qualitative and world-class service for which it is known for in all the countries where Etisalat has operational presence.

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MTN Foundation extends rural projects to 30 states

MTN Nigeria Foundation has extended its Rural Telephone Project (RTP) to 30 states, with a target of 3,000 entrepreneurs nationwide.

The project is being delivering in collaboration with the Growing Business Foundation, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and three micro finance institutions.

The Executive Secretary, MTN Nigeria Foundation, Ms Nonny Nduka-Eze, told newsmen at a briefing in Lagos and said that the project heralds the fourth phase of MTNF rural project which will potentially serve as a catalyst for telephony services in the rural area and poverty eradication as well as wealth creation.

According to her, the project is to provide sustainable means of livelihood for rural women through the provision of telecommunications services, which serves as the flagship project under the Economic Empowerment portfolio of MTNF.

The rural project initially launched seven years ago with five key beneficiaries in Enugu State, she said, today boasts of over 1,500 rural entrepreneurs across 20 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“We have several success stories, the presence of one of the Ogene Multipurpose Cooperative Society is a demonstration of the success of the Rural Telephone Project,” she said, noting that the group was set by the first set of RTP women beneficiaries.

Today, she said, they have become employers of labour and even built a recognized Microfinance institution.

She also said that MTNF assessment of RTP indicated that wealth creation for phone ladies is on the average total income increasing by 200 per cent, which means that women can provide better for children and extended family members.

Equally, she recognized the fact that increased opportunities is available for the phone ladies, thereby, increasing the social status of women, just as the capacity building of micro finance institutions helps to enhance productivity in the community due to access to telecommunications services.

“Thousands of rural dwellers can now access telecommunications as a result of the project,” she said.

In the current phase of the project, Ms Nduka-Eze said that MTNF hope to provide ‘start-up’ loans for 3,000 entrepreneurs spread across 30 states of the federation.

“The loans will be administered by micro-finance institutions through Growing
Business Foundation,’ she said.

Stressing that the loan usually will be converted to phones, antennae, solar chargers, Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards and recharge cards, all the tools needed for the business.

Additionally, she said, MTNF would provide other tools of trade including branded parasol umbrellas, banners, money pouch, tables and chairs, free-of-charge.

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AISA tasks stakeholders on safe internet culture among children

Stakeholders in the nation’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have been tasked on promotion of safe Internet culture among Nigerian children and young people.

This, they said would be done by making it a national priority of the African government towards the establishment of an African Children Cyber Safety Initiative (ACCSI).

A Lagos-based industry non-governmental organisation, the African Information Security Association (AISA) made this call at the end of its one-day forum on the theme of this year’s commemoration of the World Information Society Day (WISD) 2009 in Lagos, recently.

A communiqué made available to ITRealms Online from AISA, charged stakeholders to sustain collaborative efforts towards promoting a safe Internet culture among children and young people on the continent.

The forum also urged all stakeholders to give it serious consideration so as to help stem the tide of dangers that children and young people are exposed to online, observing that through massive internet awareness campaign targeted particularly at parents, educators and counsellors, this could be achieved.

While calling on children, young persons, parents, educators to make it a point of duty to always participate in information security activities, AISA said, all concerned stakeholders need to help bridge the existing gap between the parents and children on one hand and the teachers and students on the other.

“This should be done with a view to providing the much needed avenue through which the activities of children and young people on the Internet can be monitored and controlled. Imperative to this is the need for parents and teachers to develop their IT skills,” part of the communiqué read.

In addition, AISA urged parents to take interest in the cyberspace activities of their children byway of installing relevant parental control software and appropriate online protection tools on their systems to help monitor and control what their children do online.

“Against the reality of ravaging moral decadence in the society, all stakeholders are called upon to join hands towards moral regeneration in the society. The much cherished cultural values of self-respect, respect for others and dignity must be restored in our society,” the group said.

The communiqué endorsed by the Convener of the forum and founder, AISA, Mr. Jide Awe, stressed the need for children and young people to adopt well established Internet etiquette (Netiquette) while online.

“Children and young people who patronize cybercafes should avoid and blacklist cybercafes where illegal online activities are condoned,” AISA advised, enjoining all professionals within the ICT industry to adopt self regulation mechanisms towards reducing the prevalence of unethical materials online.

Internet Service Providers (ISP), AISA noted, should be actively involved in promoting information security for children while carrying out their business.

“They should show more social responsibility by participating actively in forums and related initiatives of this nature. Their absence at today’s forum speaks volumes,” the group decried.

Equally, they called on African governments to enact legislation to give boost to appropriate Internet policing.

“Besides, the law enforcement agencies should be empowered to adequately deal with cybercrimes,” the group said, pointing out that rrelevant government agencies, by way of promoting public good, should live up to their regulatory responsibilities by guaranteeing that cybercafés and service providers enhance information security particularly for children going online.

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Ericsson partners GHF, WMO on climate change

Global leader in telecommunications infrastructure, Ericsson, is partnering with the Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, on a major climate change initiative, tagged “Weather Info for All”.

The partnership, according to the Marketing Communications Manager for Ericsson West Africa, Mr. Olabode Sowunmi, would radically improve Africa’s weather monitoring network in the face of the growing impact of climate change.

Recalling that a recent Global Humanitarian Forum report estimated that climate change is responsible for some 300,000 deaths each year and over USD 100 billion worth of economic losses, mainly because of shocks to health and agricultural productivity.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the report stated, accounts for close to a quarter of these losses, and is the region at the most immediate risk of droughts and floods.

Agricultural yields in some areas are expected to fall by 50 per cent as early as 2020.The partnership will see to deployment of about 5,000 new automatic weather observation stations across Africa, intending to provide a massive increase in crucial information to predict and manage climate shocks.He noted that Africa has a network eight times below the WMO minimum recommended standard, and less than 200 weather stations that meet WMO observation requirements, compared to several thousand each in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia.

“The 5,000 weather stations will be installed at new and existing mobile network sites throughout the continent over coming years, in what promises to save lives and bring increased economic opportunity to tens of millions of people,” he said in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online last weekend.

Equally, he said, the innovative public-private partnership on a unique scale, relies on the core business of telecom, hence, Ericsson, the world’s leading provider of telecommunications equipment and services, will tap relationships with African operators such as Zain, who will host the weather equipment at mobile network sites being rolled out across Africa.

Pointing out that achieving the 5,000 target would require additional operator commitment and external financing. Speaking at the launch, President and CEO of Ericsson, Mr. Carl-Henric Svanberg said that as the leader in telecommunications infrastructure provisioning on the continent of Africa, they are motivated to rapidly expand mobile communications.

“This initiative presents a unique opportunity to simultaneously help mitigate the impact of climate change for those most affected and to strengthen weather networks and systems across the continent. We look forward to having more operators come on board to realize the full impact of the initiative,” he said.

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FOSSFA links up with European hub

The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), is set to link up with the European hub of open source cum Information and Communication Technology (ICT) hub located in Berlin.

This comes as top executives and staff across of FOSSFA embark on intercontinental working tour.

Leader of the FOSSFA team on working tour and council chairman, Ms. Nnenna Nwakanma, said they would be on the longest out-of-the continent working trip to Berlin, Europe’s Open Source hub.

“The Foundation’s executives and staff from the Western, Eastern and Southern Africa shall be touring Berlin and its environs for one full week,” she said.

According to her, the FOSSFA team, among other activities shall be working with The Technology Foundation Berlin, which supports selected technology sectors mainly through networking.

Noting that as the Berlin centre of innovation it brings science and Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) together for innovation on the Open Source Business Foundation, has its members cut across companies, institutions and persons inspired by open source software.

Nwakanma also said that the highpoint of the visit will be Linux Tag, which is about Europe’s oldest Linux Tradefair, which normally registers 12,000 attendees. Other organizations and events scheduled include Open Berlin, The Open Source Business School, LiSOG, newthinking, Linux Association, LXDE, and Linux Verband.

Parallel to these, she said, is FOSSFA and Inwent - Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklung gGmbH is dedicated to ICT@INNOVATION.

The joint project serves the need of Open Source SMEs in Africa, even as the team shall also join the Linux Professionals Institute (LPI) in the celebration of their 10th anniversary.

Nwakanma further said the mission will be marked as a monument in time within FOSSFA.

“It is my firm belief that we shall build ties that shall spread across Africa, Europe and beyond, to the global open source community. The study tour represents an opportunity for Africa to learn, exchange, showcase and engage at the highest levels of open source innovation and industry,” she said.

Over the past two months the teams in Berlin, Bonn, Accra, Kampala and Johannesburg, she said, have been building up steam towards this mission and expectations are running very high, excitements are almost overwhelming, and the passion for this open source “package” can best be described as ‘feverish’.

ICT@INNOVATION International Coordinator, Andrea Goetzke and Geraldine de Bastion, Tour Lead, said they are looking forward to the tour and to welcome their colleagues from Africa to Berlin.

“Not only the LinuxTag but a number of exciting FOSS events are taking place this week - so if you are working with FOSS and would like to make new contacts and widen your network Berlin is the place to be,” they said.

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Lack of political will, greatest enemy of e-voting – NCS

The President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof Charles Uwadia, has identified lack of political will as the greatest challenge facing the nation in the adoption of electronic voting (e-Voting).

Prof. Uwadia who was speaking to newsmen in Lagos, last weekend, on the first national stakeholders’ forum on e-Voting system scheduled for Kaduna from June 30 to July 2, this year, also said there cannot be good governance without an enduring electoral process through the deployment of Information Technology (IT) in every aspect of the process.

The NCS boss said there is a strong correlation between good governance and the people empowered to govern any given society.

“As Nigerians, we all yearn for good things of life, we want power (energy) 24 hours of the day; we want good roads and quality education. We want good medical care and good environment, all these of course, cannot happen except we have good governance.
There is need for transparency and accountability,” he said.

Prof. Uwadia further said that by leveraging on IT in future elections the country will be sure that that the right people get into governance to the meet the aspirations of the electorates.
In addition, he said, the idea has been receiving favourable responses from stakeholders just as NCS intends to push for an experimental pilot scheme in 2011.

“Elections in most nations of the world with enviable democratic platform have over the years been conducted electronically. Nigeria cannot and should not be an exception. We do not have to use e-voting in all the states, we could run pilots in some states for assessment,” he said.

Assuring that the regular disputes over election results will be reduced with e-voting, he said that the application of e-voting has become a necessary part of global campaign for increased electoral integrity.

As said by him, stakeholders’ forum scheduled for Hamdala Hotel, Kaduna, is expected
to have in attendance, the President, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the chief judge of the federation, the secretary to the government of the federation, the minister of information and communication, minister of science and technology, the minister of justice and attorney general of the federation as well as the state governors.

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US digital switch over gulps N298bn

United States (US) government has said it spent over $2 billion (about N298 billion) on the recent switch over from analogue to digital broadcasting.

ITRealms Online recalls that US television viewers were bombarded with a series of adverts warning them that the analogue signal would be switched off penultimate Friday.

The government also issued coupons worth $40 each, to cover most of the mailing cost of 60 million coupons to households.

The Commerce Department said it received 319,990 requests for the coupons, nearly four times the daily average for the past month, a day preceding the deadline.

About one million households in the United States were faced with blank television
screens after stations switched off their analogue signal on Friday, June 12, 2009, which saw a last-minute rush to buy converter boxes and digital television sets.

Although some TV stations chose exactly when to cut their analogue signals, with many waiting until late at night.

Television stations, electronics stores and the government said most of the calls they received on Friday were from people who needed help setting up their converter boxes, Associated Press reported.

Some had thought digital broadcasting began last week and had not realised they could have been using the boxes to receive digital stations for years.

Unlike the United Kingdom, where the analogue signal is being switched off region by region, the United States decided to pull the plug in one go, across the nation.

This has led to accusations that some groups, especially the elderly and the low income households, have been left behind in the digital rush.

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ICANN appoints new CEO

The search for a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICAAN) would end on Friday June 26, as the body expects to be in a position to approve the selection of the new CEO at the Board Meeting in Sydney same day.

The position became vacant at the ICANN meeting in Mexico City in March 2009, when the current President and CEO, Dr Paul Twomey, announced that he would not seek renewal of his contract, which ends this year.

Since then the board has been engaged in the process of recruiting a new CEO for the global internet coordinating body.

The ICANN board hired Egon Zehnder International to conduct a world-wide search for the next CEO.

ITRealms Online recalls that Egon Zehnder received over 100 applications in response to the ICANN notice, reviewed approximately 1000 possible candidates on their databases, and from these lists approached over 300 potential candidates. There was significant diversity of gender, nationality, and country of residence amongst the candidates.

The board approved a Board Search Committee (BSC) comprised of Dennis Jennings (Chair, Board Governance Committee), Harald Alvestrand (Chair, Board IANA Committee), Rajasekhar Ramaraj (Chair, Board Finance Committee), Rita Rodin Johnston (Chair, Board Audit Committee), and Peter Dengate-Thrush (Chair, Board Compensation Committee and ICANN Board Chair).

The BSC reviewed the resumes of candidates recommended by Egon Zehnder and conducted interviews of a short list of eight (8) candidates via video conference, based on five broad areas of namely leadership, political, technical board and management skills respectively.

On the leadership, the committee looked at the demonstrated leadership skills, strategic thinking capability, demonstrated capacity to build trust and on political aspect, they examined diplomacy skills at an international level with heads of state among others, international expertise and experience - sensitivity to multiple cultures, work experience in several countries, Internet community credibility - sense of history of Internet – and an ability to listen to and appreciate different points of view, and to work with the diverse stakeholder groups within ICANN – GNSO, ccNSO, ASO, ALAC, GAC, IETF to name a few.

Also on the technical skills, the committee looked at the technical understanding based on the ability to listen and interact with the Internet technical community, presentation skills, making it possible to give interviews, speeches and so on as well as on highly complex topics such as International Domain Names (IDN) like the Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs), policy development skills - ability to motivate and support ICANN volunteer organisations and build consensus around a plan despite obstacles.

While on board skills, applicants were engaged on their experience on dealing with a large and diverse board,

Other areas were management skills, which encompassed their ability to manage staff, planning and budgeting, team building, and experience of managing a global not-for-profit, for-profit, or governmental organisation of approximately the present size of ICANN.

The BSC was particularly pleased to hear from Egon Zehnder that several candidates from within the ICANN community had applied for the role, and that these candidates had great strengths in several of the criteria considered above.

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Chams hosts channel partners’ forum

Chams Plc has assured its channel partners of better business deals ahead, according to the Group Managing Director, Mr. Demola Aladekomo.

He gave this assurance at the one-day forum for the company’s channel partners at the just concluded CardExpo in Lagos.

While singling out DataCard, one of the partners, Mr. Aladekomo noted that their partnership has been in existence for decades, saying that with collaboration current growing between the two companies, the firm has become the largest electronic card centre in the country.

Regional Manager for Africa at DataCard, Mr. Ian Brown, said that it was exciting to note that their partnership exceeds decades and called for continuous upholding of the modalities that made the partnership a success in the past.

Meanwhile, Chams Nigeria Plc, weekend, finalized plans to deploy additional thousands of Paymaster brand of Point-of-Transaction (PoT) terminals across the country, worth millions of Naira.

This follows conclusion of discussions with its international partners: Daewoo Corporation and Bitel, both from South Korea.

Upon this completion, Paymaster Limited, a subsidiary of Chams dedicated to providing electronic payment solutions, is expected to commence immediate deployment of the terminals to different merchants for use in their outlets.

Currently, Paymaster has deployed over a 1,000 PoT terminals at various merchant sites including supermarkets, eateries, restaurants, bars and other sites.

The Acting Managing Director, Paymaster Limited, Mr. Charles Uwagbale, said the development, affords the firm to embark on more new projects.

Uwagbale noted that the firm believes that the next area of growth in the Nigerian electronic payment sector was that of PoT terminals, which have been slow to catch on partly due to challenges with telecommunications network as well as the limited education on the benefits of the system.

He also said that Nigerians would experience greater convenience in business transaction once they embraced the use of PoT terminals, especially as this would result of increased cashless transaction.

“Nigerians have embraced ATM cards use in a very impressive manner in the last five years. However, we believe that the revolution cannot be complete without an effective cashless system based on the use of PoT terminals. This is what Chams through Paymaster intends to deliver in the country over the next few months,” he said.

Uwagbale equally disclosed that the choice of Bitel and Daewoo as its international project partners was based on their years of experience as well as the proven reliability of the solutions they provide.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

MTN partners CRI on emergency lines

Leading mobile telecommunications operator in the country, MTN Nigeria, has partnered the Critical Rescue International (CRI) with two emergency lines for its subscribers use nationwide.

Speaking at the launch held in Surulere-Lagos, the chief marketing officer, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Bola Akingbade, said the telecom operator is providing 191 for medical advisory services and 933 for emergency calls for MTN teeming subscribers in the country, otherwise called MTN Care lines.

According to him, MTN is in the partnership to facilitate the services of CRI to all its customers, while CRI is the main service provider, stressing that though the service is currently available in the cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, it is intended to be extended to other parts of the country.

“MTN is your link to a good medical care in case of emergency,” he declared.

In his input at the launch, the medical director of CRI, Dr. Akin Akinjolire, said the outfit was incorporated in
2001 with the mission to save lives by offering effective emergency health services to Nigerians, therefore it became the first of a national advanced medical paramedic company.

“We are in business to manage medical emergencies wherever and whenever they occur in our area of operation,” he said, and on hand to deliver the innovative services is a team of uniquely qualified international and local medical personnel.

He also said that they offer 24/7 services and is keen at offering first aid training for corporate staff, which would be a constant feature of this partnership with MTN, especially via its MTN’s 21 Day’s of Y’ello Care campaign.

Equally, he invited other corporate citizens in the country to join forces with the likes of MTN among others who already have partnership with CRI in extending the emergency services to Nigerians.

CRI, he said, has grown since its inception and the Emergency Call Centre currently offers a wide range of
services besides the dispatching of CRI ambulances.

ITRealms Online recalls that also through its Zain 112 emergency line CRI patches any emergency care service needed within the Nigerian nation - state fire, state police and state ambulance services.

The Call Centre, he said, further provides for any other kind of medical assistance, ranging from telephonic medical advice, arranging of specialist appointments, both locally and abroad, home visits, and ambulance standbys to Air Medical Evacuation.

Besides, he said, CRI organises first Aid, CPR and Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS) training and provides staffing and procurement solutions to companies nationwide.

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NCS, INEC to host e-Voting forum

The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have concluded plans to hold a three-day stakeholders forum on Electronic Voting (e-Voting) system in the country.

Disclosing this at a press briefing in Alausa-Lagos secretariat of the society, NCS president, Prof. Charles Uwadia, said that the first-ever national forum on e-Voting is a follow-up to the retreat organised last year in collaboration with INEC in Asaba, Delta State.

He described e-Voting as a response to the quest to make voting convenient and results to accurately reflect the wishes of the electorates.

Uwadia noted that the electoral system in the country is basically manual with semi-automated processes, while registration is electronic, he said, that voting and ballot counting are done manually.

“This has not produced the desired results leading to several cases of election malpractices, such as mass thumb printing of ballot papers, stuffing of ballot boxes and snatching same, impersonation and multiple registration as well as manipulation of election results,” he said.

As said by him, quite a number of election results have been disputed with some of the cases still pending in election tribunals.

The fundamental challenge facing electoral process, he said, is that of assuring that votes are recorded as cast and tabulated accurately.

“This could be achieved in Nigeria by the adoption of electronic voting system and the application of electronic voting has today become a necessary part of global campaign for increased electoral integrity,” Uwadia observed.

Stressing that elections, in most nations of the world with enviable democratic platform have, over the years been conducted electronically, Nigeria cannot and should not be an exception.

He pointed out that based on the aforementioned NCS in conjunction with INEC has chosen to host the stakeholders’ forum on e-Voting system, with the theme:
Stabilizing the Nigerian Democracy Through e-Voting System, which has been scheduled to hold in Kaduna between June 30 and July 2, this year.

He revealed that members of the National Assembly, political parties, the judiciary, Nigerian Bar Association and the media have been lined up to address the three-day occasion among others.

He highlighted some of the core issues to be examined to include electronic voting in Nigeria, issues and challenges; electronic voting models around the world; electronic voting in Nigeria: prospects and solutions; the role of the civil society in actualizing e-voting in Nigeria and the role of the media in actualising e-voting in Nigeria.

Additionally, Prof. Uwadia listed the strategies for enlightenment/education of electorate on e-voting system; legal framework for e-voting in Nigeria; building efficient voter’s registration framework for harmonized national database; issues of communication/power infrastructure and security implications: safeguarding the voters, equipment and the process.

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UK publishes Digital Britain report

UK publishes Digital Britain reportUnited Kingdom (UK) government, weekend, published the Digital Britain Report, which underlining the importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to the nation’s economic future, just as one third of UK adults were reported not online.

According to the release by the Prime Minister, Mr. Gordon Brown, the white paper details how the UK’s communications infrastructure and increased digital participation are key to building a 21st century knowledge economy, reports Nomensa.

Some of the key promises include that achieving universal access to today’s broadband services by 2012 is crucial, even as the Next Generation fund for investment in tomorrow’s broadband services.

The report also called for upgraded mobile networks and national planning to improve digital participation that would engender robust legal and regulatory framework to combat digital piracy.

Additionally, the report seeks support for public service content partnerships and revised digital remit for Channel 4, while funding options for national, regional and local news has been identified as key to this success as well as the programme for digital switchover in public services.

Digital Britain, Mr. Brown said, is about giving the country the tools to succeed and lead the way in the economy of the future.

“This report shows how we will ensure we have a world-class digital and communications infrastructure, that we promote and protect talent and innovation in our creative industries, that we modernize our TV and radio frameworks and support local news,” he declared.

Meanwhile, telecom regulator in Britain, OfCom recent report revealed that nearly 30 per cent of adults still have no Internet at home.

This came barely a week before the proclamation of Digital Britain reports.

However, the new study indicates that one in five adults who do not have the Internet at home is likely to sign-up in the next six months.

Nomensa also reports that the recent Communications Consumer Panel research had revealed that many people already regard it as essential to have broadband at home, hence, the new Ofcom research looked at the reasons that 30 per cent of UK adults do not have the Internet at home and the barriers that prevent such people from taking it up in the future.

As well as why those intending to get the Internet in the next six months are more likely to be younger, use the Internet already outside of the home, are working and have children.

Further, Ofcom found the main reasons for accessing the Internet were centred on accessing information or to find out things scoring 36 per cent; communicating with friends and family got 26 per cent while keeping up with technology was rated 25 per cent as well as because friends and family recommended it scaled up the choice for Internet in UK by 25 per cent.

Equally, the research identified two main groups of people without the Internet who may not currently intend to access the Internet at home to include the self-excluded accounting to about 42 per cent of adults, adducing their main reason for not having the Internet at home linked to lack of interest or need. The self-excluded tend to be older and retired and have never used a computer.

The financially excluded, the report said, accounts for 30 per cent of adults, who stated that their main reason for not accessing the Internet at home was that it was too expensive or that they did not have the knowledge or skills to use it.

Ofcom’s partner for Strategy and Market Development, Peter Phillips, said that broadband is becoming increasingly important to peoples’ ability to participate in the economy and society. Therefore, the research shows some genuine opportunities for policy makers wishing to drive take up of Internet services.

“But it also shows that some creativity will be required if we wish to capture the imaginations of those who have yet to engage with the benefits the Internet may bring,” he suggested.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Impact of ICT on climate change

The impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on climate change cannot be over-emphasized, reports REMMY NWEKE.

Unknown to many dwellers in the Least Developing Countries (LDCs) of the world, including Nigeria, the most populous nation with the largest concentration of blacks on earth, technologies have been rated as one of the key agents for the escalation or otherwise of climate change.

And as a matter of fact, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) could even save about N103.4 trillion, according to a recent report jointly published by independent non-profit entities, The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI).

This is in spite of the clamour for adaptation of technologies to bridge the ever growing digital divide around the globe.

It was not surprising, therefore, that Nigeria is concerned over the evolution, hence the recent signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for increased awareness and sensitization on climate change and related issues between the Federal Government (FG) and the British Government, which was endorsed by the Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odey, and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Bob Dewar, for their respective states.

This MoU came as Nigeria joined the rest of the world recently in celebrating the World Environment Day (WED), which has the theme, “Your planet Needs You. Unite to Combat Climate Change.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Odey noted that problems connected with climate change could be mitigated through collaborative efforts among stakeholders both locally and within the international communities.

The MoU, he said, would establish a framework for the implementation of projects in key areas, such as research into climate change attitudes, impacts and adaptation strategies.

He also said the agreement would help in the areas of emission reduction, technology cooperation, renewable and efficiency energy, in addition to capacity building and public awareness.

The MoU, Odey pointed out, would bring Nigeria and British industries, research and other non-governmental bodies closer; to discuss strategies for increasing and engaging in related climate change answers.

He promised that the FG and British Council will do all it takes to provide resources to support the agreed work plan, and seek appropriate external funding or sponsorship for specific activities.

Reiterating that effective responses to climate change remains an important objective of the Nigerian government and would continue to engage Britain for a closer and positive development, that could reflect government’s active programme of bilateral climate action.

For Mr. Dewar, climate change issue has assumed confronting position to the international community, hence it is a matter for everyone and all countries.

“It is a global issue, requiring a bold and collective solution in reaching an agreement in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, requires that we work together for a common solution that will be important, not just for us, but for our children. We have only one planet,” he asserted.

Dewar stressed that Nigeria was strategic because of its population and leadership role in Africa, noting that the country would play a significant role in ensuring that Africa as a whole has one and balanced voice in Copenhagen.
He noted that the British Government was keen in collaborating with Nigeria in awareness creation, sensitization and technology transfer, in its effort to assist in mitigating the impacts of climate change.

To achieve the objectives, he said the British Council would also need to collaborate with NGOs and the Civil Society Groups in Nigeria, to combat desertification, erosion, flood and deforestation across the federation.

This commitment, especially as Nigeria grows its ICT market comes to play, more so with the recent report by GeSI, entitled “Smart 2020: Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Age,” indicated that through enabling other sectors to reduce their emissions, the ICT industry could decrease global emissions by as much as 15 per cent by 2020 – a volume of CO2 five times its own footprint in 2020.

CO2 is the chemical formula for Carbon dioxide, which is a chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom. Also, carbon dioxide is the number-one reason for man-made climate change. Known as a colourless gas consisting of one carbon and two oxygen atoms; carbon dioxide existing in gas state above -78.5°C and in solid state (dry ice) below -78.5°C among other variables that could change from solid to gas by sublimation.

According to GeSI, transformation in the way people and businesses use technology could reduce annual man-made global emissions by 15 per cent by 2020 and deliver energy efficiency savings to global businesses of over EUR 500 billion (N103.4 trillion).

The report, which was the world’s first comprehensive global study of ICT sector’s growing significance for the world’s climate, was conducted independently by international management consultants, McKinsey & Company, showed that while ICT’s own sector footprint was two per cent, global emissions will almost double by 2020.

“This is countered by the sector’s unique ability to monitor and maximize energy efficiency both within and outside of its own sector could cut CO2 emissions by up to five times this amount. This represents a saving of 7.8 Giga-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2020 – greater than the current annual emissions of either the United States (US) or China,” part of the report read.

Even though, the report added that tele-working, video-conferencing, e-paper, and e-commerce are increasingly commonplace, replacing such physical products and services with their virtual equivalents; de-materialization and substitution, is only one part of six per cent of the estimated low carbon benefits the ICT sector could deliver.

Equally, the report showed that far greater opportunities for emissions savings exist in applying ICT to global infrastructure and industry as well as examined four major opportunities where ICT can make further transformational cuts in global emissions. These exist globally within smart building design and use, smart logistics, smart electricity grids, and smart industrial motor systems.

As explained by the chief executive officer, The Climate Group, Mr. Steve Howard, “PCs, mobile phones, and the web have transformed the way we all live and do business. Global warming and soaring energy prices mean that rethinking how every home and business use technology to cut unnecessary costs and carbon is critical to our environment and economy. Supported by innovative government policy, ICT can unlock the clean green industrial revolution we need to tackle climate change and usher in a new era of low carbon prosperity.”

And for the chair, GeSI, Mr. Luis Neves, the ICT industry is a key driver of low carbon growth and could lead transformation towards a low carbon economy and society.

“The ICT sector must act quickly to demonstrate what is possible, require clear messages from policy makers about targets and continue to radically innovate to reduce emissions,” he said.

While the United Nation’s Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Mr. Achim Steiner, pointed out that the rigorous assessment underlines the world can realize a green economy and make the transition to a low carbon economy.

“It also underlines the crucial importance of the international community reaching a deal on a new climate agreement at the climate convention meeting in Copenhagen in 2009 … Gives us yet another platform for action and yet another compelling reason for reasoned optimism,” Steiner said.

As we look forward towards the growth of ICT to about 4 billion by 2020 with Nigeria already scoring over 70 million mobile communication subscribers within eight years of telecom boom, it is crucial to continue to recognize that the tools have become imperative for the new ‘socially networked’ generation globally, thus, there is a need to see how collectively the global ICT emissions of about 22 per cent could persistently decrease; through the use or adaptation of trends like virtualization of data centres, long-life devices, smart chargers, Next Generation Networks (NGN), and growth of renewable energy consumption by encouraging the usage of solar powered base stations in delivering future sustainable sector growth.

Equally, ICT could help, rather than hamper the fight against climate changes, through ensuring that the ICT sector manage its own rising effect and maintain reduction in emissions from data centres, telecommunications networks, and the manufacture, as well as the use of related inventions, particularly via strictly adhering to type-approvals by the industry regulars like the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) alongside industry interest groups, including the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) among others.

Most of all, the steps taken so far by the government via the recent MoU with Britain is encouraging and should be sustained to aid Nigeria’s aim of reducing its carbon dioxide drastically, while keeping a positive tap on the nation’s Vision 20-2020.

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‘Selling Zain will spell doom’

The allegations that French conglomerate, Vivendi, may buy over the African operations of Zain Group, could spell doom for the company, industry experts predicted at the weekend.

ITRealms Online recalls that reports from Zain Group’s home country, Kuwait, last weekend, indicated that the group has decided to offer its African operations for sale with anticipation that it could climax to about $12 billion, (about N1.7 trillion).

It was also gathered that Zain Group, is reviewing a large number of bids across four continents, comprising Africa, America, Europe and Asia Pacific; Chinese and Indian telcos, to acquire Celtel Africa which was rebranded about 11 months ago to Zain, traversing the African operations.

Even as Zain Group is gearing up for the due diligence on the bids based on the avalanche of offers at its disposal and to give room for proper examination of the offers, thus it is predicted to move upward the anticipated date of conclusion, which was earlier slated for a week to a month.

However, those who hold the position that the proposed plans to dispose Zain Africa may spell doom for the investors, according to ITRealms Online investigations, was predicated on the premise that the number of rebranding that has characterized the telecom company, especially in the Nigeria’s telecommunications industry, which incidentally is touted as the ‘bride’ for the latest bidding, has become worrisome.

Equally, experts who spoke to ITRealms Online noted that the latest offer for sale is coming too soon for Zain Africa, mostly for the Nigeria’s market, arguing that by the frequency in re-acquisition and rebranding, that it would have its own impact on the customer service delivery of the telco, in terms of putting fund into the business, more so, for the investing public.

“The unreliability of investment and even for elementary enhancement of subscribers’ relationship to the brand, leaves out tale of confusions on its shadow with the frequency,” one of our respondents said.

In the past eight years, what is now Zain Nigeria, has transformed from Econet to brief instinct as Vodafone to Vmobile, then Celtel before its latest form.

It is also being highly speculated that Globacom if it can muscle the required fund, then its dream of connecting Africa would have become a leapfrog desire and so, also, is MTN Group, which recently advanced strategies for a merger with India’s Bharti Airtel in the bid to create an estimated $61 billion (about N9 trillion) telecoms giant with tentacles across Africa, Asia and Middle East.

If Vivendi plans scale through, it would be the first French telecom operating company to play in the Nigeria’s telecommunications sector, just as stakeholders are wondering the name Zain may take this time around.

Responding to our inquiries, Head, Corporate Communications, Zain Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Oparah, said, “I‘m afraid I would not be able to comment on the subject.”

Meanwhile, Zain Africa has operations in 16 countries and had in May 2005 invested US$3.36 billion, which underscored Zain’s ambition to become an international telecommunications services provider.

This figure has grown to about $12 billion, which is what Vivendi is prospected to pay for the takeover.

Precisely, on August 1, 2008 Zain Nigeria joined all Celtel operations to rebrand into Zain, even as the move coincided with the linking of the world’s first borderless mobile service ‘One Network’ across two continents on the platform.

Zain also prides itself as a leading mobile operator in sub-Saharan Africa, with over 40 million customers as at March 31, 2009 , while it has presence in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, even as Zain’s operation in Sudan is regarded as part of the Middle East operation.

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TD depends on channel partners – Chimere

General Manager, Marketing at Technology Distributions (TD) Limited, Mrs. Chioma Chimere, has said that the firm depends majorly on its channel partners’ support for all its success.

She also described the company’s channel partners as the corner stone of its ever growing accomplishment in the West African market.

Speaking at the Information Technology (IT) Summit in Ibadan, recently Mrs. Chimere explained why Technology Distributions partners with the likes of Amazing Grace, an Ibadan based reseller.

She said at the summit organized by Amazing Grace Computers as a means of sensitizing the people and governments of Oyo State in view of the need to take the good tidings of the information age beyond the urban cities like Abuja and Lagos, she gave kudos to the organizers for the initiative.

In his keynote entitled “Making the Nigerian Bill Gates” to the occasion attended by school proprietors, principals, policy makers in education, students and the general public, the Permanent Secretary, Osun State Bureau of Computer Services and
Information Technology, Mr. Abiodun O. Ladipo, noted that the digital revolution is here to stay.

He pointed out that computer has become central to everyday living most especially in education, and assists the teacher in the development of the child.

“They are to be used as amplifiers of knowledge that enhances and expands the pupil’s range of information; as parameters of individual capabilities,” he said.

Equally commenting, the Managing Director, Amazing Grace Computers, Pastor Tunji Agboola, said that the time has come for Oyo State to step up and lead other States in the information technology sector, mostly in the region.

He observed that Ibadan is a leading African city in academics judging from the number and age of schools and research institutes in the vicinity.

Just as he stressed that this status makes it mandatory for Ibadan to be a front runner in the information age or else be overtaken by less endowed cities.

Agboola noted that the summit was a clarion call for IT action for all stakeholders in Oyo State and invited the government of Oyo State, educationists, the organized private sector, the media and the general public to take advantage of the Computer for All Project (CAP) to computerize their offices, schools, and homes.

He outlined the benefits of CAP as including its flexibility payment plan of up to three months without a bank guarantee; affordable and durable systems; and value added after sales support.

Further, he made it clear that with CAP, computer users would have the opportunity to bundle their purchases, citing for instance, that a customer could buy all his IT needs – laptops, printers, projector, and smart board – bundled for affordability and convenience.

“CAP offers total IT solutions,” he said.

ITRealms Online recalls that Technology Distributions Limited was set up in 1999 as the pioneer bulk mover of ICT products, which has since emerged the most decorated ICT firm in the country.

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Group asks U.S. to hands off Internet Governance

Group of academicians under the aegis of the Internet Governance Project (IGP) group has demanded an end to the United States’ Department of Commerce (DoC) deal with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), otherwise known as the Joint Project Agreement (JPA).

The group in its comments to the so-called Joint Project Agreement with ICANN recently called on US to take a decisive step in bringing that agreement to a close for the sake of the future of the Internet and ICANN, which presently coordinates its activities globally.

They also called for the engagement of other governments to create stronger and more internationalized legal arrangements that will keep the organization accountable to Internet users.

“It’s time to fish or cut bait on the ‘transition’ of the Internet’s naming and addressing system,” said Dr. Milton Mueller, professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies and chair of IGP’s Scientific Committee.

According to him, after 11 years, either ICANN is ready to be independent or it is not.

“If it still has problems, and it does, let’s take decisive action to fix them,” he declared.

While noting ICANN’s shortcomings, the IGP comment focused its criticism on the Department of Commerce’s Joint Project Agreement with ICANN.

The JPA is a temporary form of supervision that allows the Commerce Department to negotiate goals and priorities for ICANN on a short time frame.

As said by him, the “JPA process is inherently broken,” hence contributing to ICANN’s failings….

“It does nothing but invite the stakeholders in one privileged country to complain to their own government about policy outcomes they don’t like,” IGP said.

Instead of continuing an endless series of renewals and revisions of the JPA, the group argued that the “U.S. government needs to let the JPA expire and immediately initiate an international agreement that completes the transition of ICANN to a stable, accountable form of global governance.”

The group further outlined what the latest agreement should look like to include, the affirmation and formalize the nongovernmental status of ICANN; formally recognize the sovereignty of other national governments over their top level domains; prohibit ICANN from interfering with freedom of expression; ensure the consistency of ICANN’s regulations with antitrust law and nondiscriminatory trade principles; select an appropriate body of national corporate law under which ICANN should operate and dissolve ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee.

“The United States can gain buy-in from other governments for its own model of Internet governance and ensure that the transition does not harm any of its own legitimate interests. But to succeed in completing the transition and to avoid fragmenting the Internet, the U.S. will have to win the acceptance of a critical mass of other countries and peoples,” the group canvassed.

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Oke advises SMEs on ICT

The Managing Director of Ibadan-based Heterogenius System Limited, Mr. Adewumi Oke, has advised Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs (SMEs) in the country to make use of various Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools to advance their businesses, reports DELE OGUNYEMI.

He gave the advice in Ibadan at a roundtable discussion involving business owners and Information Technology (IT) experts on ways to combat the current global financial meltdown.

Mr. Oke said that at these days of global village, most businesses rely on IT to survive such that they could make projections on where they would stand at a specific period of time.

“Information technology tools if well deployed can help small and medium scale businesses to reduce cost of running their day to day activities. It is a known fact the world over that the cost of acquiring ICT skills is paramount to the big companies; they are not taking IT lightly and they are using IT tools by leveraging on it to balance out things,” he declared.

The IT expert also said that in Nigeria, there exist good and relatively cheap professional IT experts that could help small and medium scale enterprises to evolve tailor made special IT packages specifically designed for their businesses” he said.

On ICT tools available to business owners, Mr. Oke said that these tools are known to people by name, but the lack of specific knowledge of these tools and how they could be deployed and applied to help various businesses are the problem.

“Website is a must have for those who have small and medium scale businesses and the benefits derivable from having a functional website transcend imagination because it takes business beyond its border of brick and mortar operations,” he said.

In addition, Oke said that electronic mails (e-mail) is another effective communication tools, while software should be developed to aid business operations and management, such as in accounting packages to manage finance properly, as well as expenses and revenue.

Oke, further charged SMEs, owners to consult thoroughbred IT certified professionals before they spend their money on IT products, noting that every business has its specific need just like some could be made with the general day to day IT tools.

“Most business owners make the mistake of buying or purchasing software off the shelf because it has been used by some other business or similar business, but it should not be like that. A thorough operational need of each business has to be carried out and then the specific needs and areas of interest should be identified and appropriate software acquired, developed or recommended,” he advised.

In addition, he said, SME business owners should learn from the banks, who are all doing banking business “but the software they are using are different from one bank to another, because their operations, target, managements, customers needs are  not always the same.”

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Know your Skype end user licence (12)

New Versions of the Skype Software: Skype, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to add additional features or functions, or to provide programming fixes, updates and upgrades, to the Skype Software.

Skype has no obligation to make available to You any subsequent versions of the Skype Software. You may have to enter into a renewed version of this Agreement, in the event you want to download, install or use a new version of the Skype Software.

3.5 Suspension: Skype may, in its sole discretion and to the maximum extent permitted within Your jurisdiction, modify or discontinue or suspend Your ability to use any version of the Skype Software, and/or disable any Skype Software You may already have accessed or installed without any notice to You, for the repair, improvement, and/or upgrade of the underlying technology or for any other justifiable reason, including but not limited to, circumstances where You, at
Skype’s discretion, are in breach of the Terms, creating problems, possible legal liabilities, or engaging in fraudulent, immoral or illegal activities, or for other similar reasons.

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Ndukwe bags Pillar of Telecom in African award

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Chukwuka Anene Ndukwe, has once again bagged another award, this time, the Pillar of Telecom in Africa prize.

The award which was bestowed on him at a special ceremony to climax the first edition of the West African Information Communications Technology (WAFICT) Congress 2009, which ended in Lagos recently, heralded the formal institution of the African Hall of Fame by IT & Telecom Digest.

The award ceremony, sponsored by 21st Century Technologies, Nigeria’s premier provider of multi-faceted telecom services, was an exclusive gathering of dignitaries from the Nigerian and international telecom sectors.

Encomiums were showered on EVC Ndukwe, for his astral performance in navigating Nigeria’s telecom sector to global reckoning; as subscriber base is currently estimated at 70 million, while foreign direct investment from 2001 till date has surpassed $12 billion.
Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation (CTO), Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, who graced the WAFICT sent in a special message for the award ceremony.
Spio-Garbrah in a text message read at the occasion, said, “Any award to Engr. Ernest Ndukwe by the Nigerian and African ICT community is most richly deserved.”

Also commenting, a Director of the Lagos Business School, Prof. Pat Utomi, describing Ndukwe as a friend, declaring that he was not surprised that he was being honoured for his exemplary work in turning around the nation’s telecoms sector.

“For me, it’s pure joy to watch what you have done at the NCC,” he noted, recalling a magazine feature on emerging CEO’s in the country, which included himself, asserting that Ndukwe had turned out to be the individual who had impacted the society the most of the lot.

Corporate Services Executive, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Wale Goodluck, said “With everybody talking about the success of the telecommunications industry and as somebody who has been here in the industry I can testify without any equivocation, that the biggest factor of the growth of this industry has been the regulatory certainty we have enjoyed in the industry.”

Disagreeing with the opinion that telecom operators were being favoured by the NCC, Goodluck revealed that there have been several occasions in which the MTN and regulators have disagreed and the regulator has even in the past penalized telecom operators.

“Looking at where we are going we have enjoyed a fantastic regulatory regime. It’s only in Nigeria when the analysts all over the world are talking about telecoms industry we don’t hear them using words like immature regulator, or nascent regulator and all the other things they use to write Africa down. When it comes to Nigeria the stability of the regulatory environment, the transparency of the regulatory environment has translated into our ability to source and attract funding as the best way for telecoms investment in Nigeria,” he said.

Emphasizing that from an operator’s point of view, “I would say that what we have witnessed in the last nine years, if we are able to translate it into other sectors of the economy, believe me, Nigeria would be completely out of the doldrums. The sky is the limit,” he declared.

Chief executive, 21st Century Technologies, Mr. Wale Ajisebutu, said, “I admire and identify with Ndukwe, because this is one hero that we must sing; and we must not be tired of showering praises upon him. If we do not applaud our heroes, no one will do this for us; and it will discourage others from performing heroic acts.”

Reacting to some of the comments, Ndukwe expressed surprise at the award as he had no inclination of his investiture into the African Telecom Hall of Fame and dedicated the award to the board and members of staff of the NCC.

He described the Commission as a government agency with a difference.

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