" ITREALMS: November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Omololu tasks Nigerian IT managers on capacity building

Information Technology (IT) managers have been challenged to embrace the culture of capacity building in technology to be abreast with development especially in the insurance sector.

Giving this advice last Thursday at the second Insurance Technology InTech Expo in Lagos, was the Group Head (IT) Capital Express Group, Mr. Temowo Omololu.

Omololu, who spoke on Insurance e-business and IT challenges, said one of the major problems confronting insurance IT managers is that they do not operate at the same level with their management.

He identified IT and business challenges as the two major problems facing IT deployment in the sector.

According to Temowo insurance companies are getting better just as he identified business process review, people management, technology demand and new culture as the effect of these challenges.

On people management, he said, they (people) at all levels drive business successes, adding that many management would not invest in IT because they lack confidence in their IT managers, a situation which, he said, would lead them into engaging another hand.

“Any business that does not see the need for IT in going forward will die,” he said.

He said technology demand today requires the three Ps; people, process and product, right technological tools, business continuity strategy and management support among others.

Also speaking at the event, Microsoft System Builder and Channel partner account manager, Mr. Sam Adeyemi, said traditional insurance practices of physical contract and lots of paper works are now giving way for emergence of technology in the sector.

Speaking on “E-commerce and insurance; requirement for the emergence of advanced distribution channels, Adeyemi said the elements in e-commerce require that there must be a product, a place to sell it, a way to get people to come to the website and a way of accepting orders.

Other elements he said include the way to accept money, fulfillment facility to ship products to customers, way to accept reform, warranty as well as to provide customer service.

On the benefit of e-commerce, he said it will lower transaction costs, larger purchase per transaction, integration into the business circle as well as allowing people shop in different ways.

Adeyemi also said it will lead to improved customer interaction and larger catalogue for companies.

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Etisalat bags two awards @ NiTTA-09

The fifth mobile operator in the country, Etisalat Nigeria, has won dual awards at this year’s Nigeria Information Technology and Telecommunication Awards (NITTA) 2009.

The awards came in the categories of the ‘Fastest Growing GSM Company of the Year’ and the ‘Best Marketing Campaign of the Year’ respectively.

According to the organizers, IT and Telecoms Digest, the NITTA, currently in its eight year, has become the benchmark for measuring of performance and rewarding excellence in the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector in the country.

Speaking on the prizes, the Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Steve Evans said that the awards reflected the company’s growth drive in the country.

“This indeed is an endorsement that reflects our growth in Nigeria. Our growth, in turn, has been impressive because of our focus on the customer as the centre of our business operations.

With our subscriber base now in excess of 2 million, this awards could not have come at a better time,” he said.

ITRealms Online, gathered that the current awards came simultaneously with two other awards won by Etisalat Nigeria in the Etisalat Group Innovation Awards 2009 held in Babs Al Sham Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE).

The company came first in Integrated Branding with its 0809ja campaign and in Social Responsibility with its Adopt-A-School programme.

Etisalat, which commenced operations in Nigeria in October 2008, introduced riveting products into the market including its pre-paid packages, Easy starter and Easy cliq, its internet package, Easynet and its post paid package, Elite World, all of which offer a wide array of creative and exciting features designed to satisfy all communications needs of its subscribers.

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The Story of NITEL for launch in Lagos

A book with forward by the Executive Vice Chairman, (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and entitled ‘The Story of NITEL: An Archetype Government Enterprise’ is now set for launch in Lagos this weekend.

The book written by the Managing Editor of eWorld Magazine, Mr. Aaron Ukodie, was reviewed by industry notable, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, the vice chairman, Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN).

Published by Ajomedia Limited, the book presentation, he said, would take place at Oceanview, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Saturday, December 5, this year.

According to Ukodie, the book which equally revealed how Senate President, David Mark fought with late General Sanni Abacha when, the former was Communications Minister, over NITEL aircraft among others formed part of the book, even as how the once vibrant and viable government telecommunications company was wrecked by its operators and supervisors, while government looked on.

Ukodie pointed out that the book gives a detailed account of the roles of various actors in the now widely known NITEL saga and quagmire.

Based on the foreward by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the book is a researched work on the processes that reduced the former telecom monopoly to a beggarly status and offers a case study of how many public organisations are run in Nigeria, and how national interests and well being are oftentimes sacrificed on the altars of personal and sectional interests.

Ndukwe said in his forward that the book is well researched, factual and written in a vivid form.
Chief Ezekiel Fatoye, a one time Executive Director of NITEL who has also read through the book agrees with Ndukwe, when he said “you remind us of things long forgotten; the book is well written.”

Readers, he said, will find in the book the roles played by various key individuals such as Nasir el-Rufai, who as a one time NITEL contractor went on later as Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) to labour to bring NITEL to its knees.

The legendary roles played by the German Managing Director of Siemens, Eduard Seidel, who in his days was referred by NITEL staff as alternate CEO of the company because of his influence on several Ministers of Communications and CEOs of NITEL. You will read how a magazine report put spanners on a contract signed between late Chief Moshood Abiola and General M uhammadu Buhari.

Additionally, readers will also find how Mark, arguably the most powerful Minister of Communications in Nigeria, till date influenced events in NITEL, ran NITEL contracts through anticipatory approvals, in many cases based on flimsy excuses and had his ways with General Ibrahim Babangida.

Ukodie noted that the objective of writing the book is to also support the argument that governments, especially those in Africa, and particularly in Nigeria, are not the best managers of enterprises.

“It is not because such governments lack the requisite expertise within its rank, but largely because political patronages stand in the way of effective and efficient management of enterprises; and again, because government business is often perceived as no man’s business by the majority of government officials,” he asserted.

The book to be reviewed by Engineer Titi Omo-Ettu, Vice Chairman of Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN) and Chairman of the Lagos Executive Cyberschuul, who himself was a switching manager at NITEL, at the time when the company made headway in its development efforts.

Ukodie is regarded as an authority in the unveiling story of NITEL having followed the company from its formative year in 1985, coinciding on the year he began his journalism career with the Guardian reporting communications, the job he has continued to do ever since.

The book contains not only his experiences and researches, but also comments and expose by notable figures such as former Minister of Communications, now Commissioner of the NCC, Chief Olawale Ige.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nigeria’s teledensity soars above 50% – Ndukwe

•Bags NITTA award, 37 others too

Chief executive officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe had identified two outlines for African growth at this 21st century, just as Nigeria has joined the League of Nations with teledensities of over 50 per cent.

Ndukwe who delivered the inaugural lecture at the African Telecom Hall of Fame, which formed part of the 2009 edition of the Nigerian Information Technology and Telecom Awards (NITTA-09) organised by IT & Telecom Digest in Lagos, last weekend, noted that two major infrastructure components must be embraced with precision if Africa would catch up with other parts of the world.
Also, Ndukwe, bagged the Pillar of Telecom in Africa award at NITTA-09 alongside 37 others at various categories.
These include efficient and reliable public electric power supply as well as pervasive, reliable and modern Information and Communications Technology, infrastructure and services.
"I have identified as pivotal for Africa to improve its standing in the global reckoning are: Efficient and reliable public electric power supply and pervasive, reliable and modern Information and Communications Technology, infrastructure and services," Ndukwe said.
He also expressed believe that if Africa could get these two infrastructure components right, the other factors of economic growth and development will fall in line and the continent would firmly be on the path of major economic growth.
"With respect to the ICT infrastructure component, the wave of market liberalisation that swept across the world in the last decade has positively impacted the continent and nearly all African countries except Ethiopia, have opened up to private local and foreign investment in the Communications sector," he said.
In keeping with this vision, most African countries have embraced market reform and liberalisation resulting in several notable success stories, thus providing useful examples for other developing nations to emulate.
In the last eight years, several African countries have been part of this revolution propelled mostly by digital mobile services and with the licensing of competitive operators across Africa, the growth has been geometric.
"In Nigeria, for example, an average growth of over 8 million lines per annum has been recorded from 2001 to 2009," he revealed.
ICTs, he said, have been widely acknowledged as presenting copious opportunities for the creation of unprecedented economic growth for Africa, pointing out that most African governments have demonstrated the political will necessary to foster an environment conducive for investment in this sector.
He said, most African countries, therefore, have progressed to a period of communications boom that have opened up new possibilities and frontiers across business, political, social and economic landscape.
"Indeed there has been a revival in the telecom industry and history has been made. A recent report by Wireless Intelligence puts the mobile subscriber base in Africa at 280 million users by the end of March 2008. The African continent has thus surpassed North Armenia in terms of mobile subscribers with US and Canada polling 277 million users only," he noted.
Equally, he quoted Wireless Intelligence as reporting that Africa is the world's fastest growing mobile market today with 38 per cent growth in 2007, putting Africa ahead of the Middle East 33 per cent and Asia Pacific 29 per cent.
"Within continent, the Republic of South Africa had over the years maintained a lead as Africa's largest telecom market by subscriber numbers until January 2008, when Nigeria took over the lead as Africa's largest telecom market in terms of number of connected lines," he said.
He recalled that the Nigerian revolution began in August 2001, when two newly licensed digital mobile operators rolled out services in competition with the incumbent, Mtel.
A year later in 2002, a second national operator was licensed which subsequently rolled out mobile services in 2003. The combined inputs of the digital mobile operators and the fixed wireless operators licensed earlier have contributed to what is now generally referred to as Nigeria's telecommunications revolution.
"Since then, the nation has not been the same. Telephone signals tones can be accessed in all the States of the Federation; Nigeria has joined the League of Nations with Teledensities of over 50 per cent; internet usage is now common place in several cities across the country. Computer labs with internet connectivity have dotted several schools, colleges and tertiary institutions.
Also in the area of local value added, computers are now assembled locally with local brand names and specifications. Software developers have also been active in providing some of the needs of the ICT industry, even as recharge cards for multifarious communications services are manufactured locally.
Meanwhile, other winners at the eight edition of NITTA comprised the e-Health Medical Centre of the Year - Herzliya Medical Centre Nigeria (HMCN), Nigerian Telecom CEO of the Year – Maher Qubain, Best GSM Operator of the Year – MTN Nigeria, Corporate Social Responsibility Company of the Year – MTN Nigeria, Best Marketing Campaign of the Year – Etisalat, Fastest Growing GSM Company of the Year – Etisalat, Best Customer Care Company of the Year – Zain Nigeria, Best CDMA Company of the Year – Starcomms, Best Internet Product of the Year – IZAP – by Starcomms, Best New Telecom Investor of the Year – Telkom SA, Best VSAT Company of the Year – Netcom Africa, Best Internet Company of the Year – Direct on PC, Best e-Bank of the Year – Zenith Bank, Best People-Oriented Telecom Company of the Year – Globacom, Telecom Personality of the Year – Funke Opeke, Pan African Telecom Company of the Year – Globacom, E-Payment Company of the Year – Interswitch, Pillar of Telecom in Africa - Ernest Ndukwe, Diamond Award: Best Communications Minister - Cornelius Adebayo.

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9ijilion winners applaud Etisalat

Subscribers of the fifth Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator, Etisalat Nigeria, especially those who won in the just concluded grand finale of the 9jillions promo, have applauded the company for empowering Nigerians.

For instance, Ms. Bukola Fadairo, a gold trader and a finalist from the Sokoto edition of the game show knew no bounds when her team won another N4 million in the just-concluded Etisalat 9jillion promotions having won over N3 million naira at the regional One Million Dollar Game Show.

“Etisalat has done it again. When I won millions in Sokoto, I thought that was the end, winning another million at the grand finale is amazing. It is the work of God and I thank God for using Etisalat,” Fadairo said.

Another winner, Esther Ofefagha, a vendor and finalist from the Benin regional game show, it was a case of prayers answered.

“When I got the invitation to the grand finale I was excited but on getting here and seeing so many people, I just started praying in my mind to have the opportunity to play. When my number was called with the guarantee of a million naira, I was so grateful to Etisalat for the opportunity of a lifetime,” Ofefagha declared.

Equally, Mr. Edward Amiah, a student of the University of Port Harcourt was gunning for the star prize, he was still full of praises to Etisalat for rewarding him with another N1 million, having won N2.2 million with his team at the Enugu edition.

“Although I had my eye on the star prize, but I didn’t even know that I could still win a million naira if I didn’t win the star prize. I thought it was the star prize or nothing until the presenter announced that all the finalists are going home with a minimum of a million naira. Etisalat is too much. The company indeed restored my hope of higher education when I won at Enugu, so this is another good Etisalat has done in my life,” he asserted.

A 300 level law student of the Abia State University, Oyidiya Torti, who had won N2.2 million previously was full of kind words for Etisalat.

According to her, “Etisalat is real, it is the best GSM Company and I am so grateful to them for the opportunity to win a million naira again. God will never cease to bless and prosper their business as they affect the lives of Nigerians positively.”

Other winners who came with their relations from different parts of the country expressed their gratitude to Etisalat for doubling their fortune and making them millionaires for the second time. They could not hide their emotions as they celebrated and enjoyed themselves at the after party organised for the millionaires to celebrate the glorious end of the promo.

The star prize money of One Million Dollars was won by Kizito Egeonu, a medical student of the University of Jos.

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‘Multi-Links is best broadband company’

Multi-Links Telkom has been voted the best broadband internet provider by the organizers of the Nigerian Information Technology and Telecommunications Awards (NITTA) 2009.

This development came as its parent company, Telkom South Africa has been recognized as the best new telecom investor of the year at the same event.

Affirming this, the Public Relations Manager at Multi-Links Telkom, Mr. Abiodun Bayo, said that the awards were received by the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer (CSMO), Mrs. Dipuo Msimang, was companied at the event by the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Mrs. Ijeoma Obazie.

According to him, subscribers’ preference for Multi-Links Telkom’s Internet service branded 3G Blue Broadband was justified at the 8th NITTA 2009 held at the Grand Ballroom, Eko Hotel, Lagos.

At the event which featured the first ever “African Telecom Hall of Fame Lecture Series,” Multi-Links Telkom’s Internet Service riding on the EV-DO Rev. A technology was adjudged the “Best New Broadband Product of the Year.”

The inaugural lecture of the series was delivered by the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Engineer (Dr.) Ernest Ndukwe.

He also noted that Telkom SA was honoured with the largest fixed line operator on the African continent.

“It won the award of the ‘Best New Telecom Investor of the Year’ for its investment acumen which led to the acquisition of Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited,” he said.

The award ceremony which was graced by the captains of the telecommunications industry also had in attendance top officials of the NCC and the Chairman of Zinox Computers, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh among other dignitaries.

While other top officials of Multi-Links Telkom present at the award night were the Executive Product Development, Mr. Andre van Zyl, Rep of CIO, Mafika W. Nkanbule, Acting Executive Advertising and Promotions, Mr. Sunny Nwokoro, acting Senior Manager, and Manager Marketing, Mr. Babawale Oluokun.

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Glo offers free Yahoo mail access

Subscribers of Glo Mobile’s prepaid Blackberry service now have the liberty to access their internet mails on Yahoo free of charge.

Disclosing this, Globacom’s Head of Blackberry Sales, Mr. Olawunmi Jewesimi, said Monday in Lagos, that the development makes Glo the only network in Nigeria availing Blackberry users access to Yahoo mail account without charging them any additional fee.

“Generally, other operators charge subscribers about $20 (about N3,000) to add Yahoo mail service to their Blackberry services,” Jewesimi was quoted as saying in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online.

Jewesimi also said the company introduced free Yahoo mail service to afford subscribers more fun and value on the Blackberry device.

“This is in line with our commitment to avail our subscribers the best value at the most competitive rate. Comparatively, Glo Blackberry offers users the best value for the price they pay. For instance, our monthly access charge of N4, 800 is the lowest in the market,” Jewesimi declared.

He explained that the Glo prepaid Blackberry enables users to connect to Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Hotmail, MSN and Messenger.

These, he said, are some of the advantages Glo prepaid Blackberry has over competing products in the market.

“Glo has the widest GPRS coverage in the country, and this makes it possible for subscribers to use Blackberry anywhere in the country. We also offer unlimited service usage, lowest rates in town and very flexible bundle offerings,” he said.

The Blackberry internet service rates range from N400 to N4, 800 depending on whether the subscriber wants daily, weekly or monthly access.

For the “Bisday” package, the subscriber enjoys 24 hours unlimited access for just N400.

The Bisweek package attracts a rental service fee of N1,500 and gives 7 days unlimited access, while Bismonth has a monthly rental fee of N4,800 and gives the user unlimited access for 30 days.

Glo Blackberry runs on a push technology, which enables emails to be forwarded to the device once the user is in the GPRS coverage area. It enables users to make calls, view attachments, download music and movies, enjoy SMS, MMS, plan daily activities and browse the website anytime.

The service also offers free Instant Messaging, free picture messaging, free group chat and organizer and PIM functions including contacts, calendar and memos.

“To get BlackBerry services on their pre-paid line, subscribers are required to simply send the corresponding keyword to ‘777’. For example, to subscribe to a weekly package, the subscriber should text BISWEEK to ‘777’,” Jewesimi asserted.

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Starcomms introduces Afritalk

As competition gets keener, a leading Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Starcomms plc, has introduced voice chat on its network, described as Afritalk.

A press statement from the company quoted the chief executive officer, Starcomms, Mr. Maher Qubain, as saying that the voice chat service would help customers to foster relationships among other Starcomms subscribers whose personal traits align with theirs.

According to him, Starcomms Afritalk, would enable customers to relate by voice with people who are not on their phone lists and so extend their span of influence.

He explained that to enjoy Afritalk, subscriber could dial *3333 and follow the voice prompt to create their profile in their own rich format and get their identity number which would be their number to reach by anyone after the invitation has been accepted by both the Starcomms Afritalk service subscribers.

“Starcomms Afritalk enthusiasts will be able to find friends, based on the criteria they request, who match their profile and their invitation to be able to connect with the new contact on
Starcomms network through voice chat,” he explained.

To call their contact on Afritalk, Qubain said that one would need to dial the allocated numeric Afritalk identity from their Starcomms phones and continue talking without revealing the real identity.

“Telephony is a major factor in networking socially. We recognized this fact and launched previously the Starcomms Africhat service connecting people through SMS mode and now have come up with Starcomms Afritalk voice chat service as a way of linking up people with kindred spirit on Starcomms network,” he said, stressing that it would go a long way in cultivating new relationships on Starcomms that were not pre-existing anywhere.

With Afritalk, Starcomms users, he pointed out, would be able to build a list of friends that they could call through the unique Afritalk identity that the friends have without revealing their real phone number.

“They can send voice messages as well as SMS to their friends through the same channel,” he said.

Equally speaking, Starcomms Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Tushar Maheshwari, said that apart from the fact that Afritalk widens the scope of our customers’ social circle, “it is a highly subsidized way of having a conversation on our network.”

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Zaku roots for Made-in-Nigeria PCs

•As SON certifies Omatek

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Alhassan Bako Zaku, has tasked Nigerians to see the call for patronage of Made in Nigeria products beyond clothing, but more in other areas, especially goods manufactured in the country like personal computers.

This is coming as Omatek Computer Limited, weekend, was presented with NIS-ISO 2001 by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), even as SON has exempted Omatek from all its port charges.

Speaking at the presentation and facility visit to Omatek Computer factory at Opebi-Lagos, Dr. Zaku said that Nigerians must patronize made in Nigeria products across board because they are made with some specifics for the country, which are meant to benefit the citizenry.

He congratulated Omatek for coming thus far in the assembling of computers through Knocked Down System, he said that the Federal Government has always tried to encourage local manufacturers despite defaulting few, who abuse the process.

“That is why the federal government is often discouraged privileges are abused by businesses,” he decried, stressing that the Ministry of Science and Technology is determined to partner with the likes of Omatek to reduce cost of its products through engagement of local and internationally certified engineers in fabrication of components.

He singled out the Omatek solar solution, describing it as an exciting product that is affordable and promised that his ministry would support Omatek in deploying this effectively, mostly in public schools nationwide, so as to further boost the availability of personal computers (PCs) without the attendant electricity headaches.

Equally speaking before presenting the ISO-2001 certificate to Omatek, the Director-General of SON, Dr. John Akanya, expressed happiness over the consistency of the computer company in advancing the standard of its products to always align with the global best principles.

According to Akanya, the NSO certificate is earned based on standards set by the Nigerian government through SON, hence, it is about improving the quality of products manufactured locally.

Nigeria, he said, would soon sign a pact with China to control businesses from that country and to ensure that they meet with standards set by the Nigerian authorities.

SON, he said, has exempted Omatek from all its port charges as part of encouragement to the computer company.

“We need to encourage and support Omatek,” he declared, maintaining that SON would continue to support companies like Omatek, so that they could be able to compete adequately.

He commended the staff of Omatek, for making the award of this certificate feasible and urged them not to despair.

For the Group Managing Director, Omatek Group, Mrs. Florence Seriki, receiving the ISO certificate is an honour her company would continue to cherish for a long time and even sustain it so as to get a higher rating from SON.

She paid tribute to the board, management and staff for this feat and promised to continue the giant stride which the company has made in its over 21 years of operation and transformation from a small scale entity to a public quoted company.

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MultiChoice increases e-learning centres to 141

As part of its corporate social responsibility, MultiChoice Nigeria, one of Nigeria’s leading premium pay-TV operators, has increased to 141 its resource centres with the launch of Oyo and Sokoto states in September and October respectively.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online by the Head, Corporate Communications, MultiChoice Nigeria, Mr. Segun Fayose said the firm’s resource centre project, which began in 2004, is already in its sixth phase with a total of 141 centres launched in public secondary schools across 14 States of the federation with Oyo and Sokoto being the latest beneficiaries.

The project which is aimed at boosting learning in public schools, according to the company, would also provide training and support for teachers so that they can integrate the available content into teaching programmes to benefit all the children in their care.

The paid TV operator opened shop in the country in 1994 with an array of channels on its bouquets aimed at taking entertainment to another level.

The company in 2004 introduced a specially developed bouquet of seven learning channels for secondary schools with the aim of helping to revamp teaching and learning processes as well as broadening the horizon and spectra of experiential learning by equipping these schools with audio-visual equipment through which the education bouquet can be accessed.

He also noted that in supporting the drive for science and technology as vanguard for Nigerian educational progress, MultiChoice launched these centres in public schools in partnership with SchoolNet, a non-profit organization of stakeholders in education.

SchoolNet is committed to the effective use of Information and communications technologies (ICTs), for enhancing teaching, learning and management processes in Nigerian schools.

The digital platform is today being leveraged into a powerful learning tool benefiting thousands across the length and breadth of the country.

Lined up in the sixth phase apart from Oyo and Sokoto States are Borno and Delta States.

Lagos and Abuja were pioneer beneficiaries of the resource centres with four and three centres respectively.

Kaduna and Enugu States had seven centres apiece in the phase two while the third, fourth and fifth phases included Cross-River, Kano in 2007, Abia, Ekiti, Katsina and Bauchi in 2008, Ogun, Gombe, Rivers and Kogi, this year where 10 centres were donated apiece to the states.

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LG Electronics lifts UNILAG with 100 pcs

LG Electronics Nigeria has lifted the Engineering Design Laboratory at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka-Lagos, with over 100 branded personal computers.

The facility which is funded by LG Electronics, the company said was part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contribution to Nigeria and particularly Lagos, were it has presence.

In his address at the commissioning ceremony, the Managing Director, LG Electronics, Mr. B.W. Park, said the funding for the upgrading of the Engineering Design Laboratory represents a major achievement for LG Electronics in pursuit of its CSR.

According to him, “today marks a significant milestone in the history of LG Electronics and indeed our engagement with the Nigerian society because the commissioning of the newly upgraded Engineering Design Laboratory allows us the opportunity to turn a new page in the history of this great university – the University of Lagos.”

He also said that the determination to consistently impact on the lives of people and communities around the world, especially where the company has presence was the motivation behind the initiative.

Mr. Park noted that LG Electronics is proud to be associated with the UNILAG in its bid to support educational development by contributing in ways that furthers practical application of scientific knowledge, which the company believes that it helps in nurturing quality professionals for the benefit of the larger society.

He stressed that LG Electronics is indeed glad to have found a platform for intervention in the University of Lagos and the educational sector in Nigeria.

The managing director, further said LG Electronics has been active in supporting public institutions through social initiatives to including women and children, as well as partnering with other corporate organizations in Nigeria across diverse sectors such as in health, entertainment and sports for public good.

As said by him, this action reflects the position of LG Electronics as a pivotal player in re-enacting the Nigerian spirit and promoting the values of the Nigerian people, pointing out that the achievement of LG Electronics in this sphere also underscores its values as an equal opportunity company whose policies in employment creation, economic empowerment are in alignment with the aspiration of the people at all times.

Mr. Park emphasized that the launch of the first television that incorporated elements of the three major Nigerian languages of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, into its product, dubbed the Naija Teli.

This, he said remains an eloquent testimony of the extent LG Electronics has gone in identifying with and promoting the values of Nigeria, outlining the fact that the company had gone beyond the success of Naija Teli, by consistently churning out products to meet specific needs of target groups in the country even as its committed to being a part of the success story of the people of this great nation.

“LG Electronics is fully aware that today’s commissioning of the state-of-the-art Computer Laboratory in the faculty of Engineering will not only complement the commitment to research by raising the bar in engineering design,” he asserted.

LG, he said, believes that the donation would inspire the institution to go extra-mile in its age-long tradition of producing world leaders in science and technology education as it has done in other fields of knowledge since it was founded in 1963.

Acknowledging the pre-eminence of the University of Lagos by its achievement in manpower development, Prof. Tayo Fakinlede, Head, Department of Engineering, expressed optimism that the facility would be put to the best of use by all concerned in promoting educational excellence to engender scientific learning for national development.

Also speaking at the occasion, excited Vice chancellor, UNILAG, Prof. Tolu Odugbemi, commended the management of LG Electronics for taking the initiative to upgrade the Engineering Laboratory facility.

He was particularly grateful that the intervention of LG Electronics in lifting the facility was a challenge the company took without being called or persuaded to do so, maintaining that the gesture by LG Electronics is a hallmark of a truly responsible corporate organisation that is passionate about imparting the lives of the people where it operates.

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Tri-Continental, IBM host dynamic seminar in Lagos

The importance of dynamic infrastructure took the centre stage recently in Lagos at a seminar on technology update organized by Tri-Continental Ltd in conjunction with the International Business Machines (IBM).

This event was intended to discuss the critical role that the dynamic infrastructure plays in the IBM vision.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online quoted the Storage Business Development Manager at Tri-Continental Ltd, Mr. Ernest Fundirwa, as saying that building a smarter planet is IBM’s point of view on how interconnected technologies are changing the way the world literally works.

Mr. Fundirwa who dwelt on the new innovation center in Lagos, noted that the systems and processes, have enabled physical goods to be developed, manufactured, bought and sold; services to be delivered; everything from people and money to oil, water and electrons to move; and billions of people to work, govern themselves and live.

The seminar, attended by various Chief Information officers (CIOs) and their teams, cut across banks, telcos and consultants, also have Mr. Sola Olojede from Tri-Continental Ltd, dwelling on IBM education, while Mr. Ethelbert Mbama of IBM West Africa spoke on IBM software offerings and Mr. Dave Funnel from IBM South Africa, deliberated on IBM Storage trends, all in line with the ‘Smarter Planet’ theme.

For Mr. Fundirwa, at a societal level and within an organization, there are growing realization that physical and Information Technology (IT) assets, systems, and infrastructure are reaching a breaking point.

“As the pace of business and the world continues to accelerate, the physical and digital foundations on which progress depends are straining to keep up,” he said.

Specifically, he highlighted the explosion of data, transactions, and digitally-aware devices as straining IT infrastructure and operations, pointing out that exponential growth in communications subscriptions and services usually expose limitations in bandwidth and storage capacity.

In addition, he outlined that supply inefficiencies as well as demand spikes put pressure on energy and utility systems, while clogged and congested roadways impact on human productivity. Whereas, networks, supply chains, and borders face a proliferation of new risks and threats.

He assured that Tri-Continental Ltd and IBM would continue to host similar events regularly in an effort to keep customers up-to-date with the latest technologies.

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ExpertEdge, NetApp, others back InTech Expo’09

Nigeria’s leading software brand, ExpertEdge Software & Systems, and leading enterprise storage and archiving software solutions provider, NetApp, as well as Cosmos PC from the Coscharis Technologies’ stables, have concluded plans to showcase products at the forthcoming 2009 edition of Insurance Technology expo, reports CHARLES OKOH.

The two-day expo and conferences which commences tomorrow, Thursday at Golden Gate Ikoyi-Lagos, would also witness RiskVision Systems among others on queue to exhibit Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions at the event. Chief executive officer, Private Media Mart Limited, Mr. Ejiofor Agada, disclosed this in Lagos, saying that the event is aimed at exploring ICT tools for the enhancement of business transactions and development in the Insurance sector.

“Information technology is the most significant development in the world today, thus it should be adopted in the insurance sector to increase efficiency, flexibility, reduce cost and better manage risks,” Agada declared.

According to him, InTech expo ‘09 comes with the theme ‘E- Insurance: issues and expectations in a growing economy,’ and would showcase, examine and review the available technologies suitable for the insurance sector and its inherent advantages with a view to redefining the modern insurance sector.

“InTech is a platform for the technology service providers and insurance sector players to interact in order to bring about enhancement in the Nigeria insurance sector which till now has been characterized with poor traditional method for business transaction since its post consolidation era,” he said.

Some of the activities lined up for the two-day event includes a conference and presentation session, panel discussions of industry issues, and a mini-exhibition for the first day while the second day will climax with an award for the best technology driven insurance company in Nigeria,” the PMM boss said.

Mr. Agada explained that InTech’09 would further mark the first time in the history of this country that an insurer would be presented with a Technology Advancement and Recognition award.

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TAA releases report on co-location forum-09

The organizers of the Co-Location Forum 2009, Telecom Answers Associates (TAA), has announced the release of its official report and industry plan of action for the event.

Chief executive of Telecom Answers Associates, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, said in a public statement made available to ITRealms Online said that the report and industry plan of action on co-location and sharing of telecommunications infrastructure.

According to him, “Notice is hereby given to delegates to the Co-location Forum 2009 that courier delivery of free personal copies of the Report and Industry Plan of Action on the proceedings of the above forum has now been completed.”

Mr. Omo-Ettu also said that a copy of the report was delivered to every delegate who provided a forwarding address and equally to the Chief Executives of the industry players they represented at the Forum.

“Agencies of Governments, Trade Associations, Foreign Embassies, and Public Libraries also received copies. Only a few were returned undelivered,” he said.

Omo-Ettu pointed out that the scope and validity of the industry players’ data reproduced in the report was collated from what was provided at the Forum on May 19, 2009 including updates and information that were researched later.

Additionally, he said, Telecom Answers Associates is already facilitating implementation of the major issues of the forum at various levels, just as his firm’s CyberschuulNews, an e-publication as well as an open access repository of information about contemporary and emerging major industry events, plays host to more information on the forum among others.

He listed some of the content in the report to include the summary objective of the Co-location Forum, Communiqué of the Co-location Forum 2009, summary of presentations, licensed Co-location Companies, telecom industry players database, infrastructure Resource survey, the resource centre, Nigeria: Telecom Growth Chart, post deregulation, and Nigeria: ISP Concentration 2006.

The report, he further said, could be purchased from the Nigeria Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (N.I.E.E.E), at Victoria Island, Lagos.

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ZOOMmobile unveils Bolt offer

Leading Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator in the country, Reliance Telecommunications, trading as ZOOMmobile, has announced the launch of its new product, ‘BOLT’.

Chief Strategy Officer, ZOOMmobile, Mr. Usman Amodu-Shuaibu, confirmed this to ITRealms Online, and in a press statement also made available to the media, he said that BOLT is an ultra-fast high speed broadband Internet package powered by EV-DO technology throughout the city of Lagos.

ZOOMmobile, he said, has continued to lead in the up-scale Internet market with turbo-charged wireless technology that enables high speed broadband connectivity.

He explained that EV-DO surpasses most wireless technology as it comes with valuable benefits for a variety of applications.

“BOLT is targeted at enhancing the digital lifestyles of Nigerians because life will just get more productive for those who want high-speed broadband Internet at any place or time. As a result, streaming video, faster file downloads and uploads and superfast web browsing are no longer just home, office or cyber café benefits,” he said.

ZOOMmobile Bolt customers, he said, could now enjoy blazing fast mobile broadband experience across Lagos metropolis whether they are working at a remote location, waiting to catch their flight at the airport, between classes on campus, relaxing in the park, sitting at a favorite eatery or as passengers in BRT - Lagos Public Transport - all for just N15,000 per month-a premium over current ZOOMmobile “Breeze” mobile data plans.

Mr. Amodu further said ZOOMmobile has a significant headstart in Internet connectivity and is now best positioned to leverage its ownership of a national spectrum and growing national coverage to help businesses, government agencies and educational institutions increase their capabilities, enhance productivity and reduce costs.

ITRealms Online recalls that ZOOMmobile offers a comprehensive range of wireless communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users.

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Meltdown: MTN Nigeria lays off 65

A total of 65 personnel of the leading mobile company in the country, MTN Nigeria, have been laid off.

This, the company said was in effort to aggressively refocus its customer service operations towards the next generation customer care.

A press statement from MTN Nigeria endorsed by the Human Resources Executive, MTN Nigeria, Mrs. Amina Oyagbola, confirmed this development.

She quoted the Customer Relations Executive, Mr. Akin Braithwaite, as saying that in line with the telco’s strategy, 65 staff of MTN Nigeria have been disengaged sequel to a series of internal reviews to better position the organization to serve its customers for the future.

Mr. Braithwaite, also said that MTN Nigeria has invested over N4.5 billion in state-of-the-art technology that supports a world class customer service.

Pointing out that the planned additional expenditure on customer care in 2010 is worth about N25 billion, which includes the cost of new call centers pan Nigeria.

“These will create about 1,500 new jobs,” he said.

Additionally, Mrs. Oyagbola, affirmed that the management had approved an exit package for all concerned to cushion the effect.

MTN sincerely thanks all the affected staff for their contribution to MTN whilst in the employment of the company and wishes them the very best in all their future endeavors.

In a related development, MTN SA, a fortnight ago, announced its plans to reduce permanent and temporary workforce as a result of the decline in the economic environment.

Ms Bridget Bhengu of MTN SA Communications department, confirmed this penultimate Monday in a press statement said that approximately 403 permanent employees may be affected towards the end of March next year, which comprises about 7 per cent of MTN SA’s 4,679 permanent employees.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Glo gets license in Cote d’Ivoire, promises transformation

Nigeria’s Second National Operator, Globacom, has continued its strides in the West African region, just as the telecom operator was granted license in Cote d’Ivoire.

Speaking while receiving the news of the latest operational license in Cote d’Ivoire, the Group Chief Operating Officer (GCOO), Mr. Mohamed Jameel, promised that they would optimize the license by revolutionizing the country with its avalanche of services, which in turn would help in transforming the economy of the country.

Jameel also said Globacom would replicate in the Francophone country its Nigeria and Benin Republic success stories, reiterating that this would be achieved by way of deploying the best technology and human resources.

The telecom license, ITRealms Online gathered, was conveyed to Globacom through the Agence des Telecommunications de Cote d’Ivoire, the telecommunication regulatory authority of Cote d’Ivoire.

The license would afford Globacom to take full benefits of its trans-Atlantic submarine cable, Glo 1, which has a landing point in Cote d’Ivoire.

He further said that Globacom would avail Ivoirians, the opportunity to be part of the telecommunications revolution which the network is bringing to Africa.

According to him, the Glo 1 cable, for instance, would deliver transmission capacity that would basically transform Africa’s economic landscape by providing unprecedented high speed internet services and make telecom services much faster, more reliable and cheaper for consumers.

He explained that Glo-1’s current and ultimate capacity is enough to cater to the required broadband capacity of Africa for, at least, the next 15 to 20 years.

“It has a current capacity of 640 Gigabit per second and an ultimate capacity of 2.5 Terabit per second,” he said.

The GCOO emphasized that Globacom would also offer international carrier services for telecom operators in Cote d’Ivoire.

“Glo will aggregate and carry voice and data traffic into and out of the country,” he declared.
Globacom, currently has gateway switches outside the continent and is a keen player in the global telecommunication industry.

It will thus aggregate traffic to and from third party networks in the country as well as all telecom operators irrespective of the type of technology deployed, be it Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Third Generation (3G), 4G and Voice of Internet Protocol (VOIP).

Company sources, said that this would lead to cheaper international calls and excellent call completion.

Equally commenting on the new license, the Globacom’s Group Executive Director, Mr. Paddy Adenuga, said this has given further drive to the network’s desire to provide the needed opportunity for West African countries and the whole of Africa to leap forward economically through an excellent communication network and a cost-effective voice, data, video and e-commerce services.

He said, the development is in line with the vision of Globacom.

“We’re building a network that will provide the most comprehensive international communication services on the continent to bridge the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world,” Adenuga said, assuring that Glo would continue to play a major role in stimulating a new era of prosperity in the sub-continent and build facilities that will offer Africa advanced telecom services such as teleconferencing, distance learning, disaster recovery and telemedicine, on-line diagnosis and video conferencing during surgery and research.

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NSeries: Nokia drops Symbian in 2012

Nokia has announced the plans to drop Symbian for its top-end smartphone range also known as NSeries, just as Google expressed interest in producing an Android phone on its own, reports TelecomTV, last weekend.

The report also said that Google phone story is thriving in the ‘no comment’ vacuum it traditionally reserves for future product announcements.

The rumour mill says the phone is going to be some sort of up-market stunner and the idea of Google going it alone to produce (or rather contract a manufacturer to produce) a phone is certainly feasible and has its attractions as a strategy.

Google’s position on the Google-led Open Handset Alliance which promotes Android, theoretically doesn’t rule it out of building an Android phone itself - the more manufacturers the merrier.

The report further said that the motivation could have come based on the power of Google as a brand.

Other theories mooted by industry watchers to explain Google’s move including that if it is making a move to provide a mobile device spearhead, then it should be for WiMAX enabled.

Over on MoCoNews they reckon that Google is an investor in Clearwire which is building a nationwide 4G wireless broadband network.

It is also touted that Google could embed a mobile WiMax chipset into the phone, which would connect to Clearwire’s network.

When the user leaves the Clearwire territory, it could roam on to Sprint’s CDMA network, which is Clearwire’s majority owner.

Meanwhile our friends at The Really Mobile Project have been out and about listening to Nokia’s Tanja Sauvola from its Maemo marketing team. Maemo is Nokia’s ‘mobile Internet device’ OS and Tanja seems to have revealed to assembled bloggers “that Nokia plan to drop Symbian from the entire ‘top end’ N-Series range of handsets in favour of Maemo by 2012.”

This news probably doesn’t surprise anyone who has used a Symbian phone and switched to Android or the iPhone recently.

The ‘user experience’ as the current terminology avails is that it has been so improved on the new touchphones that it’s difficult to believe that Symbian could possibly hold on to its current 50 per cent smartphone market share - unless some UI improvements to the system arrive pronto.

Maemo, on the other hand, has been getting plaudits as the Linux-based OS powering Nokia’s N900 device.

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APC plans swap centre for Lagos

APC by Schneider Electric has announced plans to open a swap centre in Lagos, Nigeria before the end of the year.

This, the company said it would provide local warranty support on single phase Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSes).

The sales and operations services manager for Africa at APC by Schneider Electric, Olivier Delepine, highlighted the fact that the main goal of the swap centre is to offer quicker response times and a higher level of service for warranty exchanges of single phase UPS units for local customers.

According to Delepine, “This represents an effort to achieve greater customer intimacy and improved service delivery, and we trust that the centre will have a great impact on customer satisfaction in the coming months. In line with our goal to provide the same level of service everywhere, this swap centre is part of a global services programme that includes the establishment of six swap centres across the African continent as the first phase.”

The Nigerian swap centre, Delepine also said, would be located in the Schneider Electric warehouse in Lagos, just as customers will be able to access swap centre services after obtaining an approval number from the customer care centre based in Dubai, which could be reached by phone.

APC is reputed for delivering well planned, flawlessly installed and maintained solutions throughout their lifecycle.

Delepine noted that through APC unparalleled commitment to innovation, delivers pioneering, energy efficient solutions for critical technology and industrial applications.

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

APC solutions include uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), precision cooling units, racks, physical security and design and management software, including APC's InfraStruXure architecture, the industry’s most comprehensive integrated power, cooling, and management solution.

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ICANN fast tracks IDN process launch

THE Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization charged with overseeing the Internet’s naming and numbering systems has stepped up the process to launch the Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD).

This new development would mean that non-English speakers across the globe will soon have access to the Internet addresses completely in their own language.

The organization is launching a process for delegating a number of internationalized top-level domains.

IDNs are domain names that include characters other than the currently available set of the English alphabet (the 26 letters “a-z”, numbers 0 to 9, and hyphens).

ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush noted at the just concluded IGF in Egypt, that the IDN programme will encompass close to one hundred thousand characters, opening up the Internet to billions of potential users around the globe.

The organisation President, Rod Beckstrom described the importance of this change to the global Internet community, saying over half the Internet users around the world do not use a Latin-based script as their native language.

“IDNs are about making the Internet more global and accessible for everyone,” he said.

Beginning from November 16, 2009 at 00:00UTC, the body will accept requests from representatives of countries and territories around the world for new Internet extensions that represent their country name and are made up of non-Roman characters.

Once the requests are evaluated and approved, Internet extensions are expected to come online in many countries during 2010.

For the Senior Director of Internationalized Domain Names (ICANN), Tina Dam, “This is the biggest technical change to the Internet’s addressing system – the Domain Name System – in many years. Right now, it is not possible to get a domain name entirely in for example Chinese characters or Arabic characters. This is about to change.”

A press release to ITRealms Online revealed that ICANN will not accept direct registration applications for second-level domain names, the part before the Internet extension or suffix – from individuals, companies, or organizations. The ability for people to get a domain name in their language will come later, through a process determined by the entity that successfully applies for an IDN country-code top-level.

The IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process is available online now, including an online request form, a manual describing how to apply, a list of Frequently Asked Questions, ICANN’s final implementation plan, and brief history of the Fast Track process.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Connecting Africa via ICT diffusion

The need to continuously develop policies to engender easy connection among African States will be a plus for the continent, reports REMMY NWEKE.

Recently there was a tale of a palm wine tapper in Pendembu locality in Sierra Leone, who in the course of his daily activities, inadvertently climbed a palm wine tree only for his mobile phone to begin to ring.

The palm wine tapper had no choice than to pick his call atop the tree, which came from one of his customers in the nearby city of Kailahun District, Eastern Province of Sierra Leone.

And as soon as he finished that call, another call came through from a relative in a refugee camp in Nigeria.

Interestingly, this kind of scenario has continue to evolve due to increasing number of acceptance by countries in the sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the West African sub-region in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

This assertion was expounded by the recent World Bank report on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, which identified some critical issues for the growth of ICT to include reform that would engender access to voice services, expands internet access and reduces the cost of doing business.

Equally, the World Bank report showed that such reform should strengthen regulatory frameworks, support telecom ministries, and promote competition through pragmatic liberalization and approach to privatise incumbents or government-owned telecom operators.

Hence, the need to address market failures by building national backbones and supporting broadband access, designing rural access strategies and supporting countries in their post-conflict activities, so as to promote ICT for development (ICT4D) through facilitating e-Commerce, support electronic government (e-Government) applications and fostering civil society applications.

The acceleration of regional integration and connectivity through promoting regional harmonization, World Bank report noted, would increase regional connectivity, develop regional fibre cable projects, backed up with roaming initiatives and building a network of national exchange points.

Presiding over the 5th Telecom Awards lecture in Lagos, former Sierra Leonean leader, Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, noted that telecommunications has become a natural unifier and a platform on which countries and providers of equipment and services must collaborate for purposes of complementarities across borders and even within borders among operating parties.

“When we speak about the world being a global village, we are simply talking about how much the world has contracted both in time and space through developments in telecommunications,” he said.

Kabbah pointed out that the need to communicate has become a basic human need and in fact a ‘human right,’ underlining the fact that telecommunications or long-distance communication has been with us for a very long time.

“As a former United Nations system functionary, I had always wondered why the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) did not move fast enough to do what Nigerian telecom regulator has accomplished within a short time,” he said, recalling that it was until when the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) took up the challenge, that a Sierra Leonean, for instance, who wanted to talk to a relative in neighbouring Conakry, Guinea, would have his call routed first to London, then to Paris and finally to Conakry.

“The coverage was limited to a few hours a day. I also came to realize that communication over long distances especially across national frontiers required a lot of joint effort and collaboration between partner countries and entities engaged in providing such services,” he asserted, noting that of great importance was and still is the need to ensure uniform standards of service through the spectrum, thereby giving rise to bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation and agreements.

In his keynote paper at the occasion, entitled: Telecom in the service of the modern society, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, concurred that major advances in ICTs and the rapid growth of global Digital Technology networks, the Internet and broadband services have transformed business and markets as well as generated significant wealth and economic growth in many countries.

“They have also empowered individuals and communities with new ways of doing things, as well as transformed our ways of learning and sharing knowledge,” he declared.

Similarly, he said, that digital revolution has progressed to usher in an advanced phase of the information age with computer networking solutions that enable resources and information sharing even on a worldwide basis, just as the interconnection of computers, based on the internet protocol (IP), has brought about greater efficiency and better information sharing and management.

“This revolution also means that constraints of time and distance have been virtually eliminated. Clearly, ICT is driving the global economy as people, businesses and communities with ready access to information technologies are better equipped to participate actively in the global economy,” Dr. Ndukwe said.

However, he said, connectivity in Nigeria like in most African countries is heavily biased towards wireless networks, even as fast broadband deployment must therefore necessarily be on a mobile platform and this has been the reasons why Nigeria was ahead of many countries of the world like India and China in issuing licenses for Third Generation (3G) services. He pointed out that when fully deployed nationally, 3G networks together with other networks based on the wide band Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology will drive the nation’s broadband penetration into the future.

At present, the seven-member West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) was formally established in November 2002 on ratification and signing of the Constitution by its member states.

WATRA membership has since grown to 14 as at April 2005, consists of the established independent National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and departments for the regulation of telecommunications services established by governments of member states in the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region and Mauritania.

And in recognition of the poor state of telecommunications in the sub-region, WATRA, began to thinker on critical role of telecommunications in the socio-economic development and growth of nations in its domain, thus a consensus was reached to establish a forum to facilitate the harmonization process towards an integrated telecoms market in West Africa, thereby providing an avenue to share experiences and information, proffer solutions to common problems and chart a way forward for the development and advancement of telecommunications in West Africa.

Today, WATRA has encouraged some African countries to work toward own telecommunications regulatory agencies, while strengthening the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) which was at the verge of obscurity.

African regulators organizations have since emerged in other parts of the continent to include Autorite Nationale de Regulation des Telecommunications du Burkina Faso (ARTEL) under the Office National des Telecommunications (ONATEL), Agence des Telecommunication de Cote d’Ivoire (ATCI), Instituto das Comunicacoes da Guine-Bissau (ICGB), Communications Commission of Kenya, Office Malagasy d’Etudes et de Regulation des Telecommunications, Mauritania Regulatory Authority, Moroccan Agence Nationale de Reglementation des Telecommunications (ANRT) Senegalese Agence de Regulation des Telecommunications (ART), South Africa Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and Togolese Autorite de Reglementation des Secteurs de Postes et Telecommunications (ART&P) to name a few.

This, however, brought to the fore, the concern of Panos Institute West Africa (PIWA) under its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Programme of CIPACO to collaborate with the Senegalese Consortium pour la Recherche Economique et Sociale (CRES), in unveiling a project on the international liberalization of trade in ICT services in sub-region.

Labeled LICOM, the project funded by International Development Research Center (IDRC), with the term of office including scrutinizing of the challenges facing private operators in the ICT sector and likely implications for the implementation of public policies in four members of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS), namely, Senegal, Benin, Nigeria and Ghana, according to then programme coordinator, Mr. Ken Lohento.

What this entails is that with more and more countries in the sub-region and beyond but across Africa continue to attach itself with the principle of ICT liberalization by working towards its success, more and unprecedented benefits awaits the continent.

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Internet Governance 2009: IP blocking unacceptable to Nigeria – Stakeholders

Nigeria Internet community would canvass for the appropriate security regulation and application, mostly on Internet Protocol (IP) blocking at the on-going Internet Governance Forum (IGF) holding in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Participants at the recently concluded one-day Nigeria Digital Sense forum in a communiqué made available to ITRealms Online by the organizers, Digital Sense Africa (DSA) in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the theme: “Internet Governance:
Creating Opportunities for All Nigerians” agreed that issues of Internet Protocol (IP) blocking on Nigeria IP addresses is not acceptable.

Thus, there is need to revisit the issue so as to avoid blocking of every IP address with link to Nigeria.

This is coming as the Swiss delegates have concluded strategies to advocate for online human rights and freedom of expression.

The Nigeria Digital Sense forum communiqué dated November 10, according to the DSA Executive Director, Operations, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, was in preparation of every Nigerian Internet stakeholder who may be participating at the five-day event on Internet Governance, insisting that all Nigerians are not criminally minded.

She pointed that a harmonized voice within the Nigerian Internet community has become critical to the development of Internet in the country and the sub-region as well as the African continent in its entirety.

As stated in the communiqué, stakeholders called to mind that harmonized voice among Nigerian Internet community will provide the opportunity to have a united front before confronting the world at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

The Nigeria Digital Sense forum, therefore, identified security as a major issue of concern for the Nigerian Internet community to adequately canvass at the global assembly, thereby affording the nation to come together with other communities from around the world to ensure optimization of access, openness, security, diversity and internet governance.

“Equally, we call to mind that the release recently by the United States Affirmation of Commitment to the global internet community via the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN); is a welcome development that could endear the trust of those hitherto not comfortable with the arrangement which began with the US Department of Commerce (DoC),” part of the communiqué read.

Stressing that stakeholders at DSA forum 2009, aligned themselves with the outcome of the West African Internet Governance forum, held in Accra-Ghana recently, especially in the areas of encouraging African countries to take the issues of Internet Governance more seriously by ensuring engagement of stakeholders at IGF level.

Therefore, stakeholders urged for increased participation of Nigeria Internet community at the on-going IGF, which has been reportedly stalled by the Egyptian government over the demand and insistence that visitors to the country must have, at least, $3,000 cash before entry visa could be granted.

However, participants were urged to make pronouncements in respect to the security of the Internet and discrimination thereof, especially meted out on honest and God-fearing Nigerians who are more interested in engaging positively with the world on the Internet.

The discrimination against Nigerian-based Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, they said, should stop because it is negatively affecting the majority of Nigerians who are honestly engaged on the Internet.

“Both the government of Nigeria and Internet community in the country should strive in enlightening the populace and the world over on the keenness of the majority of Nigerians in deploying Internet for ICT for Development (ICT4D) growth,” part of the communiqué also read.

Equally, Nigeria’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs), especially members of the ISP Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), should connect without further delay with the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), so as to encourage local internet to remain local, which has multiplier effect, including saving money for both the ISPs and customers – the end-users.

“Nigeria should canvass for a root server to be located in the country to further push and retain local traffic locally,” it read, even as ISPAN member in addition to ALTON, ATCON to name a few to should comply by ensuring registration of their domains within the country code Top Level Domains (ccTLD), .ng system.

“This will make the .ng commercially viable and eventually give the ccTLD the popularity it needed to be feasible among equals,” the communique further read, maintaining that Nigerians participating at the IGF 2009 must ensure that alienation of Nigeria’s IP addresses (IP blocking) is stopped and that Nigeria has the population to push its desire and voice to be heard in Egypt and at all conferences in relation to Internet and its governance even beyond IGF.

“There is need to refocus Nigerian youths engaged in online fraud (cybercrime) otherwise known as ‘Yahoo, Yahoo’ by way of granting them amnesty followed with skilled training and adoption into the mainstream, in order to positively utilize their talents.

While urging a strengthened partnership of the forum in the future through collaboration with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agency of government, mostly at the federal level including the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) among other public private partnership, DSA was supported by Galaxy Backbone Plc, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, iWayAfrica Nigeria, New Horizons Ltd, Teledom Group, Omatek Plc, Telecom Answers Associates (TAA) and endorsed by Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) to name a few.

Meanwhile, the forum may have witnessed low attendance from African countries despite being held on the continent among other Least Developing Countries (LDCs) due to stakeholders inability to get visa with ease following insistence by Egyptian embassy officials that participants must have, at least, $3000 cash about N450,000, in their custody before they could be allowed entry into Egypt.

ITRealms Online also gathered that in some instances, the condition was between $3000 and $5000, depending on whether the applicant is of business delegates or mere stakeholders.

IGF was initiative in 2005 as the outcome of the two-phased World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which held in Tunisia in 2005 after the first phase in Geneva was held in 2003, with mandate to convening a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

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We’re committed to quality after-sales service – Rachapudi

The National Service Manager, Panabiz international Limited, Mr. Phanidhar Rachapudi, has said that quality after-sales service is top on the company’s commitment to the Nigerian market.

Speaking in Lagos at a seminar on ‘Customer Service and Skill sets improvement’ organized for the customer service engineers and customer care executives of the company, Mr. Rachapudi said that the company is strongly committed to building on its core competencies, particularly in after-sales service.

This, he also said, has enhanced the capability of the company to pursue its mission of providing customized solutions that adds value to the businesses in Nigeria.

According to him, in the past years, by adhering to the corporate philosophy of customer satisfaction through high quality service, the company has grown steadily.

“Our response time has been a critical factor in our success story. Today Panabiz has become a reliable solution provider for photocopying, printing and telecommunication requirements of all our customers because they can count on us,” he declared.

Rachapudi pointed out that it is very critical to keep up with the targeted response time as the photocopying and the printing equipments occasionally experience downtime due to wear and tear, thereby leading to decline in productivity levels of customer’s business.

“It has to be ensured that all the equipments are backed up by the monthly preventive maintenance schedules to maintain the service quality standards to all the customers,” he said.

Further, he explained that as part of its continuous endeavor to maintain customer satisfaction, the company banks on customer service objectives of the company, mainly on the three R’s, that is reach, reliability and responsive.

On reach, for instance, he noted that Panabiz help desk could be reached on their dedicated numbers in all the three regions for customer support and troubleshooting, stressing that the company is setting up a call centre in the near future to receive the customer calls and ensure proper monitoring and response.

Additionally, he said that reliability appreciates the efforts of the service personnel attending to the customers for ensuring a timely service delivery and suggested that they should keep up with the good work.

While the responsive entails the customer help desk ensures that all customer complaints are attended to within four hours with call logging within the city limits.

“Standby equipments are provided as a backup to the customers as and when needed,” he said.

Also speaking, Diwakar Yadavalli, the National Sales Manager lauded the efforts and the contribution of the customer service engineers towards the enhancement of the relationships with various organizations.

He reminded participants that the company believes in product excellence, operational excellence and relationship excellence.

“It is important for any organization to be successful. Panabiz always strives to give the latest technology and world class product solutions to the Nigerian customers. We have the best of the processes and procedures in place in our organization. In this competitive environment, it is very important that we distinguish ourselves with excellent service offerings to our customers. This alone is helping us retain our prestigious clientele,” he asserted.

Yadavalli affirmed that the company has experienced profitable relationship with the clients owing to its value-based after-sales-services which include following the monthly preventive maintenance schedules, periodical user training programs provided to maximize the capacity of the equipment, quarterly service report of performance analysis, customer feedback surveys to evaluate and review deliverability in terms of service rendered.

Hence, he concluded that the customers can rest assured that any product offered by Panabiz will be backed by an efficient after-sales-service.

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Winners emerge @ TD’s Laptopmania

The first set of two winners have emerged in the Lagos edition of Technology Distributions (TD)’s Laptopmania promo, the star event of the firm’s 10th anniversary celebrations.
The event which held at Kez Auditorium, Technology House, Gbagada, Lagos, saw laptops being given out to winners, namely Joan Isemede, a student, and Ifeyinwa Umeh, a worker in Lagos.

Making the presentation, TD’s Executive Director, Marketing, Mrs. Chioma Chimere said that both winners were the first to win from the Lagos area and there would be winnings every week from all parts of the country.

She also said that Laptopmania was conceptualized to reward Nigerians in the six geo-political zones of the country by doling out 1,000 laptops in 10 weeks to mark the 10th anniversary of the firm.

“Laptopmania is proudly supported by the following international Information Technology (IT) brands, including Hewlett Packard (HP), Zinox, Toshiba, Acer, and Dell.

A press statement from TD, made available to ITRealms Online informed that this entails that laptops could be won from any of these international brands.

To qualify, Mrs. Chimere was quoted as saying that all a participant needs to do is simply text TD plus his or her name to 35056.

The Executive Director, Marketing, pointed out that the anniversary celebrations of Technology Distributions, has been deliberately launched on the platform of a decade of distinctive leadership, in the last quarter of 2009.

This, she said, would ensure that consumers have a digital Christmas and New Year celebrations.

“Characteristically the celebrations have been built around the customer with a view to give back to society in appreciation for the remarkable progress; rising quickly to number one that TD has made in 10 years of operations in Nigeria and the West African sub region,” Chimere said.

She further said that the anniversary celebrations have been planned to span a period of 10 weeks and three main events have been packaged to ensure that the consumer and trade benefits get to the agreed targets.

“These events include Laptopmania, TD Maths Quiz and a Gala Nite,” she declared.

Mrs. Chimere explained that Laptopmania, for instance, puts up 1,000 laptops for grabs by resellers and end users in interactive “Short Message Service (SMS) texts to a short code 35056.” The TD Maths quiz, she enlightened, is a bi-annual Maths competition designed to enhance the teaching and learning of Mathematics for pupils in Primary 4.

“TD considers Primary 4 as the class where a good foundation can be laid tor cognitive development. While the TD Gala Nite is an annual get together that unwinds pent up energies at the end of every year for the Management and Staff of TD and her resellers nationwide,” she said.

These events, according to her, would come with additional incentives, funfair and glamour to make the decade anniversary celebrations of TD a rewarding experience to Nigerians.

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PMM holds InTech-09 on e-Insurance

Lagos-based Private Media Mart (PMM) Limited, has concluded arrangement for this year’s edition of its Insurance Technology Expo (InTech) 2009, on “e-Insurance: Issues and expectation in a growing economy.”

The industry specific event is meant to examine and review the current standards as well as encourage the adoption of technology tools in the insurance industry locally with global best practices as reference point.

Disclosing this to newsmen in Lagos, the chief executive officer, PMM, Mr. Ejiofor Agada, noted that across the globe, insurance industry has undergone considerable consolidation over the past decade through deployment of Information Technology (IT) in retooling core processes and systems to increase efficiency, flexibility, reduce costs and better manage risks.

“Our idea is to showcase the technologies suitable for the insurance sector and have the proponents explain the inherent advantages and features of their solutions to their target market, as well as using the avenue to discuss and ascertain the future direction of the sector, ICT-wise,” he said.

Agada also said InTech 2009 serves as the only credible bridging channel between players in the insurance sector and technology service providers to review and learn all about insurance-based Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions in today’s technology space.

He equally said that participating firms would need to redefine the way business is conducted so far, stressing that traditional methods would have to be done away with and assimilation of newer technologies to pave the way for improved efficiency and cost reduction.

“More transparency in operations and flexibility to change according to innovations in technology will be the key factors for success in this industry. It is in the realization of these facts that InTech is forming the bedrock upon which the modern insurance sector in Nigeria will flourish,” Agada said.

The role of PMM in this equation, he said, is strictly that of technology-match-makers with the zeal towards ensuring rapid adoption of technology in all facets of Nigeria’s economy.

“This is the driving force behind our efforts with InTech,” Agada declared, assuring that the PMM has re-enforced to ensure that the objectives of InTech are actualised.

Agada said, although it is evident that the Insurance and related sector stakeholders are gradually coming to terms with the reality that technology holds the key to their success, InTech has been designed to help leverage and instill that realization.

This year’s edition, he said, is a two-day event with the theme “E-Insurance: issues and expectations in a growing economy” and has been scheduled to take place between November 26 and 27, at the Golden Gate Paradise, Ikoyi–Lagos.

According to him, the first day and part of the second day, would be used for the conference; panel discussion of industry issues and a mini-exhibition, while the evening of the second day would witness a gala night for CEOs and special guests to the event.

Apart from the expected marketing presentations from supporting companies, he said, there would be presentations, lectures and private business meetings on industry ICT insights by some respected resource persons from around the world including experts from the Nigerian insurance sector as well as IT solution providers.

“The event will also mark the first time in the history of this country that an insurer will be presented with a technology advancement and recognition award. This recognition, which is quite different from the plethora of marketing awards around, is directly based on a research carried out by Private Media Mart’s research department, to ascertain the level of technology adoption in the sector,” he said.

PMM, he emphasized, is using this recognition exercise to encourage the management of technology-driven insurance companies and brokers, to continue to improve on the usage of tools of ICT to further propel their companies to higher heights.

Expected at the event are top-hierarchy in the insurance sector, including chief executive officers, chief information officers, heads of Information Technology (IT), representatives from the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other financial institutions, major players in enterprise technology solutions, senior media personalities and other stakeholders in both the IT and Insurance sectors.

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MTN SA to reduce workforce by 7%

MTN South Africa, has advanced strategies to reduce its permanent and temporary workforce as a result of the decline in the economic environment.

Ms Bridget Bhengu of MTN SA Communications department, confirmed this on Monday in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online.

She said that approximately 403 permanent employees may be affected towards the end of March next year, which comprises about 7 per cent of MTN SA’s 4,679 permanent employees.

Equally, she disclosed that MTN SA would reduce the number of temporary employees in its service during 2010, stressing that MTN SA would try to limit the number of jobs affected.

She explained that in order to mitigate the effects of possible job losses, a proper consultative route has been initiated, firstly to avoid retrenchments and redundancies and secondly to mitigate its adverse effects to be followed in line with legal requirements.

According to her, severance of two weeks’ pay for each completed year of service is payable and if retrenchments are inevitable, affected staff will be given time off to seek alternative employment well in advance of working their notice periods.

Counseling, staff support and assistance will be made available by the Human Resources Department through ICAS, registered with the company for such a purpose, while re-employment agreements will be entered into for a period of six months.

She further said that in light of greater efficiencies that are being achieved, together with the decline in the customer base, MTN has foreseen fewer resources will be required in the near future.

“Since approximately 3,000 people are supplied to MTN by temporary employment services, these numbers would also be reduced during 2010,” she said.

Additionally, the reductions of workforce, MTN SA said, is re-engineering its business in response to an outlook of lower growth due to the negative impact of the global recession on consumer spending and RICA compliance issues.

ITRealms Online recalls that MTN SA launched service in 1994 as part of the MTN Group, a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN”.

As at 30 September 2009, MTN recorded 108,4 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.

The MTN Group is a global sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and has exclusive mobile content rights for Africa and the Middle East.

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Govt must embrace enlightened policies – ICT Regulators

At the wake of broadband becoming the new baseline, the global Information and Communication Technology (ICT) regulators under the aegis of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has enjoined governments to engage in enlightened policies that could drive roll-out, innovation and affordable pricing.

A draft of the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) on the 2009 Best Practice Guidelines made available to ITRealms Online, weekend at the conference, highlighted the need for the government to take up policies that could engender cheaper broadband services.

A press statement endorsed by ITU Media Relations officer, Ms Sarah Parkes, and spokesman of the host, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of Lebanon, Nathalie Boustany, indicated that delegates to ITU’s 9th GSR held between November 10 and12 deliberated on the pressing need for governments to open markets to greater competition and use incentives to stimulate investment in the broadband networks that are fast becoming the lifeblood of the knowledge economy.

The over 648 participants from 89 countries expressed resolve to forge a shared vision and understanding of the many challenges currently facing ICT regulators in increasingly complex converged markets.

ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Toure, was quoted as saying that GSR has been the most successful event, in terms of number of participants and the quality as well as relevance of the discussions at the event.

“This testifies to the critical role regulators are now playing in defining the future shape of markets characterized by fast-changing technologies and a rapidly evolving, increasingly complex competitive landscape,” he said.

“With the tough current economic climate prompting some operators to rein-in network development plans, the meeting placed special emphasis on the need for the public and private sectors to better understand one another’s needs and work more cooperatively to support demand for ICT services,’ Toure said

The ICT industry played a central role in the one-day Global Industry Leaders Forum (GILF), chaired by Dr. Saad Al Barrak, the chief executive of Zain Group, the forum encouraged frank, interactive discussion among participants representing operators, ICT manufacturers and application developers, service providers, infrastructure specialists and consultancies.

According to the press statement, those discussions went on to form the core of the GILF Chairman’s report, which was presented to the GSR at its opening session on Tuesday, November 10, for in-depth consideration by delegates representing the global ICT regulatory community.

GILF participants stressed the need for predictable, stable regulation, improved regional harmonization of regulatory frameworks, more efficient management of radiofrequency spectrum, and a ‘light touch’ by regulators to allow markets to evolve naturally.

Further, they advocated technology-neutral regulation, and urged regulators to make provision for the ongoing development of converged services by ensuring sufficient spectrum is available to support future growth.

ITU, which plays a critical role in global spectrum allocation through its Radiocommunication Sector, was asked to continue to work actively to help companies and governments alike create an enabling environment to support new services, cheaper pricing, and faster network roll-out to underserved areas.

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Akunyili, Zaku for ‘09 Cyber Nigeria

The Information and Communications Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili and her counterpart in the Science and Technology Ministry, Dr. Alhassan Bako Zaku, would on Sunday, lead dignitaries to the Africa Information Society Merit Award (AISMA) and Cyber Nigeria 2009.

The award, according to the organizers, would recognize about 18 individuals and organisations, which have impacted positively on the Nigeria’s burgeoning Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in the last 10 years as part of the celebration of 10 years of AIT InfoTech Network.

A press statement endorsed by Mr. Bayero Agabi, informed that the event’s chief host would be High Chief Aleogho Raymond Dokpesi, Chairman Daar Communications Plc, owners of AIT, Raypower and Daarsat.

Dokpesi would be joined by the Deputy Governor, Lagos State, Her Excellency, Princess Adebisi Sarah Sosan and the former Minister of State for Information and Communications Alhaji Dasuki Nakade and Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, the chief executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and his colleague in the National IT Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Cleopas Angaye.

“This event would be a celebration of excellence and professionalism by AIT and the people that have helped to sustain growth in the ICT sector,” said Nakade who spoke in Jos.

The event is featuring the Cyber Nigeria 2009 Forum designed to discuss Nigeria’s continuous relevance in the global knowledge economy.

Speakers include Anayo Agu, the Senior Business Specialist at the US Embassy Nigeria, and Dr Tunde Adegbola, Executive Director of African Languages Technology Initiative. Adegbola is also a lecturer at the University of Ibadan.

The interactive forum will be discussing the future of Nigeria and the potentials of the internet as the nation marches towards 202020.

It will also throw light on internet content, technology trend, regulation in an IT-based world and internet products and services. The event theme is ‘Internet as a catalyst for configuring a new Nigeria.

Whereas the sub-themes comprised “Innovations and Initiatives; Internet-based Products and services; role of legislation in meeting the challenges of cyber laws and applications; attitude, refocus and IT-based products and services.”

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NIG plans e-business seminar in Lagos

The Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) has finalized plans for the 2009 electronic business (e-business) seminar scheduled to hold in the commercial nerve centre of the nation, Lagos, on Thursday, December 10, this year.

President, NIG, Mr. Lanre Ajayi, made this disclosure in Lagos, weekend, saying that the seminar would focus on “Enabling e-Business in Nigeria for Accelerated Economic Growth“ and would take place at Golden Gate Paradise, Ikoyi, Lagos.

According to him, e-Business is the Internet technology driven business which has continued to be a catalyst that accelerate economic growth in many countries around the world.

”With recent developments in the Nigeria Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector,” he said, noting the country is set to join the rest of the world in driving its economy with e-Business,“ he said.

Some of the most significant development, he noted, include the re-delegation of .ng Top Level Domain (TLD), the budding e-payment services and the emerging international fiber cables from Globacom and MainOne.

Hence, he said, NIG is excited about these developments and has decided to make e-Business the focus of this year annual conference of the group.

This conference, which is being organized in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) would examine the critical success factors to e-business adoption in Nigeria.

In addition, he said, this comprised improved broadband penetration, pervasive e-payment services, skilled manpower, appropriate legal and regulatory framework as well as political will from government to implement the right policies.

NIG is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) dedicated to the promotion and growth of the Internet in Nigeria, with open membership spread across all those interested in the growth of the Internet technology, irrespective of educational background and current field of employment, including the academia, non-governmental organizations, government parastatals, Internet Service Providers, private organizations and individuals.

NIG is reputed to have contributed immensely, especially in the hosting of the country’s Top level Domain locally, rural Internet penetration, Internet infrastructure development, Internet content development, open source platform development and e-Governance.

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