" ITREALMS: April 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Freedom House says Nigeria is partly free Internet Society

The United States-based Freedom House has described Nigeria as partly a free society when it comes to Internet Freedom.

This was indicated in its latest report titled “Freedom on the Net 2011: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media,” made available to ITRealms Online covering the period 2009 through 2011 when the online penetration of Nigeria has soared unprecedentedly with the mobile internet access now available to the greater number of mobile subscriptions in the country.

According to the report, endorsed by the executive director of Freedom House, Mr. David J. Kramer, within this period, Nigeria has not molested citizen journalists otherwise call bloggers or people who are just online users and enthusiasts with arrest or threat.

Although Freedom House noted that Nigeria partly have press freedom, there has not been substantial political censorship on internet usage in the country.

In addition, Freedom House commended Nigerian authorities for not blocking any Web 2.0 applications in the last over two years, which includes users of web-blogs, social media networks like Twitter, Facebook to name a few.

They pointed out that in 1999, Nigeria returned to civilian governance after almost 30 years of military rule, just as the internet was first introduced in the early 1990s, and usage had grown more rapidly following an internet workshop organized by the Yaba College of Technology in 1995.

Freedom House said that press freedom and the space for free expression have since increased, the legal and political environment for traditional media has remained harsh with a number of journalists killed in recent years.

Yet, “Online media have been comparatively free from such restrictions to date, though two bloggers were detained for questioning in late 2008,” the report stated.

Equally, the report showed that the Nigerian authorities do not carry out any filtering of content, and while access to information technology is still limited for many Nigerians, the number of internet users nearly quadrupled between 2008 and 2010.

“Several recent legislative initiatives have raised concerns that the relative freedom and privacy enjoyed by online journalists and writers may come under threat in the near future,” part of the report read.

They said that Internet access expanded as cybercafes sprang up in major cities across Nigeria in 1999, though it was still expensive and connections were very slow.

“The introduction of internet access via mobile-phone service in 2004 spurred further increases in internet use,” Freedom House said.

Under this period, about 13 obstacles to access were highlighted, likely limits to content were 10 and violations of user rights got 12 scores, while the Internet Freedom Status ranked Nigeria partly free.

Though the report stated that Internet access in Nigeria has grown exponentially in recent years, particularly after the introduction of mobile-phone data services and Fixed Wireless
Access (FWA) services, there were about 100,000 users in 1999, but the figure grew to 11 million in 2008, and reached almost 44 million in 2010.

“This large jump in access is due to an increase in mobile-phone usage and data services over this period, private sector and government investment in technology, and increased competition between FWA providers,” the report showed.

Freedom House emphasised that the penetration rate is only 30 percent of the Nigerian population, and access is greater in urban areas than in rural regions, whereas cost is a key barrier to access for many Nigerians, the price for internet use ranges from US$1 per hour in cybercafes to an average of US$7 per megabyte of data on Global System for Mobile (GSM) networks.

Further, the report showed that FWA service costs an average of US$80 per month, which entails in comparison that the new minimum wage announced by the government in July 2010 which is US$120 per month, may still not be enough for citizens to offset family essentials and accommodate access t the Internet.

Literacy, however, Freedom House said, remained an obstacle as well, as 28 per cent of the population is illiterate, particularly in English, the main language used by Nigerian online news outlets and blogs.

A May 2009 survey of internet users, was quoted as showing that most Nigerians access the internet from cybercafes or their workplaces, while only 17 per cent do so from home.

Among these users, the report said, a large percentage is well educated, with 41 per cent holding secondary school degrees and 32 percent holding bachelor’s degrees.

In recent years, they said, frequent power cuts have become an impediment to internet access, with many users reportedly using private generators to stay online during outages.

“A number of cybercafes have closed due to difficulties paying for such expensive backup power generation in addition to internet service. The loss of cybercafes has been somewhat offset by the rise of mobile internet usage and affordable packages offered by FWA service providers,” part of the report read.

Freedom House report went on to suggest that although many internet service providers in Nigeria use the word “broadband” in their promotional materials, in practice there is limited broadband service available in Nigeria, with some estimated to be placing the number of broadband subscribers as of December 2009 at only 67,800.

In a related development, the Washington, DC-based Freedom House said that globally, cyber-attacks, politically motivated censorship, and government control over internet infrastructure are amongthe diverse and growing threats to internet freedom.

Mr. Kramer said, these encroachments on internet freedom come at a time of explosive growthin the number of internet users worldwide, which has doubled over the past five years.

“Governments are responding to the increased influence of the new medium by seeking to control online activity, restricting the free flow of information, and otherwise infringing on the rights of users.“These detailed findings clearly show that internet freedom cannot be taken for granted,” he warned, stressing that nondemocratic regimes are devoting more attention and resources to censorship and other forms of interference with online expression.The Freedom on the Net 2011 identified key trends in internet freedom in 37 countries, follows a pilot edition that was released in 2009; evaluating each country based on barriers to access, limitations on content, and violations of users’ rights.

Remmy Nweke
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Uwadia takes e-revolution to podium

The usefulness of software to economic revival was outlined by Prof. Charles Uwadia in his inaugural lecture recently in Lagos. REMMY NWEKE, who was there reports that software involvement in information and communication technology cannot be over-emphasized.

Pen-ultimate Wednesday, at the Main Auditorium, University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka, Lagos, the National President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Charles Onuwa Uwadia delivered an inaugural lecture as a professor of computer sciences of UNILAG.

The centre of gravity at the occasion was ‘Software Systems: The Driving Force Behind the e-Revolution’ through which Uwadia made several advocacy and projects the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as stakeholders in the country in driving Nigeria towards electronic economies.

NCS is the umbrella body of some Information Technology (IT) industry groups, namely the Information Technology Industry Association of Nigeria (ITAN), Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) and National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS) among others.

Prof. Uwadia used the chance to call, for instance, on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks in the country to set aside a special fund to assist start-up businesses, mostly in the area of software development.

Uwadia, who is also the Director, Centre for Information Technology and Systems (CITS) at UNILAG, told ITRealms Online that inaugural lecturers are usually stepping stone in actualizing a professorial status in any reputed institution and the University of Lagos is not alone in this exercise.

“It normally should be given shortly after being appointed as a Professor,” he declared, saying that he decided on the theme, ‘Software Systems: The Driving Force Behind the e-Revolution’ because his research and teaching over the past three decades have been on software systems, stressing that he has passion to showcase the impact of software systems could have in human lives in today’s information society and knowledge economy.

By setting aside a special fund to assist start-ups in the country, Uwadia said, that particularly for those practicing in the software industry, it would pave the way for sustenance and growing existing software developers. Advising that indigenous software industry should be sheltered by the federal government and it’s ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) through patronage.

“The indigenous software industry should be protected, through the enactment of a law that mandates Ministries, Departments and Agencies to patronize indigenous software as the first choice,” he advocated, urging private sector operators to collaborate with government in the building of critical mass of Information Technology (IT) professionals for the software industry.

Prof. Uwadia noted that in the knowledge economy, software industry is the power house of any nation’s socio-economic development, maintaining that software industry creates value to the society in the area of services delivered through software systems. “It empowers youths in a sustainable way through the creation of jobs,” he said.

Uwadia underscored the fact that through the software industry has not been optimised, he said, Nigeria as a nation can assume a global identity by being an outsourcing destination or on the strength of product brands and identity. And in order to participate in the e-revolution, he said, Nigeria has to be a notable player in the software industry.

The government, according to Uwadia, should create enabling environment through the provision of reliable and affordable infrastructure, which is mainly electricity, network and communications, security, software testing facility to name a few, asserting “A model to achieve this is through the creation of Information Technology (IT) parks in all zones.”

He also urged the government to provide fiscal incentives for indigenous software developers in form of tax incentives and tariff rebates, describing software systems as programmes or collection of programmes or suite of programmes that deliver the functionalities or outcomes required by the designers or users.

“Software is that seemingly intangible part of a computer system or computational or communication device that makes things happen; that gives effect to the developer’s thoughts as expressed logically in form or instructions when processed or executed by a computer or device containing a processor,” Uwadia said, elucidating that software is usually created or written in a programming language, even as he described programming language as an artificial language designed to express computations that can be performed by a computer or other computational devices.

A programming language, Prof. Uwadia said, could be classified as low level or high cum very high level, explaining that the low level languages include machine languages and assembly or mnemonic representation of machine language; While the high and very high level languages are simply high and very high level abstraction of computations or expressions.

The earliest high level programming languages, he listed to comprise FORTRAN, ALGOL, ADA, BASIC, COBOL, LISP. PL/I and PASCAL, to name a few; challenging Nigeria to take advantage of the on-going e-revolution to push further economic development.

The professor said the contributions of Africa and Nigeria in particular has nothing to write home about as of date, noting that apart from the contributions of Nigerians in diaspora, the country has remained onlooker, bystander and at best beneficiary and consumer of these revolutions.

The e-Revolution, information society, knowledge economy have all been with Nigerians for quite some time, and is still unfolding, urging that Nigeria take advantage of the unfolding aspect to make her impact felt.

As said by Uwadia, the 21st century has been largely referred to as the Digital Century and Nigeria needs to take the digital advantage of the emerging scenarios in order to minimize the challenges of the digital divide.

This, he said would save the nation from an impending digital disaster that could lead Nigeria to becoming a digital colony, outlining some five-point agenda for Nigeria, including a framework for participating in the e-revolution, software development policy, software development curricular and instruction in educational institutions, development of the software industry and models for adopting computing and computerization as a way of life.

“We must join the club of Digitally Wealthy Nations,” he declared, stressing that Nigeria needs a framework for participating in the e-revolution arena, suggesting that Nigeria should fall back on the declaration of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) and derivatives of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Even as Nigeria should blend these documents with some of the her national initiatives such as the National Economic Empowerment Strategy (NEEDS), Vision 20-2020, National Information Technology Policy and Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) among others.

He insisted that when properly implemented, the aforementioned documents and initiatives would put Nigeria on the path of active participation in the e-revolution.

“I wish to note with gladness that the National IT policy of 2001 has been reviewed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) working with stakeholders, while the reviewed policy should be approved by the Federal Executive Council without further delay for full implementation,” he said.

Uwadia also called for a National Policy on Software Development, saying that it should be developed and implemented. This policy, he said, should be driven from the National IT Policy framework thereby becoming a strategic imperative for nation building, development and creation of wealth.

“I am happy to report that NITDA has recently set up a committee headed by Prof. O.C. Akinyokun of the Federal University of Technology (FUTO) Akure, to produce a National Policy on Software Development,” he said.

On the software development curricular and instruction in educational institutions, Prof. Uwadia noted that this entails that principles, techniques and tools should be accorded greater attention in the curricular of computer sciences and information technology programmes in the educational institutions.

“Exposure to programming at the most basic form should begin at either kindergarten or primary school level,” he said.

The NCS president pointed out that while principles and techniques of programming do not change too often, programming tools evolve and new ones are developed quite rapidly.

“Therefore, provision should be made for constant review of that aspect of programme curricular,” Uwadia said, that over the years, many students detest the word ‘programming’ simply because they perceive programming courses as difficult subjects that should be avoided where possible and except where the courses are compulsory. Hence, they do everything possible to obtain pass mark, which is similar to the perception of mathematics by students in secondary schools.

Uwadia advocated for creation of incentives and motivation for the learning of programming, which could be done by creating stimulating learning environment through the provision of adequately equipped computer laboratories, award prizes and according recognition for outstanding performance.

He said the formation of software development clubs in schools, for instance, would boost networking for the exchange of ideas and knowledge as well as organizing more software competitions in schools.

“Teachers and lecturers handling programming courses should retraining and retool regularly. They must keep abreast of development in the area among others,” Uwadia said.

Equally speaking on the lecture, the chairman, publicity and trade services at NCS, Mr. Tajudeen Ejalonibu, said that the society is excited that this is happening at a time they have such a distinguished personality as president.

While applauding NCS members for making the day a graceful one, Ejalonibu commended Prof. Uwadia for making his lecture a worthy of emulation for other scholars across Nigeria.

In his remarks, former president of NCS, Dr. Chris Nwannenna was full of eulogies for his successor at NCS, saying that what all this means is that NCS and its membership did not make wrong choice on picking Uwadia to take over the mantle of leadership. “I think he is steering well” he declared.

Noteworthy is that at the 21st national conference of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Uwadia, emerged the 10th national president of the Society; thereby taking over from Dr. Nwannenna, following the completion of his two terms in office.

Prof. Uwadia, a native of Ukala-Okpuno in Oshimili Local Government Area of Delta State, was born on June 7, 1956 at Ibadan in Oyo State. He attended St. Charles Grammar School, Osogbo (1970 – 1974) and holds a BSc. Degree honours in Computer Science from the University of Ibadan in 1979. Following the completion of his National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) programme with the Polytechnic Ibadan, Uwadia went on to obtain Master of Science in 1983 and followed this up with a PhD in 1990 both at the University of Lagos.

Uwadia who joined the services of the University of Lagos as an Assistant Lecturer in 1983, rose progressively to the post of a full professor in 2004 with his specialization being Software Engineering with emphasis on Compiling Techniques and Systems Software.

An active member of Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) and the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria, Prof. Uwadia overtly described as a quiet and disciplined scholar is a fellow of NCS. Before emerging the president of NCS, Uwadia had served the society in various capacities comprising of Chairman, Education Committee (1997 – 1999); Chairman, Conferences Committee (1999 – 2003); Chairman, Publications Committee (2003 – July 2007).

In addition of his desirable services in Nigeria, Prof. Uwadia has been a visiting Fellow to universities and institutions in the United States of America, United Kingdom, Italy and Australia. Generally seen as a detribalized Nigerian, Uwadia holds liberal views about life and is happily married with three children.

In all, the message of the lecture is the enthronement of software as a veritable tool for national development and until we see MDAs led by NITDA stop paying lip service to such recommendations as outlined by the professor of software engineering, Nigeria may not see the Vision 20-2020 manifesting.

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Nigeria’s 65th in malicious Internet activity – Report

Symantec Corporation has released the Volume 16 of its Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), which indicated that a massive threat volume of over 286 million as new threats last year, just as Nigeria ranked 65th out of 233 countries monitored by Symantec’s Global Intelligence Network.

The Communications manager at Symantec, Mr. Peter Rae, noted that the report highlighted dramatic increases in both the frequency and sophistication of targeted attacks on enterprises.

“The continued growth of social networking sites as an attack distribution platform; and a change in attackers’ infection tactics, increasingly targeting vulnerabilities in Java to break into traditional computer systems,” he said.

Rae also said that the report explored how attackers are exhibiting a notable shift in focus toward mobile devices.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online, Mr. Rae said that targeted attacks such as Hydraq and Stuxnet posed a growing threat to enterprises in 2010.

“To increase the likelihood of successful, undetected infiltration into the enterprise, an increasing number of these targeted attacks leveraged zero-day vulnerabilities to break into computer systems. As one example, Stuxnet alone exploited four different zero-day vulnerabilities to attack its targets,” he said.

In 2010, he pointed out that attackers launched targeted attacks against a diverse collection of publicly traded, multinational corporations and government agencies, as well as a surprising number of smaller companies. In many cases, the attackers researched key victims within each corporation and then used tailored social engineering attacks to gain entry into the victims’ networks.

“Due to their targeted nature, many of these attacks succeeded even when victim organizations had basic security measures in place,” he explained.

While the high-profile targeted attacks of 2010 attempted to steal intellectual property or cause physical damage, many targeted attacks preyed on individuals for their personal information, the ISTR cited an instance stating that the report found data breaches caused by hacking resulted in an average of more than 260,000 identities exposed per breach in 2010, nearly quadruple that of any other cause.

“Social network platforms continue to grow in popularity and this popularity has not surprisingly attracted a large volume of malware,” he said, stressing that one of the primary attack techniques used on social networking sites involved the use of Uniform Resource Locator (URLs).

The report further said that under typical, legitimate, circumstances, these abbreviated URLs are used to efficiently share a link in an email or on a web page to an otherwise complicated web address.

Last year, the report added, attackers posted millions of these shortened links on social networking sites to trick victims into both phishing and malware attacks, dramatically increasing the rate of successful infection.

“The report found that attackers overwhelmingly leveraged the news-feed capabilities provided by popular social networking sites to mass-distribute attacks. In a typical scenario, the attacker logs into a compromised social networking account and posts a shortened link to a malicious website in the victim’s status area,” IST report read.

As for the social networking site which automatically distributes the link to news feeds of the victim’s friends, spreading the link to potentially hundreds or thousands of victims in minutes, this was reduced in the year under review.

In 2010, the report said, 65 per cent of malicious links in news feeds observed by Symantec used shortened URLs. “Of these, 73 per cent were clicked 11 times or more, with 33 per cent receiving between 11 and 50 clicks,” Symantec report stated, pointing out that also attack toolkits, software programmes that could be used by novices and experts alike to facilitate the launch of widespread attacks on networked computers, continued to see widespread use.

“These kits increasingly target vulnerabilities in the popular Java system, which accounted for 17 per cent of all vulnerabilities affecting browser plug-ins in 2010. As a popular cross-browser, multi-platform technology, Java is an appealing target for attackers,” ISTR said.

The Phoenix toolkit, the report indicated, was responsible for the most Web-based attack activity in 2010. This kit, as well as many others, incorporates exploits against Java vulnerabilities; whereas the sixth highest ranked Web-based attack during the reporting period was also an attempt to exploit Java technologies.

The number of measured Web-based attacks per day increased by 93 per cent in 2010 compared to 2009. Since two-thirds of all Web-based threat activity observed by Symantec is directly attributed to attack kits, these kits are likely responsible for a large part of this increase.

The major mobile platforms are finally becoming ubiquitous enough to garner the attention of attackers, and as such, Symantec expects attacks on these platforms to increase. In 2010, most malware attacks against mobile devices took the form of Trojan Horse programs that pose as legitimate applications.

While attackers generated some of this malware from scratch, in many cases, they infected users by inserting malicious logic into existing legitimate applications. The attacker then distributed these tainted applications via public app stores. For example, the authors of the recent Pjapps Trojan employed this approach.

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Maltina website hits 2m visitors in two weeks

The recent relaunch of Maltina pay-off line of ‘sharing happiness’ and ‘Happy Moments promo may have increased the number of visitors and hits to the website to about two million within two weeks of unveiling.

Senior brand manager, Maltina, Mrs. Ngozi Nkwoji, made this disclosure in Lagos, and said that the modus of participation in the promo is quite simple.

“All a consumer need to do is to take a snap shot of themselves, family members and friends while they are sharing happy moments. The photos can range from graduation, birthday party, beach outing etc. They are to upload such photos on the Maltina site, give a brief description and submit. A confirmation mail will then be sent to acknowledge receipt,” she said.

Nkwoji also said that the best ‘Happy Moments’ will be selected and the owners would be contacted through phone call where they would have the opportunity of connecting with Nigerian celebrities in the spirit of sharing happiness.

She said that this promo is in line with the brand’s resolve to further strengthen its leadership position in the Nigerian malt drinks market.

The new look and pay-off line are both part of a brand proposition rejuvenation process designed to ensure Maltina remains connected to the sophisticated and savvy 21st century Nigerian consumers.

On the new proposition, Mrs. Nkwoji said the design elements of the refreshed brand uses a number of interesting colours, all with great significance in Maltina’s new identity.

“Classic white for purity, black for boldness and rich content, warm red for energy and vitality, orange for vibrancy, yellow for happiness and gold as a promise of high quality,” she explained, stressing that the cool new look and new pay-off line contribute to the brand being perceived as the number one malt drink, best known for its superior nourishment and for ‘sharing happiness’.

“This means that Maltina will not only nourish and revitalise consumers as it did before, but will also inspire moments to share happiness with friends, family and loved ones at home, at school, at work, at parties and social functions alike. In addition to the Maltina bottle, the Maltina ‘Can’ will also carry the vibrant new look. The Maltina bottle and ‘Can’ will continue to share nourishment as well as happiness with everyone, everywhere,” he said.

Marketing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Jacco van der Linden, said the Maltina brand has been leading the malt drinks market for the past 35 years by being close to the hearts of many Nigerian consumers.

Therefore, Maltina remained the number one malt drink in the market and is now bringing a refreshed brand proposition to the market for Nigerians to share their happy moments with their loved ones and with the brand.

“The initiative stems from our desire to continuously offer the Nigerian consumer the highest possible value for money. The brand should always remain appealing and aspirational to consumers and should always remain in the lead versus competitor offerings. That is why we have chosen to premiumnize and refresh the brand’s identity. We are confident that it will further carry on the positive image of Maltina as the number one nourishing malt drink and as the brand that inspires sharing happy moments with loved ones.” van der Linden said.

He stressed that the new look Maltina remains the same in composition and taste and could be enjoyed as before.

“Only now, it carries a modern new label that will better help it standout amongst other malts and give Maltina even more appeal.”

Since 1976, Maltina has consistently been in the Nigerian market.

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Global data subscription reaches 81.4m

Global wireless data subscriptions for Machine-to-Machine (M2M), have reached 81.4 million at the end of December 31, 2010.

According to the Sweden-based Berg Insight, this amounts to 46 per cent year-on-year growth.

Tobias Ryberg in a preliminary report of Berg Insight made available to ITRealms Online recently, the strong market performance was the result of a stronger focus on M2M applications in the mobile communications industry and the rise of wirelessly enabled consumer products.

He said, the United States (US) and Japan recorded growth rates of 52 and 60 per cent respectively, mainly driven by connected devices such as e-book readers and digital photo frames.

Among the world regions, Europe maintained its number one position as the number of M2M subscribers increased 43 per cent to 29.5 million. North America was up 51 per cent to 23.6 million, and followed by Asia-Pacific, growing by 53 per cent to 19.6 million.

The report also named AT&T the world’s largest provider of wireless M2M connectivity services last year, reporting 9.3 million subscribers in last quarter (Q4) of 2010.

Mr. Ryberg further said that the US operator added 4.7 million machines and consumer devices with embedded connectivity during 2010, almost doubling its subscriber base.

Previously the market leader Verizon Wireless was demoted to second place in the US and worldwide reporting 8.1 million M2M subscribers at end of 2010, despite adding 1.2 million connections over the year.

Berg Insight estimated that Vodafone, which does not currently disclose its number of M2M subscribers, ranked third having in the range of 7–8 million connections.

China Mobile was estimated to be in the fourth place with around 6 million connections, followed by T-Mobile at approximately 5 million. Telefónica, Telenor, Orange, Sprint and America Móvil were other top ten players with 2–4 million connections each.

Berg Insight offers premier business intelligence to the telecom industry by producing concise reports with key facts and strategic insights about pivotal developments in focus areas.

Remmy Nweke:
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ALTON commends Etisalat for spurring competition

The Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has commended one of the nation’s mobile leading operators, Etisalat Nigeria, for spurring competition in the industry.

ALTON is the industry body for all licensed telecommunications providers of telecoms service in the country.

The association made this commendation when it paid a courtesy visit to the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Steven Evans and his management team in Lagos.

Chairman of the Association, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, noted that Etisalat’s vibrant role in stirring competition as well as setting the pace with its innovative packages in the industry is quite commendable.

“Etisalat’s consistent effort targeted at stirring competition is laudable. That your products and services have set you apart for innovation is never in doubt, we can only request that you continue to provide best quality services at affordable prices for Nigerians thereby staying true to the very essence of your exciting 0809ja brand,” he said.

Also, Adebayo pointed out that number portability, quality of service, interconnection rate, market competition amongst others are salient issues which the telecoms industry had to intensify efforts at resolving.

Responding, Mr. Evans while acknowledging the need for improved quality of service in the telecom sector said that without a healthy telecoms industry, many other areas of the economy would not be able to reach their potential.

“We will continue to invest heavily on our network so that we can achieve what is expected of us by Nigerians by delivering the best quality services,” he assured.

Evans also said that data is the next big focus of operators who appear to have delivered affordable voice services well and are still doing so.

“We are also going to intensify our efforts on delivering broadband services because it is very clear that broadband is the next big deal in terms of services to be delivered through GSM operators and we want to make sure that we are appropriately positioned to deliver,” he said.

Reaffirming Etisalat’s support and readiness to work with the association to achieve its objectives, Evans urged ALTON to continue in its efforts in influencing the government on the provision of infrastructure and regulation issues.

ITRealms Online recollects that ALTON’s objectives include promoting growth in the telecommunications sector, fostering inter-network cooperation and industry harmony thereby enhancing efficient and affordable telecommunications services delivery to users of these services.

Whereas Etisalat is the largest provider of telecommunications services in Africa and the Middle East and serves an ever increasing subscriber base of 110 million people across Africa, Middle East and Asia.

In Nigeria, Etisalat currently has unique products such as Easy Starter, Easy Cliq, Easy Net and Elite World with all offers coming with a wide array of creative and exciting features designed to satisfy all communications needs of its subscribers.

Remmy Nweke:
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MTN excites Ibadan subscribers with new packages

Leading Global System of Mobile Communications (GSM) service provider, MTN Nigeria, has excited its subscribers in the city of Ibadan with its three new packages.

The company’s Acting Senior Manager for Regional Marketing, Mr. Lawrence Akharume who disclosed this recent at the public presentation of the new packages listed the trio to include “MTN Talk-On”, “MTN Family and Friends” and “MTN Magic Number”.

Mr. Akharume remarked that MTN is constantly looking into ways of satisfying its teeming subscribers nationwide to enable them get best value for money.

Under the new tariffs regime, he said, MTN Talk-On package offers call rates as low as 25 kobo per second for all MTN to MTN calls. He added that the service is most suitable for long call duration to an unlimited number of people.

As for the MTN Family and Friends package, he explained that subscribers would get true value as they could call up to six different numbers including one on any other local network as well as one international number in either the United States of America or Canada, without any hidden charges or access fee.

Maintaining that MTN packages are generally affordable, Akharume emphasized that the company has “three times capacities” above its various competitors.

Akharume has more good news for telecommunications subscribers in the country saying that “within this New Year, every MTN customer will benefit in one way or the other.”

Lamenting the atrocities of vandals of telecommunications facilities, especially base station equipment in different parts of the country, he stressed that this has been a night mare for MTN management.

Particularly, he disclosed that an MTN engineer was recently killed by vandals in Abia State as he was busy servicing some base facilities in that state, he therefore appealed to the various communities and vigilante groups all over the country to further support the company by boosting security of life and property so as to checkmate the atrocities of telecommunications equipment vandals.

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Ghana converts Vodafone’s earth station to radio astronomy

The government of Ghana has commenced work on its Radio Astronomy project in preparedness for the African’s bid to host the largest Telescope in the world led by South Africa with a request to Vodafone Ghana Limited for conversion of its Satellite Earth Station for the project.

Ghanaian Minister, Environment Science and Technology, Ms Sherry Ayittey made these disclosures recently while welcoming the South African team on the Telescope, otherwise known as Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project in Accra, the capital city of Ghana.

Ghana News Agency (GNA) reports that the Ghana Radio Astronomy Project is being implemented as part of the SKA project, in readiness to enhance the continent’s chances to win the bid and Ghana’s ability in astronomy and astrophysics.

The SKA bid expected to be unveiled by June 2012, she said will become one of the largest scientific research facilities in the world, while consolidating Africa as a major hub for astronomy.

She also revealed that nine Africa countries, including Ghana and Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar as well as Mauritius among others, which have radio telescope already.

The building of Ghana Radio Astronomy, she said, would have sub-stations if the lot eventually falls on South Africa.

She said the SKA is 50-100 times more sensitive than any radio telescope on earth and would be able to probe the edges of the universe as well as answer fundamental questions in astronomy, physics cosmology and questions concerning stars and planets.

The Ghana project, she further said, was as a result of request from her Ministry to Vodafone Ghana Limited to convert its large Satellite Earth Station at Kuntunse in the Greater Accra Region into a Radio Astronomy Telescope.

She noted that when the facility is converted, it would assist in training astronomers and astrophysicists as well as serve as a research facility in the field of radio astronomy in Ghana and the sub-region.

“Currently none of the universities in Ghana is running the programmes in astronomy and astrophysics and this project would kick-start a Graduate and Post-graduate course in that branch of science,” she said, stressing that the project will also enhance training in other related engineering programmes such as system engineering, radio engineering and space technology.

She listed some of the merits to be derived from the project to include the opportunities for the youth, scientists, engineers and collaboration in joint projects with renowned universities and research institutions around the world.

The Ghana Radio Astronomy project, the Minister said, is one of the key programmes of the soon to be established Ghana Space Science and Technology Centre.

In his comment, the acting Managing Director, National Research Foundation of South Africa, Dr Michael Gaylard, said Ghana had a strategic location, which made it easy to view the entire Milky Way but Ghana could not host the SKA because it was in the tropics.

South Africa, he said, in conjunction with eight other African-partnering countries bidding communally for the SKA, would pull out all the stops to show the world that Africa is the future, as far as science and technology are concerned over bridging the gap between Africa and the rest of the world.

Ms Adelaide Asante, Schedule Officer for the Project, said the project would develop human capital in the area of astronomy and related subjects and thereby make the best use of opportunities in astronomy and astrophysics.

The telescope will also be used to anchor the positions of relative position measuring systems, such as the Global positioning System (GPS) and Satellite Laser Ranging system, which would provide absolute reference points for Ghana’s survey systems.

She noted it is expected to provide long baselines to radio telescope arrays in Africa and other continents to ensure high angular resolution imaging.

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GNSO calls for webinar on UDRP

The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) arm of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in conjunction with ICANN Policy staff, has called for participation in its upcoming webinar on Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

The webinar scheduled to hold on May 10 at 15:00 UTC will explore the current state of the UDRP. Attendees, according to the press statement made available to ITRealms Online, will hear the viewpoints from experts in the field on the effectiveness of the UDRP, and whether it should be modified or amended.

“This webinar is designed to solicit current information and data on the UDRP for reference in an Issue Report to be published by Staff,” part of the announcement read, just as UDRP providers, panelists, attorneys and other observers of the UDRP process will be invited to share their perspective on this key ICANN policy.

Officials informed that the UDRP has not been reviewed by the GNSO Council since its adoption; hence the Issue Report will speak to how the UDRP has addressed the problem of cyber-squatting to date, and explore any insufficiencies or inequalities associated with the process.

“This Issue Report will then be considered by the GNSO Council as it decides whether to commence a new policy development process (PDP) on the UDRP,” the statement read.

The webinar scheduled to run for 120 minutes, it was gathered, will be conducted in English only.

“The meeting will be run in Adobe Connect with a slide presentation along with a dial-in conference bridge for audio,” ICANN policy staff informed.

Participants will have opportunity to ask questions at the end of the presentations, but during the course of the webinar, questions may be submitted using the chat function of Adobe Connect.

“If you are not able to participate in the live session, the slides and MP3 will be made available shortly after the meeting,” ICANN said.

They explained that in order to participate, potentials partakers have been advised to contact via email to the GNSO Secretariat - gnso.secretariat-at-gnso.icann.org, to receive the call details.

“We will send you an e-mail reminder before the event with log-in and dial-in details,” ICANN assured.

The GNSO of ICANN is the successor to the responsibilities of the Domain Name Supporting Organization that relate to the generic top-level domains.

ICANN’s by-laws outline three supporting organizations, of which the GNSO belongs including helping to promote the development of Internet policy and encourage diverse and international participation in the technical management of the Internet.

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

Airtel customers smile @ Easter, more winners emerge in Feel Free promo

Mobile services provider, Airtel Nigeria, at the just concluded Easter celebration put smiles on the faces of its customers across the country with the introduction of a four-day special Easter offer, even as more winners emerged in the on-going Airtel Feel Free Bonanza.

This offer, the public relations manager, Mr. Emmanuel Otokhine said, allowed customers to make calls to Airtel numbers at only 16 kobo per second during the Easter period which ended Monday, the Easter Monday.

He noted that the offer which commenced last, Thursday, April 22 was concluded Monday, April 25, this year, exciting both old and new subscribers with the new 2Good Xtra prepaid customers.

The more winners that emerged in the on-going Airtel Feel Free Bonanza include a petty trader in one of the Lagos suburbs, Ajegunle; a student in Minna, Niger State, and an entrepreneur from Nasarawa, amongst others who went home brand new Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) television sets, and Blackberry smartphones with data bundles.

Otokhine said that the draw was supervised by one of the country’s leading independent system and process audit firm, TCQA and the regulatory agencies: The National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) and the National Consumer Protection Council were dully “carried along.”

He explained that the Airtel Feel Free Bonanza is in two categories: Feel Free Offer and 2Good offer. Customers, he said, could participate for free in the Feel Free offer, while 2Good offer attracts a fee of N100 to participate in each draw.

Daily, he said, participants in the 2Good offer have an opportunity to win N1,000,000.00 (about 6,667.00 USD) and smartphone.

He pointed out that an Ajegunle based petty trader, Mrs. Blessing Okonkwo was fortunate as she emerged a winner of one millionaire (N1,000,000.00) cash prize in the on-going Feel Free Bonanza.

Mrs. Okonkwo is one of the seven latest people to become millionaires in the Airtel Bonanza that started in February this year.

Weekly, he said, seven participants each are selected as winners of one million naira cash prize, brand new LCD Television and Blackberry smartphone respectively, through a raffle draw coordinated and supervised by renowned system processes and applications audit firm, TCQ&A.

When contacted on phone by Airtel officials to inform her of her winning, Mrs. Okonkwo was astonished and could hardly believe the news she has just heard.

Mindful that the years of struggle to make a living through petty trading was about to come to an end, she was profuse in her gratitude to God for make it possible for her to climb the economic ladder even when she least expected it.

Another winner that emerged through the Airtel Feel Free Bonanza weekly draw was Regina Adetoye, a Lagos-based nurse.

Like Mrs. Okonkwo she poured encomiums on Airtel Nigeria for offering Nigerians the opportunity to transform their fortunes through the interactive SMS based Bonanza.

She equally appealed to the management of Airtel to continue to offer Nigerians the chance to change their life through similar exciting offers.

Also, a 26-year-old student in Niger state, Mohammed Husaini, a Lagos-based marketer, Segun Bamidele Alabi, an entrepreneur from Nasarawa State, Godday Musa and Mrs. Bode Olugbade, a resident of Ojo in Lagos State, won one millionaire cash prize each.

In addition to the winners of the one millionaire prizes, eight other customers also won LCD Television sets. The winners include a meat seller in Jos, Plateau State, Douglas Icha, two students, Habeeb Jimoh and John Ayokunle as well as a Contractor in Okokomaiko, Samson Woke.

The other prizes, a fully activated BlackBerry Smartphones were won by a National Youth Service Corp member serving in Delta State, Christopher Obireh, a Lagos-based engineer, Victor Oju and two Lagos State Civil Servants, Christopher Wey and Olufemi Emmanuel Oladini.

The winners will be presented with their winnings in the nearest Airtel location soon. The first set of winners in the Bonanza has received their prizes in different locations across the country.

Airtel Feel Free Bonanza was introduced on February 21, 2011. Existing and new customers of Airtel can participate in any or both categories of the two-phased SMS offer: the Feel Free category and the 2Good type.

To participate in the Feel Free offer, participants are required to send the key word, “Feel Free” to the short code 333. Customers who participate in this offer have the opportunity to win brand new LCD Television set.

To take part in the 2Good offer and therefore have the chance to win any of the star prizes, one millionaire (N1, 000,000.00) each or Blackberry Smartphones bundled with data, participants are expected to special word, “2Good” to the shortcode, 444.

A set of the different prizes is offered for grab every day by Airtel. The Bonanza is designed to run for 100 days and will come to an end on May 31, 2011.

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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Short messaging service soars by 1.8 trn in 2010

The total globally Short Messaging Service (SMS) sent in 2010 increased by 1,800,000,000 trillion as at December 31 last year.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) gave this insight in its latest StatShot released last weekend and made available to ITRealms Online.

According to the StatShot, at current growth rates, there will be well over a thousand SMS messages sent by end of December 2011, for every person on the planet.

ITU also indicated that there were 2.8 trillion SMS messages sent in 2008; 4.3 trillion in 2009; and 6.1 trillion in 2010, which shows the growth of 1.8 trillion.

The report further indicated that the developing world is catching up as far as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) growth is concerned.

Some of the highlights to underscore this, StatShot noted were based on the fact that there were as many fixed broadband subscriptions in the developing world in 2010, as there were in the developed world in 2008, just two years earlier.

That is, 251 million vs 253 million in 2008 and 2010 respectively, just as China alone accounts for around half of all the developing world’s fixed broadband subscriptions.

Equally the report indicated that there were more mobile broadband subscriptions in the developing world in 2010 accounted for 309 million than there were in the whole world in 2007 was 307 million, just three years earlier.

In addition, StatShot informed that there were almost as many mobile cellular subscriptions in the developing world in 2010 at the tune of 3.8 billion, as there were in the whole world in 2008 with 4 billion, and half a billion more than there were in the developed world in 2007.

StatShot showed that by end of 2010, developing world Internet users accounted for 58 per cent of the global total, with 1.2 billion in the developing world, compared to 900 million in the developed world.

“But with most of the world’s population living in developing countries, only a fifth of people there are online, compared to almost three quarters in richer nations,” part of the report read.

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology for over 145 years, coordinating the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve communication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems.

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

Nokia loses more market share

Finland headquartered Nokia has lost more market share according its first quarter (Q1) for 2011 announced at the weekend.

The loss of more market share was greatly attributed to the formalization of its strategic alliance with Microsoft by signing the agreement outlining the albatross, reports TelecomTv.com.

This, industry observers said, the deal with Microsoft was over-bolted, stressing that first results showed the stripping of the basics that total handset shipments increased by just one percentage point year-on-year.

“Nokia shipped 108.5 million phones of which smartphones accounted for 24.2 million (up 13 per cent year-on-year) while feature phone sales fell back by two per cent to 84.3 million shipments,” part of the report read.The report also showed that over the year under review, Nokia had managed to ramp-up the average selling price of its devices at €65, about N13,000; a five per cent increase.

“That’s the good news, now for the rest,” the report said.Noteworthy is that Nokia’s market share continued to decline and when final figures are released within the next few weeks they are expected to show that it will have fallen again, this time from the 35 per cent recorded a year ago to 30 per cent now.To put things in perspective analysts are predicting the total market sales of mobile devices will rise by 16 per cent year-on-year and Nokia is treading water as its rivals swim happily away.

The iPhone and the Blackberry continue to take market share as do handsets from HTC, Samsung and LG.

Meanwhile, Nokia Nigeria recently reiterated support for the Social Innovation Camp, which held in Lagos.

Head of Communications, Nokia West Africa, Mr. Osagie Ogunbor disclosure this in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online, saying that the support was in line with established reputation for innovation by the mobile manufacturer.

According to him, Nokia partnered with a social enterprise venture, Co-Creation Hub to provide a platform for young Nigerians to come up with business ideas that also address some of Nigeria’s social issues.

He noted that Co-Creation Hub had sought entries from Nigerians on how they could use mobile technology to set up businesses that address issues like the quality of education, health, combating corruption and deepening democracy.

He explained that the entries were reduced to six out of which three winners emerged after a 48-hour camping at the Pan-Africa University, Lagos.

Nokia, he said, alongside the likes of TBWA/Concepts allowed winners to use their platforms to transform the ideas into thriving businesses.

He said that a software developer, Mr. Segun Fodeke, won the first prize with his idea on how mobile devices could be used to track the performance of elected government officials against the promises they made while seeking elective positions.

The second position, Ogunbor said, went to Olusegun V. Sangowawa for her idea on using mobile technology to improve people’s access to health information.

Tosin Agboola’s entry clinched the third position with the idea, which seeks to use mobile phones platforms to alert Nigerians about wanted criminals rather the current use of newspapers, whose reach is quite limited due to poor literacy level and poverty.

He highlighted the fact that Nokia is particularly availing any of the winners who develops a mobile application, an opportunity to upload such on Ovi Store.

“Ovi store is Nokia’s proprietary platform from which millions of Nokia faithful can download applications, games, maps and music,” he said.

Recalling that worldwide, there are at least 3 million downloads on Ovi store everyday. Equally, Nokia’s Head of Marketing for West Africa, Mr. Reuben Onwubiko was quoted as saying that Ovi Store platform provides the winners a life-time opportunity to make money from the revenue from downloads all over the world.

“The onus is therefore on those who have entered for the competition to ensure that they come up with solutions that would be acceptable even beyond the shores of Nigeria,” Onwubiko said.

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MTN promises broadband windfall

Following the landing at the weekend by the West Africa Cable System (WACS) off the west coast of South Africa, leading mobile communications provider, MTN has promised broadband across all its presence on the continent of an eventual broadband windfall.

Managing Director, MTN South Africa, Karel Pienaar, who confirmed this at the weekend said that there is a broadband windfall in the offing for millions of MTN subscribers as WACS cable successfully lands in Southern Africa country.

This, he said, would provide millions of MTN subscribers across the continent the opportunity to receive a broadband windfall following the landing of cable at Yzerfontein along the west coast of the Western Cape.

ITRealms Online recalls that MTN is the single biggest investor in WACS, with an investment of over $90 million out of the total project cost not exceeding $650 million, whereas WACS is a 14,000 kilometres long fibre optic submarine cable with a capacity of 5.12 terabits per second (Tbps).

WASC spans the west coast of Africa, and terminating in the United Kingdom, is to enable seamless connectivity between countries in Southern and West Africa, with the rest of Europe and America.

The WACS cable, Pienaar noted is expected to go commercial before the end of 2012, and has 15 established terminal stations along route and will function to reduce the cost to connect the West coast of Africa into the high-speed global telecommunications network.

MTN’s investment in WACS forms part of a myriad of submarine cables that Africa’s leading telecommunications provider has invested in as part of attempts to bring much-needed broadband capacity to the continent, strengthen Africa’s efforts to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to bridge the digital divide and provide millions of its subscribers in its footprint in Africa and the Middle East with the capacity to use smart solutions.

“Africa has until now, been a cyclist on the information superhighway. MTN’s investment in WACS will ensure that millions of our subscribers in South Africa and across the continent have the capacity and the ability to optimally utilize the data and telemetry offerings that modern telephony applications provide,” he said.

MTN, he said sincerely believes that the commercialisation of WACS and other submarine cables would set the stage for a mobile revolution that will enhance the quality of life for millions of people across the continent.

According to him, WACS has been designed to support present and future Internet, e-commerce, data, video and voice services, the system makes use of Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technology, which allows bidirectional communications over one strand of fiber, as well as the multiplication of capacity.

He explained that the initial capacity of WACS is over 500 Gbps and is upgradable at any stage of the project.

“The robustness of the design will also enable the system to accommodate the latest developments in submarine fibre-optic technology,” he said.

Additionally, he said that to complement existing high-bandwidth cable systems in the region, as well as supply first time fibre connectivity to several West African countries, WACS will provide much needed diversity for large volume broadband traffic from South Africa to Europe.

The consortium comprises of MTN, Angola Cables, Broadband Infraco; Cable & Wireless Worldwide; Congo Telecom.; Société Congolaise des Postes et Télécommunications (SCPT); PT Communicacoes; Togo Telecom; Tata Communications, Telecom Namibia; Telkom SA Ltd; and Vodacom Group Ltd.

All members of the consortium signed the Construction and Maintenance Agreement (C&MA) and Supply Contract since April 8, 2009.

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

Ghana VP, Mahama applauds Glo-1

As the Glo 1 recently heralded its services in the city of Accra, capital of Ghana, the Vice President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, has applauded Globacom for its Glo 1 initiative.

Mahama was special guest at the launch of Glo-1 at the Banquet Hall, Accra; a multi-million dollar submarine fibre optic communication facility which connects Ghana and West Africa to Europe and North America, as duly launched.

ITRealms Online recalled that Globacom’s international submarine communication cable, Glo-1, has become commercially operational in Ghana.

Speaking at the event held recently, Ghana’s Vice President, Mahama, said the launch of the Glo-1 high-capacity submarine fibre optic cable would add 640 gigabytes bandwidth capacity to Ghana’s broadband infrastructure.

He also said that Glo-1’s arrival would go a long way to support the implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-led socio-economic development policy and an e-strategy plan for the government in its bid to establish Ghana as an ICT hub within the sub-region.

“Globacom’s programme to rollout a modern cellular network in Ghana promises to ignite the communications landscape in the coming months. We therefore look forward to a rewarding engagement in the development of broadband infrastructure in Ghana,” he said, asserting that

“We want to congratulate Globacom for this momentous achievement. I am proud to have lived to see this moment. As one of the earliest pioneers in telecom liberalization, I am proud to see how far we have come with this major investment by an African company in the telecom sector. I believe that this occasion will serve as the ‘appetizer’ for the eventual arrival of the Glo Mobile network.”

The Group Chief Operating Officer, Globacom, Mr. Mohamed Jameel, highlighted what he described as the multiple benefits to accrue to Ghanaians from Glo-1’s broadband capacity if the society optimizes the facility’s infinite capacity.

“Ghanaians and Africans in general now have the limitless potential of being connected to a new era of prosperity where bulk data that can instantly be used to transform lives and climb the social and economic ladder can now be downloaded and uploaded at the speed of light”, he said.

He also said Globacom will not relent in its commitment to avail Ghanaians of the very best telecommunication infrastructure through the Glo-1 submarine cable and through the Glo Mobile Ghana network when it becomes operational.

Also speaking at the occasion, the Deputy General-Secretary of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Mr. Houlin Zhao decried the low level of access to the internet in Africa, observing that while mobile cellular teledensity in the world has almost hit the 80 per cent mark, and is well over 60% in Ghana, the great majority of the world’s people still lack access to the internet.

“Here in Africa, fewer than one in ten people are online and only a fraction of them have access to a broadband internet connection. There are two things we need to do, and I am happy to say that cables such as Glo 1 will help us achieve both. We need to make broadband access much more affordable, and we need to make it much more widespread,” Mr. Zhao said.

The highpoint of the launch was the live demonstration of Glo-1’s video-conferencing capacity, during which Mr. Adewale Sangowawa, Globacom’s Executive Director of Human Resources and an invited guest interacted with an excited Mr. Nicholae Centurniar, Vice President of Cable and Wireless (Middle East & Africa) in his office in Milan, Italy, a distance of about 11,000 kilometres away from the venue of the launch.

Dignitaries, including former President John Agyekum Kufuor, were highly impressed by Glo-1’s sheer speed and clarity of sound and images.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nigeria must take advantage of e-Revolution – Uwadia

President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) Prof. Charles Uwadia has challenged Nigeria to take advantage of the on-going electronic-revolution (e-Revolution) to push further economic development.

Prof. Uwadia made this assertion while delivering the inaugural lecture on “Software Systems: the Driving Force Behind the e-Revolution” at the Main Auditorium, University of Lagos (UNILAG), at the weekend.

The professor of computer science and Director, Centre for Information Technology and Systems (CITS) at UNILAG said the contributions of Africa and Nigeria in particular has nothing to write home about.

He said that apart from the contributions of Nigerians in diaspora, the country has remained onlooker, bystander and at best beneficiary and consumer of these revolutions.

“The e-Revolution, information society, knowledge economy has been with us for quite some time, and is still unfolding,” he said, urging that Nigeria take advantage of the unfolding aspect to make active her impact.

According to him, the 21st century has been largely referred to as the Digital Century and Nigeria needs to take the digital advantage of the emerging scenarios in order to minimize the challenges of the digital divide.

This, he said saved the nation from an impending digital disaster that could lead Nigeria to becoming a digital colony.

He went on to recommend a five-point agenda for Nigeria, including a framework for participating in the e-revolution, software development policy, software development curricular and instruction in educational institutions, development of the software industry and models for adopting computing and computerization as a way of life.

“We must join the club of Digitally Wealthy Nations,” he declared.

Uwadia stressed that Nigeria needs a framework for participating in the e-revolution arena, suggesting that Nigeria should fall back on the declaration of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) and derivatives of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He pointed out that Nigeria blend these documents with some of the Nigeria’s national initiatives such as the National Economic Empowerment Strategy (NEEDS), Vision 20-2020, National Information Technology Policy and Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) among others.

This, when properly implemented, he said, would put Nigeria on the path of active participation in the e-revolution.

“I wish to note with gladness that the National IT policy of 2001 has been reviewed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) working with stakeholders, while the reviewed policy should be approved by the Federal Executive Council without further delay for full implementation,” he said.

Uwadia also called for a National Policy on Software Development, saying that it should be developed and implemented.

This policy, he said, is to be driven from the National IT Policy framework thereby becoming a strategic imperative for nation building, development and creation of wealth.

“I am happy to report that NITDA has recently set up a committee headed by Prof. O.C. Akinyokun of the Federal University of Technology (FUTO) Akure, to produce a National Policy on Software Development,” he said.

On the software development curricular and instruction in educational institutions, Prof. Uwadia noted that this entails that principles, techniques and tools should be accorded greater attention in the curricular of computer sciences and information technology programmes in the educational institutions.

“Exposure to programming at the most basic form should begin at either kindergarten or primary school level,” he said.

The NCS president pointed out that while principles and techniques of programming do not change too often, programming tools evolve and new ones are developed quite rapidly.

“Therefore, provision should be made for constant review of that aspect of programme curricular,” Uwadia declared.

He said that over the years, many students detest the word ‘programming’ simply because they perceive programming courses as difficult subjects that should be avoided where possible and except where the courses are compulsory.

“The students do everything possible to obtain pass mark. This is similar to the perception of mathematics by students in secondary schools,” he said.

In addition, Uwadia advocated for creation of incentives and motivation for the learning of programming, which could be done by creating stimulating learning environment through the provision of adequately equipped computer laboratories, award prizes and according recognition for outstanding performance.

He said the formation of software development clubs in schools, for instance, would boost networking for the exchange of ideas and knowledge as well as organizing more software competitions in schools.

“Teachers and lecturers handling programming courses should reskill and retool regularly. They must keep abreast of development in the area among others,” he said.

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

Saving lives with telecommunications

Life, they say, has no duplicate. Making a save of it, especially at emergencies is key role of telecommunications, hence the call on all stakeholders to see telecommunications as a life-saving infrastructure, writes REMMY NWEKE.


Many a times people underrate the value of communications, especially at emergencies depending on their state of the minds, but once this piece of technology is activated, the trend seems to change; from saving lives to receiving aids of different sort.

In the delivery of communications, telecommunications plays an unparallel role in enthroning a new order in a disorderly environment occasioned by emergencies which could arise as a result of one disaster or another.

Emergencies come in various degrees but in most cases such arising from natural disaster seems to be very massive whenever it occurs. An instance was the recent earthquake in Japan which disasters disrupted the national economies.

A major concern has been the fact that the impact usually leaves many, especially the poor further weakened and in fact more vulnerable, thereby causing a clog on the wheel of progress, moreso in the sustenance of development and reduction of poverty in developing nations.

It was on this light that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recently brought its Global Emergencies Response effort to bear on the Japan earthquake.

The Japanese sad story:
Overtly described as Japan’s most influential earthquake ever on record; at the north-east coast, triggering a massive tsunami, forcing vehicles, sea-fares and edifice to be swept away by a wall of water after the 8.9-magnitude tremor, which struck about 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo.

Although a state of emergency has since been declared at the nuclear power plant, which was reportedly to had emanated excessive pressures with officials putting death toll to about 350, while over 500 persons were declared missing, whereas in the community of Sendai, a port city in Miyagi prefecture, dead bodies numbering between 200 and 300 were found.

The quake was the fifth-largest in the world since 1900 and nearly 8,000 times stronger than the one which devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, in the month of March according to scientists, reports BBCnews and has even triggered the shutting of four other nuclear plants safely, the United Nations Nuclear officials said.

… Ego trip:
Reacting to the Japanese latest earthquake, the United States’ Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton said the US Air Force had flown emergency coolant to the site. Although later it was discovered that the Japanese insisted on handling the situation themselves.

Looking at the above scene, one cannot but appreciate the impact communications may have brought to bear on the situation. Therefore, the decision by ITU to contribute towards ameliorating the impact of the earthquake cannot be over-emphasised.

A call and evacuation of Nigerians in Libya:
Investigations revealed that it was reportedly a few telephone calls to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nigeria as well as some highly placed individuals at the presidency, which paved the way for the Nigerian authority to realize the need to evacuate Nigerians from the trouble zone of Libya recently.

As aftermath, President Goodluck Jonathan represented by his Vice president Namadi Sambo, at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on February 23, 2011, ordered the evacuation of Nigerians stranded in Libya, even as criticism was gaining momentum that the government response was slow.

According to Sambo, evacuation plans had commenced in the North African country, Libya, which has a high figure of Nigerians, who regularly use the country as a departure route to Europe.

Briefing newsmen as follow up to FEC outcome, the Information and Communication Minister, Mr. Labaran Maku, said the council discussed the situation in Libya and the Middle East and the condition of Nigerians in these countries.

Equally speaking at the briefing, the Foreign Affairs minister, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, said the situation is being monitored by his ministry, assuring that Nigerians will be evacuated from Libya’s biggest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi on.

Close contact @ emergencies:
“We are in close contact with our envoys. I want to assure Nigerians that the President is committed to ensuring the safety and security of our citizens. I want to assure you that whatever measures are necessary would be taken to ensure their safety and security.”

Ajumogobia declared, adding that Nigerian diplomats in the country have since evacuated their families as is the custom so that they can concentrate on the work at hand.

As at March 17, the evacuation of about 4,000 with the last batch of 194 Nigerians stranded in Libya, including the Nigerian embassy officials, according to the Director General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Muhammad Sani-Sidi, particularly those who registered with the Nigerian Embassy at the Tripoli International Airport.

In a related development, a special team made up of officials from NEMA, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Commission for Refugees, Nigeria Immigration Services, Civil Defence Corps among other relevant security agencies was set up to receive other passengers that may be brought in by the International Organisation for Migrations (IOM) and United Nations Agency for Refugees who have continued to evacuate stranded citizens through Libya’s neighbouring countries like Egypt and Tunisia.

What the aforementioned shows, mostly ‘we are in close contact with our envoys” is that they were communicating which has been made possible through the instrumentality of telecommunications being available.

Emergency communication and ITU:
Experts agreed that without communication through broadcasting and physical telephone communications a lot of fears should have taken over the situation thereby heightening it to an alarming rate through the fear of unknown; if it could extend to communities, especially based on the childhood understanding of ‘nuclear’.

For ITU led by Dr. Hamadoun Toure, as its Secretary General, the impact could have been worse for those living in remote and isolated areas with no access to basic information and communication facilities that are essential to providing vital alerting information. And in order to mitigate the impact of disasters, timely dissemination of authoritative information before, during, and after disasters is critical.

ITU’s activities in the field of radiocommunications, he said, makes invaluable contribution to disaster management as they facilitate the prediction, detection, and alerting through the coordinated and effective use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the establishment of radio standards and guidelines concerning the usage of radiocommunication systems.

Technical Standards for emergency communication:
As said by him, ITU’s telecommunication technical standards also play a strategic role in ensuring global interconnection and interoperability of telecommunications networks for monitoring and management at the onset and during emergency and disaster situations.

“A number of recommendations have been developed for call priority schemes that ensure that relief workers can get communication lines when they need to, whether using traditional or next generation communications networks,” he revealed, stressing that complementary to providing call priority during emergencies, the ability to deliver warnings to users, and standards are fundamental to ensure that warnings are timely delivered uncorrupted from the source to the end users – no matter how they could be reached.

He explained that the development arm of the ITU considers emergency telecommunications as an integral part of its development agenda; hence, a lot of effort is directed at mainstreaming disaster management in telecommunications using information and communication technology projects and activities as part of disaster preparedness.

“This includes infrastructure development and the establishment of enabling policy, legal and regulatory frameworks. In the immediate aftermath of disasters, ITU deploys temporary telecommunications/ICT solutions to assist countries affected by disasters,” he said, underscoring that these include provision of basic telecommunications and telemedicine applications via satellites.

Reconstruction and rehabilitation of telecommunications/ICT networks, Toure said, is an important part of disaster management and by providing assistance for disaster relief and response, ITU undertakes assessment missions to affected countries aimed at determining the magnitude of damages to the network through the use of geographical information systems.

A vote for Haiti:
On the basis of the findings, he continued, ITU and the host country embark on the resuscitation of the infrastructure while ensuring that disaster resilient features are integrated to reduce network vulnerability in the event of disasters striking in the future.

The Japan intervention by ITU is not the first, having taken a similar step in early 2010 after the Haiti earthquake struck on January 12 with the voting of over $1m USD, about N151,646,794.97 to strengthen the disaster response efforts in Haiti.

According to the chief media relations and public information, Mr. Sanjay Acharya and chief of division, Emergency Telecommunications, Mr. Cosmas Zavazava, both of ITU an estimated 40 satellite terminals were being deployed soon after the disaster to re-establish basic communication links and a further 60 units with broadband facility were to be dispatched along with experts to operate them.

The duo disclosed in a joint press statement made available to ITRealms Online that ITU had set up a Qualcomm Deployable Base Stations (QDBS) known for its reliability, responsive and complete cellular system designed to enable vital wireless communications aimed at strengthening response and recovery mechanisms in a disaster zone.

Dr. Toure was quoted as asserting that the world was shocked following the devastation and untold misery caused by the earthquake in Haiti and promised that ITU would do everything possible to provide assistance to the people of Haiti by re-establishing telecommunication links, which is key to vital to rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

Upholding the Tampere Convention:
What the above means is that ITU is living up to the Tampere Convention of the United Nations, which notes that when disaster strikes communications links are often disrupted. But for disaster relief workers these links are essential to answer critical questions such as how many people have been injured or died, where they are located and the medical help needed.

“Even though telecommunications can save lives in disaster situations, regulatory barriers can make it difficult to use the necessary equipment,” he noted, adding that ITU was a driving force in drafting and promoting the Tampere Convention.

ITRealms Online recalls that Tampere Convention allows relief workers to make full use of life-saving communication tools; it also calls on States to waive regulatory barriers that impede the use of telecommunications, which ordinarily comprise licensing requirements to use frequencies, restrictions on importing equipment and limits on the movement of humanitarian teams.

So, it is very crucial for states to understand this fact and make every arrangement possible in preserving telecommunications infrastructure within their vicinities, because this could help immensely in the event of any emergency before international aid like that of ITU even get near.

Therefore, any collaboration with the national regulators of telecommunications like the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in this regard as well as the telecom operators must be fanned and encouraged, rather than vandalizing such infrastructure for self-aggrandizement.

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Nigeria ranks 5th on Facebook usage in Africa

One of the leading provider of 4G wireless broadband services in the country, Swift Networks has introduced free modem swap promotion to customers on the network, just as it plans to expand network capacity to 1000 per cent before December 2011.

The promotion which gives customers the opportunity to exchange their existing modems for the recently launched Swift 4G broadband communication hub at no extra cost is open to customers from other networks.

Chief Operating Officer of Swift Networks, Mr. Chuma Okoye said at the weekend that this promo has been designed to enable intending customers experience internet at the fastest speed allowed by today’s wireless broadband technology through the exchange of their modems from other telecoms operator for the free Swift 4G broadband communication hub.

He also said that this arrangement eliminates the cost for modems and is in response to the avalanche of enquiries from intending customers.

“The high demand from prospective customers who want to switch to our 4G network and the response from our current customers who have experienced the free modem swap has been impressive,” he said.

Okoye described this as an indication that Swift is achieving its core business strategy which speaks to optimal customer satisfaction and service delivery.

He pointed out that Swift Networks having increased its network capacity by 600 per cent recently, they have decided to accommodate customers from other networks without any adverse effect on their network quality.

“This is part of our planned network capacity increase of 1000 per cent expected by the fourth quarter of 2011, and for which good progress is being made,” he said.

The Swift COO explained that the swap exercise will however, be done on a first come first served basis.

“We are mindful of our network quality and will do anything to preserve it,” he assured.

Okoye underscored the fact that during this promo, Swift Networks would accept fixed wireless and Universal Serial Bus (USB) modems of other networks in exchange for its 4G communications hub, which includes a Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) router and 2 voice/fax ports.

These modems, he said, must be in good working condition and have had bills paid on them in the preceding 3 months.

“It is expected that a lot of small and medium enterprises, as well as homes will benefit from this programme,” he said.

He stressed that prospective customers may visit their customer service centres in Victoria Island, Ikeja and Surulere to take part in the swap promo or may call their customer care number which is available at their website.

ITRealms Online recalls that Swift Networks Limited is the first and leading provider of commercial 4G wireless broadband services to enterprise and consumer customers in Nigeria.

As at last month, March 2011, Swift’s 4G broadband network covers Lagos State where about 10 million people live and work.

The company plans to continue to expand its 4G coverage in Lagos and other cities. Swift’s all-IP 4th Generation (4G) wireless broadband network is at last solving the speed “pain” of internet users in covered areas. Strategic investors in Swift include The Candel Company Limited and African Capital Alliance together with 20 others.

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Effective e-Strategies top agenda @ NITPPF’11

The Information Technology (Industry) Association of Nigeria (ITAN) has advanced plans for the 4th National Information Technology Public Private Forum (NITPPF), scheduled to hold in Benin, Edo State in June this year.

The event with theme Effective eStrategies: Path to a Digital Nigeria, is the premier event for IT public sector administrators, professionals, business leaders, high level public officials and opinion leaders from across the country assemble to share and build a vision of a connected knowledge base with access for all.

ITAN president, Dr. Jimson Olufuye said at the weekend that this is one of ITAN’’s contributions to the realisation by Nigeria of the goals of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) which held between 2003 and 2005 as well as towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

He said that ITAN is collaborating the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), the Government of Edo State, National Office for Technology Assessment and Promotion (NOTAP), Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Computer Professionals’’ (Registration Council) of Nigeria (CPN), Galaxy Backbone Plc, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), First Bank Plc, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), and the World Bank among others on NITPPF.

He also said that the three-day event has been scheduled to hold between June 22 and 24, 2011 in Benin City, Edo State.

ITAN, he said, plans to use two days, namely June 22 and 24 for quality awareness and improvement workshop for delegates from states IT Directorate and CEOs ITAN member companies in good standing.

“The objective of the NITPPF is to create a platform for synergy and collaboration among key Public and Private Sectors ICT administrators and leaders for accelerated application of ICTs for seamless Government to Citizen (G2C) and Citizen to Government (C2G) constitutional interactions; and for general economic growth and development within the states and across Nigeria as a whole,” he said.

Olufuye further said that the workshops, would be conducted by Messrs QAI Global, a global people-process-technology company specializing in building nations of ICT excellence viz organization capability; talent/ education; government; infrastructure; policy, among others.

Olufuye, who also is the Vice Chairman, WITSA for Africa noted that over 70 per cent, that is 28 of the 36 states in Nigeria are grappling with decreasing revenue from Federal allocation and at the same time increasing cost of overheads, wages and emoluments with little or no fund for capital projects that could benefit the people.

The states, he said are losing important revenue due to loopholes and inefficient collection of internal revenue, adding that using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to make government work better and smarter is the necessary pathway to prosperity and to a digital Nigeria.

“As no such forum exists to fill the gaps except NITPPF, it is therefore imperative to fast-tracking ICT application for e-Government across the 36 states of Nigeria, plus Abuja, through ample sharing of best practices,” he asserted.

Equally speaking, the Executive Director, Directorate of ICT, Edo State, Mrs. Olayemi Keri, expressed excitement on the opportunity for the state to host ITAN’s 4th edition of the National IT Public Private Forum.

“We believe it would add value to our IT developmental goals in Edo State” said Mrs. Olayemi Keri, Executive Director, Directorate of ICT, Edo State” she said.

ITAN further said, the opening ceremony has been scheduled for the second day, Thursday June 23, 2011 to be followed by panel discussions on eGovernment and Quality of Service, eLearning and Broadband Imperatives, in addition to issues on Internet for Development (I4D).

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‘Ericsson’s solutions for energy, social challenges’

The latest annual Ericsson’s report on Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility has revealed that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has the potentials for solving the energy, environmental and social challenges of any society.

Omasan Ogisi, Media and Public Relations Manager, LM Ericsson Nigeria, said that the report showed that ICT as a catalyst for more sustainable development could be used to focus on delivering transformative solutions for the networked society

According to her, Ericsson believes that the transformational power of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) could spur socio-economic development and put end-users on the path of a low-carbon economy which has never been greater.

She quoted the Ericsson President and CEO, Mr. Hans Vestberg as noting that ICT is a catalyst for more sustainable development.

“We have only begun to tap the possibilities of the Networked Society,” he said, stressing that the annual Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility report titled “Technology for Good” released last weekend.

He highlighted that the company’s ongoing efforts to apply innovation to market based solutions that empower people and society as well as helping to create a more sustainable world.

Ericsson, Vestberg added, has continued to be a global advocate for the transformational power of ICT solutions to solve global energy, environmental and social challenges.

Equally speaking, the Vice President for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Elaine Weidman-Grunewald, said that the Networked Society brings many opportunities and challenges.

“Wherever and however we work, we want to ensure that we are a force for good, and that our technology contributes to making the world a better place,” Elaine said.

Some of Ericsson’s focus areas and initiatives highlighted in the report comprised of Low-carbon economy in order to achieve a low-carbon economy.

Jang said that Ericsson’s aim is to continue delivering solutions that will result not in incremental but rather transformative change: where video conferencing substitutes business air travel, intelligent utility grids reinvent how we access and use energy, and cities are designed to be low-carbon.

He disclosed that the ambition of the Stockholm Royal Seaport project is to reach CO2 emissions per inhabitant of 1.5 tonnes per year by 2020, comparing that to current average emissions of 5.6 tonnes in Sweden and 19.7 tonnes in the United States.

“Broadband will be a key enabler to reaching this goal,” he declared.

As data traffic grows, he emphasised that the ICT industry needs to increase network energy efficiency to reduce its contribution to global CO2 emissions.

“Absolute energy consumption is expected to increase over the next ten years, primarily due to adding approximately three times the number of subscribers and about a thousand fold increases in data growth,” he said.

Emphasising, however, that Ericsson research indicated that network energy consumption is not on the same growth path as the increase in volume of traffic.

“Instead, there has been an impressive decrease of energy needed to produce the data traffic (kWh/GB), due to technology and product improvements, in combination with increasing data rates of 3G/WCDMA technologies,” he said.

Noting for instance, that in Sweden, Ericsson have seen a 90-fold decrease in energy consumption per amount of data (in kWh/GB) over just four years (2006-2010).

“Reducing our own environmental impact and that of our products is an important part of Ericsson’s sustainability focus. Ericsson is on track with the Group target to reduce its carbon footprint by 40 per cent over five years (2009-2013),” he submitted.

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NCC, ICT Alliance to celebrate a decade of GSM

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) in association with the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Publishers Alliance are putting plans in place for the hosting of the ‘A Decade of GSM’ forum in Lagos.

The event slated for August 2011, according to the lead organizer, Mr. Aaron Ukodie will x-ray how the entry of the global system for mobile (GSM) 10 years ago has helped to rev up the economy of Africa’s most populous country of 150 million people, Nigeria.

He also said that the Nigeria’s much touted mobile telecommunication revolution started 10 years ago on a positive process which has impacted in virtually all sectors of the economy including the financial, oil & gas, health and education sectors among others.

As said by him at the weekend, active players in the market of nearly 90 million subscribers comprise MTN Nigeria, Bharti Airtel Nigeria, Globacom Nigeria and Etisalat Nigeria.

He cited the 2010 findings by the London based Pyramid Research, the annual revenue from mobile services represents about 4 per cent of the Nigeria’s nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while that of many African countries is between 2 per cent and 7 per cent.

This, Ukodie noted indicates a rising influence of the telecom sector in the overall performance of the Nigeria’s economy.

“Apart from leading the continent, Nigeria is one of the world’s most outstanding successes in terms of uptake of mobile telephony since the service was first launched in August 2001,’ he said.

Ukodie further said that the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, would be one of the chief speakers at the 10th Anniversary GSM Forum, who had earlier described GSM revolution as one of the most outstanding landmarks of the country’s political democratization and the consequent shift to economic liberalization.

Juwah was quoted as saying “With only about 400,000 lines in 2001, with a dismal 0.4 teledensity, the number of active lines by end of January 2011 stood at 89.8 million lines, resulting in an impressive teledensity of 64.16. In terms of growth, Nigeria is ranked the largest and fastest growing telecom market in Africa and among the ten fastest telecom growth markets in the world, an indication of its robustness to return on investments.

“From a private sector investment of about US$50 Million in 1999 when the current democratic regime came in place, the telecom industry in Nigeria has by end of 2009, attracted more than US$18 Billion in private sector investments, including Direct Foreign Investment. More than N300 Billion has been contributed to the coffers of the federal Government through Frequency Spectrum sales, enabling government to plough back revenues earned from the sector for provision of development infrastructure at the various levels of government,” said Juwah.

The ICT Publishers Alliance consists of the premier media organisations focusing exclusively on the ICT sector including eWorld, CommunicationsWeek, IT Edge News.Com, IT World, and eBusiness Life.

The spokesman of the Alliance noted that series of activities have been lined up for ‘A Decade of GSM Forum’ and designed partnership with other stakeholders to commemorate one of the major highlights of technological transformation that has re-shaped most of Nigeria and Africa’s economies for good.

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