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Stakeholders Seek Better Policy for Infrastructure Deployment

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Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, association Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON)

Stakeholders in the telecommunications sector of the economy have urged the federal government to articulate a more business friendly policy to enable deployment and service delivery in the provision of telecommunications transmission infrastructure in the country.

According to them, availability of transmission infrastructure holds the key to increased broadband penetration as well as improved quality of service by telecommunications operators which is required for effective service delivery by other sectors such as banks among others.

It would be recalled that Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had licensed InfraCos in some geo-political areas of the country to deploy and provide transmission service in their areas of jurisdiction.

However, operators are arguing that government should go beyond that through formulation and implementation of policies that will attract other investors to invest in the provision of transmission infrastructure in order to drive down the cost of such service.

David Venn, chief executive officer, Spectranet, a 4G LTE internet service provider, said that it costs higher to move bandwidth from Lagos to Ibadan than moving it from London to Lagos.

Engr. Samuel Adeleke, immediate past president, Internet Services Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) said that licensing of spectrum as a way to increase broadband penetration is not enough to achieve the target.

 “NCC needs to look at the proper use of its licenses moving forward. For instance, Globacom has invested in intra-city and inter-city fibre network, which are presently not in use. This infrastructure is required to increase broadband penetration in the country, the regulator should ensure the effective utilization of licensed spectrum,” he said.

Adeleke also blamed the current economic situation in the country which is not conducive for people to make investment.

“The situation in the country does not support investment, if an investor spends money in rolling out service, EFCC will come after him to query how he made money he is spending or return on investment is not guarantee because of fear that there won’t be demand for the service as people’s purchasing power is low.”

“Any regulation that will make businesses to grow or create right environment for success of business and not making money for government should be the focus of NCC and other government agencies,” he noted.

Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, association Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) said that policy will do more towards the targeted 30 percent penetration by 2018.

He said that granting multiple operational licenses to operators does not guarantee investment in that regard, but implementation of well -articulated policies that will encourage operators to invest their money.

He said Government must go beyond granting of licenses to eliminating those barriers such as bottlenecks in securing ‘right of way’, impediments to smooth network operations- where operators are forced to pay levies that are not legalized, and vandalism.

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So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Shittu Commends NCC on Impeccable Use of social Media

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The Nigeria Communications Commission,NCC, has been recently commended by the Minister of Communications, Honourable Adebayo Shittu, for impeccably deploying social media networks for public communication and urged all stakeholders to emulate the Commission to expand the frontiers of public sector communication, good governance and national development.

Shittu’s voice was amplified by Abdulaziz Mashi, the Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Communications at the 2-Day Seminar on “Social Media for Good Governance Seminar: Leveraging ICT for National Development”, held at Treasure Suites and Conference Centre in Abuja.

The Seminar Organized by the Federal Ministry of Communications was supported by Facebook, Google and Microsoft, as well as by all the agencies supervised by the Ministry – NCC, NITDA, NIPOST, NIGCOMSAT, and Galaxy Backbone Plc.

Shittu said “in an era when the social media have become very strong platforms for information dissemination and public discourse, it is imperative for government and key players in the private sector to pay extra attention to feedback from, and utilize these new media to provide platform for government-citizen and business-public engagement in an online, real-time and interactive manner”.

He added that the seminar and retreat was designed among other goals, to share knowledge and information oriented in recent research and analysis of social media use; and to review good practices on policies and programmes promoting social media for good governance and other effective uses of the communication networks.

The Minister noted those uses to include creating means to improve governance, opening up access to government and government officials, saving time and money, and creating new ways of working.

Accordingly, “government will not limit Nigerians’ access to social media solely on the basis that it may be used to express views critical of government or the social-political system.

“Protecting critical expressions on the Internet is the standard by which governments are now held to be genuinely democratic” Shittu told the large gathering of delegates from all the agencies in the Ministry, journalists and other communication professionals and a galaxy of other stakeholders.

The Minister however bemoaned the use of the social media networks for “divisive, tribal, parochial, fabricated and sentimental information, messages and ideas capable of disintegrating the country”.

Shittu urged Nigerians to draw inspiration from enterprising young Nigerians across industries who have used social media to achieve phenomenal strides that have shaped our lives qualitatively.

Tony Ojobo, NCC Director Public Affairs, who presented the lead paper on Public Communication in the Era of New Media, and drawing on NCC’s and other exemplary practices, demonstrated in a concrete sense how social media can be deployed for greater effectiveness in public sector communication in Nigeria.
There were other presentations by Ade Atobatele, Akeem Adeniji-Adele, and Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, which focused respectively on The Magic of Words; Digital Transformation; and Social Media as a Tool Against Weaponization: Hate Speech, Fake News, were also enthusiastically received and discussed by the audience.

The Ministry of Communications plans to organize series of seminars and a Social Media Week for communication professionals in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government in 2018.

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Group Decries Nigeria’s Poor Ranking on ICT Development Index

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By peter oluka

Broadband 2018 Coalition has expressed deep concerns over Nigeria’s poor ranking on the latest Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Development Index (IDI) published in the annual “Measuring the Information Society Report (MISR)” by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) where the country was rated 143rd globally, a significant downward shift from its 137th position in 2016. On the African index, Nigeria placed 15th behind countries like Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Gabon, Ghana, Zimbabwe and even Cote d’Ivoire.

The ICT Development Index is a composite measure that combines 11 indicators into one benchmark index to monitor and compare ICT developments between 176 countries across the world. The three-dimension frameworks used to measure the IDI are Access (level of ICT readiness which includes five infrastructure and access indicators: fixed-telephone subscriptions, mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions, international Internet bandwidth per Internet user, households with a computer, and households with Internet access);

Others are, Use (level of ICT intensity which includes three intensity and usage indicators: individuals using the Internet, fixed broadband subscriptions, and mobile-broadband subscriptions) and Skills (Capabilities or skills which are important for ICTs and include three proxy indicators: mean years of schooling, gross secondary enrolment, and gross tertiary enrolment).

Expressing his shock at the development, Danjuma Yusuf, the coalition convener and technology expert, pointed that Nigeria’s technology landscape needs urgent intervention given its sharp stagnation and decline in recent years and tasked the Federal and State Governments and other relevant regulatory agencies to quickly focus on strategies that would increase the country’s global competitiveness in ICT.

According to Yusuf, Nigeria has become an object of ridicule on global ICT rankings, been bested by countries with much lower Gross Domestic Product.

He mentioned that with direct connections to 5 submarine cables ($7bn of Africa’s $20bn submarine cable investments), Nigeria has no excuse for not leading the African index ahead of South Africa (with 4 submarine cables), Zimbabwe and Gabon with 2 cables each, and urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Nigeria’s ICT sector.

Yusuf cited as example, Kenya, which also launched its Broadband Policy in 2013 but is currently leading Africa in internet penetration with over 30 million people having (67%) internet access according to the Jumia Business Intelligence and GSMA ‘White Paper 2017: Trends from the Kenyan Smartphone and eCommerce Industry’.

He stressed that proactive regulation and a government-funded National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) project rolled out hundreds of thousands kilometers of fiber optic cables across Kenya’s 47 counties.

According to him, Kenya’s leadership initiatives have ensured the country remains one of Africa’s leading recipients of foreign direct investment and the fastest advancing country in ICT on the continent.

Mr. Yusuf urged speedy implementation of the five-year Broadband Plan stating broadband has played an outsized role in transforming societies and economic opportunities across the world, facilitating education and knowledge dissemination, enabling trade and commerce and contributing to growing entrepreneurship across the world.

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NCC, CBN Query Barclays’ Transparency in Sale of 9mobile

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The handling of the sale process of 9mobile by Barclays Africa, the financial advisers, has come attack from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), according to the Cable.

 

Barclays Bank has been saddled with the responsibility of finding investors for 9mobile based on the decision of Nigerian lenders.

 

In a joint letter to GTBank, which is the facility agent for the 9mobile syndicated loan, Umar Danbatta, the executive vice-chairman of NCC, and Godwin Emefiele, the governor of CBN, expressed displeasure with the “unwillingness of Barclays Africa” to follow due process in the bid.

 

In the letter, dated November 4, 2017, the two regulators said they made it clear from the outset that the sale process must be “transparent and fair, with the financial and technical capabilities of the final bidders without question”.

 

They said they now have “serious concerns” since the appointment of Barclays Africa as financial advisers.

 

“They have repeatedly exhibited signs of opacity in the sale process for 9mobile. Given the overriding public interest in the company and the need for transparency, we advised that Barclays advertise the call for ‘expression of interest’. Barclays declined, insisting instead that the company being a private one, should not be taken through a public sale,” they wrote.

 

“This lack of a transparent process has proven to be selective and arbitrary, leading to allegations that the process is being teleguided to a rigged and predetermined outcome. The CBN and the NCC will not fold their arms and allow this to materialise.”

 

Danbatta and Emefiele said they had received reports and petitions from various stakeholders, including some bidders, which have further heightened their concerns — but their suggestions to the board of 9mobile and Barclays on how to restore credibility to the process have been ignored.

The CBN and NCC then directed that all steps and decisions taken by the financial advisers as well as other advisers from the end of “expression of interest” must be communicated to CBN and NCC, who will have to approve in writing.

They also directed that the final bid process must be “open and transparent” in line with international best practices.

 

Danbatta and Emefiele said the December 31, 2017 deadline for the handover of 9mobile to the preferred bidders “remains sacrosanct”.

 

On Monday THISDAY reported that 1o firms have moved to the financial stage of the bid process.

 

The companies listed are: Globacom Nigeria Limited, Bharti Airtel, Alheri Engineering Limited, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Helios Towers, Centricus Capital, Africell, Abraaj Capital, Teleology Holdings Limited, Ericsson, Africa Capital Alliance (ACA) and The Carlyle Group.

 

The company formerly knows as Etisalat Nigeria changed its brand name to 9Mobile in July after the Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator following a N541 billion debt.

 

The debt is owed to a consortium of 10 banks, with GTBank acting as the facility agent.

 

The sale of 9mobile, with 21 million subscribers, is expected to bring in the needed capital to restore it to good health.

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