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MainOne’s West Africa Expansion Gets Boost with Cote D’Ivoire License

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As part of its West Africa expansion, connectivity and data centre solutions operator MainOne has secured a license to expand national and international connectivity services in Cote D’Ivoire.

The C1B license, received from Minister Bruno Koné, the country’s Minister for Communication, Digital Economy and Postal Services, will enable MainOne land its submarine cable and build transmission infrastructure in Cote D’Ivoire, to strengthen connectivity, reduce international capacity costs and support wholesale customers, major operators and Internet Service Providers.

Cote D’Ivoire authorities believe that the construction of a fourth cable authorised by the government will improve the international connectivity of the country and will provide a lot more opportunities for the national market while increasing competition.

“We have just taken an important step through this authorisation for the improvement of the telecommunication infrastructure of our country, specifically the improvement of international connectivity. MainOne cable will have an impact on price and quality and will strengthen the security of our infrastructure”, declared Minister Bruno Koné.

The entry of MainOne, an open-access connectivity services provider will further democratize the international bandwidth market in Cote D’Ivoire and neighbouring countries and drive down bandwidth costs for local Internet Service Providers, Telcos and indigenous businesses.

“Cote D’Ivoire is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and a very important hub for business and transport in West Africa.

The dynamism of the national economy and accelerated development of the digital economy in Cote D’Ivoire as well as its regional leadership makes it a natural hub for the West African region and guided MainOne’s decision to invest in Cote D’Ivoire”, said Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer of MainOne.

As part of an overarching plan to invest close to $20m in Cote D’Ivoire with a focus on the provision of wholesale connectivity services, MainOne has obtained the license and will commence the construction of its digital transmission cable in June 2018, to be concluded in the second half of 2019.

Its cable landing will provide open-access infrastructure within Cote D’Ivoire and other WAEMU countries to expand internet access for all users in the region and support rapid development as well as facilitate increased non-resources trade and improve public services to aid the evolution of regional businesses.

“By investing and encouraging the business ecosystem within West Africa, we hope to bring meaningful technology solutions to businesses, to enable them in their quest for improved productivity and efficiency through dedicated and reliable connectivity services.

We are prepared to collaborate with incumbent operators towards enhancing regional integration and global access,” Ms. Opeke concluded.

MainOne is committed to deepening broadband access via fibre infrastructure and data centres across West Africa. With service delivery in 10 countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo, Cameroun, Benin, Niger, Senegal and Chad, MainOne operates a 100G international submarine cable system which guarantees highly reliable connectivity to support the growing demand for Internet access and bandwidth-intensive applications such as eCommerce, Content providers, OTT players and electronic banking and payment services via 3/4G mobile networks.

The MainOne Submarine cable was the first privately owned cable in West Africa spanning 7000KM with a capacity of 4.96 TBPS to connect West Africa to Europe via a landing in Portugal and multiple routes to London, Paris and Amsterdam.

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Opera in Race to Acquire Nigeria’s Telnet

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Telnet Nigeria Limited, the Nigerian technology conglomerate, is near closing a deal to sell stakes in its mobile money business subsidiary, Paycom to the maker of popular Opera Mini browser, Opera Software, according to Technology Times.

 

According to the reports Telnet and Opera will this month sign the dotted lines of an agreement by which the Nigerian technology company sells controlling stakes in its fully-owned Paycom to the browser maker. That is barring any last-minute change.

 

Opera has been in exclusive negotiations with Telnet on the acquisition hoped to extend the footprint of its mobile payment platform, OPay (Opera Pay) into the Nigerian market as part of its African expansion strategy, people conversant with the situation told Technology Times on condition of anonymity.

 

With the deal sealed, Nigeria will be the next African market for the rollout of the OPay payment platform developed by Opera to let users shop and pay for services and products through their mobile or web browser.

 

Talks between the two companies have shifted into higher gear after the operating licence of Paycom was renewed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the banking industry regulator that also oversees the mobile money sector.

 

Nigeria has issued licences to 21 companies to deliver mobile money services in the country and they have been directed to achieve a minimum capital base of N2 billion by CBN.

 

The banking industry regulator has also issued regulatory guidelines that defines the operating terrain rules as part of plans by the CBN towards “promoting a sound financial system in Nigeria.”

 

According to the CBN rules, Nigeria has adopted two models of mobile money services under which industry players operate:

 

The Bank-led Model: “This is a model where a bank either alone or a consortium of banks, whether or not partnering with other approved organizations, seek to deliver banking services, leveraging on the mobile payments system. This model shall be applicable in a scenario where the bank operates on stand-alone basis or in collaboration with other bank(s) and any other approved organization. The Lead Initiator shall be a bank or a consortium of banks.”

The Non-Bank led Model: “This model allows a corporate organization that has been duly licensed by the CBN to deliver mobile money services to customers. The Lead Initiator shall be a corporate organization (other than a deposit money bank or a telecommunication company) specifically licensed by the CBN to provide mobile money services in Nigeria.”

 

 

Meanwhile, the impending deal between Telnet and Opera is coming as the two entities are seen to be joining forces to advance Opera’s plans to extend its OPay platform into the Nigerian market by acquiring controlling stakes in Paycom.

 

PayCom Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Telnet, which was granted licence by the CBN in August 2011 to operate in the mobile payment sector recently had its licence renewed by the banking sector regulator, a development that was to complement progress towards a deal, according to a Technology Times source.

 

The indications of the closed deal comes one year after Opera, the developer of the most popular mobile browser in Africa, announced its plan to invest N3 billion ($100 million) across Africa over two years.

Opera last year unveiled an ambitious plan to deepen its stakes in the emerging African internet ecosystem where the technology company “is planning to seek local partners to integrate value-added services, mobile payment and data bundling into its browser product.”

 

Opera said at the time that the alliance with local partners “will grant consumers access to quality content and services, giving them the ability to transact more easily on their mobile devices. The range of services to be added over the next 12 months will create a content and services hub that will provide African users with a truly unique experience.”

 

As part of the N30 billion African investments plan, Opera said that it plans expanding with new offices across select cities including Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, and also hire 100 people for these offices over the next three years.

 

Nigeria’s Telnet is a technology industry pioneer and leading player that is reputable as a factory for successful spin-offs that counts the likes of companies like Interswitch, the e-payment market leader; IPNX, a frontline ISP in the country, iTeco, a leading network business, alongside Paycom, among

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NITDA Says MDAs Work in Silos, Neglect eGovernment

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Dr. Isa Pantami, Director General of NITDA

Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government in the country are operating in silos, thereby making nonsense of e-government policy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, directo-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has said.

 

Pantami, at the opening ceremony of the Stakeholders’ Engagement on Nigeria’s e-Government Interoperability Framework (Ne-GIF) in Abuja, said that ‘’Silo e-Government systems would not help government deliver public services efficiently. Advanced phases of service innovation cannot be achieved without integrating many back-office functions.

 

‘’For instance, registering a Limited Guarantee Company in Nigeria requires visit to at least three institutions: CAC, FIRS, and Attorney General of the Federation physically and/or through their portals. However, the Nigerian government is becoming more complex and wide-reaching than ever before and citizens believe and expect that public services must be delivered effectively and at speed. This is inefficient, inconvenient, time consuming and makes citizens pay more’’, Dr Pantami said.

 

He said through robust e-Government applications, it is possible to make the transactions and get the service delivered on a single portal, adding that citizen-centered service delivery involves breaking up silos, integrating across agencies, innovating new ways of doing business, and creating a service-focused culture.

 

According to him, it has been proven that one of the strategic directions for e-government is to adopt a Whole-of-Government (WoG) approach for deriving expected value from IT.

 

He said WoG involves back-end offices re-engineering, consolidation and integration of business processes across government agencies to deliver effective and consolidated services through the front-end offices at an affordable cost.

 

‘’WoG is a deliberate path to attain Government Digital Transformation (GDT) we desire. GDT views Government as an entity by promoting the idea of ONE GOVERNMENT but still respect individual MDA’s mandates while providing government digital services.

 

‘’Fundamentally, e-Government or digital service delivery has three models or approaches: Government-to-Government (G2G), Government-to-Business (G2B) and Government-to-Citizens (G2C).

 

‘’Transforming G2G is the foundation for providing efficient digital services. It enables and drives the other delivery models.

 

‘’However, the workability of any G2G is determined by the level of IT systems integration and standardization considering the social, institutional, legal, economic and political systems of a particular country.

 

‘’The main difficulty in achieving advanced G2G is the interoperability requirements of IT systems of various government agencies. For instance, compliance with Executive Order 001 requires advanced G2G,” he said.

 

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GSMA Welcomes GDPR, Raises Concerns Over Inconsistencies in Privacy Regulations

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The GSMA, which represents the interests of nearly 800 mobile operators worldwide, who collectively serve more than 5 billion customers globally, welcomes the protection brought to consumers by Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

However, while this new regulation, which goes live on 25 May, strikes a balance between enabling industry to flourish and protecting the rights of individuals, mobile operators are deeply concerned by inconsistencies in the application of European privacy regulations that could risk consumers’ access to new communication services in the future.

John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSMA, explains: “Consumers should rightfully celebrate the new protections the GDPR brings them.

The GDPR is driving up standards of responsible data governance, not only in the EU, but also around the world, stimulating efforts to find a common ground for data privacy.

“The more compatible data privacy laws are with each other, the faster we can move to a world where countries allow personal data to flow relatively freely between them.

Consumers’ ability to benefit fully from the next wave of innovation, built on technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence (AI), will depend on this unhindered flow of data between countries.

“However, the benefits of GDPR could easily be undermined if the current regulatory imbalance between the telecommunications industry and other players in the digital world is not resolved.

Telecom operators are still subject to additional obligations vis-à-vis other digital players imposed by the ePrivacy Directive.

When the European Council shortly decides on their position on the proposal to replace the current directive with an ePrivacy Regulation (ePR), we must not ignore the impact of the ePR on both existing and future services that are critical to Europe’s digital growth.

“The specific obligations imposed by the European Commission’s current proposal for the ePR would be detrimental to the mobile industry’s ability to innovate and invest in future technologies, such as 5G, the Internet of Things, AI and big data.

Data privacy regulation is essential, but fair competition and consumer protection require the consistent application of privacy regulations.

“The current ePR proposal only allows the use of communications metadata under very limited circumstances, which could prevent the legitimate, unobtrusive use of data across a number of sectors, negatively impacting society and the European economy.

In contrast, the generally applicable GDPR strikes a better balance between the ability to innovate and the protection of people’s personal data. Its principles should therefore also be applied to processing metadata to allow telecoms operators to equally compete in a responsible way with other market players in the digital value chain.

“Europe needs greater alignment between the ePR and the GDPR to support individuals’ fundamental rights, while permitting technological developments and spurring investment.

Otherwise, this lack of consistency in European privacy regulation could harm consumers’ interests in the long term by denying them the potential benefits of new communications services in the future.”

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