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NCC To Regulate Adverts On Telephones

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The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) is set to reduce the number of adverts and promotions which telephone service providers send to subscribers to enable them to improve on service delivery.

Minister of Communications and Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, made this known in Abuja on Sunday when she fielded questions at a forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The Tide learnt that the promotions carried out by the operators affected the quality of service provided because when they embarked on promos, the number of subscribers on the networks increases and there’s pressure on the network.

The minister who admitted that GSM service delivery had been poor in recent times, said because of the growth of the sector, operators had been facing demand challenge.

She said the advertisements and promotions on telephones did not necessarily worsened service delivery, but that natural and man-made disasters that befell the country in the past few months also contributed.

“A couple of months ago in September we had a number of attacks on the base stations in the North-East part of the country. A lot of these base stations were taken out and of course that affects the quality of service in the northern part of the country.

“The floods actually affected the ICT infrastructure; we have cables that are buried underground, we have base stations with generators that were basically covered with water.

“So they had issues in the North-East, issues where the floods were in the southern part of the country; so this took out a fair amount of the network and so there were challenges so that’s why you see that the quality of service has actually got worse.

“One of the things that NCC is doing at this point in time is: we are looking at how do we reduce the pressure on the networks as they bail these networks out?

“One of the ways in which we can do that and which is going to happen in the next days or weeks is that we’ll begin to curtail the promotions because what the promotion does is that it either increases the number of subscribers unto your network or it increases the number of minutes of calls on your networks.

“Because that’s really what they are doing right now, they are all fighting for market share. We need to curtail that and we are going to do that so what that does is that it decreases the pressure on the network.

“There are other things which are the value added services that are run on the operators’ infrastructure and those are the messages and the SMS you get on people selling things, many of them unwanted.

“We need to look at that as well, while you and I may say they are unwanted, some people actually find them very useful and some of them are quite informative, but I think it’s something the regulator is looking at. Of course, it is really advertising.

“Many other countries don’t allow it, in the U.S. I don’t think it’s allowed, in the UK I don’t think you’re allowed to send unsolicited texts unto people’s phones so we need to look at that as well.’’

Johnson assured NAN that efforts were underway to ensure that service delivery got better.

She also said that to have better service delivery, the network operators had been given a mandate to meet certain criteria called quality of service indicators.

She stressed that although the industry was the fastest growing one in Nigeria, there was no room for laxity.

“The ICT sector is growing at 30 per cent year-on-year and it’s been doing that for the last five years, it’s the fastest growing sector in this economy today.

“That sector is growing; consumer demand is growing and what we see right now is that the network operators are not able to keep up with the demand that they are seeing.’’

“Last year or the year before, the NCC, the regulator, had defined some quality of service indicators; call drop rates, call termination rates, all of those things were defined and articulated and the network operatives were told that you have to meet these quality of service indicators otherwise there would be a consequence.

“In May, it was so bad that we had to invoke that consequence, so the operators were fined significant amounts of money and nobody likes being fined by their regulator; I mean, it doesn’t bode well of you.

“But we also know that there are significant investments being made in those networks. You will see that a number of the companies, network operators have been advertising, they are upgrading their network.

“While there is a supply problem, this infrastructure is actually very vulnerable at this point in time not only vulnerable to natural disasters, which we can’t control, vulnerable to deliberate acts of vandalism on this infrastructure.

“This is infrastructure that is required for business, for security, for government, but really and truly it is treated so lightly.’’

Johnson also gave the assurance that in a few months, the telephone networks would be made better, noting that the building of ICT infrastructure took time.

The minister also appealed to Nigerians to stop the vandalism of infrastructure and help to secure them instead.

“Those are the kinds of things that we’re discussing with the states and local governments to let them know that this ICT infrastructure is as critical as power.

“You never go to a transformer and just yank it out, so the way you treat a transformer, treat a base station like that, treat fiber optic cable like that.

“ This is infrastructure and so as we’re building out these networks it would take time and I would say that you would see discernible improvement in quality of service over the next few months.

“But in terms of when can you get to that quality of service that you can make a call and it won’t drop, you don’t have to dial four times to get through to the person. I think we are about three or six months away from that.

“ We’re working on it, we will get there because it’s not in their interest (service providers) to give poor quality of service and I think that the agitation from Nigerians is enough incentive for them and from the NCC we are putting them under pressure.

“It’s enough incentive for the network operatives to begin to do what they need to do with their networks.’’

Johnson said with the kind of service that would be provided soon, consumers would be the king.

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Telecom Firm Trains Journalists On Artificial Intelligence

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Telecommunication company, 9mobile  Plc, has said that the company had trained some journalists across media houses in Nigeria on Artificial Intelligence-powered journalism.
The training, which was the third edition of the telco’s  capacity building initiative, designed to acquaint journalists with emerging trends in journalism, was  by multimedia producer and social media strategist, Usifo Omozokpea, who is currently the Audience Development Manager (West Africa) at The Conversation Africa.
According to Omozokpea, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the simulation of human intelligence process or human activities through machines, especially computer systems.
He noted that there are specific applications of AI which includes expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition and machine vision.
These tools, he said, enhance the job of media practitioners and can help them collaborate better.
According to him, there are various tools that have been designed to address specific media needs.
He urged participants to take advantage of the various AI tools at their disposal to improve their professional practice.
Speaking on the session, the Executive Director, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, 9mobile, Abdulrahman Ado, represented by 9mobile’s Public Relations  Lead, Chineze Amanfo, said that the knowledge shared during the training session had proven to be useful to all participants.
Ado noted that the knowledge gained by participants during the training will obviously aid them to work smarter and even create room for intelligent collaboration with their colleagues in a seamless and professional manner.

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INEC Admits Improvement On Voter Registration Exercise

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that over one million Nigerians have been added to the nation’s voter register.
The number of fresh online pre-registrants  was 3,165,189 while 1,457,766 have applied for voter transfer, replacement of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and update of information records.
National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement announcing the end of the first quarter of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
He said youths between the ages of 18 and 34 constituted the majority, with 771,770 (71.33 per cent) having completed registration.
In terms of occupation, students formed the largest category with 439,608 (40.63 per cent). In gender distribution, 555,872 (51.38 per cent) were male and 526,075 (48.62 per cent) female.
He said the second quarter of the exercise would begin October 4, 2021, and end December 20, 2021.
 “As provided by Section 19 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Commission is mandated to publish the register of voters for a period of not less than five days and not more than 14 days for public scrutiny during which citizens may make claims and objections,
“In compliance with the law, the register of new voters will be displayed in the local government offices of the Commission nationwide from September 24 to 30, 2021.
“The aim is to enable citizens to assist the Commission by identifying ineligible registrants on the list ahead of the cleaning up of the register before adding the fresh registrants to the current register and printing their PVCs for future elections”, he said.
Okoye observed that ineligible registrants included foreigners and Nigerians below the age of 18. He also urged people to help the Commission identify multiple registrants and deceased persons so that they can be removed from the register.
Also, INEC placed a suspension on online pre-registration and in-person voter registrations across Lagos State.
It said the suspension was to give room for all registrants to check the appropriateness of information supplied. It said the stoppage would afford its officials the opportunity to embark on necessary housekeeping activities in preparation for the next quarter.
In a statement, yesterday, by its Head of Department, Voter Education/Publicity for Lagos, Femi Akinbiyi, INEC said online pre-registration and in-person registration exercise started on June 28, 2021, and July 26, 2021.

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LG Boss Constitutes Voters Mobilisation, Registration Committee

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Ahead the 2023 general elections, the Executive Chairman of Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area, Hon Vincent Nemieboka, has constituted voters mobilisation/ registration committee across wards and communities in the area.
Hon Nemieboka urged the constituted committee members to liaise with councillors to achieve the  desired objective. 
He  made the declaration during a stakeholders meeting on voters registration at Ogu,the council headquarters, recently.
The council boss reiterated that  eligible voters utilise  the opportunity as provided by the Independent Electoral Commission ( INEC ) to register for the 2023 elections.
He said that Ogu/ Bolo under his leadership would not hesitate to  provide the logistics and enabling environment  for the exercise.
“The essence of the exercise can never be over emphasised. The electorate can decide the future of Rivers cum Nigeria with their vote,” he said.
He  further  urged the Councillors,traditional rulers, Community Development Committees and youth bodies to assist in carrying out the  awareness and stressed  the need for eligible voters to participate in the on going exercise.
The council boss urged the electoral umpire to improve on its services to avoid disefranchising eligible voters in the area. 
Describing Governor Wike’s performance in infrastructural and human capital development as unprecedented, he called for improved network in order to enhance the process. 
He was of the view  that the only way to reciprocate the Governor’ s kind gesture was to  show more support and ensure that  eligible voters do the needful.
In his remarks, the  Assistant Electoral Officer in charge of voters enlightenment , Mr Austin Jonas thanked the Chairman for organising  such event and said that it was a welcome development.
Austin said the electoral body would work in synergy with council authorities to ensure the exercise was  hitch free.
In their Separate speeches,the leader  of Ogu/Bolo Legislative Assembly, Rt Hon Thompson Ogwunna, said that  the councillors would give the Chairman necessary support to succeed in his determination to deliver democratic dividends to the people. 
Thompson, who represent, Ward 11, described the chairman as God-sent , as he urged  eligible voters on the  need to  avail themselves of the opportunity. 
The Deputy Leader, Hon Tamuno Dikibala Ofori, in his contribution, said that the councillors were working  in synergy with the executive to achieve  the aim of the exercise. 
Hon Tamuno, who represents Ward Five in the Ogu/Bolo Legislative  Assembly, also urged  his people to register for the elections.

By: King Onunwor

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