" ITREALMS: February 2010


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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mobile World Congress: Africa urged to harmonize broadband options

African telecommunications regulators have been tasked to ensure the harmonization of policies to encourage frequency distribution that would boost mobile broadband and enhance the chances of benefiting from digital dividends.

A team of experts from the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) and Qualcomm Corporation were united in making this call as they took time one after another, reiterating the need for the African continent to put its house in order to optimally take advantage of mobile broadband craze.

Speaking at a session for African regulators on ‘The Digital Dividend: How to Deliver Broadband for All’ at the 2010 edition of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), which ended last weekend in Barcelona, Spain, they enjoined African regulators to join forces to boost broadband diffusion.

Unarguably, they expressed no doubt that the future of mobile communications is broadband, which is anticipated to stimulate economic development across the world and developing countries in particular, most of which are in Africa.

Leading the team was the chairperson of the Spectrum Management Group at GSMA, Mrs. Elizabeth Cassin, who noted that mobile technology has revolutionized the lives of millions of people in Africa and will continue to be the primary means for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) access including access for voice, data and internet-based services.

She was optimistic that mobile broadband has the potential to enhance access to health care and education, thereby creating new business opportunities, thus contributing towards the eradication of extreme poverty.

Cassin noted that though Africa is bigger than the United States, India, Argentina, and Western Europe in landscape, most of the technologies come from this part of the world to Africa.

Contributing, Director, Spectrum Regulation at GSMA, Mr. Roberto Ercole, said that Africa as at today needs broadband for mobile market sustainability, because for him, “mobile broadband is about empowerment.”

Mobile, he said, is the primary the primary means of delivering broadband and Africa needs to implement policies to boost broadband presence on the continent.

He cited an instance with the UHF spectrum, saying that it goes further than core third generation (3G) spectrum and 2 Gega Hertz (GHz), pointing out that by doubling the range through UHF entails involvement of fewer base stations by 75 per cent.

According to him, UHF offers an attractive option to boost mobile broadband coverage in the rural areas in an economically efficient way, emphasizing that the business value of opportunities would vary from market to market with the broadband boom.

The anticipated boom, she said, would drive its end-results from two main aspects, namely the policies of the state on ICT sector and availability of compatible equipment in addition to deployment.

For the Senior Director, Regulations at Qualcomm Corporation, Mrs. Elizabeth Migwali, the only way forward is for the harmonization of unused frequencies, especially nowadays of digital migration, which has forced most operators of broadcasting stations to migrate to digital equipment from hitherto analogue systems.

This, she said, would reduce cost of devices and improved socio-economic well being of the populace, which includes the delivery of quality Television programme and broadband utilities through optimization of redundant UHF frequencies.

Government of Africa, she noted, embraced technology, thus given rise to the kind of evolution currently being witnessed on the continent.

“Government took approach to embrace technology to connect people of Africa,” she declared, stressing that the environment being created by African countries has evolved that all regulators should be in the position to deliver on mobile broadband for all the citizens.

Although Africa needs a wider bandwidth to drive broadband deliverables, this does not mean it has to turn its back on voice, assuring that Qualcomm, for instance is uniquely positioned to help using multimode.

Africa, Migwali said, needs to avoid fragmentation, when eventually we switch off analogue completely as expected in 2012, adding that this could be cushioned by starting now to deliberate on ways forward, especially on how to optimize the unused frequencies earlier issued for organizations using analogue deployment.

“We should assess the actual spectrum needs for Digital Television (DTV) below 790 Mega Hertz (MHz),” she said.

Migwali underscored the fact that it takes determination to appropriately cut off the analogue system when the time comes, but African regulators, must bear in mind to harmonize from one end of the region to another.

“We need to engage in regional discussions,” she declared, stressing that Africa must start discussion on how to use the digital dividend based on UHF redeployment.

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Adenuga bags corporate leadership award

The chairman of Globacom Limited, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr. on Sunday bagged the corporate leadership award in Abuja .

The honour came at the “Thisday Nigeria at 50 Awards”, which attracted world leaders including former United States President, Mr. George Bush, former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, former Ghanaian President, John Kuffour and former US Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleeza Rice.

The renowned business mogul was honoured in the Business Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Corporate Champions category in recognition of the indelible mark he has left in the nation’s telecommunications industry with his company, Globacom.

A citation read before calling on Dr. Adenuga to receive the award, the Thisday publisher and chairman, Editorial Board, Chief Nduka Obaigbena said the extraordinaire businessman had built Globacom into Nigeria’s first truly
international company.

The immediate past President of Ghana, Mr. John Kuffour, presented the award to Dr. Adenuga through Globacom’s Head of Public Relations, Bode Opeseitan.

Thisday had in an earlier publication on the award, explained that Dr. Adenuga truly merited the honour because of his vision, foresight and entrepreneurial skills, which built Globacom into a remarkable entity that operates in several countries including Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and employing thousands of people worldwide.

“In a period of just over six years, Adenuga’s Glo has connected an estimated 25 million subscribers and is reputed to be one of the fastest growing multinational carriers in the world”, the newspaper said. 

Other considerations mentioned include Glo’s uniqueness as the first indigenously owned telecommunication company, its introduction of per second billing when others considered this impossible; and its historic landing of Glo 1 submarine cable which connects Europe and the US to Nigeria and other African countries.

The cable has the capacity to decrease telephony costs and provide excess bandwidth to all countries that are connected to it. Other awards with which Adenuga has been honoured recently include the Silverbird Man of the Year, the Daily Independent Man of the Year and the Compass Man of the Year Awards.

He was also recognised by City People and Ovation International magazine as the Most Outstanding Personality of the Year 2009.

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Anadigics introduces power amplifier

New Jersey-based leading provider of semiconductor solutions in wireless and wireline communications markets, Anadigics Incorporated, has introduced a new, feature-rich power amplifier (PA), the AWT6283R.

This, the company said, was designed to significantly boost the performance and efficiency of WiMAX transceivers.

Ms Charlotte Chiang of Anadigics corporate communication office, told ITRealms Online at the just concluded Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain that the AWT6283R is the industry’s first PA to deliver high linear output power, exceptional efficiency, and consistent RF performance over the full 3.3 to 3.8 GHz WiMAX frequency band.

Ideally for mobile applications, she said, the AWT6283R includes a step attenuator, a power detector and a reference voltage regulator in a small, easy-to-use package which simplifies design and saves board space.

According to her, WiMAX market has continued to gain momentum, with mobile devices all but displacing fixed-point equipment in new deployments.

“Commercial WiMAX networks, trial networks, and networks in development are increasing monthly,” she said.

Equally, she cited In-Stat, which stated that new devices drive the market, with USB dongles and mobile PCs embedding WiMAX capability available today, and WiMAX-enabled cellular handsets just around the corner.

Joe Cozzarelli, director, Broadband RF Product Line for Anadigics, was quoted as saying that with the introduction of the AWT6283R, the firm is expanding its product portfolio in the fast-growing WiMAX space to deliver the most efficient, high-performance components that ultimately improve the end-user experience.

“The AWT6283R complements our existing line of WiMAX devices and offers the linearity, reliability, temperature stability and ruggedness that our customers demand,” he said.

He explained that the firm is a leading supplier of WiMAX power amplifiers, having entered the market early to enable leaders like Intel who saw the potential of WiMAX.

The AWT6283R, he further said, is optimized for operation over a 500 MHz bandwidth, ensuring exceptional linearity and efficiency, and consistent RF performance, across the entire 3.5 GHz WiMAX frequency band.

“Today the WiMAX Forum currently tracks 523 WiMAX deployments in 147 countries, compared to 408 deployments at the end of 2008,” he disclosed.

Brazil, he noted, currently has potential as one of the world’s most dynamic WiMAX markets, according to Infonetics, whereas the number of WiMAX subscribers is forecast to skyrocket from 184,000 in 2008 to almost 8 million in 2013.

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USPF, CTO to train 10m Nigerians, warn against vandalisation

THE Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) Nigeria and the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation (CTO) said they have concluded plans to train no fewer than 10 million Nigerians on Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) scheme, reports CHARLES OKOH.

The training programme is to hold over the next 12 months.

Representatives of the two organizations made these known at a two-day stakeholders’ forum which held in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, last week.

Director, CTO, Mr. Bashir Patel and board members of USPF present at the forum jointly agreed to set a target of training 10 million Nigerians nationwide under the USPF access for all project.

Mr. Patel said ten million people nationwide is the target that USPF has set for itself for training within a 12 months period and that the training would include youths, children and people from all walks of life.

“You have set a very ambitious project of training 10 million people and I pray to God that collectively we will deliver those 10 million trained people within the shortest possible time and that is a great ambition. When we say 10 million people they could be children, youths, adults from all walks of life so we must make sure that that is a target we will sincerely achieve,” he said.

He also said the proposal of one Community Communication Centre (CCC) per local government area is a recommendation that USPF has decided to take up, but would require feasible proposal on counterpart contributions to make them sustainable.

“One thing I would like to see in Nigeria, is that every child has the same level of education like the child in Europe or America. The federal and state governments as well as private sector companies should not deny us that right and it’s your right to demand it from them,” Mr. Patel said.

He also said the road ahead to achieving this target is a difficult one but was pleased with the level of participation of the people from the South West geopolitical zone.

Mr. Patel lamented that Africa has less than one per cent of access to ICT while America has over 50 per cent, advising that the only way to catching up with the rest of the world is to reach the rural areas.

Also speaking on some of the achievements of the forum, the founder of Growing Businesses Foundation (GBF) Dr. (Mrs) Ndidi Edozien, said the forum has commitment by the board of USPF on training workshop and that it will not just be training but also exploring potential projects and partnership opportunities.

She the project would succeed at moving forward given the level of participation shown at the forum.

She revealed that the board has accepted to provide opportunity for all participants to own a laptop.

She also said there was a general consensus by participants on the need to use ICT to build market linkages and that USPF would look into it.

Dr. Edozien called on communities with connectivity problem to share such information.

Speaking also the Managing Director, GBF, Emeka Orjih said to concretize what has been spoken about during the forum the delegates should begin to put structure to their aspiration

Meanwhile, the Secretary, USPF, Mr. Funso Fayomi, has condemned the vandalisation and careless handling of some of the facilities provided by USPF in various schools across the nation.

Mr. Fayomi who was speaking at the forum said in some cases over 100 computers were stolen while in some other schools these materials were either set ablaze or poorly handled by the students.

He said to sustain the projects in secondary and tertiary institutions USPF is developing models to share the facilities with surrounding communities and generating additional resources for periodic maintenance and upgrading of the infrastructure.

Fayomi said that USPF will continue to use the creativity and entrepreneurship of Nigerians to make information and communications technologies (ICTs) an engine for economic and social development as well as to bring the immense benefit of ICTs to Nigerians through e-education, e-commerce, e-government, e-health, e-security, e-socials among others.

He also called on stakeholders to collaborate with USPF to extend ICT infrastructure and services to underserved and unserved areas and communities.

“The USPF has opportunities for such collaboration and there are many locations that may not benefit without support from all stakeholders,” he said.

The USPF, he said, is creating a joint education and enlightenment programme and campaign for technology adoption not only in schools but in everyday living,

According to him, this campaign would dwell on the benefits of the infrastructure and services as well as the need for communities to protect the infrastructure.

Fayomi explained that to be eligible for USPF financing all proposals must meet criteria that are consistent with USPF principles and presented in standard format and such projects must be located in unserved or underserved community.

He also to meet the quest of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) on access for all, the USPF has initiated projects for the country.

According to him, some of these projects are School Access Programme (SAP), Community Communication Centres (CCC), Accelerated Mobile Phone Expansion (AMPE) projects, BTS and collocation infrastructure projects.

Fayomi said the USPF has put in place a five year strategic plan (2007-2011) which gives policy direction for projects to be implemented within the five year period.

The Universal Service Fund is a global phenomenon with 50 countries as signatory to an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agreement to set aside funds to provide access to technology to the citizenry of their country, while the USPF is the organ of the Nigerian government saddled with the responsibility of achieving the mandate under the supervision of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

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NCC reaffirms support for Digital Sense forum ‘10

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reaffirmed support for the Nigeria Digital Sense Forum following the Commission’s endorsement of the 2010 edition.

The Nigeria Digital Sense Forum is an annual public engagement and enlightenment forum of Digital Sense Africa (DSA), an initiative of Remnek Kommunications Ventures in affiliation with some continental media.

Announcing this development in Lagos, the Executive Director, Operations for Digital Sense Africa, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, said the news of the support by NCC came in good time and would encourage the organization and intending corporate participation.

She said that the news was broken by the Assistant Director, Public Relations at NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka.

According to her, Muoka while announcing the news said the support was premised on the success of the 2009 edition, which turned out interesting issues relevant to the country and the Internet community precisely.

She commended NCC for steering the country aright through people oriented policies and looks forward to active participation of the Commission in the 2010 edition.

Mrs. Nweke recalled that her office had explained that the 2010 edition of the forum will hold in second quarter of this year, precisely Friday, April 16 at the Golden Gate Ikoyi-Lagos.

The DSA boss noted that the timing of the forum follows the need to sell Nigeria’s position to the West African countries, stressing that it would enable the country to articulate her position properly before the regional Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

As said by her, other West African countries, must be carried along in the nation’s bid to ensure that her own interest is well represented in the global session of the Internet Governance Forum.

The global IGF for this year, she pointed out, is coming much earlier than that of last year, thus, the choice to hold the Nigeria Digital Sense forum in April.

Additionally, Mrs. Nweke said that this year’s theme of the forum would be on ‘Five Years of IGF, the Way Forward for Nigeria.’

She emphasized that following the success of 2009 edition, it befitting to make certain the 2010 edition takes place in good time in order to ensure that those stakeholders planning to be at this year’s Internet Governance Forum, would have most of the subject that needed trashing at heart.

Equally, she said, plans have been advanced to ensure that this edition improves on the intentions of stakeholders ahead of last year’s records.

Nigeria Digital Sense forum, she said, avails stakeholders the needed platform to articulate a stand on Internet Governance and accurately align the nation’s position into the global Internet Governance Forum holding in Vilnius, Lithuania between September 14 and 17, 2010.

The forum, she said, was initiated as part of efforts at always stimulating outlook and enlightenment on Nigeria’s position on the global annual Internet Governance Forum, which is in its fifth year.

She called to mind the fact that 2009 edition was presided over by chairman of the pioneer Internet Service Provider, Linkserve Group, Chief Chima Apugo Onyekwere with the participation of the Federal Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Mrs. Dora Akunyili and Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, who were both adequately represented at the forum.

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Glo subscribers connect Facebook

Globacom has introduced a new Value Added Service (VAS) tagged GloConnect which allows subscribers on the Glo Mobile network to connect directly with the popular social networking site, Facebook.

Head, Value Added Service (VAS), Globacom, Mr. Samson Isa said that the service which comes without longing on.

He explained that the service gives Glo subscribers a seamless connection to their Facebook accounts via Short Message Service (SMS) and Multi-Media Service (MMS).

The new service, he said, is targeted at youths and young adults who are fond of the social network site, Facebook, and are desirous of seeking new ways of keeping up their relationships anytime of the day from their phone without having to log on to the web.

According to him, Facebook has become the fastest growing online social networking community globally with more than 300 million users.

“A sizable number of Nigerians have found Facebook a good platform to re-unite and network with friends and associates,” he observed. 

Mr. Isa also said the new service has been developed with the youth in mind.

“For the first time in Nigeria, a GSM network operator is introducing free interaction with ‘Facebook’, the most popular online social networking community in the world,” he said, stressing that it is an opportunity for millions of Glo subscribers to continue interaction with their friends at another level.

“This service will empower Glo subscribers to access the interactive features of Facebook via SMS & MMS on the Glo network. The main purpose of this initiative is to ease the social networking drive of our subscribers through the innovative application of Multimedia Messaging service to deliver this novel service on the Glo network,” Isa said.

He equally said that the new service allows subscribers to update their status on Facebook, post on their message walls, search for friends and receive comments via sms, thus eliminating the need to log on to the internet to keep up with Facebook profile.

“What we have done is to create excitement for our subscribers and introduce fun into the lifestyle of our youths”, Isa said, pointing out that Globacom is always ahead in introducing innovative ideas that enable its subscribers rule their world.

He explained that what an interested subscriber needs to do is to visit www.gloworld.com and click on the GloConnect icon on the homepage.

“This will take the user to a special Glo branded Facebook page where they can register for the GloConnect service in two easy steps and it is ready to use.
Interested Glo subscribers can send an sms with the message, ‘Help’ to 3223 (FACE) free of charge on the mobile phone to get a set of guidelines on how to use the service,” he said.

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Visafone in Maiduguri, rewards commercial operators

Visafone Communications has given reasons why it rolled out in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, just as it rewarded commercial telephone operators (CTO).

The roll out, the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator, said, is in furtherance of its commitment to increase access to world-class telecommunication services at customer friendly tariffs, to customers across different states and cities.

Also, the telecoms operator said it entered the historic town with exciting and affordable packages tailored to meet the communication needs of the residents and further facilitate their contacts with friends and loved ones.

Deputy General Manager (DGM) and Head, Marketing and Strategy, Visafone, Mr. Clifford Onyeike said, that residents of Maiduguri and environs would have the opportunity to enjoy several packages from the company’s bouquet.

These, he said, include Visa Internet, for fast and reliable access to the internet; VisaChill, a product which enables subscribers to make free mid-night calls; Visa Profit, designed for increased business returns; and Visa Call Hunting, a re-definition in customer care designed for both small and large organisations.

He explained that subscribers in Maiduguri have the option to choose from a rich array of low, mid and high-end mobile phones to meet their personal and business needs.

Besides, he said, they would enjoy supplementary and value added services such as ‘Share Ur Visa’, Caller Ring Back Tone, Voice SMS, Visa Chat, etc

Details of how to enjoy any of these packages could be obtained by visiting any of the dealer service shops, or by calling the call centre on 333.

“It is instructive to note that the network offers the lowest local and international call rates with calls to the USA, Canada and the UK (fixed) at 12.00/min and calls to India and China at the competitive rate of 17/min,” he said.

Visafone, which started commercial operation in February, 2008, is Nigeria’s 4th largest mobile operator by active subscriber base, presently covers 23 states and over 171 cities across the country.

In a related development, Commercial Telephone Operators (CTOs) on the Visafone network are now set for greater business returns as Visafone unveiled a new initiative tagged “Visa Profit Mega Returns.”

This, he said, would avail such subscribers on the Visa Profit package to stand the chance of winning several prizes.

The prizes which include motorcycles, refrigerators, home theatres, generators, air conditioners, televisions, Nokia handsets, solar chargers and free airtime, is a plan to reward subscribers who use up to 3000 and more airtime monthly. For every additional 1000 usage, the subscriber stands an extra chance of qualifying for a prize.

“Visa Profit Mega Returns” reiterate the company’s commitment to promoting profitable business for these commercial phone operators and by extension, encourage more Nigerians to embrace self employment.

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NCC sets new date for SIM registration

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has shifted the date for the registration of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards in the country to May 1, from its initial date of March 1, 2010.

Giving consent to this development, Head, Media & Public Relations, Mr. Reuben Muoka, said that the March 1, date was deferred due the Commissions discovery that a good number of SIM cards were pushed to the market with instant activation features.

“NCC wishes to inform all telecom service providers and consumers of telecom services that the deadline for the commencement of registration of all new SIM Card users in Nigeria, earlier scheduled for March 1, 2010, has been deferred to May 1, 2010,” he said.

As said by him, the deferment became imminent following the finding that large amount of SIM cards with instant activation features, were already distributed by the service providers before the earlier announcement, stressing that this could not have been cleared out before March 1, 2010.Muoka also explained that the window period from March 1, 2010 to May 1, 2010, has been given to the operating companies to clear the backlog of SIM cards currently in the market to allow for seamless registration of all new SIM cards from the new date.

He pointed out that NCC has directed all telecom operating companies to put all necessary arrangements in place to ensure that all new SIM cards are registered before they are activated with effect from May 1, 2010.

“The extended period will also give the service providers the extra time to finalize the installation of all necessary facilities for the registration,” he said. Muoka explained that the registration process would include the capture of the photograph and biometrics of the subscriber.

In the case of existing SIM card holders, necessary processes and procedures are currently being put in place to guarantee a smooth registration exercise. The general public and all relevant stakeholders will be notified in due course about the timing and how to proceed.NCC is the independent national regulatory authority for the telecommunications industry in the country, responsible for creating an enabling environment for competition among operators in the industry as well as ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services throughout the country.

NCC said its mission is to support a market driven telecommunications industry and promote universal access.

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Brymedia, TNZI in technical deal

One of the ‘reserved bidders’ in the just concluded sale of the first national carrier, the Nigerian Telecommunications Plc (NITEL) group, Brymedia Consortium has affirmed that it met all the requirements in the bidding process, just as it confirmed the technical deal with Telecom New Zealand International (TNZI).

Confirming this to ITRealms Online, the chief executive of Brymedia West Africa Limited, Mr. Adrian Wood, said his firm submitted its bid for all of the NITEL and MTel assets on Friday, February 5, 2010.

This submission, he said, was in full compliance with the Request For Proposal (RFP)
issued by the Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises on September 24, 2009 and is supported by seven local investors and reputed telecom giant, TNZ.

“The consortium is supported by seven Nigerian investor groups, and is pleased to disclose that Telecom New Zealand International did indeed agree and are still in agreement to participate as the Consortium’s international technical partner, as required by the terms of the RFP,” he declared.

According to him, the TNZI letter submitted with the Brymedia Bid documentation is a confirmation that the deal has been sealed between the two firms for the success of the partnership.

TNZI, he noted is the national operator in New Zealand, and is an enterprise with wide experience, millions of customers and significant assets in its worldwide operations.

“In their home market they have operations in fixed line, Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Third Generation (3G), wireless broadband, Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) broadband, Optic Fibre Cable (OFC) transmission, microwave and satellite transmission, broadcast, pay TV, and managed services.

“They were one of the very first national operators to be privatized and were the first ever foreign operator to be granted an international gateway license in the United States of America (USA) in the early 80s,” he said.

Additionally, Mr. Wood said TNZI carries two per cent of the world’s international long distance telephone traffic and own 50 per cent of the trans-Pacific Southern Cross undersea OFC as well as the largest portfolio of cable assets in Eastern Europe and Middle East with major voice and Internet Protocol (IP) gateways in numerous countries around the world, even as the telecom operator is financially solid, and listed on the New York (NY) Stock Exchange.

ITRealms Online recalled that Brymedia Consortium had the third highest bid in the BPE’s process for the NITEL privatization.

“We wish to congratulate BPE and its advisors BNP Paribas for completing a long and difficult, stewardship of the technical and financial bids for NITEL and MTel,” he submitted.

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Reps laud BPE on sale of NITEL

Federal lawmakers Monday applauded the Bureau of Public Enterprises for its recent sale of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and Mobile Telecommunications (Mtel) to New Generation Consortium Limited, reported ABIODUN ADELAJA &

Chairman, House Committee on Privatization and Commercialization, Hon. Abbas Braimah made this known in a press statement issued in Abuja, they canvassed that despite the controversies over the sale of NITEL, New Generation Consortium should be allowed to choose another technical partner.

The committee expressed satisfaction with the process of the biding which was won by New Generation Communications Ltd led by Nigerian GiCell, for $2.5 billion.

They said the bidding was done in a process that was “transparent and in line with the guidelines for the selection of core investor.”

This is coming on the heels of allegation by the bid winner’s technical partner, China Unicom (Hong Kong) limited that it was not involved in the $2.5 billion bid for NITEL/Mtel.

At the presentation of the core investors sale process and profile of bidders by the Chairman Technical Committee of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), Dr. Mohammed Hayatu-Deen at the Financial Bids Opening of NITEL on February 16 , the New Generation Consortium included GiCell Wireless Limited, China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited and Minerva Group.

According to the Committee in the press statement\ signed by a member of the Committee Hon. Segun Akinloye on behalf of acting Chairman of the committee, he noted that unlike the three previous failed attempts at privatizing NITEL/Mtel, the BPE in the recent bid introduced a more stringent requirement of posting a 30 per cent bond of the anticipated bid offered by each potential core investor.

It explained further, “This requirement was met by the bidders and this condition was introduced to fend off unserious bidders who if they won the bid would be unable to pay the final bid price as we have experienced in several other Financial Bid openings.

“The committee is pleased with the outcome of the financial bid opening which produced $2.5 billion and $945 million respectively as offers from the designated Preferred and Reserved Bidders pending NCP’s approval.”

The Committee also said the bid winner, New Generation Communications should be allowed to choose another technical partner in line with the privatization guidelines so that the current sale will not be scuttled.

It could be recalled that the bid to sell the NITEL/Mtel in the past ran into turbulent waters as the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) at an emergency meeting on June 1, 2009 approved the revocation of the sale of NITEL/Mtel to Transnational Corporation of Nigeria PLC (TRANSCORP) for its inability to transform the company.

Other reasons for the revocation were the non-injection of funds into NITEL/Mtel, failure to adhere to the terms of the Share Sales Purchase Agreement (SSPA), and the inability to meet its obligation to pay staff salaries.

The statement said if China Unicom decided to pull out of the consortium, New Generation should be given the opportunity to replace them to move the process forward after payment of the bid price as approved by the NCP,” the statement added.

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8-member Malaysian scholars visits Omatek

Eight-man delegation from the Open University of Malaysia (OUM) and Accra Institute of Technology (AIT) last weekend visited Omatek Ghana factory in Accra, Ghana.

The visit was to allow the delegation acquaint themselves with the state-of-the-art factory and its capacity to deliver quality and affordable laptops and desktop computers for students of AIT, the Open University of Malaysia’s partner Institution.

Conducting the visitors round the Omatek factory, the Group Managing Director, Omatek Computers Ghana Ltd, Mrs. Florence Seriki, said that AIT and Omatek are in partnership which has led to the establishment of an Omatek Engineering Centre in the institution to enable the students have hands-on experience.

Mrs. Seriki also said, the partnership between the two institutes will promote e-learning and technological uptake among youths in the country.

She further said Omatek would continue to absorb students for industrial training as part of its efforts to improve knowledge gap.

In his address, President, Accra Institute of Technology, Prof. Clement Dzidonu, described Omatek Computers as a strategic company that will play an important role in the ICT development of Ghana.

Also, he said that the company will “provide the necessary IT tools which are pivotal to undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs under the open/distant learning academic system.”

For the Vice Chancellor, Open University of Malaysia, Prof. Anuwar, said the delegation was impressed with the production process, especially the quality assurance aspect of the factory.

He, therefore, urged Omatek not to relent in its efforts at providing quality products, especially for the Education sector.

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M-Net goes 24-hr with high definition mode

BEGINNING from April 1, Digital satellite television audiences who are High Definition (HD)-compliant in the continent would experience 24 hour of excitement on M-Net Africa HD channel on DStv channel 170.

Speaking on the launch, M-Net Africa Managing Director Biola Alabi said they are very pleased to be the very first HD channel to launch on DStv to audiences across East, West and Central Africa.

“High Definition television is the way of the future, and M-Net has worked hard to ensure that we are at the forefront of this new technological innovation. We will continue to look to the future and are confident that as technology develops, M-Net will continue to deliver the magic,” she said.

The channel which was launched recently is currently running 20 hours daily and is available only to DStv Premium subscribers who have an HD ready television and who access their DStv services through the technologically advanced HD PVR decoder.

In addition to providing access to the M-Net Africa HD channel, the cutting edge HD PVR decoder allows for even greater flexibility as it allows subscribers to view one channel and record two other channels at the same time, making sure you never miss any of your favourite DStv programmes.

With 150 hours of Standard Definition (SD) or 50 Hours of HD storage on its hard drive, the HD PVR also has even bigger recording capacity - meaning DStv subscribers can record more of their favourite programmes and watch when it is most convenient.

Remember also, customers who do not have the revolutionary HD PVR decoder will need to purchase it in order to receive and interpret the HD signals and access the M-NET AFRICA HD channel.

Combining hit international series and popular kids programming with blockbuster movies and must-watch specials, including some of music’s biggest stars in concert, M-Net Africa HD redefines television entertainment offering bolder colour, superior picture quality and an unforgettable viewing experience.

Among the series on offer on M-NET AFRICA HD are - Grey’s Anatomy, Royal Pains, House, Desperate Housewives, Fringe, DollHouse, Ugly Betty, The Good Wife, Flash Forward, Friday Night Lights and Raising the Bar.

On the movie front audiences can tune in and see Will Smith in Hancock, Kate Hudson in Bride Wars, Jim Carrey in Yes Man plus titles such as Akeelah and The Bee, Secret Life of Bees, Baby Mama, Things We Lost in the Fire, Blonde Ambition, Spy Kids, Picture This, Another Cinderella Story, Shrek 3, High School Musical 3, I Am Legend, Seven Pounds, Bring It On, Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Kite Runner.

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Samsung unveils ‘Corby Pop’ phone

Samsung West Africa has introduced a new product known as ‘Corby Pop - C3510’ with a touch screen into the Nigerian market.

Director and Head, Mobile Phones for Samsung West Africa, Mr. Peter Lee, said that Corby Pop is a sturdy little mobile phone, which has a more than passing resemblance to a Personal Digital Assistance (PDA).

According to him, C3510 measures 103 mm x 55 mm wide and with only 12 mm thick, it is compact in every way, whilst weighing a mere 92 g.

He explained that the main display screen, is the focal point of any handset and this display screen is no different on C3510.

Mr. Lee also said that at 2.8 inches in size, it is large and is able to display up to 256,000 colours within a pixel screen size of 240 x 320 pixels.

This touch screen, he said, offers a smart unlock feature and utilises the cartoon user interface.

The large screen also allows the user to ‘Vue More Do More.’

"Corby Pop is in a class of its own. Nigerians love their music and video. With a screen size of 2.8 inches, videos are bigger and clearer to watch. It’s all about the screen real estate. When you can see more, your video experience is better. Even internet browsing is better," he declared.

As said by him, the Corby Pop is easy to use, thanks to the TouchWiz user interface, that makes it possible for users to pick up this phone and easily learn to use it in minutes.

"This is because the menu and control system has been laid out in a very human-intuitive fashion –just the kind of interface its target market would appreciate.
Finger taps, sliding and other touch commands are very easy to execute," he said.

The phone, he said, is also made to fulfill the personal aesthetic and functional needs of the users.

"The home screen itself can be expanded and panned left and right to reveal more layout and to change the main displayed information," he said, stressing that the phone would also has widgets that allow user to set and change content to be displayed.

"The widgets are easily managed and changed at any time in the menu. Lastly, those who would like the change the visual appearance of the interface can change and edit the many themes on the device," he said.

Corby Pop series, he said, is presenting featuring Samsung’s Palringo platform and its multi messaging capabilities, pointing out that with this, customers need only to input their electronic mail accounts for Yahoo instant messaging (IM), Google Talk, and Facebook to be able to chat with all their contacts in messenger.

"The phone will also save you the trouble of having to open the menu to access your favourite websites. Simply click any link from the quick links widget and you will instantly be transported to websites of your choosing such as Facebook, MySpace, Flicker, Photobucket, Picasa and YouTube," he said.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

China Unicom denies link with New Generation Consortium

… BPE says ‘they are free to pull out’

Barely a week after the latest sale of the first national carrier, Nigerian Telecommunications Plc (NITEL), the company seems to be jinxed with controversies, as the purported technical partner of the preferred bidder New Generation Consortium Limited, the China Unicom has denied having any deal with the bid or any Nigerian company.

This is coming as the agency in the centre of the privatization of NITEL, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) said they are free to pull out of a consortium.
A report by Reuters on Monday, quoted officials of China Unicom as saying that they did not participate in any deal either directly or indirectly in the recently concluded NITEL bid.

"The company has not participated in any direct discussions or negotiations with any relevant parties involved in the proposed privatisation," China Unicom said in a press statement.

The officials were also quoted as watching the development in the Nigeria’s telecommunication scene.

"The company will continue to observe the development of the proposed privatisation, and will make announcements as and when appropriate," part of the report read.
Also, the report noted the concern of China Unicom over recent media reports it was participating in the proposed privatisation and said it had not authorised any person to comment on the deal.

Unicom's remarks are the latest twist in Nigeria's ongoing effort to sell its former telecoms monopoly, Nitel.

The National Council on Privatisation, responsible for privatising Nitel, said last Tuesday that a consortium including China Unicom had bid $2.5 billion for Nitel, through New Generation Consortium.

The managing director, GiCell, Alhaji Abubakar Gumi reacted by saying, "We didn't pull all this out of the air." And provided copies of a letter that allegedly came from Unicom's European unit in this regard where the company expressed willingliness to be a technical partner to the consortium and would consider equity participation of 20 percent or more.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) said its attention was drawn to publications in the media to the effect that China Unicom, named as a member of the New Generation Telecommunications Limited Consortium that won the bid for NITEL/MTEL, has denied any relationship with the consortium.

Head, Public Communication at BPE, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe, noted in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, Monday and dated February 19, 2010, that while it was not BPE intention to join issues with anybody, the agency reiterated that the latest bidding process was a success.

“We wish to state categorically and for the records that the NCP/BPE stands firmly by the results of the open and transparent bid process of NITEL/M-TEL held on the 16th February 2010. We have not seen any evidence to the contrary,” he said.

Additionally, he said that it is important to note, “That when the Technical bids were received on 5th February 2010 and opened by the Bureau of Public Enterprises on 16th February, 2010, New Generations Communications Limited Consortium included as part of its submission a ‘Commitment Letter’ from Minerva Group signed by the Group Chairman, Ahmed Abdullah, accepting to fund the acquisition and another letter from China Unicom (Europe) Operations Limited, accepting to be its Technical Partner.

BPE quoted from the China Unicom’s letter signed by one William So as follows:
“We are pleased to inform you that we are willing to be technical partner to support New Generation Telecommunications Limited Consortium to bid for NITEL, and to provide technical and managerial support on terms to be agreed later, when the bid is finally won. We will also consider equity participation of not less than 20% subject to final agreement with the consortium.”

The agency further said that the letters in reference were immediately sent to its advisors BNP Paribas for conduct of due diligence and confirmation of the validity of the letter. According to Anichebe, BNP Paribas called Mr. Williams So, on phone and he confirmed the relationship by e-mail (sow@chinaunicon.cn), of which part of the content extracted thereof: “We have provided a letter to a member of the New Generation Telecom Consortium to confirm that we are willing to provide technical and managerial support to them on terms to be agreed later, when the bid is finally won. I believe you have a copy of the letter.”

He pointed out that it is important to note that telecommunications operators were not required to submit technical partnership agreements since they already have the technical competences required to run telecommunications operations.

“Thus MTN, GLO and New Generation Telecommunications Limited were not required to submit memorandums of understanding (MoU) with technical partners since they were either telecoms operators or have an operator in the consortium,” he said, stressing that New Generation Telecommunications Limited has Gicell, a licensed local operator, in its consortium. The additional commitment of China Unicom only served to strengthen its bid.

However, he explained that the other bidders that were not telecommunications operators were required to have duly executed MoUs with a telecoms operator. In compliance with this requirement, Afzi/Spectrum Consortium, Brymedia, and Omen International were therefore required to submit MoUs executed by operators to qualify for the bid opening.

“It must be pointed out that a member of a consortium that wishes to pull out of the consortium is free to do so by writing to the BPE and other members of the consortium the same way it wrote to confirm its membership and not by dramatizing its exit in the media,” he cautioned.

Reassuring that BPE is committed to an open and transparent reform and privatization process will not waver.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

BPE may revoke New Generation offer for NITEL

… On violation of Sect 3.1.2

The last may not have been heard of the controversies surrounding the sale and re-sale of the first national carrier, the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) as indications emerged at the weekend that the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) may revoke the preferred bidder’s offered by the New Generation Consortium Limited worth $2.5 billion.

In the bidding exercise which ended last Tuesday, February 16, 2010, saw the likes of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited offering ($25 million for SAT-3), Brymedia Consortium ($95,000), New Generations Consortium Limited ($333,333.33), AFZI/Spectrum Consortium ($200 million without liabilities and $173.333 with liabilities) and Omen International Limited (BVI) ($350 million).

But our investigations, weekend, revealed that both the first highest bidder and second, New Generation Consortium Limited and Omen International Limited (BVI), respectively, both violated a section of the BPE Request for Proposals (RfP).

This was particularly, on Section 3.1. which dwell on qualification of process in sub-section (2), which focused on alliance(s) by candidates by engaging Chinese Unicom and forbids any company expressing interest in the process to share two subsidiaries of any company.

While the two highest bidders in the process claimed technical supports from China Unicom, industry watchers, say that with this development, BPE may have no option than to revoke the bid offered by New Generation Consortium Limited and disqualify both New Generation and Omen International from the exercise.

This automatically would leave the likes of Brymedia Consortium and MTN Nigeria to scamper for the first place, which invariably depend on their primary offers, even though the RfP was specific on the preferences which BPE stipulated will be given to “Bidders willing to acquire the whole NITEL Group”.

Although earlier reports had it that Omen International Limited which emerged the first reserved bidder with the offer of $956million for the whole of NITEL has China Unicom Network Communications Company Limited as technical partners.

On the other hand, the proclaimed preferred bidder, the New Generation Consortium, claimed it has the support of China Unicom Europe Operations Limited to provide the technical and management support with 20 per cent equity participation.

Team leader of New Generation Consortium Limited, Alhaji Abubakar Usman Gumi, while reacting to a media report that China Unicom bought NITEL, said China Unicom (Europe) Operations Limited supported its bid, and confirmed that it will provide technical and management support whereas considering a minimum of 20 per cent equity participation on terms to be agreed.

Part of the RfP section 3.1.2 read “Strategic alliances or joint ventures between investors generally will be permitted. No entity (including for this purpose its shareholders, subsidiaries or associated companies) may be a member of more than one consortium. No member of a consortium or Applicant (including for this purpose its shareholders, subsidiaries or associated companies) may participate in the process as a separate Applicant. Alliances or joint ventures may be allowed if their purpose is to help the partners in strengthening their technical and/or financial capabilities, but any alliance, the aim or purpose of which may be to attempt to frustrate other Candidates from acquiring the Company or its assets, will not be permitted.”

Reacting to this in a chat with ITRealms Online, yesterday, the BPE spokesman, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe, maintained that they have not discovered any anomalies yet in the processes, though he agreed that two of the bidders used one technical partners, Anichebe said that they did not violate any stipulations of the BPE.

“Consortium is a consortium, and technical partners are just as the name implies. So, they did not violate any clause with regard to the current exercise,” he said, stressing that it does not call for revocation.

Meanwhile, Gumi in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, weekend, entitled ‘China Unicom did not buy NITEL’ insisted that New Generation Consortium Limited, is the preferred bidder of the NITEL.

According to him, New Generation Consortium Limited is a group of several companies for the purpose of NITEL bid and naturally the consortium would have financial and technical partners.

He explained that the financial backbone of the New Generation Consortium is the Minerva Group of United Arab Emirates, which has what it takes to turn around NITEL and give Nigerians good telecommunication services.

“The Minerva Group, not China Unicom is the lead financial partner of New Generation Consortium Limited,” Gumi was quoted in the press statement.

Also, he pointed out that other consortium members include GiCell Wireless Limited, a Unified Access Service Licensee, Sumatra Star GT Limited and BGL Private Equity Limited, a subsidiary of BGL Plc.

In addition, he said, ‘’China Unicom (Europe) Operations Limited who supported the bid, confirmed that it will provide technical and management support and would consider a minimum of 20 per cent equity participation on terms to be agreed.’’

Gumi further said the new entrant into the Nigeria’s telecom industry would enhance increased competition and level playing field in the Telecoms Market and drive down price to the consumer.

“New Generation Consortium is clearly huge, and it promises the very best service the world of communications technology can offer’’, he assured, stressing they would contribute to the social, technological and economic development of countries where we operate. We will do this by investing in telecoms infrastructure, generating employment opportunities and developing products and services that contribute to the development of the society,” he asserted.

ITRealms Online recalls that the Federal Government in June 2009 revoked the sale of NITEL and M-TEL to Transnational Corporation (TRANSCORP) Plc, alleging the inability of the core investor to transform the company and adherence to the terms contained in the Share Sales Purchase Agreement (SSPA) as well as its obligation to pay staff salaries.

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Four banks handover 1,116 ATMs to ATM-C

To seat the deadline given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), four banks have handed over 1,116 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) to the Nigeria’s premier Independent ATM Deployer (IAD), ATM Consortium.

Chief Executive Officer, ATM-C, Mr. Olumide Bajomo, said this last weekend, UBA Group, First Bank Plc and Diamond Bank handed over ATMs t sorting at the consortium.

Bajomo said that his firm, ATM Consortium, which also operates the QuickCash ATM commended the bank’s decision to this effect, recalling that CBN’s directives indicated that deployment of off-banking site ATMs requires all banks to either handover their cash machines, deployed outside the bank premises to consortia or relocate them to their premises on or before March 31..

This development, he said, has given a boost to QuickCash network of ATMs with hitherto installed capacity of 350 to 1,466.

He outlined the exercise to include that UBA Group handed over 700 ATMs, First Bank - 410 with the remaining six coming from Diamond Bank. 

“Over the next few weeks, we expect our other shareholder banks namely Zenith Bank, Fidelity Bank, Afribank, Union Bank and Wema Bank to follow suit,” he said, stressing that ATM-C would soon commence the rebranding of these ATMs into QuickCash brand across the entire bank branded cash machines and ATMs that were handed.

Executive Director, Banking Operations and Service, First Bank, Dr. Abddu Abubakar, said the handover of the ATMs to the consortium demonstrate the bank’s support for ATM-C.

“We see this CBN policy as a revalidation of the IAD business model, which we adopted for ATM-C at inception, and therefore stand fully committed to the success of the new policy,” he said.

For the Executive Director, Customer Service & Technology, Diamond Bank, Mr. Oladele Akinyemi, the bank sees the CBN policy as an opportunity to actualize the vision of building the largest ATM network in the region.

Diamond Bank, he said, looks forward to a timely completion of ATM-C’s planning processes and an early re-launch of its QuickCash services for the benefit of “our customers, bank account holders and the Nigerian consumer.”

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NigComSat launches circuit board, micro electronics centre

Satellite communication services provider, NigComSat Ltd has launched a wholly Nigerian Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and micro electronics centre at its complex, situated in Lugbe, Abuja, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Speaking during the official commissioning, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Alhassan Bako Zaku said the PCB forms one of the most important parts needed in the manufacturing process of electronic devices.

He expressed delight at the technological advancement brought to the nation with the achievement, saying the venture of the nation into space technology has provided an advantage to embark on know-how trainings in this high-tech field.

The minister said the commissioning has marked the onset of a technical revolution in the country, noting that with the effect of the global meltdown this represents a fresh opportunity to build the nation’s economy.

In the area of education, the minister said the centre is fully equipped to meet the learning needs of undergraduates to receive hands-on training and firsthand experience in electronics manufacturing.

“It is the core of electrical and electronic gadgets. Prior to today, all PCBs required for the assembly of these devices have been imported from other countries. It is with great pleasure that I announce to you that the printed circuit boards can now be manufactured within the shore of this country, courtesy of the research and development department of NigComSat as the company has re-strategized by harnessing in-house human resources development towards attaining a more vibrant economy,” he said.

Dr. Zaku said the nation possesses the knowledge and the type of technological capability that could kick-start and sustain an industrial revolution in the style of China, India, East Asia and other industrializing countries.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Managing Director of NigComSat, Alhaji Timasaniyu Ahmed-Rufai said the PCB is the basis for any electronic system which provides a convenient and efficient means to mount electrical components which forms underlying part of all electrical products namely; radio, television, computers, handsets, ATM machine and many more.

Describing the achievement as a spin-off from the know-how technology transfer and training of over 100 Nigerian engineers in China, United Kingdom, USA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ahmed-Rufai said the breakthrough is crucial in the achievement of the nation’s vision to be amongst the top 20 economies by year 2020.

“We are proud to state that it will mark another milestone in Nigeria’s history to lead Africa in its drive for technological breakthrough. This centre will be a confirmation of the federal government’s commitment to ICT to provide web enabling governance for the provision of quick access to communication services,” he said.

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eWorld to unveil broadband action plan

As the date for eWorld organized forum on Broadband draws nearer, it is anticipated that the action plan for broadband deployment in the country would be unveiled.

Chief Executive Officer, eWorld, Mr. Aaron Ukodie said at the weekend that the expectation is high as industry stakeholders would come up with a more comprehensive national broadband development action plan at the end of the forum which scheduled for March 3, 2010.

Ukodie said, there is need for a more concerted effort to push the frontier of broadband development in Nigeria because of its impact on gross domestic product (GDP) current global focus.

He cited an instance with the 2009 World Bank report on Information and Communications for Development (ICT4D), which proclaimed the impact of broadband on growth in 120 countries from 1980 to 2006.

According to him, each 10 per cent points of broadband penetration resulted in 1.21 per cent increase in GDP in developed countries, but 1.38 per cent in developing countries, underscoring the fact that it has more impact in those countries.

Currently he said, the promotion of broadband and the reduction of its costs could be a good way to stimulate the economy in Nigeria and Africa, stressing that what is happening in most part of Africa is that the business model for broadband is high margin low volume, as opposed to low margin volume approach.

The envisaged action plan, Ukodie pointed out, would build on already existing roadmaps shown by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the International Cable Services Providers (ICSP) and disparate fibre optics projects embarked upon by a number of operating companies.

Korea, for instance, he said, is a good example of the action plan that African countries and indeed Nigeria need to take to develop broadband solutions and application.

Recently, Ukodie said, the country embarked on a comprehensive e-government programme, investing US$24 billion in a national fibre backbone that provides more than 28,000 government departments and agencies with fast broadband access.

With the regulator leading discussions at the eWorld Broadband Forum, it is the expectation that the speakers and discussants rallying at the event will arrive at a plan that addresses national last mile broadband network, market potentials, investment options, technology option and the issue of pricing, among others.

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Etisalat hosts distributors @ FCT

Etisalat Nigeria has concluded plans to host its distribution partners to an award night at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja by next week.

Acting Head, Corporation Communications at Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Yinka Ijabiyi, while disclosing this, weekend, said that the award, scheduled for March 4, 2010 in Abuja, is set to celebrate this unique partnership that keeps Nigeria talking.

“The award ceremony promises to be an evening of superlative fun, glitz and glamour as the company rolls out the red carpet for the distribution partners,” he said.

Ijabiyi quoted the Chief Commercial Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Wael Ammar, explained that the award nite is planned to celebrate and reward the distribution partners’ commitment to the success of the company’s business.

“The award nite is an opportunity to appreciate the unique role our distribution partners play in the success of our business. We aim to continue to motivate and spur them to greater heights,” he said.

Wael explained that distribution partners remain a key factor as Etisalat’s market share in the telecommunications sector continues to increase meteorically.

As said by him, Etisalat’s distribution partners play a key role in the fast and expansive development of the network and it is for this reason, amongst others, that the network operator is keen to continually engage with them.

“Rewarding them for the level of support they had given us and the level of support we look forward to receiving, is very much in line with our robust business strategy,” he said.

ITRealms Online recalls that Etisalat recently hosted its partners to a conference in Lagos where both parties reviewed their performance for the previous year and shared thoughts on how Etisalat could work with the dealers for a mutually rewarding experience in 2010.

“We constantly look to review our performances, share thoughts and understand our customers’ expectations in order to achieve optimal success as a business. When we understand where we are, we would be able to appreciate where we are going and what we need to get there,” he said.

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Zain repackages Step-up offer

Leading mobile operator, Zain Nigeria has announced that subscribers to its StepUP package would begin to enjoy additional benefits that have been specially designed to suite their high-status lifestyle.

Zain StepUP customers would now enjoy access to VIP Lounge in selected airports in addition to receiving complimentary 100 short message service (SMS) and 100mb Internet access in the first month of subscription.

Also, customers on the package would enjoy priority routing at Zain consumer contact centers, blackberry offers, and automatic migration to Zain’s Rewardz loyalty programme which gives them the opportunity to reap other exciting lifestyle related benefits associated with membership of the scheme.

Additionally, the monthly access charge for the package has been lowered to N1,500 from N2,000 as part of the enhancement, thus giving the product users one of the best tariffs in the industry.

According to the Marketing Director of Zain Nigeria, Mr. Mostafa Younes, features of the enhanced Zain StepUP package have been carefully designed to meet the peculiar communication and lifestyle of high value customers, giving them ease of use, comfort value added services, convenience, and other fascinating benefits.

Younes explained that Zain StepUP is the first plan in Nigeria that reduces the price per second of calls as customers use their phones regardless of the time of day and network called.

He added that the more users of the package talk on the phone, the greater the benefits they will derive, stressing that customers can get more than 20 per cent saving on call cost if they make calls for more than three minutes daily in one month and over 50 per cent saving in call cost if they talk for just 10 minutes every day in a month.

“The package is the first plan in Nigeria for post paid and prepaid customers, that offers core lifestyle benefits and reduces the price per second as a customer uses their phone regardless of the time and the network the call is made to”, said Younes.

To enjoy the tariff plan, Zain customers are expected to recharge with a monthly access fee of N1, 500 and migrate to the service. On the other hand, new customers who want to connect with Zain StepUP package are required to purchase a new Zain SIM card, recharge their phone with a monthly access fee of N1, 500 and then dial the short code.

“At Zain, we are always looking for opportunities to delight our esteemed customers; and the introduction of the enhanced Zain StepUP package is a concerted effort to extend our brand promise of “ A Wonderful World’ to our customers across Nigeria,” said Shamel Hanafi, Chief Commercial officer.

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Zain repackages Step-up offer

Leading mobile operator, Zain Nigeria has announced that subscribers to its StepUP package would begin to enjoy additional benefits that have been specially designed to suite their high-status lifestyle.

Zain StepUP customers would now enjoy access to VIP Lounge in selected airports in addition to receiving complimentary 100 short message service (SMS) and 100mb Internet access in the first month of subscription.

Also, customers on the package would enjoy priority routing at Zain consumer contact centers, blackberry offers, and automatic migration to Zain’s Rewardz loyalty programme which gives them the opportunity to reap other exciting lifestyle related benefits associated with membership of the scheme.

Additionally, the monthly access charge for the package has been lowered to N1,500 from N2,000 as part of the enhancement, thus giving the product users one of the best tariffs in the industry.

According to the Marketing Director of Zain Nigeria, Mr. Mostafa Younes, features of the enhanced Zain StepUP package have been carefully designed to meet the peculiar communication and lifestyle of high value customers, giving them ease of use, comfort value added services, convenience, and other fascinating benefits.

Younes explained that Zain StepUP is the first plan in Nigeria that reduces the price per second of calls as customers use their phones regardless of the time of day and network called.

He added that the more users of the package talk on the phone, the greater the benefits they will derive, stressing that customers can get more than 20 per cent saving on call cost if they make calls for more than three minutes daily in one month and over 50 per cent saving in call cost if they talk for just 10 minutes every day in a month.

“The package is the first plan in Nigeria for post paid and prepaid customers, that offers core lifestyle benefits and reduces the price per second as a customer uses their phone regardless of the time and the network the call is made to”, said Younes.

To enjoy the tariff plan, Zain customers are expected to recharge with a monthly access fee of N1, 500 and migrate to the service. On the other hand, new customers who want to connect with Zain StepUP package are required to purchase a new Zain SIM card, recharge their phone with a monthly access fee of N1, 500 and then dial the short code.

“At Zain, we are always looking for opportunities to delight our esteemed customers; and the introduction of the enhanced Zain StepUP package is a concerted effort to extend our brand promise of “ A Wonderful World’ to our customers across Nigeria,” said Shamel Hanafi, Chief Commercial officer.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Broadband penetration: Nwokolo advocates direct import clearance

THE regulatory officer at Zain Nigeria, Mr. Osondu Nwokolo, has advocated for direct import clearance of broadband devices and equipments as the nation warms up for the broadband boom before the end of 2010.

He also solicited the inclusion of ducts and a declaration in the Nigerian Communications Act that makes it mandatory for States to protect these ‘critical infrastructure’ in their domains, whenever the review comes up anytime soon.

Speaking at the 2010 Broadband summit organized by e-Business Life in Lagos, Mr. Nwokolo, who dwelt on ‘Policy and Regulatory Imperatives for Optimal Broadband Deployment in Nigeria’ noted with dismay some of the challenges affecting telecommunications operators in the country, warning that if these challenges are not remedied, they may form a ‘Berlin’ wall for the much anticipated broadband boom before the end of this year.

Nwokolo said at the forum presided over by the president of Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem that frequent fibre outages due to cuts caused by road construction and vandalization, has become top in obstruction of telecom services of late.

In addition, he said that delays or denial of right of way (RoW) for fibre deployment is another hiccup as well as multiplicity of regulatory authorities in the three tiers of government, namely Federal, State and Local government.

This, he said, has resulted in a confused operational environment, which is inimical to investment, highlighting the fact that some restiveness in communities due to lack of employment, has made roll-out a hazardous attempt in some parts of the country.

He underscored lack of ascertainable taxation regime, including import duties, inadequate power, and import clearance delays to name a few.

He, however, went further to suggest some remedies if the broadband boom must be a success, saying that by ensuring the inclusion of ducts in all new roads, and a declaration of telecommunications infrastructure as ‘critical infrastructure’ that requires government protection, would go a long way in encouraging investors in this regard.

Nwokolo equally, called for the establishment of clear acceptable regime for issuance of right of way (RoW), which he believes would see to possible reduction of attractable fees of today.

He also called for regulatory harmonization among federal government authorities.

“Address overlap of regulatory authority, either through legislation, policy statement or via memorandum of understanding,” he said, citing an example with the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), NCC, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as well as the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

As said by him, an accelerated power reform, allocating of diesel directly to operators, provision of incentives for own power generation, would pave the way for improved quality of service.

Harmonize tax laws, including empowering Joint Tax Board via specific legislation, Nwokolo pointed out is crucial for the anticipated boom to take root effectively, while creating an enablement that would prioritise import clearance for broadband related equipment cannot be over-emphasised.

He maintained that most emerging markets will continue to lag behind in global competitiveness unless broadband internet connectivity is given a priority attention in the scheme of things including Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and infrastructure.

In her presentation, the chief executive of MainOne, one of the submarine cable companies in the country, Ms Funke Opeke, was optimistic that MainOne cable would land as planned in June and she does not see anything wrong in having several submarine cables apart from hers and Glo-1 which reportedly landed in September 2009.

According to her, the future looks bright with the landing of these cables, especially MainOne, which is expected to crash the cost of Internet access in the country and enthrone improved quality in the sector.

Chief executive, e-Business Life, Mrs. Ufuoma ‘Daro said the summit was spurred by predictions of 2009 by experts and her entity thought it wise to began the year with the summit so as to equip stakeholders with relevant information in order to make informed decisions.

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ICT: Shaky start, glorious ending (5)

2009 in retrospect:
For the nation’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry, 2009 started on a shaky note but ended gloriously, reports REMMY NWEKE in this review.

And for NIG … it’s applause for NCC

Before then, the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) applauded NCC over the three licenses on 2.3 GHz, and described the process as ingenious, according to the President, NIG, Mr. Lanre Ajayi.

He also said that for NCC to have been able to peg the price for this frequency and yet conduct a transparent sale is inventive and deserves commendation. NIG noted that auctioning is an easier process because the spectrum, which is a limited resource but desired by many, will simply go to the highest bidder. But this may drive broadband Internet out of reach of many Nigerians.

Alternatively, Ajayi said, pegging of the cost was more challenging, because it was more difficult to select who should have it out of many contestants. “Pegging the cost of spectrum is certainly a way of lowering the cost of broadband Internet to Nigerians and guaranteeing deeper broadband penetration in the country,” he said.

Recalling that NIG had always been in the forefront of advocacy for low cost of spectrum for broadband Internet to accelerate broadband penetration in Nigeria.

The group maintained that the process was ingenious, explaining that if NCC had allowed it to linger into auction, highest bidders would pick the licenses but at a high cost, which would be translated eventually to the end-user.

“We applaud the outcome of the process. With this development, Nigerians should braze up for explosive e-Education, e-Health, e-Commerce, e-Government, and other e-Services which ride over Broadband Internet” NIG president said.

They group argued that with this development, Nigerians should braze up for explosive e-Education, e-Health, e-Commerce, e-Government, and other e-Services which ride over Broadband Internet.

September date for Mobitel:

Despite the cancellation that thrilled the 2.3 GHz, the returnee Mobitel Nigeria Limited, announced its readiness to roll out of 40,000 fixed lines by September 2009, just as the telco also announced its preparedness to offer alongside 1,400 free minutes on voice for each of its subscribers.

The company said that as at August 2009, it has invested over $300 million.

Additionally, Mobitel said it expended over $100 million to return to the active table in the industry, by engaging some 600 employees. Yet, $37 million contract was awarded to VocalTec, Alvarion, Main One Technologies, HIS, Helios Towers in the sum of $6m, $8m, $23m respectively.

While the telco signed on Phase3 for its national transmission, even as Gateway Communications was given some contracts too before the latest announcement.

Mobitel, a pioneering provider of telecommunications services in Nigeria is wholly acquired by a consortium led by Omni Ventures in 2008 and offers fixed and wireless voice, data and value-added services focusing on small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and high-end consumers across the country.

Access banks on Cisco, Weco:
Systems integrators, Weco System International is partnering with Global inter-networking service provider, Cisco Systems and Oracle Corporation last year delivered contact centre solution to one of the nation’s leading bank, Access Bank plc.

According to the Managing Director, Cisco Nigeria, Mr. Richard Edet the decision by the bank to go for a full scale multimedia internet protocol contact centre was to re-position itself for the challenges ahead and create a competitive advantage through excellent customer service delivery.

This, he also said, has enabled the bank to focus on wholesale business, while harnessing opportunities in the retail banking market segment in the nation’s financial industry.

A contact centre is a central portal in an enterprise from which all customer contacts are managed and is flaunted generally as part of an enterprise’s overall Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

He explained that typically this kind of CRM is equipped with software that allows contact information, enquiries or service requests to be routed to appropriate people, contacts to be tracked and data to be gathered.

Although he noted that Cisco does not deploy its solution directly to customers’ sites, it, however, has relevant local partners like Weco Systems to deliver this solution at the door steps of the customers.

Weco, he said, was recently awarded the highest Cisco certification for the sub-Saharan Africa, hence they were at home with what they have been doing for the industry.

Edet said this explained why Cisco was confident that Weco could deploy and deliver the right solution to assist the Nigerian financial institutions including Access Bank to achieve global relevance.

Computer Forensics training debuts:
Equally within the period under review, chairman, Certification Board, Computer Forensics Institutes Nigeria (CFIN), Dr. Peter Olayiwola assured that the recent launch of the online training programmes of the institute was a turning point in Nigeria’s quest for technological development.

Also Olayiwola said that the nation will be the greatest beneficiary of the programme, noting that through this initiative, the door is open for all Nigerians including those in Diaspora to take advantage of what digital forensics has to offer in terms of knowledge, skills, expertise, experience, employment and consulting opportunities, wealth creation and digital computer security.

Dr. Olayiwola who spoke at CFIN national secretariat in Lagos, recently, noted that CFIN, a professional organization approved by both the Federal Ministry of Education and Federal Ministry of Justice is about to develop digital and computer forensics experts who will be equipped to contend with the challenges of digital-crime of different dimensions.

He called attention to the fact that since the organization began in 2008, it had opened offices in Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna, with plans to appoint state coordinators for each of the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) country.

Annually, he said, CFIN conducts research and development into new and emerging technologies as well as methods in the science of computer forensics, stating that the certification offered by CFIN is the Chartered Computer Forensics Examiner, which is the result of CFIN’s desire to increase the level of professionalism and advancement  in the field  and science of computer forensics.

“The Certification board maintains a fair, uncompromised process for certifying the competence of computer forensics examiners and sets high forensics and ethical standards for digital and computer forensics examiners. CFIN administers the Chartered Computer Forensics Examiner certification to both law enforcement and non-law enforcement digital and computer forensics examiners who must not at first be computer science graduates,” he said.

Recover N1.1bn or face 7-day ultimatum:
Obviously plagued Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) workers under the aegis of the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTAC) had in Abuja gave the management of First Bank Nigeria Plc seven-day ultimatum within which to clear a $7 million debt (about N1.1billion) owed the organisation or face the wrath of the workers who were poised to prevent the bank from carrying usual statutory services to its customers.

A letter addressed to the Managing Director, the workers were left with no option than to issue a seven day notice to the bank to clear the matter for both parties interest to avoid crisis, as said by the President and Deputy President of the Association, Comrades E.Y. Kazzah and Gabriel Abah

The group maintained that the process was ingenious, explaining that if NCC had allowed it to linger into auction, highest bidders would pick the licenses but at a high cost, which would be translated eventually to the end-user.

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Spio-Garbrah leads speakers @ USPF consultative series

The Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation (CTO), Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, would be speaking alongside his counterpart at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe and the Executive Secretary, Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), Mr. Funso Fayomi, at the first-ever consultative forum on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) with the theme ‘ICT for all consultation’ series by USPF.

Head, Corporate Services, USPF, Mr. Okoh Aihe, made the disclosure, weekend, saying that the forum is a major interface with the Nigerian public in form of series of consultations to engender capacity building for stakeholders.

He also said the forum which holds today, Wednesday in Ibadan would move to Yola next week and would be held across all the geo-political zones of the country.

According to him, the series tagged ‘Stakeholders Consultation Forum and Capacity Building,’ the Consultation series, have been planned to afford various stakeholders, who are the beneficiaries of USPF projects, financial institutions, ICT entrepreneurs, community-based organisations, opinion leaders, network operators and other development partners, the opportunities to suggest ways of improving implementation of ICT programmes of USPF.

Thus, he said, it is a major quest by the agency to actualize its vision of “ICT Access for all” as well as meet the objectives of the Federal Government on ICT access to the unreached and disadvantaged people in far-flung parts of the country.

In achieving this, he said, USPF is taking ICT access to the populace, even as they are partnering CTO to make it a success.

Therefore, he pointed out that the consultation would provide channels for frank talks and above all, learning in order to take USPF to a new level of performance.

Other issues expected to be addressed during the first two series, he said, would the presentation of USPF mandate and strategic Plan 2007 – 2011, Key Issues impacting Rural Connectivity, Rural Connectivity Finance, Financial Models for Rural Connectivity, Appropriate Technologies for Rural Communities Off-the-grid, Available Rural Connectivity Solutions, and a host of other issues.

He explained that USPF was prepared to hear from representatives of selected communities who will speak about their community needs and priorities in ICTs, assuring that information received from the forum would assist these communities to better articulate those needs.

He enjoined Nigerians to take advantage of the consultations series and come out with more creative ways that could help USPF to be more relevant to the country, especially for local dwellers.

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Microsoft opens new office,reiterates commitment

Microsoft Nigeria, last weekend, opened its new office in the highbrow area of Ikoyi-Lagos, reinstating its commitment to play its role in strengthening the nation’s economy.

The general manager, Microsoft for West, East and Central Africa (WECA), Mr. Hennie Loubser, made this commitment known while declaring open the new office at the renovated NNPC building.

He assured that Microsoft would continue to do its bit in supporting the country through genuine products so as to make a meaningful contribution to the economy.

Welcoming guest earlier, the country manager, Mr. Emma Onyeje said the need for a new office was due to the need to adequately accommodate its increasing staff strength and to service its customers better.

ITRealms Online recalled that Microsoft set up the company’s first office in Nigeria in 2000 with just three staff members and 10 years later there are two established offices situated in Abuja and Lagos, with a network of over 1000 Microsoft partners, actively contributing to ICT and the broader Nigerian economy.

Onyeje also said Nigeria is a thriving market and an attractive destination for many international businesses looking to establish a presence on the African continent as well as tap into nation’s incredible pool of talented people.

“Today’s event is a reflection of Microsoft’s continued commitment to the Nigerian market place and its people,” he declared.

In his comment at the occasion, the chief executive officer AlliedSoft, Mr. Chuma Ofoche, noted that as a Microsoft partner, it is heartening to see the company make this kind of commitment to Nigeria.

“This demonstrates that Microsoft is in Nigeria for the long term and committed to growing its network of partners across this country,” he said.

The occasion was graced by partners and industry stakeholders with employees organizing a guided tour of their offering including Xbox, Windows Live, Windows 7, Office 2010 and Windows Mobile work seamlessly together, allowing people to be more adaptive to technology.

Additionally, Microsoft also showcased the citizenship work it has done in the country in conjunction with the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), especially on efforts to strengthen the local economy, enable access to IT and foster education.

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More villages, cities join Etisalat network

Etisalat Nigeria has announced the connection of more villages and satellite towns on the fifth Global System for Mobile communication network in the country.

Disclosing this, Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Wael Ammar, said the new beneficiaries of the telco connection includes Okene-Eba, Inioziomi Layout and Idogi in Okene; Little Obokum and  Okuku in Calabar; Igoli, Ogboja, Ukpah, Odajie, Aragban, and Ekumtak in Ogoja; Alaoji motor spare parts market on the outskirts of Aba;   Oke Aregba, Ilugun, Idi Aba, Sokenu, Oke Mosan, and Ojusango in Abeokuta; Alafara, Idi Iroko, Adegbite, Idioro & Yidi (Agodi) in Ibadan; Bayeku in Ikorodu town; Rumuemene and Mile 4 areas of Port Harcourt city; Trans-Nkisi GRA in Onitsha; Uke in Nasarawa  and Mubi town in Adamawa.

ITRealms Online recalled that recently the 36 states capitals nationwide were covered on the network a fortnight ago, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

This, Etisalat said was in furtherance of its commitment to world-class service delivery to customers.

According to Ammar, the company’s commitment to driving its network expansion programme by providing more subscribers with the opportunities of world-class services has become part of its global resolve.

“We are dedicated to connecting every nook and corner of the country to our network thereby availing more Nigerians the benefits of being on Etisalat network.  Our core commitment is to extend our customers’ reach without limit and our presence in all these locations in under a year and a half of commercial operations is proof that our customers are at the heart of all we do” he said.

The focus of this expansion exercise, he said, would be to deliver unmatched value offers to subscribers via our comprehensive portfolio of products and value added services.

In addition, Etisalat announced the coming life of its network in some key areas in the south-east and south south, as well as north central locations of Ohafia, Ahoada, Ikot Abasi, Abak, Ette and Essene town, Oturkpo, Keffi, Ajaokuta, Kabba and Orhunwhorun Town in Delta state are live on the innovative network. Other locations also recently covered on the network include; Katsina-Ala, Mkar, Yenegoa, Etinan, Odupkani, Itu, Otomewo, Vom, Magajin Gari, Dambuwa and Tsume amongst others.

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Microsoft collaborates with AbujaSchoolNet to train teachers

AbujaSchoolNet Nigeria in collaboration with Microsoft’s Africa School Technology Innovation Centre (STIC), recently organized a workshop to provide new skills for Partners in Learning (PIL) trainers and teachers at the Government Secondary School in Tudun Wada, Abuja.

The training which focused on the latest version of the ICT skills for educators, One Step Further and the Innovative Teacher courses was aimed at equipping educators with technology tools and content designed to enhance teaching and learning and also to provide the trainers with insight on how to deploy the courses and materials to teachers throughout their areas of jurisdiction.

Public Relations Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Mrs. Victoria N’dee Uwadoka, said 25 participants drawn from Consultancy Support Services Nigeria, K-INET Ghana, the Federal Ministry of Education as well as government and private schools from Ghana and Nigeria attended the session.

She also expressed the hope that the workshop would strengthen the region’s entries into this year’s Innovative Teacher’s Forum competition, which global finals are to be held for the first time on the African continent.

The Deputy National Coordinator, SchoolNet Nigeria, Mrs. Ronke Bello, was quoted as saying that by working closely with Microsoft on programmes such as Partners in Learning, it would enable educators across Nigeria and Ghana to become more innovative thinkers and innovative doers in their classrooms and be equipped to match their peers across the world.

“Feedback from the participants showed that they felt ‘confident’ in running the PIL courses in their schools and states after the training,” she said.

One of the participants from Ghana, Issah I. Shaibu of the WA Secondary High School said, “The workshop was quite innovative, opening trainers up to lots of challenges, ideas and resources. It enriched me to go back and carry out training of teachers in Ghana.”

Also speaking on the training, Citizenship Lead for Microsoft Anglophone, West Africa, Dr. (Mrs) Jummai Umar-Ajijola, said as an industry leader Microsoft has a responsibility to help make technology more accessible and affordable to students and teachers.

“We developed the Partners in Learning initiative to provide a sustainable investment in technology and training to help students focus on learning and teachers focus on teaching,” she said.

According to her, since the launch in 2003, PIL has touched the lives of more than 135 million students, teachers and education policymakers in 110 countries.
She said through this programme, Microsoft strives to create educational experiences that remove limitations and bring students and teachers closer.

The workshop also saw the launch of the Africa version of the PIL network http://africa.partnersinlearningnetwork.com. This social network is designed to connect teachers throughout the continent and provide them with tools to communicate and share resources.

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Kenya grabs GSMA Leadership Award for Broadband Strategy

Remmy Nweke in Barcelona, Spain

Despite the views people may have of the ‘Obama’ country following recent security breaches near the capital, Kenya seems to be doing well in terms leadership in broadband deployment on the continent.

According to the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA), the Kenyan government has done well, hence, it attracted the recognition of the association.

The award received by the Kenyan Minister of Information and Communications Mr. Samuel Poghisio, is the mobile industry’s prestigious annual government award category.

GSMA said the leadership role played by Kenya through the promotion of mobile phones and information communication technology (ICT) equipment as well as in the early roll-out of mobile broadband.

Daily Champion recalled that in 2009, Kenya eliminated both import duty and sales taxes on mobile phones and other ICT equipment, thus making access for consumers more affordable.

Equally, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) had demonstrated an established and ongoing programme of modernisation of the telecoms sector in the country.

GSMA noted that CCK facilitated the landing of two fibre optic cables, TEAMs and SEACOM, which heralded a new era of abundant broadband capacity for Kenya and the East African region.

Just as CCK enabled the development of a vibrant mobile broadband market by licensing of new spectrum and launching of a number of ICT cum mobile projects aimed at promoting education and health in rural communities.

These programmes, GSMA pointed out will boost the Kenyan economy and improve the well-being and future prosperity of its citizens.

Chief executive officer, GSMA, Mr. Rob Conway, said the award affirms the pioneering leadership of the Kenyan government and resolve to improve the lives of Kenyans by making access to mobile broadband and ICT more available and affordable.

"Mobile broadband is a great enabler, and it is imperative that government and industry work together to realise its potential to positively transform society,” he said.

He urged African countries to emulate Kenya’s lead, by acknowledging the importance of eliminating short term taxation on mobile phones to increase affordability and driving medium terms gains in Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and the total tax contribution by the sector.

Additionally he advised African continent to make available harmonised spectrum for mobile broadband by supporting the investment in land-based and undersea fibre optic cables by liberalising the international gateway.

Accepting the prize, Mr. Poghisio, expressed delight that the great efforts and progressive policies of the Kenyan Government have been recognised by the presentation of this award.

“Kenya is developing and investing in the mobile and ICT technology tools that we need to deliver modern and innovative social and economic improvements for all our citizens,” he said.

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TD opens office in Liberia, slashes PC price

Nigerian IT firm, Technology Distributions (TD) Limited has opened its office in Liberia with a promise to slash the price of personal computers.

Speaking at the launch of TD Liberia Limited at Monrovia City Hall, the Managing Director of Technology Distributions, Mrs. Chioma Ekeh, described the very high cost of IT products in Liberia as outrageous and unacceptable.

She identified high prices of IT products as one of the reasons limiting the participation of African countries in the knowledge economy.

She blamed the high cost of Liberian ICT market on grey market, saying that 90 per cent of these products come from grey market.

Ekeh promised that with the berth of TD in Liberia this would change as recognised resellers would be engaged to reach out to the populace.

“These resellers would be empowered through trade incentives, shared logistics, and LPO financing,” she said, assuring that. Liberians could look out for a new era in which ICT products would be available and affordable.

The Nigerian Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Ebenezer A. Adigun said that the adoption of ICT products is playing a central role in the development of the global knowledge driven economy. He also said that as a result the African Union in its most recent meeting in Addis Ababa directed the African Union Commission to set an African Digital Agenda that would see ICT products playing a prominent role in the development and integration of Africa.

TD coming to Liberia, Adigun said, was at the right time when the Liberian society, like many other African nations was opening up.

He expressed the belief that TD would meet the aspirations of the people of Liberia.

Welcoming TD to Liberia, earlier the Vice President, Republic of Liberia, His Excellency Joseph Boakai traced the long cordial relationship between Liberia and Nigeria, reiterated the key role of ICT products in national development and expressed the willingness of the Government and people of Liberia to encourage foreign investment.

The Vice President emphasized that the peoples of Liberia and Nigeria are brothers and that TD would be at home doing business in Liberia.

He further expressed the hope that TD would help make genuine ICT products available and affordable not only in Monrovia but in other parts of the country.

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