" ITREALMS: September 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MTN v. Abia State: ALTON backs operators to shut services @ unfriendly locations

Telecommunications operators in the country may not have taken the incursion of Abia State Infrastructure Development Fund (AIDF) laying low, as the service operators umbrella body has backed the MTN Nigeria Communications’ plans to shut its services in the south eastern states due to what the organization termed as criminal and unacceptable attitude of the agency.

ITRealms Online had reported that leading mobile operator in the country, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, is likely to shut its door against the people of the South-Eastern States, if the unremorseful Abia State government agency, AIDF continued in its bid to exploit the company in the name of levies that were not in the books statutorily.

Reacting to the development, telecommunications operators through its body, the Association of Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) revealed at the weekend that it’s in support of any operator to pull-out of any area if the government and people of such communities are not friendly and environment is not conducive for their kind of business.

Chairman of ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, told ITRealms Online while responding to questions at the weekend that the behavior and insistence of AIDF is unfortunate and undemocratic.

He lamented that in a normal clime, the people elected the populace cannot be the clog of progress, considering the development that telecommunications has brought to the economic well-being of Nigerians, especially those in the rural communities.

This attitude of AIDF, he said, is a disgrace to democracy and must be tamed before it gets out of hand.

According to him, the Abia State government and its agencies are missing the priority of providing affordable communication to the citizenry.

“It’s against normal life. It’s criminal and once we allow that to happen, it would replicate in other states. Therefore it remains criminal and not acceptable to us,” he said.

Adebayo also warned that this trend of harassing telecom operators and their employees by one state agency or another, would militate against expected growth in the ICT sector.

“We are at risk … We are worried and it would be very unfortunate if it’s allowed,” he lamented, saying that in some of the sites, they are hub-sites, which entails that they serve beyond their immediate environment to include other neighbouring states.

He further called on the government at all levels, be it federal, state and local governments to see telecommunications investment and operators  as service providers.

“Most government currently think that the higher taxes or levies from the Stated and Local government,” he said, alleging that bulk of the problems like this one between MTN and Abia State, begins when government and its agencies make demands that are out of the law guiding the industry.

Till date, he pointed out that operators still have to go to about 10 ministries to get right of way, a process which has continued to dwindle investment potentials.

Meanwhile, penultimate Wednesday, MTN management had taken a notice in some national dailies to warn of the impending shut down of its services in South East.

According to the notice entitled ‘Quality of Service in Abia State and its Environs: An Alert to MTN Customers in the Eastern Region’ the mobile operator decried the attitude of the Abia State government through one of its agencies.

MTN management noted that the notice has become imperative due to the challenges  the operator is  facing and at the same time endangering the lives of employees, hence they decided to alert customers.

“… For the attention of MTN customers in Abia State and neighbouring states in the South-East and South-south Regions,” part of the statement read.

MTN also said that as a customer-focused organization, that  they are duty bound to proactively inform our esteemed customers of any occurrence that may cause disruptions that impact the quality of telecommunications services in their areas.

“We wish to alert our customers that due to the actions of the Abia State Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF),” MTN said, alleging that the attitude of Abia IDF has caused the network operator of being unable to gain access to several of its sites in the state.

MTN, the statement added is unable to fuel or service these sites, a number of which are ‘hub’ sites providing service to other states in the Eastern part of the country.

“As such, a significant number of MTN customers outside Abia State will be similarly affected,” MTN said.

Further, MTN alleged that the Abia State Infrastructure Development Fund seeks to compel MTN to pay levies, the legality of which is being challenged in court by MTN.

“In spite of ongoing court processes, the Agency has employed a variety of tactics over the course of this year with increasing disruptive action over the past few days, which if unremedied will result in the shutdown of network services in Abia State, Rivers State and environs,” MTN said.

Stressing that they have had to take extra measures to protect employees in Abia State and surrounding States as a result of the actions of the Abia State Infrastructure Development Fund.

MTN, therefore assured that they would continue to engage with the relevant arms of government in the bid to resolve the issues in this regard.

“… And we earnestly seek the co-operation and understanding of our esteemed customers,” MTN pleaded.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Folayan explains .ng domain name convention

Sunday Faloyan, VP, NIRA, CEO Skannet Ltd
The Vice President of the Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA) Mr. Sunday Folayan, has explained domain name convention guiding the acceptance and otherwise of the organizations policies with regards to .ng country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) domain name.

Speaking on ‘Domain Naming Conventions’ at the recently held Switchto.ng workshop in Lagos, he  said NiRA has stipulated compliance to adhere to by any registrant and registrars.

Folayan, who doubles as chief executive officer, Skannet Engineering Services Limited, described a domain name as being made up of several levels of domains with levels being separated by . (dot).

He cited for instance, ‘we.keep.you.sleepi.ng ‘ saying it is a domain name, hence, levels are read in reverse order, that is from right to left.

“.ng is the top level domain alias Top Level Domain (TLD), dot ‘sleepi’ is the second level domain alias Second Level Domain (SLD), dot ‘You’ is the third level domain (3LD); ‘Keep’ is the fourth level domain (4LD) and ‘We’ is the fifth level domain (5LD),” he explained.

Current NiRA Domain Name Policy, he noted, is on Version 1.0 and has been operated since May 5, 2008.

This, he said, outlines NiRA’s rules for the registration and use of domain names within the .ng domain and its sub-domains, even as NiRA domain name policy and other policies are available at the organization site.

According to him, NIRA reserves the right to disallow names in certain domains, therefore maintains the list of domains that must not be available for registration, otherwise such domain names could be withdrawn if already registered.

He cited an instance with ‘Offensive Names’ which he described as words determined by NiRA to be offensive to the Nigerian community; ‘Restricted Names’ Names that would give the wrong impression if used, such as Military and Government to name a few. As well as ‘Premium Names’, which he said are domains with generic words only, thus commanding premium value in terms of Naira and Kobo. Some of these premium domains he listed to include ‘cooki.ng and bi.ng’ among others.

Folayan said that the Nigerian second level domains (SLDs) comprised of .com.ng for commercial purposes and is open for registration; .edu.ng is for degree awarding institutions; .sch.ng is for non-degree awarding schools; .gov.ng is for governmental organizations; .mil.ng means it’s for Military and related purposes; .org.ng - Non-Gov Organizations and open; .net.ng – networks; .mobi.ng - mobiles and .name.ng for personal names and still open respective, while .premium.ng is by auction only.

NiRA, Folayan said does not allow certain characters and as such, does not currently operate Internationalized Domain Names (IDN), which allows domain names in the natural languages of the users. 

Just as he list some characters allowed by NIRA to consist of the 26 Unaccented Roman Characters; that is, from ‘A to Z’ both in small and capital letters respectively, in addition to the 10 Western digits from 0 to 9, coupled with (-) hyphen.

Character combinations, he said, must conform with domain names rules which states that it must be a maximum of 64 characters for now; not case sensitive like ‘AGe and AgE’ saying they are the same; while the first or last character of a domain name may not be a hyphen, there cannot be two hyphens in a name, even as domains cannot start with xn followed by --.

He underscored the fact that second level domains (2LD) domains could only be offered for sale via auction, whereas, some third level domains (3LD) domains could only be offered for sale via auction with an instance of ‘internet.com.ng’ so also that 3LD domains may not be a single character.

The NiRA vice president added that generic restrictions may apply for each SLD or 3LD they may also have restrictions related to these sub-domains; for example, the .edu.ng may have restrictions which are different from those for .gov.ng.

Domain names, Folayan advised, are more useful when they confirm to best practices, short and popular names are better than long and detailed names, maintaining that to register any 3LD domain within .gov.ng, State Government entities must register the full state name or the official abbreviation of the state name similar to that used in vehicle license plate registration.

“States are encouraged to make 4LD available to local governments and state government departments and agencies,” he suggested, adding that generic names are not allowed, citing an instance with instead of shipping.gov.ng it should be nsc.gov.ng. Just like the generic SLDs are not allowed on 3LDs, for instance, “you cannot register com.org.ng,  org.com.ng, mil.com.ng.”

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Unwin takes over from Spio-Garbrah @ CTO

Newly appointed chief executive officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation (CTO), Prof. Tim Unwin has assumed office with a promise to shape the future of CTO in delivery of effective development interventions within the member nations.

Speaking shortly after taking over from his predecessor, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, who held the position for eight years, Prof. Unwin declared that it is an exciting moment to take the helm of such a prestigious organization of over a century tradition.

“… And help shape its future as a vehicle for delivering effective development interventions that will enable everyone in our societies to benefit from the enormous potential of ICTs,” he declared.

He noted that CTO has a century-old tradition of providing support in the field of telecommunications and the use of ICTs for development across the Commonwealth for governments, regulators and the private sector.

The Council of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) recently confirmed the appointment of Prof. Tim Unwin as its new Chief Executive Officer.

A press statement from CTO endorsed by the Senior Officer, Marketing and Communications, Srini Srinivasan, noted that Tim Unwin, currently a professor of Geography and chairman of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D), has research and teaching experience which focused on the use of ICTs to empower poor and marginalised communities.

Also, Prof. Unwin is the chairman of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, which is the public body that manages the UK’s £19 million contribution to the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP), a framework through which governments of Commonwealth countries offer scholarships and fellowships to citizens of other member states.

Tim Unwin took over the reins of the intergovernmental body from Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, who held the position for eight years, spearheading with the Chief Operating Officer, Bashir Patel, the organisation’s innovative range of programmes and initiatives.

“I am pleased to be handing over the reins of the CTO at such a high point in the Organisation’s life,” Spio-Garbrah was quoted as saying.

He also said that when the new business and commercial initiatives that have been announced in recent years and approved by council are fully harnessed, the exponential growth of the CTO will know no bounds.

Prof Unwin,  is well-positioned to inherit the leadership of the 110-year old organisation as it expands and diversifies partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders including the donor community, companies and civil society.

In 2007-2008, he was Director and then Senior Advisor to the World Economic Forum’s Partnerships for Education programme with UNESCO, which aims to deliver effective multi-stakeholder contributions to the ’Education for All’ goals agreed at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal in 2000.

From 2001-2004, he led the UK Prime Minister’s Imfundo initiative based in the Department for International Development, creating partnerships to deliver ICT-based educational initiatives in Africa.

On returning to Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2004, he created an ICT4D Collective, which undertakes research, teaching and consultancy in the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Zinox launches Legacy Notebook on October 1

To celebrate Nigeria’s independence anniversary and support the digital emancipation of Nigerians, Zinox Computers shall launch her Legacy Notebook on 1st October.

Communications Advisor to the Zinox Group, Mr. Echika Ezuka, who disclosed this, said that Legacy Notebook is very simple to use, sleek, stylish, unprecedented and stubbornly Nigerian has been described as the height of ingenuity by David Ibhawoh, the Intel Inc. West Africa Head, who also urged the government to use the Notebook to brand Nigeria world-wide as part of its transformation initiative.

He said that as a member of the Intel Diamond’s Club, Zinox received Intel’s technical support during the design and production of the Zinox Legacy.

The system, Mr. Ibhawoh said has consolidated the ranking of Zinox as a manufacturer of world-class computers. He argued that the huge investments that Zinox is incurring in trying to secure the nation’s place in technology can only be justified through massive patronage by the Governments and people of Nigeria.

He stressed that patronage remains the surest way to support local OEMS and grow technology.

Announcing the launch date of October 1st for the new product, the Managing Director of Zinox Computers, Mukoro Emonine said that the Zinox Legacy merges the digital visions of our founding fathers with the insight of Nigeria’s 21st Century global digital whiz kids in one notebook that is certified and powered by Intel, the Number 1 chips producer in the world. The launch, he said, is timed to lift the spirit of Nigerians from the prevalence of economic depression and social instability. It is a statement that this country is moving slowly forward in spite of all the setbacks.

The Zinox Legacy runs on a B940 Intel 2.0 GHz processor, 2GB Ram, 320GB hard disk, and a 14” High Definition screen (HM 65). This sleek and stylishly built notebook has 6 Cell Smart Li battery, card reader, DVD Supermulti, and a 1.3M Camera and more and highly loaded other features include wifi bgn, Windows 7 Professional and Office 2010 said Mr. Mukoro Emomine, the Managing Director of Zinox Computers.

The bios of the Legacy Notebook is embedded with information on the profiles, milestones and quotations of the founding fathers of this great nation- Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe – nationalists; Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, first Head of State and Obafemi Awolowo, first opposition leader; 

He said that apart from the configuration, Nigerians would be elated by the fact that the cover of the laptop is wrapped in a national symbol, the Nigerian Coat of Arms.

Mr. Mukoro said that the use of the Coat of Arms is supposed to confer a feeling of ownership on Nigerians; evoke a consciousness of pride in our national values, aspirations, and achievements; stimulate higher levels of creativity and productivity among Nigerians who are privileged to own the Zinox Legacy Notebook, limited edition; and stubbornly proclaim the Nigerian character while encouraging the frequent use of our national symbols at the personal and corporate levels.

He explained that only 25,000 of the Legacy notebook would be produced and distributed strictly on the basis of first come first served, to mark a decade of computer manufacturing at Zinox.

Zinox Technologies Ltd, Africa’s most integrated ICT firm was launched in 2001 by a team of tested IT technocrats with a combined experience of over 128 years in different continents, led by Mr. Leo Stan Ekeh.

As the foremost company to go into an uncharted terrain of Computer production in West Africa, Zinox had Nigeria in mind as it debuted with the first ever Nigerian internationally certified branded computers with the Naira keyboard.

Zinox technologies Limited, with its strong research and development backbone has won the certification of Microsoft and Intel and remains the only computer manufacturer in Nigeria to earn the NIS ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management Certification.

Zinox has won many Awards nationally and internationally including the Best Computer Manufacturer of the Decade from the Nigerian Computer Society.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

PIN collates sign-up for Nigeria cyber crime law

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) has unveiled yet another campaign to collate signatures to urge the National Assembly to give Nigerians a cyber crime law with a targeted10,000 signatures.

Mrs. Johnson, CommTech Minister
Disclosing this, the Executive Director, PIN, Mr. Gbenga Sesan said that Nigeria has not always been in the news for the reasons her stakeholders desire, but recent events have even made the bash-Nigeria-at-the-earliest-opportunity situation worse.

He noted that unfortunately, the Internet Crime Complaint Centre’s popular 2010 Internet Crime Report had Nigeria retaining its third position after only the United States and United Kingdom again.

Worried by this development, he said, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), has answered tons of questions about why Nigerians should bother about the nation’s position on the list since “the nations that should know better are even ahead of us in this crime.”

He listed some of data to support PIN’s fears including that Nigeria has 44 million internet users compared to the UK’s 51.4 million and the US’ 245 million.

“If we look at the global picture, 2.1 per cent of global internet users reside in Nigeria, compared to 2.5 per cent in the UK and 11.69 per cent in the US,” he lamented.

He foresees that given plug and play bandwidth, Nigeria would exceed the leaders in this crime business, this is in spite of power, customer service and socio-economic limitations that Nigerian internet users face.

“It would expect Nigeria to be very far away from that unexalted position on the list,” he bemoaned.

He stressed that gives everyone a reason to worry - and that includes those who are acting to curb the problem and those who have become experts at playing the blame game.

In partnership with Microsoft, Economic & Financial Crimes Commission and the World Bank Civil Society Programme, PIN are implementing a social campaign that seeks to redirect the energy of young Nigerians who are involved in the shameful vice towards virtuous ideals.

“The project website (www.pinigeria.org/isspin) has some updates that you should see, and two other key elements of the campaign are the rehabilitation program and policy advocacy,” he said.

Describing as a shame that Nigeria does not have any legislation that addresses the issue of cybercrime head-on, hence he said, PIN have followed the ongoing discussions since the establishment of the Nigerian Cybercrime Working Group and got a little excited when stakeholders gathered to discuss one of the bills at the National Assembly in 2009 but discussions does not empower any institution to tackle challenges properly.

Sesan explained that the Cyber Security and Data Protection Agency (Establishment, etc) Bill, sponsored by Hon. Etim Bassey, and listed as HB. 154 in the House of Assembly, and the Electronic Fraud Prohibition Bill, 2008 (SB. 185) sponsored by Senator Ayo Arise in the Senate (which missed a 3rd reading opportunity, just after committee report) already provided a foundation for what we will need.

He called on stakeholders - youth, government, private sector, civil society, media, and academia to name a few; to ask for accelerated passage of an acceptable firm but fair piece of legislation.

As part of the MISSPIN campaign, he pointed out that PIN and its partners are asking Nigerians regardless of location to call on the leadership of the National Assembly to accelerate the passage of a much-needed bill.

He said that it is expected that the campaign would get at least 10,000 signatures that will then be delivered to the relevant institutions in November 2011 and urging Nigerians to spread the word and let’s get Nigeria out of this cybercrime mess.

“Let’s make the demand very clear: Dear honourable and distinguished members of the National Assembly, please give Nigeria cybercrime legislation now,” he declared.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Galaxy is ISO/IEC 27001: 2005 compliant

The Federal Government-owned Galaxy Backbone plc has become the first certified public sector entity in the country with the ISO/IEC 27001:2005 Certification on Information Security Management System (ISMS) practice.

ISO/IEC 27001 is the formal set of specifications against which organizations may seek independent certification of their Information Security Management System (ISMS).

The Marketing Communications Manager, Galaxy Backbone, Mr. Franklin Ginger-Eke, confirmed this to ITRealms Online, saying that the feat is in line with the vision of Galaxy enable digital inclusion in the country.

Galaxy Backbone plc, he said, is the first public sector Information and Communication Technology (ICT) company of the Federal Government to be awarded the ISO/IEC 27001:2005 Certification on Information Security Management System (ISMS) practice.

He quoted the Internal Auditor, Owoicho Igoji, who doubled as the Chief Information Security Officer until recently as saying, the journey to ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification commenced in 2009.

“We remained focused on the key objective of putting in place a globally accepted standard of information security management process that would guarantee the trustworthiness of our data centre services, network operations and shore up the confidence of our customers and key stakeholders” he said.

Igoji also highlighted that the certification process involved the auditing and verification of Galaxy’s Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) practices by the British Standards Institute (BSI), the accredited certification agency from the United Kingdom.

He said that by passing a rigorous audit of this nature conducted by such a world-renowned standards body established Galaxy as a Nigerian company with processes at par with global standards.

In his comment, Group Head, Strategy & Development at Galaxy, Sadiq Abubakar said, that the benefits of the certification amongst others includes brand enhancement, reduced business risks, market differentiation, improved risk rating, evidence of due diligence, linkages with other management systems, proven capacity to address other industry standards and increased customers and stakeholders confidence and trust in the capacity of the company to safeguard their information assets.

He noted that with this development, Galaxy Backbone plc has joined a select group of only three organisations in Nigeria to be so certified.

He described the certification as a positive milestone for the Federal Government as it resonates with the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan and underscores Government’s commitment to achieving the nation’s Vision 20:2020.

Additionally, he said, the certification reinforced the important role of ICT as a major tool towards the attainment of a 21st century knowledge and information society as outlined in the mandate of the recently created Ministry of Communication Technology.

“With the certification, Galaxy is well positioned to support government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the delivery of efficient public services to Nigerians,” he assured.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Mastercard partners Airtel, Standard Chartered on PayOnline

The trio of Airtel Africa, Standard Chartered and MasterCard has launched a virtual card on mobile phone.

The tripartite partnership, ITRealms Online gathers signals alignment by e-commerce players in the face of expected mobile commerce growth in the country, mostly in introduction of Airtel Money, otherwise known as PayOnline.

This service is a mobile wallet linked to Airtel’s mobile commerce offering ‘Airtel money’ which was recently launched in Kenya, with a plan to make it available across the continent of Africa.

A press statement made available to ITRealms Online showed that the groundbreaking mobile commerce product ‘PayOnline’ would give consumers across the continent greater financial inclusivity in the global e-commerce sector.

Registered Airtel customers, officials said, would be able to make online purchases from any site where MasterCard is accepted.

They explained that the single use shopping card would be initially available in Kenya for purchases made from non-Kenyan websites.

The second phase of the programme, ITRealms Online gathered, would see the rollout of the online product across Airtel markets.

The tripartite partnership signals the growing realizations by players in the e-commerce sector of the expected growth in mobile payments and contactless card payments in the next decade.

Whereas Airtel’s consumer penetration in Africa backed by the financial structuring and regulatory framework expertise by Standard Chartered Bank combined with the global acceptance of MasterCard, the partnership is expected to provide the consumer with a compelling product that is fast, secure and convenient.

“The one-time basis of the product has provided the consumer with a simple but secure payment process bereft of complex reconciliation and integration processes associated with other online transactions,” part of the statement read.

The simplified online transaction, they said, would follow the process; Airtel Customers would be able to request a one-time virtual card number with the amount of purchase. Airtel money services platform would generate a special 16 digit number that enables the completion of the transaction.

On completion of the transaction, a confirmation message would be sent to the consumer’s handset.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

Nigeria has high growth potential in convergence services - Johnson

Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, has said that Nigerian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry has high growth potential with converged services.

She made this disclosure at a one-day Stakeholders roundtable hosted by her ministry in Lagos, at the weekend.

Mrs. Johnson listed the converged services expected to drive this high growth through Value Added Services (VAS), device sales and distribution, access provision, internet service provision, fixed wire-line operation.

Others, she outlined are in the equipment  sales and distribution sub-sector, support services, call centre operations, software maintenance and support as well as software development.

In the mobile network operation, Mrs. Johnson foresaw that satellite operators would have some good chunk after the mobile operators, followed by the growth from the fixed wireless operators in addition to infrastructure services.

On the software sales and distribution sub-sector of the nation’s ICT industry, the minister noted that there are substantial potential growth expected in the software installation and customisation, while the major growth would be witnessed in the software development and software maintenance and support.

Equally, Mrs. Johnson said that business process outsourcing (BPO) as well as research and development may not witness much growth potential as they are bound to have low growth in the current dispensation.

However, on the VAS subsector, she said that converged services led by the trio of data, voice and multi-media in addition to transaction services and training and education stands more better growth chances.

Mrs. Johnson further said that the nation’s ICT industry has the capacity to generate an estimated 1.3 million jobs industry-wide.

Although most of the jobs to be created in the industry for the expected growth, she said, have potentials to demand largely specialized skills with some few jobs requiring little or no specialized skills.

According to her, government’s policy direction and interventions that requires immediate priorities including harmonization of the various disparate policies that currently govern the ICT sector and development of a National ICT Policy.

The acceleration of the roll-out of broadband infrastructure, namely in securing critical resources and essential facilities, Mrs. Johnson said is another priority zone for her ministry, while she is not forgetting the need to increase online presence of Nigerian businesses and institutions through collaborations cum partnerships.

Additionally, her ministry would pay urgent attention to the articulation of eGovernment and mGovernment requirements, whereas creating an ICT Cadre in all Ministries to ensure quality and value driven ICT services, while strengthening agencies and parastatals under the supervision of the Ministry.

Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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