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Telecom Colonization Imminent – Daranijo

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Sinari Daranijo, Chief Executive Officer, Elcomserve Nigeria Limited

Sinari Daranijo, Chief Executive Officer, Elcomserve Nigeria Limited – a conglomerate of Security, Telecom and IT professionals.
He is a highly successful unique individual with immeasurable business acumen and has accumulated diverse business portfolios ranging from International Business, Oil & Gas, Business Development, Commerce & Industry, Training & Development, Information Technology, Strategic Management and Safety with over 18 years of relevant experience.
He spoke to Peter Ugwu on the company’s newly invented Nigeria’s first instant messaging/chat platform – Simply Beep and the state of the nation’s telecom industry. 

Elcomserve in Nigeria’s Telecom Business
We have a mix of professionals to provide great solutions for the development of the country and the people.
And one of our major target areas is to make things easier for people on the global scale by using the telecommunication platform.
When telecom was liberalised in Nigeria we actually started by providing infrastructure, equipment like radios, antenna, masts etcetera.
Everything is in stages. After they achieved that feat, the next step was to maintain the existing infrastructure, so that clients and customers can have value for their money and speak to themselves.
So that after acquiring huge voice subscriptions, the SMS promos, text-to-win were inspired, and now the next level is providing service for value added creation which has given rise to increase in the use of data.
For us at Elcomserve, we thought that now that the world is going digital everyone will end up in the internet, whether we like it or not.
So, we considered having a data plan that will be all encompassing, a gate into the world. We discovered that these days the spirit of chatting is beginning to encompass and engulf the entire world – it is easier to be on an IM platform than being on an SMS one.
We also discovered that while the whole world is going ahead, talk about android, iPod, Africa is lagging behind a bit because of high poverty level.
However, the chat experience is presently only available on that higher level, so we thought, ‘what can we do to bring it lower?’, hence we have created a product called Simply Beep.
It is supposed to help people who are using ordinary phones to tap into the experience of the upper-class users of smartphones.
It will open up a huge avenue into the entire system. But of course we have our challenges, even the people who work with the network operators do not completely understand because they are all following the world trend.
We have statistics: out of about 100 million subscribers on all the GSM networks in Nigeria, only about 3 million have BlackBerry and other smart phones.
We have about 97 million others who do not possess a BlackBerry or Smartphone.
For the most part, we have concentrated on those at the top.
 We need to connect with those on the other end of the divide. So, we decided to do something that will allow more people to have access to chat platform, people like students, artisans, house wives, etc, they are willing and ready to chat.
Beep is already available for download with the MTN network and we are concluding talks with all other mobile network providers in the country.
 
Beep and Local Lingua
The product has local lingual significance.
The reason why it is deployed in local lingua is to separate us from the crowd. And it will actually make the product proudly Nigerian.
Our local Pidgin-English is also something now respected and subscribed to in some parts of the world, owing to our music and movie industry.
Therefore, our move is to capture that segment of the society and endear them to the product. The emoticons such as “Laugh wan kill me die”, “I beg wait” and “I dey vex,” are some of the unique features of Simply Beep.

Challenges
Although there are other competing brands in the market – they have higher-end products – not necessarily mass friendly and not directly pushed to the people.
The reason why it’s taking some time for us to leverage on our own product is because we are stepping into a market with a new experience, and by pulling these people into a new experience it now means that we need to throw the product directly to their phones, unlike those other competitors that subscribers have to download from the internet.
That is our strategy, but it was tough pushing the networks to understand what we are talking about, because all they can see is the upper class people.
We had to make them see that Nigerians are highly motivated people.

Economic Values
Now, when you look at it from the point of economic value, the social media is a very big platform.
Increasing the dissemination of information, helps two or more people engage in interaction, increases communal feelings, etc.
So, all the advantages of social media are what we are bringing to the fore, especially for those who won’t otherwise use data services.
Our underlying philosophy however, is: own something. We don’t create, own or produce anything as Africans.
Over 50 per cent of what we wear on our bodies is foreign made. And that is why we shall continue to have local content problems.
Shoprite is here and you are all excited, it is not your money! If you go there to shop, they take the money and develop their own countries.
Why can’t we build our own platforms? This is the age of social platform. And I am building this platform in pain, because banks don’t support me. Even the networks, it was a battle to make them buy into this.
And that is the story of Nigeria, even the government does not understand.
But we need to build platforms that are ours. It will checkmate capital flight, because presently, when N10 is plugged into Nigeria’s economy, N5 out of it leaves the country.

Nigeria in Telecom Market
The world telecommunication market is expanding.
The data accompanying all products pushed to Africa are being kept by foreign companies. The problem with Nigerians is that we are not creators; we would want to leverage on what everybody brings to us.
We can do something even better; something we can call our own.
If Nigeria can boast of a chat platform we hold as ours, rather than depend on outsiders, then it is the beginning of great things to come in the Nigerian telecommunications market.

Infrastructure
That is where the global village phenomenon comes in, because we are still battling with electricity and all that, what we have done is to partner RackSpace that hosts servers for many other companies in the world.
RackSpace keeps all our chats and everything.
There is a room in the cloud that is dedicated to us. Reason why we have gone to that level is to ensure we do not tell our subscribers stories.
The problem we are having with the network operators is their inability to see that this project is important for the nation, because local content is not always the best for the expatriate companies.
It’s just the way the oil companies operate; we need a lion-hearted Minister who will put it on the expatriate companies to align themselves with the domestic inventors.
Do we have government functionaries who understand what mobile application developers go through?

Human Resources
We need to have telecom people in government; those who understand the nitty-gritty of the business so as to harness the potentials.
Your software is nothing until it goes out to the public. Nigeria must do everything within our powers to run away from impending telecom colonization.
It is a serious issue; there is no sector that the foreigners are not dominating.
We need to have Nigerians hold some gates in the sector. They know it, but there is not enough passion to drive it.
We have the best of policies in place, but the implementation is the problem. You remember when the telecom market was initially liberalised, NITEL had 400,000 lines and owned all infrastructure associated with the industry.
The new private operators were begging NITEL (for infrastructure sharing), but now they have all built their own infrastructures and its NITEL through the government begging them (for accommodation).
So, the bigger you are, the less stress, because you don’t have to talk to anybody.    
  
Government’s Involvement  
The connection between government and the realities ends in speeches. We need to have people who feel the pain to make things happen.
We need the government and the industry to understand each other by communicating on a regular basis, so we can deliver a resultant technological effect to the people at the grassroots.     

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P&G Joins Force With Global Citizen to Combat Social Challenges with ‘ACTIVATE’ Series

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R-L: Temitope Iluyemi, Director, Government Relations and Policy, P&G Africa, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, Honourable Minister of Water Resources, showing a student in Abuja how to wash hands at the P&G & Safeguard's Soap's Global Hand Washing event held at Transcorp Hilton Abuja.

Procter & Gamble, leading manufacturer of consumer goods in Nigeria, recently hosted the screening of the sixth episode of the series, ACTIVATE, in commemoration of Global Hand Washing Day, to promote sanitation, hand washing and clean water in Nigeria.

The pre-screening of the documentary’s finale was held at the Transcorp Hilton hotel, in Abuja. The event, which was attended by notable stakeholders, was under the distinguished chairmanship of the Honorable Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Adamu, and served as a call to action for other global practices designed to create awareness and solutions for effective, sustainable change around the world. .

The ACTIVATE series – bolstered by custom content distributed across National Geographic’s unrivaled social, digital, linear and print channels – has its core focus on global challenges associated with extreme poverty, inequality and sustainability issues to mobilize people across the world to drive meaningful and lasting change. The six-part documentary series explores on-going major advocacy campaigns aimed to impact marginalized people in the world and is available on National Geographic in 172 countries and 43 languages.

In his keynote address, Engineer Suleiman Adamu, the Honourable Minister of Water Resources, said: “We need to prioritize hand washing and sanitation issues in Nigeria as it has enormous benefits for not just our environment but also improves quality of lives greatly.

“I have to commend P&G and its partners for this wonderful collaborative imitative and the assured support for such programs over the years. The Ministry of Water Resources wholly supports their effort and will continue to lend its voices in ways that are impactful.”

Commenting at the screening, the Director, Global Relations and Public Policty, P&G Africa, Temitope Iluyemi said, “At P&G, we are concerned with not just improving the well being of people directly through the quality of our products, but also believe strongly in impacting the lives of the people who live in the countries we operate.

“The Activate series is one of Procter & Gamble’s numerous demonstrations that people are at the forefront of why we do what we do. Our goal is to promote a global culture and raise awareness of the benefits of hand washing with soap Safe guarding our environment requires collective effort and we are happy to champion this cause and encourage as many people that are willing, to spread the message. ACTIVATE is the result of people going out there to do the work.”

Speaking on the strategic partnership to mobilize global action, Chebet Chikumbu, the Africa Director, Global Citizen, said; “From Mexico to Philippines to South Africa and Nigeria, global citizens fighting inequality and extreme poverty in a variety of ways. The ACTIVATE series is a tool for empowerment for players involved on different scales.

“We are empowering the poor by amplifying their voices and providing them a platform to tell their stories. As these stories are transmitted, we are also empowering the recipients of these messages to go out into the world to make a lasting change, motivated and inspired by the stories they have heard.”

In 2008, the initiative to promote sanitation through hand washing was launched with a Global Hand washing Day (GHD), and it is now celebrated every year on October 15. Following this, P&G Nigeria has also kick started another water based initiative, ‘STOP THE GERMS, NOT THE KIDS’, in partnership with Safeguard to promote hand washing amongst kids in Nigeria.

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iSON Technologies Wins National Water Company (KSA) Project

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iSON Technologies, the leading customer experience management solution provider with presence in Sub-Saharan Africa, has been awarded billing transformation project by the National Water Company in Saudi Arabia.

National Water Company (NWC) is a government-owned company established to provide water and wastewater services with world-class standards.

iSON Technologies will be providing advanced technological services to NWC in support of NWC in achieving its target of providing quality drinking water, effective water and wastewater connections in households, preserving natural water resources and the environment, and usage of Treated Sewage Effluent (TSE) with maximum efficiency.

The project involves the rollout of Oracle CCB in 11 Directorates across Saudi. This project is expected to deliver a significant increase in efficiency when it comes to delivering real-time usage-based billing platform.

Commenting on the award, Mr. Rahul Srivastava, CEO ISON Technologies, said, “This project reflects iSON’s core technical capabilities, innovative value proposition, competitive pricing and, more importantly, sustainable strategic approach. The Win demonstrates our position and ability to succeed in a highly competitive market.

Over time, iSON Technologies has made commendable strides in the Information Communication Industry with over a decade of experience in IT services implementation in Africa and Middle East. This project is an acknowledgment of iSON’s overall excellence, undaunted commitment and undiminished efforts in its relentless service through ICT to humanity and Nigeria.

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Glo Showers Goodies on Onitsha Indigenes at Azu Ofala Celebrations

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Many indigenes of Onitsha went home with unexpected goodies at this year’s Azu Ofala Festival. It was a fitting climax to a much revered annual festival that commenced a few days earlier with different activities. The goodies that the lucky Ofala revelers went home with included tricycles and LED television sets.

Live draws were held at the palace of the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, who also observed the draws. Dignitaries who took part in the draws included the wife of the Obi of Onitsha, Igwenwanyi Achebe; the Onowu of Onitsha, Chief Joseph Okey Ononye;  the 2019 Azu Ofala Special Guest of Honour, Hon. Zik Obi, and two other guests, Sir Chike Onyejekwe and Mrs. Ugodibeze Melumwa Obodoejina.

Others at the draw included palace chiefs and other dignitaries.  The lucky winners of a tricycle each were Ekpechi Henry, Okey Eneh; Ifeanyi Deluo Ike; Emeka Henry Chidi and Mofunanya Onochie.

Five other lucky indigenes went home with LED TV sets. Three of the five, Ebirim Akunna Cynthia, Ikechukwu Mmadular and Ogbunando Adaeze, were present at the arena to receive their prizes.

Globacom also gave cash awards to  winners of the age grade carnival competitions held at the arena. In the age grade competition for 1958 to 1980, Aghaedo Age Grade (1970 to 1972), Umuawele Age Grade (1974-1976) and Malunwanne Age Grade (1961 to 1963) came first, second and third respectively.

For the next category,  the Ndioma Age Grade (1956 to 1958), placed first, while Nwannebuife age grade (1952 to 1954) placed second and Nnebuife Age Grade (1956 to 1958)  placed third.

The age grades and winners of the Youth Carnival floats were presented with their cash prizes and the accompanying trophies at the Ofala Royal Banquet organised by Globacom in honour of the Onitsha monarch, on Monday at Dolly Hills Hotels, Onitsha.

The beneficiaries of the goodies expressed their gratitude to Globacom. One of them, Ekpechi Henry, said he appreciated the gesture because it is not “everyone that promises that can deliver”.

Another keke winner, Okey Eneh, said, “Globacom has demonstrated again that it cares and loves the people. I participated a couple of times and I am happy to show it to everybody that the Glo Ofala raffle is real”.

Globacom has sponsored the Onitsha Ofala Festival since 2011. The company has over the last nine years of its sponsorship of the festival, introduced many innovations in the celebrations and has promoted the age grade competitions and the youth carnival floats to a spectacular level.

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