" ITREALMS: January 2013


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Okere, CWG boss joins authors to lecture @ Columbia Lean Launch Pad class

Austin Okere (CWG Boss), flanked by co-authors Steve Blank (left) and Bob Dorf (right)
at Columbia Business School, New York

The group chief executive officer, Computer Warehouse Group (CWG), Mr. Austin Okere has joined crop of leading world entrepreneurs as he became an instructor at the Steve Blank “Lean Launch Pad” Class, Columbia Business School (CBS).

ITRealms gathered this was part of the strategies to replicate the novel concept in Nigeria, recalling that Lean Launch Pad has joined forces with Startup Weekend, Udacity, TechStars and Startup America to offer some of the world’s most effective experiential entrepreneurship education.

By combining content from the world’s leading experts in customer development with local mentors and leaders in an intensive flipped-classroom style course, the movement was able to create a unique, effective experience for teams of entrepreneurs that are serious about growing a customer-driven startup.

The programme is already being offered in 15 cities around the world, with another 25 programmes launching in February with the goal to expand the programme to more than 100 cities in 2013.  

Seasoned entrepreneurs such as Steve Blank are teaching NEXT in Silicon Valley, Andy Sack (TechStars Seattle founder) in Seattle, Alex Farcet (founder of Startupbootcamp) in multiple European cities, Eric Koester (founder of Zaarly) in Washington, DC with countless others joining.  

The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurial Center at CBS, where Okere has been a guest lecturer since 2009, conveyed in their invitation their belief that his experience and contribution to entrepreneurial ship in emerging markets will provide unparalleled contribution to the class of aspiring entrepreneurs.

The Computer Warehouse Group, whose case study is a regular feature at Columbia Business School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, as well as many other institutions in Africa, including the prestigious Lagos Business School, chronicles the trials, challenges and triumph of entrepreneurship in the challenging environment that characterizes Sub Saharan Africa.

The Lean Launch Pad course provides real world, hands-on learning on what it is like to actually
start a high-tech company. It is a practical class where the goal is to create an entrepreneurial experience with all of the pressures and demands of the real world in an early stage start up.

The syllabus for the course is drawn majorly from the bestselling book, The Startup Owner’s Manual, co-authored by serial entrepreneurs Steve Blank and Bob Dorf, and the revolutionary new book, Business Model Generation co-authored by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur.

These two books provide insights into powerful, simple, tested tools for understanding, designing, reworking, and implementing business models, through a business model canvas, that defines unique value propositions for specific customer segments, and the relationships and channels to deliver these to the customer to maximize revenue. It also helps the entrepreneur identify key resources, partners and key activities to be performed and at what cost.

The course provides a comprehensive step-by-step guide to getting startups right. It walks entrepreneurs through the customer development process that gets them out of the building to develop wining products that customers will buy.

There is an increasing global focus and emphasis on entrepreneurship as the most viable vehicle for job creation. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2011 report, there is an upsurge in entrepreneurship around the world, with a total number of about 400 million spread across 54 countries. The GEM in its 2006 report revealed that there was a systematic relationship between a country’s level of economic development and its level of entrepreneurial activity. It noted that countries with similar per capita GDP tend to exhibit similar levels of entrepreneurial activity.

At low levels of per capita GDP, industrial structure is characterized by the prevalence of many very small enterprises. As per capita income increases, industrialization and economies of scale allow larger and established firms to satisfy the increasing demand of growing markets and to increase their relative role in the economy.

On his involvement in the Block Week Course at Columbia Business School Okere said “I believe that it is better to have a thousand millionaires than a ten billionaires. It is better still to have a million people with access to a hundred thousand dollars, if they can be taught how to nurture and grow it through entrepreneurial endeavor; and I intend to do something about it, so when I was invited, I did not hesitate in accepting, with a view to bringing the concept to Africa”.

Okere whose entrepreneurial advocacy has taken him on similar teaching expeditions across Africa; through Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania also remarked “I like to put the story of the Computer Warehouse Group out there because such success stories contribute immensely to the attraction of capital to the region, which combined with the entrepreneurial acumen and the youthful population unleashes waves of economic boom, which in turn lifts the pile at bottom of the pyramid into the more desirable networked economy of the emerging global village. Besides, it provides the perfect opportunity to be a brand ambassador for Africa”.

Okere, one of Nigeria’s foremost entrepreneurs has made quite a name for himself over the past 20 years, growing the Computer Warehouse Group into a $130 million revenue company, with 650 staff spread across Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon. In 2012 he was named ICT Man of the Decade by ICT Watch Africa Digital Network, and CWG was named Conglomerate of the Year. The organizers cited CWG’s immense contributions toward the growth and development of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), youth empowerment through ICT education, and nation building.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

ITU reduces video bandwidth consumption with HEVC

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has unveiled a new video coding standard riding on the PrimeTime Emmy award winning ITU-T H.264 /Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG-4) ‘Advanced Video Coding’ (AVC), was agreed by ITU upon by member states, on Friday, January 25, 2013.

Officials of ITU informed ITRealms that the new codec will considerably ease the burden on global networks where, by some estimates, video accounts for more than half of bandwidth use.

According to ITU, the new standard, known informally as ‘High Efficiency Video Coding’ (HEVC) will need only half the bit rate of its predecessor, ITU-T H.264 / MPEG-4 Part 10 ‘Advanced Video Coding’ (AVC), which currently accounts for over 80 per cent of all web video.

Also, the HEVC, ITU noted, would unleash a new phase of innovation in video production spanning the whole Information and Communication Technology (ICT) spectrum, from mobile devices through to Ultra-High Definition Television (UHD-TV).

ITRealms gathered that ITU-T’s Study Group 16 had agreed first-stage approval of the much-anticipated standard known formally as Recommendation ITU-T H.265 or ISO/IEC 23008-2.

“It is the product of collaboration between the ITU Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG),” an ITU official statement remarked.

Noteworthy is that ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology, spanning over 145 years.

As such, ITU coordinates 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.
Additionally, ITU oversees from broadband networks to new-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology and converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU asserts as always its commitment to connecting the world.

Remmy Nweke
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Communications Act says about new rates in Nigeria

Nigeria chief telecom regulator, Dr Juwah
The Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, confers the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator with several powers and with regards to the new rates, stipulates that it must be implemented without 30 days after all due process has been agreed and worked out.

ITRealms investigations showed that specifically, the Act 2003 confers on the Commission under Sections 4 and Chapter V11 to determine new price caps for operators.

Additionally, this Section outline as follows among others that:

1.     The new rate shall be implemented within 30 days from the date of the directive.

2.     The Commission will not place a price cap on International SMS at this time but would encourage operators to work towards lowering the cost of International SMS.

The directive informed operators that the Commission will monitor compliance by the operators, and noted that failure to comply with the determination will be penalized as provided by section 111 of the NCA 2003.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

MTNF trains first set of beneficiaries on career development

A cross section of participants at the MTN Foundation training.

MTN Foundation has groomed the first set of graduate beneficiaries before letting them into the ‘labour’ market on career development.

ITRealms gathered the latest training was the first being organized for beneficiaries from the MTN Foundation Science and Technology Scholarship Scheme since its inception in 2009.

Also, ITRealms the training was to provide the graduating students with requisite
tools and employment tips as they step into the professional work environment.

The career development and enterprise workshop organized by MTN foundation was held at the Afterschool Graduate Development Centre, Ikoyi-Lagos, recently.

Worthy of note is that the Lagos-based MTN Foundation was incorporated in July 2004 to offer a sustainable and focused channel through which MTN Nigeria drives it’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in all 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Foundation is funded by up to 1 per cent of Profit-After-Tax (PAT) from MTN Nigeria and deploys a unique brand of wide impact and project-driven corporate social investment programmes which have won several accolades.

It has also created a vibrant network of local and international partner organisations through which its various projects are executed.

Factually, MTN Foundation has made huge impact and thus becoming a model for good corporate citizenship, endorsed by a wide variety of stakeholders.

Remmy Nweke/DSBNews 
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MasterCard certifies UPSL for Nigerian market

MasterCard Worldwide has certified Unified Payments Services Limited as a third-party processor.
This was revealed by MasterCard Worldwide President, Mr Ajay Banga, who was recently in Nigeria on official visit.
He disclosed at an Abuja meeting that with the certification of UPS Limited in 2012 was to boost the MasterCard readiness to collaborate with stakeholders in bringing services closer to its card holders.
Mr. Banga also pointed out that this certification made MasterCard the first payment brand in Nigeria to have up to three third-party processors which aligns to the CBN’s drive towards liberalization in the card processing space and interoperability.
ITRealms recalls that the Unified Payment Services Limited otherwise known as Unified Payments, was the former SmartCard Nigeria Plc and later ValueCard, which proud itself as a card-neutral and option-neutral payments service provider owned by a consortium of leading Nigerian banks.

Unified Payments operates as a shared infrastructure for the banking community in Nigeria and Payments Service Provider within and outside Nigeria, with a mission to be the most preferred e-payment service provider in Africa.
Formerly known as ValuCard Nigeria Limited, the name of the Company was changed in 2012 to reflect its new business, following a successful transformation from a domestic card scheme to a provider of payment services supporting different payment options and schemes.
Unified Payments is a Principal and Plus Member of Visa and has contributed significantly to the growth of electronic payments in Nigeria.

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