CyberschuulNews Editions 451 - 455

 

 

 

Cyberschuulnews 455 

 

Court orders Airtel to revert to Econet Wireless  

 

The long and celebrated litigation which Econet Wireless Ltd (EWL) instituted in 2003 against the successor of the company was decided recently with a Federal High Court in Nigeria ruling that all actions and resolutions taken by the company, since October 2003, at which EWL was entitled to be notified, and to participate in, as a shareholder, but was prohibited, are null and void.  

The Court also ordered that the name change from Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited, effected in 2003, was irregular, and must be reversed forthwith. It also ordered the Corporate Affairs Commission to cancel any certificate previously issued for the change of the name of the company and restore the name of the company to Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited. 

Econet wireless is reported to have pressed for compliance while Airtel Nigeria has filed an appeal against the judgment. 

 

Lumia offers Nokia no respite

 

Despite its concerted efforts to stem the slide and prove the contrary, Nokia - once the standard choice for almost every corporate mobile user - has failed to regain its crown. Recent analyst reports suggest that sales of Nokia's new Lumia 800 Windows Phone handset, have failed to live up to predictions, resulting in the slashing of sales estimates. Analysts opine that Nokia will not ship the 2 million Windows Phone units it had forecast in the final quarter and due to disappointing sales for the Lumia in December, a figure estimated to be less than 500,000 units was more realistic. 

Their premonition has been vindicated as Nokia reported a spectacular drop in net sales of 2.7bn Euros for Q4 2011, compared to the same period last year, and posted a net loss of just over 1bn Euros. Sales of Nokia's smartphones dropped 27%, down from 14.8bn Euros for the same quarter in 2010 to 10.8bn Euros in the latest quarter. Non-smartphone sales fared slightly better, with a 13% drop to 11.9bn Euros, down from 13.7bn Euros in 2010.  

Putting a glossy coat on the matter, Nokia said it is accelerating investment in the Lumia range, having sold more than one million Lumia devices to date. Reports on the internet suggest Nokia is preparing to launch the Lumia 900 on AT&T's network in the US and will price the smartphone 'aggressively'. 

In the UK, Nokia went on the PR-offensive, issued a statement saying: 'Lumia 800 sales in the UK are off to an excellent start. Based on earliest data the sales start of the Lumia 800 is the best ever first week of Nokia smartphone sales in the UK in recent history. By our measures, we have gained significant smartphone sell-out share in the channels in which we are operating in the UK' 

 

Analyst iSupply reported that Nokia is still the third largest phone maker, although its annual growth has declined 23% to 77 million units in 2011. However, on its overriding objective in its collaboration with Microsoft to take on the might of Apple and Google Android with the Lumia smartphone running the Windows Phone 7 operating system, one would have to say 'Mission unaccomplished'. But perhaps these are still early days. 

The collaboration represents Microsoft's boldest attempt to break into the smartphone market, ditching much of the enterprise approach it has traditionally taken on previous generations of Microsoft-powered smartphones. 

 

iSupply said Samsung has become the world's largest smartphone brand for the entire year of 2011.

 

Facebook flotation imminent

 

In what can be deemed the most anticipated development in global ICT with the rumour mill in overdrive, it is reported that the social networking giant Facebook could submit the paperwork for its long-awaited public offering as early as this week, thus taking the first step towards a flotation expected to raise up to $10bn (Pounds6.4bn).  

Though there is no agreed timescale this move has been anticipated since late 2011,  Facebook, according to the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal,  plans to file papers with the US financial watchdog on Wednesday, with a view to flotation estimated to raise about $10bn - one of the biggest share sales seen on Wall Street and totally eclipsing the $1.9bn raised by its competitor  Google when it went public eight years ago - incidentally when Mark Zuckerberg and fellow students at Harvard University started Facebook. 

The submission will signal an embryonic stage of  the process of becoming a publicly-listed company valuing the social networking site at between $75bn (Pounds48bn) and $100bn making it one of the world's biggest companies by market capitalisation. 

The 'usual suspects; - Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs - are suggested to be heavily involved with the exercise the former said to be the lead underwriter.

Rumours of Facebook's so-called initial public offering (IPO) have circulated for many months but the company had been tight-lipped on the subject.

Opinion is divided on the timing of the flotation with some arguing that Facebook is approaching saturation point and perhaps should have done this about a year ago when reports suggested the firm made a net profit of $355m on revenues of $1.2bn in the first nine months of 2010. Others argue that Facebook has scope to even grow bigger. Whatever happens, we are all on tenterhooks.

 

'Harmonised Draft Policy is work in progress' - CommTech Minister 

Nigeria's Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson explained in Lagos on Monday while opening five days of workshop on free Software Entrepreneurship that the recent harmonisation of existing but disparate policies within the ICT sector  was a take off point that was to elicit robust debate and discussion by stakeholders.

She made the explanation on the heels of industry murmuring that the document was produced by an all-civil-servants team of experts.

According to her, a wider assembly would produce a document designed to lead to development of 'an ICT master plan that will include an implementation plan with detailed implementation activities, timelines, milestones and of course funding requirements and options'.  

 

 Essay
 The future is now
 by 
 Abi Bilesanmi 

For anyone who thinks that the prevailing economic down in the developed world is a knell that summons the global industry to hell, think again. It is reported that the value of the web economy in G20 countries will nearly double by 2016 and at the epicentre of this rise is the corresponding the rapid rise of mobile internet access. 

According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group in a study supported by web giant Google, it is assumed that in four years 3bn people will be using the internet, or nearly 50% of the world's population. Right now, every year about 200 million people are going online for the very first time and a significant contributor to this development is the rapid fall in the cost of smartphones. Analyst say the net effect of this proliferation is that by 2016 about 80% of all internet users will access the web using a mobile phone. The value of the web economy in the G20 is said to increase astronomically from $2.3tn (Pounds1.5tn) to $4.2tn (Pounds2.7tn) in aforementioned 4 years. 

The Boston Consulting Group researchers bases its assumptions on what it calls the emergence of a "new internet" where web access will  be a necessity rather than a luxury; the majority of web users will live in emerging markets (within four years, China is expected to be home to 800 million people using the internet; that is more than the United States, India, France, Germany and the UK together); the internet will go social, allowing engagement amongst users, governments business on a multitude of socio-economic and geo-political levels accompanied by a seismic  technological shift that will fundamentally change the nature of how we live - the  so-called "internet of things", where all kinds of devices will be connected to the web. 

The possibilities seem endless, the numbers look impressive and yet they are still just a fraction of the global economy but the burning question for us is would understanding the economic potential of the web be an urgent priority for our leaders? 

Answers on a postcard please.

 

USA: Wikipedia protests proposed anti-internet laws

Today, January 18 2012, Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, the largest in human history, is blacking out its English language version for 24 hours as awareness campaign in protest against two proposed anti-internet laws now being considered in the US Congress.

U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet. 

Reason: Two bills -  

the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives,

and

the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate -  

are considered injurious to the future of the internet both for the advanced economies and also for the emerging ones. 

In the advanced societies small businesses may be at danger while in developing economies, the autocracy of corrupt rulers may, in addition, harm development permanently should they take a queue. 

For full Wikipedia publication on the matter, please click here.

Nigeria: Reps propose law to help electricity supply

A bill which seeks to assist Nigeria's energy managers to improve the chaotic condition of public electricity in the country advanced to second reading yesterday. Accelerated hearing of the bill underscores the seriousness with which the Lower House takes the chaotic level to which several decades of poor public power supply has reduced the economy of Nigeria. It comes under a motion of an Act to amend the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, CAP. E7, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

Nigeria's economy is under threat of collapse resulting from unattended problems of corruption, poor electricity, unemployment and in-security. Added to all these, is a government that has presented as too weak to confront the issues. Nigerians feel government is confronting them instead of confronting the problems. 

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, whose President says poor electricity has continuously endangered investment in the industry has been in the forefront of clamouring for a change in electricity supply management system. This was corroborated by Hon Patrick Ikhariale, promoter of the Bill who argued that electricity problems had been the bane of development in the country, resulting in the reduction of socio-economic activities and other sundry sectors in Nigeria. 

President of ATCON, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu, reacted, this morning, to the legislative response: 'Good development. Now some people are seeing the issues one by one, but legislation is only a very small part of the problem. The other part of attitude of those who are in charge and corruption in its unimaginable level still has to be contented with as the real issues'

According to Omo-Ettu, what the legislators may be doing should not stop at only maneuvering Electricity from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list on the Constitution but also to make it sanctionable for government not to perform. He argues that telecommunications too is on the exclusive list and 'we have not complained about the constitutional location of the industry'. 

'The way things are going we pray the intervention yields positive result. Our association may, at our next General Meeting have to consider whether we should not take the Federal Government to court and claim damages if by end of 2013 we do not see improvement in supply of public electricity' Omo-Ettu said.

 

 

NCC gets 3 New Commissioners 

The Board of Commissioners of the Nigerian Communications Commission was  reinforced with 3 additional Commissioners at a swearing-in in Abuja yesterday

 

Cyberschuulnews 453

 

Nigeria: New ICT Policy about to emerge 

 

Nigeria's Communication Technology Ministry announced during the week that it has completed a committee work to harmonise 16 different documents with which the various sectors of ICT are managed into one harmonised ICT policy draft. The draft is available for public viewing and comment at the Ministry's website. 

According to the announcement, stakeholder comments on the draft policy will be reviewed and will inform revisions that are to be made to the policy. 

It promises that a public hearing - at which the revised policy will be presented and discussed - is planned to take place in the week beginning March 5, 2012.

 

ICT, Accountability Pressure, pals of the time.

 

The theory that the overall benefits of ICT and especially of emerging social media aggregating into an empowerment tool for human beings came to a practical reality recently when Nigerians showed the Government at the centre that they were fed up with it lackluster performance. Anger, gigabytes of it, pent up and picked up, was unleashed as the resources of ICT's were used for social mobilization and an effective management of their unity. Talk of unity among youths, labour leaders, artists, clerics, academics, traders and also the jobless.  

The point was clearly made that Nigeria will be the same again and that it is not for nothing that the country claims leadership of sorts in the continent. What with the clear demonstration on the part of all protesters to minimize human casualties. 

Claims were made that the federal government attempted to place a ban on blackberry and social network services but that was promptly denied by the Nigerian Communications Commission. 

Government 'clarifies' ETO'os' 'Mobile Operator License' 

The Government in Cameroon has explained that the telecom company owned by international footballer Samuel Etoo is only authourised to resell wireless services and is not permitted to operate a Mobile network.  

Cameroon's telecoms regulator, Agence de Regulation des Telecommunications (ART), decided to make this clarification in view of popular information which went round the world that Mr. Eto'o owns a company that was heading for the position of Cameroon's third mobile telephone operator.  

Eto'o was suspended for eight months a few weeks ago as sanction for leading some of his colleagues in the Cameroon Lions against football authorities on matters relating to unpaid match bonuses and allowances. Up till moment, he is not known to have apologised for his action as demanded by Cameroon's football administration.

 

Logica sees red due to economic downturn in Europe 

As Europe remains in the grip of a politico-economic meltdown, the impact on business, and consequently growth remains severe. This was further exemplified by the announcement late last year that Logica - the business and technology service company - is cutting 1,300 jobs as it tackles the consequences of slow European growth due to the downturn. 

The company which employs 39000 people

across 36 countries said the cull is a result of lower than expected profitability of some of its longer term contracts is making an impact on the business. 'We have undertaken a thorough review of our contract portfolio. In particular, we have taken a more prudent view of a small number of long-term contracts to reflect the more difficult economic outlook,' it said. 

The impact of non-sustainability of these long term contracts means the company will take a one-off hit of Pounds39m in 2011 to cover the expected lifetime contract losses as a result of the likelihood of lower expected revenue on a small number of volume-dependent contracts with between four to six years still to run. 

The company will make greater use of automation and offshoring in its infrastructure management business, leading to the loss of 450 positions in Sweden and the UK. A further 550 jobs are expected to go in the Netherlands and Belgium due to the lower demand for IT contracts in these regions.

 

BT hits jackpot (again) 

Despite industry-wide accusation that it is building a monopoly on the provision of fibre-optic broadband which will leave Britain with a second-class infrastructure that trails other developed nations, it has been announced that  BT will upgrade 178 telephone exchanges in the most of which will be in Scotland, East Midlands  and Yorkshire a bid to ensure the government's target of Europe's best broadband network by 2015.  The upgrades will take broadband coverage to another 1.8 million homes, giving more than half the UK population access to broadband in 2012 and inevitably in upgraded areas, BT will act as a wholesaler to internet service providers. 

Late last year, Prime Minister David Cameron and the cabinet met BT chief executive Ian Livingston for an update on plans to make fibre-based services available to more than 90% of UK premises in the next five to six years. 

According to BT, most subscribers will have access to broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps or above but given that according to communications regulator Ofcom, the current average is 7Mbps and the prevailing austere economic climate, that target seems an aspiration a tad optimistic.  

BT has always drawn criticism from the rest of the industry particularly on the thorny subject of broadband provision. TalkTalk's Group Commercial Director, David Goldie said of the company on this issue: 'At all times BT is thinking about how it can recover the monopoly position that it lost many years ago. I don't think that is going to represent good value for the British taxpayer.' 

 

Chinese have caught the consumerist bug 

If the sprawling megalopolis, the  giant-sized strip malls and the omni-present US brands - Starbucks, Subway, Sizzler, McDonalds in Beijing are not evidence of China's full embrace of Western style cosumerism,  it was reported this week that there were severe delays in opening Apple's flagship store in Beijing's upmarket Sanlitun shopping district brought about by violence among hundreds of customers who had queued for hours for the iPhone 4S. 

The police was called in and a couple of people were arrested following skirmishes which broke amongst the crowd who vented their frustration by pelting eggs at the store and shouted at staff to open the doors. 

The police, it was reported, cleared and sealed off the area and employees later posted a sign in the window saying the iPhone 4S was out of stock to - inevitably to the crowd's displeasure. 

Given China is still a Communist country which, in recent times has shown disdain for U.S. business, it is hard to decipher what to make of this new-found and rampant consumerism. Mao must be turning in his grave. 

 

 ESSAY
How did we totally lose our way?

by 
titi omo-ettu 

Indeed is the question. But I did not ask the question. 

It is a one articulated by Ms Funke Opeke, CEO of MainOne Cable Company in a Guests' Comment Register at the breakfast meeting by CEO members of ATCON for Engr Victor Haffner's 92nd birthday last September. Therein, she wrote:  

'Very informative about the history of accomplishment that previously existed in the telecoms sector in the country. How did we totally loose the way?'.  

Most people of reasonable intellect let alone someone of such prominence in the industry will be left scratching their heads how, in a relative short period, things have degenerated so far and so fast. Funke Opeke, along with others, must have listened with sheer incredulity when she heard me say in a welcome address that less than 50 years ago, in 1963 precisely, the first telecom company in Nigeria provided the needed communication resources for the inaugural satellite launch by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, UAS) into space from the Lagos Marina, back to Goddard Space Flight centre in USA; and that some 10 years later, Engr Haffner and his team of Nigerians who provided the resources also conceived the NECOM House, the pioneering architectural feat of a rotating restaurant at the summit of a functional telecom building designed to be 37 levels above the ground floor.

For answers, a semblance of understanding or some comparative analysis, I put the question 'How did we totally loose the way?' to Google Search but that venture yielded nothing.  

But to pretend to be ignorant of the root causes of this degeneration is simply burying one's head in the sand. The issue is whether one wants to found solutions or meet the problem(s) with the customary shrug of despondency.  

The few people who write our history depict different era by those who have had the misfortune to rule us hence we chart our historical chart by the 'Obasanjo's regime', 'Shagari's era', 'Gowon's days',  Abacha's period, Babangida's time, Obasanjo's second time second term, etc.  

The difference between those heady days when Mr. Haffner worked and today is that back then, the states were not going to Federal Government routinely with a begging bowl to collect dues but rather, through ingenuous means, they generated revenue and contributed agreed sums to the central Government. This 'funnel like' system was effective and its reversal put the gearstick of progress in reverse. To understand the moment that precipitated this regression, we need to go back - as far back as 1966.  

The fellow who had the misfortune of implementing that retrogressive decision, is no other than the distinguished elder-statesman and prayer-warrior, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), who will have us believe that the only solution he thinks can be employed to solve our problems is 'prayer'.  

If the only solution that the distinguished elder statesman can offer in the face of a multitude of problems is prayer then we should ask him to look at the issue more closely. One can say with a level of certainty that that solution does not work as I can think of no people that pray more than Nigerians.  The share number of billionaires we have produced through prayer empires attest to this. I also can think of no more morally bereft set of people than these people who package hopelessness and sell it to our people as hope. This is because if prayer is the thing, it is a deferral to a superior being for the manifestation of the good decisions that we take to protect ourselves given all the intellect the Almighty has endowed us with. It is difficult to rely solely on prayer when we deliberately depart from the original and efficient position where the states were self- sufficient and truly confederal. Is it difficult to know that?  

Today our President goes to church routinely to talk about affairs of state and to give more impression of hopelessness than hope. And to imagine that those young 'brilliant economists' who surround to impress on him that economic indices are more important than the wishes of Nigerians. And that our economy  regarding fuel consumption is being threatened by small countries who share border with us and whose total population, consumption, and corruption quotient are only very insignificant fraction of Nigeria's.  

What I find more galling is that no one sees it fit to challenge the respected General Gowon or indeed the success factor of his panacea. To be brutally honest I don't think even he actually believes in the sacrosanctity of prayer and perhaps, just perhaps, a lack of leadership, aspiration and will might have something to do with the prevailing situation.  

Our failure to challenge orthodoxy cripples us. For our best moments come from discomfort and dissatisfaction because in those moments we are propelled to step out of what rubbish we are standing in and search for better solutions. A lack of aspiration means we are unable to truly judge a system either by its operations or manifestation. 

Quite frankly we do not need an Army General to tell us what has gone wrong or how to solve them, we simply need anyone who works like a General - essentially a courageous leader. 

Samsung PABX systems feature intelligent hybrid handsets, VOIP capabilities and are designed to be incredibly easy to use. The system gives you all the basic features you'll need and none that you won't use. Plus, the capability to be effortlessly expanded as your business grows. 

 

ESSAY
On Deregulation, Transformation and the Nigerian Nation

by
'Gbenga Sesan 

 

Recently, President Jonathan attempted, again, to convince Nigerians to buy into his sudden realisation of Nigeria's pending doom because of fuel subsidies. At best, the President comes across as a man selling a product he's bent on forcing down the throat of citizens, and I'm sure he already knows that the government does not have the permission of the majority to go ahead. We've been here before, the numbers don't look right and the "transformation team" is working towards the laziest answer to Nigeria's socio-economic sustainability. The more Abuja says, the more it exposes the fundamental weakness of the self-taught remove-subsidy-and-transform-Nigeria argument. 

 

What is going on in Nigeria today was aptly described by Prof. Chinua Achebe in his popular book, "The Trouble with Nigeria," where he said that "The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness of its leaders to rise to the challenge of personal example..." As much as Abuja talks about transforming Nigeria, it all ends as dropped words because the actions of the current administration have not shown any difference from those of the occupiers of our political space who simply feed fat on our ignorance, apathy and resilience. How does a government that preaches sacrifice budget N2.5 million (over $15,000) for its daily feeding? Cassava bread, which the president promised to feed on until his exit in 2015, must be very expensive. 

 

This government is afraid of doing the needful! At various events, and even during the Presidential Media Chat, the president and government officials confess to the existence of chronic corruption in the management of fuel subsidies. However, when asked about bringing the culprits to book, the quick (often shaky) response is that "there is no cabal, really, they are just business people". The president even went as far as comparing fuel marketers to MTN, and that is a new argument that "Team Transformation" is trying out. Mr. President, please don't compare telecommunications deregulation with the plans in the Oil & Gas sector. And I will explain. At the time when Nigeria moved towards complete deregulation of telecommunications in Nigeria, the situation was so bad that most people didn't even know the joy of telecommunications. Only 450,000 (way less than 1%) relied on the services, so the 99% only saw benefits after the complete deregulation. That was well-timed and contextual, and it is not the same with a product that determines the cost of livelihood for 99% of the population. 

 

Abuja has also argued that aviation was terrible before deregulation. Again, I ask: what percentage of Nigerians relied on Nigerian Airways for their travel from, say, Lagos to Benin? I've also heard the argument that Nigerians accepted the deregulation in the power sector, so they should embrace fuel subsidy removal as part of the deregulation requirements for the Oil & Gas sector. The same telecom/aviation principle applies here: Nigerians knew no power before now, and basically provided their own alternatives, so not many people will protest attempts to reform and make it better. It is not the same for the fuel subsidy debate, so please search your books for another argument. Wise counsel has been given by the likes of EnoughisEnough Nigeria, Prof. Pat Utomi and others: cut the cost of government first, and show Nigerians that you are a responsible government, instead of asking us to sacrifice based on the number of banquets you host to force an idea down our throats. 

 

The sustainability of Nigeria, which the president often speaks of, is NOT even a conversation about fuel subsidy removal; it is a wholesome conversation about the welfare of citizens, cost of government and the quality of governance. At the heart of the ongoing debate is an ongoing show of disrespect for the feedback from citizens. When the president makes statements such as, "there's no going back on subsidy removal," what is the point in asking the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to keep saying that the president is still discussing with Nigerians and he will make up his mind based on feedback? Governments should be afraid of their people, but Abuja is not. Many have said that Nigerians deserve the kind of government we get and that we are too resilient to successfully protest anything, but I will advise Abuja not to assume that this is the permanent temperament of the citizenry. 

 

The welfare of citizens is the primary responsibility of government, and this must shine through every policy stance or program of a self-named Transformation Government. In a case where citizen welfare will be threatened, the palace cannot continue in selfish display of waste while the people are asked to cut more pounds of flesh in honour of the existence of the "commonwealth". The 99% in Nigeria is not responsible for the outrageous expense at which government is run today, so why punish a people by making them suffer for a crime they didn't commit? Cut the cost of government. Remove that shameful N2.5 million "banquet allowance", cut Security Vote, reduce the number of ministries (some are close to mirror images of each other, and why do we have Ministers of State?), and ask the other arms of government (hello, legislators) to do the same. When cost is down, improve the quality of governance. After you've done that, and you earn the trust of the people, come back to the table for a debate about how fuel subsidy removal can bring about overnight transformation.

 

 

Cyberschuulnews 452

 

Subsidy Crossroad: 
Between a deception and a host of low truths
 

 

In a warped attempt to boost their liberalisation credentials, officials of Nigerian Federal Government have chosen to use improvements in the telecommunications sector as a fig leaf to justify the unpopular hike in the price of petrol which it has presented under the guise of deregulation of petroleum products. 

Street Protester In a Budget Speech presented to the National Assembly for approval, President Goodluck Jonathan had said 'We believe that the power sector can benefit from liberalization and privatization by attracting investors in the same manner as the telecommunications sector has done. In the same vein, government will come up with policies to encourage investment in the downstream sector through liberalization so as to create jobs for our people'.  

 

Three Ministers, Mr. Labaran Maku (Information), Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala (Finance), and Mr. Emeka Worgu (Labour) - had, at various times,  promised Nigerians that the deregulation of petroleum products would yield results comparable to what has been achieved in the telecommunication industry.  

 

Their supposition was however challenged by the President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Titi Omo-Ettu who, in a correspondence with CyberschuulNews, said it is disingenuous as it is inaccurate to expect that the level of achievements in the telecommunication sector can be replicated in the face of the present government's direction of travel.   

 

Such a comparison, according to Omo-Ettu, is entirely without basis. He says it betrays an epic lack of understanding of what is required by government officials that it is inconceivable that it can sell its vision or mode of implementation to anyone else. He urged the government not to re-write history by pretending to be taking anything from past development efforts  into its power reform agenda which is seriously flawed and its decision to remove the so-called subsidy on the first day of a New Year with insufficient consultation is at best insensitive, untimely and undemocratic.  He said although it was this government that eventually restructured the ICT industry sector recently, it was rather a half- hearted response which failed to consider all the true arguments for restructuring. He further contends that belated as the aforementioned response might have been, it was also delivered incompetently. 

 

He reminded the government that since it increased the cost of diesel from N90 to N165 during the expired year, it has taken the unusual task of jeopardising the modest and hard won achievements of the telecommunications industry which runs on 100% diesel (no prizes for guessing why) and which has seen its  players dwindle by 45% in 15 years. Omo-Ettu says in one fell swoop, it has raised the production costs of service providers who would have required, but for strategic interventions, to pass them on consumers with detrimental effects on cost, scope and quality of service - all the indicators of a developing and improving sector.   

 

Mr. Omo-Ettu said with such demonstrable and breath-taking ignorance of what goes on within the industry, it is difficult to respect and trust the government's decisions in other sectors. And to imagine the undue mindless arrogance exemplified by the response of Dr Reuben Abati to Channels TV's question on Presidency's reaction to the House of Representatives resolution of Sunday evening. 'Someone once said that for a deception to be successful, it has to be habitual and uninterrupted. The government might find peddling deception habitual, but it has no chance of being uninterrupted'.  

 

 

NCC denies alleged disruption of Blackberry services,
sets August as Number Portability take off
 

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reacted sharply to an information making the rounds last week that it had at a meeting on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 agreed with CEOs of telecommunications networks to shutdown Blackberry Services in order to deny Nigerians the use of that very important social network. 

 

NCC's EVC Eugene Juwah The Commission categorically said such a meeting never held, nor was there ever a resolution to shut down Blackberry services. 

 

It enjoined network operators to continue to provide all telecommunication services, including Blackberry Services without fail.  

 

Meanwhile, there are indications that the Mobile Number Portability would commence in August, eight months after it signed on Consultants to prepare the industry for the intervention.

 

 

CBN bans telephone operators from advertising mobile money services 

 

 An announcement by the Central Bank Nigeria, CBN says no telephone operator has been licensed to offer mobile money services and they cannot place advertisements on behalf of licensees of such services.  

 

This came on the heels of a cashless economy which came into effect on January 1, 2012.

 

 

Pre-Enforcement and Warning Notice of Violation of Type Approved Guidelines 

 

It has come to the notice of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC that telecommunications devices i.e. Mobile Handsets and other communication equipment which have not been approved by the Commission are being advertised for sale in the national dailies. 

 

All concerned dealers/companies or any person(s) affected should note that it is a criminal offence pursuant to section 133 Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003 to sell or install any communications equipment or facilities without first obtaining approval from the Commission. The consequences of such act may lead to a sanction or imprisonment. 

 

Again, note that Section 141 (3) (b) of the NCA, 2003 gives the Commission's authorized officials authority to at any reasonable time and without prior notice, enter any affected person's or licensee's premises. 

 

In view of the above, the Commission hereby gives 14 days PRE-ENFORCEMENT AND WARNING NOTICE FROM THE DATE OF THIS PUBLICATION to all dealers/ companies or any person(s) to immediately stop the sale of any unapproved device(s) without the necessary authorization obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission. 

 

The Enforcement Unit of the Commission shall without further recourse and upon expiration of the stipulated deadline of the 14 days commence appropriate nationwide enforcement action including but not limited to prosecution, fine and confiscation of devices sold without proper approval.

 

Tony Ojobo
Director
Public Affairs

 

 

Call for empowerment of people with disabilities 

 

A call went out recently to telecom operators and everyone else in the society to know that it is their duty to acknowledge the existence of persons living with disabilities as co-inhabitants of the human community; just as it is the duty of persons living with disabilities to create awareness of our existence and our willingness to participate in our communities. 

 

Mr. Opeolu Akinola, Chairman Nigeria Association of the Blind Lagos State Chapter and an ICT consultant made a call on service providers to provide voice-activated menus on telecom packages to underscore their appreciation that some of their customers suffer vision impairment. 

This will assert independence and privacy of people with disabilities and make their skills available for nation building. 

 

 

2011 the year that was -

from

Editor, CyberschuulNews 

 

It is that time again when we take a retrospective look and revisit those issues good, bad and indifferent that defined the year that was. But as we look to usher in 2012 and look back at 2011, it is difficult to depart from the standard barometer of struggles, achievements as well as expectations not met, reached or even surpassed. What is irrefutable is that whatever had been achieved on the global stage, was hard won given the dire state of the global economy which saw the Eurozone's future hang in the balance, fiscal failings toppling governments; the US have its credit rating downgraded and Japan's earthquake rock markets. On the domestic front, the industry continues to forge ahead with new initiatives despite the shackles of structural problems - electricity, security to which coming up with a coherent narrative (or indeed solution) is proving tricky for our leading politicians, energy sector players, law enforcers and commentators alike as we (the stakeholders) are struggling against the fact that there is very little by way of concrete and credible proposals on offer from the former.

  

However through it all we at CyberschuulNews had been with you all the way unwaveringly adhering to our objectives of communicating, informing and educating you on the key issues that affect and resonate with the global and domestic ICT industry. Here are some highlights and we hope you stay with us too see what 2012 will bring.

  

 

They said there will be light ….but only in 2014

 

The year has ended in the literal and metaphorical darkness with which it had begun with the prospect of illumination (again literally and metaphorically) being as elusive as ever. At the epicentre of this darkness is a perceived reticence in the energy sector to fully embrace meaningful reform of which a true liberalisation agenda which will radically change investment levels, transmission, generation and distribution is integral. Those in the know contend that the sector, for a host of reasons, has failed to emulate the reform agenda brought about by genuine liberalization of telecoms sector over a decade ago which saw it give out licenses to investors to open up our market and provide, sell as well as augment their investment and networks thus creating a progressively fair investment environment. In presenting an illusionary version rather than genuine liberalization, energy reform managers are inviting investors to participate in power supply process by asking them to produce electricity and feeding it into a national grid and are presenting the creation of the Nigeria's Bulk Electricity Trading Company - layer of bureaucracy rather than a credible business model as a panacea. The prevailing argument is that they are deluded in thinking they will impress, let alone attract, genuine and world-class investors to this charade. 

 

Astonishingly the Minister, by his own admission, contends that this reform will bear fruit in 3 years. Well we are one down and only two to go. Unless they change tact, take a candle, lantern or even your generator on this one. 

 

 

ICT - still a force for good 

 

2011 was the year of  the Arab Spring uprisings, one in which human rights activists worldwide have attest the power of technology, mainly the Internet and mobile phones, as tools for democracy and change. Social media played a role in bringing down dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa. 

 

Social media -Twitter hashtags and Facebook groups were large players in mobilizing protestors, who came from all backgrounds united in their quest for freedom. The struggle took down the dictators in Tunisia and Libya, Egypt, and is still fighting in Syria, and other nations in the region. It seems logical, then, to assume that social media and technology penetration will lead to more democracy and social justice. The more blackberries in a country, the less the economic disparity. The more access to ICT the better the chances of exposing political corruption and tyrannical tendencies. Viva la revolucion! 

 

In with new? 

 

Coinciding with a reversal of fortunes in the developed world, 2011 saw the Middle East emerging and muscling in on the established powers in global ICT shooting up the league table placing them in the top 50 and ranking  highly on a range of indices of use and the prevailing environment of ICT as well as readiness. UAE has experienced a 10% growth in the sector over the last few years, with projected spending is expected to be a whopping $45.8billion of which $36.4billion will go on communication by 2012. In emerging economies in 2011, there had been increased understanding that their main challenge is to create knowledge economies thus funding and investment in ICT infrastructure has become a central priority among governments. However many are having difficulty in promoting investment in telecommunications networks to provide universal access.

 

 

Broadband in 2011: can't get too much of a good thing

 

Broadband access and penetration still largely remains the fulcrum around which both the global and domestic ICT sector revolve with data culled from a number of sources worldwide not only show improved  penetration, but  numerous symposiums highlighting the relationship between broadband penetration and various demographic factors . Unsurprisingly all indicate a positive correlation between broadband adoption and income, population density and size. Domestically, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria ATCON, in collaboration with Businessworld Communications Ltd hosted the Nigeria Broadband Investment Summit the focus of which was to identify opportunities and challenges for universal access to broadband internet in Nigeria, sufficiently engender investment, create access, build a market, remove access barriers, and encourage infrastructure construction. One can safely say that To the extent that the market has been sensitized in this regard and given the symmetry between that both government and players, we can expect more policy initiatives and pronouncements in 2012.

  

SIM Registration: better late ...

 

Eight years later than it was due, the SIM registration finally got off the ground. The results will undoubtedly help strategic planning and correct a few misconceptions. The NCC did a reasonably good job in superintending the project and imposed punitive measures where there had been non-compliance to its directives. Hopefully it will publish the report without 'creative accounting' thus giving us a true picture of mobile telephony not just as it is now but enable us to make more accurate projections of growth and development. 

 

Quality of Service

 

Telephony in Nigeria has historically offered a single level of service that is at best inconsistent and patchy however, in 2011, it is fair to say that providers have offered a poor level of service quality for reason(s) which remain obscure but which we hope will be provided by the technical study currently conducted by the NCC. In addition there is a requirement to define a consistent service quality the NCC should demand to be provided, and network service providers must be compelled to implement such a requirement. Where there is service level agreements are vague, non-definitive or non-existent, it is difficult to establish a benchmark against which expectations may be measured. Users are the industry's main assets and the issue of poor quality of service is a realm that the all stakeholders - providers and regulator alike - need to show some mettle in the interest and development of the industry.

 

 

 

ComTech Ministry: A new dawn

 

The creation of the new ComTech Ministry is a step in the right direction as is the decision to have a   technocrat is in charge. One may argue that it is too early to start making firm judgments, but from all discernible indicators, one can say 'its all good'. It is also commendable that the Minister has articulated a roadmap into targets for the regime's life as it denotes strategic forward thinking. It is sensible not to have wasted time in tidying up work in harmonizing relevant policy and also putting a date of January 9 on publishing the draft for public comment. With precise policy pronouncements and stipulated deadlines, we can see the merits in appointing technocrats rather than pragmatic politicians. 

 

Collaborations, Mergers and acquisitions

 

2011 saw the collaboration between Nokia which is good at hardware but outdated software and without a smartphone to shout about and Microsoft with its Windows phone 7software which Nokia was now going to use; Microsoft acquired Skype; Google acquired Motorola's Mobility and HP acquired Autonomy. On the domestic front, the debate over proposed merger between the NCC and NBC raged on. Whether it is indefatigability or inevitability that is driving the issue, it is hard to tell. 

 

Miscellaneous

 

2011 was a good year for gadgets. Apple rolled out the iPad2 and the iPhone4S but suffered its lowest levels of shipments in two years and was overtaken by Samsung in worldwide smartphone shipments; Nokia finally made an appearance in the smartphone market 

 

A sour year for Blackberry

 

It was far from vintage 12 months for the Canadian tech company Research In Motion (RIM). In the summer, it was singled out by the UK government for criticism (speciously one might add) for the 'summer of discontent' which saw widespread disturbances rioting and looting in the UK's major cities. It was claimed that most of the rioters had used Blackberry's messaging service to organise and implement their antisocial activities. Slow sales amid market share losses to its rivals saw it announce plans to cut 2,000 jobs, or about a tenth of its workforce, in a desperate bid effort to shore up its plummeting fortunes. And in the autumn it incurred the wrath of its users when, in a four day period all services across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as India went down forcing its CIO Robin Bienfait, to make a global and grovelling apology and make a commitment to 'work around the clock to address this situation.' It was unclear how many of the 70 million BlackBerry subscribers have been affected by the outage, but many took to Twitter to vent their spleens.

 

Good friends we lost

 

 Chairman and Co-Founder of Apple Steve Jobs, died due to complications from pancreatic cancer aged 56. Jobs was known not just for his contribution to humanity through innovation and technology but also for his keynote speeches and engaging interviews that struck a chord beyond loyal Apple followers. He will be sorely missed. 

 

Cyberschuulnews 451

 

Electricity Crisis Without End !!

 

 

Nigeria's endemic problems of corruption, poor electricity, unemployment and insecurity are difficult to rank. It is also difficult to assess Government's response to solving them.  Electricity (lack of it really) appears to be one where there is indication of a notable attempt to arrest, but the absence of a credible reform game-plan indicates that darkness which has eclipsed the country for several years is not about to abate anytime soon. Only the Minister of Power, Prof Barth Nnaji and his principals think the situation will change. But even then, he said, albeit on the floor of the Senate while being 'screened' for his job, that three years is the earliest time to expect things to start changing. Besides, there are conflicting paths of travel between the Federal Ministry of Power and Rural Electrification Agency on one hand and the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission, NERC, on the other.  One account says the Professor is warming up to resuscitate a Rural Electrification Agency which owes its contractors N3.4 billion while it has about 1,946 uncompleted projects which have been abandoned at different levels. 

 

Where will all these lead to and what options are available?

  

 

 Sustainable Electricity:  How Nigeria Can Get It Right

   by

   Olatunji Ariyomo  

 

I read the worrisome statement credited to the Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, in the Tribune Newspaper of 21st November 2011 under the caption "Nigeria may never have stable power supply - Minister", by Tunde Dodondawa. 

 

To start with, Prof. Nnaji does not strike me as just another typical politician whose fundamental motivation is to add the title of his current status as mere career attainment on his resume. Based on this sentiment, I hereby wish to set out with this discourse hoping he would take this as an open letter from a concerned Nigerian, find it a useful critique and be able to identify the contradiction in his avowed quest for electricity sustainability and some activities that could negate that patriotic intention, give room for negative speculation or result in a lot of motion without movement. 

 

The ongoing battle with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) workers' union culminating in a continuous reference to the union as a major obstacle to reform is a critical sign that threatens the reform. As someone who desires that the eminent professor delivers in the interest of the common man, I wish to submit that what is being executed is not privatization of that sector but sheer 'sales' of public utilities that happen to operate in that sector, in this case, the PHCN and allied inventories - a reverse cash and carry - especially if ultimately the items are sold at prices reminiscent of previous exercises. There is a distinction between the 'privatization of the Nigerian electric power sector' and the 'privatization of a public utility operating in that sector'. 

 

The Unions would fight you, and their fight would have bite, because it appears strongly that fresh private sector initiative and investment have not essentially been enabled. What is taking place appears to be a mere transfer of ownership of existing mostly comatose inventories of PHCN to those considered private sector players. By this, you are directly making yourself a willing victim of the wise parable of not putting new wine in old wineskins. This is even as you ultimately give your adversaries myriads of reasons at close range to cite as evidence of your missteps. The paradox grows fangs in the face of the reality that your words convey the right desires and plans but the corresponding modi operandi, at least those so far widely reported in the media, are exactly in principle the failed experiment of your predecessors. This is why the unions remain critically important in your equation or strategic reform plan. They ought not to be! 

 

Doing the right thing should not be difficult where good examples abound. In this case, the success of the telecommunication sector's privatization comes to mind. We need to learn from our successes as well as from our failures. That's why it's called knowledge curve. We got it right with our telecommunication back then even though the participating private investors at the time initially relied on the backbone provided by NITEL for some of their operations. Imagine if 'unbundling' NITEL into several bits and their 'sales' were the primary cards or the only cards on the table at the time! Imagine how that would have given added strength to and further embolden the NITEL union! 

 

If I were in your shoes, my first prompt task would be to get Mr. President, members of the Federal Executive Council, the National Assembly and Nigerians to see the futility of a previous executive action in 2005 that sought to forge 18 good swords from the remnant of a thoroughly corroded and badly damaged sword. It is trite among Nigerians, bar those in denial in the corridor of power, that PHCN's only progress since then is limited to its notoriety for disconnection, scamming homeowners via illegitimate payments for electricity meters and meter maintenance fees, and vending prepaid recharge units while the very important tasks of generation and stable distribution reserved for 17 of PHCN's 'children' of which six ought to be generating while eleven distribute have suffered irreparably. Successive power ministers, including the incumbent, have revealed that total sector attainment never grew above the starting point except the bizarre findings showing that 'the megawatt' has actually ebbed below kick off point despite the infusion of several billions of fresh dollars. So if I were in your shoes, I would not touch or grapple with PHCN. Seriously, I might even throw some form of limited lifeline funding at it in the interim as part of a deliberate Change Management tactics, to make them happy and get them busy - and hoping they could, by some miracle, make something out of 'the talents'. Mostly, I would click the ignore button and allow PHCN to find its feet like NITEL. Goodluck to them! 

 

If I were in your shoes, I would hold open bids that would allow both serious and not so serious investors from the private sector to transparently show interest and eventually ENABLE (with emphasis) new modern private energy companies that would be investing their OWN funds in setting up THEIR OWN modern local distribution firms from scratch. With a robust energy policy aided by good legislation, the electricity business is a most lucrative one because of the indispensability of the commodity. I am sure we all know what constitutes a local distribution company vis-a-vis items like medium-voltage power-lines, substations and their ancillary facilities, transformers, poles, distribution wiring, electricity meters, plus parts, labour and control centres. I am equally certain we know that these are not impossibly expensive - especially when they are being procured by private individuals as against the cost-inflating politicians and civil servants in government. 

 

Also, I know as a fact that most Nigerians know that majority of final nodal distribution via local electrification which includes installation of transformers plus poles and wiring to take power to their homes have become the routine tasks of state governments, community effort and individuals. Even the electricity meters in most Nigerian homes were paid for by the home owners! I mention these to put the limit of the mighty importance of current PHCN 'as infrastructure owner' at the local distribution level in its proper perspective. 

 

It is a fact that privatization is the way to go. But privatization will perform better when the investor has his money at stake. Privatization will also perform better when the entire sector is being privatized rather than focusing principally on failed public utilities in that sector like the PHCN and fruitlessly attempting to make them represent the entire sector. This is part of the learning curve gained from the successful privatization (sic) of the telecommunication sector under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It shows that privatization performs better when investors apply their own money and when the entire sector is opened up unequivocally. This does not mean that the progress made by existing private sector investors should be discountenanced. No. In fact, if I were in your shoes, I would evolve ways to provide strategic assistance to any existing serious private investor who is making marginal progress and have those who merely display electricity licences as trophies in their sitting rooms dislodged from the industry. 

 

Concerning generation, if I were in your shoes, I would approach and motivate, with super incentives, experienced multinationals like Mobil, Texaco Overseas, Total, Chevron, Oando etc to set up local energy production concerns AND encourage them to enter into joint ventures with smaller private investors, individuals, states and local governments. Why? This is because of two main reasons: 

 

1)     It is real serious business to meet the quantum of electricity needed by a population of 167million that has the same energy consumption pattern and industrialization ambition similar to Great Britain's, which I estimated at approximately 976,435.97 Gigawatt hour (GW.h) per year at a daily per capita power consumption of 667 Watt (W). Even if we generously downgrade Nigeria's per capita power consumption to half of UK's because of the state of her industry, empirically, we will still be required to be able to generate at the moment a minimum of 55,694.50MW to get by - while our combined electricity generation capability from a mix of fuel fired plants (my preference) and other sources should really be around 111,389MW optimally, and; 

 

2)     Many of the firms listed above have several years of experience in actual electricity production while their industry reputation is an advantage for contributing investors - especially if individuals, small private sector players, local, state and federal governments would be investing counterpart funds. 

 

It is in view of the enormity of this reality of what ought to be our power generation capability that I commend Prof. Nnaji's bulk purchaser of electricity scheme coined as Nigeria's Bulk Electricity Trading Company even though I would also raise a flag on the propriety of making it chiefly a government entity. It is my opinion that a better operational model for the bulk purchaser would be to empower it with robust legislation to utilize transparent accounting system, settlement capabilities, and self governance structures using bilateral cooperation involving limited government but sizable private sector involvement. My fear is premised upon what we all know about the inherent capacity of the civil service when its members occupy such vantage position and are superintending over activities that can be termed critical success factors. 

 

To understand my concern, we only need to take a look at the grave mismanagement of petroleum subsidy payments, and the manner its details have been so cloaked in secrecy - to the extent that even powerful Ministers of Finance and Petroleum conceded they lacked the capacity to redirect the subsidy away from a few powerful beneficiaries to its original goal and target (the masses), are unable to promptly produce detailed subsidy related transaction statistics and have had to engage the Nigerian parliament in what some have termed delay tactics. So how would the same government prevent similar abuse in a government-run Bulk Electricity Trading Company? 

 

With regard to transmission, if I were in your shoes, I would get the Federal Government to pronounce the national grid a national resource by way of policy and legislation (in words and actions), initiate a national stakeholder team with representatives of federal, state, local governments and the private sector and stimulate an environment that would allow the setting up of tiers of private sector firms formed by a conglomerates of players in the energy sector to carry out 24/7 support and management services on the transmission power-lines by way of outsourcing. 

 

I would assume as Minister (and rightly so) that my role is not to compete with PHCN or go to war against the union but to create, within limited time, an environment that makes the power sector; the most sought after for local and foreign investors, a major employer of labour and a business environment where promising, trainable and adaptable Nigerian youths could look forward to for gainful employment and a place where even upwardly mobile members of the PHCN workers' crew would eagerly seek to change job on their own volition and join the services of the new private sector players. This is important because the consequence of active private sector driven local distribution upon PHCN (where PHCN is just another competitor) is predictable. Just imagine the potential for local job creation! The Minister of Power of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at this time in history has a unique opportunity to strengthen the private sector and assist investors to create thousands of permanent and sustainable jobs for bright Nigerians if the right things are done. 

 

If someone intends getting something as important as electricity right, my opinion and what I think commonsense suggests, is to deploy intervention models that have worked elsewhere with similar social and operational challenges as Nigeria. What past handlers of the nation's energy reforms have been doing and which appears strongly as the Minister's favoured direction is the fixation with the unbundling or selling of PHCN, making this goal the core of national policy trust as if PHCN is a well-managed invaluable and indispensable asset. In the process, they encumber themselves with union politics and even ended up spending more taxpayers' money to create newer assets for a PHCN that is structurally ill-equipped to yield the type of output required for a population of 167million. 

 

I often compare the philosophy behind this approach with the theme behind the often mouthed ban on rice importation when we are yet to commence rice production to any degree. In the third world, when you truncate legitimate access to what is, without the provision of what ought to be, you create big rooms for corruption via a thoroughly corrupt custom manning thoroughly porous borders. To underscore the lesson here, we only need to take a cursory look at the success of indigenous companies that ventured into computer and computer parts production despite these being at the cutting edge of technology. Who does not know that private sector players like Omatek, Zinox etc were only assisted with local content policy stipulates and not absolute ban on computer imports? 

 

Back to electricity, even more telling is the continuous treatment of the nation's quest for electricity sustainability as a federal government's headache only, when the Minister could use his enviable position to activate the dormant state functionaries into a frenzy of positive activities by laying the groundwork and by setting good examples backed by appropriate laws and protective policies - including ultimately getting the National Assembly to re-frame the relevant part of the constitution to reflect the need for a no-boundary mutually beneficial handshake in energy investment rather than further emphasizing exclusivity as promoted by the letters, motive and intent of the extant phrase which restricts state's investment to "areas not covered by a national grid system within that State" in Section 14(b), Part II of the Second Schedule (Concurrent Legislative List) of the Nigerian Constitution. 

 

I would equally expect the Minister to explore the possibility of a measured (emphasis on measured) decentralization of production and local distribution, using however a strict cross-country uniform set of rules for standard and safety, even if transmission remains for the time being, chiefly centralized - in a way that the principle of transmission being an essential national resource, not in the context of a hoard or a status symbol at the pleasure of a big federal government - would accelerate attainment of success in electricity sustainability. 

 

Also, what is this with the fixation with gas while naturally we should be relying upon a mix of fuel? We are one of the few nations with abundance of coal. Coal contributes to pollution? Then invest in clean coal technology! Although, there are countless options that offer cleaner energy, they however cannot boast of coal's energy density or the type of heating value required for our type of massive electricity need. 

 

Strictly speaking, because of the way past handlers have bungled the reforms thus far, they have created a mental picture in the minds of Nigerians that electricity sustainability is ultra-rocket science. No, it is not! The Minister needs to follow a path that is different from those pursued by his predecessors. He must remember constantly that it was in this very Nigeria that his predecessors promised Nigerians 6,000MW (megawatts) of electricity, lavishly spent 6000MW equivalent of hard currencies but ended up with a zero MW contribution to the nation's energy 'portfolio'. 

 

Only God knows who gave them the idea of measuring their electricity 'progress' in megawatts in the first instance! You would have expected sincere people to create targets based on people's expectations and understanding - e.g., "we shall ensure uninterrupted electricity supply in 10 states of the federation within 2 years" would resonate with Nigerians better. Well, you can't tread the path of these predecessors and expect to arrive at a different outcome. Can you? 

 

Olatunji Ariyomo is the principal energy consultant at Q7 Engineering, U.K and

holds a Masters degree in Energy Engineering from the University of Sheffield 

  

 

Still on Sustainable Electricity

   by

   Titi Omo-Ettu

  

Mr Olatunji Ariyomo raised very good and informed points in his 'Sustainable Electricity:  How Nigeria Can Get It Right' which I found compelling and, as a concerned Nigerian, and part of the long suffering citizenry, I offer to revisit the subject matter.

 

As a member of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, and its serving President, it is a duty that I say we remain unimpressed by current plans for energy reform of the Nigerian Government and to postulate that it will be a  miracle if the current proposals  actually take us out of darkness. Nonetheless, we pray for the miracle to happen so that we shall be pleasantly surprised. 

 

We had harboured hopes that  the managers of the ongoing energy reform would take a leaf  from the modest progress made in telecommunications development in the past eighteen years replicating the things that we did right while avoiding those we did wrong, On the face of it, those hopes now seem misplaced.

 

At the epicenter of what we did right, was genuine liberalisation which saw us give out licenses to investors to open up our market and provide, sell, as well as augment their investment and networks. By creating a progressively fair investment environment, we turned aspiration into reality and a subsidized loss making sector into one that returned funds into government's coffers - all with minimal government intervention. We also made the point to Government to stop throwing money at our problems. 

 

Although these energy reform managers are inviting investors to participate in power supply process, they are merely presenting an illusionary version rather than genuine liberalization and are deluded in thinking  they will impress genuine and world-class investors in the present circumstance. They would do well to remember that for all the development in our telecommunications sector, we have failed to attract world-class investors to date for reasons. For reasons, perhaps not for mentioning in this intervention, the best of the emerging markets is all we have been able to attract thus far. 

 

Producing electricity and feeding such into a national grid is not attractive to investment especially if the buyer of the product is a government rather than consumers. We observed that the government eventually identified this lapse and is presenting the creation of the Nigeria's Bulk Electricity Trading Company as the answer. - yet another illusion which is bound to fail for it is merely establishing a bureaucracy (regardless of the name 'Company') where a true business model solution is required. 

 

Selling our generating plants to private investors is an open invitation to full scale corruption which we should not allow under any circumstance and to that extent we align with those who oppose privatization of anything at this time.

  

Regrettably, the word 'privatisation' has been confused with 'liberalisation' thus making  communication (with a small 'c') very difficult, even when there is a genuine attempt to have a dialogue. Liberalisation is about motivating investors to determine what sectors of the community they want to provide services for - and they often and most successfully do this without the encumbrances of dealing extensively with government bureaucracies, aside the regulator. 

 

In my estimation and one which has hitherto been recommended, is a model of decentralized architecture, Engr. John Ayodele, FNSE recommended it in the form of Distributed Generation for our public electricity supply system when he delivered the NIEEE Annual Lecture in 2009 while I, Engr Titi Omo-Ettu, FNSE gave similar recommendation when I delivered the 2010 edition (Pathway to connecting the Last Man) of the same Lecture. Granted, of course, that since we put those recommendations in books, we might have been truly hiding them. 

 

With such a viable model, we can provide 24/7/365 supply of electricity to many parts of this country within six months. We can also generate more than 40,000 megawatts to serve various communities of the country in 3 years.  Today we probably do more than 30,000 Megawatts except that everybody does his own generation while government augments with less than 5,000. 

 

Regrettably, our energy managers  rather than thinking about the  'regular supply of power' via a decentralized architecture - the forgone alternative deployed successfully in the telecommunications sector, are, for narrow self- interests, fixated on thinking in 'megawatts' in grid supply. Annoyingly, they have now turned to television to show us efforts when what we want is electricity.

  

I am aware that the managers of energy are busy navel gazing just like we in the telecommunications sector did several years ago - an attitude that we had to change before we could take Nigeria out of telecom darkness.

  

Also regrettably, the shift stick of progress that has become a hallmark of the  telecommunications sector in spite of very poor electricity, is not only stuck in neutral but rather in danger of being stuck in reverse as it is now inconceivable that we can move forward without real improvement in infrastructure and access to adequate electricity supply. Knowing what we do, inaction is not an option as it will inevitably lead to the desecration of not only the energy but the telecommunication sector too.

  

The pain in one's neck is that we keep groping and give an impression that we cannot do it. The good story is that we have demonstrated elsewhere that we can.

  

A painful error was made when an aspiring Minister told our Senators that he could not guarantee regular electricity until after 3 years and yet he was allowed to wear the badge of "Minister of Power". That brings tears to my eyes and to ask what manner of representative democracy this is.

 

And to ask myself , how do we get out of this quagmire? 

 

Titi Omo-Ettu is President,

Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, ATCON

 

 

 

Nnaji and His Conspiracy Theory in Power Supply

a Nigeria CommunicationsWeek Editorial Published: 2011-11-22 

 

Power supply has relapsed after a period of noticeable improvement in some parts of the country and it seems that like his predecessors, Prof Barth Nnaji, minister of Power is content with pointing accusing fingers on elements.

 

It is back to the dark days when public power supply was stand-by and Nigerians provide own power.

 

The deteriorating power supply is coming just when some Nigerians are thinking that the federal government was settling down to work and justify the huge hope and confidence on President Goodluck Jonathan's government.

 

Instead, the momentary improvement in power supply was a flash in pan.

 

Nnaji's unconvincing explanation is worrisome for a man who came highly recommended for the job.

 

 

 

At the just concluded National Economic Summit in Abuja, the minister said that there are people in the system that for reasons best known to them are bent on frustrating the on-going reforms in the power sector.

 

The most disturbing aspect is that the minister seemed to know the problem and was not saying how he was tackling it.

  

The country's power supply is a jigsaw and the reckoning is that Nnaji came with the breaker.

 

The minister should be reminded that a lot of money has been spent and still being by the federal government in the hope of providing electricity.

  

Yet the results are not encouraging.

 

Even with the return of peace in the Niger Delta because of the successful amnesty deal with the militants, power supply is not anywhere near threshold.

  

Nnaji should show that he is not a bureaucrat or like some of the past ministers in that ministry who profiteered from the public power supply crisis.

 

Nigerians are tired of one alibi or the other to explain why power supply should not be regular.

 

Today, there is gas, which is critical for the firing of the power plants because the militants are no longer blowing up pipelines.

 

Nnaji and indeed the government he serves must know that public power supply is the key driver of industrialization and major force behind a productivity society as well as an ink on the wheels of better communication.

 

Surprisingly, this essential ingredient of life is today not a right in Nigeria; it is a privilege and one the powers that be dispenses at their whims and caprices.

  

Power supply crisis has become a national embarrassment leaving in its wake a catastrophic damage on the economy and national psyche.

  

From small businesses to multi-national corporations and to domestic homes, assured power supply is still a distant dream only the intrepid can afford.

  

 

taken from http://nigeriacommunicationsweek.com.ng/details.php?category=editorials&id=4812

  

 

Nigeria needs N1.6 trillion to achieve sustainable power

  by Abdallah el-kurebe, VANGUARD, November 26, 2011 

 

Nigeria requires $10 billion to achieve sustainable power generation and distribution in the next 10 years, the Commissioner, Government and Consumer Affairs of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Ibrahim Abba, has said.

 

He stated this at the Power Consumer Assembly forum held in Sokoto, Sokoto State yesterday. 

 

Abba who represented the Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Sam Amadi at the event noted that the issue of power was capital intensive, adding that the money needed was much higher than what the federal and state governments were able to invest. 

 

He said, "The Federal Government cannot do it alone if we want a balanced situation in power generation and distribution,'' adding however that there was ''no reason whatsoever for Nigeria to find herself in the current situation of non-availability of power as she has enough resources which can be harnessed to generate electricity,'' noting that NERC would involve all state governments to support its initiatives towards investing in the power sector.

 

Lamenting the current 4,000 megawatts of electricity being generated in the country, Abba further observed the need to conserve energy for efficient and effective utilisation.

 

"It is mandatory on us to handle the demand and supply of electricity more efficiently as it is the trend worldwide even where capacity is not an issue, " he said, noting that NERC had concluded arrangements for 11 distribution centres for which "over 300 companies have expressed their interest in generation, distribution and transmission." 

 

taken from http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/11/nigeria-needs-n1-6-trillion-to-achieve-sustainable-power/ 

 

 

Nigeria may never have stable power supply —Minister

  by Tunde Dodondawa, NIGERIAN TRIBUNE, Monday, 21 November 2011 

 

The Federal Government has said stable power supply may never be achieved in the country if the structures remain the same.

 

Speaking with journalists in Lagos on Sunday, the Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji, stated that the structures had been the same for years and efforts by the government to inject new structures through privatisation were being sabotaged by the labour unions. 

 

In his words, "if we are not able to set the structures right so that there can be expansion of investment in power, we will never be able to get to the point of stable power supply." 

 

He expressed concern over the desire of some workers that the system should remain the same.

  

"We cannot keep the status quo and expect to get improvement in power. What we are expecting is a leap frog in quantum of power. We should not be talking of 4000Mega Watts(MW) of power for a country of 167 million population," he said.

 

He said what the government wanted to do was to get the structures right and get to where "we intend to be as soon as possible. We expect that during the life of this administration, we should be able to have stable power." 

 

Meanwhile, Nnaji said power output had hit a record high in recent times of 4300MW as against a record low of 2300MW during the year noting that one of the challenges of adequate power supply was shortage of gas supply to power gas stations.

 

According to him, the Federal Government, through the Petroleum Ministry, is constructing new pipelines that will facilitate more gas supply to the various power plants.

 

He added that the country was losing 80 million standard cubic feet of gas to vandalism.

 

taken from http://tribune.com.ng/index.php/news/31531-nigeria-may-never-have-stable-power-supply-minister

 

 

Again, NERC Wants Electrification Agency Scrapped

  by Chineme Okafor , THISDAY, 13 Nov 2011 

 

Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has again renewed the call for the scrapping of the Rural Electrification Agency, a federal agency saddled with the responsibility of providing access to reliable and affordable electricity supply for rural dwellers in a way that would allow for reasonable return on investment via economically responsive and supportive tariff system.

 

Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, said recently in Abuja that the continuous existence of the agency which has been in limbo since 2009 owing to a directive from the ministry of power does not add value to the power sector reforms agenda even though it is included in the Electricity Power Sector Reforms Act 2005.

 

Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, was recently quoted to have disclosed plans by the government to resuscitate the agency which he said owed its contractors about N3.4 billion even though it has about 1,946 uncompleted projects which have been abandoned at different levels. 

 

Nnaji stated the intention of President Goodluck Jonathan to provide sustainable electricity as part of the basic right of the Nigerian people, hence, the need to increase budgetary votes for REA in the 2012 budgetary proposal.

 

But Amadi who spoke to journalists at an interactive forum with Civil Society Organisations on strengthening transparency and accountability in the power sector, noted that the consideration for the continuous existence of REA is deficient taking into account the fact that parts of the extant responsibilities of the unbundled distribution companies from the Power Holdings Company of Nigeria (PHCN) is to continually expand access to electricity even into the rural areas. 

 

He explained that the existence of a federal agency like REA negates this responsibility of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria distributions companies which are due for privatisation, to efficiently embark on sustainable network expansion, adding that even the state governments who have shown more verve for rural electrification should be encouraged alongside the discos with perhaps financial grants from the Federal government instead of plans to revive REA.

 

taken from http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/again-nerc-wants-electrification-agency-scrapped/102684 

 

Nigeria's power privatisation delayed to Q2 2012 

  Reuters Africa, Tue Nov 29, 2011 

 

Nigeria's power sector privatisation will be completed by the second quarter of next year, the presidential task force said on Tuesday, later than previously promised as another key reform for Africa's most populous nation is delayed. Nigeria holds the world's seventh largest gas reserves and is Africa's largest crude oil exporter but only produces enough electricity to power a medium-sized European city.

 

President Goodluck Jonathan unveiled power privatisation plans 15 months ago and it was pledged that state power generation and distribution assets would be sold off this year.

 

Jonathan has set out a 'transformation agenda' for Nigeria but plans to end fuel subsidies and reforms to the mainstay energy sector are locked in parliamentary dispute, while a sovereign wealth fund and next year's budget are delayed.

 

Power ministry officials said in June that four thermal and two hydro power plants and 11 electricity distribution firms would be sold by the first quarter of next year but this has been shifted back again. 

 

"Nigeria expects to complete privatization of power sector by Q2 2012," Azu Obiaya, head of the regulation and transactions in the presidential task force on power, said at an industry conference in the commercial-hub Lagos.

  

He said Nigeria was hoping to produce 6,000 megawatts of power by the end of next year, up from the current 4,000 but still only scratching the surface of the 40,000 megawatts needed for a nation of around 150 million people.

  

Decades of Nigerian administrations have cashed-in on crude exports rather than investing in plants to refine fuel or developing gas for domestic consumption, which means diesel has to be imported at a huge cost for private generators.

  

Nigeria estimates it will need $10 billion a year of investment over the next decade to meet its energy needs.

  

Taken from http://af.reuters.com/article/investingNews/idAFJOE7AS0AF20111129

  

 

Better late than never: Nokia finally unveils its smartphone 

 

Having, by its own admission, conceded that it had fallen way behind in the smartphone market with Google's Android operating system has dethroning its Symbian operating system as the world's largest, Nokia has finally unveiled its smartphone range based on the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system, the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 in London, in an effort to take on BlackBerry, Apple and Google.

  

Having paid a heavy price for its myopia in not seeing Android coming until it was too late, Nokia had been brutally frank about its shortcomings. Its CEO, Stephen Elop once said 'The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.' 

 

He sounded more positive this time round highlighting the launch as a by- product of  Nokia and Microsoft's strategic partnership announced in February which saw the former adopt Windows Phone as its primary smartphone strategy. 'From the Nokia Lumia 800 to the Nokia Asha 201, we are bringing compelling new products to the market faster than ever before. I'm incredibly proud of these new devices - and the people of Nokia who have made this happen', he said.

 

Nokia is set to launch the Lumia range in the U.S. in early 2012. 

 

Samsung sees off Apple in the courts 

 

The continuing and tumultuous relationship between the two tech giants Samsung and Apple which has seen both companies' lawyers working overtime filing at least 30 suits against each other on four continents since April, still leaves the rest of us bereft as to what exactly is going on. 

 

Late last week Samsung overthrew the injunction preventing the sale of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet in Australia having vigorously contested and won unanimously a preliminary injunction that had been granted to Apple that the tablet should be banned from sale in Australia. 

 

In its deliberation, the bench of the Federal Court ruled that 'Samsung will be permitted to Launch the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia provided it keeps accounts of all transactions involving that device in Australia' 

 

Apple had until Friday 3rd December to file an application for permission to appeal to Australia's High Court to see if it might reinstate the preliminary ban. The smart money was on Apple's counsel deciding to pass on an appeal attempt, as it was deemed relatively unlikely to succeed given the unanimous decision by the court but just days after  the overturned verdict, Apple was awarded a new legal filing stopping sales of the device for a further week leaving all concerned slightly perplexed. 

 

Suffice to say Samsung was not best pleased. In a statement the South Korean company said: 'Samsung believes Apple has no bias for its application for leave to appeal and will vigorously oppose this to the High Court.'

  

On the same day (3rd December) and on the other side of the globe, the U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, ruled against Apple's plea to ban Samsung from selling its 4G smartphone and Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in the US. 

 

The simultaneous verdicts saw Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest maker of mobile phones, rise in Seoul gaining 1.5 per cent to 1.06 million at the close of trading.

 

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To support a market driven communications industry and promote universal access

 

 

 

 

For Phase3 Telecom, the ease in user experience in all facets of telecommunications has always been the objective and goal in our service delivery; it drives our commitment to the customer and the industry. We also believe this must be of paramount importance to our clients - the GSM operators, large ISPs, and multinational companies. Our business uses a proliferation of technologies in providing innovative solutions to our clients.

Every day, we nurture and sustain an intellectual product that has become of great characteristic importance in day-to-day life, engagement and the pursuit of the new age of man. And for ten years, our team of dedicated and innovative young men and women has on a daily basis, given 100% to the deployment of quality and consistently evolving broadband delivery and connectivity solutions. We are not unmindful and do not take for granted the honor that we have been blessed with today.

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Within three years of operation, our company has established a reputation as a preferred provider of wholesale capacity and Internet services to Service Providers and Enterprises in the region. In addition, the company has extended its reach of services both organically and through partnerships within Nigeria and Ghana into the neighboring West African countries of Togo, Benin, and Burkina Faso. In addition, the company recently established an office to service Francophone West Africa in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.


Our customers stand to benefit from our increasing portfolio of services that will enable businesses in West Africa to participate meaningfully in the global digital economy. This innovative bouquet of products and services includes a Metro Ethernet network offering with over 200 kilometers of fiber optic access within business districts in Lagos, a brand new 2.5MW, 600 Rack Data center currently construction for completion by Q2 2014, and partnerships and new points of presence to serve major cities of Abuja and Port Harcourt.

 

 

 

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Phase3 Telecom has partnered with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the implementation of her Intelcom II Program aimed at providing telecommunication infrastructure to ensure interconnection of ECOWAS member states.

In this regard, ECOWAS has been providing the needed support to facilitate the granting of rights of way to Phase3 Telecom from relevant power authorities across the region in addition to securing required permits to operate in each of the member countries. The West African Regulatory Assembly (WATRA) has also facilitated relationships with various regulatory agencies towards procurement of appropriate permits for our operations.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is currently collaborating with Phase3 Telecom and has endorsed and recommended the project to financial institutions for consideration. The Phase3 Telecom project is considered one of the major ways by which the Connect Africa initiatives of the ITU can be realized.

Our project is in total agreement with the goal formulated at the Connect Africa Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2007, one of which was "to interconnect all African Capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012". The ITU has therefore been providing avenues for the promotion of the Phase3 Telecom project and creating the necessary awareness on the progress that is being made in its implementation.

  

 

 
 
 
 
 
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