Category archives for: Technology

Djibouti: Telecom Ministries of Somalia and Djibouti Agree On Cooperation

Djibouti — The ministers of posts and telecommunications of Somalia and Djibouti, H.E. Abdi Ashur Hassan and H.E. Abdi Youssouf Sougueh, have issued a joint statement on a four-day official visit of Somalia minister to Djibouti.

The main purpose of the minister and his delegation’s four-day visit was to strengthen the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the areas of posts and telecommunications.

The following are the major points of the joint statement:

1.Recalling the submarine cable cut near Mogadishu landing station that severed international connectivity to a large geographic area in Somalia, the two ministries recognize the need for at least an additional submarine optical cable connection to Somalia. The two ministries agreed in principle to renew and move forward with the discussions Somali and Djibouti governments and Somali telecommunication carriers and Djibouti Telecom on the Djibouti African Regional Express (DARE) cable, which will connect Djibouti and Mombasa with many landing stations in Somalia.

2.The ministries agreed to promote and strengthen the cooperation between the ministries in number of areas, such as: regional interconnectivity, terrestrial optical fiber, cyber security, ICT regulations, cross border signals issues, spectrum management and numbering plan, etc.

3.The ministers agreed to convene a meeting between the officials of the two governments; Somalia carriers and Djibouti Telecom in the near future.

H.E. Abdi Ashur Hassan told that the recent submarine cable cut has proven that the recovering economy of Somalia urgently needs another cable for redundancy.

“To act proactively we need to move forward with the discussions of another cable. And Djibouti is a good partner in this regard because eight submarine fiber optic cables land in Djibouti,” added the minister.

END

Media and PR Office,

Ministry of Posts, Telecom & Technology

Djibouti

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Nigeria: MTN Seeks Greater Opportunities for Girls in ICT

By Adeyemi Adepetun

Mobile network operator, MTN has expressed support for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) global campaign to encourage more young women to consider careers in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry.

This follows the company’s realisation that they are critical to the sustainability of ICT in the country.

Its General Manager, Regulatory Affairs, Oyeronke Oyetunde, made the commitment yesterday at the celebration of the ‘International Girls in ICT Day 2017’ organised by ‘eBusiness Life’ magazine.

Commenting on the theme of this year’s campaign: “Expanding Horizons, Changing Attitudes,’ Oyetunde said empowering the female folk has become more urgent, especially as most countries now forecast shortage of skilled ICT professionals in the next decade.

“This is why it is even more important that we attract young women into the technology space, which will not only empower them, but also serve as a springboard to overcome cultural and social barriers that may prevent them from accessing life-changing opportunities.

“We need to create opportunities if we are to sustain healthy growth rates for the overall benefit of the industry,” she said.

She added that MTN’s support for the campaign was further motivated by the growing number of women in the company who are doing well in a field that used to be the exclusive preserve for men.

“In MTN, we have many women occupying leading, technology-based positions. For instance, Lynda Saint-Nwafor is MTN’s Chief Enterprise Business Officer.”

Nigeria

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Nigeria: Airtel Offers 100% Recharge Value As Bonus Data

By Oluwatosin Areo

Airtel Nigeria has launched the new SmartConnect package that is enriched with additional bonuses to give extra value to its customers.

This new SmartConnect package would give Airtel customers data bonus that commensurate with the total value of their recharge at the end of a calendar month, and also get eight times the value of every recharge, instantly, any time they recharge their lines.

The new package also called “Ovajara x8”, is the default prepaid plan specifically designed for new customers on the network.

According to Airtel, the newly packaged SmartConnect is conceived to empower more telecoms consumers to stay connected with friends, family members and business associates, also offering them an amazing mobile Internet experience as they engage the larger world.

The Chief Commercial Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Ahmad Mokhles, said Airtel is committed to creating value offerings that will enrich and transform the lives of Nigerians, noting that the SmartConnect value offering is practical and relevant just as it is designed to suit the lifestyle of telecom consumers.

“With the revamped SmartConnect package, Airtel is putting power in the hands of telecoms consumers so that they can do much more, achieve much more and actualize their dreams,” Mokhles said.

Speaking on how the SmartConnect 4.0 works, he said, when a customer buys a new SIM, registers and inserts it in a device, he/she begins to enjoy the ‘Ovajara’ 8 times bonus and in addition gets the total value of his recharge as data bonus by end of the month.

“For instance, if a customer recharges with N200, he/she gets N200 in his main account and receives a bonus of N500 for voice calls, N500 for data, with an additional N200 airtime to call family & friends, and an extra bonus of N200 for social (WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and BBM), which makes a total of N1600 airtime on every N200 recharge.

Nigeria

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Nigeria: ITU Report Suggests Surge in Mobile Broadband Subscriptions

By Bankole Orija

Mobile broadband subscriptions have grown over 20% annually in the last five years and are expected to reach 4.3 billion globally by the end of 2017.

This is according to the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU’s) ICT Facts and Figures 2017, which also shows a significant increase in broadband access and subscriptions, with China leading the way.

New data released by ITU shows 830 million young people are online, representing 80% of the youth population in 104 countries. The global ICT data shows youths (15- to 24-year-olds) are at the forefront of Internet adoption.

In least developed countries (LDCs), up to 35% of individuals using the Internet are aged 15-24, compared with 13% in developed countries and 23% globally. In China and India alone, up to 320 million young people use the Internet.

“ITU’s ICT Facts and Figures 2017 shows great strides are being made in expanding Internet access through the increased availability of broadband networks,” says ITU secretary general Houlin Zhao.

“Digital connectivity plays a critical role in bettering lives, as it opens the door to unprecedented knowledge, employment and financial opportunities for billions of people worldwide.”

Between 2012 and 2017, LDCs saw the highest growth-rate of mobile broadband subscriptions, says ITU. Despite this, it points out the number of mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in LDCs is the lowest globally at 23%.

The UN specialised agency notes the number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has increased by 9% annually in the last five years, with up to 330 million subscriptions added.

There has been an increase in high-speed fixed broadband subscriptions parallel to the growth in the number of fibre connections, it adds.

Most of the increase in high-speed fixed broadband subscriptions in developing countries can be attributed to China, which accounts for 80% of all fixed-broadband subscriptions at 10Mbit/s or above in the developing world, says ITU.

Mobile broadband prices, as a percentage of gross national income per capita, dropped by half between 2013 and 2016, the report shows, adding mobile broadband is more affordable than fixed broadband in most developing countries.

According to ITU, while the Internet user gender gap has narrowed in most regions since 2013, the proportion of men using the Internet remains slightly higher than the proportion of women using the Internet in two-thirds of countries worldwide.

It also emerged from the report that international Internet bandwidth grew by 32% between 2015 and 2016, with Africa registering an increase of 72% during this period, the highest of all regions.

Global telecommunication revenue declined by 4% from $2 trillion in 2014 to $1.9 trillion in 2015. Developing countries, which are home to 83% of the global population, generate 39% of the world’s telecommunication revenue.

ITU’s ICT Facts and Figures demonstrates that ICTs continue to play an increasingly critical role in achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals.

“ICTs continue to be a key enabler of economic and social development, bridging the digital divide and fostering an inclusive digital economy,” notes ITU telecommunication development bureau director Brahima Sanou.

Nigeria: Violation of Corporate Governance By Telcos to Attract Sanctions

By Adeyemi Adepetun

As part of measures targeted to safeguard the $68 billion investments in the telecommunications sector, the industry’s Code of Corporate Governance has become mandatory.

Although it became mandatory by November 2016, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said non-compliance with the code henceforth would be met with heavy sanctions.

In an interaction with journalists on Monday in Lagos, NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management (ECSM), Sunday Dare, said Nigeria’s telecommunications industry must be guided by global best practices, to sustain the investments and attract more, as such, the enforcement of the code becomes mandatory.

Dare, who explained that the Corporate Governance Code was introduced in 2012, which was then voluntary, said an agreement in the industry revalidated the code in 2014, and became mandatory by November 2016. “But henceforth, the Commission will monitor strict compliance with the code.”

He noted that if compliance to the code was properly monitored, “probably what happened to Etisalat, now 9mobile, might not have happened.” Dare, who alerted operators that compliance will be vigorously monitored, however said the code is not intended to micro manage any of the service providers.

According to him, while sanctions are inevitable for erring operators, “there will also be reward for good behaviour.” He argued that such codes are not peculiar to the telecommunications industry, as it was already in place in the banking sector, stock market, and a host of others.

Also speaking, the Chairman, Code of Corporate Governance Working Group, Felix Adeoye, said most of the telecommunications companies have gone beyond just being a private firm, to becoming somewhat public, “because they are holding peoples’ money. Some subscribers have up to N250, 000 Airtime on their phones, even above that. So, there must be constant check on them to ensure there is no abuse.”

Meanwhile, at the sensitization programme on the code yesterday, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umaru Danbatta, said the code will still pass through some modifications, based on contributions made by stakeholders at the programme.

Danbatta said the issue of sanction is usually the last option, stressing that there have been situations where telecoms operators ignore laws, “sanctions are regulatory actions and usually the last resort. We shall continue to engage the industry, because the sector is critical to the survival of the economy.”

To the Chairman, NCC Board, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, in his welcome address, the move is in line with the Federal Government Change mantra and the ease of doing business drive and is like the African leaders peer view mechanism and it is expected that the industry reaches a self-regulatory phase in the nearest future.

“The recent, rather unacceptable, events in the industry have also brought to the fore the need for Board Corporate governance and the commission has resolved to improve Economic Regulatory compliance and adherence to the Code of Corporate Goverance. As it is said, ‘once beaten is twice shy’,” he stated.

The NCC said it discovered significant deviations from the key principles contained in the Code, therefore, there was urgent need for all operators to fully align with these principles in order to ensure that the industry moved on the same trajectory.

Checks by The Guardian on the Code showed that compliance is mandatory for all licensees that meet one or more of a number of criteria. These are spread of operations of the licensee covering a minimum of three geo-political zones; turnover of the licensee is in excess of N1billion; the number of staff employed is in excess of 200, and where the licensee has a subscriber base of 500,000 or more.

In the area of tenure and re-election of directors, the code explained that to ensure continuity and injection of fresh ideas, a Director may serve on a board for a period of three terms of five years each. No director shall serve on any board for a period exceeding 15 years.

Subject to satisfactory performance and the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act(CAMA), all Directors shall be submitted for re-election at regular intervals of five years. In order to guide decision of shareholders, names and sufficient biographical details of Directors nominated for re-election should be accompanied by performance evaluation statement and any other relevant information.

The Code also mandated that companies are expected to present a fair, balanced, understandable and transparent assessment of the licensee’s position and prospects to external stakeholders.

“Boards should develop a corporate reporting model that is tailored to the needs of shareholders and other stakeholders.

Nigeria: NCC to Punish Telcos Over Pre-Registered SIM Cards

By Ugo Onwuaso

Nigerian Telecommunications Commission (NCC) has ordered mobile telecommunications firms to block pre-registered SIM cards, believed to be what criminals, especially kidnappers, armed robbers and fraudsters are using to perpetuate crime across the country.

Ismail Adedigba, NCC deputy director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, also warned that severe punishment awaits any provider whose network is still carrying pre-registered sim card

Adedigba, who chaired the commission’s 87th consumer outreach in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, frowned at complaints about the existence of pre-registered sim cards insisting that “I expected to hear that all sim cards are registered. But I have issues with Service Providers here, how did we get these pre-registered Sims to start with?

“I think your networks should have the total number of available lines and the total number of subscribers in your database, and as such you should be able to know which Sims age registered and those that are not registered and automatically deactivate those that are pre-registered and those that are not properly registered.

“But a situation where are still having pre-registered SIM cards with the advancement in technology today, is a surprise to me, and note that a severe punishment awaits any provider whose network is still carrying pre-registered SIM cards.”

The Deputy Director also urged the service providers to step up their services to save some of the frustrations their consumers are going through because of poor service delivery.

According to him, there is presently no known cancer case or any other health challenge traceable to telecommunication masts and asked the public to save themself the fear that the electro magnate radiation from the network equipment causes skin cancer or any other type of disease.

He said: “As at today, there is no health implication, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). So there is no health research and well-known health implication of mast as at today. You should not prevent the service provider from deploying masts.

The more masts we have, the better quality service we have.

“At the NCC, we believe consumer is the king in the palace market. Therefore, the consumer must accord basic rights such as rights to be heard, right to be educated, right to redress as well as right to safety.”

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Nigeria: Telecoms Sector Adds 1.3% to GDP in Two Years

By Adeyemi Adepetun

Telecommunications sector contributed 1.3 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 2015 and now.According to the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umaru Danbatta, the sector continues to contribute incrementally to the GDP of the nation, which currently stands at 9.8 per cent notwithstanding the impact of recession on investment flows.

He said the figure is against the 8.5 per cent recorded in 2015 and less than 1.00 per cent in 2001.The implication of this is that the sector continues to grow despite the several economic challenges facing the economy, and can attract further investments.

Danbatta, spoke in Lagos, at the Workshop on Code of Corporate Governance in the Telecommunications Sector. He said factoring in direct and indirect investment in the telecoms sector over the last 16 years, it has pulled in investment of over $68 billion and “when the GDP impact of these local and FDI are factored in, the contribution of the sector would even be higher than stated.”

Checks also showed that within the last 16 years, the country’s telephone lines increased from a meager 400,000 offered by Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) to 236 million connected lines of which about 147 million are active.Danbatta posited that to sustain the growth and contributions of the sector to the economy, it must be properly regulated.

According to the NCC EVC, the sector has been showing sterling performance due to the quality of regulatory oversight provided by the commission. He said sustaining the improvement in standards of international best practices will ensure that the sector is strongly positioned to play the facilitator or enabler role, which it has come to represent in the contemporary world economic ecosystem.

“As technology trends emerge to disrupt traditional economic order the sector must leverage strength to provide the backbone needed to ride the storm of the disruption on that evolution. All sectors of every national economy have become dependencies on Telecommunications and ICT, and failure in the sector would have far reaching negative ramifications and thus the onus is on the sector to build capacity to lead effectively,” he stated.

Danbatta recalled that in the last 16 years of the telecoms revolutions, many operators have fallen by the way side, largely owing to internal management issues than from technical challenges.

He stressed that as migrate more towards knowledge economy and higher level economy Infrastructure dependency on Internet and ICT support services it would no longer be desirable for such collapses to occur hence the need to sensitise operators on those observed poor corporate governance practices, which had contributed to failures in the past.

To the Chairman, NCC Board, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, the Corporate Goverance Code, will go a long way to strengthen sector’s investments.Durojaiye noted that the main purpose of corporate governance is to facilitate effective, entrepreneurial and prudent management that can deliver the strategic objectives of the organization using the systems, policies and procedures.

He said a governance operating model is the mechanism used by the Board and Management to translate the elements of the governance framework and policies into practice, procedures and job responsibilities with each organization.

According to him, the traits of good Corporate Governance would include hardwork; discipline, transparency, accountability, integrity and reputational risk, independence, fairness and corporate social responsibility.

Durojaiye, in his welcome address, the move is in line with the Federal Government Change mantra and the ease of doing business drive and is like the African leaders peer view mechanism and it is expected that the industry reaches a self-regulatory phase in the nearest future.

“The recent, rather unacceptable, events in the industry have also brought to the fore the need for Board Corporate governance and the commission has resolved to improve Economic Regulatory compliance and adherence to the Code of Corporate Goverance. As it is said, ‘once beaten is twice shy’,” he stated.

Zimbabwe: Telecoms Giant Launches Credit Scheme for Civil Servants

By Michael Tome

Mobile Network operator, Econet has launched a new credit scheme that will enable civil servants to acquire smartphones at zero deposit and a combo of monthly data and voice calls for $12 per month.

The scheme is open to teachers, nurses, doctors and all members of the uniformed forces. In a statement, Econet chief operating officer Fayaz King said this facility will enable civil servants to acquire smartphones at zero deposit and pay $12 instalments per month.

“We are excited to extend this offer to the members of the civil service and believe it will be great value for money. “We want to make smart phones available to civil servants at affordable monthly instalments while they are using the devices. The credit scheme will allow civil servants to get new smart phones and then pay as little as $12 per month,” Mr King said in the statement.

The company has also partnered with local companies GTel and Astro and will also be offering their data capable devices to the civil servants under the new scheme.

“We have partnered with local smart device companies GTel and Astro to sell the data — capable devices to civil servants and make monthly deductions directly through Salaries Services Bureau,” he said.

Zimbabwe

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Africa: New Research Could Help Reveal Who Is Buying Online Trafficking Ads

By Ellen Wulfhorst

New York — Automated techniques that may help locate children being sold for sex.

A U.S. researcher says she has developed automated ways to identify links between online sex trafficking ads and the digital currency Bitcoin, techniques that may help locate children being sold for sex.

Law enforcement and anti-trafficking groups could use the methods to investigate Backpage.com, an online classified advertising site where sex ads can be found, said a statement by the University of California Berkeley, where the research was based.

Some 1.5 million people in the United States are victims of trafficking, mostly for sexual exploitation, according to anti-trafficking groups.

Most sex trafficking victims are children, and most are advertised or sold online, according to a U.S. Senate subcommittee report released this year.

The new research uses an algorithm that analyzes writing styles to identify authors and could be applied to online trafficking ads, Rebecca Portnoff, its lead author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Thursday.

A second algorithm can use time stamps to trace ad payments to accounts, known as wallets, at Bitcoin, a web-based digital currency that allows money to move quickly and anonymously.

Comparing time stamps of ad purchases on Bitcoin and time stamps and information on Backpage ads could help identify who is paying for them, said Portnoff, a UC Berkeley doctoral candidate in computer science who developed the techniques as part of her dissertation.

“Where previously you might have five different phone numbers that you had no idea were connected, when you can see that they all came from the same wallets, that the same person paid for them, that’s a concrete sign that these five phone numbers are all related to each other,” she said.

“I knew this was an issue that law enforcement was especially interested in.”

Having automated style and time stamp analyses to identify sex ads by authors and Bitcoin owners is significant, said Damon McCoy, a New York University Tandon School of Engineering assistant professor of computer science and engineering and a co-author of the research.

“Any technique that can surface commonalities between ads and potentially shed light on the owners is a big boost for those working to curb exploitation,” McCoy said in a statement.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has said more than 70 percent of the reports it gets of trafficked children involve Backpage, based in Dallas, Texas.

Backpage did not respond to a request for comment.

The findings will be published by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, UC Berkeley said.

It said the work was funded by the Amazon Web Services Cloud Credits for Research Program, the technology and security firm Giant Oak, Google, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.

Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Astrid Zweynert @azweynert

Zimbabwe: Telecoms Regulatory Body Mulls Licencing Virtual Network Operators

By John Kachembere

The Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) is finalising licence guidelines for virtual network operators, opening the door for a new class of players who will act like retailers for telecom service providers.

Zimbabwe currently has three mobile network operators, Econet Wireless, Telecel Zimbabwe and NetOne and one fixed telecommunication operator, Telone.

Africom and Powertel are data networks operating limited mobile telecommunication services.

Government has, however, been under pressure to license new players such as South Africa’s MTN to allow for increased competition and improved services to subscribers.

POTRAZ said the country has limited spectrum to license new telecommunication companies and was working on various ways to accommodate new entrants into the sector.

“The current licensing regime is being reviewed to allow virtual network operators (VNOs) to participate in the sector, thereby opening up the sector to more players at the downstream level. This is meant to boost innovation and competition through adoption of open access policies,” POTRAZ director general, Gift Machengete, told The Financial Gazette.

A virtual network operator is a wireless communications service provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers.

According to international practices, the operator enters into a business agreement with an existing mobile network operator to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, and then sets retail prices independently.

A virtual network operator may use its own customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel, or it could employ the services of a mobile virtual network enabler.

Telecommunication experts assert that the entry of VNOs is expected to push down the cost of providing telecommunication services.

Machengete said the licensing of VNOs would also result in the country’s data tariffs significantly coming down.

Zimbabwe currently has one of the highest data tariffs in the region.

“We do believe that such VNOs and mobile virtual network operators will not only bring in additional competition to the market but will also bring about the much needed innovation and customer-centric service provision,” he said.

Mobile virtual network operators’ agreements with network operators date back to the 1990s, when the European telecoms market saw market liberalisation, new regulatory frameworks, better 2G network technology, and a subsequent jump in wireless subscriber numbers.

To date, there are over 1 017 virtual network operators across the world, with Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Australia, Denmark, Spain, Poland, Belgiumand Japan leading the way.

South African telecommunications expert, Themba Napakade, however, said government’s proposal to license VNOs would prejudice local mobile network operators that have already invested heavily in the sector.

“There is a case for mobile virtual network operators in a market that is saturated and developed, but then the case of developing countries, like Zimbabwe where you still battle to even get a proper signal and 2G or 3G let alone LTE, it does not make business sense for the operators to spend a lot of money and allow another entrant that will come in and disrupt their operations,” said Napakade, who runs a telecommunications consultancy in South Africa.

He pointed out that since virtual network operators do not own or invest in infrastructure such as the telecoms switches, radio network and signalling equipment, base stations, ancillary power infrastructure, rating engines and the human locator registers, the central repositories of all users or subscribers of an telecoms operator, they would prejudice those who have already invested.

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