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Telcos Must Innovate, Stop Fighting OTTs – Nnamani

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Engineer Ikechukwu Nnamani is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Medallion Communications Limited

Engineer Ikechukwu Nnamani is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Medallion Communications Limited.
With over 15 years of core telecom experience, Engr. Nnamani is very active in promoting forward looking industry policies for the growth of the telecom industry across Africa working with both regulators as well as operators to achieve this goal.
He currently acts as an Executive of the premier telecom body in Nigeria – the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) where he is responsible for coordinating the activities of the Licensed Telecommunication Operators in Nigeria under the body.
He has also promoted the establishment of Interconnect Clearinghouses in Africa, working recently with the Ghanaian Telecom Regulator (NCA) in the creation of the Interconnect Clearinghouse license in Ghana.
He is currently helping to ensure there is a successful implementation of the license in the country.
Engr. Nnamani is also the Chairman of Demadiur Systems Limited, a system integrator company, responsible for the successful deployment of fixed wireless networks in several cities in Nigeria including Enugu, Aba, Owerri, Onitsha, Abakaliki, Kano, and Abuja.
He had worked as an optical systems engineer at Luxcore Networks Inc., in Atlanta Georgia, USA, among other experiences to his credit.
Engr. Nnamani holds a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering degree from Tennessee State University, Nashville Tennessee, USA and a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering degree from University of Nigeria, Nsukka. While leading Medallion top executive courtesy call on Communication Week Media Limited, he spoke on various issues in the industry. Excerpt.

Medallion’s Locations
We plan to deploy critical infrastructure to enable interconnect, datacentre and hosting services across the six geo-political zones.
It is critical in our targets for the year. We feel the country needs economic empowerment. It is at time of economic recession that companies can deploy that will enable businesses to operate in a cost effect manner.
This is in the heart of our operations; making sure those infrastructures are available where they are needed. Sometimes, not necessarily where to make the largest amount of revenue but there are places these infrastructures are critical to drive innovation.
We look at it as part of our 10-year plan which gives us a lot of timeline to handle the finance aspect of it. Once it is needed, we are sure of doing that.
Our goal is to launch in four cities. Presently, we are in Lagos and Abuja and itching to put infrastructure in Enugu, Port Harcourt, Kano and Ibadan; from all indications, we might be adding Asaba. The datacenters and interconnect points will boost the industry to meet and interact; similar to what we have done in Lagos.
Today, Medallion infrastructure in Lagos, without controversy, is the most connected point across the sub-region in terms of operators and clientele.
The industry is benefiting from it. Without such investment, the cost of doing business would have been higher than it is today. That is value creation.
But we believe in localization of contents. To us, ensuring that South East has a datacentre is important, the same reason we are deploying in PH, Ibadan and Kano. When that is done, costs drop drastically.

Medallion’s Datacentre Certification
This is one of the areas Nigerians need education. The challenge is some companies throwing buzzwords to confuse people.
They create the notion, but in practically terms fail to handle what are expected of them. When you talk about Tier Certification of Datacentres, there are two ways to look at it.
First, there are policy documents on what is obtainable in a datacentre to be classified. A major part of it is availability; in other words, Uptime.
If you have equipment in the datacentre, there must be guarantee of power availability to certain time, yearly, monthly or weekly; it largely depends on design and resources.
For you to achieve this, for instance, power supply must be available 99.99% of the year which requires you don’t depend on a power generating set. The Institute will insist that depending on a generator denies the facility chances for redundancy. Therefore, you will be recommended as Tier I datacentre/facility.
That doesn’t mean one generator cannot guarantee steady power, especially based on your location. Tier III, which is the buzzword in this environment, requires that in a situation public power supply is interrupted, the facility should be up for 72hours/3days.
It is easier to achieve abroad where public power supply is stable. The batteries or generating sets are mere backups. But in Nigeria, by default you are a power generating company. It makes those requirements, by default, things you must have, especially in Nigeria.
Basically, the infrastructure to ensure steady power is critical in certifying the datacentre. You may wish to go through the formal process of certification. In that way, the Institute will visit you facility after going through your postmarks and issue a certificate.
To us, while the certification is important, the day-to-day operation must be reassuring. In other words, in Medallion, the way we operate could depict us as Tier III datacentre, though we have not obtained the certification. It is not different from someone who has gone through school, acquiring the knowledge but has not obtained the certificate.
In principle, it is good to have the certification, because bequeaths the facility with such a status that an independent organization has verified your processes.
Thus, for the fact we have every major player in the industry operating out of the facility, it shows, to a large extent, we have met the global standards in terms of availability of services. In addition, we offer right pricing; not compromising quality for it.

Telcos Threat to Block Over-the-Top Services (OTTs)
The simple answer to that is No. As technology evolves new services are introduced. As an advocate for technology I am against anything that will kill innovation and stifle technology advancement. I represent the quest for new technology and innovations.
 I also understand that if you have invested on a particular technology you deserve to recoup your fund and make returns to your investors. That makes me align to both sides. However, there is a difference here.
You only start fighting technology only when you are not innovative or adjust business models and solutions to the new/emerging technology.
Like the OTT services, most of them run on data. Rather than fight them because they are probably affecting the traditional voice, why not find a way to also generate revenue out of it. I can assure you there are multiple ways the telecom operators can make revenue through OTT services.

Telcos’ Slide in Revenue and Impact on Interconnect
About ten year ago when we started, the industry was standardized on Time Division Multiplexing processes (TDM-SL-7) means of interconnection. Though, we still have the TDM links, but we are connected to all operators on internet protocol (IP).

Why Did the Migration Took Place on Interconnect? 
That is the current status of technology. Why didn’t people choose to remain on TDM? It is simple: IP platform provides additional benefits.
That is why they implemented IP on the core of their network. Now, the issue we are talking about is subscriber’s preference to the means to call.
Same situation is playing out in the area of international traffic. And that is where the telecos are complaining bitterly, because with Skype, WhatsApp calls people can call across countries provided you are connected on the internet.
At that point, the telcos are losing the revenue from the traditional international call (voice). But what we are saying is that telecos shouldn’t fight these platforms rather move around it to generate revenue. As we speak some are generating revenue.
We at Medallion are constantly restructuring our business to be able to participate even in the emerging technologies.
Competitions are growing, but we are not afraid to compete, because we have fine-tuned our business model to enable us play in the emerging industries. You first line of action shouldn’t be ‘oh, there is a new technology, it will kill us, let’s kill it’.
The point is that even with the new technology let your businesses evolve too. We have envisaged a time companies will need to switch packets. It is a matter of time you can not hold back the OTTs any longer.

What Would Have Happened Without Interconnect Clearing Houses?
I believe the level of success the industry has benefited is still a far cry from what it ought to be and where it should be.
The interconnect clearing houses have drastically reduced the pains previously associated with establishing interconnection.
Today, a licensed operator can approach Medallion and by next week, as long as your network can connect to us, you should be ‘talking’ to every network in the country. In the past, the project takes up to two years to actualize as you must approach each operator, negotiating interconnect protocols agreement.
As a new competitor in the block, the company you are talking to feels threatened by your presence. So, the Company foot-drags, delays and engage every tactic to frustrate you. At the end, they give you a protocol which they are very sure you don’t have.
So, you have to reinvest on new equipment which are not related to your technology for access network. But we bridged those gaps. We interconnect you seamlessly.
So, we were able to bridge the gap of operators on GSM and TDM. That is a value created and huge benefit to the industry. In the area of anti-competition, we have been able to bridge the gap too as a carrier neutral operator.
We can accurately and independently enhance interconnection for efficiency. Also, for traffics that go through us, because we have independent records, billings settlements and reconciliation is more transparent and easier to handle.
However, some operators view us as detrimental to their anti-competitive strategy. They intend to make things difficult for us. But the regulator would intervene.

What Is Happening with Value Added Services?   
For years, we have been pushing for value added services (VAS). Because telcos still force these people and collect what is due to them, majority are frustrated and getting out of business.
But, if they had from onset embraced channeling their services through the clearing houses, the same way we create values for telcos, and we would have helped solved the VAS operators’ problems.

Can Mobile Virtual Network Operators’ (MVNOs) Licensing Solve Some Problems
It is a sort of two-edged sword with a yes and no answer. Yes, because MVNOs is a welcome development; same time, the policies and implementation scheme will determine the success or otherwise. Example, Ghana licensed MVNOs about two years ago and it has been a challenge for them to take off.
 There is a difference between operating virtually and when it is officially announced. At the time of branding the operations then people can understand how it works.
Actually, it is a matter of time before it happens. When operators realized that managing cell sites is not their core-operations, they outsourced. Even with all the problems facing interconnect today, a time will come when they will appreciate it is not something they need not to hand onto. Similar stuff will happen when MVNOs get into full force; the telcos will start to outsource some part of their operations to them.
With a good revenue sharing formula, it is a win-win for everybody. How fast and successful it will become depends largely on the policies that back it up.
Secondly, the licensing model the regulator decides to adopt. If the telcos perceive it as anti to their operations they will create bottlenecks. The big question is: what part of the challenges operators are faced with presently that MVNOs will address? You must be able to create the value proposition. If not, if we implement MVNO licenses because it has worked in the UK and other environment, we can show you over ten things that have worked elsewhere but made little headway in this environment.
Mobile Money is working very well Kenya, in Nigeria it has been a struggle. It is even more successful in Ghana than here. We need to address the why.

Why?
The operators simply refused to cooperate with them. So, if you do it here and run into similar problem, you will get similar result. A model for the implementation of the scheme is very key to its success.
We also need to appreciate that here certain factors can militate against VMOs while they are thriving in other climes. It behooves on us to critically examine why they might not succeed here and address them before licensing them.

National Roaming and the Challenges
Roaming, traditionally, is a commercial arrangement between operators that benefits even the home network than the roaming network. It implies that with XYZ operator’s sim card I can work into a city that has only ABC operating, thus, XYZ can generate revenue by my presence in the city, likewise the home network. So, it is viewed as a plus.
But the context is viewed here as a minus. It is meant to by symbiotic not parasitic relationship. Two things must happen for roaming to occur.
First, there must be an existing network that you want to roam on. So, when people argue about USPF intervening in the matter, unless it wants to invest on a network in those places and allow third parties to roam on it. If not, somebody must invest in those areas for roaming to take effect.
Allowing others access to the your network is a matter of having right agreement because it is a source of additional revenue. It is similar to interconnect.
Why would you not want interconnect when it is additional revenue, because your existing subscribers are making calls on net. You are down to revenue made via your network, but by virtue of interconnect you spread your net for more revenue.
It should be a no brainer. But people look at it as ‘oh, if that subscriber comes, then the person won’t buy my sim card’, but subscribers roam when on transit. There tends to be a lot of ignorance with regards to this; people are just fighting the wrong fight.

Why Moving to Other Cities to Invest?
Nigerians exist in these cities. What happens today is that costs of services in those cities are higher. Obviously, everything has to come back to other areas where infrastructures exist and they bear the brunt.
Aside telecoms, look at petroleum distribution. When the price was increased, Lagos had a problem moving from there it was to N145/litter, because within Lagos we had access to the tank farms and seaport, but people outside Lagos where like ‘what are you people saying.
We have been paying N200/litter as standard here, because there was additional cost of getting it to the people. The same thing is happening in telecommunications hence we want to get infrastructure to everybody and make services cheaper. We believe if the patronage will be higher and user experience will get better.

Medallion in Next 5 Years
We hope to be able to offer services across the sectors of economy across the geo-political zones in multiple cities as a foundational infrastructure provider.
Of course, every now and then we get partnerships with people that want to take services outside the country. So, we also see ourselves doing a lot of intercontinental partnerships.
We would always want to partner indigenous companies in those cities we are invited. We have cemented partnerships in Ghana, with other opportunities in Uganda where they want to take advantages of the expertise we built over the years in Nigeria.
Ultimately, in moves to grow the brand, we see ourselves been listed as public company for Nigerians to participate in what we are doing. It is very key to us as part of our five-year strategic plan.

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Nigeria Can Become Africa’s Internet Hub If… – MainOne

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Vremudia Oghene-Ruemu, MDXi’s product manager, Data Center in this interview assesses the data centre market in Nigeria, challenges confronting the line of business, the partnership with IXPN, MainOne’s Open Connect Service, among others. Excerpts

Data Centre Operations in Nigeria

The Data Center landscape in Nigeria is still new, gradually developing. We have a few data centers for our economic size and population, which means there is opportunity for more operators to come in.

We are gradually building a digital economy, which requires cloud-based services and applications and data centers.

A rising confluence of demand and supply factors is making Nigeria’s data center business one of the most dynamic ICT market segments in Africa.

As broadband adoption has boomed, demand for cloud services has emerged and is expected to surpass supply soon.

To cater to this demand, MainOne’s Data Center Company, MDXi is also building more Data Centers not only in Nigeria, but other parts of West Africa. We have started our second Tier III Data Center in Nigeria in Sagamu, Ogun State; we have a Data Center in Accra and should launch another in Cote D’Ivoire soon.

We believe that other players will follow suit and build to match the growing demand. Right now, South Africa has the largest data center presence on the continent, with North Africa following closely but Nigeria and other West Africans countries are expected to deepen Data Center penetration over the next few years.

Main Challenges Confronting Your Line of Business

The major challenge for Nigerian businesses right now is the high cost of operation. Data Centers have huge power requirements and usually recourse to direct connection to the national grid, which is a significant investment in addition to backups, which include huge generators with attendant costs of diesel ad maintenance.

Operators need to import equipment into the country, but do not have access to FOREX, as the Central Bank has refused to give telcos priority. It has been ingenuity and financial knowhow that has kept players like us going in this tough terrain.

Nigeria is yet to fully implement data domiciliation and a lot of government and enterprise businesses still hosts Nigeria’s data abroad, rather than patronize indigenous data centers.

The Federal Government needs to enable policy to drive our diversification from oil-dependent to services-focused; such as pioneer status for indigenous operators, tax exemptions, data residency and priority access to Forex will go a long way to help Nigeria’s data center operators and enable us be at par with South Africa and other climes.

In China for example, foreign operators are mandated to keep Chinese data within the country. Europe, Russia, Malaysia and Indonesia have also implemented Data Domiciliation regulation.

Nigeria must also proactively protect its citizen’s data and mitigate huge security risks by repatriating all Nigerian data in-country. This will limit the country’s exposure to cyber-attacks, save us huge international internet transit costs and enable Nigeria’s data center capacity to grow quicker.

We need to understand that apart from glaring issues such as national security and capital flight; local data hosting has the ability to drive job growth and improve the lives of our teeming youth population.

Local data domiciliation has worked and is still working in countries with strong digital economies around the world. All you have to do is look around the globe to see what having data hosted in-country has done for local innovation, technology development and economies in general.

Partnership with The Nigerian Internet Exchange (IXPN)

This move is significant in many ways. As a data center provider, there are two goals. The first goal is to ensure that businesses that have high availability requirements can run their technology operations without breaking the bank.

The second goal, is to ensure that the infrastructure running these highly available services can be reached irrespective of the networks that users connect from.

To ensure that end users communicate effectively in this rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, network providers need to enable the exchange of user data in the quickest and most efficient manner using a process called peering. Peering is made possible by an Internet exchange point which in the simplest of terms is a physical meeting point where networks, content and service providers connect and directly exchange data.

This results in the significant reduction of costs and increase in speeds at which data is exchanged thereby leading to consumer friendly network subscription rates and superb end user experiences.

This is where our partnership with the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) is relevant. By hosting and partnering with the IXPN, our data center customers now have quicker, less costly access to local, regional and global connectivity via simple physical cable connections called cross connects.With these cross connects and close proximity to the Internet Exchange, our customers immediately have instant access to an ecosystem of network providers, cloud platforms, content providers and business partners while saving costs on expensive wide area network links and ensuring high network performance.

By combining our vast local, regional and global network resources with the IXPN’s capabilities, we can now directly connect and provide interconnection services to local operators, regional operators, global carriers, content providers, ISPs among others. Our data center’s value proposition is thus to ensure that people that host in our data center are able to reach their users seamlessly with great user experience and at lower costs.

Role of The IXPN

The Internet Exchange is the backbone of digital economies around the world and a key ingredient to growing the online economy in Nigeria.

The role of the IXPN is to ensure the local exchange of data between users by enabling peering between the networks that serve these users; hence the popular saying “keeping local traffic local”.

An example is a situation where an email from User A in Lagos to User B in Lagos needs to travel across User A’s provider network to an International location where User A and User B’s networks connect just because they cannot connect locally.

You can also view this practically from the standpoint of regional airport hubs which serve as an exchange point for passengers between different airlines served by that airport.

Airline passengers will definitely not fancyif they travel long hours to switch flights outside their country to reach a destination in their country just because a common airport that serves multiple airlines in the country does not exist. Routing internet traffic is similar to you flying to Ghana to get a connecting flight to Abuja, because there is no local interconnection point.

Mainone’s Open Connect Service
With Open Connect we are creating a powerful Internet ecosystem in the same physical location as the Nigerian Internet Exchange, and providing a platform for participants to exchange data in real-time at lightning fast speeds.

The idea behind Open Connect is that we are enabling owners of products, services and content with high response requirements become more service-oriented by bringing the networks closer to them. Being closer to the networks significantly enhances their ability to improve their end user experiences. For instance, today’s customer will seriously consider changing banks if they have an internet banking application that takes thirty seconds to open a login page, and takes several other painstaking minutes to conduct a transaction.

Main Benefits of Open Connect
Open Connect provides better network performance for the networks and their end users. It also ensures low latency connections which in turn enhance the end user experience while enabling local data exchange, local content and local hosting.

Before Open Connect, How Did Operators Connect?

In the past, operators connected Internet traffic via networks outside the country at interconnection locations where global content providers reside. This put more costs on internet providers, slowed down internet connections and put the end user at a disadvantage from a cost and user experience.

For voice services, interconnections were achieved through clearing houses some of which are present locally today. These methods of interconnection are no longer sustainable with the volumes of broadband traffic we are experiencing in Nigeria today via current explosion in content and smartphones.

The Nigerian Internet Exchange is currently enabling a limited amount of interconnection between operators today but we believe that a synergy between MDXi and the Exchange using Open Connect as a platform will take interconnections to the next level in Nigeria and West Africa.

With The Launch Of Open Connect Would You Now Consider Yourself A Carrier Neutral Data Centre?

We have always been a carrier neutral data center. For the benefit of your readers, a carrier neutral data center is a facility that allows its customers connect their hosted infrastructure to any network of their choice.

MDXi is structured as a totally separate legal entity from MainOne even though we are a subsidiary company. Customers in MDXi are free to choose any network provider that suits their business requirements and have done so since Day 1. As a result, customers in MDXi are connected to their various locations by over 20 different network operators and ISPs today.

Launching Open Connect expands our commitment to providing that open access, carrier neutral environment and bringing it closer to the Internet Exchange for all our customers to thrive.

Of What Benefit Is This To Over-The-Top (OTT) And Content Providers Across The Continent?

Until around 4 years ago, OTT operators like Facebook and Google hosted outside the continent because the infrastructure to host locally wasnot available and the traffic they generated in Nigeria was quite limited with low internet penetration.

This narrative is however changing as the facilities to host such infrastructure is now available on the continent. Africa’s huge population and rapid mobile broadband adoption is also a major business driver for these large players as they recruit these large number of users to their platforms.

Nigeria is the most populous country on the continent and we are beginning to see more content providers, producers and distributors develop significant interest in our local market. Five years ago we didnot have applications like Facebook Live, Instagram live and WhatsApp video. We also did not have Internet banking and the level of E-Commerce applications that require real-time online connections as we do today.

One of the key value propositions for content is a robust user experience. Accessing content hosted outside the country provides a significantly diminished user experience compared to content hosted within the country. By leveraging local hosting and Open Connect, content providers will improve their user experiences significantly, scale their products and increase user subscriptions which will lead to more revenue.

Plans to Build an Internet Hub in West Africa

By hosting the Nigerian Internet Exchange and leveraging our already active connections to the Ghanaian, Amsterdam and London Internet exchanges we have significantly expanded the reach of our network to other networks in the region and globally.

What is next is to ensure that our partnership with various internet exchanges and content providers across the continent continues to grow using products such as Open Connect to explore new frontiers for interconnections.
We will leverage our strengths as West Africa’s most connected data center to continually localize traffic, reduce transmission costs and improve user experiences which will catalyze the development of other industries such as gaming, content and media which are highly dependent on superior internet connections.

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Cheki Accounts for 60% Online Car Listening in Nigeria- Dara

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Gbenro Dara, chief executive officer of Cheki.com.ng has said the platform which accounts for about 60% online car listings in Nigeria is out to assist the dealers improve on their sales.

Speaking to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek recently, he said in the last five years the platform would remain on the forefront of innovation in the market.

Cheki.com.ng, he said, is experimenting on a virtual room, where potential buyers are exposed to a-360 picture view of the car.

“First, we are the biggest and oldest online car sells platform in Nigeria. Therefore, we have a database of five years, containing data of anybody who had thought about buying a car through online platform. We have 60% of them on Cheki.

“We can literally say we have idea of people who intended to buy a car in the last five years and others who went ahead to purchase. We also know the sellers and their locations: their monthly sells and number of cars they have online. Such data are valuable even to the Government for taxation.

“Tax has remained a big source of revenue for the Government. There is a saying that what you can’t measure you can’t manage. It is also important to the insurance sector to have better understanding of the market and how to price their products.

Association of Car Dealers Award Received in 2016
“This was as a result of an analysis done by an international (independent) organisation. They came to Nigeria assessing online classified companies and wanted to understand who drives which verticals most. They looked at the auto verticals and the horizontal classified and we stood out on the side of quality and range. We boost as the best in the array of inventories, covering the 36 States in the country. In terms of quality, we boost of the best in-house risk management platform.

Plans for Cheki.com.ng Moving Forward
“Two things are on my mind. First, to deliver on our proposition to our buyers by giving them quality cars at the right price. We want them to know they have people to trust or interact with on the platform. On the sellers’ side, we want to consolidate on them improving sells. We don’t want to just remain as leas generators, rather a sales’ partner that will help them tie up the loose ends.
 

Leveraging Technology To Assist dealer- Cheki’s Virtual Showroom
“Every company needs to be flexible. By this time last year, and for the trajectory we were bullish and busy with restructuring the auto space, thinking that brand new cars were going to be the key drivers. So, the change in Government, the direction on auto policy is not clear yet.

“Even investors in the new cars have rolled back their investments. In other words, not much activities are taking place. So, Cheki needs to be flexible and focus more on used cars and no longer our growth plan for new cars. It is not really too bad for the new cars segment, but not as much as the business in the used cars segment. Therefore, used cars are our biggest opportunity. We are consolidating all our activities around that”, he said.

 

 

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ESET Targets 90% Cost Drop On IT Security Solution for Undergraduates

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ESET Nigeria has given more details on the recent partnership with the National Information Development Agency (NITDA) which intends to take information technology (IT) security awareness to the grassroot.

Mr. Olufemi Ake told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek how the initiative will assist individuals, especially students (in tertiary institutions), cut their IT security solution budget by 90%, while enabling ministries, departments and agencies of Government and organization combat cyber threats.

Mr. Ake explains-
ESET MoU with NITDA, What It’s all About

NITDA is a key Agency regulating government agencies and Nigeria’s cyber space as a whole. Basically, one of their key objectives is ensuring cyber security; which is mainly to ensure that our cyber space is ultimately secured. How do we achieve this? Of course, they can’t do it alone. NITDA does not produce or solve IT security problems by way of offering products; they are focused on regulations. So, as a Company, ESET solves cyber security issues. Most of our solutions are geared towards endpoint security, access management control, data management and preventions. We also have encryption solutions to ensure that people do not gain unauthorized access to your files. All these solutions will not be provided to government institutions, corporate entities and individuals; we will be working with NITDA to make these solutions available.

The partnership with NITDA is critical in developing frameworks, standards/guidelines for government institutions to work with to ensure they keep the best level security at information/data exchange. We want the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to see these data as critical resources at their disposals and the need to protect them.

So, the MoU has a two-part strategy. They are, first, to provide guidelines to Government Agencies on how to remain secured in the cyber space. The second part is the ESET Secure School Initiative. We jointly introduced the project to the public last Friday. The initiative is supposed to provide millions of free copies of ESET internet security solutions to the majority of students in Nigeria. We are aware that not all students have connected devices- tablets, laptop or smartphones, but as many as that have, we want them to stay (secured online). Once they show interest as a school or individual, we will get the solution across to them.

ESET views grassroot awareness as one of the ways to improve cyber security in Nigeria. On that basis, we are focusing on the academic environment. This will importantly raise the awareness and consciousness among the academia as they are heavily involved in researches, assignments and therefore generate huge data. If such data are compromised it will adversely impact the economy in general. So, the best way of defense is needed to ensure they do not experience malicious attacks on whatever they are presenting to the world.

We also want to have their channel of data exchange across sectors secured. For example, e-library and e-learning centres must be protected against malicious attacks.       

 

What Motivated ESET Towards the Partnership?  How Would You Rate Nigerian Companies’ Awareness and Competencies In Managing Cyber Security Issues?

In fact, banks and telecos have taken the lead in ensuring we are secured; especially the third party users. The information been exchanged in these two sectors are secured to a very large extent. However, what drove us into this partnership is the fact that Big Data, Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and the new trends in the IT world are really pushing cyber security to the extreme. IoT will unleash data in an unimaginable scale. Currently, there are big data downloaded to phones, tablets, and what have you; the length at which these data travel is very fast, especially when they hit the social media. Imagine if your device is very porous and the data is actually having a malware, and it’s downloaded, not minding how important it is, as it travels it generally affect the others who share it. So, out aim is to ensure that each data transmitted through the cyber space is secured.

NITDA is Focused On IT Regulations in Nigeria. Data Breaches have Been On The Front Burner In Nigeria; many Companies Have Lost Data, Fortunes To The Malicious Attackers, Now, What Is The Arrangement To Tackle Issues Even At Corporate Levels.

Apparently, we know that NITDA is an agency set for policy formulation and enforcements, therefore, we have existing policies in place such as the Cyber Security Law of 2015. However, we still have a majority of the institutions not keeping to these policies. How do we work with NITDA in this case? We will obviously point out some areas or holes we discovered while working with some of these institutions. Some of the market intelligent reports we have shall be provided to NITDA. The data will reinforce their drives and give them more key trends in the market to give critical assessment. For instance, they should know the ratio of organisations that are not conforming to thee rules. So, when they are about to enforce a framework in place they would have proven cases to support every claim against/for a particular organisation. That way, NITDA shall have the required data to exact authority in its clime. At the global level, we work with research organisations like the IDC Insights, BMI reports and we conduct surveys in the market as well. Through that we ascertain the pain-points of these organisations and provide consulting advisories to them. From the report we shall provide NITDA can provide the organisations with list of vendors to choose from, not necessarily ESET. That is what makes the partnership interest. But we will be proud to provide solutions to these organisations.

How Will The Solutions Assist Organsiations Overcome the malicious Attacks. Are They Preventive or Post-Attacks Cure?

It depends on situations. We have a solution called ESET Threat Intelligence (ETI); it scans through the cyber space for malware threats coming to you environment. So, it depends on what the company wants. The solution first collects asset from the company like the IP addresses, logos and whatever asset the company has to protect online. We will then be on alert and warn you on a potential threat coming your way. If we are going to provide that to NITDA, then we are looking at gathering all the IP addresses of the nation, which is not possible. But NITDA as an Agency will advise institutions on the authenticity of the solution should they require the network monitored and provide early warning signal. Basically, we are using the partnership with NITDA as a channel to reach out to institutions, corporate organizations and individuals.

We also have thee endpoint solutions- computers, tablets or mobile phones. Once an attack is launched to your specific computer, ESET will automatically flag and block it. As NITDA is providing the advisory to the agencies, those that will patronize us will get special offerings unlike coming directly to us.

The Focus On Awareness At The Grassroot: Why The Schools?

We are focusing on schools, because of the importance of that sector to the economy. We don’t expect the students to have enough resources to cater for their textbooks talk more of cyber security solutions. But they need them, especially with the growing malicious attacks. So, through ESET Secure schools we are not just giving our anti-virus solutions, but will deliver messages to them on why they need to be secured. First, the solution works for everybody, but when it comes to affordability, students are the least to buy. It is our CSR package for the students. Even when you come back to buy you get a discount of 20%. This based on our research and surveys on what students can afford. Aside that, we will offer them quarterly IT Security remote training.

 

With NITDA’s Partnership in Place, Are You Going To Sign Agreement With Individual Schools too?

The MoU agreement with NITDA covers the two scopes of the initiatives. And the DG wholeheartedly, welcomes the ideas. With that students can come to us with their school Identity cards and get about 90% discount for the first buy.

 

 

 

 

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