CyberschuulNews Editions 481 - 485

 
 

 

 

Cyberschuulnews 485 

Power Minister Barth Nnaji resigns 

Mid day Tuesday August 28, 2012, Prof Barth Nnaji’s request to resign as Nigeria’s Minister of Power was reportedly received and accepted by President Goodluck Jonathan. 

The former Minister had a turbulent history of a chequered desire to manage Nigeria’s power system both as a private power producer and as a Minister in the federal cabinet. 

As Chairman of a company known as Geometric Power Ltd, the professor superintended a project that pursued the construction of a 188 MW power plant, to transmit over 110km overhead lines, 4 substations, a 27km gas pipeline, an estate to accommodate up to 250 workers, 5 access roads to the power stations and sub stations, and a 4 story office block at the total cost of approximately N42.6 billion. 

For 8 years the project failed to deliver while it piled up bank debts. 

Speaking to Aba Business community on June 19, 2008, Prof Barth Nnaji told them in an Enyimba Lecture that 'The Aba IPP (i.e. the Geometric Power Ltd Project) is galloping to completion. In roughly 10 months time, the entire project will be commissioned and it will herald a new era for Aba which it will have reliable electric power like any other city in the developed world'.  

It never did. 

In that same lecture, he recounted his frustration to the Aba people thus: 

‘We cannot say that this project has been easy. We have had to contend with the challenges of being a pioneer sector power developer in Nigeria. We have had to withstand so many due diligences by lenders, some of whom did not see the value in investing in Aba. We have had to present Aba to the international community as a “diamond in the rough” and the adequate electricity supply will put a smile to this great entrepreneurial city. Many have wondered how we can mitigate the risk of building a power plant in the Niger-Delta region and we have explained that Aba is not in the Niger-Delta region. At the same time, we have had to contend with threats of youths and traditional rulers who have brought the negative aspects of the Niger-Delta conundrum to Aba. We have had to spend tremendous amount of time and resources on getting the youths and some of these traditional rulers to appreciate the fact that Geometric Power is bringing money from outside to build facilities that will add value to their business and their lives rather than the situation in the Niger-Delta where oil is exploited and taken away from the soil of the Niger-Delta region’. 

Prof Nnaji was appointed Special Adviser to Dr Goodluck Jonathan, Acting President in 2010 and converted to Minister of Power in 2011 when Dr Jonathan became substantive President. 

He spent virtually all time doing battle with the workers of PHCN and especially with the Workers’ Union which had the support of the Central Labour body, The Nigerian Labour Congress. They exchanged accusations some which in other climes would have raised much dust very early in the quarrel.

 

Surprisingly the Minister accepted a BPE’s solution agenda which is a repeat contract management, a template which BPE used to send NITEL to sleep permanently a few years back. While with NITEL, 4 persons were hired in the name of PENTASCOPE to manage NITEL, 8 persons have been hired for $22.5million this time to manage the Nigerian Transmission Company, a subsidiary of PHCN.

 

The manner of the present contract is almost carbon copy of the PENTASCOPE story especially on the mood of the workers which the 8 persons would use to implement the contract.

 

The magic of the contract was still being awaited when the professor suddenly resigned.

  

Cameroun connects to MainOne Fibre 

The Republic of Cameroun has entered into agreement with MainOne Cable Company to provide a landing point at Douala on the MainOne’s 1.9Tbps submarine cable which already has landing points in Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, the Canary Islands, Morocco and London. 

Before now Cameroun was connected on the SAT3 Fibre via a 50km fibre loop in Douala. 

 

FG raises Committee to plan Broadband Infrastructure Spread 

Technology Times reported early in the week that a top-level Presidential Broadband Working Group to chart a roadmap for Nigeria has been set up by the Federal Government. The Committee will soon be inaugurated. 

According to the magazine, the Committee will be expected to develop a roadmap to realise the achievement of pervasive broadband infrastructure and services in the country and is expected to submit a report in three-months.  Its membership is drawn from a wide spectrum of industry players, government agencies, and service providers. 

It lists a few names who are already known to be key members of the Committee. They include Messers Ernest Ndukwe, Jim Ovia, ‘Gbenga Sesan, Stanley Jegede and Mrs Juliet Emuhian.

 

New ICT Policy to Emerge Soon 

There are indications that the Federal Executive Council may have approved a new National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy for Nigeria. 

Inside sources at the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology revealed that an Approval in Principle was handed down to the Minister who presented a draft on the subject last week. One of the key elements of the policy is a unification of industry regulation which details are yet to work out once the approval in principle was obtained. 

Reliable sources say the Policy actively lays out the inputs required to strengthen all productive sectors of the economy and ultimately transform Nigeria into a knowledge based, and globally competitive country. It establishes a comprehensive framework for the ICT sector that will encourage and stimulate investment and also enable rapid expansion of ICT networks and services that are accessible to all at reasonable costs.

It expects Government to be fanatical in its exploitation of broadband internet resources as it also prescribes that Government will pursue, by the end of 2017, a five-fold increase in broadband penetration over the 2012 penetration rate. 

The 80 page document is reported to have 36 repetitions of the most used word, and the word is ‘Broadband’.

 The final draft of the Policy is a total re-work and overhaul of an earlier document which was roundly criticised by industry stakeholders to whom it was presented earlier in March in Lagos. 

 

COURT VERDICT: Apple $1billion Up, Samsung $1billion Down 

The jury finally said Samsung indeed infringed Apple’s patent rights and slammed a fine of $1.05billion less than 50% of Apple’s asking fine. 

Far from the two-daggers-ends idea which Judge Lucy Koh had dropped when she counselled the two giants to sort thing out one week before the verdict. Obviously the war is still actively on. 

The jury specifically said Samsung, by using Apple’s creations in its products, infringed six out of Apple's seven patents . 

Apple also asked that the entire products that came under the infringement scope be banned in the USA. No verdict yet on that request and Samsung has indicated it would appeal the immediate judgement. 

 

OBITUARY
World’s Pioneer Man on the Moon Rests Finally

Neil Armstrong who landed with his left foot on the moon and made the historic statement ‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind’ and walked on the moon on July 20, 1969 passed on to eternity last Saturday at 82 years old. 

Neil Armstrong was one of the Apollo 11 Astronauts who navigated the moon for USA and has since lived a quiet life in Ohio. Many writers describe Armstrong as a great but evasive man who simply believed he was doing his job. His family was quoted to have asked those who wished to celebrate Neil Armstrong to merely ‘honour his example of service, accomplishments and modesty’. 

The Apollo 11 crew members; Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin were given a special reception in 2009 by President Barrack Obama when he assumed presidency of USA. 

Cause of death: Heart troubles.

 

 

CommTech Industry reforms further
NBC-NCC merger now approved by FG
 

A unification of regulation in the Communication Technology industry has been approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria.  

This is popularly known as the merger of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, and the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC. 

A sustained call on government to exploit the advantages of technology in manners that make communication businesses easier to conduct, cheaper to transact, faster to administer and ultimately cheaper and stress-free for the consumer has been long and it would appear that those who think only in terms of interests may have finally lost out to those who argue vision. 

 CyberschuulNews 484

Editor’s Own View
Time to Strike is NOW!!!
 

 Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology has recently shared some great ideas. 

Mrs Omobola Johnson announced the Nigerian government would initiate a Computer Ownership Scheme for Students of Tertiary Institutions across the country. She has been visiting markets, factories, maybe banks and finance consultants. If she ends up implementing this Scheme, it will put her name in a special place in Nigeria’s history.  

She was to discover that there are not Nigerian-made computers in the local market and expressed great surprise over this fact.  It is possible that this was a politician’s statement, but it was a bad statement.  If our Minister does not already know this particular problem and after 13 months in office, something must not be adding up.  

It is advisable that the Hon Minister takes immediate action on her plan as delays are the thieves of grand ideas. 

Those around the Minister may be telling her the idea is novel. It is not. It is just that the standard  is to talk, talk, talk and produce good documents. The problems are never in putting the ideas together. The problems begin when the implementation of the idea begins. The only severe problems at the current stage are that our banks are not designed to work in the first place and investors do not know what they have to do to impress government. Fortunately, ICT-inspired solutions to some of those hurdles exist today. 

We wish the Minister good luck and confess that if she sees this scheme through, she deserves to say “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Many of her predecessors came, saw and left. 

For emphasis, time is critical on this issue. A version of the report on her process already mentioned an implementation that would commence before the end of the year. The truth is that if it does not commence within this year, we can kiss the idea bye-bye for several reasons. 

Nigeria has fielded 37 Ministers of Communications under various appellations. That works out to 16 months per Minister on average. The longest serving spent a little above 3 years and the shortest a little below 3 months. 

There are only about four and a half Ministers that we can truly say came, saw and moved the industry from point A to point B. The half we speak of did not move the industry either way but did have serious engagements and seemed to believe he had a mandate. His character scored him the half, not his performance. All four and half were civilians and they showed commendable concern for the common good above other things. 

Olawale Ige stood out among the four because he mid-wived the industry liberalisation and remained within the industry to be relevant into the future. 

The overdue Scheme is very commendable, fragile, and timely, but it must be implemented NOW to earn all of these descriptions especially as we have in place a central government which will rather improve performance by hiring attack dogs.

 CYberschuulnews 483

‘Happy Birthday’ - A Celebration of The Internet.

 

Come to think of it, nothing is worth celebrating more than the phenomenon that has turned around the way we live, work and play in only 21 years. It has also allowed us to do it so faster, bigger and cheaper. That is the Internet. 

Commercial usage of the Internet came along in 1991 thus making it 21 years old on August 7 2012. 

The following two stories are culled directly from where they are posted on the web and they make the point that it is about the only thing that deserves to get a happy birthday card from us. 

Also at this year’s anniversary is our desire to celebrate two Nigerian youths, Messers Saheed Adepoju and Anibe Agama who with their success at rolling out INYE, the Nigerian Ipad, makes the celebration proper and complete. 

And CyberschuulNews too 

The CyberschuulNews idea incidentally was also conceived around August 2001. It debuted by announcing the success of Mr Gbenga Sesan, pioneer Nigeria IT Youth Ambassador, who was 24 years old then and had just beaten 46 other competitors to win the IT Youth Award initiated by The Executive Cyberschuul (As THE CYBERSCHUUL was initially named).  H reigned for two years and handed over to Mr Edward Popoola for another two years reign. 

There were 46 alumni of the Institute who had email accounts at the time and they made up the initial mailing list. Our promises to deliver weekly has been kept and as of today 482 weekly editions, all duly archived, have been rolled out with several midweek, emergency or special untitled editions. We are now circulating to over 54,000 subscribers among who are political and industry leaders, IT/Telecom professionals, senior executives and enthusiasts in all continents.

Many happy returns, our esteemed readers. And ditto, our sponsors. 

 

Welcome to info.cern.ch
The website of the world's first-ever web server
 

1990 was a momentous year in world events. In February, Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in prison. In April, the space shuttle Discovery carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. And in October, Germany was reunified.

 Then at the end of 1990, a revolution took place that changed the way we live today.  

Tim Berners-Lee followed his dream of a better, easier way to communicate via computers on a global scale, which led him to create the World Wide Web. 

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is where it all began in March 1989. A physicist, Tim Berners-Lee, wrote a proposal for information management showing how information could be transferred easily over the Internet by using hypertext, the now familiar point-and-click system of navigating through information. The following year, Robert Cailliau, a systems engineer, joined in and soon became its number one advocate. 

The idea was to connect hypertext with the Internet and personal computers, thereby having a single information network to help CERN physicists share all the computer-stored information at the laboratory. Hypertext would enable users to browse easily between texts on web pages using links. The first examples were developed on NeXT computers.  

Berners-Lee created a browser-editor with the goal of developing a tool to make the Web a creative space to share and edit information and build a common hypertext. What should they call this new browser: The Mine of Information? The Information Mesh? When they settled on a name in May 1990, it was the WorldWideWeb. 

Info.cern.ch was the address of the world's first-ever web site and web server, running on a NeXT computer at CERN. The first web page address was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html, which centred on information regarding the WWW project. Visitors could learn more about hypertext, technical details for creating their own webpage, and even an explanation on how to search the Web for information. There are no screenshots of this original page and, in any case, changes were made daily to the information available on the page as the WWW project developed. You may find a later copy (1992) on the World Wide Web Consortium website.  

However, a website is like a telephone; if there's just one it's not much use. Berners-Lee's team needed to send out server and browser software. The NeXT systems however were far advanced over the computers people generally had at their disposal: a far less sophisticated piece of software was needed for distribution. 

By spring of 1991, testing was underway on a universal line mode browser, which would be able to run on any computer or terminal. It was designed to work simply by typing commands. There was no mouse, no graphics, just plain text, but it allowed anyone with an Internet connection access to the information on the Web. 

The historic NeXT computer used by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990, on display in the Microcosm exhibition at CERN. It was the first web server, hypermedia browser and web editor. 

During 1991 servers appeared in other institutions in Europe and in December 1991, the first server outside the continent was installed in the US at SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center). By November 1992, there were 26 servers in the world, and by October 1993 the figure had increased to over 200 known web servers. In February 1993, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign released the first version of Mosaic, which was to make the Web available to people using PCs and Apple Macintoshes.  

... and the rest is Web history. 

Although the Web's conception began as a tool to aid physicists answer tough questions about the Universe, today its usage applies to various aspects of the global community and affects our daily lives. 

Today there are upwards of 80 million websites, with many more computers connected to the Internet, and hundreds of millions of users. If households nowadays want a computer, it is not to compute, but to go on the Web.  

The above is taken from http://info.cern.ch/

 

World’s First Website Turns 21
by
Jordan Richardson on August 7, 2012    

The Internet has come a long way over a relatively short period of time, moving from websites that were difficult to navigate to full-on social networking sites. Now, everything you can imagine – and some things you can’t imagine – is online in some capacity. People are shopping, playing games, watching movies, listening to music, and doing who knows what else on the Internet. 

The fun all began 21 years ago yesterday, as Tim Berners-Lee – the inventor of the World Wide Web – published the first website from a laboratory in the Swiss Alps. 

The website is still online today. 

The site was updated frequently, with its initial purpose being suitably to explain exactly what the newfangled Internet was. It explained how users could create their very own websites. The first website was created on a NeXT computer and went live on August 6, 1991. 

The site was only accessed by a small amount of researchers from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Berners-Lee was an independent contractor with CERN and he started the process by building something called ENQUIRE, a personal database that held software models and presented a new way to work with hypertext. Each new page of ENQUIRE was built or “linked” to another existing page. The “web” had begun. 

As Berners-Lee went on, he built a number of tools necessary for the World Wide Web to come into fruition. These included HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the first browser, the first Web server, and server software. 

CERN users were encouraged to use this new technology after the organization’s telephone network was put on it. 

The rest of the world was largely ignorant of this fantastic technology and didn’t really get in touch with the Internet until the introduction of the Mosaic web browser. The browser was developed by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Funding for Mosaic was delivered in part thanks to a program initiated by Al Gore. 

After its popularity began to erupt, there was no turning back. 

The Internet is now ubiquitous and a great deal has changed since Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web 21 years ago. We went through a dot-com bubble and saw that burst into a pile of companies developing business opportunities online. And with Web 2.0, the dream of Berners-Lee to have a “Semantic Web” came true. 

Today, we carry the Internet with us everywhere. We no longer need supercomputers to log on; we can log on with our phones and are almost always connected in some way to the World Wide Web. It is indeed exciting and somewhat frightening to imagine what things will look like in another 21 years. 

Did you like this post? TheTelecomBlog.com publishes daily news, editorial, thoughts, and controversial opinion – you can subscribe by: RSS (click here), or email (click here). 

Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca.  

taken from http://www.thetelecomblog.com/2012/08/07/worlds-first-website-turns-21/ 

 

Welcome INYE, Nigeria’s answer to the iPad

The Encipher Story
by
Saheed Adepoju

The story of Encipher is a story of dreams coming true for myself and my co-founder, Anibe Agamah.

After we completed secondary school back in 1999, we were taught programming by a special centre headed by Mr Kunle Fakoya. We were trained by Segun Medubi on C language and Assembly language. It was roughly for three months before the kaduna 1999 crisis disrupted our learning and had to stop. Anibe got admission at University of Abuja where he went on to study Computer science. I got admission into Federal University of Technology, Minna, where i went on to study Mathematics and Computer science.

In 2005, after graduation, Anibe and I worked for a Software consulting firm. Anibe worked as a web developer and i worked as a software developer. In 2006, we both decided to go do a Msc in the UK.

Back in 2008 in the UK, the recession hit an all time high and then i decided to register a business in the UK. We registered the name Encipher Limited which was simply to do project management, Web development and Software development. We got some few web projects and managed some client's projects. In 2009, i came back to Nigeria as my visa was about to expire due to lack of work to help with extending the visa.

I worked at the same consulting firm i worked in before leaving for the UK. I was now a business analyst but it soon got murky working there and got fired in Aug 2009 and kicked out of the accomodation. I registered Encipher Nigeria in June 2008. I had the original plan to commence implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP for organizations and MDAs but it was going to be a huge task so i dropped the idea.

I had always wanted to build services that would not involve the Government. We had always wanted to build a service which involves a large consumer base and monetize that consumer base. In Sept 2009, i got another job as a Quality Assurance officer. I worked for a Transaction switching company which was aiming to compete with Interswitch.

In january 2010, Apple IPAD launched and we believed that was the chance we were looking for to launch a product for the growing population adopting mobile telephony.

Armed with $300, social media, a drive to change the way ICT is perceived within Nigeria and by the external world, we decided to launch a tablet from Nigeria in April 2010.

We had partnered with a blogger, TechLoy, and used that platform to broadcast to the world our ambitious plans. The whole world was interested and almost crashed Techloy servers. As we expected, we were greeted with skepticism from people thinking we were scammers looking to get funds from external people to build plants or that we were posing to simply fool everyone.

However we expected such reactions and pushed ahead with the dream and drive to give alternative tablets to the population with a cultural twist to the strategy.

We called out tablet INYE. INYE is an igala word which translates to numeric 1. 

Since we announced in april 2010, it made us the first company to conceive an idea from within Africa before Samsung launched their Galaxy tab brand of tablets.

We had a simple showcase of the device at the British Council building in Abuja, where people had a chance to have a look at the device and offer their insights. It was easy to let them know what type of device it was because the IPAD had set up the momentum.

I pitched the idea to my parents and i got enough funding to bring in 100 units of INYE and sales commenced in September 2010. We sold through retailers like Silverbirds and also via Tech related people. Following the success of this, i decided to quit full time employment Nov 2010 after they had fallen on hard times to work on Encipher full time. 

Following this, we launched Inye-2 at Google Nigeria 2011.

We were been featured in WIRED UK magazine as the only Nigerian entrepreneur alongside other African entrepreneurs. (Aug 2011 edition ). This was mentioned by the British PM, James Cameron when he visited the country last year.

Following this, we were also featured in Sunday Times UK (Feb 26th 2012) where we were referred to as Lion Kings and where our tablet was dubbed the "AfriPad".

Following the widespread popularity of this article which outlined how the African consumer was changing and the possibilities in Africa, we were contacted by CNN international.

CNN featured encipher on March 16th 2012 as the alternative to the IPad-3 which was also the day it was launched worldwide. Following this, there was a huge interest worldwide and we had over 8000+ visits to our website and interests to become retailers. 

We also had our story aired on the BBC Africa dream series on July 20th where the Honourable Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Johnson was featured as well. We were featured in the SUNDAY Guardian of 5th August 2012 and also Vanguard of 6th August 2012.

 

 Cyberschuulnews 482

Round Up on Nigeria’s Broadband Plan, 

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC has refocused its State Accelerated Broadband Initiative, SABI, and the Wire Nigeria Initiative, WIN, programmes in form of a new Broadband master plan and set to deliver it under an Open Access Model.

 “The Open Access Model is expected to help Nigerian’s plug into the global knowledge grid and stay competitive with other countries”, Dr Juwah, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC told the Nigeria Broadband Forum in Lagos, July 26, 2012.

The key elements driving the objective focus on open access deployment of fibre infrastructure, according to Dr. Juwah,  is to achieve high level of penetration across all geo-political zones, contribute to GDP growth and development of knowledge economy, provide commpetitive and affordable pricing, ensure intelligent incentives to support industry players while equipping Nigeria with  leading infrastructure in Africa

The ultimate imperatives for this objective, he said, is to realize affordable prizing, high speed connectivity, high level of coverage and targetted government support. 

Dr. Juwah who spoke to an international audience including Nigeria’s Communications Technology Minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, Representative of the ITU Secretary General, Mr. Desire Karyabwite, the Secretary of the Africa Telecommunications Union, ATU, Mr. Abdoulkarim Soumaila, and a wide range of experts and Nigerian stakeholders, said the plan is focused on accelerated broadband connectivity at  affordable costumers.

 The message of the ITU Sec. Gen. Dr. Toure was relayed to the forum on video. Dr Toure commended the efforts of the drivers of Nigeria’s broadband efforts and encouraged the government to support every effort directed towards broadband availability in Nigeria as this is the focus of the global ICT community.

Dr. Juwah who dissected a graphic representation of Nigeria’s model, said the essence of the presentation is to equip stakeholders and the investor community on the direction of the plan to enable their input before the implementation, having completed the preliminary studies of the Nigerian situation.

Dr. Juwah also presented a stakeholder mapping where the Commission would be responsible for provision of licenses, regulation of services, facilitation of agreements. This relationship is guided by an indsutry structure of the open access model of the type being implemented in Australia.

In explaining the market service strucutre in the Nigerian model, Dr. Juwah said involves provision of non discriminatory broadband access and services to end users, and provision of e non-discriminatory equal wholesale broadband connectivity using active infrastructure, while NetCos build and operate passive infrastructure. 

Dr. Juwah said the integration of the SABI and WIN in the current plan was to expand the horizon in the pursuit of the mandate of the Commission to promote the provision of modern universal efficient, reliable, affordable, and easily accessible communications services of the widest range throughout Nigeria”. ,

The ITU Sec. Gen had through his representative at the even emphasized the need for establishment of transparent and effective regulatory framework and policy for broadband development in Nigeria. 

Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson had earlier  assured of the support of the Federal government towards this initiative with a planned setting up of a Presidential Committee on Broadband deloyment while indicating that appropriate pricing and availability is critical in achieving universal access to Broadband, especially in rural areas. Global phenomenon such as the scissors effect and economic recession pose significant threat to the capacity to finance broadband infrastructure developments. Stakeholders at the event concluded among other things that:

•          Broadband would facilitate the growth and availability of innovative and evolving ICT services which will increase the national GDP.

•          Provision of incentives by government will stimulate investments in Broadband deployment similar to the tax exemption granted to GSM operators at the inception of GSM mobile services in Nigeria.

•          Recent study shows that there is huge demand gap for broadband services in Nigeria. However, there is insufficient infrastructure to support the provision of broadband to meet the demand.

They also concluded that: strong government and political commitment towards broadband provision is required and that migration to Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology will require high level investment. It was also recommended that spectrum congestion will need to be addressed through variety of available options while 4G frequency spectrum will need to be licensed by 2015.

One of the conclusions reached at the forum hosted by the NCC as part of the processes for provision of robust broadband services in Nigeria was that rapid deployment and availability of broadband will lead to the introduction of innovative services

 

MTN, Bribes, National Interest, Lies et al !! 

It is nothing of a breaking news but an innocuous piece of information which is now living a life of its own. It probably would not have if Reuters did not do a close-up on it. And of course if somebody did not go to Court.

Nothing new about ex-employees of a few ‘African Champion’ Telcos coming out to talk about the misdemeanours of their former employers especially on bribe matters, poor labour relations, and outright subjugation of local expertise. What has been a common thread is that these folks woke up to such realities only when they got fired from their hitherto lucrative positions. 

So be it with Chris Kilowan, a former top shot at MTN and MTN, an undisputable leader among mobile phone companies in Africa. 

The story is simple and still very much alive. 

MTN sought to compete for the second mobile operator license in Iran in 2004. Threw in a bid and was on the way to clearly losing to Turkcell, an Istanbul-based rival. The normal runs on persons who held top position in Government and Chris Kilowan got talking with South Africa's then Ambassador to Tehran, Yusuf Saloojee. Along the line, Yusuf Saloojee had advised Chris Kilowan ‘never give up on pursuing the second license even though it appeared Turkcell had won’.

 And that was a fine opening which MTN locked into. One thing lead to the other and MTN eventually ‘won’ the license. Today it takes 45% share of the mobile telephone market in Iran and clearly the leader there. 

What did Tehran officials want that MTN gave? Not money really but Military hardware and South Africa's votes before the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency in favour of Tehran. As it played out, Tehran got the vote but not the military hardware. All gained and lost to high wired politics. And bribe. 

In between, money had changed hands and, wait for it, South Africa’s national integrity had been patently compromised. Yusuf Saloojee collected $200,000 from Chris who had to pay ‘from his pocket’ when the big shots in MTN were not moving fast and Yussuf needed ‘to buy a house for his children in SA’. The bargain was that if and whenever MTN eventually either paid to Chris for onward transmission to Yussuf or directly to Yussuf, Chris would make his recoup. It never happened. That is MTN never paid and Chris was eventually eased out of his job at MTN. Typically MTN. 

Now Turkcell last March filed a federal lawsuit in Washington alleging MTN bribed its way into Iran and cornered the license which was rightly its own. It is asking for $4.2 billion in damages and it got Chris Kilowan into its net to work against MTN. There the story began to bloat up. The core of the Turkcell case is the sworn testimony of Chris Kilowan, who guided MTN’s bid to ‘win’ the Iranian license and has emerged as the key witness. Witnessing  against MTN, that is. 

Indeed Yusuf Saloojee who was South Afruca's Ambassador to Tehran in 2005 had actually voted in favour of Tehran’s interest at the United Nations against South Africa’s interest, working in MTN’s interest. A few days ago Yussuf, now South Africa’s Ambassador to Oman, was suspended pending investigation. That was after almost everybody concerned both in Government and at MTN has told inquisitive media hounds that they knew nothing about any thing whether in the past or now. 

Many MTN executives who have either retired or moved on to other jobs told what might eventually turn out to be outright lies if Chris and Turkcell are able to pull things through. Of course, Chris did all the dirty job and so has all the clean facts. 

Not really an unusual story but one that is now big. Real BIG.

 

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