" ITREALMS: October 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ICANN terminates 40 registrars

In 7 Years Global Internet coordinating organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has sacked an estimated 40 registrars in the past seven years, with 2009 recording the highest figure.

Nigeria, ACCE and AU observer status

At the end of a recent four-day conference on Communication Education and Practice in Africa in Accra-Ghana, REMMY NWEKE reports that Nigeria is likely to drive the African Council on Communication Education (ACCE)’s desire for observer status at the African Union (AU).

As Nigeria made a mark into the Security Council of the United Nations, recently it brings to mind the role of Nigeria in the birth, rebirth and sustenance of several African visions including the African Council on Communication Education (ACCE) as well as its resuscitation in recent years.

ACCE is a professional Pan-African organization charged with the responsibility of promoting journalism, development of communication resources in Africa and creating awareness among African policy makers as well as planners on the role of communication in national development.

It is a non-profit-making, non-governmental organization and was formed since 1975 with funding and support from the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Although at inception, ACCE acted as an association of Heads of Schools of Journalism and Communication on the African continent, but later transformed into the only regional organization of Africanist communication scholars and practitioners on the continent, with headquarters in Nairobi-Kenya, until the political crisis on the continent crept into its affairs.

Its activities over the years include communication research, training, workshops, seminars, documentation, in addition to publishing books, monographs, a journal (Africa Media Review), occasional papers, and on top of it a newsletter (Africom).

In July 1983, ACCE established the Institute for Communication Development and Research (ACCE/ICDR) whose main task is to implement the above activities.

However, at the 2009 conference of ACCE held at the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, with the theme, “Communication Education and Practice in Africa – A social contract for the 21st century?” Nigeria assumed the centre stage once again, almost from all the speakers and participants generally. Precisely, in excess of 80 persons that took part in the weeklong conference, over 65 were Nigerians; made up of diaspora members and a bulk resident in the country.

Speaking at the forum, a Sierra Leonean communications scholar, Prof. Cecil Blake, who is of the Department of Africana Studies, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennyslvania, gave a footpath to the organization’s history in a piece, entitled “How we got to Accra, Ghana today from Abuja, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

While full of eulogies for Nigerian chapter of ACCE for keeping the hope of the organization alive despite the seeming crisis that rocked it since 2003, noting that this resulted in a call for a framework that would create structures to seek redress for the increasing difficulties faced by the council at both the governing and operational levels.

“Thanks primarily to the Nigerian chapter of ACCE; the council has continued to function at the national level, preserving, at least, its name. Signs of a protracted crisis for the council were detected at the Abuja convention. To compound the problem, however, the host country Nigeria manifested an intergenerational rift that became so apparent that it nearly marred the convention. The intergenerational rift required immediate attention,” he declared.

In view of this, Prof. Blake said, a peace and reconciliation committee was organized and thanks to its diligent work, the rift did not result in the collapse of the council at the national level, in addition to a council of elders formed and presided by himself among others.

He, however, prayed that ACCE will rise up with the latest meeting and position itself as the harbinger of ‘good’ as in moral communication, as the on-going to engage the African development problems with a strong and firm emphasis on African ethos and agency.

Also, Prof. Blake, sought the manifestation of African governance, the reduction of blatant corruption grafts and personal aggrandizement, the rule of law which is neither absent nor strange in African tradition and culture, but required the collective robust attention of ACCE members, stressing that Africa has a rich and lofty tradition of core principles that surpass even those enunciated by some outside the continent who are using African brightest brains to detect how to govern Africa.

Equally, one unique point that arose from that conference was the call made by a Nigerian communications guru, Prof. Alfred Opubor, who canvassed for African Union (AU) to offer ACCE an observer status to further strengthen the professional group and African continent particularly.

Prof. Opubor who is the Secretary-General, West African News-media and Development Centre (WANAD), said in his address to the ACCE-09 at the, last weekend, Prof. Opubor, said that the group should seek for an observer status in the continental meet for African leaders.

Additionally, he advised, that ACCE should partner with the private sectors to boost its viability on the continent so as to contribute its quota in bridging the digital communication gap between professionals and the ordinary citizens. He pointed out that this would facilitate experts within ACCE membership to communicate and impress the essence of the group and on repositioning of Africa through qualitative communications education on the continent’s leadership.

In her presentation at the occasion, Head, Department, Mass Communications, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Dr. (Mrs) Kate Azuka Omenugha, warned that the usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), especially mobile phones’ value added service otherwise known as Short Messaging Service (SMS) may erode the effort at inculcating into Nigerian students the right spelling of English words.

Speaking at the event which took place at the Centre for Africa Wetlands auditorium, University of Accra, Legon-Ghana, whilst dwelling on “Nigerian students’ use of information and communication technology – A blessing or a curse?” she applauded the easy acceptance of the benefits of ICT’s value added service, especially the usage of SMS on mobile phones, but stressed that to a large extent, mobile phones have escalated the absolute disregard during written class works, more so for spellings.

According to her, the use of abbreviations has created an impression of a ‘generation in a hurry,’ with the attendant distracting looks of the students, emphasizing that this regard has assumed notorious dimension with the sounds of mobile phones either ringing or playing music during class engagements.

“This is quite distracting in the class and over the years we have set punitive measures to erring students,” she said, noting that some lecturers has complained of students ringing them as late as 1am in order to take advantage of the ‘free air time’ offered by some of the popular telecommunications networks in Nigeria.

Additionally, she noted that one of the lecturers recently had to contend with some explanation to convince his wife that there was no love-lust between him and a female student who had the courage to call him up at the ‘unholy’ hour because of free air time to make an inquiry.

Omenugha equally decried the attitude of some students who chose to play computer games in the class or listen to music using their ear piece while lectures are going on, just as she disclosed that some students record answers in their phones and play back using the ear piece, both cleverly concealed.

Further, she condemned the spread of students downloading information from the internet such as dictionary among others and using same in class work without authorization.

“Some students given home works would simply download materials from the Net and submit the same to the lecturer. They do not care for plagiarism; neither do they bother with the synthesis of any read work,” she lamented.

Cautioning Nigerian students of the negative use of ICT, she added that this was not to say that they do not make positive use of ICT tools, highlighting that examining some of the students’ answer scripts have shown that they seem very immersed in the ‘language’ of emails and text messaging which is reflected in their scripts very often than not.

As ACCE members await the outcome of the Accra Committee, who says Nigeria is not making progress and making Africa proud, especially at the international scene and use of ICT in 21st century.

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Excitement heralds Windows 7 launch

The latest unveiled Windows 7 has been drawing excitements across the world after its global launch including Nigeria, last week.

Speaking at a press briefing to herald the launch in Lagos, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Onyeje, said Windows 7 represents years of in-depth listening to customers and partners around the globe, and is the most well-researched, well-planned Windows release ever.

He said that with Windows 7, Microsoft has taken this level of improvement one step further.

“A billion Windows users worldwide gave Microsoft a great opportunity to listen and learn. That is how the company developed Windows 7. Eight million people took part in our Windows 7 beta testing programme worldwide, including Windows users from across the African continent. This input and feedback helped shape Windows 7 into a product that people really wanted.

“In fact, 91 per cent of Windows 7 Release Candidate testers told us they would recommend Windows 7 and we are incredibly excited and humbled at the response so far,” he said, noting that the new product has something for everyone.

“For consumers, Microsoft designed Windows 7 to be more reliable, more responsive, and to make the things customers do every day easier,” he declared.

Onyeje also said for small to medium sized businesses, Windows 7 is the best operating system for work, whether people work from their company office, from home or on the go, it enables the user to get more done and keeps work safe.

“For enterprises, Windows 7 was designed to meet the rigorous demands of the enterprise. It makes users productive anywhere, delivers enhanced security and control to reduce risk, and streamlines PC manageability to reduce costs,” Onyeje said.

He also said Microsoft has developed different versions of Windows 7 to cater to the different things people want to do with their PC.

On Windows 7 Starter and Windows 7 Home Basic, he said, these are ideal for first-time PC-buyers or those looking to purchase a PC loaded with Windows 7 on a budget.

“The Windows 7 Home Premium the best edition for consumers, Windows 7 Home Premium provides the best gaming and entertainment experience on your PC

“Windows 7 Professional is ideal for the small to medium sized business user and has all the features you need to do your job, along with all the great media and entertainment features of Windows 7 Home Premium.

“Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate are the most versatile and powerful editions and are designed to address the needs of both enterprise customers and consumers who run high-end computers and want every feature of Windows 7,” he said.

Disclosing that Windows 7 is presently available in 14 languages, including English, French and Portuguese and 19 other languages would be available by 31 October. 

“Microsoft is working to ensure Windows 7 will be available in local African languages including Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba within 18 to 24 months. Windows 7 will be available on new computers and at certified Microsoft resellers including Office R us, Game, PC Outlet, Park ‘n’ Shop and Marquis from mid-November 2009, he said.

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MultiChoice slashes price with DSTv Access

Pay television services provider, MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, has launched a new bouquet, DStv Access, aimed at ensuring that every home that desires its services can afford, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Speaking at the official launch over the weekend in Lagos, Managing Director, MultiChoice, Mr. Joseph Hundah, said it has been the dream of the firm to make DStv accessible to all by providing bouquets that would be pocket friendly.

“It has always been my dream to make DStv accessible to all and at N1,500 monthly subscription and over 25 channels, this is the cheapest offer anywhere,” he declared.

Hundah said DStv is well known for being innovative and that in the coming year new channels will be added to increase the channels available to customers, just as the cost of the decoder would be further reduced.

Also commenting, the Head Marketing, MultiChoice, Mr. Donald Etim, said this is the minimum way to access DStv and that is in response to call for an affordable offer after the premium, compact and family bouquets.

“Nowhere in Africa can you get this offer and when you realize that it all amount to N50 a day, then you will appreciate the level we have gone to meet the demand of customers,” he said.

DStv Access, he explained offers 25 quality channels of family entertainment at the lowest and subscribers have an extensive choice of family entertainment, combining general entertainment, movies, documentaries, news, children’s programming, music, religion and sport.

Among other channels, DStv Access features BBC World, Aljazeera, National Geographic Wild, Fashion TV, Magic World and CNBC Africa.

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MTN, iWayAfrica to showcase @ Internet expo ‘09

Leading Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, has finalized plans to showcase its Internet service products at the forthcoming forum on Internet Governance: Creating Opportunities for all Nigerians, which kicks off next month in Lagos.

This is coming as award winning continental Internet Service Provider (ISP), iWayAfrica Nigeria Limited, has concluded strategies to offer internet service at the forum for participants.

Disclosing this, the Corporate Service Executive, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Wale Goodluck said the forum has become imperative more so now that the mobile operator has attained data roaming services in over 55 countries across the world and with the MTN 3.5G mobile broadband service gaining momentum in the Nigerian market.

He noted that at the Internet Governance tagged the Nigeria Digital Sense forum and scheduled to hold at the Golden Gate Ikoyi-Lagos on November 5, MTN intends to showcase its Internet offering including data access for the Nigerian travelling public and the 3.5G mobile broadband.

“MTN GPRS network covers over 116 networks in 55 counties,” he declared.

He also said that MTN 3.5G mobile broadband service opens up a whole new dimension of fast and simple working and harnesses the advantages of mobility, taking internet access in Nigeria to new level.

“It helps you stay connected at almost any time, and makes your business and personal information and entertainment as mobile as you are, when you’re working within MTN’s coverage areas,” Goodluck said.

He further said that with 3.5G broadband service, MTN customers would benefit from downloading data as a speed up to 4-5 times faster than currently available in the market, hence, offering for the first time a mobile experience that could truly be described as broadband.

“Where 3G HSDPA coverage is not available, customers will be able to use MTN’s GPRS/EDGE network that already covers most of Nigeria,” he asserted.

Emphasizing that BlackBerry from MTN provides customers with email, calendar, personal contacts and tasks as well as allows them to stay connected with their offices while roaming.

iWayAfrica Nigeria Limited (INL), a subsidiary of AFSAT Communications Limited, providing three core services; iWay broadband, iWay Dedicated and iWay Corporate Networks, said its ready for the November 5 forum.

The company which in 2007, was acquired by MWEB Africa traded under MWEB Nigeria name before it changed to iWayAfrica Nigeria Ltd (INL) as part of the repositioning.

iWayAfrica Nigeria Ltd (INL) operates under the flagship brand ‘iWay’ and currently has over 1000 sites in Nigeria, even as the Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) solutions eliminate the use of terrestrial infrastructure such as fixed cables or wireless masts, therefore reducing the possibility of multiple points of failure for the subscriber.

According to the General Manager, iWayAfrica Nigeria, Mr. John Ugbe, the ISP of note has a reseller network in most major towns nationwide, with five (5) channel partners in the geo-political zones, thereby having representation spread across the country.

“Our services target various sectors of the economy, including but not limited to corporate organizations, cyber café, schools, government, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), manufacturing industries and small and medium enterprises (SMEs),”he said.

In her comment, the Executive Director, Digital Sense Africa the organizers, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, said that MTN’s range of coverage across several regions of the world gives the telco an unreserved advantage to deliver on customers’ data needs.

While applauding MTN for the choice of enlighten Nigerians more, especially on its Internet related products via the forum, she noted that MTN was the first to introduce prepaid Blackberry service in the country, thereby boosting Internet access among its teeming Nigerian subscribers.

She noted that participants at the forthcoming Digital Sense forum would witness the avalanche of offers from MTN and other participating companies, especially those exhibiting Internet services related products.

For iWayAfrica, Mrs. Nweke said the commitment of the Internet Service Provider has given proof to a highest standard services, thus paving the way for the company to redefine the internet market in Nigeria.

She expressed optimism that those visiting MTN and iWayAfrica stands at the forum would have reasons to smile home with good option of internet service offerings.

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Omatek expands franchise in West Africa

In an effort to improve its brand visibility and bring products and services closer to Nigerians, Omatek Computer Plc has expanded its franchise outlet in the South West and South South.

Omatek’s Group Managing Director, Mrs. Florence Seriki made this disclosure at the firm’s Resellers’ Forum recently in Lagos, saying Omatek franchisee retail outlets in the South West and South South regions have been expanded.

As said by her the deployment of the channel market would further boost the company’s market share and ensure that everyone has equal and unhindered access to procuring Omatek products nationwide.

“With this development, Omatek range of products such as desktop computers, laptops, car adaptors (chargers), Omatek Security smart phones, power inverters, UPS as well as home entertainment products such as home theatres, LCD screens, speaker sets to name a few, can now be accessed at franchisee show rooms in Uyo, Port Harcourt, Osogbo, Asaba, Abeokuta, Calabar, Lagos and some parts of the West Coast like Cotonou.

Additionally, she said, Omatek range of products are now available at these franchisee show-rooms which have been well branded, to serve as collation centres for the Omatek consumer scheme tagged Omatek e-Xpress initiative.

Omatek Group Head, Channel Marketing, Mr. Valentine Otiono said, the initiative was driven by the need to meet the aspiration of consumers for the brand thereby consolidating its position as Nigeria’s number one brand in ICT products and the first computer company to be listed on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

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Ghana takes over @ ITU Council

Ghana now holds the chairmanship of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) council for 2009-2010.

This was announced at the council’s annual session which began last week in Geneva. With this appointment, Ghana will take over from Bulgaria the steering of the council comprising of 56 members states across the world.

The Council will review and approve ITU’s biennial budget for 2010-2011 with focus on issues related to implementing the union’s strategic plan, with the objective of responding to the current demands of a dynamic, rapidly changing telecommunications and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) environment.

At the opening plenary meeting, Ghana’s Minister of Communications and Member of Parliament, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu said Ghana is committed to the ideals and values of ITU.

“Our major task is to bridge the digital divide. We must set the tone and agenda on how to strengthen regulatory practices, address issues related to convergence and ensure the smooth functioning of the Internet. We must also address the key challenges of our times, such as harnessing the power of ICTs to combat climate change,” he said.

Presently, he said ITU must focus on the issues affecting developing countries, how they could build capacity and attract investment in order to achieve the connectivity targets set by the World Summit on the Information Society and meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

Also speaking, the outgoing chairman, Mr. Plamen Vatchkov of Bulgaria expressed his appreciation of the challenges addressed by ITU and its membership during his tenure.

“In the past year we addressed the challenges of strengthening cybersecurity, in particular protecting children online, as well as climate change and emergency communications. The year was marked by a severe economic downturn, but the ICT sector has weathered the storm well. I am confident that ITU, as the leading intergovernmental body for telecommunications and ICT, will continue to support all its stakeholders,” he said.

In his remark, ITU Secretary General, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, said this has been a very successful year in raising ITU’s profile on the international stage.

“ITU has demonstrated that information and communication technologies are vital and beneficial in addressing each and every one of the global issues faced today, particularly in the key areas of climate change, cybersecurity, and the financial crisis — areas where ICTs are now clearly recognized as being part of the solution, not part of the problem,” he said.

Dr. Touré added that next year “promises to be as exciting as ITU continues to drive and influence the rapidly changing ICT landscape”.

The ITU Council will be in session until 30 October.

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NCC supports DSA on Digital Sense forum

Nigeria’s telecom industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, has given support to Digital Sense Africa (DSA) on the convening of the Nigeria Digital Sense forum billed for Lagos on November 5, 2009.
The event scheduled for the Golden Gate, Ikoyi, Lagos, will offer stakeholders the needed platform to articulate a position on the upcoming Internet Governance Forum scheduled for Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, from November 15 - 18, 2009. The theme of the Nigeria Digital Sense forum is `Internet Governance: Creating Opportunities for all Nigerians.’
Head, Public Affairs of NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka, who confirmed the support of the Commission in hosting the preparatory forum in Nigeria, said the Commission is keen in ensuring that the country is well positioned on issues of Internet governance.
He expressed the hope that the forum would achieve the major objectives of enlightening Nigerians and galvanizing a common voice for the country at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) which holds in Egypt.
“We think that the organizers have a good vision of creating a platform to aggregate expert opinions and positions regarding Internet Governance so that Nigeria will flow with the global community in arriving at a desirable position for the future of the Internet which is an incredible resource available to the whole world,” he said.
Executive Director, Operations at the Digital Sense Africa, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, applauded NCC for its foresightedness in supporting the forum, mostly the Commission’s leadership for not only paving the way for ICT revolution in Nigeria but in addressing all aspects of ICT in such a way that the opinion of Nigeria is now respected globally mainly because of what the Commission has achieved and has continued to achieve.
She noted that the importance the Commission attaches to the availability of Internet across the country has made a bold statement about its full understanding of ICT and how to make the nation enjoy the most of this global resource.
She recalled that NCC has in the recent past remained the sole engine behind the Internet Governance agenda in Nigeria, mostly as a follow up after the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo directed the Commission and National IT Development Agency (NITDA) to work out modalities for cheaper internet access in the country.
Pointing out that before now, NCC has spurred the establishment of the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) and Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) and has been very supportive in the sustenance of these organizations.
Most of this, she said, would form the highlights at the Digital Sense forum already backed by NiRA, IXPN, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), and Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) to name a few.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is an award winning telecommunications regulator which has been championing the liberalization of telecom industry in Nigeria and spearheaded the telecom industry market revolution to over 68 million mobile user growth in the last eight years. While
Digital Sense Africa is an initiative of Remnek Kommunications Ventures; Information and Communication Technology (ICT) analysts, public relations consultancy, with continental media affiliates as part of its enlightenment strategies to engage Nigerians for sustainable deployment and utilization of technologies in order to make sense out of the revolution.

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Starcomms connects subscribers on Facebook, Twitter

Starcomms Plc has joined the operators connecting subscribers with Facebook, Twitter, Hi5 and MySpace through the creation of these social networking and micro-blogging services on its network.

The Chief Commercial Officer of Starcomms, Tushar Maheshwari, made this disclosure in Lagos, and said that even without a laptop or a personal computer and outside the comfort of the home or office, Starcomms subscribers could now use their mobile phones to send and receive tweets from their Twitter accounts for diverse purposes

“Using Twitter with Starcomms phone will change the way people tweet and communicate with friends and followers. They can receive Tweets via SMS when people they specify update on twitter website. They can also send updates to Twitter on the go,” Maheshwari said.

Additionally, Maheshwari noted that Starcomms subscribers who want to enjoy this service must register on the networking site of choice.

“To start accessing these websites subscriber would be required to pair their Starcomms phone to the preferred website. To make use of this service for Facebook, Starcomms subscribers have to send SMS F to a short code 33397 using Starcomms phones and then to access http://apps.facebook.com/mobisocialStarcomms subscribers can access twitter through a short code, 33399. They can then send REG (user name) (password) to the short code to register,” the officer said.

Pointing out that with this, they could add their phones to individual Twitter accounts and once the Starcomms phone is registered on the networking website the subscriber then could start enjoying Tweets on Twitter and SMS’s on other networking sites from their contacts or followers.

Similarly, Maheshwari said, for Facebook the subscriber could send and receive messages or invitations, receive notifications write on friend’s FB walls and on contact’s FB walls, update status and view friend’s profile via SMS.

“Users can search for the long lost contacts / acquaintances, accept an invitation or invite their friends / contacts via SMS on either of these networking websites,” he said.

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NCS institutes national merit awards

Spurred by stakeholders’ quest, the umbrella body of Information Technology professionals in the country, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), has instituted its National IT Merit Awards to reward deserving organizations, individuals and corporate bodies within the industry.

Addressing a press conference last week, NCS President, Prof. Charles Uwadia, said the award has been scheduled to hold on December 15 in Lagos.

He also said NCS can no longer fold its arms and watch non-professionals venturing into areas where they lack the competence.

Before now, he recalled that some of the awards have been on certificate of computer excellence to individuals, corporate and nongovernmental organizations and other eminent Nigerians without recourse to the NCS.

“Accusations that those events do not reflect the true situation of things, is because those behind these awards are not true professionals,” he said.

Prof. Uwadia further said the industry has become a mega industry and computers and ICT devices are now household names.

Stressing that the NCS was not out to discredit or antagonize any organization involved in any awards, but frowned at a situation where awards are given merely as reward for financial involvement.

“NCS is not going to stop others but we want to stamp our authority on IT awards because we are the body charged with that responsibility as professionals,” he said.

Prof. Uwadia said deserving recipients would be given awards in following categories; Computer Organization of the year, Software Provider in Human Resources (HR) services of the year, IT driven Bank of the year, Payment Solution Provider of the year, Best IT Media Reporter of the year, Best IT Airline of the year and Best Telecoms Company of the year that deploys IT.

While calling for sponsorship from interested parties, he said the Gold category which will cost N5 million will ensure that such company’s logo will be on NCS website for 12 months as well as feature in the its conference proceedings.

For the Silver sponsorship of N3.5 million, the company’s logo will be on NCS website for eight months as well as feature in its conference proceedings.

He equally said, for the Bronze category of N2.5 million, the company’s logo will be on its website for five months in addition to being on its conference proceedings.

Prof. Uwadia, who was accompanied by the first Vice President, Dr. David Adewumi Chairman, Publicity and Events Mr. Tajudeen Ejalonibu, Executive Secretary, Mr. Ejide Oladunmoye and its consultant Mr. Alexander Ofuonyeadi, said the process would be driven by IT through opinion poll via Short Messaging Service (SMS), newspapers and NCS website.

“It is our determination in the NCS to carry this award out now and for the first time to also, conduct a public survey by requesting Nigerians at home and in the diaspora to vote via the SMS and provide an unbiased verdict on who, or which individual or organization best deserves to be honoured,” Prof Uwadia said.

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Zinox launches phase 2 of 750,000 PC promo

Computerize Nigeria Project (CNP), has launched the second phase of its 750,000 Computer Ownership promo.

According to the Head, Computerize Nigeria Project, Mrs. Loretta Agbakoba, this step
is to further the ideals of the digital knowledge democracy.

She explained that the promo is another milestone in the roadmap of the CNP to give Nigerians the opportunity to bridge the digital divide personally, at family and corporate levels.

“It is primarily targeted at governments at all levels, educational institutions, and all stakeholders in the Nigerian nation,” she said, stressing that based on the success of the first phase, CNP has been in direct negotiations with major Original
Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the country like Zinox, Hewlett Packard (HP), Toshiba, Dell, and Acer to secure discounted prices especially for Nigerians in a bid to accelerate access to the IT tools that would catalyze a knowledge driven nation.

The Phase 2 of 750,000 Computer Ownership promo, she said, has been embedded with incredible benefits of a Zinox e learning suite worth N62, 000 free for one year and a free Zinox digi lamp to enhance reading in a country where blackouts have become a norm.

The e-learning suite, which Zinox developed in partnership with World e-library, she noted, is currently number 1 in Africa and contains 750,000 e-books downloadable in any PC; 59,000 medical e- documents and e-books; 11,000 classic literature e-books; 1,000 Chemistry e-books, 500 Mathematics e-books; 250 Physics e-books; and 680,000 e-books more.

“The suite also contains Physics simulation tools, Creative, Observation, and Skills Development Tools, Teacher Lessons Plans, Worksheets, and Classroom Articles. The e learning suite holds a lot of promise for educational institutions who want to be rated among the world’s best and Governments who wish to accelerate the pace towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the vision 20/ 2020,” Mrs. Agbakoba said.

The Head CNP, said that participation is open to all Nigerians and employers may take advantage of the promo to computerize their staff simply by issuing an employer’s guaranty.

“No bank guarantees are required. All the frustrating documentation that hitherto made computer ownership schemes tedious and unpleasant have been clipped off,” she said.

Emphasizing that all a prospect needs do is to decide whether to pay the very low cash prices or subscribe to the 12 months installment option.
Mrs. Agbakoba explained that the e-learning suites would be automatic to the 1st 100,000 laptops purchased.

“All products would enjoy immediate delivery and the respective manufacturer warranty of the OEMs. She said that the CNP and her OEM Partners would deliver on all their promises. She reiterated that the total package pricing is not available to any other company in Africa and that the CNP would make a refund if better prices were found elsewhere,” she said.

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Emergency centres ready by Dec - NCC

The Federal Government will take delivery of some Emergency Communications Centers (ECC) at the end of the year, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja that work had reached advanced stage on the centers, which contract was approved by the Federal Executive Council in February this year.

“Work is progressing on the buildings, and the electronic system has been ordered. Those supplying them will soon start delivering them. By God’s grace, by the end of the year, we will inaugurate some of the centers, because all over the country, we did not have the benefit of having land, and the response from state governments was not as fast as we had expected,” he said.

Ndukwe said that some of the centres will be achieved before the others, “but by the first quarter of next year, nearly all locations would have been covered.’’

NAN reports that FEC had approved contracts worth more than N2.4 billion for the construction of buildings for emergency communications centers in all the 36 states and FCT.

The centers are to receive emergency calls, through a dedicated 3-digit toll-free number from any of the national telecommunications networks.

The contract for the supply and installation of communications infrastructure at the 37 centers was awarded to Messrs Huawei Technologies Ltd at $13.5 million.

The project is expected to improve security in the country.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

ICANN, UPU finalise negotiation on .Post

Global Internet coordinating agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) have finalized deal for the UPU sponsored .POST Top-Level Domain.

Officials of ICANN made this disclosure at the weekend, said that final approval of the agreement is subject to ICANN’s public comment process, which will commence after the conclusion of ICANN’s conference in the city of Seoul on 30 October 2009, in addition to the final approval of the Board of Directors. ITRealms Online recalls that UPU is in-charge of setting the rules for the universal network of international postal mail exchanges.

Also, a specialized agency of the United Nations, the UPU was established in 1874 and is one of the world’s oldest intergovernmental organizations (IGOs).

And despite ICANN’s relative youth, the internet coordinating agency and UPU have some resemblances, including active participation by representatives of geographically diverse governments and constituencies.

Confirming this, ICANN President, Mr. Rod Beckstrom, noted that both his organization and UPU are governed by a bottom-up process.

“The UPU by its member countries and ICANN by the global Internet community and both organizations serve billions of people globally,” he said. Beckstrom stressed that the agreement brought to conclusion the negotiation that enables both organizations to recognize one another’s traditional autonomy, mission, and core values.

“The agreement represents a significant accomplishment for the UPU, ICANN, and the global Internet community. This validates the ICANN model for fostering expansion of and innovation in the domain name space,” he said.

Additionally, ICANN boss pointed out that UPU has helped mark out a path for other IGOs to sponsor their own top-level domains and helps in expansion of the multi-stakeholder relationships in the IGO field.

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IMT advances 4G mobile wireless broadband

New International Telecommunication Union (ITU) radio interface standards to revolutionize mobile communication, has announced the receipt of six candidate technology submissions for the global 4G mobile wireless broadband technology known as IMT-Advanced, report REMMY NWEKE & CHARLES OKOH.

Chief, Media Relations and Public Information at ITU, Mr. Sanjay Acharya said that the selected technologies are expected to be accorded the official designation of IMT-Advanced - to qualify as true 4G technologies by October 2010. The submissions were made in Dresden, Germany at the meeting of ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) Working Party 5D in response to an open invitation in March 2008.

The meeting was held 14-21 October 2009.The six proposals aligned around the 3GPP LTE Release 10 and beyond (LTE-Advanced) technology and the IEEE 802.16m technology, will be assessed against ITU-R requirements using a defined evaluation process.

This rigorous assessment over the next year will be supported by the work of independent external evaluation groups that have been established around the world and will take place under the direction of ITU-R Working Party 5D. In conjunction with the Dresden meeting, the third Workshop on IMT-Advanced provided an opportunity to technology proponents and evaluation groups to interact.

As a jump-start to the assessment phase, fourteen evaluation groups registered with ITU-R, representing the whole gamut of stakeholders, including equipment manufacturers, technology developers, network operators and service providers, market and user organizations, universities, research institutions and national administrations.

He quoted the ITU Secretary-General, Dr. Hamadoun Touré, expressed her appreciation for this worldwide effort.

“We note with excitement that the technology developments in wireless communication continue to expand their reach and application to enrich the lives of people around the world,” Touré said. “ITU has a rich history of more than 25 years in coordinating and advancing global broadband multimedia international mobile telecommunications systems.

IMT-Advanced continues this tradition by not only leading with a strategic vision, but also in translating the vision into practical reality in this challenging ICT environment.”

Equally speaking, Director of ITU Radiocommunication Bureau, Mr. Valery Timofeev, congratulated all the players from government, regulators and industry who have been actively involved in the evaluation process of IMT-Advanced for successfully reaching this important milestone in the choice of radio interface technology.

Stephen Blust, Director of Radio Standards, AT&T and Chairman of Working Party 5D, offers this viewpoint: “In 2002 when the strategic vision for 4G - which we designated as IMT-Advanced - was laid out in anticipation of the longer term future needs of the marketplace, it established a new level of expectation for the capabilities and performance of global mobile wireless broadband systems that many thought at the time was something that could not be reached in this decade.

When ITU-R established the detailed performance requirements of IMT-Advanced in 2008, it truly raised the bar for mobile wireless. It is gratifying to note that the stakeholders in the mobile wireless industry have risen to the challenge.

And we have every expectation that with these proposals the vision can indeed be achieved in the near term.”The close partnership between the ITU-R members and the global wireless industry in the work on IMT-Advanced builds upon the success of the ITU-defined IMT-2000 system (3G) that continues to be enhanced following the demands of the marketplace.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cloud Computing: Digital divide may hit Nigeria

Despite being the fastest growing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) on the continent of Africa, Nigeria may be witnessing depletion as it has been revealed that most Nigerians resident in the country are ignorant of Cloud Computing, ITRealms Online can authoritatively report.

Broadly, Cloud Computing could be described as using of servers hosted on the Internet for computational purposes. Thus, Cloud Computing vendors build Internet-based accessible data centers and offer computing time to customers, which could be individual or corporate.  Typically, customers deploy virtualized Operating System (OS) images onto cloud vendor servers; more or less like offering computational time on the Internet.

An investigation carried out by ITRealms Online with emphasize on core Information Technology (IT) application among professionals has proved that even those, who should know like webmasters, computer technicians and Desktop Publishing Analysts were mostly ignorant of this new sensation in the computing world.

In other words, Nigeria may be in for another round of digital divide in its polity.
ITRealms Online investigations across the aforementioned group of ‘computing experts’ showed that they were totally unaware and its acceptability with in terms of adaptation and usage may really take some time to come in this part of the world.

At first when the question was posed to them, the reactions have been ‘what is it? Is it a brand new brand of PCs and what does it work?’

When asked if they have not heard about Cloud Computing, the answer was ‘Yes’ for those who took part in the exercise, numbering 15 ‘computing experts.’

Although the chief research officer and senior vice president at analyst firm, IDC, Mr. John Gantz, was recently quoted as saying economic crisis would force some companies to make technological changes they may not have made.

Some of these alternative technologies, experts listed to include software-as-a-service (SaaS), Open Source software and Cloud Computing, all of which go against the business models of the tech old guard or at best the proprietary methods.

IDC at a recent event in Lagos, gave boost to Cloud Computing evolution, saying that the usage of this platform has continued to rise. Stressing that its recent survey, revealed for instance, that 83.6 per cent of respondents agreed that it is easy and fast to deploy, 81.5 per cent opt for it because they can pay only for what they use (Pay-As-You-Use).

Additionally, IDC revealed that part of the benefits is that it affords companies basically to have a low monthly payments, because they are likely to experience less in-house IT staff and associated costs. While it offers the latest functionalities, encouraging more standardized IT, its sharing systems module makes information exchange easier.

On the other hand, some of those who are aware of Cloud Computing features but are still skeptical raise some challenging issues, comprising security, availability, performance, hard to integrate with in-house IT system because there is lack in the ability to customize, even as fear of it costing more in the future hovers.

Also, notable challenge issue was that it may prove difficult to bring back in-house; that is, if one is already using Cloud Computing and decides to change his or her mind, just as not enough major suppliers yet available in developing countries like Nigeria.

However, IDC outlined that major shift to application modernization and consolidation with a view to data center efficiencies and better IT business alignment.

“Greater focus on application rationalization, as a follow up to the notable investment in packaged applications of the past several years, particularly with companies with multiple African operations. Focus will be on the creation of unified application environments that support business flexibility and agility,” part of the report revealed.

SaaS, for instance, is expected to soar in countries like South Africa, where the large number of Small and Medium Business (SMB) pools on the back of decreasing operational costs.

Equally, experts said that this new evolution in computing technology that uses far-away servers for data storage and management, enable the device to use smaller and more efficient chips that consume less energy than standard computers.

The creation of awareness on this platform could aid large companies using computer, even as experts were emphatic that it could get more boost when the Internet access is available and accessible with ease.

They noted that lack of constant public electric power supply may muddle this dream up, hence leaving Nigeria again on ‘catch-up’ road, whilst South Africa.

The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) and Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) officials were silent on deployment and adaptation of Cloud Computing in the country, as at the time of going to the press.

Experts, pointed out that as the eco-systems shift online; new tools, new players and a new generation are growing, mostly with many vendors getting on board and building out comforting capabilities, the best for Nigerian IT professionals, especially the youths is to be involve in Cloud Computing so as not only to be viable, but also, to sustain their careers before it becomes too late.

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Etisalat, innovatively catching up with competition

As the fifth Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator in the country, Etisalat Nigeria, marks its one year of commercial launch, REMMY NWEKE, reports that the telecom operator is innovatively catching up with competition.

Having used some services of the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operators for about five years before the coming of Etisalat Nigeria into the market, it was like a nightmare for an energetic young professional with ‘travel’ as part of his details, Mr. Okaomee Idua, to miss his calls for anything.

It was not because he cannot call back or return calls information, but would not see miss calls on his phone, especially when the phones are switched off, while he hops from one airport to another or even travelling to some areas where the network of the operator is yet to cover optimally.

Although he bought Etisalat’s Subscriber Identification Module (SIM), when the company came up with its innovative way of allowing every potential customers’ to choose their mobile numbers of choice or available on the network, via its website, it was not co-incidental that Okaomee today has two GSM numbers relatively the same, with the difference being the individual operator’s code of identification like 0809, which Etisalat has since Nigerianised to mean 0809ija.

Therefore, Etisalat Nigeria, no doubt, has become associated as the innovative telecommunications company that adds value to the lives of its customers. Another value, for instance, by Etisalat was its recent launch of ‘Easynet suite of data services’ into the market, heralding yet another remarkable product bouquet from its stable.

Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Wael Ammar, told newsmen at the launch recently that subscribers on the network now have access to top quality Internet services combined with a vast portfolio of data plans and devices.

“This includes a branded Universal Serial Bus (USB) modem, software interface and a Data-only Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card,” he said, noting that Easynet is one of the superior services that will position Etisalat Nigeria as the go-to-shop for all mobile data requirements, meeting the customer needs with regards to price, convenience and usability.

He explained that Easynet’s data suite, for instance, offers a three-tiered plan to enable customers obtain monthly-prepaid subscriptions and use up to 3 Gegabytes (GB).

“With this plan, subscribers can check, send emails, visit their favourite websites, chat online seamlessly and much more,” he assured, stressing that the debut of Etisalat’s data service package, Easynet, should be seen as a reflection of the operator’s continuous drive to expand value offerings with a view to broadening the business and personal horizons of all Nigerians.

“At Etisalat, we are very committed to investing in quality products and services that will easily bring the world within reach of all Nigerians once they purchase any of our unique and innovative products,” Ammar said, pointing out that Easynet is the latest product from the Etisalat stable which comes with unique and easy to use features that guarantee immediate access to the service.

“In line with our avowed desire to be known for the simplicity of products and services, the Easynet service can be purchased and activated immediately at the point of sale,” he said. Installation, the CMO said, is user-friendly and seamless, even as subscribers could recharge the SIM from the comfort of their system and manage costs with the unique balance notification system, just as the product also comes with an auto renewal system, which removes the stress of revisiting the shop for service renewal.

Several industry analysts observed that with its latest introduction, Etisalat Nigeria has not only proved its position as the fastest growing mobile telecommunications company in the world, it has also demonstrated its power of innovation.

Before now, Etisalat has launched such other offers like Easy Starter and Easy Cliq, which no doubt, reaffirms its innovativeness in product evolution.

With the Easy Starter offer, Etisalat presents unique features such as receiver pays, home zone, missed call notification, Etisalat service menu and recharge among others. Uniquely, Nigerians telecom subscribers cannot forget Etisalat entrance in a haste, given the novelty they are now enjoying in home-zone, which gives them calls at a much cheaper rates than ever. This was followed by the missed call notification, which has been the dilemma of Nigeria telecom users before the debut of Etisalat.

On its Easy Cliq, Ammar said, is simply loaded with exciting features comprising Unlimited Short Message Service (SMS), free midnight calls, bonus on incoming calls, Facebook update service by SMS, free Multimedia Message Service (MMS), Free data downloads, One Cliq-One Tune, Cliq Ring Back Tune and Talk’n’Share.

To a good number of Nigerian youths, and those youth at heart, the most exciting product on Etisalat has been the Facebook update service via SMS. Thus enabling them to know who is online or may have commented on their Facebook walls, so as to know when to login to follow up or something to be attended to later.

Currently standing at the 140th position among Financial Times’ top 500 corporations in the world, Etisalat is the largest telecommunication services provider in Africa and the Middle East with its growing clientele aggregated to be at about 85 million subscribers across Africa, Middle East and Asia.

Despite the fact that at inception or better still when Etisalat entered the Nigeria market through the Emerging Market Telecommunications Services (EMTS), it was awashed with the question on most lips in Nigeria being whether Etisalat would ever gain some subscribers let alone catching up.

Remarkably, the last one year of its commercial operation may have given some insight into where the company is going and its determination to make inroads, expanding network coverage up north, a terrain with its own share of lack of infrastructure network.

Then debut the N245million promotion (9jilions) and currently leaving over 5000 subscribers winning mobile phones in the Win-a-phone promo at various zones nationwide in addition to the millionaires that have emerged in the Etisalat 9jilion promo. The promo has been touted to be the best in terms of rewards to subscribers.

Interestingly, Etisalat’s One9ja Game show have seen several millionaires emerging with the likes of Mrs Amaka Ezendu going home with N2.5m, followed by Samuel Chukwudi, Ernest Ogbemudia, Glory Eiwone and Ilozulike Chimezie, each winning N100,000 respectively, while Ejoke Aisire, Okonkwo Blessing and Esther Ofefagha went home with one million naira each, with some of the consolation prize winners of N50,000 went to Bobi Zion Onoriode, Roselyn Ogbemo, Henry Ijeoma, Ese Onojetah, Odjus Utuyorume, to name a few.

Director, Segments and Marketing Strategy, Etisalat Nigeria, Ms Seki Akande, had said at the event that Etisalat customers are the heart of its business. “With this promo, we are not only rewarding our old and new subscribers, we are also giving every Nigerian an opportunity to experience our world class products and services, built from 33 years of operation in different climes. The 9jillions promotion represents the biggest cash prize winning in Africa and thus serves as a veritable platform to reach out to our subscribers,” Akande said.

The Director revealed that about 5,000 high-end mobile phones were given to lucky subscribers during the first phase of the promotion, which ended recently and explained further that the regional one9ja game shows which held in more cities in the coming weeks before the last phase, whereas the grand finale would hold this month, October, where one lucky subscriber will walk away with the grand prize of one million dollars.

“All a new or existing subscriber has to do is use up to N1,000 in a month, then send his location and name to #5123 to qualify for a chance to participate in the grand finale,”she said.

Like a promise made by its current chief executive officer, Mr. Steven Evans that coverage of Nigeria is a key to this year’s expansion plan, Etisalat seems to have met this self set goal. It was not unfounded to gather that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) gave pass mark to the fifth GSM operator in the country for leading the pack in delivering quality service to Nigerians.

The National Assembly was not left out as both the Senate and House Committees on Communications have since attested to this fact, while urging for sustenance. Both committees led by their chairmen, Chief Sylverster Anyanwu and Mr. Dave Salako, were impressed as in the expansion strategies and what have been achieved.

All this may have encouraged the Director, Brand Communications, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Yinka Akande to have confided in ITRealms Online at the launch of the much celebrated commercial launch in Lagos, last year that they are not deterred but determined to deliver on promises.

For him, there is nothing like ‘A Mission Impossible’ for Etisalat, because it has resolute men and women who want the best of innovative services for the Nigerian telecommunication market. In other words, the flame of catch up with the other mobile operators is gathering moment as its subscribers have continued to soar.

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ICANN sacks another 3 registrars over non-renewal

Just two months after the global coordinating internet agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced the sacking of three registrars over breach of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) of May 2001, another three have followed.

According to ICANN, Messrs Mouzz Interactive Inc of United Arab Emirates; Naugus Limited of 70 Washington Street and BP Holdings Group of Astoria, New York have yet been sacked.

ICANN in a public statement made available to ITRealms Online disclosed that Mouzz Interactive was fired as accredited registrar for non-renewal of its Registrar
Accreditation Agreement (RAA) of May 2001, which indicated that Mouzz registrar
license has not been renewed.

And in pursuant of Section 3.9 of the RAA, which requires registrars to timely pay accreditation fees to ICANN consisting of yearly and variable fees.

Director, Contractual Compliance at ICANN, Stacy Burnette stated in a letter dated October 9, 2009 that “Mouzz Interactive currently owes ICANN $21,175.01 in past due accreditation fees.”

Burnette noted that notices regarding Mouzz Interactive’s past due accreditation fees, including detailed customer statements were transmitted to the firm’s office on several occasions over the past years.

“On April 20, 2009, ICANN sent you, via courier, a Notice of Breach of Registrar Accreditation Agreement for failure to pay accreditation fees along with a detailed customer statement reflecting $18,984.37 in past due accreditation fees. Mouzz Interactive failed t cure this breach in the time period allowed by the RAA,” part of the sack letter addressed to Mr. Imran Faziani, read.

Also, ICANN said that unless a renewal is performed on or before November 20, 5pm, based on outstanding, it does not intend to renew Mouzz, for instance.

For Messrs Naugus Limited, a letter was directed to Mr. Russ Goodwin in which ICANN stated the failure by the firm to escrow the generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) registration data in pursuant of Section 3.6 of the RAA.

The company was given until October 20, 2009 to pay up or stand disqualified to operate as accredited registrar, in accordance with Registrar Data Escrow Specifications document posted at http://www.icann.org/rde/rde-specis-09nov07.pdf, of which Naugus Limited has been notified on July 7, 2008 and August 26, 2009 respectively via electronic mail of the breach described aforementioned.

Equally the notice of expiration of registrar accreditation agreement and non-renewal of accreditation issued to BP Holdings Group and addressed to Mr. Michael Bahlitzanakis, was for the data escrow agreement failure.

Burnette maintained that ICANN’s staff on March 1, 2008 put a call through BP Holdings and was able to speak with Mr. John Berryhill, who promised to take action by depositing relevant data as required with Iron Mountain Intellectual Property Management Inc.

“To date, no deposits were made in furtherance of BP Holdings’ escrow obligation,” part of the sack letter read.

ITRealms Online recalled that two months ago, ICANN had announced the fall of three registrars to meet RAA deal including South America Domains Ltd doing business as namefrog.com, Simply Named Inc (SimplyNamed.com) and Tahoe Domains Inc have not had their RAA renewed upon expiration for failure to comply with the requirements of the agreement.

According to ICANN, notice to this effect dated July 30, 2009 tagged ‘Non-renewal of Registrar Accreditation Agreement’ which was dispatched to the trio via facsimile, courier and electronic mail.

A copy of the letter addressed to the chief executive officers of the aforementioned companies made available to ITRealms Online, read in part that their agreement with ICANN has elapsed due to the breach and inability to renew same.

The sack, ICANN explained was as a failure to provide a working Whois service in pursuant to and compliant with Section 3.3 of RAA.

The three-page notice signed by ICANN’s Director, Contractual Compliance, Stacy Burnette and sent to the affected three companies, the internet coordinating agency, stated that Section 5.4 of the RAA provide or apply upon expiration for renewal of accreditation in compliance with its obligations under the RAA.

Based on failure to comply with Sections 3.3 of the RAA, ICANN said it does not intend to renew these registrars upon its expiration on August 5, 2009.
ICANN noted that failure to provide public access to data on registered names in pursuant to Section 3.3 of the RAA.

Section 3.3.1 of the RAA, ICANN said requires registrars “provide an interactive web page and a port 43 Whois service providing free public query-based access to up-to-date data concerning all active registered names sponsored by registrar for each Top Level Domain (TLD) in which it is accredited.”

ICANN said that such data requiring updated from registrars include the name of the registered name, the names of the primary nameserver and secondary nameserver(s) for the registered name; the identity of registrar which may be provided through registrar’s website and the original creation date of the registration.

In addition, ICANN said it expects to get update on the expiration date of the registration, the name and postal address of the registered name holder, the name, postal address, email address, voice telephone number and where available, fax number of the technical contact for the registered name.

Burnette recalled that on July 17, 2009, a reminder was sent to the affected registrars by email and fax that Whois service was not compliant with RAA requirements.

“Specifically, your registrar’s Whois service did not provide any Whois data when ICANN staff attempted to access Whois data regarding domain names sponsored by ‘you’,” part of the letter read.

Pointing out that “You were requested to correct this contract violation immediately and report back to ICANN staff when the violation was corrected. ICANN staff never received a response from you or anyone representing ‘you’ regarding this matter.”

ICANN said it never received any response from the affected registrars as at the date of the notice.

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Omatek excites visitors @ Telecom World

Top brand of Nigerian computer manufacturers, Omatek Computers Plc, excited visitors at the recently concluded Telecom World organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Omatek which excited its world-class products assumed the toast of visitors to the Nigerian Pavilion at the exhibition stand at Palexpo, Geneva.

As said by the Group Managing Director, Omatek, Mrs. Florence Seriki, said that many visitors were thrilled with the array of her firm’s products on display at the exhibition, especially the Omatek handtop pc, which is the smallest desktop in the world, the Omatek home entertainment products and the Omatek power products.

“Omatek stand at the Nigerian Pavilion was a bee-hive of activities during the 5-day exhibition as visitors,” she declared, noting that VIP’s and other guests visited and purchased various Omatek products.

She listed some of the prominent visitors to the Omatek stand to include the Nigerian Ambassador to Switzerland and the United Nations, Dr. Martin Uhomoibhi, the Hon Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, and South African Minister of Communications among others.

She said the visitors were full of commendations for Omatek for being the only computer company of African origin at the ITU Telecom World 2009.

“Many of the visitors took advantage of Omatek’s presence at the exhibition to sign on as channel partners in other African and Francophone countries,” he said.

Some of Omatek’s novel initiatives also caught the attention of many, especially the Omatek e-learning initiative which is being touted for a rural development programme in some African countries.

In the same vein, the International Telecommunications Union has shown very keen interest in the Omatek handtop PC.

Speaking at the event, ITU secretary- general, Dr. Hamadoun Toure said that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has made huge progress since the commencement of ITU Telecom World six years ago in Geneva. He urged governments around the world, business and youth leaders to collectively harness the power of ICT to proffer solutions to some of the world’s challenges.

At the event, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon launched the “Connect a School, Connect a Community” project to support countries worldwide to connect all schools to broadband internet services by 2015.

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Nigerians in diaspora back Digital Sense ‘09

Nigerian Information Technology (IT) professionals in diaspora have given their support to the Nigeria Digital Sense forum, which holds in Lagos in a fortnight by applauding the event with theme; Internet Governance; Creating opportunities for all Nigerians.
Those who expressed support for the Nigeria Digital Sense forum, at the weekend, included a former Chief Executive officer of the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Dr. Ola Ogunfemi and Mrs. Utchay Okoli, from United States (US) and United Kingdom (US) respectively.

According to him, the forum is commendable and deserves every support from Nigerians including those in diaspora and that is why he has elected to make the event from the United States where he is resident.

And for Mrs. Okoli a postgraduate of one of the UK leading universities, said that Nigeria, especially the Internet community needs a vision driven engagement like the one DSA has come up with.

She applauded DSA for coming up with this initiative, stressing that it would definitely spur Nigeria further in scheme of Internet engagements.

In her reaction to the news, the Executive Director, Digital Sense Africa (DSA), the organizers of the event, Mrs. Nkemdilim Umah-Nweke said that the Nigeria Digital Sense forum was born out of the desire to create more awareness on values embedded on the Internet and how growing Nigerians Internet public could attest to its goodness.

DSA, she said, is elated with the support given so far by members of Nigerian IT professionals in diaspora and promised that her organization would continue to do Nigeria proud in their own little ways.

She, further said, the era of worrying too much over the few bad elements in the society who try to create bad impression of Nigeria and Nigerians, insisting that by tapping on the positive opportunities on the internet, Nigerians could counter such bad images.

This, she noted, could only be possible when the large number of people know how and where to go so as to make their Internet access worth paying for, especially at this period of global economic meltdown.

She expressed optimism on the great opportunities that Nigeria Digital Sense forum would offer participants and enjoined Nigerians to troop to the Golden Gate venue of the event on Thursday, November 5, especially when the entry is free as in ‘FREE’.

Also she recollected that the Executive chairman of the pioneer Internet Service Provider in the country, Linkserve Limited, Chief Chima Onyekwere, would preside at the Nigeria Digital Sense forum in Lagos.

She emphasized on the fact that there is need for Nigeria’s influence to be felt at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), scheduled to hold in Egypt, later next month.

In addition, she said Onyekwere’s choice and acceptance to preside at the Nigeria Digital Sense forum would further reconfirm his position as chieftain of the Nigerian Internet community.

Earlier, Digital Sense Africa, she pointed had received endorsement from the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), Internet eXchange Point Nigeria (IXPN), the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) to name a few.

Digital Sense Africa is an initiative of Remnek Kommunications Ventures, a Lagos-based Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-driven analytical entity.

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Glo unveils SelfCare voice response in local languages

The second national operator, Globacom has introduced a new Value Added Service called Self Care service.

This, the SNO said, enables subscribers to access information about the network’s services via the telephone which is now available in local major Nigerian languages.

Director, Customer Care, Ms Maria Svensson, stated that the service can now be accessed in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages.

The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service, she said, is the first of offer in the market, gives subscribers the opportunity of learning about the company and its activities without going to the website or calling the Glo Call Centre on 121 or 200 to speak with a Customer Care Representative.

Through the offer, customers can dial in and listen to basic static information on Glo products and services including its rich bouquet of value added services, promotional offers, SIM Replacement and Special Numbers, among other things.

“Our customers can now enjoy the service in English and Nigerian languages by dialing 500 or 5001 for English language, 5002 for Yoruba, 5003 for Hausa and 5004 for Igbo,” Ms Svensson said.

She explained that the service was introduced in the local languages to afford those not comfortable with English the opportunity to also enjoy its benefits.

“When we launched the service a month ago, we promised to beef it up with additional offers. The local language option is one such offer. We kept our promise to introduce this a few weeks after launch. We also plan other features such as information on Account Balance enquiry,” she said.

Ms Svensson restated that the Glo IVR service eliminates waiting time on the Call Centre lines and provides an option to people who cannot access the website due to lack of internet access. The service is also offered free of charge.

Globacom’s Customer Care Department compares with the best in the world. It is equipped with the latest technology and is manned by well trained and highly motivated staff.

The department is currently being expanded and will on completion of the project be the largest Customer Care centre in Africa.

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Momentum soars for Multi-Link independence promo

Momentum is soaring for the Multi-Links Telkom’s independence promo, recently introduced, ITRealms Online confirmed at the weekend.

According to the mobile company, all Multi-Links Telkom’s customers and prospective subscribers are to enjoy N49 free airtime in commemoration of Nigeria’s 49th Independent anniversary which commenced nationwide on 1st October 2009.

Tagged Independent Payback Promo, Multi-Links Telkom said it’s giving back for free a whopping N49 (24.5 per cent) value on every N200 scratch card purchased and loaded by its subscribers.

Also the company said the promo would run for 49 days in tandem with the 49 years of Nigeria’s existence as an independent nation.

The chief Corporate Affairs Officer (CCAO), Multi-Links Telkom, Mrs. Ijeoma Abazie, said that the offer of N49 free airtime is Multi-Links Telkom’s own way of felicitating with the people and government of Nigeria on the milestone attainment.

Equally, she said that the 49th anniversary of Nigeria’s independent is a significant journey in the life of a nation being just a year to its golden anniversary.

In addition to the N49 free airtime, all Multi-Links Telkom customers and prospective subscribers will also be enjoying for free other value added services.

These, she listed to include free call forwarding, three-way call, call transfer and call waiting.

Abazie further said, Nigeria and its people deserved all the accolades at this occasion of its independent celebration having remained one indivisible entity in spite of the twists and turns on its road to clocking 49 years old post independent as a nation.

The CCAO, Multi-Links Telkom noted that with the call forwarding, Multi-Links Telkom customers can forward their mobile or fixed numbers to another line for free.

She explained further the call forwarding service would is activated when there is no response (answer) to the calling party.

“This service would also be triggered when the subscriber phone is switched off or
when the subscriber is out of the coverage area,” she said, pointing out that the three-way calling service allows three parties to hold three-way voice conversations on the network for free, while the call transfer is a service that allows Multi-Links Telkom’s subscribers to connect two parties together to have a conversation.

The call waiting service, according to her, is a default feature enabling a Multi-Links Telkom subscriber on a call to switch to another in-coming call while the other call is on hold.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Foreign software craze: ISPON members battle NPA, C/Rivers govt

Members of the Institute of Software Practitioners (ISPON), have criticized the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Cross Rivers State government over the invitations for the bidding of Oracle solutions including the Database Engine and Pay Roll by the two government institutions.
This, software experts said negates the purposes of promoting local software.

ITRealms Online recalls that Nigerian software practitioners have been clamouring for indigenization of software usage in the country and are very well known in Human Resources and Pay Roll applications.

  NPA it was gathered, last two months and precisely August 24, invited expression of interest through advertorial in some of the nation’s newspapers for “Invitation to tender for supply of licensed Oracle 11g RDBMS Database for the Nigerian Ports Authority” and “Invitation to tender for supply, installation and implementation of Oracle human resources application software.”

  Whereas the Cross Rivers State government on September 29, 2009 ran its own advertorial on ‘Specific Procurement Notice Invitation for bids under international competitive bidding (ICB)” for the procurement of software, hardware and accessories for BATMIS with credit number: 4084-UNI.

  However, stakeholders found fault with the both advertorials, especially with the NPA invitation to bid tagged public notice “3718” and “3719” alleging that they did not comply with the so much professed due process of the current Musa Yar’Adua’s government.

  For some who spoke to ITRealms Online on condition of anonymity said that if the Federal Government is implementation an electronic payment system, which is on-going and have due process office, why should NPA summon the encourage to advertise for the implementation of the Human resource aspect of the invitation at this time of stringent spending, especially in the public sector.

  “Thereby throwing the tax payers amount of money to advertise inconsequentiality,” one of our resources declared, arguing that in the first instance, NPA should be aware of the government’s determination to patronize local software developers following a circular by the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration on giving local developers the first options.

  In addition, our respondent indicated that the call for bidding by NPA implies that the company is biased in its choice of application, especially as it specifically requested for Oracle brand.

  “Which means NPA has made up its mind to buy Oracle without giving opportunities for local software developers,” our source stressed.

  As for the Cross State government, our sources said that it is as guilty like NPA and called for immediate stop of this crazy, mostly by government agencies, decrying that capital flight involve is enough for an upstart to stand and stand firm.

  Reacting to these developments, the Second Vice President, ISPON, Dr. Chris Uwaje, agreed that Oracle has assumed the presence of a global software under “Database Engine,” saying that it is one of the classes of software that Nigerians are yet to master and therefore requires foreign service delivery.

  “Other classes of Software Nigerians may not be capable to deliver in the next few years are: Operating System, and Internet Engines,” he asserted, noting that this does not mean that where Nigerians have competence like the human resource should be kept local as earlier directed by the government through a circular to all its agencies.

  Uwaje also said that the likely implications are of two-fold, namely that all foreign software entering Nigeria are not yet being tested before application and usage, thus he insisted that they must be subjected to Mandatory Testing and import certification approval before usage.

  Emphasizing that undue patronage of foreign software against where the local software exist amounts to compromising of national security and capital flight in foreign exchange.

  He advised that in order to stop this trend Nigeria should institute a national master plan for software development.

  “There is need for a national master plan, policy, standard and legislation for all software in circulation in Nigeria,” he said.

  Further, he explained, Dr. Uwaje said, the policy when in place must empower indigenous software developers through allocation of special Information and Software projects.

  “Nigerians are very good and capable in “Application Software, Engineering and Development. All they need is the enabling environment, which consists of a software development parks, government patronage, development incentives such as tax-free pioneer status holiday and interest free loan.

  ISPON is the umbrella body of all software developers in Nigeria and has been reportedly in comatose for some years; even as industry observers have predicted that this resuscitated war over local versus foreign software dealers could be an opportunity to for ISPON to relaunch itself in nation’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

  Efforts made to get contact the Acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs at NPA, Mr. Musa Ilya, for the agencies position was not fruitful as at the time of going to the press, as the agency refused to respond to our email or short message service (SMS).

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Essence of connecting MDAs via Galaxy

Some Information and Communications Technology (ICT) editors were on tour of Galaxy Backbone Plc infrastructure recently. REMMY NWEKE, who was there writes on the essence of connecting ministries, departments and agencies of government to the network.

The essence of harmonizing the connectivity among government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as far as deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is concerned came to the fore recently in Abuja, during a one-day media facility tour of Galaxy Backbone (GBB) Plc.

  GBB, a public enterprise of the federal government established to build and operate a single nationwide Information Technology (IT) infrastructure platform to provide network services to all Federal Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs). In addition GBB is to manage all database and transversal services with the goal of integrating people technology and best practices to operate a financially independent company.

  The company also has the mandate to provide connectivity and digital access that will enable relevant solutions for e-governance to rural areas and other underserved communities in the country.

  After the facility tour which covered the Network Operating Centre (NOC), otherwise known as the hub of Galaxy Backbone operations with switches, back-up imaging system and a 24 - hour network management centre for monitoring performance of satellites as well as the utilization system of the network, the Managing Director, GBB Plc, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe was summoned to throw more light in some grey areas.

  During his speech, the bottom line was that Nigeria as a country needs infrastructure standardization so as to strengthen various deployment for the overall benefit of the populace eventually.

  Some of the challenges faced by organizations in the extension of projects into rural communities could be overcome with the adoption of a holistic approach to infrastructure development.

  He recommended a holistic approach which entails that money previously earmarked for continuous building and civil works could be committed to projects with multiple utility advantages.

  Hence, at Galaxy Backbone, he said, the business model is to ensure maximization of facilities already on ground in the deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to rural and underserved communities under the National Information, Communication Education Programme (NICEP).

  He explained, for instance, that NICEP is an ICT policy intervention project for the realization of the objectives of e-government and key objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

  “It is a platform for digital inclusion that provides benefits of ICT to all areas of the country particularly hard - to - reach areas and underserved communities through the deployment of 5,000 Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) nodes across the country,” he said.

  Mr. Ilukwe also revealed that over 2,300 connectivity points have been achieved by Galaxy Backbone with more underway, noting that in a mono - cultural economy like Nigeria, which is dependent on oil. ICT, he said, as a driver of technology has not been able to sell its value which is to achieve efficiency, stressing that Galaxy Backbone as a government agency has a responsibility to develop the ICT ecosystem in Nigeria and not to kill the private sector. Thus, Galaxy sticks to its core - competences and out-source services to others.

  The Galaxy Backbone boss confirmed that most federal ministries and departments have been connected to Galaxy Backbone common ICT network platform under the standard known as 1-GOV.net. Digital inclusion projects, he said, are ongoing in federal tertiary institutions and unity schools across the country, while five states are currently having active collaboration with Galaxy Backbone. The sites are in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Kaduna, Rivers and Lagos state. 

  Pointing out that GBB is doing is to provide the internet connectivity, data connectivity. Like in Kaduna State, he said what they did was to connect their board for internal revenue to help increase the revenue base of their internal revenue for the state. Just as Galaxy offers Virtual Private network (VPN) to some state governments.

As matter of fact, Rivers State government has gone ahead of other states in the South-south in terms of ICT, so we are working with them to improve the internally generated revenue and health programmes. He cited for instance that in Delta State, Galaxy helped them to connect to the state teaching hospital on their e-health through video-conferencing facilities. Equally, Galaxy provides services to a number of universities, including the University of Calabar and most of the universities have GBB services through the National Universities Commission (NUC).

  Earlier the editors were conducted round Galaxy Backbone facilities and equipment including the state of the art Data Centre, which has the capacity for 30 TB storage and dedicated carrier broadband connectivity, using wireless, fibre optic, satellite (VSAT), or a mix of the technologies to deliver excellent services to customers.

  As the business grows and the primary customers begin to appreciate the change Galaxy offers, the government policy makers agree with it, but the other government policy maker will need the IT edge and the customers and users on a day-to-day basis.

  In South Africa, a similar organization has 2,400 …. Nigeria has less than 10 per cent of that today but then again South Africa has a unitary system of government, so their job starts from the national government to the municipal and provincial government and still they have a 1,200 people on sub-contract.

  So, how to handle a service or an assignment or project is a function of the nature of that particular project, recalling that one of the responsibilities GBB shoulders is that of developing the ICT eco-system.

  “We are not here to deny the private ICT companies the opportunity to do business with government. In some cases, we are more of a clearing house or an arbitrator or a manager of service providers,” he said.

  He emphasized that ICT service provision is support service and is only useful in as far as the service makes you appreciate the value. If somebody tells that a particular laptop is fantastic and it does not help you then it is meaningless to you. One of the challenges that ICT has had in government and indeed in every part of our country is that ICT, in a way, has not been able to set its value. It has not connected to government that is one.

  He recollected that Nigeria is a mono-cultural economy, where all the talk is about oil, stressing that the unfortunate consequence of that is that irrespective of how inefficient your operations are, in so far as the oil is coming out everybody is carrying on.

  But the primary driver of technology is to achieve efficiency in business and that would mean focusing on performance and efficiency, which have not been critical drivers of government because the funding has always not been there.

  “That is why technology had a hard time penetrating government. Most of the time Nigeria has spoken about technology it has come in disjointed form when people tend to mix up bringing an IT economy for Nigeria with using ICT in government to enhance public sector service delivery. People mix that up. I know for a start that there are a few major initiative in this current administration that are user-led which is where ICT, like I said is disconnected, technology as an end in itself, does not work.

  Yet, that is what Galaxy is here to correct, recalling that hitherto, ministries build their own network, such as the ministry of education, for example, some years back wanted to have their own network for all secondary schools and have a network for all universities. Now, he said, GBB is working with them to say a single network and infrastructure platform could support them. Although peoples are still looking for budget to build their data centres, meanwhile they could bring their servers and put in one location. It is more efficient it allow for interoperability of systems.

  Today, he said, Galaxy is interested in NITEL, because it has a mission and does not believe in reinventing the wheel. “If we can achieve our mission given to us by the Federal Government through access that NITEL has, it will be more efficient for us in terms of time, more efficient for the federal government and more efficient for our eco-system as stakeholders who will benefit from our services.

  The truth is that any MDAs yet unconnected to the Galaxy’s NOC before the end of this 2011, will not only be missing in action, but have a lot to regret because when their contemporaries have gone a step further, it may be playing a catch-up. 

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Four Nigerian SSS students emerge Microsoft professionals

Four students of Christ the Cornerstone International School (CTCIS), Ikeja GRA, Lagos, have emerged as the latest additions of the Microsoft Certified Professionals.
They included 15-year old Ahmodu Steven Jnr, 12-year Taylor Olufemi Jnr, 13-year Adaeze Ugwu and Verissimo Isaac – 16.

Their emergence came after they passed the professional online examination in flying colours with three of them scoring 1000 over 1000, while one scored 960 per cent.

Disclosing this, at the weekend, the Managing Director, New Horizon, Mr. Tim Akano said the students took the examination in his school and they are proud to be associated with their school.

  While congratulating CTCIS management, Akano urged them not to relent in nurturing young people to embrace Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

  He stressed that the best way to rebrand a nation like Nigeria at this time, is to start with the pupils, so that when they grow, they would not depart from what they have learnt.

  In her remark, CTCIS principal, Mrs. Bunmi Olusanya, said they appreciate the partnership with New Horizons, which has actually opened a new horizon for the school in ICT sphere.

  “It is high level of efficiency that brought about the news of being Microsoft Professional by our students today. We never regretted the association we have with New Horizons,” she said.

  Also, she said that three out of the four students scored 1000 over 1000, leaving one with just 960 per cent.

  She looks forward to having all students of her school Microsoft Certified before leaving the Senior Secondary School (SSS).

  “I always believed that a child should have a marketable skill by 16 or 18 years,” she declared.

  For the students, they have made a mark in the history of Microsoft and hope to sustain the tempo.

  Speaking to ITRealms Online, Adaeze Ugwu said she was delighted to have passed the professional examination, noting that two years ago, it would have been an impossible dream.

  On his part, the 13-year Taylor Olufemi, “I am happy to have achieved being part of the global Microsoft community.”

  For Isaac, his mum and proprietress encouraged him to go for it and today, he is proud to have heeded to their advice.

  CTCIS was established over 10 years ago, with the objective to provide education that would made a difference in the country. 

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Technology Distribution plans biggest ICT mall in Africa

The management of Technology Distribution (TD) West Africa Limited is planning to build a multi-million Information and Communications Technology (ICT) mall at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

  The ICT mall touted to be biggest of its kind on the continent and Middle East has taken off.

  Chairman of Zinox Group, the parent company of Technology Distribution, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, made this disclosure last week in Lagos at the official unveiling of TD partnership deal with Dell Corporation.

  Also, he said, a new electronic learning (e-learning) suite would soon hit the market from the stables of TD to further advance education of Nigerians.

  “TD is Number 1 in West Africa and plans to be Number 1 in Africa,” he asserted.
  Equally speaking at the event, the Lagos State commissioner for Science and Technology, Dr. Hamza Kadri, described TD as a good company with integrity and commended Dell for the choice of TD.

  He pointed out that the potential growth expected on the continent is actually in Nigeria, stressing that the challenge for Dell now is to bring down its factory here.

  According to him, it is only those who saw the challenges in this environment as opportunities that it eventually harvest from it.

  In order to better the environment, the commissioner revealed that Lagos State government is working hard to improve the security of its domain.

  For this reason, he said, Lagos has commenced actions towards installing about 5,000 CCTV and is building a data centre to support the activities of the government.

  He therefore, urged Dell to take the advantage of the country and Lagos precisely in taking a reasonable presence apart from coming to market its finished products.

  In his speech, the country manager, Dell Corporation, Mr. Harold Anumihe, said the company has come to stay in Nigeria, as such it now has spare parts depots in five locations nationwide, namely Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kaduna.

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