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WTL Chosen for New OTT, VoIP Voice Service in Cameroon

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Cameroonians will soon have a new voice service offering inexpensive and high quality international calls and texts, thanks to pioneering work undertaken by World Telecom Labs (WTL) on behalf of iPLANS.
 
Established in 2006, iPLANS has established itself as one of Cameroon’s most reliable providers of IT software, hardware and hosting solutions.
 
Earlier this year iPLANS became the first new operator to be granted a voice license as part of the Government’s ‘Cameroon Digital 2020’ programme, which is aimed at improving connectivity across the country.

Cameroon has a population of 24.5 million and, according to the Budde research company, in 2016 penetration levels stood at 5.3% for fixed-line telephony, 18% for Internet users and 81% for Mobile (SIM) population.

The market is dominated by MTN Cameroon, Orange Cameroon and Nextell Cameroon, which is majority-owned by Viettel.
 
iPLANS decided to focus initially on making it easier and cheaper for people living, working and visiting Cameroon to make and send calls and texts to other countries, both within and outside Africa.
 
iPLANS developed perfectTalk, an OTT app and also set up numbers through which the VoIP service can be accessed.

As well as using the free app, people can pay for calls through the various mobile money services in the country, and pre-paid cards.
 
After a thorough search across the world for the best VoIP vendor, iPLANS chose WTL to help built its VoIP network. 

As well as using WTL’s multi-award winning VoIP switches, iPLANS has customised WTL’s web-based e-commerce portal –  “Pay & Call” – for automated customer creation and customer self-care.

This provides iPlan’s customers with a straightforward way to set up their accounts and manage payments online.
 
Since its launch, perfectTalk has been extremely well-received. In the near future, the service will also be available to the Cameroonian diaspora, particularly those in the UK, Belgium and US
 
Joseph Kamgue, CEO of iPLANS said “I firmly believe that we should develop innovative solutions to help our country grow here in Cameroon. This is the best way to build a culture of creation, education and skills.  However, sometimes we need help and this is where WTL comes in.

“QoS and user experience is critical to the success of our voice service and we chose WTL because of its expertise and experience in supporting large volumes of calls.”

Leigh Smith, MD of WTL, said “VoIP is now going mainstream in Africa with innovative companies like iPLANS leading the way. iPLANS knows its customers and has customised its offering for them.  This is a strategy which is proving to be very successful with users already choosing iPLANS over the OTT giants such as WhatsApp and WeChat.”

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world.

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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