" ITREALMS: June 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bail out: NCC yet to receive industry memo

... Insists SIM registration is once

Apex telecommunications regulator in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that despite the media reports that Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector needs bail-out, it is yet to receive any formal request to that effect.

This is coming as NCC has allayed the fears of multiple registrations of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards by telecom consumers in the country, saying that subscribers can register only once.

Reviewing the industry, last week in a chat, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah disclosed that none of the operating companies or industry interest groups have really come out literally to demand for the bail-out.

He advised whosoever agitating for bail to come upon and take the necessary steps to ensure due process.

“Its better for the agitators to come up with convincing facts,” he said, adding that NCC is ready to do its part whenever such facts are made available to the Commission.

He explained that it’s a process to get actualized, especially in policy formation, pointing out that its left for the agitators to convince NCC on this premise, the Commission could now take such facts to the Federal Ministry of Information and Communication, who are the custodian of government policies.

Juwah noted that is now left for the Minister in charge to take up from there to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), from where if it’s accepted becomes a policy of the government and budget then allocated to it.

On the probable confusion over where telecom subscribers should register their SIM cards; whether operator set up registration desk or NCC, Juwah allayed the fears of multiple registrations of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards by telecom consumers in the country, saying that subscribers can register only once.

Putting to rest the fears on whether subscribers who registered their SIM cards with their network operators must re-register with the on-going SIM exercise, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, declared that SIM registration is only relevant for one of exercise.

Juwah said that there is no need to panic over not registering with any of the seven accredited registrars by NCC, especially if the telecom consumer has previously registered with his or her operator.

According to him, once a subscriber has registered, there is no need to register again the same SIM, stressing that all the databases, both of operators and NCC would be merged into one for the use of the nation and public good.

“SIM card registration is once. Once you have filled the form and get your SIM registered, you don’t need to register again,” he asserted.

He advised those who are yet to register their SIMs to make haste while the sun still shines, noting that the current exercise would end in September with some penalties for non-compliance.

“Eventually they will be gathered to a centre. Though the exercise will end in September all will be put into a database,” he assured.

Some of these penalties include placing such a subscriber on receiver only and outright denial of services by the operators.

On the provisions made to accommodate rural dwellers in the exercise, Dr. Juwah said that the accredited registrars have a duty to extend these services to the rural communities, mostly when their agreement involves that they are paid based on the number of registrants recorded at the end of the programme.

Juwah, who solicited community support for the accredited SIM card registrars, urged rural dweller to take advantage of the exercise to get their SIMs registered.

Also speaking on the increasing low quality of service (QoS) across the networks, Juwah noted that no doubt, the loads on the various telecom networks have increased.

He highlighted the fact that telecom operators need to improve on the quality of service by investing more, although he noted that the dwindling QoS cannot be solved overnight, Juwah insisted that by making more investment on the networks, things would change for the better.

This, he said, has steps that must be taken to meeting up with the requirement so as to improve the quality of service, including meeting up the environmental assessment, which takes about nine months to accomplish.

Operators, he said, must plan ahead of time to alleviate the suffering of telecom consumers.

“We are monitoring the operators independently to be sure that they improve and penalize them appropriately,” he said.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Hi-Tech solutions against incessant bombing

Calls have been made to those in authority, especial President Goodluck Jonathan to look towards Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for solution against incessant bombing in the country, reports REMMY NWEKE.

JUST fortnight ago, a bomb blast was visited on the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja, but one thing seems clear that either the police leadership is not listening to the yellings of modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) experts in the country or that they lack the political will to preside over the nation’s security.

It is not longer news that today America cannot be attacked through the air, except in the case of internal attacks emanating from the United States itself like that of September 11.

At the bottom is the smartness of technologies and Nigeria cannot be said to be suffering from the Aphasia - lack of ability to understand, mostly why its imperative to ‘cheetah-leap’ instead of ‘leapfrogging’ in this case of arresting the rising terrorism in the country. Unfortunately the security forces seem to be adamant about the use of technology to aid their work if not make it simple, mostly in battling bomb blasts.

It was on this stead that ICT experts inclined to security issues have called again on government, particularly President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to tap into ICT-based security applications to mitigate the problem posed by the incessant bombing in the country.

For instance, Abuja assumed another dimension since he assumed office with incessant bombing; from purported Henry Okah-led MEND to Boko Haram, most of who reportedly abhor Western education and civil lives and wants everything else to remain archaic.

This notwithstanding, it was not surprising that ICT experts agreed in stating that technologies have roles to play in ensuring the security of the nation remains intact. They also said this could only happen when the leadership of the three tiers of government appreciate the capabilities of ICT and began to deploy same for the benefit of the country.

Responding on the bombing of Police headquarter, the executive chairman of Technology Development Company (TDC), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem and chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, who both condemned the bombing.

They tasked the duo of the president and commander in chief, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Hafiz Ringim to look toward ICT in order to effectively solve the incessant bomb blasts in the country.

For Ekuwem, the federal and state governments should show greater appreciation for technologies with capabilities to enhance the automation of national security operations. This, according to him, is in order to effectively check the increasing spate of bombings in different parts of the country.

Though he blamed recent bomb blasts on government and security leadership in the country, Ekuwem noted that for the growing acts of insecurity, mostly on the slow pace of relevant government agencies to appreciate the urgent need to deploy advanced technologies to improve on effective security surveillance, monitoring and policing across the nation.

“They are not responding fast to the concerns of President Jonathan to keep Nigeria safe and secure. The President has made security one of his top priorities”, Ekuwem emphasized, condemning in very strong terms the recent bomb incidence as well as others that took place before now and advised to recognize the value of installing hi-tech scanning devices in strategic locations, maintaining that except with ICT deployment for security, the kind of security breaches such as the ugly occurrences at police headquarter witnessed in recent times will not be abated.

Ekuwem who also is the immediate past National President of the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) described as unfortunate that bomb could not even be detected at the entrance to the Police Headquarters, adding its a clear indication that much still needs to be done to improve security surveillance, monitoring and policing operations.

Nigeria, he said, has a very robust ICT industry with enough experts to help the government devise water-tight security across the country, but one wonders why these relevant government agencies are not very sufficiently keen on taking advantage of the enormous power of ICT to leverage national security operations as it is the case in advanced countries of the world.

He explained that there are modern technologies like Vehicle and Cargo Scanning System (VACIS) that enable scanning of every piece of cargo, container, truck and vehicles that enter Nigeria at the seaports, airports and inland border posts.

“Even if criminals weld the explosives or bombs or whatever into the panel or chassis of the vehicles, the scanners will pick them out. The scanning radiation can penetrate six inches of concrete and very thick steel materials,” he said.

Additionally, he said, the vehicle-mounted mobile ones will periodically or at a tip-off go on city scanning patrols with the ability to capture the number plates, biometrics of the driver as well as photographs and video clips of each port/border crossing into Nigeria by any cargo, container, truck, tanker or vehicle.

Explaining further, he said, this tool could scan on specific highways within Nigeria, roads, check-points, inland waterways, streets and roads leading to and entrances to big complexes like the Police headquarters, Federal Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eagle Square, Central Bank of Nigeria, National Assembly, Presidential Villa, and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, contents of cars, trucks, tankers, boats and ferries as the need arise.

Ekuwem elucidated that the scanned bulk material data, the image and video could be monitored in-situ as well as remotely, and the same outputs stored locally and remotely while stored data, could be accessed remotely on a password-restricted basis.

Maintaining that when such security surveillance and monitoring facilities are installed in all major or strategic locations throughout Nigeria, security operatives will be able to detect and intercept bombs, explosives, arms and ammunitions as well as apprehend the criminals.

Equally he said, there are fixed and mobile gamma and x-ray scanning devices that could be installed at strategic locations to monitor vehicles and persons with a view to checking the movement of arms and ammunitions including all sorts of dangerous weapons.

He expressed the believe that other security breaches could be curbed if the security agencies could avail themselves of advanced ICT-based security technologies that are built to mitigate intrusion sensing/detection, national identity data capture and management, biometrics data capture and storage, password-restricted access to stored data for both local and remote access, village-wide, town-wide, city-wide, state-wide and nation-wide surveillance (video with bi-directional audio) with local/in-situ, distributed and central/national storage/archiving with password-restricted access as well as with date-and-time-specific playback devices for crime monitoring, detection and investigations.

He insisted that Nigeria’s ICT industry has what it takes to assist the nation to check the growing insecurity by establishing criminal databases with exciting agency-specific graphical user interfaces for use by law enforcement agencies. Emphasizing that the government has no reason to appear helpless at this time of serious national security crisis when there exist quantum technologies that could be relied upon for effective preventive remedies.

He said it was not just enough to procure pieces of security equipment from businessmen with purely commercial interest. He opines that government must look out for reputable and patriotic professionals who possess the relevant expertise that would ensure the workability of every piece of security equipment procured for the country.

“ICT can help, with enabling legislations by the National Assembly, to intercept criminal discussions and conversations in our ICT networks by criminals prior to or during or after crimes. We can enable the retention by telecom operators and Internet service providers of call data and catch word-specific Internet and Intranet content for a reasonably long period of time to aid criminal investigations when queried by appropriate software engines. This will check crimes at the planning stages and place our security operatives ahead of criminals’ activities,” Ekuwem said, even as he recalled ICT Security Emergency summit held last year in Lagos, was a platform to address such an issue as threat of insecurity and how to deal with it via technologies.

In his reactions, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo said that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have roles to play in ensuring the security of the nation at this era.

ICT, he said, should be used for surveillance, especially by deploying Internet Protocol (IP)-based cameras across country.

This, Adebayo pointed out could be deployed by taking connections through mobile Internet services and connected to video monitoring centres across the country.

He, therefore, urged the government to take this issue very seriously and treat it with the obvious urgency it require, so as to ensure the country is entire safe both for the citizens and investors alike.

For the President, Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu, the bombing of Louis Edet House is a “satanic act of terror and evil personified.”

He also said the bombing was most unfortunate and constituted a test of the Nigerian security system, noting that the criminal bombing was made possible by vulnerabilities in the perimeter security in Louis Edet, which the terrorists discovered through diligent surveillance of the Force Headquarters.

According to him, access control measures at the police headquarters were inadequate to contain the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) threats manifested namely in the vehicle bomb threat.

He condoled with the families of the victims of the bombing attack and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), whose organization was targeted, saying “the Bokites (Boko Haram terrorists) have been consistent in their attacks against police personnel, police stations and government facilities. The FHQ vehicle bomb was one in a series of teleological attacks.”

On the negative impact of the attack on image of Nigeria, Ekhomu appealed to the international community and Nigeria’s development partners to understand that extremists are inexorable in their attacks and have to be lucky, once in order to cause death and destruction.

The Nigerian security community, he said, was capable of protecting people and assets from extremist attacks, however, Ekhomu called on the Police authorities to urgently increase the protection in all government buildings, infrastructure facilities and other key points against further bomb attacks.

He described Boko Haram which claimed responsibility for the attack as an affiliate of Al Qaeda network, opining that they could have attacked the force Headquarters in order to mark 40 days of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

He condemned the first suicide bombing attack in the country as evil, cowardly and heinous.

He further disclosed that AISSON is planning a security conference in Lagos on June 30, to provide skills in counter-terrorism to members of the public, stressing that the theme is “Combating Terrorism in Nigeria.”

Above all, the fact that ICT has roles to play in salvaging the situation for the security agencies in the country cannot be over-emphasised, rather right steps to mitigate the problems posed by the likes of Boko Haram, must be taken very seriously in order to alleviate if not win the war against terrorism in this part of the world.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

eNigeria’11 gets Local Organising Committee

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has inaugurated the e-Nigeria 2011 Local Organising Committee (LOC) in Abuja.

Director General, NITDA, Prof. Cleopas Angaye, while inaugurating the Committee tasked members to contribute their wealth of experiences to ensure that this year’s edition is a success.

He also said that machinery has been put in place to invite people from various works of life and in diaspora to participate in this year’s edition.

He noted that, NITDA would not hesitate to increase the membership of the Committee for the conference to be successful beyond the previous editions.

Affirming this development, the acting Head, Corporate Affairs Department, NITDA, Mrs. Hadiza Umar, said that the conference has been scheduled to hold in Abuja between September 6 and 8, this year.

She listed members of the sub-committees drawn from various sectors of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to include Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST), Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF), Nigerian Computer Society (NCS), Computer Professionals of Nigeria (CPN), National Planning Commission (NPC), Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Small and Medium Scale Development Agency of Nigeria(SMEDAN), National Office For Technology Acquisition and Promotion(NOTAP), Nigerian Civil Society. National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), among others.

Speaking at the session, Deputy Director, Corporate Strategy and Research, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, noted the successes recorded in the previous editions of the conference, adding that this year’s edition, with the theme, “Local Content in IT Development in Nigeria” was carefully chosen to increase the knowledge-base and technology environment and discourage the dominance and influence the foreign technology in the economy.

“It will also play key roles in Federal Government’s development agenda, for example, the NEEDS, Seven Point Agenda and Vision 20-2020,” he said.

Olatunji pointed out that there is great need to examine the extent of Nigerian (local) content in IT development and deployment with the aim of developing strategies that could enhance Nigerian content in the cyberspace.

Mrs. Umar further said that e-Nigeria conference is NITDA’s annual flagship awareness campaign which aims at bringing various stakeholders together to marshal and brainstorm on IT development for the country.

She listed the objectives of e-Nigeria to include the examination and proffer strategies that would enhance Nigerian content in IT products and services; develop requisite framework for empowering indigenous IT entrepreneurs in order to contribute Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP); develop framework for providing critical employment through outsourcing and other digital opportunity windows.

Additionally, she said that e-Nigeria examines challenges and factors militating against IT local content development in the country; develop strategies for leveraging on technology transfer and Nigerians in Diaspora for developing the IT industry in the country as well as showcasing “Made in Nigeria” IT products and services.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

IT Assembly kicks off in Abuja

The Information Technology (IT) professionals in the country has today, Wednesday, kicked off the fifth edition of the conference being put together by the Computer Professional (Registration Council) of Nigeria (CPN).

The Assembly holding at the federal capital territory, Abuja would dwell on “IT and Democratic Dividends in Nigeria: Issues and Prospects,” as its theme.

Speaking to ITRealms Online on this, the Registrar and Secretary to Computer Professionals (Registration Council) of Nigeria (CPN), Mr. Sikiru Shehu, said recently that the IT Assembly is the flagship of all IT programmes in Nigeria.

“It’s an exclusive networking event for senior IT decision makers, IT consultants, upcoming IT entrepreneurs, start-ups, IT practitioners, teachers and IT systems administrators,” he said.

The assembly, he also said serves as a platform for some of the industry most innovative technology distribution and service providers to showcase their products and services.

According to him, the three-day IT Assembly scheduled to hold between June 29 and July 1 at the ballroom of NICON Luxury, Abuja, would see the formal presentation of two important standard guidelines by CPN.

These, Shehu said, include the scale of professional charges and the control and supervisory regulations.

Elaborating on the theme, Shehu said it’s an attempt at taking stock of the benefits and gains of Nigerians from IT since the return of democracy in 1999.

“It’s this kind of stock taking that will enable us to examine ourselves and draw a roadmap for future development in Information Technology,” he said.

Shehu, who was accompanied at the press briefing by the chairman of the organizing committee, Chief Kayode Shobajo and a member of the committee, Mr. Kunle Ajogun, stressed that there is no gainsaying that IT is the bedrock for national survival and development in a rapidly changing global environment.

“Thus, we have been challenged to devise bold and courageous initiatives to address a host of vital socio-economic issues such as reliable infrastructure, skilled human resources, open government and other essential issues of capacity building,” he said.

Equally, the registrar noted that the Assembly would take a look at how the present democratic experience could benefit from the development of IT, in addition to exploring areas such as agenda setting, dialogue, alternative sources of information, consensus building, openness and transparency to name a few.

Even as he pointed that IT Assembly would look at the aforementioned because they are germane to the realization of people’s aspiration and yearnings in a democracy as well as assist in designing a national information infrastructure at reasonable cost.

He explained that CPN was established through Act No. 49 of 1993 which was passed into law on June 10 and gazette on August 9 of the same year.

“It’s a corporate entity that is charged with the regulation, control and supervision of the computing profession and practice in Nigeria in line with Section 1 (2) of the Act, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education,” he said.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Oracle says businesses lack sophisticated data centre tools

The latest research by Oracle has revealed that several businesses are lagging behind in their use of innovative technology in data centres, using Next Generation Data Centre Index.

This, the company stated in the report means these companies are unable to meet industry demands and response to change quickly using sophisticated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools.

Ms Claire Alexander, head, public relations, Oracle Corporations for South Africa and Africa Operations region, said in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online that the research formed the basis of the Oracle Next Generation Data Centre Index, a figure on a scale from 0 – 10 which provides a snapshot of the progress of organisations in evolving their data centres through the adoption of today’s sophisticated technologies.

On average, the report showed that organization that scored 5.28 on a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 would be the most sophisticated data centre strategy possible; that maps organizations’ performance across three sub-categories – flexibility, sustainability and supportability. This figure underlines that many businesses are failing to gain business value from their IT.

The research, she noted also highlighted significant issues with complex inefficient infrastructures leading to 50 per cent of businesses requiring a new data centre within the next two years.

The research, conducted by Quorcirca, surveyed 919 managers in large organisations in nine regions across the world.

Some of the highlights of the research, she said includes DCH (Germany and Switzerland) which led the table with a Next Generation Data Centre Index (NGDI) of 6.09, followed by Nordics (5.95), and Benelux (5.64). Lagging behind the average of 5.28 were Iberia (4.73), Italy (4.50) and the Middle East (4.41). Europe lags behind USA (scores of 5.32 and 5.79 respectively).

According to her, the sub-indices showed that flexibility is preferred to sustainability; the flexiblity sub-Index was 5.34, while the sustainability sub-Index just 5.15.

In addition to gaining the top two spots in the NGDI, DCH and the Nordics also led the board in the sustainability and supportability index.

Alexander noted that telecommunications, utilities and financial services companies had the highest overall index figures of 6.55, 5.91 and 5.80 respectively; whilst media, public sector and, perhaps surprisingly, retail organisations had the lowest of 4.78, 4.44 and 4.43.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Akiyoku assures on software roaadmap

Chairman, National Software Policy Committee (NSPC), Prof. Wole Akiyoku, has assured the nation’s software developers community under the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) of the Federal Government cooperation in the effort to develop a roadmap for software engineering capacity building and job creation for National Development.

Prof. Akiyoku made this assurances at a parley with ISPON which held in Lagos at the weekend,

at the National Software Roundtable by ISPON.“The role of information technology, especially indigenous software, in Nigeria’s development cannot be over-emphasised. It is a resource that must be tapped to building our economy and provide jobs for our ever growing unemployment rate,” he said.

President of ISPON, Chief Chris Uwaje asserted that Nigeria cannot afford to miss out on this critical phase of human development – with a youthful population of more than 65 per cent of the total population.

“We can leverage on this manpower to harness our intellectual prowess and curb youth restiveness,” he said, stressing that the Software Roundtable seeks to identify, address and resolve the challenges of building software knowledge capital by harnessing the potentials and youthful strength in Nigeria, to build software skill capacities and provide a sustainable interface between education and the Industry.

Participants at the end of discussions reached a consensus on the type of model, policy and institutional framework that should be put in place.

On model, the roundtable agreed to develop one that is Nigerian, by working out, adopting and domesticating best practice from other country experiences by leveraging on the uniqueness of the local environment and peoples’ needs.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online by chairman, publicity committee of ISPON, Mr. Moses Braimah pointed out that it should understand that the local needs and environment, and develop an integrated model that is simple, functional, empowering and sustainable.

He quoted ISPON president as saying that the group want collaboration to be encouraged and nurtured as a strategy in order to turn it into a productive culture·

Braimah also said at the roundtable sponsored by the Cross Rivers State government and UBA plc also agreed to develop policy and strategies in context of the model chosen, recognising the plurality of digital domains whether in the public/private sector, local/foreign, and other categories.

They also, reiterated the need to be standards-based yet reflective of national concerns /interests backed by legislation where appropriate·

Finally, it was recommended that a cabinet ranked Institution is imperative for national impact and global relevance.

Tomi Davies, Moderator of the Roundtable had earlier done an expose on the global software industry, focusing on relevant countries like India, Israel and Ireland. He demonstrated how these countries developed their software industry and what lessons can be drawn from there.

The Software Roundtable was organised by the Education and Capacity Building Committee chaired by Mr. Collins Onuegbu.

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

Featured post @ITREALMS

Five tips for small business owners online - ITREALMS

Sponsored@ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news! Entrepreneurs can benefit from new ideas on ways to address a particular i...