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Review Of Nigeria’s Telecoms Sector In 2011

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The country’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry witnessed a remarkable growth last year.

Though a bunch of challenges greeted the industry, but experts in the area arrested all situations with a firm promise to keep the ship a float amidst the tempest.

From January till about July 2011, there was normal business growth in the ICT world as it affected Nigeria.  When sometime in the year under review, the Federal Government announced the compulsory registration of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards, it threw many into panic due to the fear of what may befall them should they (subscribers) fail to register their SIM cards within the specified time frame (March-September) by the Federal Government.

At this point, the Federal Government had threatened through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to block all those whose SIM cards were not duly registered.

All the registration centres visited then were crowded by enthusiastic  subscribers who never wanted their lines blocked. Some heaved a sigh of relief when the Federal Government later announced September 2011 as deadline of the registration and later extended it indefinitely.

Within that time, some dealers had commenced the sales of pre-registered SIM cards to unsuspecting members of the public who did not know its, implication.

In a swiff  reaction, the Federal Government, through the NCC again, ordered the arrest and prosecution of any dealer caught selling pre-registered SIM card .

The Federal Government’s threat acted as “healing balm” as fear gripped both suspected dealers/buyers.

The NCC then, had earlier announced that its agents saddled with the exercise were ready to register all the 90 million subscribers in the country without qualms.

All the visit to the NCC’s office in Port Harcourt last year during the exercise indicated that they were not mincing words about the exercise.

Around August, Nigeria launched another satellites (Sat 2 and Satx) to the existing ones.  Many attributed it to the erudite leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan.  Players in the industry were optimistic that the lunch of Sat 2 and Sat X will go a longway  to bridge the gap between Europe and Nigeria, technology-wise. They believed that the country now had an edge over most African countries who are yet to launch their first satellite.

Here in Rivers State, an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Team that paid a courtesy call on the Special Adviser to the Governor on ICT,  Engr Goddliffe Nmekini, rated the ICT development in the state high.

According to the team, the ICT development in the state was upto international standard and at the same time, has all its takes to transform the state economically.

They also expressed hope that the ICT provision in the state will enable the younger generation to appreciate ICT earlier even as it will create employment opportunities for graduates in the state.

The month of September, brought a lot of challenges in the ICT/Telecoms industry. Around September 14, 2011, the issue of killer number (09141) ensued.

There was repeated calls warning their loved ones not to call or answer any call from any five digit number.

The atmosphere remained tensed until the Federal Government through the NCC’s spokesman, Ruben Mouka, announced that it was “unimaginable that somebody will die while receiving a call”. Before the announcement, there were rumours that about five persons have died in some parts of the country.  In the same month, Senator David Mark, hinted that the Senate has started investigations to help unearth the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the government-owned NITEL/M-Tel telecommunications.  Until the end of last year, the Senate Committee on Communications was yet to make open its findings why all the government-owned telecommunications outfits were not functional.

To add to subscribers’ joy in Rivers State, Samsung indicated interest to carry out free repairs of all its products for Rivers State residents.  The notice which came through its corporate head, marketing, Samsung Electronics West Africa, Donald Etim when he visited Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, as part of efforts of the company to celebrate its week with its teeming customers.

The Minister of Communication Technology  Mrs Omobola Johnson, tasked the Committee on National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the urgent need to harmonise ICT policies. Johnson informed that the call became imperative so as to quicken its records in the market structure.

She also charged investors/stakeholders to increase their commitments by investing more on ICT infrastructure.

In October, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), commenced full process of number portability in the country.  It explained that the process will boost subscribers interest due to its uniqueness.

Some oil companies operating in the state like Chevron and NNPC donated ICT equipment to the state-owned University of Science and Technology in order to boost Information and Communication Technology  (ICT) development in the area.  In a similar development, about 16 students from the state who under- took post-graduate courses in information and communication technology (ICT) at Teeside University, United Kingdom returned to the state.  The Tide was told that the students will be part of ICT development in the state as they will be made to man the ICT centre in the state.

In November, the Minister of Communication Technology, Johnson, gave insight to the certification of Galaxy Backbone certification by the British Standard Institute (BSI). Johnson said it will boost public confidence in internet technology organisation.  The Galaxy Backbone was one of the smartest ICT/telecoms developments of last year as it was certified by an international organisation.          Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) was not left out in the development of ICT last year as it also adjusted to meet the latest ICT training needs.  The Tide learnt that NIPOST now operates e-transfer and other packages as one of its efforts to improve on its services in a bid to compete favourably in the ICT/telecoms industry.

In December, NCC said it decided not to sanction the three main telecommunication providers in the country (MTN, Glo andAirtel) when it discovered a considerable service improvement by  the service providers.  The threat to sanction the big three after poor network was experienced throughout the country in the previous month.  The NCC’s Director, Public affairs, Mr Tony Ojobo said the commission would have thrown its weight on the big three if not for the remarkable change they made in the last quarter of the year.

The Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (Nigcomsat), also launched Nigcom Sat-1R  into orbit at the Xichang Satelite Launch Centre in South  West China.  It was a replacement of Nigcom Sat-I which was launched years ago.

The commission (NCC) established Emergency Call Centres (ECCs) in the 36 states including Abuja so as to enhance telecommunication in the country.  The ECC, as The Tide learnt, was established to also boost security networking on the parts of government as a means of check-mating insecurity in the country.

At the tail end of the year (December), there was increment in the price of recharge cards in the country. N400 MTN card was sold for N420,  while N100 and N200 cards attracted N10 each.  Subscribers were left with no choice but to purchase.

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FG Assures On High Digital Literacy Drive

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The Federal Government has affirmed that its plan to attain 95 per cent digital literacy by 2030 is  still on course.
Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashufu Abdullahi, gave the assurance during the graduation ceremony of 50 children, including 10 Almajiri children at the Engausa Global Tech Hub in Kano recently.
The  Tide’s source learnt that the Engausa Global Tech Hub is an incubation centre, currently working in collaboration with NITDA in Kano.
“These young children have been intensively trained at their early stage, using the Hausa Language in building their skills in digital technology, Computer Networking, Installation of CCTV cameras, Graphic Design, innovative creativity, among others,” he said.
Abdullahi also revealed that the centre in 2021, also trained over 700 young boys who were selected from various rural communities in the state.
“As a result of this intervention, in 2021, we have been able to expand the collaboration and we are going to do more this year to see how we can help the less privileged children to have access to technology.
“One of our mandates is to implement the policy under the National Digital Economy Policy for digital Nigeria to a logical conclusion in achieving the 95 per cent digital literacy by 2030”, he said.
He further noted that the  government cannot do it alone, hence the need to partner with centres like Engausa to achieve the aim.
“We are also looking at how we can assist the children who have participated in this programme to start their own businesses,” he added.
Earlier, the founder of the centre, Mustapha Ringim, confirmed that the centre was out to bridge the productivity gap in young people, especially those who cannot make it to formal schools.
“I realized that there are a lot of things that I can offer to the community concerning breaking some barriers and bridging some gaps which are limiting the productivity of our youth at the grassroots”, he said.
Ringim was of   the view that the Almajiri children and the school-drop outs who cannot continue their studies due to lack of proficiency in the English  Language, among other things was the main target of the centre.
“Language should not be a barrier to achieving one’s dream.There are a lot of developments in countries that are not using the English Language as a medium of learning skills, like European countries where English is not well-spoken, but technology, innovation and creativity are flourishing in the country”, he said.
According to him,   English Language should not be considered as  the only medium of learning skills or  the only medium of prosperity when it comes to knowledge.
English Language, he reasoned, should not deprive someone of practising his or her skills.

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IAUE To Invest In ICT Infrastructure

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The Acting Vice Chancellor of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Pro. Okechuku Onuchuku, has said that the institution will explore opportunities in the growing digital space by investing in Information Technology infrastructure.
This, he said, will reduce the digital divide between the university and the rest of the world.
Onuchukwu, who dropped the hint recently while addressing the school community in his New Year message in Port Harcourt, commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his immense investment in the education sector, especially in state-owned universities.
He said IAUE under his watch would forge mutually beneficial institutional linkage programmes with reputable universities and research institutions around the world to internationalise the academic content of the university.
One way to do this, he explained, is to come up with innovative research works that meets global standards and ensure that such works are made globally visible.
“Our academics will be motivated to turn out ground-breaking research works and innovations that would enhance our institutional visibility and social viability.
“To enhance our global visibility ranking and competiveness, it is profoundly important that we upload all our research outcomes on the Internet for our colleagues in other climes to access and cite our works, just as we do theirs in our works.
“In addition, we must upload all undergraduate, and Graduate Projects, Dissertations and Theses online.
“To do so, we must ensure proper supervision of students at all levels and insist that their references are in conformity with current biographical methodologies”, the Acting VC explained.
To enhance this, he urged lecturers who are not conversant with global referencing to promptly enroll on the Google Scholar and ResearchGate platforms in line with global best practice “in this age of knowledge globalisation”.
While commending the level of creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and sacrifices of staff and students since his assumption of office in November, Prof. Onuchuku said more needs to be done in 2022 as the institution seeks to aspire to rank among the best in the country.
“With your support, I am very determined to build a University that would benefit all stakeholders in our affairs. We made important progress last year through some of the milestone pronouncements and policy changes I initiated on assumption of office.
“I am glad to note that these policy changes are already yielding positive dividends to general applause.
“As we begin the New Year, I count on your continued support to enable us pull through the hurdles on our way in grand style. I invite you all to please come on board”, he urged.

By: King Onunwor

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NIPOST Partners Egyptian Firm On Logistics Digitalisation, Job Creation

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The Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) has signed a partnership with Egyptian firm, e-Gate Egypt, on digital transformation of logistics and last mile delivery chain services..
Postmaster-General (PMG) of NIPOST, Dr Ismail Adewusi revealed this in Abuja recently when the Chief Executive Officer of e-gate Egypt, Mr. Essam Alsaghir, visited NIPOST headquarters in Abuja to consummate the partnership.
Last mile delivery is  the movement of goods from the warehouse, shelf or transport hub to its final delivery destination or the customer’s door step professionally known as ‘the last mile’.
Adewusi, who said that the partnership would help in addressing infrastructure gaps in the Agency, added that it would also assist in job creation.
According to the PMG, “the digital transformation of the post implies that from end to end, the customer can track the movement of his mails and his parcels.
“I think it is one area that we’ve really lacked some form of competitive edge.
“The signing of this agreement will also assist us in contributing to the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of lifting 100 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years”, he explained.
The PMG noted that with the agreement, NIPOST could engage many youths, thereby increasing job opportunities in the country.
While explaining the significance of the agreement,  Alsaghir said digitally transforming NIPOST operations would fundamentally change the way postal services are delivered in Nigeria.
“When the agreement is implemented, the entire mail delivery system will be automated using driver mobile application. Customers can track the movement of their parcels through a mobile app.
“Our partnership with NIPOST will provide our customers with new technology and mobile app for a secure, easy and faster way to reach their clients not only for postal service but other transactions,” Alsaghir said.
He further said the partnership would help to generate money-making opportunities for many Nigerians, particularly young people.
me-generating opportunity, where citizens’ vehicles will be used. Now, every citizen with a vehicle will be a potential Courier Agent for the POS and private business,” he said.
The framework agreement is aimed at allowing Pan African Postal Union (PAPU) and stakeholders to explore and execute business opportunities for registered communication and digital postal services.

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