Cost of Production Must Make Business Sense-Ekuwem
Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem is a thorough bred engineer with an undiluted passion for ICT. Ekuwem was once assistant director (Technical Services) in the Aviation Ministry, a fellow of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)/ Tril Programme.He is presently UNESCO’s ICTP (Trieste,) regional coordinator of the Nigerian Universities Network (NuNeT). Ekuwem spoke to
Local Content and Assessment of ICT
You will remember that we held recently a whole stakeholders forum on that topic. If it were not a serious topic, if it were not relevant to the growth of our country, we would not have organized a stakeholder’s forum on the topic.
If we want to own the industry; if we want to grip the industry firmly, if we want to contribute to the emergence of Nigeria as one of the first or top twenty countries by the year 2020; then we have to use ICT as one of the catalysts to lift Nigeria up to that position. The question is, what do we do in the industry? What are the tools of the industry? How many of the tools are made, designed or assembled in Nigeria? When you emphasize on Nigerian content development within the ICT sector, you are aiming at creating jobs and wealth; you are aiming at ensuring the sustenance of the industry. That means you have no control over, cannot be said to be yours. We are not talking about 100per cent control, it is about what I call, a symbiotic control in the sense that our foreign partners work in tandem with us so as to ensure the growth and sustainability of the industry. We use pieces of software in places such as banks, universities, corporate bodies like Teledom and so on. How many of these pieces of software that we use on a regular basis are developed in Nigeria? Are Nigerians competent enough to develop pieces of software that can be used in those establishments? All I can tell you for sure is that there is no software that we use today that cannot be developed by Nigerians. I hope we are not suffering from what Fela Anikulapo Kuti used to call ‘kolo mentality’ in the sense that we perceive imported goods as more superior to locally made ones. Are you telling me that good mobile phone casings cannot be produced in Nigeria? Are you telling me that even casings of the computer and TV antennae cannot be made here? They sure can. You must know that those companies abroad may not produce the totality of their products in their factories; they outsource them to their partners who are being paid for the services.
Who is Responsible?
First, the cost of production must make business sense. When you look at the cost of production in Asia and that in Nigeria, if it is cheaper in Nigeria, entrepreneurs will come to produce in Nigeria. Our duty then is to ensure that cost of production of goods in our country low. Electric power is to the national economy what food is to the human body. The national economy is as epileptic as it is today because its source of energy is epileptic. The day we get our bearings right, the day the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) wakes up and the day we make good availability of electric energy for use in the national economy; you will see an avalanche of creativity, you will see an outburst of development; you will see Nigerians design and manufacture things that meet international standards. So, infrastructure like electricity is contributing to the increase in the cost of production. Nigerians are not the smartest people in the world but we have individuals who have potentials and can be trained to be highly skilled in certain areas. I would say that the right policies must be formulated; there must be public awareness, support from government and an institutional or legal framework that would compel operators or entrepreneurs or companies within the industry to introduce a certain percentage of Nigerian content in their operations. So, policy, institutional and legal frameworks are all the things that need to be addressed to ensure that we can have Nigerian content sufficiently large within the ICT industry. If you have only skilled manpower, how are you going to come to terms with the technical complexities of the material that will be used? I can tell you that dearth of manpower is not peculiar to Nigeria; there are many countries in the world that share similar experiences with Nigeria. Am convinced that the moment government, the Nigerian public, the telecom companies, the operators, the regulatory bodies like NCC; show some commitment to the cause of Nigerian content development within the ICT sector, be rest assured that we will go a long way. In that case, it is the will for us to move forward.
SIM Registration and National Security
We can capture data. But we have to start from somewhere. We cannot because of the fact that we are having difficulties in authentication turn a blind eye on SIM pack abuse; anyone can walk into a shop and buy one then use it to commit fraud, make threat calls and so on. A phone with GPRS, with voice call, with web browsing facilities, is an access point into any nation’s information super highway.
With that phone and connection, you can have access into companies’ database and even wreak havoc. We should be able to match these phones which are the access points into Nigeria’s information super highway with particular individuals within Nigeria, otherwise there is danger. This point of access must be accounted for; its origin and ownership must be known. There is a high rate of threat calls according to police reports. Hired assassins and even kidnappers in the Niger-delta use their phones to carry out operations but those calls cannot be traced to anyone. In most countries in the world, SIM packs are being registered because they have realized it is necessary for national security.
Registering 30 million Subscribers
We will not say goodbye to the Nigerian national security because operators are uncooperative. ATCON is not a regulator but we work in close partnership with the regulatory body. We are not the National Assembly, we do not make laws; we only do professional advocacy and ensuring that with our expertise, the Nigerian public is well informed. Operators may not be willing to register SIM packs because it will lead to a decrease in the number they release. But we cannot for that reason joke with national security. They need not do these registrations themselves; they can outsource that to a small firm. As we said in ATCON press statement, a period of six months to one year will be given during which every subscriber would be documented. You can walk into the nearest service center and register his SIM; so there will be no hurrying.
Teledom Group will soon be 10 years. We are a broadband informational telecommunication infrastructure company. We started with wireless and we discovered that Nigeria being a developing country had a problem of good quality ICT infrastructure. During the time of NITEL you know how difficult it was to get a line. We then said ‘let us look for a technology that will be broadband, that will be scaleable, that will be easy to install and easy to dismantle’. So, Teledom International Limited’s core competence is broadband wireless, we are experts in that area. We have a software development company and we have IT mart that is a one stop infotech super store. We have had a lot of encouragement from Nigerians; we have been patronized by some very good corporate bodies in this country and we are quite gratified that we have grown the way we have grown. The next phase we are entering is that of local content via manufacturing.
CBN Pulls Rate Cut Trigger, King Dollar Returns
By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,
In a move that caught investors off-guard this week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) slashed interest rates by 100 basis points bringing the MPR to 11.5%. Given how inflation has been above target since 2015, rates were expected to remain unchanged for the rest of 2020 and possibly early 2021.
The question on the mind of many is whether the rate cut will achieve the desired effect by stimulating consumption and economic growth? Ongoing border closures and disruptions created by COVID-19 have pushed inflation to levels not seen since March 2018 above 13.20% while a drop in the production and price of Oil continues to rub salt into the wound. While looser monetary policy could support growth, it may come at the cost of rising inflation and weaker Naira.
Over the past few months, central banks across the globe have deployed unprecedented measures to defend their respective economies against the coronavirus menace. However, fiscal policy has been identified as the sharper tool with governments across the world providing a critical lifeline to keep the wheels of their respective economies rolling.
Outside of Nigeria, King Dollar made a return by appreciating against every single G10 currency. In times of uncertainty, everyone wants a juicy piece of the world’s most liquid currency. As coronavirus cases rise in Europe and other parts of the world, the flight to safety is likely to boost appetite for the Dollar. This is bad news for many emerging markets currencies, especially those with high Dollar-denominated debt.
On the commodity side, Oil prices remain heavily influenced by demand-side factors and the state of the global economy. Prices are likely to remain stuck around the $40 regions in the near term, especially If another round of possible lockdowns hit Oil demand. Looking at the technicals, WTI Crude is under pressure on the daily charts. If prices are unable to break away from the sticky $40 regions, the next key point of interest remains around $38. A weekly close above $41.50 could pave a path towards $43.
NCC Arrests Man for Hacking into DSTV System
Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), has arrested one Mr Aliu Olalekan, for allegedly hacking into DSTV system and watching the channels free without subscription.
Mr Matthew Ojo, NCC Director in the Lagos Directorate Office said this while speaking with newsmen in Lagos, on Tuesday.
He said that the suspect used to watch DSTV channels free without subscription on his Android phone via an app which he downloaded on google play store.
“This suspect distributed the know-how to his telegram followers and on his blog with the aim of gaining more followers and viewership on his blog and makes more money through google ad-sense.
“The operation was based on surveillance which had earlier been carried out by the Multi-choice team and verified by a copyright inspector, ” he said.
He added that the arrest was made in collaboration with a team of copyright inspectors led by the Head of Enforcement Department, Mr Charles Amudipe.
Others included; a team from Multichoice Nigeria led by Mr Umar Ibrahim and policemen from Lagos Command Headquarters, Ikeja.
Ojo said that the joint team conducted an anti-piracy operation at the premises of the culprit in Amukoko, Lagos.
According to him, the suspect was contacted on phone by a member of the operation team on the disguise of patronising him. “The suspect came out to meet the caller and in the process of discussion, he was apprehended.
“The suspect took the team to his resident. The squad paraded his one-room apartment and recovered his laptop and phones used in perpetrating the ungodly act. “He was arrested and brought to the copyright commission office for further investigation, ” he said.
Ojo said that, on getting to the commission’s office, the statement of the suspect was taken and the inventory of items seized from him taken. He said that investigation on the matter was still ongoing and if found guilty the suspect will be charged to court.
NCC, Digital Encode Support NITRA Innovative Tech Forum On Post-COVID-19 Strategies
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator and Digital Encode, Cybersecurity and Compliance advisory company, have indicated interest to partner with the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), the national umbrella body of ICT reporters, as it organizes a forum that will x-ray the industry’s future plans for ICT growth post pandemic era.
The event, slated to hold on October 15, 2020, will seek to discuss the needs for a fortified ICT sector after the COVID-19 era, and the level of preparedness of ICT stakeholders to embrace the challenge of being pivotal to the stability and growth of all other sectors.
A statement from NITRA National Secretariat in Lagos indicates that due to the pandemic and need to observe the COVID-19 protocol on social distancing, the event will be held via a Webinar.
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.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC is expected to deliver the keynote speech at the event and will throw more light on Federal Government’s plans, programmes and policies on post-pandemic strategies using ICT.
Dr. Adewale Obadare and Dr. Seyi Akindeinde, founders of Digital Encode, while accepting to support the event expressed their readiness to offer their expertise in Cybersecurity for organisations to prepare against cyber- attacks with the new normal.
They will also highlight areas that are high risks that need fortification in terms of cybersecurity.
Speaking on the event, Mr. Chike Onwuegbuchi, national chairman, NITRA, noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave its negative trails across the globe, economic reboot for countries will not only depend on how well they readapt to the new normal, but also more on their recovery plans.
According to him: “While the federal government has consistently expressed its willingness to set all policies in place to engender growth, and accelerated implementation of these policies, private sector firms have also shown great hunger for the task ahead in post-COVID-19 era.
However, the question that needs to be answered is whether all stakeholders are ready for the required task ahead.”
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.
Digital Encode is a multi-award winning and leading consulting and integration firm that specializes in the design, management, and security of business-critical networks, telecommunications environments and other Information Technology (IT) infrastructures.
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