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Priority Communications Solves Fiber Cut Issues Via Air-Fiber-Samuel

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Olumide Samuel, CEO, Priority Communications Limited

Olumide Samuel, CEO, Priority Communications Limited is a data communications expert. He has been in the business of providing Data/ Telecommunications services to companies especially, banks for online data communications for branch offices and ATM machines using microwave/wireless and digital leased line (DSL) within Lagos and 25 other states of the federation, for close to two decades now.
In this interview with peter ugwu, he shares the Company’s giant strides towards achieving throughput connectivity for the clientele: challenges and opportunities.

Priority Communications: In the Beginning
We started about eight years ago. About four of us commenced the operations, however, today; we are growing to over two hundred staff and partners. Currently, we operate in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia.
In Nigeria, we have operations in 26 States, offering services to the IT, telecoms, conglomerates, manufacturing, financial sector; like banks & insurance, courier companies. Essentially, our services cut across a large group in different sectors of the economy.

Company’s Experiences on Data Services since Inception
We have seen the need for telecom and data services has been on the rise over the years. Of course, it is a known fact that players in the financial sector cannot do without IT; for some of them, IT forms the core of their operations.
The concept is imperative in the era of heavy dependence on ATM machines, easy transfers; they are purely IT based. Other sectors are also catching-on, as people are beginning to realize that it is more efficient or cost-effective to adopt IT.
Even the government is now talking about e-payment: e-collection, e-taxation, among others. IT has become business enabler and the growth has been phenomenal.
For instance, a lot of courier companies are now coming out to integrate IT into their operations. We in Priority Communications are out to support them, so that they can provide optimal services to their clientele.
 We are also moving to other sectors; currently, we are talking to people in the maritime, oils and gas sector; we are working with construction companies too.

Corporate Organizations Preference to Foreign Companies’ Services
You are right about that and this is a challenge to a lot of local organizations. What has helped us in Priority Communications is that we run a very structured environment.
The truth is: local companies should learn to play up to a certain international standard.
For us in Priority Communications, we do not play with ‘structures’. We put our things in proper perspectives.
Some indigenous companies have not learnt the language of corporate business; and they even lose resources along the line. For instance, when we are handling a project, we will not leave our projects in the hands of a neophyte; someone with ‘flight risks’, if I may use that phrase.
Also, the quality of our work speaks volumes for us; we always pride ourselves on that. We are delighted to have very premium customers too like the big banks in Nigeria- Zenith Bank, GTBank, Access Bank, Skye Bank, Diamond Bank, Keystone Bank, Wema Bank, Niger Insurance, Sterling Bank, Sovereign Trust Insurance, Mopol, UAC among others. We service the like of UAC, DHL and so many others; these are big players in the industries they represent. Local companies must learn to take execute contracts with utmost seriousness, because it tells about your capabilities and this has kept Priority Communications going for the past eight years.

Issues on Skills for Maximum Impact   
Sincerely, it has been a challenge getting the right kind of team that shares your operational philosophy. Over the years, personnel skills development programmes take a chunk of our budget.
A lot of training and skills development institutes in Nigeria know Priority Communications very well; it is as though we run a retainer ship programme with some of them.
When you train your staff, they can help you tidy up the rough edges. For 2015, we are already coming out with our budget for trainings for all our staff. Our policy is that, on average, a staff will attend minimum of two training every year, depending on the skill requisition.
Since we started that, the qualities of our jobs are getting better; training builds confidence in the staff. Especially in data communications, we don’t joke with trainings.

Innovations in M2M, Air-Fiber, Consultancy Service, Etc
M2M Connectivity: Primarily, machine-to-machine technology helps users to have direct access to their equipment, machines or facilities, irrespective of the location.
Essentially, what we intend to offer our clients in the M2M option of connectivity is to enable them have very fast, robust and reliable access to their facilities and equipment.
This kind of measure buoys up the operations of large conglomerates, even small businesses benefit as well. We are talking about banks with many branches, down to individuals that would want to monitor what goes on in their homes, office, warehouse, etc.
It is a very reliable, consistent and cost saving measure that I encourage companies to buy into. We can almost guarantee 100% connectivity on that spectrum because we have built a lot of redundancies in terms of technology, power back-ups.
Other beauty of it is the zero-deployment time, because when you can use it instantaneously, and we can meet your locations connectivity needs, your productivity continues to grow. We also have the Air-Fiber Technology: we are trying to solve a problem that is notable in the industry.
Some of our clients actually wanted hitch-free bandwidth; therefore, the issue of fiber-cut must be taken care of. We know that almost everywhere in Nigeria a construction goes on at regular interval. So, we needed facilities that will not be subject to cuts.
Therefore, air-fiber is the combination of wireless and fiber technologies. In other words, it is wireless based, but it gives you all the benefits inherent in fiber networks, based on the bandwidth and throughput. So, when we offer you a link on the air-fiber, we are talking of gigabyte range of capacity, which is highly demanded by organizations that rely on connectivity to achieve their targets. Cost-wise, it is not that high compared to the profit accruable to the subscribers.
Consultancy Services: we have been approached by a number of our clients, especially those who want us to develop their IT architecture.
There are companies in distress on how to handle issues such as network design, network expansion plans, among others. It means that anybody can walk into Priority Communications and get his choice designs, even when they are mid-platform range…

…How About SMES?
Actually, every category is covered. Just like every nation that wants to increase its economic developmental changes must not toy with the SMEs, companies like ours take SMEs very seriously.
So, we visit the client’s base, take audit of its operations and requirements and get to design or advice on how they can improve.

Challenges of Nurturing Businesses in Nigeria
Power is a major constraint. It is not just about us, rather a national call. The cost of providing alternate power supply has continued to rise. However, as a business person you just have to move on, because there are always ways to go around the challenges.
For us, it is something we strive to overcome, if not, we wouldn’t be in operation till today; though I must frankly say that the impacts on our margins are there too. Another challenge is the insecurity in the North. The other notable challenge is funding.
Nevertheless, we have been favoured; as a structured organization, banks can afford to trust us with some (loan) facilities on regular basis. Maybe apathy against local businesses by some organizations, however, we at Priority Communications have never seen it as a case.
We have tried to live above that level, meeting international standards with our service supports. Early last year, we went about upgrading our technologies, because of our passion to remain relevant with trends in the today’s business, which a lot of Nigerian companies would shy away from. At least, it is not at any additional cost to the clients; rather, it is for your optimal performance. A business ought to be at its best to retain the clients’ confidence.

Government-Businesses Relationship
It’s tough letting some people understand that this business does not grow over-night. Anything that is tied to the government, as a business person, would always have certain limits.
However, for us at Priority Communications, everything that is a challenge is an opportunity to innovate. I think that whenever we see challenges, the next thing should be: “what is the way out of?”
 It is true that double taxation is there, but when you look at it, you just have to do business. People use to say, “if you can do business and succeed in Nigeria, there is no place you cannot succeed”.
These are the peculiarities of our environments and to a large extent, people are getting their jobs down. At a time, people said, because of the crisis in the Niger-Delta businesses will shut down indefinitely, but some people found a way around it; petroleum keeps coming from there.
If we talk about ‘area-boys’ (touts), is the government really interested in solving the problem? They only need to engage them in the system. After sometime, it will phase out.
Today, the telecoms Company have embraced co-hosting, minimizing costs and reducing risks. The challenges out there, no doubt jerk up the costs of rendering services.
That is why people are clamouring for interventions. As providers, maybe we are not doing enough businesses to accommodate those costs. So, the business models and processes should generate more money for a company to withstand the shocks that follow the costs.
For instance, if I have 200 customers in Oshodi axis and somebody says I should pay N500, 000 to allow me to work in Oshodi, I need to pay based on the expected to returns, but when just two customers are located there, it will be difficult to extend my network to that place.
Inherently, it will affect the government, because even the State Governments carry out tax audit and they leave your office disappointed, because they see that the operators are not making money as they perceived.

Expansion Plans
First, this year we plan to build a very large data centre in the Lekki axis. By end of first quarter we will have more details on that. It is coming based on the requests by our clients who want facility that is off-site.
We are also planning to expand our operations to other African countries and continents. Apart from consolidating on the places we are present, we want to move to areas where our clients are located.
Even in Nigeria, we have seen we have not gone close to what our capacities can afford. So, we hope to open more offices in some States. If I tell you that Priority Communications is working massively in Sokoto, it might not be easy to believe, but we serve almost 50% of banks in the State.
Even in Kano, Maiduguri; in fact, we hope to grow in those areas. It is our prayer that the security situations in those areas be solved. We have about five offices in Lagos and hope to increase it to 10 before the year runs out.
That will enable us provide more value added services to our clients. We have also started the process to engage additional 60 engineers before the middle of the year.     

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 CSO Sends FoI Request To NCC

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Following the alleged plans to block online news sites, the Paradigm Initiative has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Nigerian Communications Commission asking the Commission to provide it with information on the matter.

The request was filed by the digital rights advocacy organisation on Friday at the Abuja headquarters of the Commission, giving the Commission seven (7) days as stipulated by the Freedom Of Information (FOI) Act 2011, to release information on the alleged attempts to block domain names of online newspapers.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian Tribune exclusively reported on Sunday, October 5 2017 “that the government, through the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), has engaged the services of a firm in Lagos to block the domain names of “several identified websites threatening national security.”

The newspaper further alleged that Commission wrote a memo to the firm, directing it “to immediately take steps to restrict access within the Nigerian cyberspace in respect of 21 (twenty one) additional websites by blocking the domain names. (The list of websites is attached).”

According to Adeboye Adegoke, Paradigm Initiative’s Program Manager, “the phrase “additional websites” in the memo indicates that there are other websites already marked for illegal censorship through an equally illegal blockage of their domain names. If this is true, then this would be a clear indication of this government’s anti-free speech agenda”

“It has been six days since Tribune published its story and NCC has not come out to deny the story. This is why we have filed this FoI request. NCC cannot wish this report away; the commission has to come out and address Nigerians on the issue”

In the FoI request, Paradigm Initiative asks NCC to provide it with answers to the following questions: Is the Nigeria Communications Commission or at of its agents in the process of taking steps or block or restrict the domain names of certain websites? If yes, what websites would be affected? What criteria were employed in selecting these websites? Under what legal provision is this being carried out?

According to Tope Ogundipe, Paradigm Initiative’s Director of Programs, “it goes without saying that blocking the domain names of newspapers is a brazen violation of the right to Freedom of Expression as guaranteed not only by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but also by international instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory.”

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Web4Africa Celebrating 15 Years of Operations In Africa

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By peter oluka

Web4Africa, the Pan African Web Hosting Company, has reached a milestone this October, celebrating 15 crystal years of business.

The company, offering web services physically from Nigeria, has grown from the dreams of the founders, serving 40,000+ clients across over 120 countries.

Today, the giant strides of Web4Africa is felt across the region with the peculiar nature of customer-centric services to hundreds of domain types as well as hosting solutions from four datacentres across Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.

Established in 2002, Web4Africa is one out of the only two ICANN Accredited Domain Name Registrars in Nigeria and boasts of young- professional team (average age of 28) who are skilled and motivated deliver a happy experience to the clients.

“It gives me great pleasure in joining Web4Africa employees, clients and host of business partners South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana; in fact, across the Continent, in celebrating the company’s 15th anniversary. We have come a long way since commencing operations in 2002 and are very excited about our future as the company continues to thrive in these difficult economic times,” said Oluniyi Ajao, the President and CEO, when discussing the celebration.

Web4Africa’s ability to engineer solutions based on customer’s specific needs has helped the company to continually grow over the past 15 years. For instance, the Company is among the few that accepts Bitcoin, Perfect Money, Skrill, Payza, and more for Domain Registration, Web Hosting, VPS Hosting, Dedicated Servers.

“Our strongest area has always been the mass market. It so happens that to cover that large number of people, our price has to be reasonable. We make our pricing to be within reasonable range to attract the right people”, Mr. Ajao said, while speaking on 25% discount offering to customers as part of packages to mark anniversary.

Clients’ fondness for Web4Africa’s is not far-fetched, but due to its affordability and cost-effective carrier-neutral environment; local cloud hosting (in Nigeria), offers promise for future growth and 100% uptime.

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Sunday Dare honored with Democracy Heroes Award

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Organisers of Face of Democracy Nigeria Award (FDN) on Sunday night honored Mr. Sunday Dare, Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), with Democracy Heroes Award for his decades of consistency in promoting democracy in Nigeria.

Face of Democracy Nigeria (FDN), now in its fifth year said Mr. Dare has acted in manners worthy of emulation by Nigerian youths.

Therefore, they urged young people to step out to participate in the democratic process by contesting elections in order to represent the people of Nigeria conscientiously.

The FDN team leaders, Olufunsho Ajagbonna and Vivian Lam were emphatic that all the awardees were honoured to enable young people to draw inspiration from their courage, consistency and selflessness.

The event, which was over-subscribed, held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel and ended past midnight, featured series of dances and other artistic displays representing the diversity of Nigeria.

Among those who received awards at the event last night were former Governor of Kano State and serving Senator, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; Senator Gbenga Ashafa, APC Lagos; Actor-turned-politician, Hon. Desmond Elliot; Chief Dele Momodu, Publisher of OVATION Magazine; and.Dr. Chimaobi Anyaso, an entrepreneur with investment in oil & gas and financing among others.

Prior to his appointment as an Executive Commissioner in NCC, Mr. Dare – a multimedia journalist, author, social entrepreneur and development enthusiast – was the Convener of the Social Media Clinic, a media/ICT initiative focused on educating the citizens about ICT utilisation.

Earlier, Dare had a beautiful career at the Independent Network Communications Limited, publishers of TheNEWS, Tempo, AM and PM News, one of the leading media outfits in Nigeria that deployed its professional resources to challenge the callous authoritarianism of the Military regimes of the 80s and early 90s in Nigeria.

For 8 years, he was the Chief, Hausa Service, African Division of VOICE OF AMERICA in Washington.

In 2010, Mr. Dare was listed as one of the 50 successful Nigeria professionals in America.

He had also recently combined the role of Special Media Adviser as well as Chief of Staff to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Emeritus Governor of Lagos State and APC National Leader.

In this regard, his work was central to the victory of the Party in the 2015 elections.

The FDN team is of the opinion that Mr. Dare’s almost three decades of journalism, advocacy, strategic political thinking and impeccable managerial skills has set him “apart as an emergent leader in Nigeria today”.

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