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Broadband Missing in FG’s $2Bn Stimulus Package

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When do you think the Nigerian economy will improve?

The answers differ; to some the economy is already on the mend but others think it will take much longer. In all, there is no concrete sign to suggest early recovery for the Nigerian economy hobbled by reckless loose ranting and misplaced priorities.

For instance, the latest plan by the government to take $2billion from its oil windfall fund for an economic stimulus package is wrong.

The package is not focused enough to make an impact because while economic stimulus packages in other countries have targeted infrastructure projects, job creation, and tax cuts for small businesses, the federal government said it will spend half of her own package cash on clearing the debts of federal government contractors.

The rest of the money is to be handed out to states and local authorities, the same crop of politicians who are partly responsible for the present economic chaos because of their record of corruption and financial impropriety. 

Removing money from the fund which currently holds about $9 billion and set up as a way to protect Nigeria’s economy from unpredictable movements in the oil price may also backfire if recovery in the global economy suffers a setback.

Like all governments of the world, the federal government should stimulate Nigeria’s economy through massive funding of broadband Internet or at least create the enabling environment.

Broadband is the lifeline of many businesses and it is the only uncharted arm of the country’s burgeoning telecommunications industry.

Nigeria should take a cue from the United States of America which has initiated a $7 billion stimulus programme to narrow the digital gap.

But that is not likely to happen here, no thanks to the claims and counter charges that greeted the initial attempt by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to license four players to operate on the 2.3GHz band.

The 2.3GHz band is considered very important in the race leading up to the broadband revolution because it helps operators to provide mobile Internet that is potentially more transformative than any lone technological item.

It is about a new age in entertainment and communications, as well as a major boost for e-commerce. Voice will only be a value added service as opposed to what currently obtains in the telecom industry.

The irony is that the same government which is pumping $2 billion to improve her comatose economy is sitting idly as more than $2 billion investment in telecommunications and chance to “cheetah pole-vault” her economy is slipping away because of personalities clashes.

The clash over the 2.3GHz licensing began since April this year and is costing Nigeria dearly. With N5.6 billion for all the four spectrums on offer and a minimum investment of $500 million from each of the companies in the medium to long term in their nationwide rollout, Nigeria would have been insulated from the effect of the global recession.

The licensing process was entangled in controversy at the close of the bid when three companies: Mobitel Limited, Spectranet and Galaxy Wireless were said to have met the obligations and later Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) claimed that Galaxy Wireless did not pay up as at when due and allegedly attempted to replace them with Multilinks-Telkom.
 
Piqued by the torrents of the complaints, Dora Akunyili, minister of information and communications, cancelled the licenses citing improper bidding and auctioning process and ordered a fresh sale, a decision President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua upheld

While it lasted, the dispute threw up serious questions of fairness, accountability, transparency, due process and sad impression that public institutions cannot be trusted and that nothing is certain in official transactions.

And the immediate spin off of the web of confusion is the general lull in the telecom industry as investors watch with caution.

The general lull has also resulted in massive lay off of workers in the industry while vendors, suppliers and contractors bite their nails.

 

 


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ALTON, Medallion, CloudFlex Back NITRA’s Innovation Forum

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More companies have indicated interest in partnering with the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA), as the national umbrella body of ICT reporters accelerates plans towards hosting its annual Innovation Forum in Lagos.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Medallion Communication and CloudFlex have now joined the telecoms regulatory body, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Digital Encode as partners to the event scheduled to hold as a Webinar on October 15, 2020.

Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman ALTON, while accepting to support the event reiterated how telecommunications operators are helping in the realization of financial inclusion initiative of the central bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Engr. Adebayo, at the event, will also throw more light on other ways the sector is supporting organisations outside of ICT to reposition post pandemic.

The event will discuss the need for a fortified ICT sector after the COVID-19 era. It will also test the level of preparedness of ICT stakeholders to embrace the challenge of post-pandemic economy.

This year’s theme, “Multi-stakeholder Approach To National Recovery Post-Pandemic”, is in line with the annual event’s generic theme, ‘NITRA Innovative Tech Forum’, a contribution by NITRA to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) innovations and policies in Nigeria.

The event will also offer participating companies opportunities to publicize some of their individual efforts at contributing to reacting a soft landing or lifeline for SMEs and other ancillary companies as the pandemic threatens their survival.

Remi Adejumo, managing director, CloudFlex, will share insight into how cloud computing could assist organizations to navigate through the business challenges that have arisen due to the pandemic.

According to him, “Cloud computing offers scalability and reliability that cannot be matched by a single enterprise. Scalability with regards to expanding of the infrastructure which can be done immediately while in most organisations, this would take a 4-12 weeks endeavour.

“You can scale up or down as required. It is more reliable as the infrastructure tends to be bigger with more redundancy and it has the ability to swap out faulty parts quicker or to move away from a faulty platform smoothly with no interruption.”

CloudFlex Computing Limited, formerly Comercio Cloud Limited is Nigeria’s’ leading Enterprise local cloud service Provider. The firm is one of the top choices for Cloud Solutions and managed data services for local and global businesses with great ambitions.

The company offers Information Technology as a service (Cloud services, Co-location, Managed solutions, Backup services, Disaster Recovery etc.), and support for diverse infrastructure need by providing Industry-specific Solutions.

Medallion Communications Limited, one of Nigeria’s Interconnect exchange clearinghouses and data center operator, offering telecommunications infrastructure development and Value Added Services in Mobile Banking, Number Portability and Emergency Communications Services, will also play a big role as it gives direction to the future at the Webinar event.

A statement from the company notes that while most interconnect operators focus on only transiting of calls, Medallion’s model offers full financial settlement and reconciliation of interconnect traffic. This, it says, greatly eliminates interconnect indebtedness in the industry and leads to accurate and timely processing of interconnect charges.

The company also deploys a robust and efficient billing and settlement infrastructure that is transparent in the resolution of interconnect related billing issues, which will be one of the needs as the country expects heavy traffic both in data and call services occasioned by the need to go digital and online following the pandemic effects.


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NCC Board Chairman Alleges Threat to His life by Agents of DG

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Tonye Jaja, chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), has raised the alarm over alleged threat to his life by agents of John Asein, director general of the agency.

NCC Board Chairman Alleges Threat to His life by Agents of DG

He disclosed that an unnamed member of the NCC Governing Board had threatened his life through phone calls and SMS messages.

The Board Chairman, who made the claim in a statement, titled: “Notification of threats to my life and reputation in the line of duty as chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright Commission,” ‎said the development followed statements he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission as part of ongoing investigations into allegations against Asein. ‎

According to Jaja, Asein is being investigated over alleged conflict of interest and abuse of office, among other offences.

The chairman of the NCC Governing Board also alleged that Asein and his agents have vowed to destroy his reputation through publications in the media.

The statement read: “Yesterday, I received a verbal threat during a telephone call and an SMS from one member of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright (NCC).‎

“In a nutshell, he threatened that he will use online newspapers and other means to disgrace me and rubbish my reputation.

“His annoyance and threats is not an isolated incident, it is part of a coordinated onslaught of threats, publications of propaganda and other acts of reprisal targetted against me in my capacity as the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).

“The persons behind this have gone to the illegal extent of forging certain documents and leaking government official documents to Online newspapers in their desperate attempts at smearing my hard earned reputation.

“The Office of the Inspector-General of Police is currently investigating one of such incidences.

“All this smear campaign is because I ‎was invited by the Code of Conduct Bureau and the ICPC as part of their investigation of Mr John Asein the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) whom they are investigating for allegations of conflict of interest and abuse of office, etc.

“‎As a responsible and law-abiding citizen,  who could not disobey the invitation of the ICPC and the Code of Conduct Bureau, I went to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and deposed to an affidavit to confirm the veracity of the written and oral statements that I submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

“Instead of these persons to apply the same steps of going before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) or any other court of Justice in Nigeria to swear an affidavit and oath on the pain of perjury, in support of any statements they are making, they have resorted to peddling fake news, falsehood and false, unsubstantiated allegations through the pages of online newspapers and other social media platforms.

“In recent times, their anger and onslaught has intensified because their attempts to “kill” and “bury” the investigations proved abortive considering that the ICPC, the EFCC and the Code of Conduct Bureau continued with the investigations which they had previously in an online newspaper described as the petition against Mr. John Asein as jokers.’”

The Governing Board Chairman added that anybody who is sincerely interested in knowing and verifying the truth of the allegations against Asein can make Freedom of Information requests to the Department of State Services, ‎Chairman of the ICPC,‎ Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Inspector-General of Police through the Assistant Inspector General of Police in Charge of the Federal Investigations Bureau.

 


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Health Plus Accuses Foreign Firm of Attempt to Fraudulently Takeover Business

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Health Plus, a pharmaceutical company, has accused Alta Semper Capital, a foreign private equity firm (PEF), of a fraudulent attempt to take over its business.

Health Plus Accuses Foreign Firm of Attempt to Fraudulently Takeover Business

In a rejoinder to a press release earlier issued by the PEF, Health Plus dismissed the appointment of Chidi Okoro as chief transformation officer and the claim that Olubukunola Adewunmi George, chief executive officer, remains a director and shareholder

Health Plus stated that it entered into a five-year partnership with Alta Semper Capital in 2018 to inject fresh capital to further grow the business.

George, the rejoinder stated, was prepared to give PEF a controlling stake in order for them to realise their investment.

However, it added, PEF started working of schemes aimed at taking over the business after seeing the vastness of the Nigerian market.

PEF, according to Health Plus, deliberately starved the company of funds, neglected its obligations to the business, appointed Okoro as CTO and was running the company in utter disregard for George’s wishes.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors was said to have resigned two days ago while another director resigned five weeks ago over the debilitating effect of the impasse on the company.

The rejoinder stated that George had, in May 2020, instituted a suit at the Federal High Court (FHC/L/CS/609/2020) seeking to stop HealthPlus Africa Holdings Limited (the investment vehicle used by Alta Semper Capital and which they control) and their nominee directors from continuing to run and manage the company with disregard to her interests as a member of the Company.

After being served the court summons, PEF appealed for a mediation of the crisis outside court, a process frustrated after three meetings in three months.

Alta Semper thereafter filed an arbitration claim in England.

“Alta Semper’s latest actions, including the arbitration claim that it has now filed, constitute a serious affront to the authority of the Court seised of the suit, a desecration of the integrity of the Nigerian judicial system and a gross violation of Nigeria’s extant legislation.

“The General Public, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, our Staff, loyal Customers, Vendors, Landlords, Bankers and all Stakeholders are advised to totally disregard and ignore the earlier unauthorised Press Release from those who have no real stake in the Company, its employees or Nigeria.

“Mrs. Bukky George remains the Founder & CEO of the Company and is focused on preserving and growing this national treasure,” the rejoinder read.

 

 

 


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