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Disaster Management: Emergency Communications Centres to the Rescue

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Federal executive council recently approved the release of N2.4bilion for the commencement of Emergency Communications centre project across the country, setting the pace for full take off of the project four years after it was conceived.
Emergence Communications Centres is an initiative of the federal government under the ministry of information and Communications. The centres are designed to offer Nigerians in distressed situation assistance by them making a call through to the centre on its code and the centre will respond with rescue depending on the nature of the distress.
The country has a poor record of disaster management in spite of the establishment of various agencies whose primary responsibility is to effectively respond to disaster whenever and wherever it happens, with the view to assisting the victims.
Among these agencies include the police, fire service, road safety and above all National Emergence Management Agency (Nema) established in 1999 to coordinate activities of all disaster management agencies in the country.
On January 27 2002, Lagos state experienced what many described as the worst disaster in the history when the Ikeja army cantonment went into flames which resulted in the loss of many lives. It is perhaps regrettable that greater percentage of Nigerians that died as a result of that incident were not killed by the exploded bomb but due to the fear of uncertainty, as they were not adequately informed about what was going on. Many thought that Nigeria was under attack by external force and in the process of running for dear lives, they met their untimely death by jumping into the canal. Observers believe that if people were informed either through radio or television on the cause of the explosion many lives would have been saved in that disaster. Few years after this unfortunate incident, Nigeria’s level of preparedness for disaster management was put to test again when on October 22, 2005, a Bellview Airline crashed at Lisa village, Ogun state. It took over 24 hours to locate the crashed airline and by the time this was done, the entire passenger on board had died. On December 10, same year, a Sosoliso jetline crashed within the perimeter walls of Port Harcourt Airline, consuming, in its wake, 110 Nigerians, including 62 children. The Airport Fire Service was not able to save any live from the resulting inferno owing malfunctioning of equipment. These are many other occurrences that have exposed the level of decay in the country’s emergence management institutions. It is against this backdrop and in an effort to strength these institution as well as provide a more effective means of emergence management that federal government through ministry of information and communications directed Nigerian Communication centres for the country.
Emergence Communications Centre
Emergence Communications Centres is an initiative of the federal government under the ministry of information and Communications. The minister in August 2005 set up a committee headed by Mr. Steven Bello of Nigerian Communications Commission. Other members include Mr. F.Y. Daudu, ministry of Communications as secretary, Mr. Balarabe Gambo, National Emergence Management Agency, representatives of the police and Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (Nitel), as well Mr. Chioke Ogugua representing telecommunications operators in the country.
The committee was to determine the organizational framework and administrative structure that will be required to establish and operate a public protection communications system; recommend a suitable telephone number that will be assigned for distressed call all over the country; as well as recommend means of funding for the scheme to ensure that it is self, sustaining and independent of government funding or budgetary allocations.
The committee was also to recommend a frequency or frequencies that should be reserved to communicate with the centre; to determine, if there is any legislative or enactment required in order to give legal backing to any of the recommendations made; and recommend modalities for its implementation.
The committee was given four weeks to submit its reports to the federal executive council. Upon the rectification of the report, NCC was directed to implement the recommendation on the establishment of the National Emergency Communications Centre.
Implementation effort
As apart of its implementation plans, NCC mapped out four levels of interaction on the establishment of the centres. These includes interaction with equipment vendors such as Nokia, Siemens among others that will be supplying equipment that will be used in the centres, telecommunication operators, civil society agencies responsible for disaster management as well as state governments that are going to provide land for the communication centres.
At the interactive session with telecommunications service operators held in Lagos, Mr. Steven Bello, executive commissioner, NCC, explained that the emergency service code is usually an all service number that can be called in any situations where state-run emergency service are needed.
Bello noted that the interaction with operators was to discuss the requirement for the interconnectivity of such centres which is based on Geographical Information System (GIS). According to him, the commission wants the operators to be able to send some information about the subscribers that are dialing 119 distress codes in case of emergency.
“We want to get where the co-ordinate of the cell site from which the call is coming from, we want to get the telephone number if possible the caller’s state and local government. Once we get this information, we can use it to query our data base which we are about compiling, from there we will be able to get the nearest response agency close to the victim, he said.
He cited instance of people who get into distress in places where they don’t know anybody or telephone number of closest police station, ambulance or other emergence response agencies. Such people, he said, can dial the three digit number, which will direct the person to an emergency communications centre nearest to him, and from there the person will be directed to the nearest response agency that can help him.
Apart from this, each of the centres would have standby ambulance and other infrastructure like a borehole to take care of some disasters. “We will have fuel deport in the emergency communication centre so that the police vehicles or ambulance stationed at the centre will not complain they don’t have fuel to move when it’s being called,” Bello said. “We are going to provide all the necessary infrastructure, in fact, in the emergency communications centres we will also provide helicopter landing park so that the states that have helicopters such as Abuja and Kaduna can make use of it when there is need for the helicopter to go and rescue somebody who is in a place that is not accessible.” All the emergency calls are going to be toll free from all network operators in the country.
In line with the recommendation of the committee on the method of financing the communications centres so that it will not depend on budgetary allocation. Bello said they are looking at a similar system in United States of America where one percent in every call made is taxed to finance the centre.
Having realized the need to partner relevant agencies in the establishment of these centres, Bello said NCC would collaborate with Nema in the implementation of the scheme.
He said this explained the presence of Mr. Daniel Gambo, deputy director, communications, Nema, at the interaction with telecoms operators on the initiative.
Gambo said they intend to engage the services of experts in disaster reduction and management.
Mr. Samuel Ucheaga, managing director, Mavis Computel Nigeria, the consulting company for the scheme, said there is going to be a legislation that will prescribe penalty for phones identified to have made calls or send short message service that is not meant for emergency situation to the code. The penalty, he said will be to block such phone line.
He explained that they are also going to establish a smooth communications between distress caller and the administrators in the emergency centres.
Ucheaga also noted that the emergency communications centres are going to interface with switches of telecommunications operators to ensure that calls are not delayed in anyway.
NCC has so far gotten land allocation from four state governments which include, Taraba, Plateau, Kwara and Kaduna. The project is likely going to take off in Abuja.

 

 


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HMD Brings Significant Step Change to its Smartphone Category

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HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, has announced two new additions to its entry-level smartphone family, the Nokia 3.4 and Nokia 2.4, a new accessories range and HMD Connect Pro offering enterprises a secure and transparent global data roaming service.

The diverse range of launches further solidifies the company’s transformation into a holistic mobile device and service provider.

Florian Seiche, Chief Executive Officer, HMD Global said: “Without doubt, this has been an eventful year for everyone, and our hearts go out to those that have been impacted by the circumstances of 2020. For us, it’s truly been a transformational year, and we’ve adapted to the changing times.

“I am extremely excited to broaden our value-add services for enterprise with the introduction of HMD Connect Pro, offering unprecedented levels of flexibility and security. The Nokia 3.4 and Nokia 2.4 are important new updates to our core value smartphone range. I am very proud to see the truly future-proof 5G experience of our Nokia 8.3 5G reaching the hands of consumers starting from today, and excited for our partnership with No Time To Die – proving a Nokia phone really is the only gadget you’ll ever need.”

Introducing the latest additions to the Nokia smartphone family

The new Nokia 2.4 comes with AI imaging, two days’ worth of battery life and a large HD+ screen. For those looking for more, the Nokia 3.4 offers an advanced triple camera with ultra-wide lens, a serious performance upgrade and more screen real estate thanks to the punch-hole screen.

Holding true to always delivering maximum innovation at great value, the two new smartphones are entry-level marvels, offering great value experiences. With modern features and stunning design in a more accessible, Android-powered future-proof package, these phones are perfect for those seeking out affordable, long-lasting purchases.

Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer and Vice President of North America, HMD Global: “It’s no secret that consumers around the world have become more mindful about their spending and are opting for less expensive, more long-lasting products from brands they know and trust. It’s therefore more crucial than ever that our products stand the test of time – and our commitment to delivering reliable and trustworthy Nokia phones remains unswerving.

“That’s why we’re broadening our entry-level smartphone family with the new Nokia 3.4 and Nokia 2.4, offering reliable software and hardware that Nokia phone fans have come to know and love, fresh experiences and premium design that you can be proud of – at prices that are accessible.

“Always inspired by our Finnish roots, with these latest additions we’re introducing a fresh colour palette to the portfolio through new earthy tones with dazzling finishes, taking our design another step closer to home.”

Nokia 2.4

The next generation Nokia 2 brings modern essentials like advanced AI imaging giving you dedicated Night mode and Portrait Editor that lets you art direct your world with its custom shapes and blurred backgrounds – even after you’ve taken your shot; a convenient fingerprint sensor and AI face unlock, offering effortless access and added security, in a durable design that’s not only built to look good but also to last.

Watch, learn and create on the large 6.5” HD+ screen and, thanks to its two-day battery life1, you’re free to enjoy your favourite apps and games for longer. Plus, the Nokia 2.4 comes with our Android promise, giving you three years of monthly security updates and two years of OS updates, meaning it’s ready for Android 11 and 12.

Nokia 3.4

The new Nokia 3.4 offers a serious performance upgrade thanks to the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 460 Mobile Platform giving you more power to get the best out of your phone.

Take your creativity to the next level with a large 6.39” HD+ screen with a punch-hole front camera and a mighty triple rear camera with an ultra-wide lens and AI imaging. The Nokia 3.4 comes with Android 10 OS and the Nokia smartphone Android promise, receiving years of security and software upgrades.

All of this powered by the signature two-day battery life and wrapped up in a premium timeless design that comes in three new vibrant, living colours, inspired by Nordic nature, delivering style with durability that’s true to its Finnish roots.

Nokia 8.3 5G goes on sale globally

Today also marks the global sales start of the highly anticipated Nokia 8.3 5G. Showcasing the commitment to security, speed and innovation by meeting the demands of the world’s toughest customers – MI6 agents – the Nokia 8.3 5G is the smartphone of choice by the newest 00 agent in the upcoming James Bond movie No Time To Die, premiering this November.

Featuring a powerful PureView quad-camera with ZEISS optics giving you immersive movie-like shots with ZEISS Cinema effects and OZO audio, the Nokia 8.3 5G is the ideal smartphone for those who want to elevate their creativity.

Designed to support multiple and evolving 5G network deployments, the Nokia 8.3 5G condenses more than 40 different RF components into a single module, making it not only a global device but also a future-proof smartphone which is ready for the next step in 5G.

The Nokia 8.3 5G begins to go on sale globally from today starting at a global average price of 599 EUR. Additionally, all Nokia 8.3 5G owners will receive a free 6-month trial of Google One. Capture and edit on the go with faster upload speeds and an additional 100GB of online storage across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos – an all-in-one membership that can be shared with up to five additional people.

Lashana Lynch, who plays 00 agent Nomi in No Time To Die, said: “The world we live in now means we all have the ultimate gadget in our pockets and it’s amazing what smartphones can do nowadays. It’s exciting to be unveiling this new smartphone to celebrate the release of No Time To Die in November, and the Nokia 8.3 5G is proof that Bond gadgets are always ahead of the game.”

Introducing a range of new accessories: inspired by nature, packaged to protect it

Also launching is a range of new Nokia-branded audio accessories featuring the Nokia Earbuds Lite, and a brand-new Nokia Portable Wireless Speaker with integrated microphone – the first in the portfolio – and new protective cases. The new accessories are all wrapped up in sustainable packaging made from 100% recyclable paper, taking the company one step closer towards reducing the environmental impact of its business and products.

Alexander Lambeek, Global Head of Accessories, HMD Global:  “Our commitment to delivering premium experiences at accessible price points extends beyond phones. Today we’re bringing the same quality you would expect from a Nokia phone to our new range of accessories.

“We are proud to introduce an entire mobile open ecosystem of companion products bringing exceptional functionality in a familiar design that our fans know and love, all wrapped up in eco-friendly packaging. We always listen to what our customers are after and take feedback as key component in product development.

“The new accessory range has been no exception to this – people are exercising outdoors more than before, so we made sure to make our earbuds waterproof; they have also become more mindful of what they’re buying, in terms of both cost and sustainability, so we made sure to keep the prices accessible and packaged everything in 100% recyclable paper.“

Nokia Power Earbuds Lite

The new Nokia Power Earbuds Lite let you take your favourite songs with you wherever you go offering 35h of play time and comfortable design with intuitive touch control giving you easy navigation whether it’s taking calls or skipping tracks.

The IPX7 certification will make them waterproof up to 1m for 30 minutes, meaning you can break a sweat in the gym or run in the rain worry-free, whilst the 6mm graphene speaker drivers give you clear-cut sound.

The original Nokia Power Earbuds are being refreshed with two new colours – Polar Night, inspired by the Nokia 8.3 5G, and a fresh new colour – Mint.

Nokia Portable Wireless Speaker

The Nokia Portable Wireless Speaker is designed to be truly portable and will give you up to 4h of play time, while the integrated microphone will make group calls on the go easier than ever. You can also pair two speakers for high quality stereo audio output. Just like all our audio devices, it comes with universal Bluetooth 5.0 compatibility, so you can connect to all your devices, whatever the brand.

Protection and support for your Nokia smartphone

The new accessory range also includes:

  • Nokia Clear Case – for your Nokia 2.4, Nokia 3.4 and Nokia 8.3 5G – offering increased impact protection and enhanced handling via easy-grip material whilst the seamless ultra-slim lightweight design allows you to showcase your phone’s beautiful design.
  • Nokia Entertainment Flip Cover for Nokia 3.4 with vegan leather delivers a functional solution for those who want more from their phone case – overall protection, screen cover, card storage and a foldable entertainment stand.

HMD Connect Pro: a secure and transparent global roaming SIM solution for enterprises

In a move that further diversifies the company’s services offering, HMD Global today announces HMD Connect Pro. Offering an easier way to stay connected across the globe, HMD Connect Pro offers an easier way for businesses to keep their smartphones and other devices connected across the globe in a secure and transparent way.

The service offers centralised SIM management, giving total control and fraud prevention, with securely routed real-time usage information, live diagnostics and troubleshooting.

With over 600 networks across 160 countries, HMD Connect Pro provides full flexibility, transparent and extremely competitive billing and a simple yet robust SIM management console at rates that match your usage needs regardless of how many countries your business operates in.


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4G Advancement in Ethiopia: A Milestone in the Country’s Telecom Landscape

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By Abiye Yeshitila

Ethiopia is on the verge of massive digital transformation, as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, which is being led by consumers who, today, have access to more devices and are more connected than ever.

The ICT market in Ethiopia is constantly evolving, and telecommunication providers have to offer products and services that meet their customers’ demand for high speed data connectivity.

The first months of 2020 saw the spread of a novel coronavirus around the globe. Subsequent behavioral changes due to lockdown restrictions caused measurable changes in the usage of both fixed and mobile networks.

In Ethiopia, access to mobile communication has expanded rapidly. Proliferation of smartphones and tablets have increased data traffic exponentially, driven by the rise of video content. Explosion of mobile broadband is set to create new demand and an upsurge in household consumption of mobile internet is expected to provide continued impetus to the sector.

Enabling broadband connectivity for all is a basic human right and we know that for every 1000 new broadband connections, 80 new jobs are created (Ericsson and Arthur D. Little). A 10% increase in mobile broadband adoption secures 0.6-2.8% GDP growth (Ericsson and Imperial College) and a doubling of average achieved broadband speed generates an additional 0.3% GDP growth (Ericsson, Arthur D. Little, Chalmers University).

To keep up with increasing demand for data capacity, service providers need a fast solution. They are playing a key role in enhancing networks and paving the way for next generation of mobile connectivity.

Faced with limited spectrum assets and a need to provide the best user-quality network, many service providers have launched 4G LTE networks. LTE simplified the network and increased spectral efficiency significantly while driving down costs. It is the first mobile system that is designed for mobile broadband from the start. Some of the use cases it has enabled include:

  • Enhanced local-area access through network densification
  • Machine-type communications, providing efficient connections for non-human centric such as burglar alarms, power meters etc.
  • Device-to-device communications, where direct communication between wireless devices is enabled in a peer-to-peer mode

Consumer devices dominate for 4G. Despite strong initial hope for laptops as a driving device, it was the app-enabled smart phone that became the killer device. Mobile phones have moved from a communication-centric device to a multi-purpose smart personal companion. Smartphones will continue to see growth and more data-centric offerings are forecast to enter the market.

The latest mobility data shows that LTE accounted for around 11% of subscriptions in 2019 in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile broadband subscriptions are predicted to increase, reaching 72% percent of mobile subscriptions by 2025. LTE share will reach around 30% by the end of the forecast period, and LTE subscriptions are set to triple, increasing from 90 million in 2019 to 270 million in 2025.

Championing current demand, 4G brings major improvements in terms of coverage and capacity, offering download and upload speeds many times greater than those achievable with earlier technologies. In addition, support for Machine-Type Communications (MTC) and Internet of Things (IoT) in cellular networks is being drastically improved with the launch of 4G LTE.

Ericsson’s services, software and infrastructure – especially in mobility, broadband and the cloud – are enabling the telecom industry and other sectors to do better business, increase efficiency, improve the user experience and capture new opportunities. We have done business in Ethiopia for a long time – since the sales of telephone receivers commenced in 1894.

Ericsson is devoted to support the development of Ethiopia’s telecom industry, leveraging our global expertise and technology leadership. We are working together with service providers in Ethiopia to ensure rewarding new user experiences for Ethiopian consumers in the new connectivity era as part of our mission to empower Africa’s technology-enabled economies and keep #AfricaInMotion.

What consumers want

Consumers have gone through a massive digital evolution in a short span of time and people today are staying online longer than ever before.

Our go-to technology devices have progressed from PCs to smartphones and communication has grown from voice to video and social networking services. Today, people are prone to behavior that involves reduced human interaction, with the advent of technological options such as e-shopping, e-selfcare and e-billing, to name a few.

The new consumer of today demands a seamless online experience across all the fronts whether it is a smartphone, a tablet, or other devices.

The 4G network in Ethiopia’s capital offers mobile users with faster data speeds, high-quality video conferencing and faster response times when using mobile applications or accessing the internet. It also helped service providers meet demand for mobile data, which is rising every year as customers move to adopt data-hungry smartphones, mobile modems and tablets. Hence, there are plans to expand LTE across the country.

A steady upsurge in numbers for smartphone subscriptions and mobile traffic is the norm in the mobile sector. LTE for mobile and fiber optics for fixed connections are becoming widespread and this has led to the introduction of innovative connectivity bundles for voice and data. Demand and usage of digital services like OTT video, smart home, financial services, e-health, e-education is also on the rise.

It has been stated that the mobile industry in Ethiopia is a key contributor to the country’s economy and enables new economic activity in other sectors. As wireless connectivity enables business to be done on the go, it allows information and services to be access anywhere, and will create new services and industries.

Abiye Yeshitila is Account Manager at Ericsson Ethiopia


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Aptive Capital Dangles $10,000 Equity-Investment in Three African Startups

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Aptive Capital, a US-based Venture Capital (VC), has announced its investment in three early-stage businesses in Africa; Nigeria, and Uganda.

Earlier in June 2020, the Africa-focused investment company opened up applications to invest $10,000 equity capital into eligible and high potential startups based in Africa, from its $1 million portfolio fund.

The application, which ran for a month, had over 500 entries from high growth companies with very impressive founders across Africa.

After thorough phases of scrutiny and submission reviews by investment professionals, three startups were selected for the early-stage funding.

Speaking on the investment, Dr Ben Peter, managing partner at Aptive Capital said, “We had lots of entries from impressive founders across Africa who showed so much enthusiasm and had amazing solutions.

“We’ve settled for these three, not because they are the best, but because we believe their visions as impact-led companies directly align with our goals to promote measurable and innovative social causes in Africa.

“Our team has kick started support for these energetic companies who believe the solutions they are proffering will solve the continent’s most daunting problems. This is what Aptive Capital is committed to doing.”

According to the organisation, the criteria which determine the selection include; early-stage business, evidence of impact, founding team, uniqueness of the solution, traction, leverage of technology, further projections and validity of the startup industry.

While applications rolled in from sectors such as Digital Storytelling, eLearning, Access to market, Digital payments, Supply Chain management, agriculture, Logistic, eCommerce, Gamification, Big data, Cybersecurity, Crowdsourcing, and eLiteracy, the selected companies include:

Skyfire Digital – Digital marketing agency supporting MSMEs in Africa and the US market to achieve their business ROI objectives as well as scale through various online channels.

Mimi Money – Bitcoin payment solution using crypto to transform payment in Uganda.

Emmnoch Farms – Fish farm solution providing end-to-end along the fishery value chain and connecting rural farmers and bridging the nutrition gap through fish farming.

From the pool, barely 100 startups made it to the second stage which involved due diligence and further documentation.

The next round was a one-on-one Zoom pitch, that saw 10 selected startups make it to the finals. At the final stage, only these three startups were able to successfully gain investment interest from Aptive Capital.

According to Peter, “Our selection process was quite intense and we’re glad that these ones not only saw it through but also emerged victorious in the end because of their belief in their solution as well as a very lucid business model.”

In the next couple of months, Aptive Capital will, in addition to the $10,000 funding, offer technical support, mentorship, coaching to intensify the social impact of its portfolio companies.  Aptive says its next call for investment rounds will open before end of the year.

 

 


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