" ITREALMS: October 2010


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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Knowledge economy and budding entrepreneurs

The role of electronic tools (e-tools) in spurring budding entrepreneurs at this era of knowledge economy cannot be over-emphasised but tapped by small and medium entreprises, writes REMMY NWEKE.

The 21st century, entrepreneurs:
T this 21st century, entrepreneurs have gained various nomenclatures that qualify them to earn such an appellation. It has been said that so many young or emerging entrepreneurs have to begin with the appellation of startups or startupers. Yet, startups are found where there are thriving potentials for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to excel, just as experts agreed that such enclave could be investors’ delight due to their potentials for attracting other investments and eventually making the bottom-line glowing with a reduced risk profile.

The open source-based online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, defined a startup company or startup as “a company with a limited operating history. These companies, generally are newly created, thus in a phase of development and research for markets remain a constant feature for such companies.

This term evolved into a universal phrase during the dot-com fountain when a great number of supposed dot-com companies were founded. Therefore, a high technology (hi-tech) startup company could be comfortably defined as a startup company with specialty in the high tech industry.

Successful startups:
However, successful startups are typically more disposed to rapid growth than an established businesses in terms of potentials and investment limitations as well as attraction to capital, labour and land.

Although startups could be traced to the software industry in the bid to illustrate certain people’s involvement in the creating wealth from a humble beginning, thus qualifying ‘startupers’ as entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, software engineers, web developers, and others involved in the ground level of a new high tech venture, pending when they would escalate into companies capable of exchanging cash for an equity stake.

Precisely, startups or emerging entrepreneurs are primarily financed by the founders themselves through life saving without age limits, more so in the informal sectors of any economy. Thus bringing the point home that entrepreneurship must not be all about being techies, hence it usually grow overtime to include what is universally described as social entrepreneurs due to their impact to social lives at this era.

Spirit of the True Nigerian Entrepreneurs:
Obviously in the spirit of discovering more of these startups the Computerize Nigeria Project (CNP) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity staged a one-day conference tagged ‘Spirit of the True Nigerian Entrepreneurs (SoTNE)’ penultimate Tuesday in Abuja with over 500 youthful participants in attendance.

The event which exposed the entrepreneurship skills of the chairman of Zinox Computers, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh and the chief executive officer of World e-Books Library, Mr. Walter Kny received overwhelming commendation from participants who lauded the initiative, especially young people who saw it as a mentoring inspired from the facilitators and targeted at 1000 startups.

Collaborating SoTNE on1,000 entrepreneurs
The Federal Government through the Federal Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, promised at the forum to collaborate on SoTNE’s dream of empowering 1,000 entrepreneurs through wealth creation with integrity among Nigerians within the shortest possible time.

This development came as FG also said its National Action Plan on Employment Creation (NAPEC) recently adopted by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) was targeted at creating about 5 million jobs beginning from the next two years, that is, 2012. Wogu told participants at the seminar with the theme ‘Creating Wealth with Integrity in 21st Century Nigeria’ that all contracts under consideration by the Federal Executive Council must henceforth indicate its local employment content under a new contract policy adopted by the government.

He reiterated the willingness of the government through his office to ensure that the objective of the conference is actualized, declaring; “We are ready to collaborate with the SoTNE team to achieve this laudable objective of creating wealth with integrity.”

National Action Plan and role of private sector:
Wogu noted that under the latest National Action Plan on Employment Creation (NAPEC), it has become mandatory for all contracts or programmes by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to indicate their local employment content.

“Overall, the NAPEC will ensure that Nigeria meets her employment challenges by creating 4 to 5 million new jobs in its first two years of implementation,” Wogu insisted, assuring that the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan’s administration is committed to ensuring gainful employment for every Nigerian in the labour market and is ready to collaborate with SoTNE.

He noted that government’s recognition of the strategic role of the private sector in employment generation cannot be over-emphasised, stressing that government is mindful of its responsibilities under the various Public-Private-Partnership arrangements.

Chairman of the occasion and former Minister for Commerce, Chief Charles Ugwu, lauded the conveners led by chairman of Zinox, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, whom he said, despite his success was very willing to show the way to other Nigerians. Therefore, he tasked participants to make good use of the opportunity by remaining attentive throughout the SoTNE conference.

“As we discuss the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) value chain remember that there are other value chains. Nigeria needs entrepreneurs and there are many opportunities begging to be explored,” Ugwu said.

In the mind of an entrepreneur:
In his presentation, Chairman, Zinox Group, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh, cautioned budding entrepreneurs in the country to eschew emotional investment and ensure that their businesses are budget driven with integrity. And dwelling on ‘Mind of an Entrepreneur’ he said that emotional investment could cost entrepreneurs very dearly, especially those who are start-ups to be weary of this when deciding on where to invest their small capital.

He also cautioned that they should be prudent in managing their businesses by ensuring that it’s driven by already laid down budget, so as to know when they are over spending and having undue over-heads.

In keeping with this, he said, entrepreneurship at this era does not depend on mere connection but integrity, stressing that a good entrepreneur does not need his or her father to know someone in Abuja for product from that enterprise to be a success.

Go ye and create wealth:
The new century, he said, is one designed by God to ward off poverty in the world because it is a century based on knowledge economy, which is first and foremost, the intellectual capacity of every human being on earth to create and recreate wealth.

“No man or woman has a right to be poor,” he declared, predicting that the second half of this century that barbers and gatemen would earn more than graduates, attributing this to several overheads incurred by graduates who are trying to prove that they have arrived in the social life.

“Money Is no property but your intellectual property is money,” he said, noting that in wealth creation, what is important is the sustainability.

Ekeh also warned Nigerians, mostly budding entrepreneurs not to allow anybody to intimidate them, suggesting that inferiority complex is what destroys an entrepreneur. He stressed that knowledge economy is a perfect setting for everyone who knows his or her onion to scale the huddle of poverty and listed core values of entrepreneurs to include having foresight, resilient, unique, innovative and creative, tenacious, style, courageous, optimism and magnanimous.

Computerize Nigeria’s role:
Equally speaking, the chairman of CNP, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe noted that Nigerians, by a mixture of socio-economic and sometimes cultural factors have been severely challenged in the area of entrepreneurial development.

He pointed out that a significant number attempts to start businesses are made annually, less than a fraction have actually succeeded in building viable, structured, productive and sustainable organist ions. Adding that as Nigeria celebrates its 50th anniversary, the need to encourage a fresh drive towards harnessing indigenous entrepreneurial skills as a foundation for the next level of national development, which has become imperative.

Prof. Obe said that based on this premise, CNP decided on SoTNE, which is designed to groom 1,000 budding entrepreneurs as part of its contribution to the celebration of Nigeria at 50.

Entrepreneurship 101 according to Kny:
While maintaining that entrepreneurship at this era is knowledge and is perfect for 21st century’ the chief executive officer , World e-Books Library, Mr. Walter Kny, tasked Nigerians to dream dreams, noting that the likes of Facebook could have been created by a Nigerian.

“Dreaming is for free, so dream,” he declared, stressing that the possibility of potential entrepreneurs starts with the engagement of the mind by thinking.

Mr. Kny, who dwelt on ‘Entrepreneurship 101 and opportunities for Nigerians in the knowledge economy,’ said that ideas must be simple, noting that any idea that cannot be written down in a sentence may not be feasible.

He cited an instance with Facebook, saying that it could have been created by a Nigerian, even as Facebook was not just an innovation but a social entrepreneurial intervention.

“Facebook was not a technological breakthrough and the same are Twitter, Yahoo, Funband, among others,” he said, warning that these social enterprise are not locally driven but global, noting that all the aforementioned social entrepreneurial interventions were within the top 15 most visited websites in Nigeria.

Self-discipline, key to successful entrepreneurship:
Pointing out that for a budding entrepreneur to be different, he or she must be strategic in nurturing the enterprise, underscoring the fact that self discipline is a pre-requisite in business.
“Discipline helps you to move and there is no silly idea,” he said, persisting that those born into the 21st century are very fortunate and are all born equally based on the nomenclature of the Internet, saying that all the people of this century requires is their brain to make successful entreprise.

He described intellectual capital as a sea of possibilities, beginning with the information available to an individual, especially the intellectual capabilities that one can turn into money.

“Everybody has intellectual capital,” he asserted, stressing that the top 20 knowledge countries made up 60 per cent of the world’s wealth with high-tech industries representing 50 per cent of their wealth.

Mr. Kny said that most knowledge countries are making good use of their population, maintaining that more knowledge equals to more money.

“Why most of the entrepreneurship succeeds is because they took actions,” he said,

Entrepreneurs, extra-ordinary people:
Defining entrepreneurs as the extra-ordinary people who do extra-ordinary things, Kny also advised anybody who has a dream and the courage to go for it.

As said by him, entrepreneurs must be change agents, pointing out that the first 100 per cent of the top 100 richest persons in the United States are self-starter entrepreneurs.

On the startup success rates, Mr. Kny said, “18 per cent first time startup are successful, 30 per cent second times startups are successful,” outlining some of the factors why most entrepreneurs fail. He attributed this to lack of character, indiscipline, inability to separate self from business, not knowing what they want, non-resilience, extravagant and bad management.

Further, Kny advised that when a startup begins to grow, it is important for the owner cum entrepreneur to bring-in a management team to sustain that dream. “You must hire management team before you need them,” he counseled, stressing that it takes between two and three years for any startup to make money in terms of profit, noting that for a budding entrepreneur, everything is an opportunity.

Additionally, he said that why most entrepreneurs fail is because of poor fundamentals, leadership gap, lack of capital, planning, vision gap as well as lack of flexibility, which makes such enterprise obsessed with their dreams.

Don’t under-estimate competition:
He maintained that entrepreneurs must diverse within their area of strength in order to make their economic power stronger.

“Once a while stop to ask if you are to start anew your business, would you take the same route,” he counseled, adding that entrepreneurs should not under-estimate their competitors, even as God always find a way to talk to man on earth.

Mr. Kny drew-up five keys to success which comprised of the fact that entrepreneurs must learn how to handle frustration, reject incoherent ideas, learn how to handle financial pressures, complacency and eventually ensure that they give back more than they expect to receive to the society where they operate.

Above all, the event which witnessed the Vice-President Namadi Sambo as a special guest and represented by his aide Dr. Babajubril Adam, alongside Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NTIDA) Prof. Cleopas Angaye, Director General of National Productivity Centre (NPC), Dr. Paul Bdliya as well as the Managing Director, Technology Distribution West Africa, Mrs. Chioma Ekeh, Director of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at National Defense College, Air Commodore T.A. Ajoku, to name a few, came to a close with the disclosure that CNP is dangling about N30 million for some groups of budding entrepreneurs who are to emerge before December this year.

Repositioning education:
As noted by Zinox chairman, Ekeh, there is a great link between knowledge economy and education, hence he advocated for the restructuring of the nation’s education system and enjoined students, especially those who have the opportunity to be trained by their parents or guardians, saying those are lucky, even as those who have failed behind need to catch up.

Though Ekeh, recognized the fact that most supposed entrepreneurs, especially in ICT sector seem to be largely ‘drop outs’, which does not make them less human or enterprising probably because they needed to follow their vision. This, he insisted does not tend to encourage drop outs, because even the social setting and kind of education is usually different between those in developing nation and western countries, saying the importance of education cannot be over-emphasised.

Cost of starting a business in Nigeria:
Based on the World Bank recent statistics, the challenges of starting a business in Nigeria have become five per cent over-all less hectic as at 2010. The indexes challenging the launch of a business in Nigeria, World Bank stated in its ranking to include the number of steps entrepreneurs could expect to go through to launch, the time it takes on average, and the cost and minimum capital required as a percentage of gross national income (GNI) per capita.

Starting business in Nigeria, the World Bank said, has improved by at least 13 per cent from the ranking of 2009, which scored 95 per cent, against 108 per cent this year.

Equally, the World bank indicator, showed that the total number of procedures required to register a firm is just eight per cent against 9.4 in Sub-Saharan Africa and over 32-member Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) 5.7 per cent. These include a procedure defined as any interaction of the company founders with external parties such as government agencies, lawyers, auditors or notaries to get things done.

While the total number of days for Nigeria is 31, Sub-Saharan records 45.6 and OECD which include Finland and United Kingdom among others to be at 13 per cent.

Now, the ball seems to be in the court of budding entrepreneurs, if you are ready, join the entrepreneurship.

An adage says “A path way shown is an indication that the path is passable,” so, why not try something today, especially the etools of Information and Communication Technologies, by tapping into the over N500million vote being dangled by CNP for potential entrepreneurs’ capacity building for those who prove their worthiness via projects, which could actually be individually motivated or group.

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‘Glo-1’s bandwidth’ll serve Nigeria for 20 years’

The over 150 million Nigerians have been starved of bandwidth for a long time says the group chief operating officer at Globacom, Mr. Mohammed Jameel, asserting that Glo-1’s bandwidth has the capacity to last Nigerians for the next 20 years.

Speaking at the weekend during the official commercial launch of Glo-1 submarine cable, solely built by Globacom, the second national operator, he said that it was this starvation that the firm discovered with the visionary leader of its chairman, Dr. Mike Adenuga jnr and decided to invest in the submarine cable named Glo-1.

“Nigeria has always been hungry for bandwidth,” he declared, noting that with the commercial launch of Glo-1, that electronic services like e-learning and e-health among others would now at the finger tips of Nigerians.

“All these and others are available when you have enough bandwidth,” he said.

Glo-1, a 100 per cent owned by Globacom, he said is a fulfillment of the dream of the company to deliver world-class telecommunication services devoid of hiccups to Nigerians.

Jameel explained that in the world of telecommunication, connectivity and bandwidth coupled with capacity influences the competence of the service provider, underscoring the fact that Glo 1 is a brand new cable system built with cutting edge technology and backed by the rich expertise of Globacom, having existing operations in four African countries.

As said by him, Glo 1 has landing stations in 16 West African countries, giving complete coverage and reach to the geography of Western Africa, noting that with a diversified experience and expertise Globacom would deliver the last mile reach and coverage via creating an extra value for the customers of Glo 1.

He elucidated that the cable, Glo 1 provides bandwidth to all telecom operators, carriers with the likes of PPWC of Korea and 21st Century Technologies Nigeria Limited already enlisted in addition to corporations, connecting them through these global partners to all the major destinations in the world.

Glo 1 offer, Jameel said comes with a wide range of bandwidths, highly reliable and secure service, cost-effective usage, Service Level Agreement (SLA)-based services.

Welcoming guests to the event the chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga jnr said that Glo-1 is 100 per cent owned by the telecom operator, which has the Second National Operator (SNO) license.

Adenuga in an address via teleconferencing, said, Globacom would capitalize on its already inland cable network to ensure that Nigerians benefit from this available bandwidth.

The Senate President, Senator David Mark alongside the four governors commended the chairman of the Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr for the successful landing and commercial take off of Glo 1 submarine cable.

The four governors, who were special guest of honour at the commercial launch of Glo-1 in Lagos, last weekend, include Comrade Adams Oshomole of Edo State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, Otunba Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State and his Osun State counterpart represented by the deputy governor, Erelu Olusala Obada.

Senator Mark who led the dignitaries at the commercial launch of Glo-1 noted he was overwhelmed by the single act of Dr. Adenuga who has expressed determination to succeed in Nigeria despite unfavourable business climate.

He also said that Glo has since inception provided Nigerians with services worthy of encouragement, stressing that this goes to show that if the enabling environment is right, Nigerians should have found themselves in the moon.

Mark tasked the government at all levels to work towards making the environment right, just as he assured of the Red Chambers of National Assembly under his watch to strengthen this in its policy formulation for Glo and other businesses to thrive in the country.

“So, it is commendable to see what Mike Adenuga jnr has done. This deserves a lot of commendation,” he said, adding that Glo 1 is a wonderful stride; hence he congratulated the Globacom management for this outstanding achievement.

In his remarks, the Executive Governor of Edo State, Comrade Oshomole said the feat is coming at an interesting period in the life of Nigeria when the country is battling militants.

He described Dr. Adenuga as a ‘business militant’, more of which he said, the nation needs to reposition itself economically among comity of nations and congratulated the business mogul for his intelligence in foreseeing the future through telecommunications.

He expressed happiness to be part of this history-making glowing event by Globacom.

Mrs. Obada in her comment pointed out that the submarine cable has the capability of boosting electronic businesses, especially eHealth and telemedicine in the country, which eventually tends to save lives and enjoined Nigerians to embrace the services that Glo-1 offers.

Equally, Gov. Daniel said that Dr. Adenuga has worked hard to see that this dream of Glo-1 comes true, describing it as awesome.

“This is a spectacular endeavour,” he said, noting that as an illustrious son of the gate way state, he would continue to enjoy support from Ogun State.

For Gov. Fashola of Lagos State, he said that Lagosians are happy to be hosting this kind of business in its domain, mostly as a business that is life transforming in this century.

He described Glo-1 as critical investment Lagosians are proud of, especially as it would avail them and other Nigerians the opportunity of doing businesses real-time online.

The message in the landing and commercial launch of Glo-1, Fashola said is that information could now be exchanged and connected at ease by Nigerians.

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MobiTel debuts with 4G data, voice services

Mobitel Limited has debuted with the launch of its Fourth Generation (4G) broadband access for data and voice services, reports REMMY NWEKE.

With this launch, Mobitel is acclaimed first national 4G network operator in the country by optimising its 2.3 Gega Hertz (GHz) spectrum and using Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WWIMAX) and Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies.

Speaking at the launch in Lagos, the chief executive officer, MobiTel, Mr. Johnson Salako, said that they are deploying 4G-enabled broadband and voice services across the country, in partnership with leading global technology providers such as Vocaltec, Alvarion and DragonWave.

“Mobitel delivers best-in-class telecommunications services that make connections easier and smoother through leading-edge access devices,” he said.

According to him, Mobitel Limited sees itself as the network of the future, hence the launch with 4G, which is the first of its kind in the country.

He noted that Mobitel acquired a 2.3 GHz license from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in March 2010 and with the commercial launch, “we have become one of the first providers of real broadband in Nigeria.”

He explained that with speed of up to 2048 kilo bytes per second (Kbps) customers on its network, Mobitel’s 4G Access would now have the capability to transfer large amounts of data in seconds, listen to music and watch videos from internet websites comfortably.

“Mobitel’s 4G Access services are available using different access devices including indoor, outdoor and mobile units depending on requirements for individual, family or corporate usage,” he said.

Further, he explained that individual and home users could have access through devices on Mobitel’s 4G Access using plug and play tool, which require no end-user installation or set-up.

“The indoor access device for homes and small office use also delivers voice and Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) connectivity for multiple users providing potential cost savings to users,” he said.

Salako, equally said that Mobitel’s mission is to deliver the best customer experience in all aspects of telecommunication service delivery as Africa’s most successful 4G network.

He also said in order to reposition itself, Mobitel has appointed Ms Michele Scanlon as the Chief Commercial Officer, an indication that Mobitel would be launching leading edge devices and service packages that push the boundary in performance terms to deliver an enhanced experience to Mobitel customers.

Additionally, he said that Mobitel’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Tomi Davies, is worthy professional that would bring his experience to bear on the network.

Commenting, Davies said that they currently have coverage in Lagos and is working round the clock to extend to other cities.

“We have already started with coverage in Lagos which we expect to be fully 4G before year-end and the rest of Nigeria can expect to see Mobitel 4G Access delivered to them next year,” he said.

Chairman, Mobitel, Mr. Adeyemi Akisanya, reiterated that they have the best of network and would make a difference in the Nigeria’s telecommunications market.

The company is supported by Skype Bank as financier. 

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Nigeria’s Computer Warehouse enters Uganda

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Company, Computer Warehouse Group has opened of its office in Uganda as part of the agenda to expand its network across Africa.
Head, Corporate Marketing at CWG, Mr. Chidi Okpala, made this disclosure in Lagos at the weekend.

He said that the latest entry into East African market marks another remarkable milestone in the history of Computer Warehouse Group.

“One would immediately recall that the group commenced operations in Nigeria in 1992 as a small company selling Dell computers to businesses. This earned the company the rare position of being the first partners to the Dell Corporation in Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, CWG grew from being a computer hardware sales company to be one of the leading systems integration companies, providing hardware and infrastructure solutions under the platform of its subsidiary, the Computer Warehouse Limited (CWL).

In addition, he noted that CWG has a communications and networking solutions entity called DCC Networks as well as software applications and deployment under the ExpertEdge Software across West Africa.

“As the needs of its growing customers grew across the West Africa region, it has imperative that CWG establish another presence in West Africa,” he said, just as CWG Ghana was born in 2003.

Computer Warehouse Group, he said, has faced its own challenges along the line but has matched all the challenges with constantly re-innovating itself and churning out modern business solutions through best partnerships with global ICT firms across the world.

Reacting to the entrance into Uganda, the group chief executive officer, CWG, Mr. Austin Okere said Computer Warehouse Group is fast becoming a Pan African ICT company and with the addition of CWG Uganda to its fold, a new history to the company’s development seems to have been written.

“CWG has become a company with relevance in a many fields of ICT” he declared, stressing that these innovations and strengths of CWG is what would be replicated in Uganda and across East Africa.

CWG Uganda, he hinted, would service corporate businesses, government and other private and public enterprises that would require taking their businesses and establishments to the next level.

“The company would be run by highly tested and skilled professionals from Uganda, some countries in East Africa and across the African continent,” he said.

Okere pointed out that there are also plans to train and develop professionals with interest in ICT in Uganda.

“CWG Uganda has currently as it’s first Country Manager, Mr. Michael Manzi, a Ugandan who is a renowned business and strategy professional, who has spent over ten years in the communications and technology industry,” he said.

Further, he said Manzi would be leading the team and driving the brand for Computer Warehouse Group within the region.

He emphasised that CWG believes in the ethics around corporate governance which has earned the company an array of national, African and international awards overtime.

Austin Okere, the Group’s founder is famous at saying, ‘Our best is yet to come’. Though, a landmark achievement for CWG, the company is committed to furthering its strength across other cities in Africa providing enterprise solutions and enabling more businesses through technology.

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eTranzact boss outlines benefits of Genesis cards

The Managing Director, eTranzact International Plc, Mr. Valentine Obi, has outlined some benefits of eTranzact’s Chip and Personal Identification Number (PIN) cards, known as Genesis, saying that the underlining essence is to protect the cardholders.

This, he also said, would engender a better service, thereby providing convenience to the customers, especially on the Genesis Chip & PIN cards.

“The Genesis Chip & Pin cards guarantees cardholders better security and convenience. Genesis is structured for the end users having security in place while being given good quality service,” he said.

Speaking in Lagos, Obi said that Genesis Chip & PIN cards, which are already in the Nigerian market is Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) compliant.

He explained that Genesis Card produced by eTranzact under the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) instructing all Nigerian banks and switches to replace the traditional magnetic stripe equipment with smartcard technology.

“The Chip and PIN is a two-match system whereby the Chip is accessed by a swipe-card reader to verify authenticity and the PIN is inputted to complete the transaction,” he said.

Obi stressed that Genesis card has a unique attribute solely for the safety of the customers and carriers of the Genesis card called the eTranzact Strong Authentication (ESA).

He reiterated that the Genesis card is made up of three ranges, namely the Premier, Advantage and Credit cards respectively.

He elucidated that Genesis Premier card is a Debit card tied to the customer bank account, while the Genesis Advantage is a prepaid which could be loaded or recharged through the branches of any of the 22 commercial banks connected to the eTranzact platform.

The Advantage Card, Obi said, is useful for other value added schemes such as Loyalty scheme and Discount scheme and Credit cards.

“All three cards are acceptable on electronic payment channels such as Automated Teller Machine (ATM), Point of Sale (POS), Web and mobile commerce,” he said.

Further, he said, that Genesis card is a highly secure card as it leverages on the eTranzact Strong Authentication tool.

“The ESA is a one-time dynamic PIN generated via the card holder’s mobile phone to authorize any transaction. With the Genesis Chip + Pin Cards into the payment market, eTranzact is determined to move Nigeria towards an advance technological era like other advanced countries where the smartcard payment platform is being actively made use of,” he said.

Obi pointed out in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online by the duo of brand executives, Olayinka Olushoga and Ejiro Gegere that having a Genesis card comes with many benefits including ability to purchase Nigerian airline tickets at discounted prices, pay Cable TV bills and purchase airtime any of the telecom service.

Recalling that eTranzact International plc prides itself as the Nigeria’s first award winning multi-application and multi-channel electronic switching and payment processing platform, with operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa and United Kingdom (UK).

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SABRIC tackles e-payment fraud @ e-PPAN forum

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) would tomorrow in Lagos, tackle how to combat electronic payment frauds in the country at the E-Payment Providers Association of Nigeria (E-PPAN) Techno-Interactive Forum.

SABRIC’s representative, Ms Susan Potgieter is expected to lead a team of online crackers to the one-day forum at the event slated to hold at Eko Hotels, Lagos.

SABRIC will be represented by Susan Potgieter who leads a dynamic team of crime combaters at the commercial crime busters.

Confirming this, the Executive Secretary and chief executive officer, E-PPAN, Mrs. Onajite Regha, said that the fifth edition of the Techno-Interactive Forum would be presided over by Bashorun J.K Randle, an accomplished Chartered Accountant with experience spanning over three decades and several industries on the theme “Combating Fraud, Taming the Beast in e-Payment.”

Regha also said that Potgieter has a wealth of experience in combating commercial crime and bank related commercial crime.

“Susan is currently the Vice-President of the South African Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) and an alternate director on the interim board of the Institute of Commercial Forensic Practitioners (ICFP),” she said.

The E-PPAN boss said that Techno-Interactive Forum is the most significant payment industry event which holds quarterly in Nigeria.

“It is designed to address specific issues identified in the e-payment industry and to come up with a road map of resolving these concerns. The forum attracts technocrats, experts, business icons, consultants, regulators from the financial industry, government agencies, investors, senior level executives from private companies and seasoned professionals,” she said.

She decried that fraud has evolved in its sophistication and scope, and the effect of fraud on corporate organizations as well as the nation as a whole is devastating.

“Therefore being cognizant of global fraud trends, risk management techniques, fraud indicators are key to reducing potential loss and paramount in securing a fraud free business environment,” she said.

Regha also listed some of the objectives of this edition include to understand the current security measures applied to the operation of card transactions and educate stakeholders on existing global measures used in other climes.

Additionally, she said, the forum would outline what best practices needs to be implemented to prevent e-fraud attacks and institute ways of enforcing these practices, as well as clarify existing law enforcement initiatives in combating card fraud to industry players and regulatory bodies for effective fraud management among others.

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UNESCO opens consultation on WSIS 2011

A forum has been opened in preparation for the 2011 consultation on the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS), by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The next edition of the WSIS Forum has been scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, between May 16 and 20 2011.

Mr. Mika Yamanaka of UNESCO’s Information Society Division, informed that the preparatory process has just started with the launching of an open consultation to elaborate the agenda and to shape the format of the WSIS Forum 2011.

According to him, “What are the key issues that need to be addressed at the WSIS Forum? Is there any room for improvement in terms of efficiency and effectiveness of the Forum? The debate is now open on the WSIS Community,” stressing that the UNESCO’s online collaborative tool would tend to address this.

He also said that in line with the participatory and inclusive spirit of the WSIS Forum, the open consultation would discuss the format and thematic focus of the Forum.

The preparation process, he said, would be carried out in three steps, namely online debate, submission of written contribution and examination of all comments during the final review meeting.

On the online debate on the WSIS Community platform, he said, it would last until November 15 this year, and enjoined stakeholders to express and exchange their ideas in order to generate possible themes and identify potential speakers for the 2011 Forum.

Equally on submission of a written contribution, Yamanaka advised participants to use the online form, noting that it would last until December 15, this year.

“The stakeholders are invited to submit their written contributions, based on debates conducted on the WSIS community,” he said.

Further, he said, that all submitted comments would be examined during the Final Review Meeting, which is expected to take place at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) headquarters in Geneva in February 2011.

“The details of the Meeting will be announced shortly,” he promised.

Yamanaka pointed out that the WSIS community is an online collaborative platform, based on open software, and developed by UNESCO with the purpose of facilitating interactions among stakeholders, in addition to physical annual consultation meetings.

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ICANN plans to review IDN fast tracking process

Barely a month to the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Internationalization of Domain Names (IDN) of country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) fast tracking process, on November 16, 2009, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has opened the review process for public comment, just as unveiled some proposed topics for IDN policy for the fast track.

ITRealms Online gathered that the final implementation plan for the Fast Track Process requires that the process undergo review annually.

ICANN is now opening a public comments forum on the review of the process.
Comments are asked to suggest potential changes to improve the process for the end-users, including the respective IDN ccTLD managers, the governments as well as the users of the resulting IDN ccTLDs comprising the registrants and general Internet users.

ITRealms Online learnt that the public comment period is open until December 17, 2010.

“There will also be a session scheduled in the ICANN meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, to further discuss the performance and potential improvement of the process, and to facilitate useful community communication about the review,” part of the statement read.

ICANN noted that following the close of the public comment period, staff will produce a paper that contains analysis of the received comments as well as recommendations for changes to the Final Implementation Plan for the Fast Track Process.

This paper, ICANN said, would be publicly posted and provided to the ICANN board, which would now consider next steps including the proposed changes which should be implemented and if additional community discussion is required.

ICANN pointed out that the submission system has been up and running with no down time since launch; ICANN has received a total of 33 requests, covering 22 languages.

“The IANA root zone database is authoritative for the TLDs that are in the root zone today. Currently 15 IDN ccTLDs have been inserted in the DNS root zone,” official said.

From a financial aspect, the process was intended to cover its own costs by a recommended processing fee of 26.000USD per string requested.

“A total of $106.000 USD has been received to date. It should be noted that the invoicing of Fast Track requests are done towards the end of the processing, hence not all requests that have completed the String Evaluation step has yet been invoiced,” ICANN said.

Meanwhile, ICANN had announced some proposed topics for the Internationalization of Domain Names (IDN) policy for the fast track.

These includes transparency, community support, meaningfulness, determination of the IDN for the Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) manager, IDN tables, disputes, confusingly similar string and objection as well as re-evaluation rights.

A public statement made available to ITRealms Online, ICANN said on transparency, that the published policy document requests are only published when they have successfully passed through the string evaluation portion of the process.

Before then, ICANN disclosed it had published only the total number of received requests, the status the requests are in and the corresponding number of languages.

“In this published material there is no regarding the countries and territories requesting the TLD, nor any details of the requests’ contents,” part of the statement read, stressing that this is very useful from the perspective that in some cases the requester wishes to keep the request confidential, and in other cases ICANN has received requests that are not valid and do not fulfill the established requirements.

In addition, ICANN noted that to a certain extent, the process is not completely open and transparent, even as a lot of end-user inquiries have been received about which countries and territories ICANN has received requests from.

Further, in comparison, ICANN said, the generic TLD (gTLD) process would publish received requests but deducting selected confidential information after the administrative review that takes place immediately after the close of an application round.

On the Community Support, the global internet coordinating agency, said, the policy document requires demonstration of Internet community support for the applied-for TLD string.

The notion of community support and the requirement for documenting such has been a topic of discussion since the launch of the process. While examples and descriptions of what this support could entail, the Final Implementation Plan does not specify exactly the amount or detail of how one can demonstrate community support.

The policy reason behind this is that the approach is different depending on geographic location, culture, and other developments in the respective countries and territories.

All such different approaches are valid and appropriate to the Fast Track Process, among others.

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Symantec offers new network protection solution

Symantec Corporation is offering new network protection module for communication service providers, according to the firm’s regional director for Africa, Mr. Gordon Love.

He said that its Symantec Next Generation Network Protection offers a network-based policy control and enforcement solution that would allow communication service providers to dynamically apply user preferences in a consistent fashion to a variety of services.

Also, he said, Symantec Next Generation Network Protection has been designed to increase profitability by increasing subscriber satisfaction to prevent customer churn and reducing costs associated with network misuse, malware proliferation and spam.

This solution, Mr. Love said, is part of Symantec’s tripod mobile security, management strategy and allows Symantec to seamlessly secure information from the individual to the device to the enterprise to the network.

He explained that Symantec Next Generation Network Protection enables communication service providers a single solution for policy enforcement to shape the customer experience.

“Consumer or enterprise subscribers define their own policy or controls for accessing content, data usage and rules based on criteria such as time of day while the operator manages and enforces the chosen controls across all services,” he said.

Citing for instance that a parent may chose to disable texting functionality for their child’s phone during certain hours or a corporation might disable photo sharing from mobile devices for their employee base, stressing that communication service providers could use these flexible, customizable policy features as additional revenue opportunities or as a means to differentiate themselves from competing carriers.

Mr. Love pointed out that Symantec wants to give communication service providers confidence that they are securing their customers’ information and implementing customer preferences.

“Symantec Next Generation Network Protection provides that confidence. As smart phone usage increases and mobile devices store growing volumes of valuable data, it’s vital to protect the information while allowing for the flexible creation of desired controls that enhance the value of the subscribers’ mobile experiences,” he said.

Equally, Love said, Symantec Next Generation Network Protection would provide data retention capabilities to aid with regulatory requirements and usage analysis.

Love emphasised that compliance with local regulations is simple with Symantec assisting in the
archiving of mobile messaging and Web access logs, storage of content and traffic information, mobile data traffic management and an audit history. In addition, providers can use this data to help organisations conduct their own risk analysis, financial audit, and usage and trends analysis to make better business decisions.

ITRealms Online recalls that Symantec pride itself as a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organisations secure and manage their information-driven world.

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Bharti Airtel outsources customers’ service to IBM, 2 others

Bharti Airtel African operation, Monday announced the outsourcing of its various aspects of customers’ services to the International Business Machines (IBM), Spanco and Tech Mahindra, reports, REMMY NWEKE.

Joint Managing Director and chief executive officer for international operations at Bharti Airtel, Mr. Manoji Kohil made this disclosure at a press meeting in Lagos, saying that the partnership is expected to grow Airtel subscriber-base from the estimated 40 million to over 100 million within the next three years.

Though he said that the first phase of the partnership would be for five years, Kohil noted that the selection of world class partners like IBM, Tech Mahindra and Spanco was in the bid to ensure that customers on its network relish quality best practices based on their experiences.

This, he said, would boost the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) of the continent, especially given Nigeria’s influential position in Africa and precisely in telecommunications.

Under the agreement, Mr. Kohil said that Bharti Airtel, which owns and currently operates the ‘Zain’ brand in 16 countries across the African continent, has outsourced its core customer service functions like call centres and back office as it prepares for significant growth in the region.

He pointed out that African Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector which promises to deliver economic growth to many countries across the continent is all set for rapid growth as the outcome of the partnership, even as an agreement is expected to be finalized soon.

The widespread adoption of BPO model by Bharti Airtel across its operations, he said, would have tangible benefits for development of the sector in each country, create additional job opportunities and develop local talent.

“The partners will provide services in each market which will sustain and build skills, capabilities and resources,” he said, highlighting that the outsourcing of customer service operations would play a key role in making Bharti Airtel competitive in Africa as it focuses on making mobile communications affordable and available to everyone across its 16 markets of operation.

“Our partnership with IBM, Tech Mahindra and Spanco is aimed at redefining and providing a world class and seamless customer experience in all 16 countries. The BPO model has significant benefits for our customers, the countries in which we operate and their economies,” he said, stressing that the partnering would galvanize the BPO sector in Africa and catalyze growth in the sector.

“These partnerships will offer career enhancement opportunities to our team in this specialist field as they will now get exposure to global best practices and the latest technologies,” he said.

ITRealms Online recalls that this is the second major partnership announcement from Bharti Airtel on the African subcontinent since acquiring Zain in earlier in the year.

General Manager, IBM Managed Business Process Services, Mr. John Lutz, remarked that his firm’s strategic relationship with Bharti Airtel illustrates its focus on emerging markets like Africa.

"IBM's business process outsourcing unit helps clients manage functions like customer care so that they are able to channel critical resources to essential growth activities such as product design and marketing," he said

Vice Chairman, Tech Mahindra, Mr. Vineet Nayyar noted that practically, “there are three major benefits to Bharti Airtel from outsourcing its customer service functions, include quickly scaling to manage its expected growth, customers will receive first class service to global standards, and each market will benefit from talent training and development.

“By seeding the African BPO market with these three world class partnerships, Bharti Airtel is effectively kick-starting the onshore business process outsourcing sector across Africa,” he said.

Chairman and Managing Director, Spanco, Mr. Kapil Puri, said that Bharti Airtel has been a pioneer in adopting the BPO model across all its areas of operations in India and was not taken aback that it extending this benefit to African operation.

“The experience and success that it achieved created a whole new sector in the country that is now regarded as the global centre of excellence for outsourcing,” he said, noting that Bharti’s vision is to replicate that success in Africa, not only for the benefit of its customers, but also to create an entire industry in Africa as a centre of BPO excellence.

ITRealms Online recalls that Bharti Airtel has operations in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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Capacity building: CNP votes N500m on knowledge economy

The Computerize Nigeria Project (CNP) has voted the sum of N500 million on capacity building of budding entrepreneurs on knowledge economy by 2015, reports REMMY NWEKE.

CNP is a non-profit organisation set up by Information Technology (IT) technocrats led by the chairman of Zinox Group, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh in 2001 with the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe currently as chairman.

This, CNP said, would create affordable access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and processes for budding entrepreneurs in the country.

Disclosing this recently at the one-day seminar on the Spirit of the True Nigerian Entrepreneur held in Abuja, the chairman of Zinox Group, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh, said that the vote would pave the way for shaping the future through a digital revolution.

“The Computerize Nigeria Project is set to invest N500m on capacity building in the knowledge economy in the next five years,” he said.

Ekeh explained that this intervention would come phases including conducting of a yearly entrepreneurial conference and an annual award of 25 post graduate scholarships to deserving Nigerian youths.

The annual conference, he said, would still be organized under the aegis of the Spirit of the True Nigerian Entrepreneur, while the scholarships would be delivered under the Computerize Nigeria Fan Club to be established at States and National levels with a membership drive of over 4 million within the next two years country-wide.

He pointed out that each year; the Spirit of the True Nigeria Entrepreneur would bring in renowned world-class resource persons to train a new generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs.

“Entrepreneurship training would continually seek to address the felt needs of the economy in the area of capacity building,” he said.

According to him, the objective of the Spirit of the True Nigeria Entrepreneur conference is to produce, in ten years, over 10,000 entrepreneurs who will help to achieve the objectives of Vision 20 20:20.

The first SoTNE attracted over 500 participants in the rationalization of CNP that entrepreneurship training was at the peak of the aspiration pyramid of the typical Nigerian.

CNP, he said, has conceptualized to train 1,000 entrepreneurs in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, to celebrate Nigeria’s 50th anniversary, the Spirit of the True Nigeria Entrepreneur Conference surpassed the expectations of all by the quality, comportment and contributions of the dignitaries, participants and resource persons at the event.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Intercontinental unveils Visa Hajj Card

Leader in electronic banking, the Intercontinental Bank Plc (IBplc), has unveiled its Visa Hajj card to boost the financial freedom of Nigerians who are going for this year’s annual hajj in Saudi Arabia and online shopping.

Unveiling the Visa Hajj card promo in Lagos, the Group Managing Director, Mr. Mahmoud Lai Alabi, represented by the Executive Director, North, Mr. Danlami Sule, said that as a leading electronic transaction bank in the country, the Visa Hajj Card, is the latest e-banking product from the stable of bank.

He explained that the Hajj Card is a product of several months of research work on Muslim customers who seriously desire a financial product that assures easy access to foreign currency accounts and financial freedom while on Holy Pilgrimage.

This desire, he said, encouraged the bank to develop the nation’s first Visa Hajj card designed to meet the aspirations of not only customers but also prospective ones who are embarking on the annual pilgrimage (main hajj) or visiting the Holy Land for the lesser hajj.

He noted that the cardholders could use the Visa Hajj Card anywhere in the world where Visa Cards are accepted to withdraw cash on the ATM, shop using the Point of Sale (POS) terminals as well as use for online shopping. “The use of this card is therefore not restricted to only Saudi Arabia but also anywhere in the world and in any currency of choice,” he clarified.

He stressed that with the card, cardholders could easily pay for goods and services while performing both Lesser Hajj (Umrah) and Hajj.

According to him, the feedback from customers who are already using the card showed that travelling with the card eliminates the risks associated with fake currencies, cash theft and difficulties associated with sourcing foreign currencies while embarking on the pilgrimage.

“The Hajj Card is valid for two years, and can be used during, after the hajj or Umrah and anywhere Visa Cards are acceptable during the two-year validity. It is also renewable after the validity period,” he said.

In addition, he said that all cardholders benefit from available favourable exchange rates when making purchases or withdrawing cash abroad.

“They need not visit any bank while performing the holy pilgrimage as they have 24-hour access to their funds, without any need to carry cash or cheques,” he said, just as the cards could be purchased over the counter at any of the bank’s 360 branches nationwide with or without necessarily having an account with Intercontinental Bank Plc.

“It comes with a unique benefit of availability of multi-currency transaction support feature,” he said.

He underlined the fact that with this product, Visa Hajj cardholders have access to other services from over 1.4 million Visa automated teller machines (ATMs) and 10million Point of Sale (POS) in more than 200 countries and territories.

He assured of the security of the card, saying that the Hajj Card is very secure since it is a Chip and PIN card based on the functionality of Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) security standard which is adjudged the best globally with almost zero level of card cloning.

All cardholders, he said, are eligible to participate in the on-going promo, noting that to qualify, “just load your card 3 times within a month and spend $500 in the same month. Then Intercontinental Bank gives the customer a cash reward of $10.”

He pointed out that in consideration of the financial security of customers, the bank blazed the trail in deploying the Verve Card, another Chip and PIN compliant debit card to secure customers’ debit card on ATM, POS and online transactions, thereby expanding the frontiers of e-banking through products like EMV (Chip and PIN) Visa and Master Cards, internet Banking, IMobile and ICash among others.

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Nigeria @ 50: Omatek powers 22 Ekiti schools on solar

Still in the euphoria of the nation’s 50th Independence anniversary, Omatek Computers Plc has announced its successful powering of 22 schools on solar alternative in Ekiti State.

Omatek, a reputed Nigeria’s Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) said it has scored another first by effectively deploying 24-hour alternative solar-powered hybrid solution combined with Light-Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs in 22 schools across Ekiti.

The Group Managing Director, Omatek Ventures Plc, Mrs. Florence Seriki, made this disclosure, weekend, saying that the current deployment is a special gift to Nigeria on this auspicious occasion of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

Nigerians, she said, could now heave a sigh of relief with the introduction of the first of its kind Omatek 24-hour alternative Solar- Powered hybrid Solution, which could be deployed in schools, homes, offices, industrial areas, critical mission areas and the telecommunications sector.

She also said the Solar-Powered hybrid solution is also available in smaller compact sizes for use by Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) in kiosks.

Excited Mrs. Seriki said that this innovation heartwarming, mostly after seeing the whole school and the dormitories well lit for 24 hours.

“Gone are the days when we were reading with lantern and candle lights,” she said.

Seriki noted that Omatek 24-hour Solar –Powered hybrid solution helps to reduce power consumption by 85 per cent, hence making it cost efficient.

“The solution combines the benefits of the solar system and those of the LED technology to proffer solutions that reduce energy consumption while saving costs,” she said.

She pointed out that with the 24-hour solar hybrid solution, Omatek solar panel generates power for domestic and industrial use as the output passes through a solar charge controller which facilitates the load directly during the day while also charging a bank of deep cell lead-acid batteries back-up system for use at night sunset.

“The energy is then supplied via the Omatek brand of solar inverters,” she explained.

In addition, Mrs. Seriki said Omatek is also changing the face of household and office lighting with the LED bulbs which generates less heat and could last 6-10 times longer than incandescent bulbs with an approximately 3 - 5 year life span and consumes 80-90 per cents less energy than incandescent bulbs.

“These bulbs are maintenance free for 3 – 5 years,” she said.

Equally commenting on the progress, the General Manager, Technical, Mr. Musa Igbo confirmed that with the LED technology, a typical 60 watts bulb will be converted to 3.8 watts.

Similarly, he said, a typical 42 watts 4ft fluorescent bulb will be reduced to 13-17 watts while this is the same for a 2ft 42 watts fluorescent bulb. LED bulbs are also eco-friendly as they generate less carbon emissions (co2) thus contributing towards the global warming solution.

“The output of led Bulb is directional, ensuring uniform illumination and brightness and they come in a variety of forms and shapes,” he said.

Igbo noted that Omatek was awarded these set of 21 schools after the successful completion and deployment of the first pilot school- Baptist High School Ijede Ekiti.

Other schools and States are also taking advantage of this unique innovation as Omatek kick starts other projects like provision of 24 hour power solution to Police Stations and hospitals.

In his remarks, the Head of Marketing, Mr. Kayode Yeku said that Omatek will continue to professionally provide ICT products and solutions that confer unsurpassed value to its customers.

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... As Etisalat roams Nigerians to Hajj

Etisalat has taken roaming of its network to Hajj with the introduction of low tariffs for Nigerians on the network that are going for the special moment.

Etisalat Chief Commercial Officer, Wael Ammar said that the operator in its relentless move to continue satisfying subscribers with cost effective services, has announced the introduction of special Hajj offer that will afford its subscribers the opportunity to enjoy low cost roaming during the Hajj.

“Hajj pilgrims will enjoy over 85 per cent discount on the current roaming rates while roaming in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The offer, he said, has been designed to reward new and existing customers on the post paid and pre-paid package will ensure that customers enjoy the best rate (N45) to call back to Nigeria while roaming.

“Customers will also spend only N30 per minute to call any local number in Saudi Arabia and spend only N12 per text message to Nigeria and any country in the world,” he said.

According to Ammar the hajj offer is to appreciate Etisalat’s customers who are embarking on the pilgrimage and offer them a cost-effective manner to stay in touch with loved ones back home.

“This offer is one of the numerous ways we at Etisalat consistently reward customers for their loyalty and patronage in a cost-effective manner regardless of their location because our customers are at the centre of our business,” he said.

This offer, he said, would ensure that subscribers on Etisalat are not limited by location in bonding with their family and loved ones while they are on hajj.

He noted that the hajj offer will also be enjoyed by subscribers on the Elite world Prepaid and post-paid packages.

“Elite world post-paid subscribers can enable their roaming service by visiting any of the Etisalat customer experience centres, pay a roaming deposit and roam on mobile network in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

ITRealms Online recalls that Etisalat, the acclaimed largest provider of telecommunication services in Africa and the Middle East serves an ever increasing subscriber base of 100 million people across Africa, Middle East and Asia.

Etisalat prides itself as the innovative GSM provider currently has unique products such as Easy Starter, Easy Cliq, Easy Net and Elite World in the Nigerian market, as well as offering a wide array of creative and exciting features designed to satisfy all communications needs of its subscribers.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Operators’ strategies and SIM cards registration

As concern over the need to register individual’s Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) card in the on-going exercise, continues, REMMY NWEKE reports that various telecom operators are diversing separate strategies to ensure its success, including going to big corporate entities and worship centers.

Following the introduction of the registration of Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) cards in the country, subscribers and operators are now keen in making certain that they are part of the exercise.

From the churches, mosques and even markets have now turned to venues for SIM registration across the country.

Apparently, in line with the public notice of the telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the operators and subscribers alike are now enthusiastic to engage in the act of SIM cards registration.

Part of the notice stipulated that with the commencement of registration of SIM cards, new SIMs must not be activated until the subscriber is duly registered, while those already existing would have a limited period within which to get their SIM cards registered or face some sanctions of being denied access to their lines to a given extent, which may include turning their lines into a receiver only, with the likelihood of reaching a cut-off, if the user is adamant to a certain period.

“All SIM-based telephone subscribers are required to register their personal data as well as biometrics; finger prints and facial photographs, before they can be allowed to make calls and/or send messages,” NCC warned through its Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Dave Imoko, recently.

Investigations carried out by ITRealms Online since the commencement of the exercise on May 1, indicated that telecom operators, mostly those on mobile platforms have introduced various strategies to achieve this, in spite of the six months deadline marshaled out by the House Committee on Communications to complete the registration of over 78 million SIM cards in circulation as at July, 2010.

This means that by end of October 2010, an estimated 78 million should have been registered. This development came as some Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts argued that it is not visible, maintaining that even if all the operators have to register a total record of 1m per week, it could still not be viable.

Noticeable now is that when a new SIM is inserted into a new mobile phone, a prompt is seen demanding that such a SIM card be registered.

According to the president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, based on the aforementioned mathematics of registering at least 1m per week, it means that the registration of 78m subscribers will be completed in approximated 19.5 months; equals to about a year and seven months to accomplish.

He urged telecom consumers in the country to ensure they register their SIMs and called on NCC to adhere to the directive given by the House Committee on Communications, that six months is enough for the exercise.

The intervention of the Green chambers of the legislature by way of proposing a parliamentary Bill on SIM registration, he said, is a welcome development, stressing that ATCON, as an interested party made input too. “We have already made contribution to the draft,” he said, but insisted that the campaign for SIM registration was started by ATCON members’ who are already making efforts to ensure its success.

ATCON also wants NCC to engage Nigerians on the public enlightenment campaign, saying that it’s only NCC that could persuade subscribers in the country to adhere to SIM registration which is ongoing.

They noted that the campaign should not be left alone to the telecom operators, because Nigerians would perceive it as another means of ‘milking’ them, moreso, given the rise in kidnapping, which most people said is induced by the advent of the Global System for Mobile communications.

For the chairman, Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, the registration of SIM cards of such magnitude entails huge investment, thus the operators are demanding logistic support from the government, especially the industry regulator.

He stressed that even if nothing else, the exercise is of utmost important to aid security agencies in curbing crimes in the country.

Although the NCC said it was considering some of kind of support, it has mandate the operators to set up machineries in place to accomplish this exercise, without outlining the kind of support it would offer them in return yet.

But, based on the workings of the government and its agencies, the cost of engaging some staff for this purpose and procurement of equipment could be absorbed eventually, but for when remain unknown, especially with the slowness in engaging stakeholders by the latest leadership of apex telecom regulator in the country is unassuming.

ITRealms Online discovered that the operators are now engaging dealers in order to extend the exercise to the crannies by taking actions to big corporate organisations and churches with good number of staff and members, especially those who may not have the opportunity to visit customer care centres for the exercise, with some centres located at popular bus-stops like Oshodi-underbridge in Lagos.

Operators, it was revealed have appointed series of partners to drive this exercise down to subscribers and near too. This the dealer do by engaging temporary staff to ensure that this exercise is a success.

For instance, at St. Jude’s Catholic parish, Mafoluku-Oshodi in Lagos, recently, staff of telco’s dealers, especially from Apple Tree mounted two tables at the two entrance gates of the church during most masses in order to register MTN subscribers who lined up for the exercise en-masse. Though they claim to have the mandate of other operators as well, but of particular reference were made for MTN customers, even as they used MTN’s branded tables and plastic chairs, for about two Sun days, the team visited the church.

The two operators of the Digital Data Capturing machines allocated to the parish for the Sunday-Sunday registration options who identified themselves as Messrs Kayode and Yomi, confirmed that they were from Apple Tree Nigeria Limited and have been around since the second mass which ended at about 8.30am and would usually stay through to the last mass, which ended at about 1pm, while the exercise lasted at the church compound.

They also said that the exercise went well as the turn-out have been encouraging, while members of the church trooped to these two centres after each mass session to register their SIMs. Confirming their engagement by some operators, mostly MTN, a lady who described herself as the Managing Director, Apple Tree, who refused her name in prints, said they have staff well equipped to do the registration across networks.

She explained that corporate organisations as well as churches and mosques, since the exercise started invite them to occasionally enable their members to register their SIM cards.

The AppleTree lady also said her company and employees were empowered to register across the networks, namely MTN, Zain, Etisalat, and Glo, to name a few.

ITRealms Online recalls that soon after the commencement of SIM card registration, confusion crept in based on the kind of questions asked by various operators via their dealers are yet to be cohesively structured. Even as it was initially gathered that some touts took advantage of lack of awareness on the SIM registration to charge unassuming telecom subscribers between N50 and N500, collecting two passport photos and filling of manual forms with the intention to register them later.

In particular, the operators were discovered to be missing a key question for tracking individuals as they stopped at asking for local government areas without home towns, or place of birth, just as it was gathered that most communities are very far away from their local government headquarters.

Further investigations revealed that at MTN Friendship centres, there are usually two personnel manning each box and capturing data both manually and electronically via filling of form which contains phone lines from the network, alternative phone line, full names, next of kin and phone line, date of birth, local government area, state of origin, residential address, ID, photo capture and two fingers’ biometric scan from each hand in addition to a free gift for those who complete their registration successfully.

Except for the manual recording, Zain also insisted in showing of SIM cards by customers, while Etisalat accepts registration on proxy by spouse only, even as the number kept rising of subscribers who register their SIMs. At Glo World, it was more of an ‘academic exercise’ with all your fingers scanned, mothers’ maiden name, average income per month, average airtime usage per month, office and residential addresses, religion, preferred language, concluding with webcam photo capture.

Equally, experts have warned telecom consumers over the use of touts for registration, saying that anybody without the registration box is ‘fake’.

While telecom consumers are enjoined to key into the exercise, industry observers urged operators to beef-up their commitment to the consumers by taking the exercise further nearer to them across the networks, which is currently being done by MTN, according to our investigations.

This, the predicted could be of help to the operators because most of their subscribers may not eventually be affected when the deadline is presumably reached, therefore sustaining their investment.

Industry observers equally pointed out that if in the long run subscribers are cut off a network, they could be forced to migrate to another network, at which time they would now be literally forced to register before acquiring the new lines.

And for them, most importantly is that the government through the NCC may decide to share or provide incentives for the operators based on their financial and logistic commitment to the exercise, which may not favour those who are foot-dragging at the movement.

Until then, ask yourself, neighbours and relatives if they have registered their SIMs and encourage them to do so, today, especially those at the rural areas.
So, to be forewarned, is to be forearmed.

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Entrepreneurship:‘Knowledge economy, perfect for 21st century’

The chief executive officer of e-Books Library, Mr. Walter Kny, has identified knowledge economy as a perfect setting for the 21st century entrepreneurs, just as he tasked Nigerians to dream dreams, noting that the likes of Facebook could have been created by a Nigerian.

He stated this at a one-day seminar tagged the Spirit of the True Nigerian Entrepreneur (SoTNE) at the Abuja International Conference Centre, with the theme ‘Creating Wealth with integrity in 21st Century’ as part of the Computerize Nigeria Project (CNP) contribution to Nigeria at 50 independence celebration.

He urged Nigerians to engage their minds beginning with dreaming which is freely given by the creator of the world.

“Dreaming is for free, so dream,” he declared, saying that the possibility of potential entrepreneurs starts with the engagement of the mind by thinking.

Mr. Kny, who dwelt on ‘Entrepreneurship 101 and opportunities for Nigerians in the knowledge economy,’ said that ideas must be simple, stressing that any idea that cannot be written down in a sentence may not be feasible.

He cited the instance with Facebook, saying that it could have been created by a Nigerian, stressing that Facebook was not just an innovation but a social entrepreneurial intervention.

“Facebook was not a technological breakthrough and the same are Twitter, Yahoo, Funband, among others,” he said, warning that these social enterprise are not locally driven but global.

He noted that all the aforementioned social entrepreneurial interventions are within the top 15 most visited websites in Nigeria.

Pointing out that an budding entrepreneur to be different, he or she must be strategic in nurturing the enterprise, stressing that self discipline is a pre-requisite in business.

“Discipline helps you to move and there is no silly idea,” he said, insisting that those born into the 21st century are very fortunate and are all born equally based on the nomenclature of the Internet, saying that all the people of this century requires is their brain.

He described intellectual capital as a sea of possibilities, beginning with the information available to an individual, especially the intellectual capabilities that one can turn into money.

“Everybody has intellectual capital,” he asserted, stressing that the top 20 knowledge countries made up 60 per cent of the world’s wealth with high-tech industries representing 50 per cent of their wealth.

Knowledge workers in the United States, he said, earn over 200 per cent of the unskilled one.

Mr. Kny said that most knowledge countries are making good use of their population, maintaining that more knowledge equals to more money.

“Why most of the entrepreneurship succeed is because they took actions,” he said,
He defined entrepreneurs as those extra-ordinary people who do extra-ordinary things, advising anybody who has a dream and the courage to go for it.

According to him, entrepreneurs must be change agents, pointing out that the first 100 per cent of the top 100 richest persons in the United States are self-starter entrepreneurs.

On the startup success rates, Mr. Kny said, “18 per cent first time startup are successful, 30 per cent second times startups are successful.

Further, he outlined some of the factors why most entrepreneurs fail, attributing this to lack of character, indiscipline, separating self from business, not knowing what they want, non-resilience, extravagant and bad management.

Kny advised that when a startup begins to grow, it is important to the owner cum entrepreneur to bring-in a management team to sustain that dream

“You must hire management team before you need them,” he said, stressing that it takes between two and three years for any startup t make money, noting that for every entrepreneur, everything is an opportunity.

Additionally, he said that why most entrepreneurs fail is because of poor fundamentals, leadership gap, lack of capital, planning, vision gap as well as lack of flexibility, which makes such enterprise obsessed with their dreams.

He maintained that entrepreneurs must diverse within their area of strength in order to make their economic power stronger.

“Once a while stop to ask if you are to start anew your business, would you take the same route,” he counseled, adding that entrepreneurs should not under-estimate their competitors, even as God always find a way to talk to man on earth.

Mr. Kny drew-up five keys to success which comprised of the fact that entrepreneurs must learn how to handle frustration, reject incoherent ideas, learn how to handle financial pressures, complacency and eventually ensure that they give back more than they expect to receive to the society where they operate.

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Emeagwali says democracy without technology is void

Nigerian-born digital giant, Dr. Phillip Emeagwali has predicted that technology would enable the entrenchment of press and democracy on the continent of Africa, saying that democracy without technology is void.

Emeagwali bared his mind in Paris, while presenting a paper on Nigeria’s 50 independence anniversary recently.

He noted that the late Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana once said “Socialism without science is void,” but for at this era, “Democracy without technology is void.”

According to him, a scientist could be famous yet remain unknown, stressing that the grand challenge for scientists is to focus on discoveries that reduce poverty rather than on winning prizes.

“To focus on the prizes we have won, instead of the discoveries we have made, would be akin to dwelling on a hero’s medal and ignoring his heroism,” he said.

Emeagwali also said that discoveries and inventions that increase wealth and reduce poverty are the “heroes” of science and technology and one hundred nations have printed their revered scientists’ likenesses on their currency, which has elevated those scientists as exalted bearers of their people’s best vision of themselves.

For him, his contribution traverses science and technology, culminating in reformulated and solved nine partial differential equations listed in the 20 Grand Challenges of computing.

The equations, he said, was invented akin to the iconic Navier-Stokes equations listed in the Seven Millennium Problems of mathematics.

“Those Seven Millennium Problems are to mathematics what the Seven Wonders of the World are to history. To be accurate, the equations I solved were not exactly solvable, but were computably solvable. That is, I digitally solved the grand challenge version, not the millennium one that must be solved logically,” he said.

He buttressed his point by saying that a novelist is a storyteller, and a scientist is a history maker; while a novelist creates a fictional world, a scientist discovers factual stories about our universe.

“I am an internet scientist who discovered factual stories. I reprogrammed and reinvented an internet to tell 65,000 factual stories to as many sub-computers,” he said.

As said by him, the internet meets humanity’s fundamental need to compute and communicate as well as spreads like bush fire, and resonates decade after decade capable of being relevant several centuries to come.

“The internet is a technology that both connects people and connect with people in a way that will forever remain deep and enduring,” he asserted, saying that as the artist that told stories about how the Laws of Motion gave rise to the eternal truths of calculus; timeless truths that will outlast the changing opinions of all times.

“My restated Second Law of Motion became my footprints; my reformulated partial differential equations became my handprints; and my reinvented algorithms became my fingerprints on the sands of time,” he said, emphasizing that told a story in which a new technology came alive through three boards, namely the storyboard, blackboard, and motherboard.

“My story has been retold from boardrooms to newsrooms, from classrooms to living rooms. It all began as a dialogue between a supercomputer programmer and his 65,000 sub-computers, which he reprogrammed as an internet,” Emeagwali said.

He elaborated his position saying that during a conversation conducted in the languages of physics and mathematics between him and his machines, in 1989, “I performed a world record of 3.1 billion calculations per second. This occurred when my keyboard replaced the handwriting on my blackboard and bridged the gap between man and motherboard. I became known for my discovery that a supercomputer is an internet and vice versa, and I, the storyteller, became both the story and the witness.”

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IT Edge ranks top 50 ICT companies in W/Africa

IT Edge News.Com has announced plans to unveil its ranking of top 50 Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) companies in West Africa during a luncheon in Lagos.

Head of IT Edge’s Intelligence Unit, Mr. Segun Oruame, made this known at the weekend, saying that this year’s edition of the West Africa Top 50 Technology Business ceremony has been scheduled to hold on November , 26, this year.

According to him, this year’s Top 50 would be the fourth since 2007 and has been incorporated as part of the IT Edge West Africa 4th Convergence Forum; the annual interactive Forum since 2006 that focuses on Convergence Trends in West Africa, just as the forum has enjoyed the support the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) since 2007 among others.

“This year’s event equally gets the support from the regulatory authorities from Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone,” he said. Oruame noted that the two events are organized by the IT Edge Intelligence Unit (ITE-IU) while the 2010 Convergence Forum has the theme: ‘Driving Convergence through Connectivity Infrastructure’.

This, he said, would underscore the significant entry of Glo-1 and Main One undersea cables in what should radically change broadband connectivity access across West Africa.

“The top 50 rating is an aggregate of companies across West Africa in the technology business sector whose performance in 2006 made the mark on service excellence. The companies were rated on market spread and technical competence, functionality and relevance in terms of customers’ service and contribution to national economy in their respective areas of operation among other factors,” he said.

The survey, he explained, is annually conducted by IT Edge Intelligence Unit based on detailed analysis of available data on the ICT, technology business sector in 10 of the 14 ECOWAS countries.

The data used for the survey, he said, include basic information on each organisations directly from some of companies or third party information source including leading analyst firms such as Gartner Group and IDC, local newspapers and magazines, news websites and international news publications including Technology Times (Nigeria), IT Weekly (Dubai), Balancing Act, the Financial Times, ITRealms Online and the Economist in the UK, the Forbes Rich List, the Fortune 500, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Among the top 50 for 2010 are Globacom, Systemspecs, Unique Solutions (Gambia), PPC, DOPC, NIIT, and MTN. Others are Interswitch, Computer Warehouse Group, DCC, Zinox, Nokia, Cisco, HP, Aviat and Helios, among others.

“They represent the best of technology and business efforts in terms of corporate excellence, service delivery, transparency and strict adherence to the tenets of best international practice,” he said. Pointing out that the rating would be the fourth for the ECOWAS sub-region, and include companies from French and English speaking West Africa. Rating covered all sub-sectoral players ranging from international vendors, software companies, infrastructure providers, telcos, handset manufacturers, and distribution companies to PC makers.

“We have witnessed tremendous market growth in the last few years helped by liberalisation and deregulation. We have also seen a hash of service delivery and opportunistic products making appearance on the shelf without any concern for whether they meet customer’s expectations or not. This rating is an expansion of our editorial vision at helping to create a market of accurate ‘facts and figures’” he said.

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Ayo-Fisher lifts CWG with HRLeadership award

The group head, Human Resource for Computer Warehouse Group, Mrs. Olapeju Ayo-Fisher, has been honoured at the just concluded Asia Pacific Human Resources Managers Congress, with a global award for HRLeadership for excellence.

Corporate Communications Manager, CWG, Mr. Chidi Okpala, confirmed this at the weekend, saying that the award is an international prize in recognition of exemplary leadership and contributions made in the field of Human Resources.

A press statement made available by Okpala to ITRealms Online indicated that a letter sent to Mrs. Ayo-Fisher by the chairman of the congress, Mr. Tom Hilton, explained that the award is to recognise the best of the best, organized for a professional cause.

“The objective being benchmarking talent and HR practices,” he said, stressing that with this award, Olapeju has placed her name in the international field of professionalism and more importantly too, the name of Computer Warehouse Group, which she has served as Group head Human resource for close to a decade.

Commenting on the prize, the Group Managing Director, CWG, Mr. Austin Okere, while presenting the award to Mrs. Fisher, congratulated her on this achievement and expressed appreciation on her loyalty which has brought elevation to CWG in the international world of professionalism in business.

“I take this opportunity to congratulate you on this achievement on behalf of the management and staff of CWG. Thank you for consolidating CWG’s brand on the global map,” he said.

ITRealms Online recalls that the HR Leadership award is conferred on individuals who have displayed skills in performance management, risk management, team orientation, people management, achieving excellence and business goal management.

According to Okpala, CWG is proud to be associated with these skills in its people which it holds pricelessly, whereas it’s Fisher’s function to ensure that these values are imbibed in over 450 members of staff at CWG across Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda.

Mrs. Ayo-Fisher is a graduate of the University of Lagos and holds a Masters in Industrial Relations, just as she has attended a number of training within and out of the country.

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UNESCO,ICANN back multilingualism in cyberspace

The leadership of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and global coordinator of internet protocol, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have entered a deal by signing a letter of intent to support multi-lingualism in cyberspace.

This deal was consummated between ICANN president, Mr. Rod Beckstrom and UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Mr. Janis Karklins during the recently concluded 5th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Vilnius, Lithuania.

With this, UNESCO and ICANN agreed to work together to further strengthen multilingualism in cyberspace and facilitate the successful implementation of internationalized country code top-level domains (IDN ccTLDs).

The signing officials said, sets the tone for a common front and interest regarding the internationalization of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS).

“The Letter of Intent aims at the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement signed in December 2009. Both organizations agreed to collaborate in the development and internationalization of the Internet DNS and to undertake a variety of activities,” a press statement made available to ITRealms Online disclosed.

The major objective of this joint effort, UNESCO official, said, is to provide assistance to its Member States by creating a reference table of country names and abbreviations for countries whose official languages are based on Cyrillic script.
Other languages and scripts are expected to follow.

At the UNESCO Open Forum organized in the framework of IGF 2010, Rod Beckstrom, ICANN President said, “ICANN welcomes UNESCO’s plan to provide linguistic support to those who want to participate in the fast track process but need linguistic help in preparing their request.”

On the other hand, Karklins of UNESCO confirmed that his organisation with its mandate, is well placed to invite, encourage and assist its Member States to participate in the development of an IDN ccTLD country names cum abbreviations reference table.

“Both organizations recognize the importance of the Internet for building inclusive knowledge societies, and strengthening and promoting cultural diversity and multilingualism in cyberspace,” he said.

The exact scope of the project is yet to be defined, but the concrete joint activity would already facilitate the introduction of internationalized domain names at the top level, helping UNESCO Member States to prepare their IDN ccTLD applications.

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Ghana to leverage mobile health Africa

Ghana is planning to leverage on Mobile Health Africa summit to boost its health services to the citizens, through an event being organised by the Mobile World magazine and Anadach Group, based in the United States.

Chief executive officer, Mobile World, Mr. Akin Napthal said in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online that Africa is seeking better health solutions through mobile technologies.

The event slated for December this year, he said, would be a gathering of African’s best brains in adoption of technologies for mobile health services.

He said that global mobile communication and health experts are set to meet in Ghana to debate on appropriate and timely solutions for Africa’s pressing health challenges.

He also said that delegates are expected from across Africa, Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East.

Mr. Napthal, who doubles as the conference co-director, hinted that it would to take place between December 2 and 3, at the Labadi Hotel, in Accra.

“This summit will explore the use of mobile technologies to improve access to quality health care, particularly in underserved populations; and in health research, training, and education
applications in Africa,” he said.

Mobile phones, he said, have the ability to revolutionize several components of the health delivery system, including collecting clinical and community health data, monitoring patient vital signs in real-time, augmenting the direct provision of care by linking health care workers to patients, delivering healthcare information to practitioners, researchers, and patients as well as addressing supply chain management problems.

Equally, he said, Mobile phones could play a significant role in health financing systems, including authentication of health insurance subscribers, monitoring of health benefits and paying for health services and products.

He underscored the fact that mHealth Africa summit presents an opportunity to bring together interested parties from around the world working in the health care and associated sectors to exchange ideas, discuss innovative solutions, explore scalability and sustainability of successful pilots, and develop collaborations in Africa.

Founding partner Anadach Group, Dr. Egbe Osifo-Dawodu, urged stakeholders to jointly channel key implementation of mHealth deployment in Africa.

The conference, he said, would become an annual event to come at a time when mobile penetration rates on the African continent are rising at a high rate.

In 2009, he noted that Africa was estimated to have more than 379 million mobile phone users compared to 246 million in 2008.

“It is the precise time to put more focus on the growth of mHealth in Africa. With that fact mobile is perhaps the fastest and cost effective and interactive way to reach the rural areas in term of health delivery,” he said.

For health and ICT entrepreneurs, the new platform creates an opportunity to develop innovative ideas that address existing problems or create new solutions to improve healthcare.

“Most African countries are not on track to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals so the need for innovation has never been greater,” Dr. Alade, the conference co-director asserted.

He further said, this summit poses a great opportunity in discussing and learning more on the future of mhealth in Africa. Through the forum, mobile and health experts will review the mHealth opportunities and challenges in Africa. In addition, experts will discuss and understand the role regulators in developing mHealth on the continent drawing comparisons with the developed world.

“This is an opportunity for participants to gain insight into case studies of various mhealth deployments and initiatives, deeper understanding on the business model of mhealth, networking,” Mr. Napthal added.

Speakers at the conference, he said, would include Prof. Peter Nyongo, the Kenya Minister for Medical Services who will also be the special guest, Brooke Partridge, CEO and founder, Vital Wave Consulting, USA, Bas Hoefman, Founder and Director, Text to Change, Holland Dr Ashifi Gogo, Sproxil, Nigeria, Mr. Tunde Fafunwa, Senior Partner Kitskoo, Phillipines, Mr. Piers Bocock, Senior Director, Management Sciences for Health, USA,, Ruchi Dass, Wireless Healthcare, E-health and Healthcare IT Champion, Bright Simons, CEO, mPedigree, Ghana among others.

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