" ITREALMS: September 2013


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Monday, September 30, 2013

MasterCard’s Priceless Africa lands in Nigeria


Leader in electronic payment system, MasterCard, Monday, launched its Priceless Africa campaign in Lagos, Nigeria.

Divisional President, Sub-Saharan Africa, MasterCard, Mr. Daniel Monehin, told ITRealms at a media launch, said that the initiative is a part of the global Priceless Cities campaign, which aims at rewarding consumers in Nigeria for their loyalty and to enhance their journey towards embracing cashless transactions.

Nigeria, he said, would join other 26 MasterCard Priceless destinations across the globe in this campaign, as consumers get to enjoy the best in travel, attractions, sports, dining, shopping and entertainment.

“Nigeria has been making great strides in the transition towards becoming a cashless economy, owing to the drive by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Through the Priceless Africa campaign, MasterCard aims to reward consumers who have adopted cashless transactions and are already benefiting from the security and convenience they bring. The campaign incorporates all MasterCard debit, prepaid and credit card users in Nigeria,” he said.

Monehin, also noted that Nigeria already appreciates the immense benefits that cashless transactions have to offer and the Priceless Africa launch could not have come at a better time, when more and more consumers are adopting electronic payments.

“As we make strides towards a world beyond cash in Nigeria and across Africa, we create opportunities like these to reward our valued consumers with unrivalled experiences that help them pursue their passions and encourage a continual shift from cash to electronic payments,” he said.

The Priceless Africa campaign, he explained, also aims to make Nigeria an attractive destination for visitors travelling to the country for business or leisure. It will also give Nigerian cardholders access to a plethora of experiences and offers in their preferred travel destinations around the world.

“We understand that many international visitors are coming to Nigeria for business and leisure so we want to create a conducive environment to experience all that this great country has to offer. According to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, Lagos was in the top 5 of the most visited cities in Middle East and Africa and registered 2.2 million international overnight visitors in the second quarter of 2013. Nigeria is a strategic country for MasterCard and through the priceless opportunities we create for residents and overseas visitors, we aim to bring out the depth of African warmth and hospitality,” Monehin said.

In his remarks, Tarek Abdelnabi, Vice-President Marketing, Sub-Saharan Africa, MasterCard, said that MasterCard is delighted to introduce the Priceless Cities platform to consumers across the region, as an appreciation of their loyalty and engagement.

We are working closely with our local partners to enhance Nigeria’s reputation as a global destination, by creating unique experiences for residents and tourists. MasterCard places its consumers at the core of all it does; and by making their experiences in Nigeria or around the world unforgettable and priceless, we are doing just that,” Abdelnabi said.

Omokehinde Ojomuyide, Vice President and Area Business Head for MasterCard in West Africa, said that some of the experiences and offers that consumers would enjoy in Nigeria vary from luxurious beach retreats, food and dining discount offers at selected restaurants, unforgettable entertainment experiences, travel and shopping experiences from around the world, and access to exciting sporting events.

She reiterated that Priceless Africa is part of MasterCard’s Priceless Cities platform, which was initiated in New York City in July 2011. This campaign, she said, would be extended to other countries in Africa, with the aim of connecting consumers through Priceless experiences across the continent. The launch of Priceless Africa follows the launch of Priceless Arabia in Dubai in September 2013.
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Pix: L-R: Daniel Lanre Monehin, Division President, Sub-Saharan Africa at MasterCard;  Omokehinde Ojomuyide, Vice President and Area Business Head for MasterCard in West Africa and Tarek Abdelnabi, Vice-President Marketing, Sub-Saharan Africa, MasterCard, during the MasterCard Priceless Africa launch to the media at Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos on Monday, September 30, 2013

Apple topples Coca as No. 1 brand globally – Interbrand


The latest brand analytics from Interbrand, a consulting firm has shown that Apple is now the most valuable brand globally.

ITRealms gathered that based on Interbrand findings, especially with the iPhone 5 by Apple, the brand was reported to have been valued at $98.3 billion, about N15,880,625,069,973.41 trillion by Interbrand.

According to the report today, Monday, Interbrand, a corporate identity and brand consulting company owned by the Omnicom Group that has been compiling what it calls the Best Global Brands report since 2000. The previous No. 1 brand, Coca-Cola, fell to No. 3.

Additionally, the report showed that not only has Apple overtaken Coca-Cola as first among the 100 most valuable brands based on criteria that include financial performance, Interbrand said, this is the first time Coca has not been No. 1 in almost a decade.

Global chief executive at Interbrand, Jez Frampton, had recently noted that Apple’s emergence was perchance “A matter of time” just as ITRealms recalls that Apple was No. 2 last year, climbing from No. 8 in the 2011 report.

“What is it they say, ‘Long live the king’? This year, the king is Apple,” He asserted.

Part of the 2013 report stated: “Every so often, a company changes our lives, not just with its products, but with its ethos. This is why, following Coca-Cola’s 13-year run at the top of Best Global Brands, Interbrand has a new No. 1 — Apple.”

In addition, the value of the Coca-Cola brand also rose, by 2 per cent to $79.2 billion, but that was not sufficient to give Coca-Cola a 14th year as Interbrand’s most valuable brand, as Apple clinched it with $98.3 billion.

Although “Coca-Cola is an efficient, outstanding brand marketer, no doubt about it,” Mr. Frampton said, Apple and other leading technology brands have become “very much the poster child of the marketing community.”

That is underscored by the brand in second place in the new report: Google, which rose from fourth place last year. In fact, of the top 10 Best Global Brands for 2013, five are in technology: Apple; Google; Microsoft, No. 5, unchanged from last year; Samsung, 8, compared with 9 last year; and Intel, 9, compared with 8 last year.

Samsung’s ascent followed the company’s adoption of a new brand strategy called the Brand Ideal, which includes “a greater focus on social purpose,” Sue Shim, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Samsung, said by e-mail. That reflected research indicating American consumers would switch brands to “one that was associated with improving people’s lives,” she added.
International Business Machines (IBM) was ranked No. 4 in 2013, down a notch from 2012, is ranked as a business services brand. Otherwise, technology would account for six of the top 10.
“Brands like Apple and Google and Samsung are changing our behavior: how we buy, how we communicate with each other, even whether we speak with each other,” Mr. Frampton said. “They have literally changed the way we live our lives.”
Among other transformative technology brands that performed well in the new report was Facebook, which climbed to 52 from 69 last year, its first year on the list.
However, in Nigeria, ITRealms also gathered that Apple iStore in Ikeja Shopping Mall is the home for everything Apple in Nigeria, according to the Executive Director, Rutger-Jan Spaandonk.
Further, ITRealms recalls that Apple iStore at Ikeja is the authorised Apple reseller in Nigeria and has several initiatives since the store opened for business, including plans to offer free training to customers on Apple hardware and software.

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Pix: Apple iPhone 5c, with additional report from New York Times.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

ICANN opens call for 49 fellowship


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)  has announced the opening of the fellowship programme for the Singapore public meeting, tagged ICANN 49.

ITRealms gathered that the fellowship programme has demonstrated success in its mission to build capacity in the ICANN multistakeholder environment through focused interactive engagement between newcomers to ICANN and community members at each of the ICANN meetings.

The programme also seeks to identify members of the Internet community who either have not previously been able to participate in ICANN processes or constituent organizations, or those who require further exposure to the Internet community and its work but cannot travel and attend a meeting without financial support.
This outreach programme seeks participants from developing regions and countries of the world, in order to help create a broader base of knowledgeable constituents who will become the new voice of experience in their regions and beyond.

ITRealms gathered that applications to become an ICANN Fellow are assessed for each meeting by an independent selection committee.

Priority, however, is given to applicants who: meet minimum programme requirements; are current residents of developing and least developed nations; and are interested in participating in the ICANN multistakeholder process and its supporting organizations, advisory committees or stakeholder groups.

Also efforts will be made to include participants from the region in which the ICANN meeting is being held.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

African brands adapting to global standard


One of the most cherished parts of a career with an international news channel is the time spent travelling. While visits to different countries are often frustratingly short, after a while you get an acute sense of how a place is developing. 
As the years go by and one revisits such destinations again, certain changes catch your eye, and you find yourself mentally tallying the signs that a country has advanced.  Advancements such as a sleek new airport terminal or a pedestrian walkway where the unmade road use to be, the steady electricity power during a stay at a hotel and the new store at a junction where once a fruit stall stood.  Also noted are the numbers of tablets being used in meetings and the appearance of the latest smartphones in people’s hands.

But keeping tabs on these signs doesn’t always need a multiple visa entry stamp in your passport. When it comes to Africa, one of the most striking changes observed after a decade of working in the continent is in its advertising. Some of the smartest brands and the most eye-catching commercials on air are African, and they are vigorously making names for themselves beyond Africa.

The context to this change is important.  In a world still full of uncertainty following the global financial crunch, Africa stands out as a symbol of relatively unencumbered economic progress. While much of Europe struggles under the weight of austerity measures, America eyes a slow recovery with caution, and Asia sees its meteoric growth cool, the African continent’s prospects continue to look bright.

African countries are among the fastest growing economies in the world, matching their counterparts in Asia.  Of course, everybody talks about the continent having one of the world’s fastest-growing consumer classes as well as the increasing foreign investment from Europe and Asia.  But recently, it is the reports that intra-African investment is rising by more than 30% per year that have added to this picture of growth.

Another noticeable fact about Africa is their greater focus on quality – an appetite for superior products and services and from businesses looking to provide them.  At an industrial level, examples of this search for quality are also emerging on the continent, with prominent companies that have built their success on identifying Africa’s growing need for quality materials, and delivering them, coming to the fore.

The next big question must surely be when an African brand will go head to head with the major players in the rest of the world.  African brands are conspicuous by their minimal presence in Millward Brown’s BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands; but the signs are that, the African business landscape is ripe for this to change.  The African financial and communications sectors, for example, are establishing themselves as formidable players.

For instance, brands such as MTN who was named as the most valued brand in Africa, in the Brand Africa 100 awards not too long ago, is already knocking on the door of the global arena, while Globacom’s current ad campaign focuses on the kind of mobile services that typify the ways in which Africa is ahead, of many other markets in communications technology.  Whereas, the likes of Zenith Bank, a long-term sponsor of one of CNN’s flagship African programmes is part of a financial sector that, given the travails of so many American and European players is meeting up to its international rivals.

Indeed, looking to Europe there are other prime examples of the ways in which a new kind of relationship is emerging between Africa and other continents.  Portugal’s parlous financial state saw Angola step in as a potential saviour last year; a surprise to Europeans perhaps, but with Portugal’s economy contracting at -3.2%, while its former colony grows at 6.8%, it should not have come as a shock.  Meanwhile the on-going aftermath of Greek austerity has seen a new wave of migrant workers seeking jobs in South Africa.

Africa is, of course, not without its problems and challenges, but its place in the global economy has been changing for a long time and there is a sense that we are reaching a tipping point.  With the rest of the world still going through uncertainty, now, more than ever, is the time for the continent’s major players to rise to the top.  If African brands’ products, ingenuity and advertising are anything to go by, we may not have to wait too much longer.

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*Contributed by Celine DeCarlo, CNN International, her pix insert.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

2015: Implement broadband plan, add N190bn to GDP


Airtel Nigeria has called on the federal government to speed-up the implementation of the recently approved National Broadband Plan.

Making this call at the 2013 Nigerian Telecoms Development Lecture (NITDEL), weekend, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya told ITRealms in Lagos, that the quick execution of the strategy could translate into about N190bn contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) within the next two years.

Ogunsanya said Airtel is committed to partnering with the Federal Government to deliver excellent broadband services so as to develop the Nigerian economy.

He said the approval of the Broadband Plan was a right step in the right direction and assured the telco’s deep commitment to partnering with the government to implement the plan and facilitate broadband realization for Nigeria, in line with the Transformation Agenda of Government.

Beyond policy direction, the Chief Executive, called on the government to focus on driving broadband adoption and utilization, noting that government’s patronage of readily available local applications and solutions will be a great boost just as partnerships with telecoms operators, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) players and development partners will also help drive utilization.

“As it concerns broadband adoption and utilization, there should be Government’s affirmative action targeting the delivery of social and public services over Broadband. The zeal applied by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Federal Government in E-Payment and Cashless Policy initiatives should also be replicated in driving adoption and utilization by the populace,” he said.
He also noted that the implementation requires long-term commitment and significant action by Federal, States and Local Governments, as well as the Executive and Legislative arms of government – alongside strong private sector participation.

Specifically, Mr. Ogunsanya who spoke on the theme, “The Nigerian Telecoms Market: Championing the African Cause through Broadband,” said Airtel is providing the government with support on different fronts including further expansion of its 3.75G Network footprints to cover even more cities and upgrade of its network to 4G on Long Term Evolution (LTE) as soon as spectrum becomes available. 

He added that Airtel is in partnership with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in a bid to make smart phones more affordable for consumers.

The Chief Executive disclosed that Airtel has partnered with five State Governments to implement a number of e-Social Services initiatives vis-à-vis E-Education, E-Government and E-Health. According to him “Airtel is willing to partner with all 36 States Governments and the Federal Government to deliver Broadband solutions that meet their requirements, since we have the largest and widest 3.75G coverage across Nigeria.”

The event, which held yesterday at the Agip Recital Hall of the MUSON Centre attracted several bigwigs including the Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Director of Corporate Communications, Airtel Nigeria, Emeka Oparah and Director of Legal & Company Secretary, Airtel Nigeria, Ibirobo Adekola.

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Pix: Director, PAD, NCC, Ojobo, Gov. Aregbosola and Airtel CEO, Ogunsanya

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ICANN updates call for volunteers on Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has updated its call for volunteers to evaluate metrics related to competition, consumer trust (CCT) and consumer choice with a new deadline set for October 15, 2013.

In the updated call, ICANN revised its previous call for volunteers, clarifying that:

1) The actual Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) review of Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice (CCT) will not occur until the Amok requirement has been met ('If and when new gTLDs … have been in operation for one year, ICANN will organize a review that will examine the extent to which the introduction or expansion of gTLDs has promoted competition, consumer trust and consumer choice, as well as effectiveness..")1; and

2) That the current metrics and data gathering advice for which volunteers have been requested, will be separated from a future call for volunteers to serve on a CCT Review Team, which will give volunteers more certainty regarding the timing of their commitment.

ITRealms gathered that the group of volunteers to be convened this year will serve for a limited duration and scope—focusing exclusively on evaluating the proposed metrics for data gathering to support a future AoC review.

“As this will be a precursor to help inform the future review, the volunteer team for this initial activity will be referred to as the "Implementation Advisory Group for Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice," ICANN stated in an official news alert.

ITRealms also recalls that the Implementation Advisory Group for CCT is expected to conduct its work December 2013 – July 2014 (estimated time). The Affirmation of Commitments CCT Review Team will be organized.

"If and when new gTLDs … have been in operation for one year," and the dates have not yet been established. Similar to previous AoC reviews, a call for volunteers will be issued for the CCT Review at the appropriate time and individuals who served on the CCT Independent Advisory Group are welcome to apply; they are not obligated to participate.

The CCT Review, as stipulated by the AoC, "will examine the extent to which the introduction or expansion of gTLDs has promoted competition, consumer trust and consumer choice, as well as effectiveness of (a) the application and evaluation process, and (b) safeguards put in place to mitigate issues involved in the introduction or expansion." The work of the Implementation Advisory Group for CCT, and the subsequent data gathered, will help inform the review, along with other relevant research and data gathering that the review team deems useful.

Individuals interested in serving on the Implementation Advisory Group for CCT are encouraged to email iag-cct@icann.org by 15 October 2013. The work of this group is detailed below and involves developing recommendations for the set of metrics to be collected by ICANN in preparation for a future review relating to New gTLDs1.

“Once the proposed metrics are delivered to the Board, the Implementation Advisory Group's work will be concluded. As directed by the Board, ICANN will develop the systems and collect the metrics approved through this process,” says ICANN.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Airtel CEO leads discussants @ Telecom Dev. Lecture’13

The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, would on this Friday, lead discussants on the future of Nigeria’s telecoms market as keynote speaker at the 7th annual Nigerian Telecom Development Lecture (NTDL).

ITRealms gathered that the event organised by Logica Communications, publishers of the Nigerian Telecom Weekly, that the lecture is an annual platform for thought leadership on the intersection between telecommunications and society.

The lecture, which is scheduled to hold on Friday, September 20th, 2013 at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Onikan, Lagos, will commence at 10.a.m.

The event, the organisers said would be chaired by Chief Peter Igho, Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission and will also feature a keynote address from Dr. Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigeria Communications Commission.

Mr. Ogunsanya would speak on The Nigerian Telecoms Market: Championing the African Course at the lecture, would also feature a paper by Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, according to Otunba Biodun Ajiboye, the chief host.

Ajiboye disclosed that Ogunsanya would mount a platform that had featured distinguished speakers, including Prof Wole Soyinka; former Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe; Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah; Harvard historian, Prof. Molefi Kete Asante, and former Governors of Lagos State and Cross Rivers State, Bola Tinubu and Donald Duke, respectively.

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Pix: Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, CEO, Airtel Nigeria

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Thuraya checks on social media with SatSleeve

Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) leading operator, Thuraya, has introduced its SatSleeve product; the world’s first and only satellite adaptor for the iPhone, which provides access to users’ favourite applications, electronic mails (emails) and instant messaging.

Shereen Hanafi, Director of Communications, Thuraya, disclosed this to ITRealms, saying that the SatSleeve not only allows users to make phone calls and send Short Messaging Service (SMS) via Thuraya’s satellite network, it also enables them access to emails, as well as popular social media and instant messaging apps such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp among others.

Thuraya SatSleeve, according to Samer Halawi, Chief Executive Officer of Thuraya, affords users to now post news updates, chat via messaging apps with their contacts as well as send and receive email from the most remote locations in satellite mode. The device can be used across Thuraya’s extensive satellite network with coverage in over 140 countries.

, said: “The new release of the SatSleeve, which now includes data, underscores our commitment towards delivering new and innovative mobile satellite products. Thuraya is powering ahead of the competition with our strong product innovation strategy focused on making satellite communications more accessible and user-friendly. Users today are increasingly relying on their smartphones to stay connected and we strongly believe in listening to them and to their requirements as we develop new mobile satellite products that align with their needs.”

Thuraya SatSleeve enables users to enjoy ubiquitous coverage even in the most remote environments that are not served or that are under-served by terrestrial networks. The device also serves as an important mobile communications device, in addition to being a security backup for users that are operating in remote locations and in areas where natural or man-made disasters can render terrestrial communications unavailable.
The SatSleeve customers, he highlighted include corporate users, enterprises from all industries, explorers, mountaineers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Just as SatSleeve could be used across the Thuraya network either with a Thuraya SIM card or with a standard GSM SIM card available from 356 worldwide GSM operators across more than 160 countries, from September 10.
"This makes the Thuraya SatSleeve highly flexible with the ability to be suited to the users’ individual needs," official says.

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*SPix: amer Halawi, Chief Executive Officer of Thuraya

Monday, September 02, 2013

American Express, MasterCard, Visa endorse SkySIM

Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) offers a new Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) platform also tagged SkySIM CX SIM-card that allows several different Near field communication (NFC) applications to be executed securely and simultaneously on a single SIM card, just as it gets green light from the American Express, MasterCard, and Visa.

Press Officer of the company y, Mr. Stefan Waldenmaier confirmed this to ITRealms says that the SkySIM CX SIM-card family provides protected areas that can be used for electronic payment and ticketing applications and for customer loyalty programmes.

According to him, network operators will be able to expand their service offerings for banks, public transit authorities, and other service providers.

The first product in the new SkySIM CX family, he said, received EMVCo, American Express, MasterCard, and Visa approval, thus confirming that it meets the requirements for secure payment systems such as American Express ExpressPay, MasterCard PayPass, and Visa payWave. Just as the SkySIM CX family also supports the transit applications MIFARE, CIPURSE, and Calypso.

In addition, he said, the new SIM cards have up to 1.3 megabytes of memory in the highest-capacity version, enabling them to store data for multiple applications.

“They contain a powerful processor capable of loading applications in a minimum of time. The operating system is highly scalable thanks to its modular architecture,” he said.

The new product family gives network operators an opportunity to create new business models. As well as offering their own applications, they will now be able to set up highly secure areas on the SIM card – referred to as “containers” – for third-party applications. Service providers can run their own applications in these containers, in return for a fee payable to the network operator. This will help to bring the widespread introduction of NFC services another step closer.

For end users, the new SIM cards provide more than just a means of using their mobile device as a public transit ticket or loyalty card. If they own two or more accounts, they can even decide on the spur of the moment which one they wish to use for a particular payment transaction. Devices equipped with the new SIM card can also serve as personal ID for access to company premises.
Axel Deininger, Group Senior Vice President at G&D says the outstanding feature of the new SIM card is not only its functionality but also its security.

“The card has been tested and approved by EMVCo as an integral unit, and not a single weak point has been detected. This latest addition to our NFC portfolio enables us to offer network operators a complete secure package comprising hardware, software, and services, in the form of SIM cards, a mobile wallet, and trusted service management services,” he said.

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