Wednesday, February 10, 2010

ICT: Shaky start, glorious ending (4)

The static govt website

The second quarter of 2009 was marked with series of issues by the government and for the government. The first was the expose that the Federal Government official website, NigeriaDirect, www.nigeria.gov.ng, was stale for over eight months running without holistic update.

ITRealms Online recalled that the site had about 20 former ministers dropped in the previous year, precisely on September 2007 by President Umaru Yar’Adua, as still occupying their positions at various ministries.

Good enough, the government through the Federal Ministry of Information and Communications led by Prof. Dora Akunyili, reacted to the newsbreak within two weeks to announce the debut of two websites, namely www.fmic.gov.ng and www.nigeriarebrands.com.

According to Prof. Akunyili in a press statement signed by the then Director, IT in the ministry, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote on May 19, expressed regrets over the dysfunctional official website, www.nigeria.gov.ng.

She attributed the inconveniences of the dysfunctional national portal to the public, due to a disagreement with the Internet Service Provider (ISP) contractor, which had taken longer than expected. “This unfortunate situation compelled the Ministry to launch a new website which became up and running ...,” she said.

Noting that as part of the re-branding Nigeria project, the FMIC recently launched a new website, www.fmic.gov.ng, which will avail Nigerians and foreigners’ timely and important information about the people and government of Nigeria, emphasising that it would help the government to have an interactive polling system to engage Nigerians through a seamless feedback mechanism on policies and programmes.

She also explained that the other website, www.nigeriarebrands.com, was purposely for the re-branding Nigeria scheme, which will contain all materials relating to the initiative.

e-inclusion in Nigeria

For the inclusion of rural communities and underserved into the foray of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) participants at the two-day Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO)-organized ICT forum at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, made a call to the 36 states of the federation in the country to streamline their efforts at ensuring digital inclusion, otherwise called e-inclusion.

One of the speakers at the event was the Managing Director, Galaxy Backbone Plc, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe, who summoned Commonwealth member states to embrace ICT as a platform for bridging the poverty gap in their regions. According to him, Galaxy Backbone Plc, a wholly independent company of the Federal Government was established to provide a common platform for the provision of network connectivity and transversal services to the public sector, facilitate digital inclusion of rural and underserved communities.

Galaxy, he said, is aimed at effectively providing connectivity for a socially inclusive and commercially vibrant Nigerian society, just as recalled that recently, Galaxy signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) for the provision of broadband connectivity to all of the 1,500 post offices across the nation.

SAP business soars in Africa

Director, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) business at SAP Africa, Mr. Derek Kudsee, declared that the firm’s activities on the continent has grown, especially the customer-base to 1,300 across.

Addressing audience at the one-day session for SME world tour of SAP, which stopped over in Lagos, Mr. Kudsee, said that based on this the firm developed two business solutions; namely the Business One, and All-in-One. Explaining that Business One is a product for small businesses that enable SMEs to discover day-to-day processes and work challenges, and noted that every small business has multiple business processes.

With fast growth and change, it’s no wonder that sometimes those processes don’t work together as well as they could. Hence, SAP Business One assists SMEs to integrate and streamline business processes. In addition to the fact that the entry level is the major thing and special attention, SAP come up with this product and usage depends largely on customer’s needs.

Kudsee pointed out that All-in-One product, is all-encompassing, even as SAP tend to serve as an alternative where local software providers are lacking.

ESET antivirus on the prowl:
In the course of the year, the Commercial Section of the American Embassy in Nigeria hosted stakeholders to its annual Computer, Telecommunications and Office Equipment (CTO) where the likes of Arit of Africa showcased its Essential Security against Evolving Threats (ESET) antivirus solutions among others at the expo and conferences.

As said by the Executive Director, Arit of Africa Ltd, Mrs. Ronke Okeremi, productivity level of professionals and executives got a boost with the advent of ESET antivirus and security software, which has been developed to eradicate the greatest threat of viruses and save valuable man hours.

For her, the compact and intuitive user interface to its minimal use of alerts, users receive the best possible proactive detection against viruses, malware and spyware without enduring excessive system slowdowns and alerts, reboots or annoying false positives by simply deploy ESET antivirus.

With the exclusive distributorship of ESET for Nigeria and Ghana, Arit boss urged financial institutions, insurance, oil and gas, government and other sectors of the economy to take advantage of this product.

SGF experiments on video conference:
And within the period under review, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Madmud Yayale Ahmed, delivered a keynote speech at Galaxy Backbone-organized stakeholders’ two-day forum via video conferencing.

The event which was the 3rd public sector ICT Infrastructure forum was being put together in partnership with the National Economic Council and Nigeria Governors’ Forum as a 2-Day National Stakeholders’ Forum on NICEP, at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Manager, Corporate Communications at Galaxy Backbone Plc, Mr. Franklyn Ginger-Eke, forum enlightened state governments on the developmental opportunities represented by National Information Communication and Education Programme (NICEP), which is aimed at accelerating provision of connectivity for broadband internet, data, voice and video communications to rural areas and under-served communities including health and educational institutions at State levels.

Highpoint of the forum, he said, was the live broadcast of the keynote address by the guest of honour, Alhaji Madmud Yayale Ahmed, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation via video conference powered by Galaxy Backbone.

“As a leading enabler of digital inclusion in Nigeria, Galaxy has built and operates one of the most sophisticated state of the art ICT infrastructures in the public sector. Other value added activities that will take place during the forum includes the setting up of a Cyber CafĂ© with ten PCs so that interested participants who wish to get on the internet can browse within the venue,” he said.

There would also be a demonstration of an interactive distance learning mathematics class involving students of School for the Gifted, Gwagwalada broadcast live from GBB’s Interactive Distance Learning (IDL) studio at its Network Operation Centre located in the central business district of Abuja to the audience at Yar’Adua Centre, the venue of the 2-day national stakeholders’ forum.

146 cell-site deals for MTI
MTI Nigeria Plc last year told stakeholders it won over 146 deals for the execution of cell sites nationwide, which ran across four network operators, just as it unveiled three subsidiaries into the nation’s market, MTI Engineering, MTI UniTower and Mass Power.

Disclosing this, Vice chairman, MTI Nigeria Plc, Mr. Frank Kirkitie said at investor’s forum organized by the company in Lagos, these operators cut across MTN, Zain, Multi-Links and Siemens Networks, aside from the one being executed across the sub-region for the likes of Globacom, MTN and Zain.

Adding voice to this was the Managing Director, MTI Engineering, Mr. Selwyn Watkins, who said that his subsidiary, focuses on co-location build out, and won 91 sites deal out of the 500 Greenfield sites for MTN Nigeria, which amounts to 18 per cent of the total project.

For him, the 121 cell sites contract was from Zain out of the 400 basic co-location build out, which is the 30 per cent and Multi-Links awarded 10 sites with a further 20 sites depending on performance, while Siemens Network has given the company 24 sites with awaiting 50 sites.

2.3 GHz licenses won and cancelled:
At the expiration of the deadline for the National frequency in the 2.3 GHz Band, which closed on Friday, May 8, 2009, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced the successful emergence of three companies in the process, including Mobitel Nigeria Ltd, Spectranet Ltd and Multilinks Telkom Ltd.

Making this disclosure on May 16, then, Head, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka noted that the offer for the licensing of four (4) slots of 20 MHz each in the 2.3 GHz frequency band which opened on April 30, 2009, ended at the close of banking business hours on Friday, May 8, 2009 for the winners to emerge.

He explained that three companies, out of 41 applicants short-listed for the exercise, paid the fixed price of N1, 368,000,000 (One Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty Eight Million Naira only) for each of the four slots on offer, bringing the total sum realized from the spectrum sale to N4,104,000,000 ( Four Billion, One Hundred and Four Thousand Naira Only).

One of the applicants, Galaxy Wireless Ltd, he said, did not pay the full fixed price for the slot, and therefore, did not meet the conditions for the offer of license and congratulated the supposed three winners of yet another successful licensing exercise by the Commission.

While urging these winners to put machineries in motion to ensure quick deployment of high quality networks that will guarantee good quality and affordable services to subscribers nationwide, little did NCC knew that the licenses, this time around would be surrounded with controversies, which led to the cancellation by Prof. Akunyili, the Information and Communications minister.

This controversy no doubt attracted the attention of Mr. President, who ordered the Minister of Justice, Mike Aondokaa to investigate the issue and report back to him, followed by the seemingly long wait for President Yar’Adua to take his decision which eventually sticked to Akunyili’s path with the order to re-auction the band.

Uniquely, all the winners claimed due process was followed, despite the allegation by Akunyili in a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and subsequent questioning of the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe.

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