Mohammed Rudman is the managing director of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN).
In his over a decade experience in the information and communications technology, Rudman has worked as network administrator in Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) from where he moved to Galaxy Backbone. He spoke to chike onwuegbuchi on how IXPN will help stimulate growth of local content on the internet.
Objective of IXPN in Keeping Local Traffic Local
Right now, almost all the providers are connected to our network and they are exchanging local traffic. First of all, we need to ask ourselves what is traffic?
Traffic is content. Even though big networks are connected, but they are just part of ‘iball’ networks.
Because if you divide the network into two, you will have people trying to browse, but what are they trying to browse? Content; so, the two, the end users and the content work together.
Presently, the content in Nigeria is low, even though we have huge network. So, networks that are iballs are the kinds of network we need in Nigeria.
They are networks that are heavy in content. We lack those contents heavy networks in Nigeria. Although the major network providers are connected, the traffic is not at its high capacity, because the content is not enough. We have very few content providers that are connected at our exchange point. For instance, we have Google. And Google is a network that provides content as well. The whole essence of coming together, even though some are idle, is that by the time we are together we can attract global content players to be part of the Nigerian network. At the same time, in coming together we are trying to see how those ISPs and telcos can provide value added services by hosting contents locally. It’s already happening.
Big data centers that were formally not available are now here with more coming on board. In April this year we organized an event on Local Internet Content aimed at bringing the ISPs, telecos, as the owners of the data centers, to engage them with the registrars of .ng and other registrars that are registering domains and hosting contents and even to the end users that generate contents like the iROKOtv and others; so that we can discuss issues on how to host contents in Nigeria.
So, there is an improvement in the exchange of traffic locally. We can see an annual growth of 300 to 400%.
Importance of the Local Internet Content Forum
After such engagements with stakeholders we usually come out with positions before implementations. The issue is that we do not see result immediately, but, I can say that from that event we have recorded immediate results.
The traffic at the exchange is increasing; we have seen major companies trying to shift ground from hosting abroad to hosting in Nigeria. One of them is Upper Link Limited which is the leading registrar in Nigeria. They have promised to migrate some of their servers into two Nigerian companies, because they have realized that those organizations have the data centers to host their contents.
They have signed their agreement. What we have to do now is to monitor if they have really moved their servers.
Secondly, we had discussions with the iROKOtv, the CEO is actually convinced towards the local hosting of contents. They are seriously thinking of replicating their serves into Nigeria to serve the Nigerian consumers.
Thirdly, the Ministry of Science and Technology is going to mandate all parastatals, ministries and agencies to register .ng and possibly host in the country and to have all email addresses that are locally driven. It is not going to be business as usual, especially for official purposes. Before now, we see government officials exchanging governments’ emails via personal emails.
I have seen a high ranked army official having Yahoomail on his call card, not as an additional mail, but it serves as his official email. So, from the event it was emphasized that by 2014 such emails should not be accepted in the government corridors.
As stakeholders, we do not make policies rather we brainstorm and make our positions known to the government and stakeholders, especially on how to digitize content; Nigeria has a lot of content. But the challenge is how to digitize and give access to them locally.
How Do We Digitize Contents
There are different techniques and organizations that are responsible for it. We need to find a way to achieve that.
And each ministry, department and agency (MDA) has to digitize themselves, so that one entity will not just be responsible for that. For instance, our universities have the responsibility to turn their libraries to e-books, projects and thesis of students at different levels.
That will enable other students across the globe to have access to it; that is huge content. These are huge contents that are seating on the floor of libraries of universities. In some cases, the contents are digitized, because nobody writes thesis now or projects with typewriters, so why can’t the school authorities start accepting the soft copies?
In the Immigration Service, they have started digitizing peoples’ passports, data, among others; the same thing with driver’s licence, these are processes that will generate digital contents for the country.
Also, the National Museum has a lot of information which should be readily available. Have you heard of the National War Museum (NWM) in Umuahia? I was there and amazed over the history of the war as depicted in the museum.
The tools used during the war and how they were used are there in the museum. But is there any website for that; I coincidentally got to know about the place.
There are a lot of artifacts there such as aircrafts, tankers, and images of tools manufactured locally by the Biafra Army. So, whose responsibility is it to digitizer this?
It falls under the purview of each of the MDAs to digitize what they have, whether old or new documents. Even some of our songs are going into extinction. We need to host them online as they are the contents we are referring to.
Eko Connect Project
It is about connecting schools. It is a project we are hoping to expand. At the same time, we are looking at how to bring other schools together. Presently, the Pan Atlantic University is now connected to the exchange; other higher educational institutions will join.
Earlier, we worked with Google, because the Google University Access programme is where and they are giving free bandwidth at the exchange point, but the substantial networking now is that National Universities Commission (NUC) has awarded the contract for National Educational and Research Network. About 27 Federal universities will be connected together.
We hope that part of the legs of the research institutions’ project will connect to the IXPN, so that other universities that are not connected will benefit from the interconnectivity.
Since we intend to be at the six geo-political zones, we hope to be the link that will connect the private universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, research institutions and other relevant organizations.
For Eko Connect, it entails small cluster of schools that have connected to the exchange. And other institutions that are not part of the cluster are getting connected now. The national and educational research network (NERN) is about connectivity.
When we talk about the exchange point, it is all about inter-connecting ISPs, telecos, content providers; to an extent we can still use the same platform to interconnect schools, and since the focus is on IP, you can communicate with each other.
Benefits Of Schools Connecting To NERN
It is mainly about collaborations on researches, exchange of ideas. Currently, you have schools conducting research on a particular subject and the other school conducting same research but for the same purpose. By the time they are together, they can put their resources together to conduct the same research.
It is a common phenomenon in Nigeria: students duplicate projects between one university and another.
But when all the projects are online, it will minimize such plagiarism. It will heighten the level of students’ interest in conducting research or writing projects.
When lecturers have access to all the projects and theses, it will be difficult to duplicate. With software that will be made available, it will be easy to detect when a student copies, even if it is a paragraph, just as it is in other developed countries.
Other benefits include, it gives them access to cheaper internet service; as they are coming together they buy internet in bulk. In the Nigerian ICT Forum there is what is called Bandwidth Consortium; it is about schools coming together, buy together so they can have negotiating power.
The economy of scale happens there. The whole idea of the internet started with the universities, why? They wanted to have the processing powers; one university may have supper computer, the other may not, so they share tools.
Doctors can collaborate and do surgeries. A lecturer from a particular university can give a lecture in another university without being physically present there. The possibilities are endless.
FG Offers to Support TStv to Relaunch with Pay per View Model
National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has pledged to give necessary support to TStv Africa as the indigenous digital satellite TV service begins full operation with pay per view model on October 1, 2020.
Professor Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of NBC, made the promise on Monday in Abuja when the management team of TStv paid him an official visit.
The visit was to inform him of the company‘s readiness to commence full operation across the country on October 1.
TStv Africa is a wholly-owned Nigerian innovative multi-channel outfit which had promised to operate a pay per view model for the benefit of Nigerians.
Idachaba said: “We promise on our side that we will continue to support you.
“At this time, I think that the major issue confronting the PayTv sector is the area of giving Nigerians option of deregulating purchasing capacity in terms of pay as you go concept.
“We believe this will give you the visibility if you remain committed to the idea.
“We welcome that option and wish that it serves as a stimulant and as a progressive index for other pay-TV operators to adopt.
“Some of them have come up with a lot of excuses why pay per view is difficult and why it is not doable.
“We want you to be the galvaniser to prove the naysayers wrong that this is doable in the interest of Nigerians.
“Once you begin and you make a success of it through increased subscription base, we are sure that others will be drawn into it as it happened in the telecommunication sector.”
Idachaba said the NBC is committed to promoting local participation in the nation’s broadcasting industry, especially in the pay-TV sector, to create jobs and provide diversity for Nigerians.
He acknowledged the challenges TStv had faced over the years and encouraged the company to remain focused.
“We are aware that it has been very challenging for you.
“All over the world dominant players will always want to remain in a dominant position.
” Those who want to survive will also have to take the courage to do so,” he said.
The Acting Director-General, however, admonished the firm to refrain from any activity that would give Nigeria a bad name.
“If you are acquiring rights, you must make sure that your rights are legitimately acquired.
“You must make sure you follow the rules of engagement strictly, study the broadcasting code strictly to have a robust future ahead of you,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Echefu Bright, managing director and CEO of TStv, said they were at the NBC to seek the commission’s support to have a peaceful roll out on October 1.
He said the outfit also visited the NBC to officially present samples of its decoders to the commission and thank the management for its support.
Bright gave an assurance that the novel pay per view concept was sacrosanct.
“The model is what we have experimented and implemented and it works and we have done everything we need to do for it Nigerians to benefit.
“Beyond that, we have enough boxes on ground that will cover the entire country,” he said.
Bright also gave an assurance that with the Oct.1 roll out, every part of the country would be covered.
“We currently have a dealership in virtually every state in Nigeria and as I speak to you now our goods are already with them for October 1 rollout. The coverage from day one will be across Nigeria,”
On sports products, he said the firm has Laliga as well as the FA Cup and Euro Cup 2021 rights.
Why Businesses Should Take a Long-term Approach to People, Product, and Customers
By Andrew Bourne, Region Manager, Africa, Zoho Corporation,
Business success is perceived differently today. Buzzwords like maximization, venture-backed, growth hacking, and well-conceived exit strategies (like IPOs or acquisitions) define entrepreneurial success in the current age. In a mad rush to show high quarter-on-quarter growth rates, corporate leaders have forgotten that the true value of a business is how long it stays relevant in the market and instead focus solely on transient growth spurts even if they cost profits.
Any business, no matter how big its initial success, needs to take a long-term approach if it’s to avoid being one of history’s almost-rans. This applies to every aspect of the business, including, people, products, and customers.
Invest in People
When you are a new company working on developing deep tech, discovering talent and retaining them is a challenge. Try to create and slowly nurture a pool of capable workers who will gain domain expertise over time. At Zoho, in order to sustain our long-term R&D efforts, we initially kept the teams small and worked with people who were committed to learn and understand the domain.
Patience is the key when you cultivate talent in-house. As people refine their skills and gain deeper domain knowledge, they gradually bring their learning to the business and build a solid offering that will stand the test of time. Ultimately, it’s the culture of experimental learning that you build which keeps you going and also motivates people to stick around for the long haul.
Build a product that can pivot and adapt
Equally important is to take a long-term approach to your product. You might be selling something simple today, but you need to be able to build on that. Take Amazon, for example. It started out selling books and gradually built out to become a trillion-dollar company. It hasn’t just focused on e-commerce either. Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud-computing division, keeps more than 40% of the internet up and running.
The lesson here is that long-term thinking isn’t just about having a product plan and sticking to it. It’s also about adapting to any future opportunities that present themselves. Whatever sector you operate in today, it will see disruptions sooner or later. If you can adapt to those changes, or find new opportunities in other sectors, you will be better placed for continued success than your competitors.
Keep up with customer expectations
Finally, you need to take a long-term approach to your customers. If you are constantly gaining new customers but not retaining them, you’re unlikely to see real success. Returning customers routinely spend more money on brands they’re loyal to. People are also more likely to recommend others to businesses they have had a good experience with. Simply put, it just makes business sense.
But taking a long-term focus with your customers isn’t just about the direct touch-points you have with them. Everything, including the software solutions you use, should have the customer at heart. For example, a unified tool which allows you to instantly see every interaction a customer’s had with your business (be it via voice, email, or chat), will put you in a much better position to serve them than trying to work with several different products.
Taking this long-term approach might feel overwhelming initially, but it’s much more likely to pay off than simply trying to survive from quarter to quarter. After all true success is built over time.
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.
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