" ITREALMS: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

MTN Group president, Nhleko steps down

Group chairman and Board of Directors of MTN Group Limited, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed the stepping down of the group’s president and chief executive officer, Mr. Phuthuma Nhleko from all the MTN boards.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online endorsed by Rich Mkhondo of MTN Group Corporate Affairs confirmed this Thursday.

He quoted the newly MTN Group chairman, Mr. Ramaphosa as saying that with effect from Thursday, March 31, 2011, Mr. Nhleko seizes to be in any of the MTN boards across the group’s investments.

Following this development, Ramaphosa disclosed that Mr. Nhleko seizes to be the Group President and CEO.

“He has resigned from all boards of the cellular network company,” he said.

Ramaphosa also said that Nhleko, who has been with the company for nine and half years, has stepped down from the directorships of MTN Group Limited, MTN Dubai Limited, MTN South Africa, MTN Nigeria, Irancell and MTN Syria.

“His resignation is effective from March 31, his last day as Group President and CEO of MTN,” part of the press statement read.

He therefore, expressed appreciation to Mr. Nhleko for his “immense contribution to the growth of the company during the past ten years”.

Mr. Nhleko joined MTN in 2001 as chairman, and was elevated to Group President and CEO a year later.

ITRealms Online recalled that MTN Group launched services in 1994 in its bid as a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

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

As of 31 December 2010, MTN recorded 141, 6 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stakeholders want N/Assembly to fast-track cybercrime bill

Stakeholders in the Nigeria’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, have called for the fast-tracking of the nation’s cybercrime bill before the National Assembly to ensure its passed prior to the end of current parliamentary session due to close on May 29, 2011.

This is coming against the drop that over 10 African countries have enacted legislation on cybercrime to give confidence to electronic and mobile commerce traders.

Leading this call was Dr. Ewelukwa who gave this charge, weekend, at the two-day Nigeria DigitalSENSE forum on Internet Governance and Broadband Evolution held in Lagos, while presenting a paper on the ‘Legal Framework for Electronic Commerce and Mobile Commerce in Africa: Nigeria as a case study,’ saying that further delay portends economic danger for the country.

Nigeria, he said, has travelled far along the road to e-commerce and m-commerce and is currently at a critical stage that needs an urgent attention of entrenching the legal framework into the system, especially on the cybercrime.

He noted that the Federal Government invariably recognizes this fact for a stable legal framework for electronic transactions in the country, which paved the way for its reflection in Nigeria’s Information Technology (IT) policy.

“It is therefore important that one of the current legislative bills aimed at ensuring a stable legal framework for online transactions should be enacted before the end of the current parliament,” he said.

Ewelukwa who is a Senior Teaching fellow in International Trade Law with the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, said that one of the legislative bills regarding computer misuse and cybercrime should be enacted into law without further delay, warning that any attempt to delay this cybercrime further would amount to economic loss to Nigeria as most international businessmen and traders could divert any investment under the portfolio to neighbour countries for conveniences.

“Any loss of eCommerce potential by Nigeria on account of an inadequate legal framework will undoubtedly be a gain for Ghana and other African countries that have enacted ecommerce and cybercrime laws,” he cautioned.

Ewelukwa also stressed at the forum presided over the former president of Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) that this has become imperative because these countries are in a better legal position to protect those transacting online business within their jurisdictions.

“This should not be allowed to happen,” he declared, warning that if the Federal government is unable or unwilling to enact a law that accords legal validity to electronic transactions, state governments could take up the challenge and undertake law reform at the state level aimed at enacting laws that recognize the validity and legality of various forms and applications of electronic data including signatures, writing and communication.

He pointed out that though FG recognizes the need for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) knowledge and trained manpower for the ICT sector, as well as striving to improve internet connectivity in the country working in partnership with private firms already operating in the sector, these efforts are laudable, but the end results are more important.

“If all these efforts ultimately result in an adequately trained ICT workforce and universal internet access in the country, Nigeria will be on the road to a brighter digital future,” he said, stressing that this very vital that this dream be kept alive.

Ewelukwa noted that in the past two decades, there has been a phenomenal increase in the electronic commerce (e-commerce) mode of transacting business, with billions of dollars spent online globally every year by businesspeople that meet in cyberspace to transact in various goods or services.

“Mobile Commerce (m-commerce) has also taken root in many countries, especially developing countries, providing a means for people to transfer money and transact business using mobile phones,” he said.

According to him, while these technological innovations are very commendable, it is important however that they do not run ahead of laws that ensure their legal utilization and proper regulation in respective jurisdictions.

In this regard, he noted for instance that, the Nigerian banking industry that hurriedly embraced the credit card system did not carry the law enforcement and criminal justice sector along in the capacity to understand the intricacies and multiple dimensions of the problem.

The result, Ewelukwa said, is that today there are huge and rising incidence of cybercrime which, sadly are under-reported and for which the law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges are unable to match the crime with appropriate punishment.

“Can Nigerians legally enter into electronic business transactions? Is there adequate legal protection from various risks associated with transacting business electronically? Are there other non-legal constraints that can impede the uptake of e-commerce and m-commerce in Nigeria?” he wondered.

However, in proffering solution, Dr. Ewelukwa said, it has been argued that a lot still needs to be done to ensure the stability of the legal and regulatory framework for electronic business transactions in Nigeria, and give confidence to those that choose to transact business in this manner.

Hence more reason why the National Assembly must fasten its attention to the cybercrime bill and ensure the delivery before the end of parliamentary year.

Giving insight on the state of e-Commerce and m-Commerce in the contest of Africa, Dr. Ewelukwa said that the increasing deployment of broadband internet in some African countries will make it possible for these countries to also tap into the ecommerce market which may hold the key to unlocking the full trading potentials of their citizens, and ultimately contributing to overall economic growth and development.

Citing a recent statistics on internet use in Africa, he said it has grown by 2,357.3 per cent between 2000 and 2010 and as of June 2010.

According to him, there were an estimated 110,931,700 internet users in Africa, translating to 10.9 per cent internet penetration for the African population, just as they currently constitute 5.6 per cent of global internet users.

“Although Africa has the lowest internet penetration per population relative to other regions of the world, the phenomenal increase in internet usage over the past decade indicated that e-commerce may still have a promising future on the continent,” he asserted.

Describing the rapid adoption of mobile commerce (m-commerce) in many African countries as fascinating, he noted that an increasing number of Africans now use their mobile phones to transfer money, make bank deposits and effect payments for goods or services.

An increasing number of African countries have also enacted legislation over the past decade aimed at ensuring that electronic transactions are anchored on a firm legal foundation. These include Cape Verde (2000) , Mauritius (2000) , Tunisia (2000) , South Africa (2002) , Egypt (2004) , Ghana (2008) , Senegal (2008) , Kenya (2009) , Zambia (2009) , Cameroon (2010) , Rwanda (2010) and Uganda (2010).

He lamented the fact just about one quarter of African countries have enacted laws to back electronic transactions, those that have done so deserve commendation, while the rest need to do so without further waste of time to enable their citizens fully and effectively partake in the opportunities presented by the digital revolution taking place in the continent including Nigeria.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

June deadline awaits ISPs still on IP version 4

Erstwhile President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, has revealed that on June 8, this year, all internet service providers (ISPs) who have not migrated from Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) to IPv6 would be denied access on the internet, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Ekuwem who was speaking at the third annual Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum on Internet Governance in Lagos, last week, said the denial of access to ISPs, which would mean that subscribers would be denied access to their email boxes, is expected to last for one day to serve as warning to those who are yet to migrate.

Ekuwem who is also the Chairman of Teledom Group, expressed appreciation to former President Olusegun Obasanjo for liberalizing the sector, just as he called on universities in the country to ensure internet access to students within their institutions.

“Internet is an access to acquiring knowledge. Universities without internet should close down and parents should make internet and computer available to their children to prepare them to compete globally,” he said.

Speaking at the forum also, Chief Executive Officer, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Mr. Muhammed Rudman said the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) has exhausted IPv4 since February 3, this year.

Rudman said the initial design of IPv4 was to serve a few institutions but with rapid development it became necessary to introduce IPv6.

He also said some of the benefits of the IPv6 include its scalability, security, real time application, auto configuration, mobility, addressing and routing as well as its extensibility.

Rudman identified core equipment compatibility issues, lack of IPv6 upstream services providers, non requests from end users as some of the challenges facing IPv6 migration in the country.

Moving forward, he called for awareness and capacity building, establishment of a National Internet Registry and provision of incentives to encourage ISPs to embrace IPv6.

He also said upstream internet connectivity providers should be asked to enable IPv6 readiness in their networks, just as he charged the government to lead the way by ensuring compliance by its ministries, departments and agencies.

In his contribution at the forum, the President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Dr. Chris Uwaje lamented that enough capacity is not being built to face the huge challenge facing the nation in ICT in the near future.

“Cyber cafes can be converted to ICT classroom that is a way of building capacity. Our youths should be thinking of creating employment rather than seeking for paid jobs,” he said.

On her part, Mrs. Yetunde John, who represented the president Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) Mrs. Mary Uduma, while speaking on; Exploring .ng goldmine for the common good, said .ng is Nigerian property on the internet and if not used the nation could miss the benefits.

Uduma said .ng doman name is a way of checking the negative thinking of the rest of the world against Nigeria.

She said some of the challenges in pushing the .ng forward is as a result of the negative impact of the activities of advanced fee fraud (419).

Others she added included competition from established generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) and country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) as well as lack of awareness of its benefits.

Earlier in her welcome address, the convener of the forum and Executive Director of DigitalSense Africa, Mrs. Nkemdilim Nweke, said the need to articulate the nation’s position preparatory to the global Internet Governance forum necessitated the event.

She also said establishment of legal framework for internet usage would ensure optimal use of it, just as she called on the Federal Government to address issues bordering on security, high cost access and devices as well as ensuring that all schools from primary to tertiary have well-equipped computer laboratories.

“For us at DigitalSense Africa, access to the internet should be a right and not a privilege; hence we wish to reiterate the call made at this floor last year that access to internet should be declared the right of every Nigerian,” she said.

The forum, which had as its theme; Internet Governance and Broadband Evolution in Nigeria, lasted for two days and was attended by students, operators as well as several other industry stakeholders.

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United States seeking of comments on IANA functions ends tomorrow

Given the impending expiration of procurement contract awarded to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) in September 30, 2011, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the United States Department of Commerce, has issued notice requesting for comments on IANA functions.

Internet stakeholders have until tomorrow, March 31 to make their input.

IANA is the administrative arm of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which manages the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and Domain Name System (DNS) of the global internet community.

ITRealms Online gathered that NTIA is issuing this Notice of Inquiry (NOI) to seek public comment to inform the procurement process, leading to the renewal of award to IANA functions contract or otherwise.

Hitherto, the IANA functions were initially performed under a series of contracts between the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the University of Southern California (USC), as part of a research project known as the Terranode Network Technology (TNT). And following the end of TNT project and the DARPA/USC contract, the United States Government recognized the need for the continued performance of the IANA functions as vital to the stability and correct functioning of the Internet.

Hence, in January 1999, NTIA initiated a procurement process to fulfill this need by awarding IANA functions contract to ICANN in February 2000, and subsequently in March 2001, March 2004, and August 2005. The current contract expires September 30, 2011.

“We take this opportunity to ask a detailed set of questions on this topic as this is the first time NTIA has undertaken a comprehensive review of the IANA functions contract since the award of the first contract in 2000,” part of the public statement endorsed by the United States Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, Mr. Lawrence E. Strickling recently.

He explained in the notice that part of the contracted functions include that IANA assist in the transition from the DARPA contract with USC to ICANN, in 1998, ICANN entered into an agreement with the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute (USC/ISI) for transition of certain functions, responsibilities, assets, and personnel to ICANN.

It was further gathered that the current contract has an option to extend the performance period for an additional six months.

“If necessary, NTIA will exercise this option in order to complete the contract procurement process,” part of this notice indicated in the Contract Clause 1.5 of the current deal.

The assistant secretary of state pointed out that domain name system (DNS) is a critical component of the Internet that works like an address book, allowing users to reach websites using easy-to-understand domain names rather than the numeric network server addresses, in additional to retrieving information on the Internet.

“It is a hierarchical and globally distributed system in which distinct servers maintain the detailed information for their local domains and pointers for how to navigate the hierarchy to retrieve information from other domains,” he said.

He emphasised that the accuracy, integrity, and availability of the information supplied by the DNS are essential to the operation of most systems, services, or applications that use the Internet.

Essential to the DNS is the performance of the IANA functions and at a summary level, the IANA functions consist of the coordination of the assignment of technical Internet protocol parameters; the administration of certain responsibilities associated with Internet DNS root zone management; the allocation of Internet numbering resources; and other services related to the management of the .ARPA and .INT top-level domains.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

95 winners emerge @ VConnect buzz promo

A total of 95 winners have emerged at the VConnect Buzz promo with a student of YabaTech going home with the grand prize of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Television.

The acclaimed largest local search engine, according to the General Manager VConnect Global Services Limited, Mr. Deepankar Rustagi said the winners emerged at the presentation of prizes to the lucky winners held last Friday, at the Yaba College of Technology stadium during the final of the Fan-Based Football competition organized by the Students Union.

He said that a 100 level student of Business Administration Department, Miss Okwara

Young Onyeka won the grand prize, a 32 inches LCD TV, Federick Kerelodi a Model and Student of the University of Lagos won a Netbook while Moyinwin Olusegun and Ibrahim Abdul Fatai went home with a Blackberry 9300 and a Sony Digital Camera respectively.

Rustagi explained that the VConnect ‘Buzz’ contest is one of the various reward schemes that the company have in stock to reward the service users who visit its portal www.vconnect.com or call the call centre on 070 0000 8888 to seek local information.

“VConnect Buzz is basically introducing people to the convenience of finding products and services at the click of a button or a call away. VConnect is a national initiative which can be helpful to all of us if we take the initiative to help expand our databases about business, services and products across Nigeria,” he said.

Rustagi highlighted the fact that VConnect search engine is one of the simplest things to do, nowadays that almost everyone has a phone or know how to use Internet could win either by calling in or visiting the VConnect website and clicking on the vcbuzz logo on the homepage and answer simple question about products and services available in your area to win any of the prizes which include LCD TV, Netbook, Blackberry, Ipod, Digital Camera, Play Station Portable (PSP), Zen smart phones, rugs and lots of other prizes.

He hinted that interested persons could participant in the VConnect ‘Buzz’ contest by taking part in the VConnect Radio Hypes on Unilag FM between 5.30pm and 6.00pm daily and Wazobia FM between 5.00 pm and 5.30 pm.

He also said that participants could also get the question of the day on VConnect Facebook page- http://facebook.com/vconnectnigeria and Twitter page- http:/twitter.com/vconnectnigeria.

ITRealms Online recalls that VConnect was recently launched to bridge the information gap that existed between information seekers (consumers) and the suppliers by providing the most comprehensive and updated information on all B2B and B2C products and services with over 200,000 currently listed on the portal.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

MTN Nigeria picks Alcatel-Lucent for DSL access

Largest mobile telecom operator in the country, MTN Nigeria has picked the Alcatel-Lucent brand of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) offering to optimise access and aggregate network transformation using its High Leverage Network (HLN).

Disclosing this Monday in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, the Marketing and Communication at Alcatel-Lucent Nigeria, Ms Annie Essienette, said that MTN Nigeria with over 30 million subscribers, has concluded plans to transform its DSL access and aggregation network using Alcatel-Lucent’s solution.

She quoted the President of Alcatel-Lucent’s activities in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Mr. Adolfo Hernandez, as saying that this allows MTN Nigeria to cost-effectively transform its Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM)-based transport networks into an all-Internet Protocol (IP) powered network.

Time-division multiplexing (TDM) is a type of digital multiplexing in which two or more signals or bit streams are transferred. While the DSL is a generic name for digital lines that are provided by telephone companies to their local subscribers inclusive of data carriage.

Additionally, DSL is high-speed Internet service that operates over standard telephone lines, meaning that both voice and DSL could coexist on copper lines.

Hernandez noted that by transiting from legacy TDM to next-generation IP, MTN would realize a simplified, lower cost, reliable and highly scalable infrastructure that will grow as they do.

He also said that Alcatel-Lucent’s IP cum Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)-based solution and a rich set of comprehensive services would afford MTN Nigeria to generate new revenue streams by leveraging broadband IP to deliver video rich content and multimedia data services and application awareness to deliver premium and managed services to enterprise customers.

This new network, according to him is based on Alcatel-Lucent’s High Leverage Network (HLN) architecture, which combines an all-IP network infrastructure, underpinned by MPLS and pseudo wire technologies, with embedded intelligence and application awareness in order to improve the end-user’s experience and bring new services to market more efficiently on a common IP platform.

“Alcatel-Lucent is fully engaged to help customers drive their transformation and business in the most cost-effective way”, said Hernandez, stressing that in this regard, Alcatel-Lucent would ensure that MTN Nigeria save on operational expenditure (OPEX) due to the simplicity of common operational processes and procedures.

“They’ll have a network in place which supports a smooth transition to Long Term Evolution (LTE) if they choose to do so,” he said.

Equally commenting on the choice of Alcatel-Lucent on this project, the Group chief executive officer MTN West Africa, Mr. Ahmad Farroukh, said that since inception, MTN Nigeria has invested in cutting-edge technology in order to deliver world-class products and services to its customers.

“We are pleased to partner with Alcatel-Lucent to deliver a solution that will improve customer experience. Our customers are kings and we are committed to deploying the latest advances in technology to serve them better” he assured.

ITRealms Online gathered that under the terms of the agreement, Alcatel-Lucent will deploy its industry-leading IP/MPLS solution, including its 7750 Service Router (SR) and 7705 Service Aggregation Router (SAR) along with the Alcatel-Lucent 5620 Service Aware Manager (SAM). The Alcatel-Lucent IP portfolio will allow MTN Nigeria to deliver scalable, evolvable, cost-efficient and fully-managed IP-based transport allowing the leading operator to reduce operating expenditures and quickly deploy advanced, revenue-generating services.

Additionally, Alcatel-Lucent would provide MTN Nigeria with a set of comprehensive professional services including project management, engineering, training, survey, installation, and cabling as part of the agreement.

Remmy Nweke:
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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