" ITREALMS: October 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Board politics force Lawson to step aside as Ecobank chairman

Barely 61 days to his retirement, the Board of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), may have forced it's else while chairman, Kolapo Lawson to step aside, following reports of breach of corporate governance in the bank under his leadership.
“As the head of such a respected global institution, I must act when there is even the slightest perception that the interests of that institution might be at risk. I therefore step aside as Chairman of Ecobank Transnational,” he declared.
ITRealms confirmed that Lawson is due for retirement by December 31, 2013 and has handed over to André Siaka as interim chairman with immediate effect.
Official statement to this effect from Ecobank quoted Mr. Lawson as confirming that the last few months have seen huge pressure on the organisation, and on him personally over allegations of mismanagement leveled against him to the Nigerian Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“These have culminated in allegations, which are untrue, made to the Nigerian SEC on issues of corporate governance. During this time, I led constructive discussions on the need for independent review of these allegations. The board has now taken the necessary decisions to appoint independent parties who, I am confident will investigate these allegations and review our corporate governance with the utmost professionalism. In order to give total credibility to these reviews, I have decided it would not be appropriate for me to be the person leading this process. The Board has assured me of its commitment to seeing these investigations through and I will continue to monitor this as an interested party,” he said.
Lawson also lamented that current media speculations cast over the institution, hence, he accepted to take the necessary steps to bring this to an end.
In his acceptance remarks on behalf of the Board, Mr. Siaka described Kolapo Lawson as a loyal servant of Ecobank for many years, who has played a major part in shaping the successful organization.
“His family is inseparable from Ecobank and Kolapo’s contribution to Ecobank is second to none: over twenty years, as a director of Ecobank Nigeria, of Ecobank Togo and of ETI, he has made a truly outstanding contribution to this great pan-African company. He has our very sincere thanks for all of his hard work and commitment, his leadership and his good company,” Siaka said.

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Pix: Kolapo Lawson, ousted chairman of Ecobank

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Revive Tech unveils online shop with customer-centric, loyalty scheme

Starting from Friday, November 1, 2013, the Revive Technologies Limited is opening an online retail portal at www.revivetechnologies.org, with customer-centric focus on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) devices, says the Managing Director, Mr. Wale Thomas.

Confirming this to DigitalSENSE Business News, Monday at the firm’s office in Ikeja, Mr. Thomas said, the move is aimed at providing a more convenient and flexible alternative purchase channels for its growing customers, in line with the company's decision to drive the cashless economy policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from the online retail perspective.

He explained that online purchase option does not rule out the physical option, which consumers have to buy mobile and other IT devices from Revive retail outlets nationwide. Stressing that online purchase further helps various customers to pick their devices at much more affordable prices and convenient.

Mr. Thomas noted that Revive would be adding value to their teeming and prospective customers through delivering promptly and efficiently purchase at any part of the country with little or no additional cost.

Pointing out that Revive’s kind of online retail store is unique because it is not like every other online stores, but absolutely different from what already obtains because it has a round the clock online customer care service.

With experience in IT business spanning over 19 years, Mr. Thomas assured that the online purchase option was introduced to create flexibility, choices and convenience for numerous customers.

“It's in addition to the existing opportunity they have to walk into our physical retail outlets and make their purchase. ‎From wherever you are, you can log on to the internet, brose the various products on display and make purchase with your preferred payment option and the products will be delivered to you," he said.

Just as he disclosed to  DigitalSENSE Business News that purchased made from November 1 attracts an incentive of a Bluetooth ear-piece.

He explained that the Revive Technologies offers its sales with loyalty card which could be redeemed with IT devices of their choice based on their accumulated points.

Remmy Nweke
pix from the media launch, Thomas speaking

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Soccket ball: Energizing the world by play

RECENTLY, it was an exciting week for President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) when he played host to a 25-year-old Nigerian, Ms Jessica Matthews, who invented a power-generating football tagged SOCCKET ball.

DigitalSENSE Business News gathered that the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Unchartedplay, Ms Matthews, was at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to present the ball, capable of generating a three-hour light from 30 minutes of play to President Jonathan, in addition to presentation of an energy-generating skipping rope to the President.

Jonathan applauds Jessica:
Congratulating Ms Matthews on her creative invention, Jonathan expressed excitement on Matthews ability to train as a psychologist and economist, and transform by developing herself in the field of other sciences.
He said Matthews invention is a proof of the quality of human resource existing in Nigeria.

The invention, he said, was useful as a major tool that could be used to mobilise young Nigerians and encourage them to think more deeply.

My inspiration:
In her remarks, Matthews said that sometimes power is lost and she wonder on what could be done to solve the situation.

“… I saw my cousins and everyone playing football, playing with everything not even with football alone. I say this is amazing and they can rival Messi. If we can take this kinetic that is generated here and use it to address the issues that we really have; kinetic energy is used for windmill, why not the ball?” she declared.

She said although the items were already on sale in New York, she had not started making them in Nigeria.
She, however, said when they would be made available for sale in Nigeria, the cost would be equivalent to what people pay for a solar inverter.

The mission of her company, she disclosed is to “Foster well-being by inspiring people to lead playful lives.”
Manufacturing locally and Harvard connection:

For the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Segun Aganga, the Federal Government was looking at the possibilities of manufacturing the items in Nigeria and how to make them cheaper for Nigerians.

“Jessica is a Nigerian, she studied at Harvard University, and she went to Business School and actually taught herself Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. So, she is an inspiration to every Nigerian especially our children in Nigerian universities. This is a product not only for Nigeria, but a product made in Nigeria by a Nigerian and for the world,” he said.

Emphasizing that additional thing is that the Soccket ball product is actually versatile, which entails that it is not just about the electricity, “You can use it to charge your mobile phones, for fans, so there are so many things for which it can be used.”

Explaining further, Ms Matthews who was accompanied by her father Mr. Matthew alongside some of her top management team, said that Soccket was born out of passion to harness the football skills among lovers of the game, since it has become a global phenomena, hence Soccket is a soccer ball that generates electricity as you play.

Cardinal points:
On the product development approach, she said that this is centred on three cardinal points, namely care, embrace and amplify. She explained that for care, UP want each project to have a positive impact on people and the environment, thus they strive to include all stakeholders in the development process to create practical products that are driven by the company’s mission.

So, because they want people of all race to embrace the product its development is driven by first-hand information receive from partnering Non-Government Organisation (NGO), which often are testimonials about positive experiences and then these are used as the starting point for potential solutions.

Equally to amplify the product, she pointed out that typical design interventions require users to adopt new behaviors for successful implementation, therefore, the team focus on creating products that amplify existing behavior.

Playing to dreams:
What began in May of 2011 as a dream saw Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman founding Uncharted Play (UP); a new kind of social enterprise that has continued to show the world that doing good and doing good business need not be mutually exclusive.

According to Jessica, Uncharted Play dream began in 2008 when Matthews and Silverman met during their junior year at Harvard College. Both studying to be social scientists with no experience in engineering, but driven by passion, she worked with her partner on a number of class project to invent the SOCCKET, which today is reputed as an energy harnessing soccer ball.

Through this experience, both women realized that the world of play was truly uncharted territory when it came to tangibly addressing real issues facing the society. Though the future was uncertain, they knew that an enterprise grounded in sustainable, realistic solutions for happiness had an undeniable value.

DigitalSENSE Business News gathered that after graduating from college, Messrs Matthews and Silverman set up shop in New York City and established an enthusiastic team to further develop the founders core values. Hence, the SOCCKET constantly reiterated its position to truly meet the needs of the end user, and development on several other fun and functional products has already begun.

Playful lives:
With the Uncharted Play mission being to “Foster well-being by inspiring people to lead playful lives” banking on for-profit social enterprise dedicated to improving lives through play. She maintained that UP flagship product is the SOCCKET, an energy harnessing soccer ball.

One dreams as posited by the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Aganga, that soon than later, that Nigerians will began to feel the impact of this Nigerian-linked invention to not only bring energy to the people, but also save the world of demerits of current energy generation tactics, devoid of the kind of promise made Dr. Izuogu, a Nigerian who designed a car locally and 16 years later, the Federal Government could not facilitate grants for him to take the project beyond theorem.

*Remmy Nweke
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Improving telecom services: A visit to Fashola

Telecoms Clinic with Remmy Nweke

FOR a lot of Nigerians, especially those using the services of mobile network operators otherwise known as the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), the apex telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is not concerned about Quality of Services they are experiencing in the bourgeoning telecommunications sector in the country.

This disposition has caused some Nigerians and uninformed industry watchers to formulate all manner of vocabularies for the Nigerian Communications Commission and of course its leadership.

On this premise that it’s important to do some education for those of us subscribers and industry watchers alike, who may still be wallowing in assuming ignorance to recall that not long ago, the management of the Nigerian Communications Commission handed down some directives to all the mobile operators.

This directive followed the decline in Quality of Service (QoS) in the networks, NCC had intimated three major networks, namely MTN, Airtel and Globacom of its intention to issue direction if the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set for QoS were not met by end of certain month, precisely November, 2011.

The outline for the KPIs include Call Set-up Success Rate (CSSR), Call Completion Rate (CCR), Stand-alone Dedicated Controlled Channel Congestion (SDCCH), Hand-over Success Rate and Traffic Channel Congestion (TCH Cong). Hence, service providers were given a deadline of November 30, to meet the above KPIs or be sanctioned.

Commenting on the aforementioned then, Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission, Mr. Tony Ojobo, confirmed this development, noting that at the expiration of the period given to service providers to improve on their networks, the Commission carried out a drive-test to confirm the level of compliance to NCC’s directive.

Ojobo said that the outcome of the test had revealed that Etisalat and Visafone have been consistent in their improvement towards good quality service provision. While Airtel recorded a significant improvement for the last quarter, Globacom, Starcomms and Multi-links showed noticeable improvements. Even as MTN and Zoom Mobile showed slight step up.

The Commission, he said, is aware of the complaints of consumers arising from poor quality of service and this necessitated the directive that was given to the service providers.

“The over-riding objective of that directive is to ensure that service providers continue to invest in infrastructure with a view to ensuring continuous improvement in the quality of service provided,” he said.
NCC, he further said, urged service providers to continue to invest in infrastructure in order to ensure that the KPIs are met totally. Advising then that operators ensured that the necessary investments were made on the expansion of their infrastructure to be able to cope with the expected rise in voice and data traffic during festive seasons and at all times.

“Any further decline in the Quality of Service (QoS) during this season will be unacceptable,” he had declared.

What the above scene painted is that NCC as the regulator is not sleeping, just as it ensures that services and its qualities keep improving.

Overtly, in continuation of NCC mission to ensure that Nigerian telecom consumers enjoy the best of the networks as they strive to improve services, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah, recently sought the support of the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, in Aluasa, Ikeja.

Core essence of the visit to the Aluasa office was in connection to resolving identifiable problems associated with right of way (RoW), multiple taxes and levies at various levels of government, which have become serious impediments to realizing good quality of telecom services across the country.

Dr. Juwah who was at Alausa office, in company of two commissioners and other officials of the Commission, intimated the governor that the nation has about 119 million active subscribers as at the time of his visit and teledensity was at over 85 per cent from some 0.4 per cent, while telecoms contribute in excess of 7 .8 per cent to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to him, Lagos State controls over 15 per cent of the nation’s mobile phone subscriber population in Nigeria, hence its position is seen as critical in matters that affect telecommunications services, globally and in the Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Juwah noted the importance of reiterating that quality of services in Lagos, and indeed, other parts of the country, is not desirable, there are challenges contributing to this with the Right of Way issues being the most critical.

“We are already aware that you are involved with other governors in the National Economic Council in discussing and finding solutions to the issue of RoW in the country as currently being championed by Vice President NamadiSambo. We urge you to continue to support these patriotic efforts so that the objectives of providing easy passage for telecommunications infrastructure, to accelerate and encourage more investments in the country, are realized,” Juwah said.

Acquainting the Governor with the level of the nation’s infrastructure deficit with reference to the paucity of masts and towers, he pointed out that  in Nigeria with less than 25,000 base stations compared with a country like United Kingdom (UK) with  up to 65,000 base stations, stressing that a 2009 survey by the NCC showed that out of a total of 6,196 masts and towers in Lagos, 48 per cent belonged to corporate bodies and individuals, 25 per cent belonged to telecom operators, 18 per cent to banks, 8 per cent to unidentified owners and 2 per cent to the broadcast industry.

He emphasised that even if the number of base stations owned by operators, which was 2,975 then, had increased by 100 per cent, it would still have fallen short of what is needed to serve Lagos subscribers alone. 

“Your Excellency, this situation is made worse by multiple taxations and regulations that await the service providers at the various levels of government, including state governments, local governments, and even some communities. In most cases, unfortunately, telecom masts and towers easily become specific targets for multiple taxes and regulations even where there are other masts and towers in existence, or even when appropriate taxes have been imposed at the Federal Level. 

Hence, given the scenario of infrastructure deficit that currently exist in Nigeria, the situation on ground sounds very discouraging as some of the service providers depend on very few base stations to serve the populace.

“We have noticed that some of these regulations exist in Lagos and it is our hope that this progressive administration will be disposed to taking a serious look at some of them with a view to eliminating double and inequitable taxation. This will in turn engender an enabling business environment that would encourage more investments and accelerate deployment of more telecom infrastructure and facilities,” he said.

Dr. Juwah also notified the Governor on the issues of vandalization of telecommunications infrastructure which has taken its toll on the quality and availability of services, and the need to support the Commission in pursuit of the critical infrastructure bill at the National Assembly as Lagos is mostly affected in any of these vandalization incidents.

The EVC, NCC extended hands of fellowship to the Governor for collaboration in the implementation of the Emergency Communications Centres (ECC), across the country as the pilots have already been commissioned at Awka and Minna, so that Lagos will be a model city for this national assignment which the Commission has elected to bring to the nation.

Responding, Governor Fashola commended Dr. Juwah “for the thoughtfulness and initiative of the broadband,” stressing that NCC though regulates the allocation of frequencies, bandwidths and so many other things, but incidentally cannot regulate where the towers and mast are positioned.

“You need me as indeed you need all of my colleagues (governors) to determine where the right of way will be and under what conditions and this was the point that we took,” Fashola said.

However, he regretted that a lot of time have been lost in the legal process in the matter of approvals for the operators for erection of masts because of the disagreement with his government which refused to grant approvals for new installations and government’s insistence on  collocation, payment of levies, and quality of installations.

Fashola, who promised to bring the dispute out of the courts for amicable settlement, went to note that he disagreed with the use of the term multiple taxation as a proper way to describe levies being imposed on operators for services rendered to them at state levels as the operators’ licenses for operation does not foreclose payment for the land and other associated fees.

“It is an incidence of the nature of business that they have entered, the issues we should be talking about is how to mitigate cost and that is what I’ve told my colleagues that we cannot make revenue from the cost of right of way or from the cost of setting up masts and towers,” he said.

Lagos State, he cited for instance, does not seek to do so in terms of making revenue from RoW, but see the revenue in the business growth that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and stronger broadband as well as fiber optic capacity given to citizens.

“… That’s where I see money. The revenue that comes from businesses, more people employed, paying more income tax is much more than what any government could ever collect,” he said.

Nevertheless, Governor Fashola chided the operators for not applying appreciable level of corporate governance as is evident in the type of contractors that they use, resulting in damages to infrastructure like roads already built by the government.

“There must be a sense of patriotism from the contractors and I choose my words very carefully, by the contractors being used by the telecom operators in laying their infrastructure, a sense of ownership and duty to protect the existing public asset. They’re not enough, so the few that we have, we must protect, it can’t be I want to do business, I want to give people telephone, I don’t care if we get lost, so this really is the heart of the matter,” he said.

As expected, Gov. Fashola also promised to “get the parties out of court, so that we can set a regulatory regime in which everybody can work together.”

So, as we wait for the Lagos State government to withdraw cases surrounding Right of Way, masts and towers as well as networks operators out of the court for settlement, the initiative by the NCC, must be commended as a regulatory organ with exemplary leadership, even if nothing else for initiating the move with the courtesy visit to Lagos.

And given the role Lagos State plays in the Nigeria’s economy as the centre of excellence, former capital city of the country, it is not surprising that the government of the day in Lagos knows the role it plays by ensuring it’s people’s centric; thus looking beyond mere charging of operators for right of way, but thinking of empowering the teeming unemployed population of Lagos, with the number of jobs that could come to its citizens eventually.Of which, all things being equal, could mean a sustained taxable revenue for jobs created rather than one-off payment from telcos.

NCC, from all indications, is not tired of extending this kind of overture to other states of the federation, if only to ensure that quality of services get better for the telecom consumers in the country. After all, customer is always the king.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Nigerian developers embracing SkillsMix outsourcing portal - Adesoga

Developers of Information Technology (IT) projects, especially web-based in Nigeria have began to embrace the SkillsMix outsourcing portal for their executions, says the Managing Director/chief executive officer, Thought Studio, Samuel Adesoga, at the Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) in Lagos, Tuesday, during a chat.

He also said that the developers expressed their support for the platform, stressing that CcHub is Nigeria’s first open living lab and pre-incubation space designed as a multi-functional, multi-purpose space where work to catalyze creative social technology ventures take place.
ITRealms recalls that the hub is a place for technologists, social entrepreneurs, government, tech companies, impact investors and hackers in and around Lagos to co-create new solutions to the many social problems in Nigeria and the world at large.

Mr. Adesoga pointed out that local project owners who seek skillful professionals to execute and fulfill their projects need not worry any more as SkillsMix is open to all freelance web designers, web developers, marketers and writers who require avenue to express their prowess. 

Equally, he said that the outsourcing and crowd-sourcing site was designed specifically for project owners seeking how to effectively execute their projects, which could be a web design or similar projects on time and on budget.
“The project owners can outsource the projects to freelancers in order to save costs” he said, underscoring the fact that SkillsMix portal would source the right freelance designers, developers, writers among others from across the nation on behalf of the project owners.

He, therefore, urged local IT developers who are mindful of earning additional incomes to register on the site, as registration on the SkillsMix site is free. Some categories of job listed on the site include logo design, graphic design, basic web design, e-commerce, blogs, content management systems, mobile apps, social networks, database, search engine optimization, web apps and software, writing and marketing.

Explaining how SkillsMix works to ITRaelms, Adesoga said that project owners are required to post their projects and project specification on the website, thus enabling registered freelancers and skilled workers to locate these projects and join the project's discussion online.
“SkillsMix’s objective is to deepen the growing information communications technology industry in Nigeria” he declared.

According to him, SkillMix is designed such that each project has its own discussion forum where freelancers would raise questions concerning the project under scrutiny. The freelancers would convince the project owner about their skills and experiences as well as qualifications to execute the projects. Each skilled worker/freelancer has a profile page that exhibits the communication skills, work ethic, technical skills, reviews from past projects to name a few.

By Chuks Egbuna:

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

11 Turkish cosmetic firms arrive Nigeria on trade mission

A total of Eleven Turkish cosmetics manufacturers have arrived Nigeria on special trade mission for a high-level business meetings with leading importers and manufacturers of cosmetics in Nigeria.

ITRealms gathered that from Tuesday, October 29th, the Turkish cosmetics manufacturers will hold a series of business meetings and close deals with selected leaders in the Nigerian cosmetics sector and provide fast track support for the cosmetics sector in Nigeria.

Sources close to the delegation informed that the visit was spurred by the growing strategic importance of Nigeria as a key emerging market and the increasing reputation of Turkey as a world class manufacturer and a reliable supplier of top quality goods and cosmetics.

The Turkish cosmetics sector is particularly growing and realized over $1 billion in export value in 2012 alone. With Nigeria's large population and equally growing cosmetic industry, Nigeria and Turkey are poised for stronger ties and a mutually beneficial trade partnership.

The delegation from Turkey,  will consist of 11 companies, two senior representatives of IKMIB Istanbul Chemicals & Chemical Products Exporters Association and the owner of the project, two representatives from the Ministry of Economy of the Government of Turkey, MetinCobanlioglu the Director  of Globrand, Coordinators of the project. The Head of the delegation is the Chairman of IKMIB Mr. Murat Akyuz

The top cosmetics companies coming from Turkey include Akdeniz Dis Tic. Gida San. Ltd. Sti.;AlfarKozmetik San. A.S.; BeyazKozmetikIth.Ihr.San.ve Tic. Ltd. Sti.; DogatekIcve Dis. Tic Ltd. Sti.; IpekIdrofi I Pamuk San. ve Tic. A.S.;NucosKozmetikKimya San.ve.  Tic. Ltd. Sti.; PinkarKimyaSanayiive Tic.A.S.; RebulKozmetik San.ve Tic.A.S.; SCK Zeta Dis TicaretPazarlama Ltd. Sti.; SebatKimyaSanayiIcve Dis Ticaret A.S. and TurkuazMedikal, Kozmetikve Dis Ticaret Ltd. Sti.

Mr. Akyuz, the leader of the delegation, pointed out that the Turkish cosmetics cluster is a special project aiming to increase international trade as well as boost the exports  of a selective group of companies. The group has been selected from the most competitive manufacturers in the sector.
So far, he said, the project have organized many activities in abroad, namely in Panama, Mexico, Paraguay and Chile, noting that those companies coming to Nigeria for this visit are among the world's best.
Turkish products, he said, are of high quality European standards, just as they also have the advantage of competitive prices, flexibility in packaging and production as well as having the shortest possible delivery periods.

"Our special visit here reflects our commitment to Nigeria and our recognition of its importance as a key strategic market.  We want to develop long term business relations in Nigeria with our high quality products, and also make it easier for Nigerian cosmetic manufacturers and importers to do business with Turkey," Mr. Akyuz said.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Microsoft employees mark 30-yrs of giving back, visit Heart of Gold Children

Employees of Microsoft Nigeria in Lagos joined the global software company family to commemorate its annual giving back day, which is on its 30th year, visits Hearts of Gold Children Hospice in Lagos.

ITRealms gathered that Microsoft employees as part of commitment to give back to the society every October, conduct this outing by visiting a special location or embarking on special project in support of the community where the company operates.

This year, they had a date with Hearts of Gold Children Hospice in Lagos, where the team spent time with the kids and also donated some items to the Hospice.

ITRealms recalls that at Microsoft, giving is reportedly ingrained in its culture, as employees assent to this day as one of the most rewarding aspect of their jobs.

The programme, which began in 1983, saw about 200 Microsoft employees raising $17,000 for nonprofits activities.

Also, ITRealms gathered that at present, over 35,000 employees participated in the campaign, which is approximately 65 per cent of Microsoft’s total U.S. workforce.

This, also coincided with 30th Employee Giving Campaign, and $1 billion in employee contributions to more than 31,000 nonprofits around the world since 1983.

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Pix: Some Microsoft staff during the visit to Heart of Gold, Lagos

NigeriaCom 2013: Digital Quality Delivery is Top Priority – Etisalat


A two-day discuss on connectivity, telecoms, media and Information Communication Technology (ICT) hosted by the Nigeria Com 2013 and sponsored by Etisalat Nigeria in Lagos, Nigeria, ended with a declaration by experts that digital quality delivery should be top on priority of operating networks.

The event which came to a close on the 18th of September 2013, with the theme ‘Working Together to Provide Quality Services Throughout The Digital Realm’, saw the 4th edition of the annual conference and exhibition attended by over 700 telecom experts from over a dozen countries, discussing sustainable quality of service, innovative offerings, issues in the digital industry, and added services.

These, experts overtly agreed operators needed to capitalize on by working closely with content providers.

ITRealms recollects that on day-1, Etisalat Nigeria’s Director Network Engineering, Mr. Temi Ogunbambi gave a keynote during a panel debate on the topic “Quality of Service on the Network: Challenges & Opportunities for Telecoms Operators in Nigeria,” stressing that Etisalat took quality of service seriously and passionately by creating sustainable strategies for transforming connectivity delivery in the country.

He also disclosed that Etisalat worked diligently to ensure that this would be continuously maintained across the country with the top priority of giving consumers value for money.

Equally on day-2 speakers harped on the boom in mobile financial services, applications and the use of social media, with representatives from Google, Mobile Monday, Ibaka TV, Eskimi, 2go, and the Ekiti State Government, among others.

ITRealms recalls that NigeriaCom Conference and Exhibition is part of a series of mobile events targeted at bringing together the entire digital ecosystem to discuss opportunities and development of the system.

We hereby serve you some of the photonews from the 2013 Nigeria Com.

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Google dangles $125,000 on Africa Connected, invites entries

Google is dangling a total of $125,000 on Africa connected, a project on powered by the web, thus inviting entries for the prize with deadlines October 31, 2013.

According to Affiong Osuchukwu, the Google Lead for the Africa Connected initiative, this is the final month for submissions to Google’s new competition ‘Africa Connected: Success stories powered by the web’.

Osuchukwu also expressed the hope that Google finds the most inspiring stories in Africa about how the web has transformed the lives and business ventures of its users - Africa, get connected!

Explaining that the five successful entrants will win $25,000 each, and will also have the opportunity to work with a Google sponsor over a six-month period to further their business success.

"Entries close on 31st October 2013 - categories include Education; Entertainment/Arts/Sports; Technology; Community and NGOs; and Small Businesses," Osuchukwu affirmed in a press statement made available to ITRealms.

As noted by Osuchukwu, from Madagascar to Morocco, from big metropoles to rural villages, from photographers to community activists, Google have been received hundreds of submissions about how people are using the web and technology to do cool and extraordinary things to overcome hurdles and be successful.
"There’s less than a month to go before the competition closes, so if you have a great story that you haven’t yet told us about, we definitely want to hear from you” Osuchukwu said.

For Juliet Ehimuan, the Country Manager, Google Nigeria, commented, she looks forward to seeing some exciting Nigerian stories.
“We’re hoping to see strong Nigerian representation in the competition entries.  We already know about many inspiring success stories, like those of Asurf and Afrinolly, but we know there are lots more out there. The judges are looking forward to seeing a diversity of submissions, including from technology, agriculture, energy, fashion, education and entertainment," she enthused.

She cited an instance with the great work done by Chike Maduegbuna, owner and creator of Afrinolly, based in Nigeria. Afrinolly is a popular mobile app, which lets people across the continent watch short videos on their mobile devices.

"This app has transformed Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry by creating a movie trailer platform for new audiences. With over 3 million downloads already since its launch in August 2011, Chike hopes this will create a platform that connects aspiring film professionals with global film industry veterans," she emphasized.

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Ireland: War on tobacco worthy, but must not be rushed


IT was not so long ago that secondary school children were allowed to smoke in many of the more "advanced" schools around the country. Staff rooms were also often full of teachers puffing on pipes and cigarettes as pupils regularly entered and left.

Today, the idea of a 17-year-old taking a puff between classes seems as strange as quill pens or the regular floggings that were a feature of the Irish educational system for far too long. The world changes, and smokers have had to endure more change than most as their habit has moved from socially acceptable to pariah status.

The Government's latest plans to outlaw smoking anywhere in secondary school grounds and near creche facilities is another step in a long-term strategy to "de-normalise" smoking and ensure that fewer than one person in 20 smokes by 2025.

That is a noble objective, but like many others it is one to be pursued carefully.

The prohibition of alcohol in the United States during the 1920s did little more than cement the position of criminal gangs, and serves as a salutary warning. There is already plenty of evidence that high taxes in Ireland are a boon for crooks while also turning many otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.

There is also the question of equity. Many ordinary smokers deeply resent their outlaw status and insist, not without reason, that their behaviour is likely to be less lethal to others than speeding drivers or alcohol.

That is all true, but the truth is that most smokers wish they could kick the habit, and hundreds of thousands of smokers have done just that thanks to the policy of de-normalising smoking. The gradual escalation of this policy will undoubtedly save more people from premature death while also saving them money.

Health Minister James Reilly has had a mixed tenure in office, but he cannot be faulted for his commitment to fighting tobacco and the tobacco industry. He must now set himself measurable targets so he knows whether he really is on track with this grand ambition.

Additional reports by Irish Independent
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rafik Dammak wins NCSG chairmanship

The 2013 annual election of the Noncommercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) closed Monday, October 14, 2013, with emergence of Rafik Dammak as the new chairman of the group.

Also elected as NCSG Representatives to the Generic Name Supporting Organisation (GNSO) Council include Wolfgang Kleinwachter, Avri Doria, and Amr Elsadr.

Confirming this to ITRealms, the outgoing chair of NCSG, Ms Robin Gross, said that the newly elected chairman is expected to stay in office for a one-year term, while the three representatives to GNSO would be in office for a two-year term each.

It was further gathered by ITRealms that Rafik’s emergence came with 176 votes, whereas Wolfgang got 141, Avri got 140 and Amr has 96 respectively.

However, information available to ITRealms shows that total ballots cast were 147, while 126 were the actual votes counted after exclusion of duplications with 74 members could not vote.

With its charter approved in 2011, NCSG represents through its elected representatives and its constituencies, the interests and concerns of noncommercial registrants and noncommercial Internet users of generic Top-level Domains (gTLDs).
Thus, providing a voice and representation in ICANN processes to non-profit organizations that serve noncommercial interests; nonprofit services such as education, philanthropies, consumer protection, community organizing, promotion of the arts, public interest policy advocacy, children's welfare, religion, scientific research, and human rights; public interest software concerns; families or individuals who register domain names for noncommercial personal use; and Internet users who are primarily concerned with the noncommercial, public interest aspects of domain name policy.

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Pix: Rafik Dammak

Monday, October 14, 2013

NIRA: Onyekwere takes over BoT chair from Odeyemi

Chairman of Linkserve Limited, Chief Chima Onyekwere, OON, has been elected the new chairman of the Board of Trustee (BoT) of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA).

ITRealms gathered at the weekend that following the inaugural meeting of the NIRA Board of Trustee (BoT) which took place on Thursday, 10th of October, 2013 at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, Chief Onyekwere emerged.

According to our investigations, main business of the day for the inaugural BOT meeting was the election of a new chairman. 

"Chief Chima Onykwere, was unanimously elected as the chairman BoT. He takes over from Dr. Isaac A. Odeyemi, who is the pioneer BoT Chairman," Mrs. Uduma, the NIRA president confirmed to ITRealms.

She further said that Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture retained her post as the Secretary of the BoT. 

The only new member to the BoT, she said, was Mr. Emmanuel Edet who is representing National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on the BoT.

Other members, she said, who returned to the BOT include Mr. Olaleye Alao, Mr. Shina Badaru, Mr. Y.Z Ya’u, Dr. Chris Nwannenna, Prof. Adenike Osofisan and herself, Mrs. Mary Uduma, President, NIRA.

Onyekwere prides himself as the pioneer Internet service provider in Nigeria and has continued to prove his capacity as far as internet development is concerned in Nigeria.

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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

US introduces new $100 note with 3D


The United States Federal Reserve, equivalent of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Tuesday began what it classified as supplying financial institutions with a redesigned $100 note that has Third Dimension (3D) security feature among others, ITRealms reports.

This $100 note incorporates new security features to deter counterfeiters and help businesses and consumers tell whether a note is genuine,

A press statement made available to ITRealms, showed that distance, demand and policies of individual financial institutions would influence how quickly the redesigned notes reach businesses and consumers globally.

The Federal Reserve Board Governor, Jerome H. Powell says that the new design incorporates security features that make it easier to authenticate, but harder to replicate.

“As the new note transitions into daily transactions, the user-friendly security features will allow the public to more easily verify its authenticity,” he said.

Also, Jerome was quoted as saying that the Federal Reserve, U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the U.S. Secret Service partnered to redesign Federal Reserve notes to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats.

According to him, the redesigned $100 note includes two new security features: a blue 3-D security ribbon with images of bells and 100s, and a colour-changing bell in an inkwell. The new features, and additional features retained from the previous design, such as a watermark, offer the public a simple way to visually authenticate the redesigned $100 note.

ITRealms recalls that consumers worldwide are advised that it is not necessary to trade in older-design $100 notes for new ones.

“It is U.S. government policy that all designs of U.S. currency remain legal tender, regardless of when they were issued,” part of the statement read.

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Monday, October 07, 2013

Future of Internet: Experts warn against fragmentation


Some 10 leading organisations responsible for the coordination of the Internet technical infrastructure globally ended its meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay reinforced their commitments, warning against fragmentation of future Internet.

Those at the meeting according to the Director of Global Media Affairs at the Internet Corporationn for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Mr. Brad White, in a chat with ITRealms include Adiel A. Akplogan, CEO, African Network Information Center (AFRINIC); John Curran, CEO, American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN); Paul Wilson, Director General, Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC); Russ Housley, Chair, Internet Architecture Board (IAB), Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN; Jari Arkko, Chair, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF); Lynn St. Amour, President and CEO, Internet Society (ISOC); Raúl Echeberría, CEO, Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC); Axel Pawlik, Managing Director, Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) and Jeff Jaffe, CEO, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

ITRealms gathered that the meeting rose after considering and insisting that the Internet and World Wide Web have brought major benefits in social and economic development worldwide.

“Both have been built and governed in the public interest through unique mechanisms for global multistakeholder Internet cooperation, which have been intrinsic to their success,” they said.

The leaders also discussed the clear need to continually strengthen and evolve these mechanisms, in truly substantial ways, to be able to address emerging issues faced by stakeholders in the Internet.

The meeting further recommended that “They reinforced the importance of globally coherent Internet operations, and warned against Internet fragmentation at a national level. They expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance.

“They identified the need for ongoing effort to address Internet Governance challenges, and agreed to catalyze community-wide efforts towards the evolution of global multistakeholder Internet cooperation.

“They called for accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.

“They also called for the transition to IPv6 to remain a top priority globally. In particular Internet content providers must serve content with both IPv4 and IPv6 services, in order to be fully reachable on the global Internet,” they stated. 

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Saturday, October 05, 2013

Mastercard CFO meets President Jonathan, reassures on smart ID card commitment


As MasterCard and partners advance plans to commence issuance of the newly approved smart national identity card to Nigerians in the next quarter, President Goodluck Jonathan recently held a meeting with the chief financial officer (CFO) of MasterCard, Ms Martina Hund-Mejean on the roll out plans.

ITRealms gathered that the meet between Nigerian President Jonathan and Mastercard CFO centred majorly on the roll out of the forthcoming ID project.

This meeting which took place as side exclusive at the New York Stock Exchange, ITRealms further learnt, afforded MasterCard leadership to reassure President Jonathan on the firm’s determination to deliver on the project as planned.

But responding to ITRealms chat, the Divisional President, Sub-Saharan Africa, MasterCard, Mr. Daniel Monehin, disclosed that they are oiling machines to issue the first set of this smart card by next quarter.

ITRealms recalls that echoes from the 2013 World Economic Forum on Africa showed that Nigeria may awarded contract for the provision of 13 million MasterCard-branded National Identity Smart Cards with electronic payment capability.

The Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and MasterCard in South Africa, just as officials of MasterCard confirmed to ITRealms that the proposed National Identity SmartCard is the Card Scheme under the recently deployed National Identity Management System (NIMS).

Also, ITRealms gathered from proponents including other issuing banks comprising United Bank for Africa, Union Bank, Zenith, Skye Bank, Unity Bank, Stanbic and First Bank; that the 13 Million Cards would be the first of its kind and assumed to be the largest card rollout on the continent of Africa; a formal electronic payment solution in a country and the broadest financial inclusion initiative of its kind on the African continent.

ITRealms was informed that in its first phase, Nigerians 16 years and above as well as all residents in the country for more than two years, would get the new multipurpose identity card which has 13 applications including MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology that will provide cardholders with the safety, convenience and reliability of electronic payments.

This, the proponent said, would have a significant and positive impact on the lives of Nigerians who have not previously had access to financial services.

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Pix: Martina Hund-Mejean, MasterCard Chief Financial Officer at the New York Stock Exchange, with President Goodluck Jonathan, at the meeting.

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