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eNigeria 2017: Participants Make 11-Point Recommendations To Government

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By peter oluka
To foster digital economy through local content development and regulation, participants at the just concluded eNigeria 2017, have recommended that the Government through NITDA and other stakeholders should continue to promote the required awareness on the need for MDAs to patronise indigenous IT products and services as well as the use of the .gov.ng domain for their websites in order to  support the national  e-government programme.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), an Agency of the Federal Ministry of Communications organized the 10 thedition of e-Nigeria Conference and Exhibition from Tuesday, 7th – Thursday, 9th November 2016 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. The theme of the Conference is ‘’Fostering Digital Economy through Local Content Development and Effective Regulations’’.

The eNigeria is Nigeria’s flagship international conference and Exhibition that brings stakeholders together in the IT industry to deliberate on emerging technologies, local innovation and relevant Information and Communication Technology (ICT) issues for the socio-economic development of the nation

The objectives of 2017 edition are to encourage indigenous ICT innovation management for national and economic development; position the nation to benefit from emerging technologies; articulate the imperatives of ICT for effective service delivery; outline a roadmap for national ICT skills development and identify entrepreneurial opportunities and regulatory challenges affecting Local Content promotion and adoption.

Raising from the Conference, the participants also recommended that all relevant Stakeholders in the ICT industry should as a matter of necessity engage the Federal Ministry of Justice  on the  promotion and use of technology in our judicial system;

“NITDA should continuously engage theFederal Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly for the review and strengthening of the NITDA Act through an executive amendment bill with more stringent punishment for violation of the NITDA Act or the regulations of NITDA.

“NITDA is urged to build strategic alliances aimed at ensuring that Nigeria domesticates and builds capacity in new and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Smart Technologies and the Internet of things (IOT) among others.

“All stakeholders are encouraged to partner with NITDA on the need to ensure compliance with the Executive Orders of Government and the Guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in ICT 2013 for enhancement and guaranteed products and service delivery.

“The Federal Government through relevant stakeholders should ensure effective co-ordinationof health services based on an integrated national ehealth  database;

“Stakeholders should work out efficient and effective partnership with development partners for creation of access to affordable capital through a National ICT Innovation Fund;

“The Federal Government through NITDA should categorise all digital assets in all MDAs in the country to assist in identifying and evaluating the risk assessment and appraisal of how best to secure the assets;

“NITDA’s IT clearance role should be used to encourage patronage of indigenous  products especially by MDAs;

“NITDA should partner with Corporate Affairs Commission to ensure all local companies have a .ng domain whileNITDA IT clearance should be a prerequisite before BPP clears any IT project;

“That NITDAs role in the work of Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) should be strengthened as IT is central to ease of doing business;

“A national workshop should be organised to review all existing IT Regulations and Laws in order to ensure a robust legal framework for Local Content and IT development in Nigeria
The Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, NITDA  expressed his gratitude to all stakeholders and participants for the success of the 2017 eNigeria”.

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Telecom

Phase 3 Sets Record Straight on Concession Agreement with TCN

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Phase3 Telecom, independent fibre optic infrastructure and telecommunications services provider –  has again refuted allegations that it owes Federal Government of Nigeria some money over fibre optic agreement with Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

 

A press statement signed by Adebayo Azeez, director Legal & Regulatory Services, Phase3 Telecom read “The attention of the management of Phase3 has been drawn to the false and scurrilous information about its concession agreement with Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) that is making the rounds in a section of the media.

 

While we will ignore the ridiculous insinuations that are far from true but intended to obscure what the real issues are, we wish to state very emphatically to all our esteemed clients and members of the general public that what was published is a clear distortion of facts and should be promptly disregarded.

 

The facts concerning this transaction are as follows:   

 

  1. Phase3 Telecom does not owe the Federal government the sum of NGN27.18bn over fibre optic agreement.

 

  1. Despite deployment challenges (including multi-year delays in linesmen allocation by TCN and devaluation/depreciation of the national currency), Phase3 has ensured that all undisputed payments including total concession fee payment, royalty payment and rental payment for equipment space to TCN are up to date.

 

  1. Despite inheriting dilapidated fiber optic networks from TCN Phase3 Telecom deployed a total of 2000km and installed state-of-art transmission equipment along with the rehabilitation of the existing fiber. We have thus far expended more than $100m as capital and operating expenditure on the project.

 

Meanwhile, it is also important to stress that the issue at hand, which is bringing up all these unfounded allegations, is the attempt by TCN to resist the harmonization of right of charges for deployment of fiber optic cables as agreed and communicated by the  National Economic Council towards affordable broadband services  in the country. This will, quite naturally, necessitate a review of the Right of Way (Row) charges for deployment of fiber optics on power lines (concession fees) to be at par with other RoW charges available in the telecom industry.

 

Fortunately, the contract review process towards ensuring the success of this project for the overall benefit of the country is currently under the supervision of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the regulatory agency saddled with this responsibility. And when that process is completed, we believe that we shall be vindicated as we continue to proffer affordable and robust service solutions that will see customers and other businesses rapidly leverage the opportunities of reliable broadband internet across Nigeria.”

 

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Court Judgement: Confusion over Future of 9mobile

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Spectrum Wireless Communications’ lawyers have warned all institutions or companies engaged in commercial transactions for the sale or acquisition of 9mobile that they did so at their own risk.

 

The solicitors to the firm, J. A. Achimugu and Co. and Dr.  Reuben Atabo and Co., said by virtue of the judgement it received on Friday, the transition board appointed to oversee the sale of the company had been nullified and the order appointing the board vacated.

 

Spectrum Wireless is also demanding a refund of its initial investment of $35m in Etisalat Nigeria.

 

“My client wants his money back,” one of the solicitors, Atabo said while speaking with journalists at a press briefing in Lagos on Sunday.

 

Atabo claimed that the $1.2bn loan secured by Etisalat was shrouded in secrecy as Spectrum Wireless was not aware of it.

 

He said findings showed that about $100m investment from Spectrum Wireless and three other non-bank investors was used to build infrastructure that some directors in the company used as collateral for the $1.2bn loan.

 

Atabo stated, “Our client and three other investors put in about $100m as of 2009. The $100m was used in providing infrastructure for the company. It was this infrastructure that gave EMTS the opportunity to go to the banks to obtain the loan of $1.2bn. Is it proper for United Capital not to recognise the original investor when they got the loan?

 

“We have written series of letters to the Nigerian Communications Commission as the regulating body conveying to them our investment and the need for them to come to our aid. They always tell us they are investigating for the past five to six years.

 

“Assuming they go ahead with the sale, we will not be recognised at all. It is better the issue is sorted out before the sale is completed.”

 

Following the inability to the resolve a loan of about $1.2bn obtained from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks under the auspices of United Capital Trustees Limited, the Etisalat Group of United Arab Emirates withdrew its 45 per cent stake in the company.

 

As a result of the pulling out its business and brand name from Nigeria, a change of name from Etisalat to 9mobile was effected.

 

However, through the intervention of the NCC and the CBN, the takeover of the company by the consortium of banks was prevented and a board was put in place to see to the sale of the company.

 

Companies that have been reportedly shortlisted for the acquisition of 9mobile after submitting their expressions of interest to Barclays Bank include Bharti Airtel, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Helios Investment Partners LLP and Teleology Holdings Limited and Globacom.

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos had on Friday nullified the appointment of an interim board for 9mobile, the company that came out of Etisalat Nigeria following the pull-out of its major shareholder, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service, from Nigeria.

 

Justice Ibrahim Buba made the order based on an application by Spectrum Wireless Communication Limited.

 

The court order nullified the appointment of Dr. Joseph Nnana of the Central Bank of Nigeria as the chairman of the 9mobile; Mr. Boye Olusanya, as managing director; and Mrs. Funke Ighodaro, as chief financial officer.

 

Other members of the board affected by the order are Mr. Seyi Bickersthet and Mr. Ken Igbokwe.

 

The judge made the order after dismissing a preliminary objection filed by United Capital Trustees Limited in response to the application by Spectrum Wireless, a shareholder of EMTS.

 

The interim board of 9mobile, which was constituted by the CBN and the Nigerian Communications Commission, had received bids from about five bidders for the sale of the company.

 

The sale was to be concluded by December 31, 2017 but it was recently moved to January 16.

 

Following the exit of Etisalat and its directors in June 2017 from EMTS, United Capital initiated an action in court and obtained an ex parte order on July 3, 2017 to appoint a transitional board to superintend over the affairs of the company.

 

The transitional board rebranded the company as 9mobile and announced a bid for its sale to interested investors.

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Phase3 Denies Owing FG N27.2Bn over Fibre Optic Agreement

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Phase3 Telecom, independent fibre optic infrastructure and telecommunications services provider –  has refuted allegations that it and Alheri Engineering limited owe Federal Government of Nigeria the sum of N27.18billionover fibre optic agreement with Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

 

In a statement released by the company recently, it describes the claim by a section of the news media as scurrilous and unmerited while assuring its clients as well as members of the general public that those accusations were “unmerited insinuations that are far from true but intended to obscure what the real issues are…and should be promptly disregarded”.

 

Further to these, the company also chose to state that despite deployment challenges which include multi-year delays in linesmen allocation by TCN and devaluation/depreciation of the national currency; Phase3 has ensured that all undisputed payments such as total concession fee payment, royalties, and rental payment for equipment space to TCN were up to date.

 

That although a dilapidated fiber optic network was inherited from TCN, Phase3 has however, deployed a total of 2000km and installed state-of-art transmission equipment along with the rehabilitation of the existing fiber which has seen concessionaires expend more than $100m as capital and operating expenditure on the project.

 

The company stressed that the cause for unfounded allegations by TCN is due to its resistance of the harmonization of right of way charges for deployment of fiber optic cables as agreed and communicated by the National Economic Council towards affordable broadband services in the country.

 

A development that necessitates a review of the Right of Way (Row) charges for deployment of fiber optics on power lines (concession fees) to be at par with other RoW charges available in the telecom industry.

 

While affirming that Phase3 has always honoured the terms of the concession agreement with TCN in line with kilometer of fiber available as well as market realities and most imperatively the contract review process towards ensuring the success of this project for the overall benefit of the country under the supervision of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the regulatory agency that is saddled with the responsibility of the review process.

 

 

Strongly maintaining that Phase3 has never and will never be involved in such revolting act as defrauding TCN; as its unwavering commitment has always been to proffer affordable and robust service solutions that will see customers and other businesses rapidly leverage the opportunities of reliable broadband internet across Nigeria.

 

 

 

 

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