Issue #24   •   Quarter 1 Edition   •   April 2018

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has again advised subscribers to heed  the warnings by the commission against patronising sellers of pre-registered Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards, warning that fines and jail terms awaited anyone caught using such SIM cards as it is criminal to do so.

The Executive Vice Chairman, EVC, of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, gave the warning at the NCC Day during the Lagos International Trade fair organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lagos. Danbatta who was represented by Reuben Muoka, Head Media and Publicity, enjoined members of the public to report such criminal activities to law enforcement agencies rather than patronise the criminals. He said that consumers should see it as part of their responsibility, not only as subscribers but also as good citizens.

by Patience Yusuf (Public Affairs Department)

Background

The Freedom of Information Act was a product of collaboration between citizens, organised civic actors and government. It took seventeen years from the origin of its first draft until its adoption. The first draft of the bill was prepared by Tunde Fagbohunlu (SAN) in 1994.The Freedom of Information Act 2011 was passed by both chambers of the 6th National Assembly on 24th May 2011 and assented by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on 28th May, 2011.

The FoI Act supersedes the Official Secrets Act (OSA), originally enacted in 1911, which forbade the unauthorized transmission, obtaining, reproduction, or retention of any classified matter. The Act applies not only to public institutions but also to private organizations providing public services, performing public functions or utilizing public funds.

The underlying philosophy of the Act is that public servants are custodians of a public trust on behalf of a population who have a right to know what they do. In particular, the FoI Act promises to remove the aura of mystery and exclusion with which public servants cloak the ordinary operations of government and public institutions. It also seeks to change the manner in which public records and information are managed. The Act builds on an assumption of openness, by placing on those who wish to keep public information away from the people, the onus of justifying why they have to do so. If fully implemented, the FoI Act will transform quite fundamentally the way in which government conducts business and the perception of the people towards the government. The Act is a marked shift from the OSA which promotes secrecy and criminalises the disclosure of information.

Bethany Hamilton, Jason Lester, Melissa Stockwell, Chelsea McClammer are renowned names in the sports world, who have accomplished amazing feats as Olympic medalists amongst several other accolades. They all have one thing in common: some form of paralysis. Yet they embodied an anonymous quote- ‘Never be ashamed of a scar, it simply means that you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you’- and instead soared higher than millions of able bodied people. Courage became their source of strength, despite the odds that life threw their way and they succeeded in the field of sports. A field that simply demands the best of one’s physical ability and mental courage.

It was an honour to discover that at NCC, we didn’t need to read stories of people we don’t really know in order to be motivated. We have our very own gem of courage.

Abdulmuminu Yusuf is a staff of the Commission in the Corporate Planning and Strategy Department and he exemplifies the picture captured above that; “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently” ― Maya Angelou.

Chine and Chuba Ezekwesili, twins of a former Minister, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, have turned a mere childhood fancy into a major project. Chine (Sociologist) and Chuba (Economist) came together to found AKANKA, a business-to-business design marketplace. Chine who was in Bangkok as one of the innovators from Nigeria tells how they migrated from Socio-Economist to digital natives.

What did you study in school?

I studied Sociology at Boston University, United States while my twin brother studied Economics. In order to continue with sociology you probably have to go for a PhD, Master's degree etc. and what you can do with that limits you to academia which is something I didn't want to do.

What pushed you to IT?

The love for design pushed me to the IT space. When I came back home in 2012 I noticed that a lot of things were just badly designed and that was a big issue for me. I didn't want a situation where things didn't look as good as they're supposed to be so I decided, rather than complain about it I should just learn how to fix it and that's how we (my twin brother and I) started AKANKA.

Meet Oscar Ekponimo, the young innovator who represented Nigeria at the ITU Telecom World 2013 in Bangkok. His innovation is an application to help humanity check wastage of food.

What area is your innovation?

2014Q1-ekponimoMy innovation is in the area of food waste reduction; using web and mobile platform. There’re six global challenges that the UN under the ITU asked young people who are working in the start-up industry and also who are proficient in technology to innovate unique solutions to solve these global challenges and one of them included food waste. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, a third of the world’s food is wasted in the current method of production and distribution, so how could people help organisations and nations to leverage ICT to reduce this? My solution uses a mobile platform to reduce food waste.

How it works.

It’s two sides; we have the retailers and the individuals. At the retail level what this unique mobile solution does is that it allows retail stores track their inventory that is nearing expiration. What we do is that we go around and sign up stores; those stores have this application on their apps and, whenever they have inventory that is almost expiring, an alert is triggered, when it is triggered we receive it on that platform and then we know that we need to come and get some of the food and stop it from being wasted. For example a store may have a huge stock of cereal and then 10 days to expiry of a particular cereal or product an alert is triggered, we pick it up and we serve it to the needy people. We’ll be partnering with non-profit organisations; when we gather these foods from the retailers, we give it to non-profit organisations and they distribute it to the needy people. At the individual level; you and I have xcess food in our cupboard that sometimes we don’t need. I've been able to relate personally to these experiences. In October, 2013, I travelled a lot and when I came back I realised some Quaker Oats I had left in my cupboard went dead with ants. If a unique solution like this is available we could easily donate that as individuals. How it works is that you as an individual, if you have that application running in your phone you can trigger a notification that you have excess food you'll like to donate and then we'll come pick it up. There's also an SMS server implementation for low-end phones; if you don't have high-end phones, like the smart phones, you can participate using an SMS service. If you're using a low-end phone, when you send this notification, an auto response is sent back to you and then there's an information on the closest drop off point for your donations because there’s going to be logistics issue going to individual homes to pick up donations. If you're in a city like Abuja, we could say drop it at Banex Plaza for instance.

What prompted the initiative?

I have an end in mind; I have a vision of the kind of things I want to be associated with in 10 years from now, but it's more of a personal experience, growing up between 1997 and 2004. As I was growing up my dad took ill and stopped working, there was a huge burden on the family at that time financially; a major issue at the time was food. We lived in an average home, my siblings and I but there was just no food at that time. During that period of 1997-2004 sometimes I went to school without food; I was in secondary school at that time up until 2003. Between that period I was going to school hungry and I couldn't learn; it affected my academics, so it's something I could relate with so I always said, sometime in the future I'll do something to tackle hunger and in 2009 I and a couple of my friends, we had what we called 'Blue Valentine'. On Valentine Day we went out, taking food to street kids. Again moving forward, I gained some experience in ICT. After my NYSC I've worked with the defence industry, the NIA, as a defence contractor so I built some of these skills and I looked back in retrospect to say since I have these skills I can use it to make things better.

What is your Background?

I turned 27 years in April 2013 and graduated at 24 after studying computer science at the University of Calabar.

Your target audience?

We can't solve all the problems but to me there's an entry point to everything. I thought about it from this angle, there are a lot of organisations solving problems of hunger but then, there's food still being wasted. So if we can save that food and add it to the entire food chain of people helping hungry people that are going to be a plus. That's why I didn't just stop it at reducing food waste, which is what the initial problem solving paradigm was, I extended it to the entire value chain so that when we get this food that would have been wasted, we give it to the hungry people. I will be talking to Save the Children; they're our partner non-profit organisation that will be distributing it to hungry people. And we're talking to Urban Nigeria, there're non-profit also, based in Abuja. They deal with Orphans and Vulnerable Children, OVCs. When we get products from some of these stalls we will deliver it to them and they will distribute it. We will also partner telecom operators. The plan is to have it as a home application ; like when you launch your mobile phone for example, you have some applications there. If you can have that as your home screen just as we have Eskimi and MTN online there'll be more awareness. There's another aspect which I'll be approaching them about; it's a form of CSR and by the grace of God they'll open their door. We're planning to build a revenue model around VAS. For example we distribute content for healthy food tips and then if people pay for them we would be able to split the revenue and use it for sustainability, because every business, even non-profit has to be sustainable because you can't add that value without having money to reach out to these people. There's a new paradigm in non-profit called social business. In other words if you're doing a non-profit, you can do it as a business. So you can actually solve the problem of your immediate community in terms of what you're doing and also build a business out of it. We have several models like that outside of Nigeria and this will be one of the first social businesses.

Capacity for your application …

So far, the early stages have been done; we have a prototype, and then the next phase now is going to be a private bitter testing of this of this application. I and my team will be working on the bitter testing aspect of it. After that will be the full implementation; signing up the stores and creating our user base and then we scale up, and then do sales and marketing. Which of course means that we've created awareness for this product. Of course we've tested out with our partners and retail stalls. There're a couple of medium range supermarkets in Abuja where I'm based who have indicated interest to this. Once we have that application up and running we'll begin testing with them.

Subscription capacity

Like I said, we'll start beta testing, so there're no subscriptions yet. We would be implementing cloud based servers, most likely Amazon; to launch it in the cloud and then people can download it. We will put it up on the app store for people to download. But in terms of capacity, I'm a programmer and I also have another programmer and we'll be adding one more programmer and a software engineer to the team; he will build this out. In terms of capacity still, it's really good because the resources we need basically is very cheap and doesn't really take much to do this. It just requires the time, effort, hosting fees and some tools that we need and we'll be able to roll out.

Will you sell out your application for huge offer?

If you look at the brochure where my profile is, I talked about our vision is to build a technology from Africa to the world. So I will not sell, why? because I believe it's time for African firms to contribute to the wider innovation and technology circle around the world. We should be able to walk on the streets of New York and see a high rise tower and be able to say that's an African company. We should also be able to walk in Bangkok and say that's a firm owned by an African. That can only happen if we Africans internalise. The way I've been able to even build this, previously, I tried to talk to a few people in government on some ideas that I have; the response that I get is rather negative. In fact one professor said to me, ‘hey you want to get rich quick that's why you're doing this’. You know that's the mentality.

Support from the government?

I don't want to be critical about the government so far, but I believe they can do much more. I didn't get any support thus far from the government, but hopefully they will. I've not met with the minister, I've never met her before. I submitted my work directly to the ITU; we had several judges from Red Cross, FOA, and Microsoft judging my specific application and prototype and everything I did. This was for about a month, back and forth with questions on how I was going to get things done and the building of this part of the implementation. Out of 600 entries across the world from 88 countries mine was selected for that category.

Education?

We're all products of Nigerian university, my partner studied computer science also from the University of Port Harcourt, I went to University of Calabar, the young lady who is in charge of sales and marketing studied Theatre Arts in University of Abuja.

Global competitiveness of Nigerian Universities in ICT training

From my background I'll rather relate it to my experience in computer science at the University of Calabar. Most of what I know were self-thought skills, I wouldn't say it's competitive; it's far from being competitive. The journey here and what I know; the University of Calabar I would say gave me the foundation; a building block to inspire me. But the core relevance in today's industry I got it outside. I got the inspiration while in school when I went for my IT after my second year. I went to a small digital photography firm. The owner of the place was a graduate student at Ife, so we told him we wanted to do IT and asked if we could help out with his photography business and be mentored by him. He was really excited and enthusiastic. He gave us e-books and this was far back in 2005. He set up a room for five people with computers, e-books and videos and we just learnt. He told us I can't baby-sit you if you're really motivated to do this, just learn. So we did that and on weekends we helped him snap, so this carried on from 2005-2007 and this was my starting point and after that, every other technology I learned I studied by myself.

Below are eighteen (18) survey questions that will be used as a metric to measure the cyber security awareness level of NCC staff.

  1. Do you know when your computer is hacked or infected, and whom to contact when it occurs?
    1. Yes, I know when my computer is hacked or infected and I know whom to contact.
    2. No, I do not know when my computer is hacked or infected and I don't know whom to contact.
    3. Yes, I know when my computer is hacked or infected but I don't know whom to contact.
  2. Have you ever found a virus or Trojan on your computer at work?
    1. Yes, my computer has been infected before
    2. No, my computer has never been infected
    3. I do not know what a virus or Trojan is
  3. Is anti-virus currently installed on your computer?
    1. Yes it is
    2. No it is not
    3. I do not know how to tell
  4. If anti-virus is installed, is it enabled and updated on your computer?
    1. Yes, it is enabled but not updated
    2. No, it is neither enabled nor updated
    3. I do not know how to tell
  5. How secure do you feel your computer is?
    1. Very secure
    2. Secure
    3. Not secure
  6. Is the firewall on your computer enabled?
    1. Yes, it is enabled
    2. No, it is not enabled
    3. I do not know what a firewall is
  7. How careful are you when you open an attachment in email?
    1. I always make sure it is from a person I know and I am expecting the email
    2. As long as I know the person or company that sent me the attachment I open it
    3. There is nothing wrong with opening attachments
  8. Do you know what a phishing attack is?
    1. Yes, I do
    2. No, I do not
  9. Do you know what an email scam is and how to identify one?
    1. Yes, I know what an email scam is and how to identify one
    2. I know what an email scam is, but I do not know how to identify one
    3. No, I do not know what an email scam is or how to identify one
  10. My computer has no value to hackers, they do not target me.
    1. True
    2. False
  11. Do we have policies on what you can and cannot use email for?
    1. No, there are no policies, I can send whatever emails I want to whomever I want while at work
    2. Yes, there are policies limiting what emails I can and cannot send while at work, but I do not know the policies
    3. Yes, there are policies and I know and understand them
  12. Can you use your own personal devices, such as your mobile phone, to store or transfer confidential office information?
    1. Yes I can
    2. No I cannot
    3. I do not know
  13. Have you downloaded and installed software on your computer at work?
    1. Yes I have
    2. No I have not
  14. Has your boss or anyone else you know at work, asked you for your password?
    1. Yes, they have
    2. No, they have not
  15. Do you use the same passwords for work-related activities as you do for home activities?
    1. Yes I do
    2. No I do not
  16. How often do you take information from the office and use your computer at home to work on it?
    1. Almost every day
    2. At least once a week
    3. At least once a month (d) Never
  17. Have you logged into office accounts using public computers, such as from a library, cyber café or hotel lobby?
    1. Yes, I have
    2. No, I have not
  18. Do you log off and close your browser after every online activity that requires you to use a password?
    1. Yes, I do log off and close my browser after every online activity that requires a password
    2. No, I don't log off and close my browser after every online activity that requires a password
    3. Yes, I do close my browser but I don't log off after every online activity that requires a password.

2014Q1-maryam-bayiFollowing the recent promotions at the Nigerian Communications Commission, management has redeployed some top management staff of the Commission for optimal performance. EVC of the Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah, who announced the changes through a memo posted on the NCC portal, said Management had deemed it expedient to effect the changes, so that offices and responsibilities can be properly realigned for optimal service delivery.

The redeployment affected five directors, five Deputy Directors, and seven Assistant Directors. The erstwhile Director of Corporate Planning and Strategy Department, Ms. Funlola Akiode was appointed Director of the newly created Special Duties Department. Mr. Nnamdi Nwokike, former Director of Projects was redeployed to Corporate Planning as Director while the newly promoted Director and former Head of Legislative and Government Relations, Ms. Ayodeji Sofolahan was appointed Director of Projects. Mrs. Maryam Bayi (pictured), the former Head of Human Capital who was also promoted, was appointed the new Director of Consumer Affairs while Engr. Austin Nwaulune, former Head of Spectrum Administration, is now the Director of the Department.

Similarly, the Head of Universal Service Provision Fund, USPF, Mr. Abdullahi Maikano now stays on the job as Director/Secretary of USPF while Mr. Ibrahim Yakubu, a former Deputy Director at the USPF, moves over to the Policy and Competition Department to Head the Tariffs and Charges Unit.

Mrs. Amina Shehu, former Assistant Director in Corporate Planning Department was redeployed as Head, Human Capital while Dr. Ike Adinde of the Human Capital Department, an Assistant Director, was redeployed to the Corporate Planning and Strategy Department.

Mr. Inatimi Spiff, an Assistant Director formerly of Policy and Competition Department is now in Projects Department while Engr. Abba Adamu of Technical Standards Department, who was recently promoted, is now an Assistant Director with the USPF. Mr. Mohammed L. Ibrahim, newly promoted Assistant Director and Zonal Controller of Kano Zonal office, was redeployed to headquarters as Head, Legislative and Government Relations while the newly promoted Assistant Director in Projects Department, Mr. Alkasim Umar, now heads Kano Zonal Office. Mr Ogbonnaya Ugama, newly promoted as Assistant Director, moved from Corporate Planning Department to Policy and Competition Department.

The Special Adviser, Technical to the EVC, Engr Anthony Ikemefuna was transferred to the Department of Special Duties while Engr Edoyemi Ogo, formally of the Spectrum Department is now the current Special Adviser, Technical to EVC.

The Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Danbatta, is indeed a thoroughbred Electrical/Electronic Engineer and does not leave you in any doubt about his passion and commitment to his profession. He has lived his career from academia to research to hands-on industry experience. In this exclusive interview with THE COMMUNICATOR, he shares his vision for a robust growth in the nation’s telecoms sector, his strategy and his dream of overawing the challenge of Quality of Service. Here are excerpts.


Prof. Umar G. Danbatta
Tackling the Issue of QoS
Quality of Service (QoS) at the moment is not the best. It is also characterised by key performance indicators (KPIs) which we know are defined by terminologies associated with drop calls, inability to get calls through and vice versa; when someone calls you and he or she is not able to get through to you. And there are other technical issues that are not conversant to ordinary Nigerians all of which we must tackle to improve QoS. The non-technical issues are the ones that Nigerians are more conversant with; the inability to have Right of Way to access sites and locations for the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure like fibre networks. There’s the issue of multiple taxation at the state and federal levels, and even local government and ward levels; and next to these two is the vandalisation of telecoms infrastructure. The Commission is taking each and every one of these factors affecting negatively on QoS. Immediately I assumed duty, I went public to say that we’ll put strategies in place to tackle head on these factors that are impacting negatively on QoS.

I even went as far as in one of the management meetings to put in place an improvement of QoS initiative in form of a taskforce working presently in tandem with other departments of the Commission, all to ensure that the QoS improves. We have given them a timeline to report back to the management for us to be able to verify if the measures we’re putting in place are yielding the desired result and if not so, what we need to do to change our strategy. But the most important message that should go out to the public is that something is deliberately being done to improve QoS.
Operator investment and degradation of QoS
Capacity is definitely a problem; capacity in terms of ability to communicate over the networks. The information I’m getting is that capacity is adequate, but there’s something we’re not doing well that is affecting QoS. We’re looking at the technical factors even as we’re convinced that if we’re looking for remarkable improvement in QoS, then we must roll out broadband services. The infraCos have a key role here; two have already been licensed; Lagos and the North central, Lagos because it is a strategic location and North Central because that is where the seat of power is.

But you will not notice remarkable improvement in QoS until the other ones are licensed for the other zones, especially major cities. Here we’re talking about fibre that comes in our metropolitan cities; metropolitan fibre networks, those are needed in cities like Port Harcourt, Enugu, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna etc. Presently there’s a committee set up to look at, as a matter of urgency, the issue of infraCo licensing for the five other zones even as we’re making conscious and deliberate attempt to ensure that those already licensed roll out broadband services. Like MainOne that was given the license for Lagos, I understand that there are some little issues that need to be fine-tuned to ensure that fibre infrastructure is deployed as a matter of urgency.

We have to also take the broadband strategy to be consistent with the national broadband policy because it is one thing to have the broadband infrastructure but deployment is key. So you see, what we have at present is holistic approach towards improving QoS.
Strategy for tackling Right of Way Issue
Yes what we’re doing is in two ways; we have written to the Governors’ Forum and what we intend doing is to pay a courtesy call on them in order to drive the message home that this multiple taxation impedes on our conscious effort to deploy broadband services as well as to set this important argument that the taxes that they’ll be realising through broadband services will outweigh so much the little money they’re collecting by creating obstacles for broadband deployment.

If they can understand this argument; which is a very strong and convincing argument we intend to put across, then we have to be able to convince them to relax some of these stringent measures they’re putting as it refers to the infraCos by way of relaxing impediments to Right of Way and multiple taxation. We have strategized on what we intend to say to the Governors’ Forum and I think this kind of engagement is germane to drive the point home that there’ll be a complete benefit of the scale that will far outweigh the little money they’re getting now. The level of penetration will speak for itself and people will pay taxes alongside these improvements that we’re going to witness in broadband penetration and the proliferation of ICT services all over the major cities in Nigeria and the taxes associated with those services will far outweigh the little money they’re getting by introducing those taxes. The operators need to be protected, as they are trying to make efforts to provide additional infrastructure that is needed to improve QoS and by introducing all kinds of taxes, you’re not encouraging them and that will not solve the problem of QoS. The second is that there are devices that can improve reception in high-rise buildings; hotels, offices etc. These are electronic gadgets that can improve reception in those places and once reception improves in such places where people gather the result and effect also will be improvement in QoS.

The NCC will recommend those gadgets to be installed in hotels, high-rise buildings etc. The service providers should do the installation because they’re the ones selling services. We can advise them on what kind of devices to be installed. The other critical issue which many of the operators talk about is the extent which the equipment they install in the base stations are being stolen and vandalised. There’s this conscious and deliberate attempt by the commission to get the government to agree through the National Assembly to make telecoms infrastructure a critical infrastructure where vandalisation will be seen as a criminal act. The bill has successfully been developed from the commission and it has since been sent to the Ministry of Communication Technology. If and when they see a copy of it at the National Assembly, our expectation is that they pass the Bill into law so that this important infrastructure of the nation’s economy can be protected because this is the practice globally, that telecoms infrastructure is seen in the same scale of importance even, as power infrastructure. Many countries have added the telecoms infrastructure in that category of critical national infrastructure just like power.
Strategy to bring back CDMAs
Fixed networks have been neglected; nobody is interested in them despite the promises they hold. Operators are more interested in providing mobile services and the subscriber base by operator attest to this; MTN, over 60 million subscribers, Glo, over 30 million, Etisalat and Airtel over 20 million each and then Visafone about 2.5 million subscribers. If we can deliberately introduce incentives to any operator to come in and roll out fixed telecoms services we can do it. The Commission is open to negotiations on how this could be done.

We intend to convince the government to key into this important initiative of the Commission. Through this medium I send a message to operators who will be willing to buy into this important idea of availing themselves the opportunity to get the incentives that we intend to put in place in order to revive fixed telephony services.
Fining errant operators
We’re not fining operators on flimsy excuses when and if cases of infringement are established; they are fined on cases of infringement consistent with the law. People forget that the regulator conducts this important affair of regulation, consistent with the Act and there are other regulations already gazetted; the SIM card registration regulation, the law establishing the USPF and other laws regulating monitoring and compliance. It is when we establish infringement by the regulators, or actions that are incompatible with the Act that we invoke appropriate provisions of the law pertaining to those infringements and their appropriate sanctions.

We don’t want to be doing that but the regulator cannot just stand by and watch as these various infringements are being committed with impunity. No responsible regulator will stand by and watch. Our main responsibility is to the Nigeria consumers, there should be fairness when and if infringements are committed then we look at the laws and apply appropriate sanctions. At times we warn and other times we even give opportunity to the operators to explain why disciplinary measures cannot be meted out. An operator is supposed to be a de facto regulator. One thing is to encourage competition in the telecoms sector in this country and you cannot do that by always applying the ‘big stick’ method. We invite operators for meetings in order to explore areas of mutual cooperation to improving telecoms services including rendering professional advice as to how this could be done.

But again we cannot stand idle and watch when rules and regulations governing telecoms services are broken and with ignominy and where necessary we involve provisions of the law and apply some sanctions. I give you an example of the SIM card registration that people saw as a punitive pressure that we’re mounting on the operators to ensure compliance, but out there, there are millions of illegally, invalidly or improperly registered SIM cards which facts have been established that these cards are being used to perpetuate all kinds of criminal acts and the environment in which operators deliver services, is the same the regulator use to deliver service and consumers also use to receive ominous messages and to communicate. There’s the insurgency, people have been kidnapped and it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that some of these crimes are SIM-card based. We simply have to do our work by protecting the interest of Nigerians in the area of making sure that there’s peace. And that is why as a responsible, law-abiding regulator, we are relying on the provisions of the law to impose sanctions and we do not hear the operators complain, we said you’re either up to date or you pay fine after giving them moratorium of many weeks in fact months. Where there is no compliance we invoke the provisions of the law to compel compliance.
Your Leadership Style
If after five years I can look back and say that the legacy I’m leaving behind is that I’ve succeeded in the deployment of broadband infrastructure; licensing the infraCos and not only that but supervising and ensuring that the component of deployment that is the responsibility of the NCC is discharged beyond reasonable doubt; If Nigerians could stand to admit that broadband services are available, plus the advantages associated with those services (speed, traffic, and limit to electromagnetic interference) then my vision for the NCC and the telecoms industry in Nigeria would have been achieved. These are my two important areas of attention. Why I keep saying this is because they’re also closely related. What do we say we have done if we do not roll out broadband services? Everyone as well as the government will benefit from broadband services. That is why I say broadband services is a win-win situation; introduce broadband services and every other thing will fall into place.
Your Vision
My vision is to ensure the deployment and hosting of broadband services in major cities and then use the intervention service of the commission to ensure that the final deployment to those areas that are underserved and un-served or rural communities as we come to know them today do not come to nought because we have the resources to do this but we cannot accomplish this important task until the necessary infrastructure is put in place. The broadband infrastructure is still in its formative stage and non-existent in some places. As a professor who has supervised projects closely related to QoS I also intend to bring together the experience in ensuring that QoS improves. I can do this in many ways, I can invite those students who conducted research related to QoS to come in and see how we can use their experiences. Let us see whether even in a pilot scheme we can use these research and development from the universities since there’s a disconnect; people in a laboratory sit down in obscure places to do research and development. I will serve as a bridge between the industry, the Commission and the universities.
700MHz Frequency supervision and licensing
This is a very important spectrum because of its penetration; the higher the frequency the higher the penetration in terms of distance. This band is so ideal for broadband penetration, and before I was appointed the spectrum was auctioned by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), they had the approval granted by the government. Now we understand that that frequency should not have been auctioned for broadcast services because it is a telecommunication spectrum. We are not going public to engage them even though it is under a different ministry, we don’t think that is the right approach. We do not intend to join issues with them but we intend to avail ourselves of existing mechanism for arbitration and mediation through the Frequency Management Council which is a very important organ of government that has a representation from the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology as well as the Communication Technology Ministry. The Director -General of the NBC is a very close friend of mine and I don’t think that by going public we’re really going to help matters.

What we’re going to do if there’s a need is to find a way to get them to move to the upper range of that frequency which is not up to 700MHz. The upper range for broadcasting is 694MHz, that will free the 700MHz spectrum for use to facilitate communication services. That is the approach we intend to adopt to resolve the matter and I’ve spoken with the NBC DG and he has expressed readiness to come to the Commission to talk about it so that we can together be able to fashion out a way forward that will be devoid of any acrimony or rancour which normal Nigerians are used to when issues of this nature come up. We do not intend to do that or play to the gallery; we thought they are issues that are better resolved amicably and peacefully.
Open Access Model Of Broadband Deployment
It’s a model I met in place, it’s a good model, and I’ve gone through it. Every policy of the Commission is well thought out and articulated from the relevant departments of the Commission. You cannot just come in as a new Chief Executive and then just begin to change those policies until there are indications from the same departments that these policies should be reviewed. These policies are not defined and the dynamic nature of the industry dictates that policies are revisited if the need arises and we’ll do it that way. We’re not going to adopt a populist approach in order to attract publicity. We’ll ensure we do our work well, and be consistent with global best practices.
Becoming the EVC of the Commission
I didn’t get a prior knowledge. When my name popped up about five years ago I was with the NCC but as Vice President of the Digital Bridge Institute; I spent five years there and then left for my university. I visited the immediate past EVC of the Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah to convey my appreciation for what he has done as well as to listen to words of advice. If and when necessary I will visit him again. I have also visited other past EVCs because I feel I can benefit from them on how they think the Commission should be run, what they think we should do to improve on the very good legacy they have left behind.

Very soon another EVC will come in and I’m sure he will also want to get advice from me in order to continue from where I have stopped. This is a continuous process it has nothing to do with the individual but a lot to do with the office and also with our collective commitment to ensure that telecoms services are accessible, available and affordable; these are what I owe the Commission.
Message to the World
We’re sending this message to them that the NCC intends to keep and maintain its enviable position in the comity of countries that are members of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). This is a very important position that we occupy. We are like a benchmark for quality telecoms services in Africa and a force to reckon with in terms of telecoms services. I am letting the world know that the business climate has really improved; corruption is gradually being nipped in the bud. Business proliferates where rules are observed and rules of engagement are also very kinder; you don’t have to pay anything in any form to get a business. There’s a rave of change all over the country and it is a good invitation to investors. The time to invest and invest more in Nigeria is now.

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has unveiled its proposed licensing framework for the 38GHz and 42GHz bands as well as the re-planning of the 23GHz Microwave spectrum band for improved telecommunications services in Nigeria.

Speaking at a consultative forum in Lagos to seek the input of stakeholders on the licensing framework, the Executive Vice Chairman, EVC, of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta said that “the Commission as a matter of tradition institutionalized a policy of participatory regulation and industry wide consultations in carrying out its regulatory functions”.

The forum on the 38GHz and 42GHz licensing framework as well as the re-planning of the 23GHz Microwave spectrum band the EVC added, is consistent with the commission’s 8-point agenda to facilitate strategic collaboration and partnership with relevant stakeholders to improve Quality of Service, facilitate broadband penetration, optimize usage and benefits of spectrum, protect and empower consumers, promote innovation and investment opportunities, promote fair competition and ensure regulatory excellence and operational efficiency.

The EVC who was represented by the Director, Public Affairs of the Commission, Mr. Tony Ojobo, further added that due to the emerging broadband trend in the Nigeria telecommunications market today, which will certainly require massive deployments of critical infrastructure, this forum has become imperative “if we are to achieve the set target of government of 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018 where additional spectrum resources would be required to avoid network challenges. The opening up of 38 and 42GHz bands for use in Nigeria and the re-planning of the 23GHz Microwave spectrum band is one of such measures”

“The commission recognizes that it is important to review the channeling plan in some of the existing Microwave Frequency bands as well as to open up and license other Frequency bands that are commercially viable to enable efficient use of spectrum which will also enable the operators of the industry to effectively meet their spectrum needs for rollout of broadband services”.

 

Importance of the Bands Licensing

According to the EVC, the licensing will help the telecoms industry to:

  • Address the growing demands by operators for spectrum for high speed and high capacity links for data centric services
  • Further assist the commission’s drive for National Broadband Wireless Access Initiative
  • Reduce the pressure and management challenges experienced with the traditional Microwave Frequency bands

All these he added is to enable ubiquitous and pervasive broadband services which the commission foresees that the Nigerian consumer can leverage on and this will also make service delivery better.

I went to a senior colleague of mine to ask what I needed to do to be more effective and make a good impression in the office. I got good pointers on various subjects which I am expanding on. I believe information like this is helpful to all and so I am going to share my conversation and the lessons learned in a few lines. It goes without saying that you should do your job, but how you do the job is what makes the difference. In carrying out your daily tasks, make the effort to;


Use Proper Office Etiquette
Your boss and coworkers will appreciate it if you follow the rules of office etiquette. For example, you should use your cell phone properly, have good table manners, and know how to write email for business correspondence and to use the telephone at work. (We have written about these in previous editions!!!)


Face Up to Your Mistakes
When you make a mistake at work, which everyone inevitably does at some point, admit it. You shouldn't ignore your error or place the blame on others. Instead, you must take responsibility and come up with a way to fix your mistake. Your boss may not be too happy that you made a mistake to begin with, but at least will recognize your effort.


Call in Sick to Work When You Should
Do you think coming to work when you're sick instead of staying at home will impress your boss? It will not. Reasonable bosses know that a sick employee not only isn't productive, he or she can spread an illness around the office rendering everyone else unproductive. Call in sick when you need to. Your boss and your coworkers will appreciate it. That being said don't abuse it and call in when you just don't feel like coming in to the office that day.


Know What Topics to Avoid Discussing
Staying away from subjects that make others feel uncomfortable or contribute to workplace strife may not make your boss see you in a positive light, but doing so will keep him from thinking poorly of you. Subjects that do not make for good workplace conversation include politics, religion, and incessant discussions of your health problems and other personal issues. I have a new catch phrase for this one... "keep the personal out of the business". It will amaze you what can happen when you do that.


Dress Appropriately
Wearing the right clothes to work and, most importantly, not wearing the wrong clothes, will put you in your boss's good graces. You should dress for the "role you are playing." If you aspire to be a leader at work, dress like one.


Avoid Offending Your Co-Workers
We spend more time in our offices than anywhere else. Your boss will appreciate it if you do not do things that offend your coworkers. Always show respect toward them. The last thing a boss wants brought to his attention are the uncivil actions of one of his employees. It makes the atmosphere tense and reduces productivity. Not to mention making other workers around you uncomfortable.

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to splash great incentives in the path of investors in the nation's telecom market. He made the promise in Bangkok, Thailand at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecom World conference.

The President who was represented by the minister of communication, Barr Adebayo Shittu, said Nigeria presents the highest return on investment and urged investors to take advantage of the huge market that Nigeria offers. He listed areas of investment to include deployment of broadband infrastructure, internet provision, equipment manufacturing and assembly, content development, e-applications namely e-government, e-learning etc. He said the testimony of old investors in the Nigerian market is enough to encourage new entrants.

Considering the pivotal role telecommunications plays in the lives and economic wellbeing of any country, no effort should be spared in protecting the infrastructure and platforms of the industry, according to Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta.

But NCC is concerned about increasing cases of illegal sealing up of telecoms Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) across the country by various persons, including organizations, communities, agencies of the Federal State and local government at times using law enforcement officers.

Danbatta who led a team of NCC Directors and officials on a courtesy visit to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase in Abuja recently, lamented that apart from the actions being illegal, they also violate Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, CAP C39, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Sealing up of Base Stations also has its social implication that is cutting off subscribers from communicating thereby degrading quality of service, which is already a major concern.

Acts of willful destruction of telecoms infrastructure, cutting of fibre optics and general vandalism have become very worrisome, hence the proposal for the institution of a critical infrastructure law that will require the police to monitor and protect public infrastructure.

“While we seek your support for urgent actualization of this law, we wish to implore you to see to the use of the current provisions of the law to ensure that individuals found to be engaged in willful destruction of telecoms infrastructure are timely prosecuted,” Danbatta pleaded with the IGP.

Both agencies of government, recently pledged to collaborate on vital issues concerning security of telecoms infrastructure and capacity building for modern policing which the IGP, Solomon Arase, stressed, forms the bedrock of modern security practices.

While the EVC, used the opportunity of the visit to place a request list on the table of the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, which includes the intervention of the IGP in the following areas: Illegal Sealing of Base Stations, Protection of Critical Telecom Infrastructure, Stealing of Telecom Equipment, and Prosecution of Cases on Contraventions of NCC Regulations; an excited IGP lauded the role of modern telecoms in tackling national security challenges, citing kidnapping as one area where the role of GSM has been pronounced.

Explaining that over the years the telecommunications sector has grown in leaps and now forms the super structure of modern lifestyle, social and economic practices, Danbatta told Arase that except something was done urgently the adverse practices as listed above will hurt the industry and impact very negatively on life in the country

“Virtually all the financial transactions, mobile money and mobile banking are made possible as a result of the infrastructure and platforms provided by the telecom industry.

The vibrant social media industry that we are witnessing today is made possible by the platforms provided by the telecom industry. The telecom and ICT industry currently contributes about 10% to the GDP of this country. It is therefore evident that telecommunications impact positively on our lives, our families, businesses, governance, security, and even our social lives, and even in our international relations,” Danbatta explained while appealing to the IGP to help provide security for the protection of these vital facilities.

Danbatta recalled that several arrests have been made over the past two years, of those involved in either the use of pre-registered SIM Cards or those perpetrating other criminal acts. Although the Police were part of the compliance team of the Commission which carried out the arrests, most of the cases were either thrown out for lack of proper investigation or lack of diligent prosecution.

Danbatta who recently released an 8-point Agenda aimed at repositioning the telecommunications sector told the IGP that as the Commission under him was putting more emphasis on sanitizing the telecom environment and enforcing compliance to its regulations, he would need the law enforcement community, especially the police to support his efforts.

Arase who expressed the readiness of the Force to work with the Commission immediately proposed the setting up of joint teams, drawn from the Police and the Commission which will handle telecom related cases.

smartphone_overtakePC

As operators worldwide begin launching Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks, the availability of LTE devices has skyrocketed to over 200 million, more than a tenfold increase since the end of 2010. While PCs account for the majority of subscriptions currently, smartphones are expected to become the largest segment by 2014. This is according to a new video based on the report by Jan Ten Setoff, Pyramid Research Analyst. Nigeria’s telecommunication industry is expected to join others to benefit from the world’s communication services revenue, which is expected to grow from $2.7 trillion by 2017.

 

After a painstaking exercise and consultation, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) and Chief Executive of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has unveiled an 8-point agenda covering 2015-2020.

The new vision is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s change mantra. It is “to promote innovation, investment, competition and consumer empowerment in and on top of Communications platforms of today and the future-maximizing the power of Information and Communications Technology to grow our economy, create jobs, and enhance national competitiveness through the deployment of broadband infrastructure to facilitate roll out of broadband services that will hold out opportunities and higher network quality of service for all Nigerians.”

The 8-point pillars rest on a tripod of 'A's which include Availability of Service, Accessibility of Service and Affordability of service in line with the Buhari change agenda, an ideological shift in creation of structures for social benefits and inclusiveness for national development.

Prof. Danbatta who spoke to journalists at an International Press conference in Lagos, listed the 8-point agenda as follows:

  1. Facilitate Broadband penetration through provision and optimization access to and use of affordable fixed and mobile broadband in Nigeria;
  2. Improve Quality of Service by promoting the availability of reliable, interoperable, rapidly restorable critical ICT infrastructure that are supportive of all required services;
  3. Optimize usage and benefits of spectrum by maximizing availability of spectrum in order to provide diverse and affordable ICT services and ensuring that spectrum acquisition does not distort marketing competition;
  4. Promote ICT innovation and investment opportunities. By this, ICT innovations will be promoted in ways that improve the nation’s ability to compete in the global economy, increased investment in youth and promotion of SMEs for new business delivery breakthroughs;
  5. Facilitate Strategic Collaboration and partnership with relevant stakeholders to foster ICT for sustainable economic development and social advancement;
  6. Protect and empower consumers from unfair practices through availability of information and education required to make informed choices in the use of ICT services;
  7. Promote fair competition and inclusive growth by creating a competitive market for ICT services that foster fair inclusion of all actors in innovative ways that facilitate new investment, job creation and consumer satisfaction; and
  8. Ensure regulatory excellence and operational efficiency through effective regulatory framework, efficient processes, strict compliance monitoring and enforcement efficient management of internal resources and structure and maintain a commitment to transparency.

Danbatta said; "Wealth creation through application of human knowledge and creativity is steadily outpacing wealth creation through extraction and processing of natural resources. Knowledge has increasingly become an important means for value creation. Hence, with globalization and the technological revolution of the last few decades, knowledge has clearly become the key driver of competitiveness and is now profoundly reshaping the patterns of the world’s economic growth and activity."

He maintained that "the policy goals of the Nigerian Communications Commission recognize the immense socio-economic importance of ICTs to national development and therefore seeks to ensure that the infrastructure necessary to provide ubiquitous broadband services is available and accessible to all citizens at affordable rates. Broadband is the next frontier in the ICT industry which will help in the speedy transformation of the Nigerian economy."

Hence, he added "This Strategic Vision 2015-2020 responds to this by setting out the foundations, for future growth and competitiveness that will be sustainable and inclusive and which would address our principal societal challenges as a nation."

Lagos
January 27, 2016

The newly appointed Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Professor Umar Garba Damabatta, who has resumed duty in acting capacity pending confirmation by the Senate, has promised to tackle the quality of service issues in the industry very seriously.


Prof. Umar G. Danbatta

Professor Danbatta who addressed a cross section of top management and Staff of the NCC at the headquarters in Abuja on Friday, said that he will bring his experience to bear in confronting the challenges of the telecom industry in Nigeria.

"I want to pledge that I will bring to bear, my wealth of experience in tackling the issue of quality of service in order to meet the expectations of the public that we are servicing" he said.

The Professor of Electronics engineering, said he would focus on those internationally acceptable ideals in telecom regulation, as stipulated by the International Telecommunications Union, ITU that makes quality of service a compelling attraction for the achievement of universal service.

"The concept of universal access is premised on three ‘A’s, as the hallmarks of universal access and they include Availability of service, Accessibility of Service, and Affordability of service. Those will dictate at all times what we do, and I am sure those were the dictating parameters for improvement in the quality of service", he said.

Professor Danbatta admitted there are challenges in the telecommunications industry but that they are not insurmountable. He enjoined the support and cooperation of the staff of the Commission to succeed, affirming that NCC still reckons as the number one telecom regulator in Africa and the need for the staff to brace up for sustaining the prime position in the interest of the nation. "We will judiciously use the resources of the Commission to ensure that we maintain this position in a manner that will enhance the image and prestige of the Commission as well as serve as a reminder to government of the important role that this agency can play in improving the GDP. This we can only do if all of us live up to our responsibilities as ambassadors of the Commission, and in these I urge everybody’s cooperation to enable us accomplish this very important task for the country", he told the staff.

It’s a programme that will run for a year. Since the day we were unveiled as Ambassadors of the Telecom Consumer we’ve been going round; we’ve done town hall meetings with some communities in Gwagwalada in Abuja, Agege in Lagos, Abeokuta in Ogun and Kano.

Telecom consumers should cooperate with us; NCC means well for all telecom subscribers. We’re going to step down to our local languages so that we can communicate with the average Nigerian anywhere, any day and anytime; so we’re representing the brand. We are voices for the consumer and we’re certainly going to deliver.

The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has made a case for more investments in the telecoms sector at the 2nd edition of the United States- Africa Business Forum in New York. The President who was putting into view the country’s potentials for investments said that opportunities abound in the county’s digital economy.

According to him, “the digital economy, like Infrastructure, has a multiplier effect that touches every part of the economy. We have welcomed and continue to welcome investors willing to take a stake in one of the world’s largest and fastest growing telecoms markets, a market which has attracted more than $35 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) over the last decade and half. The Nigerian Communications Commission will shortly commence a licensing process for the deployment of broadband infrastructure across metropolitan areas in the country”.

President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the Senate to confirm nominees into positions of Chairman, Executive Commissioner, and Non-Executive Commissioners of Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.

In a letter dated August 2, 2016, sent to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye (South West) was nominated as Chairman, while Mr. Sunday Dare (South West) was nominated as Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management.

Those nominated as Non-Executive Commissioners are: Aliyu Sa’idu Abubakar (North East), Clement Omeiza Baiye (North Central), Chief Okoi Ofem Obono Obla (South South), Pastor Ezekiel Yissa (North Central) and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume (South East).

According to the Presidency, the nominations are in accordance with Section 8(1) of the Nigerian Communications Commission Act 2003. Their assumption of office is subject to their confirmation by the Senate.

Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye was elected Senator for the Ogun East constituency of Ogun State, Nigeria in 1999 on the Alliance for Democracy (AD) platform. A multidisciplinary scholar, he earned a BSc (Economics) London, and an LLB, London. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1979, and is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He also graduated from the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru. He worked for 35 years in the Nigerian public sector, including 28 years as a Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company. He also worked with the International Monetary Fund, the Federal Reserve System in the U.S.A and the City University London between 1964 and 1982. While in the Senate, he was appointed to committees on Judiciary, Establishment (Chairman) and Special Projects. In December 2002 he recommended a life jail-term for anyone who perpetrated election fraud.

Mr. Sunday Dare is an author, journalist and publicist. Until his appointment he was one of the media specialists working for one of Nigeria’s most influential politicians, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Dare is the author of Guerilla Journalism, a compelling book that chronicles the struggles that attended media practice and journalists in the stormy days of military rule in Nigeria.

Dare is an award-winning investigative reporter, multimedia journalist and media trainer with more than two decades of experience in the United States and Nigeria. He spent eight years at the Voice of America in Washington, D.C., where he headed the Hausa Service and was responsible for broadcasts to more than 21 million listeners in West Africa. Before joining VOA, Dare was general editor of two of Nigeria’s independent weekly news magazines, The News and Tempo, based in Lagos.

He was a journalism fellow at New York University in 1998 and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2000, the same year he received a special citation for Courage in Journalism from the Committee to Protect Journalists for his work in Nigeria. He is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and co-founder of a monthly magazine called News Digest International, based in Lagos. He was also a 2011 Reuters Fellows at Oxford University, where he researched the use of social media, citizen journalists and other new tools used by Nigerian news organizations.


Chizaram Ucheaga, Co-founder, Mavis Computel

Meet Chizaram Ucheaga, Co-founder, Mavis Computel; innovators of the Talking Books and Posters for learning both local and foreign languages with audio; using a digital pen. A 29-year-old 2007 electronics engineering graduate of Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Chizaram who spoke with The Communicator, says the idea was conceived by his father in 2010, with the thought that it would be a great idea to develop an app that would help people learn their local language.

HOW IT WORKS: With our app you’re not just reading a book but you’re also listening thereby giving you the opportunity to practise and gain proficiency in the language. It is based on a digital pen that we call Mavis Pen and the specially printed digital paper books; all that is required of the user is to turn on the pen; then you tap on the cover of the book with the pen for identification of the book and then you place the pen on any writing, picture and audio and it sounds it out in English and the language you wish to learn to make it easy. It also comprises games, rhymes, words and sentences to make learning easy.

FUNDING: The company was funded both from private savings and a team of investors. As of today the company has raised over $250,000. The company is however looking for more resellers of its products around the world. Most of the investors are family and friends who are based in Nigeria at the moment. We’re looking at resellers in government, NGOs and those in the health and education sectors that we can develop customised versions for deployment in rural areas and communities across Nigeria and Africa. At the moment we have about six resellers in Nigeria and one in the US and we’re planning to have over 20.

PROJECTIONS/VISION: We can make literacy and numeracy series e.g. Hausa learning English and Hausa learning Maths; i.e. using Hausa language to teach kids English and mathematics. We can also work with health-based organisations to have Talking Books in various languages for community health education in Yoruba or Igbo for example.

MOTIVATION: Everything you do depends on your dedication and commitment to what you’re doing to focus on pushing what you have forward.

by Osinachi Buchi-Chukwu (Public Affairs Department)

hypertension

Do You Know That High Blood Pressure Is One Of The Leading Causes Of Sudden Death Syndrome In The World Today?

Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. Both terms mean the same thing.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is defined as having a blood pressure reading of more than 140/90 mmHg over a number of weeks. Our blood pressures change all the time throughout the day, so your doctor is looking to make sure that your hypertensive reading is not just a one-off.

You may also have hypertension if just one of the numbers is higher than it should be. If the top number (systolic pressure) is consistently higher than 140 – this is known as ISOLATED SYSTOLIC HYPERTENTION.  If the bottom number (diastolic pressure) is consistently higher than 90 - this is known as ISOLATED DIASTOLIC HYPERTENTION.

If you have hypertension, this higher pressure puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Over time, this extra strain increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Hypertension can also cause heart and kidney disease, and is closely linked to some forms of dementia and sexual dysfunction.

If you have hypertension it is vital that you do not ignore it.  Follow a healthy lifestyle to lower it and take hypertension medications prescribed to you by a qualified medical doctor preferably a consultant physician.


The DPA receiving the ATCON plaque from
Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Executive Gov. of Sokoto State

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) at its 21st anniversary celebration in Lagos honoured the Nigerian Communications Commission with the Telecoms Merit Award. Speaking on the occasion after receiving the award on behalf of the commission, the Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo who represented the Acting EVC of the Commission, Professor Umar Danbatta gave the assurance that the NCC will come up with programmes to license more spectrums for pervasive broadband deployment across the country. According to him, "this will ensure that we have enough pervasive internet penetration". Ojobo assured that the NCC will continue to implement policies that guarantee good operating environment for telecom players.

The occasion also saw the inauguration of a 49-man ‘Nigeria Telecoms Industry Advisory Council’ aimed at facilitating the growth of the industry, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports. The President, ATCON, Mr Lanre Ajayi, said that the formation of the council was a way of mobilizing the stakeholders and to generate new ideas.

“ATCON National Executive Council (NEC) approved the formation of the Telecoms Industry Advisory Council, which is a platform that brings people with deep experience,” Ajayi said. He added that the council was a combination of retired and current actors in the industry that will brainstorm on contemporary issues with the aim of guiding the industry by issuing advisory notes through the association’s NEC. According to him, the council is made up of all past Ministers of Communication (or equivalent ministries) and past Executive Vice Chairmen of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

“The council is also made up of past presidents of ATCON and 15 distinguished major actors in the Nigerian telecommunications industry,” he said.

2014Q4-features-2014-bullseyeThe year 2014 stands out as one of the busiest in the eventful history of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC. It was the year that investments in the Nigeria telecom sector grossed a hefty $32 billion, it was the year that aggregate telephone lines in Nigeria crossed a record 130 million lines (in fact total subscriber base was at a time 132,186,840 lines) in a country of about 170 million people, thus pushing teledensity to as high as 94.84 percent.

If you love statistics, you would appreciate the fact that in 2014, total number of internet subscribers for GSM mobile galloped to over 70 million. But beyond numbers and statistics, 2014 marked the highest elevation of Nigeria telecom in the global circuit as the EVC of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, was appointed the Chairman of the Council and Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) during the CTO Annual Council Meeting held in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Besides, it was the year of the Centenary and the commission mopped multiple awards to justify its rating as Africa’s model regulator.

Below, we outline some of the activities that made the commission a beehive in the year when Nigeria marked 100 years of existence as a nation.

FEBRUARY

  • 2.3GHz Spectrum auction in Abuja on 18th & 19th February, 2014
    One major event that prefaced the year was the successful auction of the 30MHz slot in the 2.3GHz spectrum, with Bitflux winning the bid at the sum of $23.251 million. The licensing of the spectrum would engender a deeper broadband penetration in the country, as available data indicated that the country currently had a six per cent broadband penetration but hopes to achieve about 30 per cent of the same by 2017. Such penetration will further spur a huge potential for the nation’s economic development. The process was characteristically NCC, both in its openness and transparency.
  • The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain
    For one moment, you are tempted to believe that this year’s Mobile World Congress more commonly called by its acronym GSMA, the yearly global business festival for operators, entrepreneurs, equipment manufacturers and enthusiasts including consumers of the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) which holds in Barcelona, Spain, was purpose-made for Nigeria. Nigeria seized the stage and made an impressive showing. And flying the Nigerian flag was the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah.

    {slide=Read More ...}The GSMA came on the heels of a successful bidding process for the 2.3GHz spectrum auction. Juwah was given a rare privilege of addressing the cream of the global telecom stakeholders at the Ministerial Programme where he showcased the potentials of Nigeria’s broadband programme.

    The Ministerial Programme of the annual mobile showpiece is a privileged event where decision makers, ministers, investors, service providers, global mobile providers among other top industry players congregate.

    At this year’s programme, a session was dedicated to Nigeria and Dr. Juwah seized the opportunity to make a profound presentation to the world about what to expect in Nigeria, which is at the threshold of unleashing a broadband revolution that will impact the Nigerian nation and the African continent.

    “We are going to fast- track the nation to a knowledge economy and the contributions of broadband to GDP growth will increase considerably. We have successfully completed the auction of the 2.3GHz Spectrum and we have outlined a number of programmes under the broadband infrastructure framework while licensing of infrastructure providers, tagged Infracos is about to begin”, he said.

    Juwah also unveiled a mouth-watering offer for investors in the Nigerian broadband infrastructure deployment programme using the Open Access Broadband strategy with the planned licensing of InfraCos that will provide a national broadband network on a non-discriminatory, open access and price regulated basis to all service providers.

    “We are creating enabling environment and incentives for the private sector to roll out broadband networks which will be a one-off incentive for last mile to be achieved. We will replicate the success we made in voice in broadband plan as we proceed on the journey.

    “We are also going to license more retail services and encourage the operators where possible to extend fibre to homes and businesses on their own. Government is committed to providing incentives to winners of infrastructure licenses, ``he said.

    According to him, InfraCo would enjoy government support, hence would be getting funding from government to rollout nationwide broadband infrastructure.“We are ready to provide subsidy to simplify entry. However, such a subsidy will come on the basis of milestones achieved to ensure we are realistic in the venture”, he said.

    Recasting the history and revolution of voice communications in Nigeria, Juwah said the nation will witness a boom in the broadband segment of the business as we have done in the voice segment. The NCC boss said for Nigeria to be part of the 21st century knowledge economy, there is the need to leverage on the potentials of broadband.

    He gave an insight into the structure of the growth when he said broadband access in Nigeria would be adequately addressed through the establishment of the broadband networks in the metropolitan areas of Nigeria to facilitate the extension of capacities to households and businesses.

    The objective of this initiative, he affirmed is to stimulate a new national broadband network that is not only more widespread but also faster and more secure than what is available today, and to also offer efficient connectivity as well as ultra-high-speed broadband services that is available, affordable and sustainable.

    While the proposed industry structure offers InfraCos as entities that complement the existing industry players by focusing on the market gap and offering non-discriminatory open access wholesale bandwidth services to the industry players, he further explained that proposed structure allows existing players to operate on the basis of business-as-usual, with the option of leasing their inter-city and existing metropolitan fibre infrastructure to the InfraCos.

    The model, according to him is also envisaged to address the challenges of congested and unplanned towns, the challenges around infrastructure sharing and other issues such as high cost of Right of Way.

    “The Open Access Model will potentially help optimize the cost of broadband access across Nigeria and ensure that all operators, whether large or small, have equal access to broadband infrastructure”, he said.{/slides}

  • The African Leadership Awards in Ghana on the 28th of February, 2014
    The Commission was in Ghana where it was honoured with the Award for Excellence in Public Governance at the prestigious Africa Leadership Awards.

MARCH

  • Training workshop for ICT journalists in Lagos
    As part of its CSR activities, the NCC played host to journalists at a two-day ICT training and workshop to empower them for effective reporting and information dissemination in the digital age. The workshop took place on the 19th and 20th of March 2014.
  • SECUREX trade show and conference held from 18th – 19th March 2014 in Lagos
    The Commission seized the opportunity to market its broadband plan, assure consumers of its commitment to improving quality of service and investors of a clement regulatory clime to perform optimally.
  • 10th Anniversary of the Telecom Consumer Parliament at Muson Centre, Lagos
    Encomiums poured ceaselessly at the event to mark the 10th anniversary of the Telecom Consumer Parliament (TCP), the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) excited stakeholders who toasted to the success and longevity of the platform designed by the Commission to bring stakeholders in the telecommunications industry together with the aim of resolving consumer complaints.
  • NCC’s Abuja Centenary Trade Fair Day on the 25th March, 2014
    The Commission, never one to pass off any opportunity, made a strong showing at the Centenary Trade Fair to showcase its regulatory services to all stakeholders in the telecom sector.
  • The 62nd Edition of COP on Thursday 27th March, 2014 at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State
    NCC this time took its Consumer Outreach Programme (COP) to the academic community in the historical city of Zaria. It was a wholesome feast for telecom consumers in the north.

APRIL

  • The Beacon of ICT Distinguished Awards in Lagos on 26th of April
    The Nigerian Communications Commission led the pack of the awardees at the Beacon of ICT distinguished awards as the commission was adjudged Regulator of the Year. The Director Public Affairs of the commission, Mr. Tony Ojobo, received the award on behalf of the commission.

MAY

  • NCC alleviates the plight of the physically challenged in Abuja
    The Commission successfully distributed 12 wheel chairs and 12 crutches to the Abuja School for the Handicapped, Kuje on Wednesday 14th May 2014. The items were donated to the Commission by MTN Foundation to mark the 10th Anniversary celebration of TCP which took place in Lagos.
  • NCC on a courtesy visit to State House Enugu
    On Thursday 1st May 2014, the management of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC was led by the Chairman, Mr. Peter Igoh, on a courtesy visit and interactive session with the Enugu State Governor, Mr. Sullivan Chime. The visit afforded the commission the opportunity to share ideas with the governor on issues of Right of Way, multiple taxation of operators, among others.
  • ADAPTI goes to Akwa Ibom
    Commissioning of the Advanced Digital Awareness Programme for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI) project at the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua, on Tuesday 20th May, 2014 was not just another event but one that brought the students and staff face to face with the right gadgets for e-learning in the 21st Century.

JUNE

  • Techno Ltd pays courtesy call to NCC
    On Friday 6th June 2014, the Management of Techno Ltd, led by its President Mr. George Zhu, General Manager, Mr Nicholas Qin; Country Representative for Nigeria, Mr. Jack Guo paid an official visit to the Nigerian Communications Commission. The Chinese equipment manufacturer expressed its satisfaction with the regulatory efforts of the NCC which has created a level playing field for all stakeholders.
  • NCC collaborates with ONSA on cyber security
    The Commission in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Ministry of Communication Technology (MCT), NITDA, EFCC, Galaxy Backbone and CBN, hosted the First National Cyber Security Forum (NCSF 2014), with the theme: "Towards Multi-stakeholders’ Partnership for National Cyber Security Engagement" on the 18th and 19th June, 2014 at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos. The collaboration underscores the critical role of telecom in containing the threat of cyber-security.
  • Juwah Receives Movie Producers Award
    The EVC of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah was among recipients of the Friends of Nollywood Award. The award ceremony was organised by the Association of Movie Producers, Abuja Chapter on Friday 20th June, 2014 in Abuja. The award was received on behalf of the commission by Director Public Affairs of the commission, Tony Ojobo.
  • ... And NAPS Achievement Award
    Senate members of the National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) paid an official visit to the Commission on June 30th, 2014 to present the EVC with an achievement award in recognition of his unflinching support for good education through the instrumentality of the various knowledge-based initiatives of the commission.
  • NCC staff join FEPSGA to keep fit
    The Commission joined other agencies under the Ministry of Communication Technology to participate in the Monthly Walking /Jogging Exercise organized by the Federation of Public Service Games (FEPSGA) at the National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday 28th June 2014.
  • Media and operators came calling
    The Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr. Ima Niboro, together with representatives of MTN, Etisalat, Airtel and Visafone paid a courtesy call on the Commission on Tuesday, 10th June, 2014 to discuss issues in the telecoms industry.

JULY

  • Techno Ltd pays courtesy call to NCC
    On Friday 6th June 2014, the Management of Techno Ltd, led by its President Mr. George Zhu, General Manager, Mr Nicholas Qin; Country Representative for Nigeria, Mr. Jack Guo paid an official visit to the Nigerian Communications Commission. The Chinese equipment manufacturer expressed its satisfaction with the regulatory efforts of the NCC which has created a level playing field for all stakeholders.
  • Consumers in a Town Hall…
    In line with its avowed policy of getting every part of the country to have a say in the quest to engender more competitiveness and quality in service delivery, the Commission hosted the 12th edition of the Consumer town Hall meeting in Ilesha, Osun State on Thursday 3rd July 2014.
  • At last a code for the industry
    The NCC launched the Code of Corporate Governance for the telecommunications industry on Thursday 10th July, 2014 in Lagos. This was described as a 'game-changer'; a complete guide for board and management of the telcos to observe international best practices in running the corporate entities even as it would harmonise the roles and responsibility of stakeholders in the telecoms industry and would address the gap that exists in the operations of telcos. Though enforcement of the code will not be made mandatory in the interim, however, it is envisaged that in the long run, it would significantly govern the activities and actions of the operators whose buy in the code enjoyed.
  • NCC compliance team storms Uyo
    The Enforcement Unit of the Commission was in Uyo, Akwa- Ibom State to enforce compliance from illegal tracking companies on the 8th and 9th of July 2014. This is a stand out feature of the regulatory style of the NCC: its ability to enforce the laws and regulations guiding the industry in a manner devoid of violence and needless brigandage associated with similar duties in other sectors.
  • TCP Repackaged
    The 75th edition of the Telecom Consumer Parliament held on Thursday, 10th July 2014 in Lagos. It was hosted by the Consumer Affairs Bureau of the commission which thought it fit to repackage the programme. NCC’s Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Mrs Maryam Bayi, said the decision of the regulator was to give a new direction to the idea of the TCP, adding that it has stopped being a forum for consumers to complain about the various fraudulent practices of their service providers. She said such issues will no longer be addressed at the Consumer Parliament but at other fora put in place by the regulator such as Consumer Outreach Programme and Town Hall Meetings.
  • IOD visits NCC
    Senior Management of the Institute of Directors (IoD) paid a courtesy visit to the EVC on Tuesday 8th July 2014. The IoD executives voiced their satisfaction with the regulatory landmarks of the commission which they echoed have impacted tremendously on the national economy.
  • 64th COP in Nsukka
    The 64th edition of the Consumer Outreach Programme (COP) took place at the Princess Alexandra Auditorium, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Enugu State on the 24th July, 2014. It was yet another opportunity for the academic and adjoining communities to share their impressions and experiences with the regulator.
  • Botswana and Nigeria Defence Visit NCC
    Delegates from the Botswana Defence Command and Staff College Course 7, 2014 of the Nigeria military paid a courtesy visit to the EVC on 18th July. The Botswana team was on hand to understand the security interface of the NCC with the multiple layers of security agencies in the country which the delegates described as commendable.
  • Winners emerge for the MNP essay competition
    The NCC held the Award Ceremony for winners of the Mobile Number Portability Essay competition on Friday 18th July, 2014 at the Commission’s head office.The NCC announced Olawale Johnson Dasaolu, an undergraduate of the University of Lagos; Kadri Olamide of University of Ibadan and Ifeanyi Okpala from Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta as winner, 1st runner up and 2nd runner up respectively. The essay topic was "The effect of MNP on telecoms service and usage in Nigeria".
  • NADSS visit the NCC
    Members of the National Association of Delta State Students, paid a courtesy visit to the EVC on the 23rd July, 2014. The students bestowed the honour of Grand Patron of the National Association of Delta Students on the EVC. They also commended the EVC for being a good ambassador of the state.
  • Monitoring team goes tough on Lagos
    The Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department of the NCC held an enforcement activity on the 30th and 31st of July, 2014 in Lagos. The action yielded positive result as it brought order to the marketplace.

AUGUST

  • A day with VAS providers
    The NCC interactive session with Value Added Service Providers was held on Thursday 7th August 2014 in Lagos. Experts say mobile VAS has evolved from simple text messaging (SMS), to advanced functions such as mobile entertainment caller ring back tone, push-to-talk, payments, email, instant messaging and m-Commerce, among others.

    {slide="Read More ..."}The VAS segment of the Nigeria’s telecommunications industry remains loosely regulated in the past years and this development is breeding unethical practices among the VAS providers. According to official data, about 6, 706 short codes (CS) have been activated by the telecoms networks to provide all sorts of services on their own and while also working with licensed VAS providers to provide contents for the use of the short codes. The short codes are assigned number bloc that are generated by telecoms networks to deliver various VAS services. The meeting was intended to bring sanity to the service.{/slides}

  • NCC visits government house Abia
    The Commission paid a courtesy visit to Abia State Governor, Theordore Orji, on Tuesday 12th August 2014. The visit was in furtherance of the commission’s drive to get everyone involved and to get a buy in of public office holders into its agenda of deepening the nation’s telecom market.
  • Special COP in a Golf course
    Special edition of the Consumer Outreach Programme was held at the IBB International Golf and Country Club, Aso Drive, Abuja on Thursday, 14th, August, 2014. It was specially designed for the upscale club members and golfers. The strategy worked as a special segment of telecom consumers, the affluent, was presented an opportunity to exchange ideas with the commission.
  • NCC/EFCC collaborate to fight corruption
    The NCC/EFCC anti–corruption interactive session held on Thursday 7th August 2014 at the Commission’s conference room. This marked a shift in public sector ideas exchange. The anti-graft agency and the telecom regulator had the rare opportunity of comparing notes and learning from each other on how best to tackle cyber-related crimes.

SEPTEMBER

  • Another enforcement exercise in Lagos
    An enforcement exercise was carried out in Lagos on 16th September, 2014.Again, it helped to rein in miscreants and deviants polluting the telecom space.
  • NCC celebrates Day
    The NCC had its day at the 9th edition of the Abuja International Trade fair on 30th September, 2014. It was also a time for the commission to discuss issues concerning consumers.

OCTOBER

  • NCC bags Most Outstanding Regulator Award
    The ‘Nigeria ICT Centenary Conference 2014’ was held on the 8th of October, 2014 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.

    The Nigerian Communications (NCC) Commission received the ‘Most Outstanding Regulator in Telecommunication Award’ at the Nigerian ICT Centenary Awards, while the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Eugene Juwah, was honoured as “The Consolidator” of the growth in the Nigerian telecom ecosystem.

  • Aba Gets a piece of ADAPTI and DAP
    The NCC commissioned its ADAPTI and DAP projects in three schools in Aba, Abia State on Wednesday 15th October 2014.
  • And Ibadan hosts 67th COP
    The 67th Edition of the Consumer Outreach Programme (COP) was held at Mapo Hall in Ibadan, Oyo State on 16th of October 2014. It was a good time for residents of the ancient city of seven hills to get first hand interaction with the commission on matters pertaining to telecom services and the consumer.

We are both doing the jingles and TV adverts in our own way and on our social media platforms to putting up posters of the NCC campaign to the consumer. We also answer and reply some of our fans when they ask questions or when they want to know more about the Year of the Telecom Consumer. These are the techniques we’re using to communicate.

We are grateful and very glad that we have a body that recognises a problem and is willing to solve the problem. Many telecom users want someone to listen to them and NCC is there to listen to them. It’s really a great opportunity and a great thing that they’re using us to showcase our talent in passing across the message to consumers.

When you have a problem as a consumer in the area of unsolicited text message all you have to do is text STOP to 2442 and if you also want to select a message you want to receive or continue receiving you can also text HELP to 2442. If you do this and you’re not getting response on time you can also call the toll-free line 622 (Monday –Friday 8am-8pm) to speak to any one from NCC.

The Consumer Outreach Programme is the Consumer Affairs Bureau’s strategic initiative aimed at uniquely creating an interactive opportunity amongst key industry stakeholders by focusing on dissemination of information on telecoms products and services among the semi-urban region.

The Commission also introduced the Town Hall meeting which is a third tier of Consumer Outreach event, an unprecedented frequency and diversity of consumer complaints became a common occurrence; hence the need for a robust surveillance of the industry with a view to protecting consumers through well focused information and education initiatives.

Worldwide smart phone shipments fell for the first time in the market's history, from 324 million units in Q1 2015 to 321 million units in Q1 2016. The top two vendors both posted shipment declines, with Apple the worst hit.

Excluding Apple and Samsung smart phone shipments increased 5%, despite some of the big named international vendors outside the top five also faring badly. LG, Lenovo and TCL-Alcatel posted significant declines, while Sony plummeted by around 57%.

The market decline can be attributed to a number of factors: Apple's inability to repeat the success of the iPhone 6, which kick-started a massive upgrade cycle thanks to its larger display. The company had the largest fall in growth of all the major vendors, shipping 11 million fewer units in Q1 2016 than in Q1 2015 (a 16% drop).

Slowing product innovation in the premium smart phone space has led to increasingly modest upgrades to flagship handsets, meaning consumers keep devices for longer. In some markets, such as the US and Western Europe, subsidies are being reduced, which has compounded the effect.

The significant improvements in the specification and quality of mid-range devices means replacement cycles in high-growth markets are also lengthening.

Flagship models, such as Samsung's Galaxy S7 and Apple's iPhone 6s, are still beyond the reach of many in emerging high-growth markets.

Rachel Lashford, Canalys VP of Analysis, said, 'Conditions are challenging for many vendors, and we expect to see a consolidation of the smart phone market in coming quarters. There are bright spots, however, such as Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, which all increased shipments dramatically. These vendors are expanding beyond China, nurturing their channels, spending on marketing and making their differentiators around technology and positioning abundantly clear to consumers'.

2014q3-feature-002It would be recalled that at the 2013 Akintola Williams lecture series with the theme: Good Corporate Governance in Nigeria- The Telecommunications Sector Example, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, was lauded as an epitome of a good regulator in the country through good corporate governance that has been sustained over the years.

The NCC has however not relented in ensuring that its virtues be transferred to the telecommunications companies under its regulatory supervision. And following series of consultations with stakeholders in the telecommunications industry by the NCC and the setting up of the Corporate Governance Working Group, CGWG, between 2012 and 2013 on corporate governance for the industry, the NCC has launched the Corporate Governance Code for telecommunications service providers. This has become necessary since good corporate governance in institutions encourages corporate success and business sustainability.

The ICT industry contributed N6.97 trillion to the newly rebased Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of over N80.3 trillion of Nigeria’s economy, making the sector one of the largest contributors to the nation’s GDP which makes it critical to the country’s development.

Speaking at the official launch/unveiling of the code in Lagos, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, said this became necessary following the increasing significance of corporate governance beyond the capital markets, where according to him there is enforcement through listing rules and compliance with best practices. He described it as a voluntary code of leading practices which aims at guiding corporate behaviour and practices of companies within the industry.

Juwah however emphasised the commission’s determination to promoting good corporate governance for the industry since shareholders and stakeholders are placing higher demand on companies to demonstrate these principles.

He said that the recognized corporate governance principles of accountability, responsibility, transparency, integrity and ethical conduct, independence, etc., are important for all types of companies whether large or small, operating within the telecommunications milieu since good corporate governance is not determined by the size or type of business affiliation.

This, he added, further makes it imperative for operators to align and uphold a code of corporate governance which is specific to their industry because of the “combined factors of the strategic importance of telecommunications and the unprecedented growth of the sector (Over 130 million mobile subscribers) with extensive reach across all social and demographic groups in the Nigerian economy”.

Giving her ministerial address on the topic Corporate Governance as a System of Promoting Transparency and Accountability, at the event, the Minister of Communications Technology, Dr (Mrs) Omobola Johnson said: “The objective of the system is to ensure fairness, transparency and accountability and also to ensure that corporate decisions are made with the best interest of the company and its stakeholders in mind”.

The minister who was represented by Director, Telecoms Postal Services of the Ministry, Engr. John Ayodele, said that by working with the stakeholders with key interests, by putting in place a framework that adequately contains minimum best practices, there however should be periodic reviews and consultations.

She added further that the task before the NCC will be to develop an effective monitoring team with allocated responsibilities for supervision, implementation and enforcement among different operators in a clearly defined way and that at the stipulated time questions will be asked.

She therefore commended the Commission for instituting the code as a way of improving corporate behaviour in the telecommunications industry especially now that the industry is undergoing restructuring, since good corporate governance will promote better investment and better investment leads towards achieving government policies of broadband deployment.

A CALL TO ENLIST

It could be recalled that there is a bill before the National Assembly to mandate the multinationals (power companies, telecom companies and petroleum companies) to go through the capital market. But the code which is not mandatory for the telecoms companies at the moment however lays credence to the fact of the telecoms companies listing.

The code may however be a call for the telecommunications companies in the country to be listed as it states in part in principle 10.1a and b that “the board should ensure the equitable treatment of all shareholders and that the interests of minority shareholders are protected. There should be dialogue and engagement between the board and the shareholders to align appreciation of and attain the mutual understanding of corporate governance. “The going concern principle deals with the desirability that organisations will grow and outlive their founders”.  

EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP

This is key to organisational efficiency. The code however states in its 2.3b principle that the decisions and deliberations of the board, including actions are value-based which is a principle of good corporate governance, by ensuring accountability, transparency, responsibility, independence, integrity, reputation, fairness amongst others.

The Corporate Governance Code document looks at the roles and functions of the Board and Directors, the Board value system, performance evaluation, transparency and disclosure, risk management and internal control, shareholders and stakeholders, reporting, remuneration of staff among other issues.

MEANING OF A MUSEUM

A Museum can be defined as a building or place where works of art, scientific specimens, or other permanent value are kept and displayed. Telecommunications in Nigeria include radio, television, fixed and mobile telephones, and the Internet.

The development of telecommunications in Nigeria began in 1886 when a cable connection was established between Lagos and the colonial office in London. By 1893, government offices in Lagos were provided with telephone service, which was later extended to Ilorin and Jebba in the hinterland. A slow but steady process of development in the years that followed led to the gradual formation of the nucleus of a national telecommunications network.

In 1923, the first commercial trunk telephone service between Itu and Calabar was established. Between 1946 and 1952, a three-channel line carrier system was commissioned between Lagos and Ibadan and was later extended to Oshogbo, Kaduna, Kano, Benin, and Enugu; thus connecting the colonial office in London with Lagos and the commercial centers in the country with local authority offices.

Since its inception a little over a century ago, Nigeria's telecommunications system has progressed through various stages of development from the primitive communications equipment in its colonial days to the enormous variety of technologies available today.

The Commission’s museum can be located close to the library. The Commission’s Museum is an information rich environment which takes us back to the history of telecommunication in Nigeria which has helped hasten the growth of ICT in Nigeria. The NCC’s museum consists of four sections namely:

  1. The Postal Service section
  2. Telex and Telegraphs Section
  3. The Analogue Section
  4. The Digital Section

Here are a few contents of the postal service section

POSTAL OFFICE SECTION

  1. POSTAL OFFICE COUNTER: Post office counter is the window of NIPOST or any other postal establishment. Post office counter is where transactions are made. Example (1) Selling of postage stamps (2) Registration of letters, delivery of registered mails, etc. This wooden post office counter dates back to 1852 when postal service was introduced in Lagos by the British Government.
  2. DROP BAG FITTING: Drop bag fittings are well constructed metal devices fitted in mails bags where large postal packets and parcels are sorted according to their destinations. This came into use in the late 19th century.
  3. BALANCE SPRING SCALE: The spring scale apparatus is simply a spring fixed at one end with a hook to attach an object at the other. It works by Hooke’s Law, which states that the force needed to extend a spring is proportional to the distance that spring is extended from its rest position.
  4. IMPERIAL TYPEWRITER: A typewriter is a device that prints letters one at a time on paper using ink when the user presses key on a keyboard. In 1902, American inventor Hidalgo Mayo, arrived in Leicester, carrying his handmade model of what, at the time, he considered a revolutionary design of typewriter. A local businessman, Mr. J.G Chattaway, was persuaded to finance the opening of a small factory in Gaton Street, Leicester, where The Moya Typewriter Company could develop, manufacture and market their new machine.

 

TELEX/TELEGRAPH SECTION

  1. TELEPRINTER T1200BS: This Siemens T1200 was in use between 1986 and 1991. It also has 5 level (bit) Baudot code page printer of between speeds 50 to 100 baud (switchable). It has a matrix printer and electronic memory. It is the last ever produced teleprinter model by Siemens. These machines were built in a time where Telefax already replaced the TELEX service. It is available in two main versions.

 

ANALOGUE SECTION

  1. BINDING WIRE: This is a tapered fibre optic distribution cable that includes a plurality of drop cables having at least one predetermined breakout location where a drop cable is withdrawn from the tapered distribution cable. The drop cables are bound together to form the tapered fibre optic distribution cable by binding members or helical winding. Each drop cable contains a plurality of optical fibres which may be reconnectorized according to a user’s preferences. It was invented by Brain Herbst and assigned to AFL Telecommunications LLC. The filling in US was on August 8, 2006. The patent number is 7590320.
  2. UNDERGROUND CABLE ROLLER: Underground cable roller came into use in the early 20th century and it is used for installation of underground power cable or communication cables. There are different types of rollers for installation of communication or power cable in the trench, some of which are: Trench Roller, Twin Link Corner Roller, Trench Feed Roller Set, Manhole Quadrant Roller, Duct Entry Rollers and Cable Duct Protection. It is advisable that Cable rollers should always be used when pulling cables.
  3. DUAL BEAM SYNCROSCOPE: The dual-beam synchroscope or analog oscilloscope can display two signals simultaneously. Although multi-trace analog oscilloscopes can simulate a dual-beam display with chop and alternate sweeps, those features do not provide simultaneous displays. (Real time digital oscilloscope offers the same benefits of a dual-beam oscilloscope, but they do not require a dual-beam display).
  4. 5MHZ TRANSMISSION TEST TROLLEY: 5MHz transmission test trolley first used in the early 1910s is an equipment test set which is a fully programmable instrument with a bandwidth of 5MHz. The 5MHz (60m) amateur allocation spand 5 fixed frequencies and requires a NoV from the RSGB. The 60 meter band of 5MHz band is a relatively new (2002) amateur radio band that was originally only available in a few countries, such as the US, UK, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Ireland and Iceland.

  

DIGITAL SECTION

  1. FIRST COIN BOX: This is also a telephone that requires immediate payment for operation, as by a coin or credit card. Also called pay station. Pay telephone stations preceded the invention of the pay phone and existed as early as 1878. These stations were supervised by telephone company attendants or agents (such as an employee in a hotel where a station might be located) who collected the money due after people made their calls. In 1889, the first public coin telephone was installed by inventor William Gray at a bank in Hartford, Connecticut. It was a “postpay” machine (coins were deposited after the call was placed).
  2. 1895’s LINE CORDED CANDLESTICK PHONE: The candlestick telephone was manufactured from the early 1890s through the 1920s. The Candlestick phone without a dial, also known as the ‘Upright’ initial became popular during the early 1900s and had many manufacturers before the introduction of the one-piece handset. The Crosley CR64 1-Line Corded Phone is one of the first Candlestick phones which were introduced when the magneto system was in use which meant that the phone was connected to a large wooden box called a subset containing a battery, bell, and crank.
  3. DIGITAL CARD PHONE: This is a public payphone which is often located in a phone booth or a privacy hood, with pre-payment by inserting a pre-paid telephone card, a credit or debit card, or money (usually coins). Payphones are often found in public places, transportation hubs such as airports or train stations, convenience stores, malls, casions, and on street corners.

A whizkid finds smart ways to help students get round the rigours of fixing off-campus accommodation challenges in tertiary institutions

Typical of most Nigerian students who face challenges with regard to securing accommodation while in school, Joel Amahwe saw this not only as a challenge but an opportunity to set things right. The 22-year-old 2015 National Diploma Computer Science graduate of Delta State Polytechnic who spoke to THE COMMUNICATOR on his innovation, HostelsVilla.com, says he wants to revolutionize how students book off-campus hostels in Nigeria and of course Africa.

NCC Promises Telecom Consumers Better Days Ahead

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has again assured telecom consumers that it would continue to act as a bridge between them and the operators to guarantee improved quality of service and ensure speedy response to their complaints.

Director, Consumers Affairs Bureau at the NCC, Mrs. Maryam Bayi, stated this in Ilorin, Kwara State during the 73rd Consumers Outreach Programme (COP) held at the University of Ilorin Multi- Purpose Hall.

She said the NCC is aware of the complaints and frustrations of consumers hence it is going round the country sensitizing people through the outreach programme specially designed to bring the complaints of consumers to the knowledge of operators. According to her, through the programme, operators get to know their popularity rating with the consuming publics and strive to make adjustment to ensure consumer satisfaction.

Through this effort we have compelled operators to address the series of complaints ranging from unsolicited messages, arbitrary deduction of credits, call drops and irregular network services, among others.

She said the outreach programme was established as a platform on which telecommunication consumers and service providers interact, with the regulator playing a conciliatory role.

The Executive Vice Chairman, EVC, of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, is four years on the job. Recently he reflected on his tenure and other key issues in the telecoms sector with the editorial team of The Communicator.

Q: Did You Ever Expect To Be Nigeria’s Telecom Regulator?

2014q3-feature-001As you know, I’ve been in the ICT industry for a very long time, starting from my days in the early 70s at Shell. In 1990 I specifically moved to telecoms, so I’ve had the advantage of seeing the development of telecommunication in Nigeria. And since 1990 I’ve worked in telecoms I’ve interacted intensively with the regulators; I’ve quarreled with them, I’ve admired them depending on what issue is at stake here. I must tell you honestly I never aimed at being the primary telecom regulator in Nigeria. I admire regulators when they did things that were in my favour when I was in the private sector. And I quarreled with them when they did things against me. But as I said, I never aimed specific to be the regulator until I was asked to apply. Graciously Mr. President selected me and the senate confirmed the selection.

Q: Implementation Of Your Six-Point Agenda

Actually I can summarise the six-point agenda in the following way; we wanted to consolidate the progress made before we came, and we wanted to improve quality of service (QoS), to enhance broadband implementation, improve competition, provide diversified choices for consumers at good quality and price and improve our presence in the international space.

On consolidation of the progress made so far I think we have achieved significant progress in this area. If we start from the parameters, we’ve increased teledensity from 63 per cent in 2010 when I came in to more than 90 per cent in 2014. We’ve increased subscriber base from 88 million in 2010 to more than 130 million, this is an improvement of almost 50 per cent in four years that I have been here. And you should remember that the 88 million was for 10 years before I came. So we’ve done remarkably well in this area.

We’ve also done remarkably well in the contribution to the Nigerian economy in terms of contribution to GDP. We’ve increased it from 5 per cent when I came in to 8.5 per cent as announced recently during the rebasing of the economy. Finally, looking at investment in the sector, we increased it from $18 billion in 2010 to more than $32 billion today. The sector has created the most stable jobs and as investments grew in the past four years, more jobs, both direct and indirect, had been created and are still being created.

For QoS, we would like to have done better but we’ve always been striving to do better. We’re rolling out our initiatives for broadband implementation, as we promised it has just started and it is progressing at a very great speed. We have also improved competition by looking at the competition space within the telecoms industry, looking at operators that are dominant; imposing some limitations on them.

I must say, like I’ve always said that dominance is nothing bad but what you do with your dominance matters. Dominance means that you’ve been doing everything correct, you’ve been doing things well that’s why you’re dominating, but if you use your dominance in uncompetitive practice that’s when the regulator intervenes. We’ve also rolled out Mobile Number Portability (MNP); this deepens competition: if you don’t like your operator you move to the next one; holding your number. We’ve provided diversified choice for consumers. There’re many products being rolled out which we’re approving.

We’ve reduced prices significantly. In fact if you look at voice services, we’ve reduced price at more than 45 per cent in four years; we’ve slashed the prices of SMS from N10 to N4. We’ve actually provided good choice for consumers at reasonably good price. As for our presence in the international arena we’re taking part in all the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) conferences, in fact the whole world know us because we organise what we call Leaders Launch in every ITU World Telecom event where all the big shots in telecoms come and listen to us, and remember that in the recent ones we had, people like Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world and a huge investor in telecoms came and we had the opportunity of explaining what we’re doing in Nigeria to him. We’ve achieved a lot in our six-point agenda.


Q: Your Expectations of Mobile Number Portability?

The operators that have large market share will not want it. The operators that think that they’re providing good service will want it. So it was important that the regulator provide a level playing field. We consulted all stakeholders about what we’re going to do, it took some time then we offered a bid for the database provider for MNP. It started in April 2013, initially the transactions were slow and people thought that it was not successful, but if you go to countries (Ghana, Kenya) that have done it before it always starts slowly and then it keeps on increasing.

It is starting to take off now and one of the issues that actually hindered strong regulatory intervention is that there were really no regulations but there were business rules. I’m happy to announce that the regulation for MNP has been gazetted by government; now we have full power by law to descend on any operator who is not carrying out MNP guidelines. It is a success, and I hope the public will appreciate it and give us the credit.


Q: What Informed The Slashing Of SMS Tariff?

We never do anything without studying it, we started by getting a consultant that has a lot of experience in that area and then consulting stakeholders including the operators and consumers. Slashing SMS price came from our cost-based study for SMS; I don't want to tell you the cost of SMS to the operators but I can tell you it is very much lower than N4, so the operators were making what I'll call an unacceptable profit when it was at N10 and that's why you see there was no terrible uproar against it and we believe we've protected the consumer by implementing the slash.

Q: Did You Slash The Interconnect Rate Because Of The Consumer?

Interconnect rate according to international best practices must be cost-based. It must be based on the cost of making a call, so we hired PriceWaterhouseCoopers from London which has a good model for determining the cost of making a call in Nigeria. Of course these calls are average and so they interviewed all the operators, got their data, put it into their model and came up with the price of making calls today.

You see it must keep on coming down because equipment are being amortised; new equipment that they bought are not as big as the ones they started with. You can see the dropping in interconnect rate. We adopted what is called a gliding model, where it is reducing year by year from N6.40k and by the end of the third year which is next year it will be N3.90k.

Operators like that, but what they argued about was that our model was asymetrical in nature; asymmetrical means that the bigger operators pay smaller operators bigger sums to interconnect. This is important to protect some of the operators. We said that operators that have less than 7 and a half per cent of the subscriber base will be regarded as small operators. This includes the CDMA and new operators that are coming. You know small operators pay huge money to big operators whenever interconnection is considered, so by tweaking the interconnect rate to favour small operators, we try to strike a balance; they still pay huge amount but at least we've mitigated it.


Q: Achieving A Balance Between Consumers And Operators?

The regulator is a referee; he stands between the operators and the consumers. His duty on one hand is to provide consumers a plethora of products and of good quality. For operators, we have a mandate to safeguard their investment, so it is a tight balance; anything that will prevent operators from investing further... the more they invest the better the product they give to consumers and the better the quality. It is a very narrow work to balance the interest of the operator with that of the consumer and as you say if both of them blame me, we're doing something that is correct.

Q: Does It Make You Happy When You Fine The Operators?

Not really, we're here to obey our laws. We've made a regulation saying that you must attain some minimum QoS indices and we have published it in our regulation, and this is also a way of protecting the consumer for whom we have the mandate to give good quality. Here is where we have power, to regulate the operators. If we see that they don't give good quality to consumers, we penalise them and when we are penalising them we do that according to our laws, nobody likes penalty but we have to stick to our laws, they have to comply with our regulations, and when they don't do that we have an option to fine them, but if we fine them every time we'll drive them out of business and we don’t want that.

Q: Why So Much Energy On Broadband?

Right from the time I came into the communications industry I saw that the trend is changing from voice to data and data in the good form must be broadband. That's why you have good internet, good video service and a plethora of services coming out of broadband. Apart from that, broadband is a development product, a product that is capable of increasing the GDP of Nigeria, it is also capable of taking Nigeria into the knowledge-based economy that the world is pursuing, it is a product that is capable of increasing the efficiency of our younger generation; this is how we see broadband, and we see that it something that we have to do for Nigeria to enter the 21st century properly, and if we don’t do it then we've failed. We've taken the issue of increasing broadband penetration as a priority. To start off that program is not easy; you first of all have to convince the in-house people and the government that this is important and they have to support you. You have to tell the international audience what you want to do so that they'll get interested because you depend on them to bring in investment.

It took some time for this ground work to be done, but we've started with a publication of our bid for the licensing of Infracos which is actually the major foundation of our broadband intervention. I can tell you that the response is quite interesting; response from inside and outside the country. I can tell you that the International Finance Corporation, IFC has endorsed it, they're supporting us and even helping us source for international investors. What we've done has not been in vain so we're keenly waiting for all these bids to come in and see the result of what we've done.


Q: Why Open Access Model?

The model is the leading model in the world, it encompasses the good things about access. It encompasses sharing of infrastructure, sharing of ownership. It encompasses competition because it structures the industry into primarily two layers; the wholesalers and retailers. If you're a wholesaler you cannot do retail. But most importantly it provides open access to everybody at the same conditions, so whether you're the biggest or smallest, you all have access to infrastructure. In Nigeria we've added one more; we said that all this environment is going to be regulated price-wise by the regulator. These make sure that our teeming publics get broadband at value for money.

Q: Why Regulate The Price?

We've left it to market forces, you see the result; the cost of say Lagos to Ibadan for broadband in Nigeria today is higher than from London to Lagos. We've not succeeded in leaving it to market forces because very few companies have the funding capacity to do this so it leads to some sort of monopoly pricing. Government has intervened and made a program and declared the Nigerian version of open access and government wants to intervene to keep the prices reasonable, with also reasonable profit for people that are operating it.

Q: Unobtrusive Regulatory Style Of NCC

In fact that is the trend of regulation and I'm happy that in fact you being in the press noticed it, that means we're doing something correct. The trend of regulation now is towards what they call soft regulation; the infinite end of it is self-regulation where the regulator does nothing. But the industry in Nigeria hasn't matured to that extent. There's still unhealthy competition, there's still not good QoS, so in these areas we must intervene strongly, but we only intervene when it is necessary and that's why you see what you see.

Q: Transparent Auction of 2.3GHz Frequency

We started by saying we're going to be firm; transparent and that we're not going to play with our integrity. When we decided to do the auctioning we consulted the industry, we had more than two consultations with the industry, some didn't like it while some liked it, but we as regulator must do what we think is best for the industry. So we hired an auction consultant from the UK, published what is called Memorandum of Auction where we detailed every process in the auction which they must abide by. This gives confidence to the bidders and we actually carried out a computer-based auction where nobody can interfere; the computer does it and broadcasts it at the same time. You will remember at the hotel where the auction took place there were people on the 7th and ground floor and they were seeing the results at the same time. It wasn't a question of me going to tell people. Everybody saw it was clear and transparent.

Q: Many Nations Are Adopting The Ncc Template, Why?

Well, in NCC we've adopted a position that we must maintain transparency in everything. We must be firm for operators and stakeholders to comply with what we're doing and we must be dynamic in rolling out regulations and interventions, so the world has seen this. I can tell you that a few weeks ago we received military officers from Botswana who came to study our security interface, which is very rare, and we don't talk about this. They know this and they applied to the National Security Adviser, NSA, in Nigeria to visit us and discuss our security interface. A number of other regulators have come here; Kenya has been here twice, first to study our competition interventions and secondly to understudy our consumer affairs bureau, which is our own innovation. This is why we're dynamic in rolling out intervention and new areas. As I'm talking to you now, we have regulators from Ghana who want to come and understudy our intervention in determining interconnect rate. Regulators as far as Sweden recognise our firmness and say that we're just like them; that operators hate them but the intention is not for operators to hate us but for us to be firm.

Q: Why The Code Of Corporate Governance For Telcos?

It's a primary objective of regulatory agencies that you consult your stakeholders before you carry out any intervention. Right from the start we carried out three major consultations about this CCG with our stakeholders and then we involved them in the committee that worked out these codes. These codes are necessary because it is an investment of more than $32 billion and it has to be properly managed. There are certain rules that operators have to obey. People may be seeing this investment that it is foreign but I can tell you that the amount of pre-paid money that operators are holding may be almost equal to this investment. So subscribers are co investors, so it is important that operators run their companies in a way that is transparent. Also because we do not have operators who are members of the stock exchange which imposes governance once you enter, we have to develop a specific governance for our own industry.

Q: The Way Forward For Quality Of Service

I'm not comfortable with the position of QoS in Nigeria today. It hasn't reached where we want it to be, there are still issues that make it difficult for operators to attain our projected QoS. Principal among them is the issue of capacity; the voice market keeps on increasing; the operators are investing but they're not investing fast enough to meet that increase. And that is why we jab them by fining them. People feel that it is not good to fine them, but if we were not fining them it could have been worse; I can tell you. But apart from the issues from the operator side, there are many other issues that are not from their side; issues of vandalisation of their facilities and one thing you'll notice is that bad service at times is intermittent; for a few days it gets very bad and then it gets better. What that shows is that a key facility has been tampered with and when it is repaired good service recovers. There's also the issue of state government interference; they interfere by imposing all sorts of taxes on the operators and when they don't pay they lock up key facilities shutting off subscribers from getting good service. If you lock up a hub base station for example it will affect many states, so we're appealing to state governments to be more reasonable since their actions do affect QoS. But having said all these I want to challenge any Nigerian to show me a service in Nigeria that is more efficient than telecommunications; is it electricity, banking services, airlines etc. There's no service in Nigeria that you expect to get 24 hours, notwithstanding that there're a few hiccups here and there, so I'll implore Nigerians to be patient with us. We're improving maybe not in evolutionary way, but slowly and slowly we'll get there.

"Passion is a gender neutralizing force ...”
Marissa Meyer, VP Google.

mrs_udumaThis is an apt description for Mrs Mary Nma Uduma, the former Director of Consumer Affairs. A woman of substance who has dedicated most of her life to the service of the Nigerian public.

In developing this piece, naturally some research had to be done, to understand the essence of this spectacular woman. Amazingly, there was a verdict of almost 100% from everyone spoken to; on the outstanding, hardworking and committed qualities of Mrs Uduma.

She spoke to the Online Crew of The Communicator and revealed her passions, motivations, dreams for NCC and of course, life after NCC. It was privilege picking the mind of such an achiever.

Enjoy!