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GSM Service Restored in Maiduguri

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Mobile phone services of MTN has been restored in the restive city of Maiduguri for the first time in more than two months on Friday. It is the latest area of the conflict-torn North- East to be reconnected since the declaration of the State of Emergency.

The military Joint Task Force (JTF) cut mobile telephone network services of Glo, MTN, Etesalat, Airtel among others in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe when it launched an offensive on May 15 seeking to end a four-year insurgency by Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. It also later banned satellite phones (Turaya), effectively cutting off the region since landline connections are extremely rare in the country.

Last week, the Task Force restored mobile service in Adamawa State and earlier this week began reconnecting Yobe State. Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno, has become the third to be reconnected.

A senior military official told newsmen in Maiduguri that phone service would be restricted to the city for the time being, with other parts of the state, particularly areas linking Sambisa Game Reserve Forest which harbours many sect members in their camps still cut off.

Although, phone service in the city of Maiduguri and Jere Council areas was erratic on Friday, accessibility is now on. “The phone networks will be confined to Maiduguri metropolis at the moment as a security strategy and will be expanded over time depending on the security situation,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

The military has said it cut phone service to prevent Boko Haram from coordinating attacks. However, a growing number of residents and local officials have called for a return of phone service.

Ibrahim Gaidam, Yobe State governor, said the lack of phone services may have prevented residents from contacting authorities when suspected Boko Haram members raided a secondary school in Mamudo, Potiskum town on July 6, killing 42 people, nearly all of them students.

The military has claimed to have pushed out Boko Haram members and destroyed a number of their bases, but the claims have been difficult to verify with the phones cut and access to remote areas restricted.


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NCC Lifts Suspension on Spectrum Trading Guidelines

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has considered lifting the suspended Spectrum Trading Guidelines (STG), 2018, pending the conclusion of the ongoing review of the Guidelines.

 

The lifting of the suspension followed deliberations on the subject by the Board of NCC at its Special Board Meeting, which held on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.

 

The Meeting was preceded by the suspension of the STG by the Board at its 96th Board Meeting held in May 18, 2020.

 

“The Board was satisfied that, given the state of the consultation, it was possible to lift the suspension of the STG pending the conclusion of the review,” NCC said in a public notice signed by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, director, Public Affairs.

 

“Accordingly, the Board resolved that the suspension of the STG be lifted and that relevant stakeholders continue to operate the STG while a new/revised STG is finalised in consultation with the industry,” the public notice added.

 

The Commission had, in a statement issued on May 27, 2020, announced the suspension of STG 2018 for the Nigerian telecommunications industry and informed all licensed telecoms operators, prospective investors, industry stakeholders and the general public of the regulatory decision.

 

The Board of NCC had earlier taken the decision for Spectrum Trading in response to telecommunications global dynamics, as well as the efforts to optimally utilise and maximise the benefits of Spectrum as a scarce resource.

 

Spectrum is a limited resource, which, when inefficiently utilised, greatly limits broadband coverage and speed. The current Spectrum Trading Guidelines were developed in 2018 after industry-wide consultations and this instrument allows that the Spectrum resource be traded on the Secondary Market through Transfer, Sharing or Leasing (TSL) upon satisfying stipulated regulatory conditions.

 

According to the Commission, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja in March 2020, requires that these Guidelines be reviewed to ensure that unutilised Spectrum is fairly traded to facilitate rollout by other operators amongst others.

 

The Guidelines will also help to address the need for ubiquitous broadband deployment to accelerate penetration and access in line with the economic Agenda of the Federal Government.

 

 


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Pantami Urges Nigerians to Inculcate Healthy Practices on Cyberspace

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As the world marks the Cybersecurity Awareness Month this October, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), minister of Communications and Digital Economy, has called on Nigerians to embrace healthy practices on Cyberspace.

 

Pantami disclosed this in a statement released on Wednesday by Dr Femi Adeluyi, Technical Assistant (Information Technology).

According to him, “Cybersecurity awareness has become imperative due to the attendant risks that emanate from the appreciable migration of several transactions, meetings, lectures and other forms of interaction to online and digital platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“The importance of cybersecurity awareness is emphasized in Pillar #6 (Soft Infrastructure) of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria. The Soft Infrastructure pillar aims to ensure that Nigerians are secure online.

 

“Furthermore, Section 106(1(c)) of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 states the role of the Nigerian Communications Commission in the protection of consumer information.

 

“Similarly, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Act 2007 Section 6(l) states the role of NITDA in promoting the development of information technology to enhance national security.

 

“The Nigeria National Cybersecurity Framework also prescribes guidance for public and private sector organizations for instituting measures for enshrining cybersecurity culture and enthrone cyber-resiliency in Nigeria”.

 

He added that Cybersecurity is essentially about awareness and that he has directed parastatals under the purview of the Ministry- NCC, NITDA, NIMC, Galaxy Backbone and NigComSat- to embark on a nationwide Cybersecurity Awareness Programme.

 

According to him, “This 31-day awareness drive, throughout the month of October, will enable Nigerians obtain the knowledge required to embrace the digital economy and its many benefits, while protecting themselves against the tactics of cybercriminals.

 

The Honourable Minister urged everyone to be extra-cautious and reinforce security measures while interacting online, especially when it involves sensitive information.

 

He also stated that they are committed to keeping Nigerians safe online and wishes citizens a successful Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

 

 

 


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Google and NTDC partner to support Tourism Industry – launch Tour Nigeria Collection

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Google and the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) have partnered to help the Nigerian tourism sector recover and grow in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership is geared towards providing training for small businesses, digital skills initiatives for individuals and the launch of a new Google Arts & Culture collection called ‘Tour Nigeria’.

Google Arts & Culture has worked with the NTDC over a number of months to create an online exhibition of imagery, stories and commentary highlighting some of Nigeria’s beautiful, hidden gems – from the Awhum Caves of Enugu, to the Farin Ruwa falls of Nasarawa, the Osun Osogbo sacred grove of Osun state, and the Wikki Warm spring of Bauchi state.

The project also features stories and photos from some of the most colourful cultural festivals in the country including the Yauri Rigata Festival, and the Kano Durbar Festival.

Google Arts & Culture and the NTDC have also launched a new ‘Explore Nigeria’ video series featuring top Nigerian social media influencers and YouTube creators.

This video-based series highlights the best of Nigeria through the eyes of these influencers and can be found here at http://goo.gle/TourNigeria.

Amit Sood, director, Google Arts & Culture, speaking on the partnership, said “Rich heritage, natural beauty and vibrant cities, Nigeria is a destination we all need on our travel shortlist soon.

“Even though 2020 continues to be a challenging year for Nigerians and travellers from around the world, I hope that this unique online experience – created in collaboration with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation – can contribute to further promote Nigeria’s iconic sites and capture its stories.

“And even though I can’t travel, the project inspired me to start that journey by exploring the country through the works of Africa’s first literary Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka. “

“The tourism sector is a key pillar of Nigeria’s economy. Initiatives that support and promote domestic tourism are critical, not only for the sector but also because a stronger tourism sector will help Nigeria’s economy recover in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“An expanded tourism sector will be able to drive employment and stimulate economic growth. Initiatives like Google’s – that are grounded in data-driven insights into how the sector can be supported and grown – strengthens NTDC’s ‘TOUR NIGERIA’ strategy, which seeks to promote domestic tourism in Nigeria.

“We are even more convinced now of the validity of this strategy and the rightness of our path, and are excited to kick start this with the ‘TOUR NIGERIA’ collection with Google Arts & Culture”, said, NTDC director-General, Folorunsho Coker.

The partnership with NTDC will provide support for the local tourism sector including providing training programs to enable businesses to leverage online tools they can use to grow their businesses.

The program also features a digital skills program aimed at helping individuals to skill up so they can find jobs or further develop their careers within the tourism industry.

SMBs are being assisted by way of digital migration programs to help them get online, and expand their audience reach.

And, lastly, the partnership will create exposure for Nigeria’s tourist attractions through Google’s technology offerings including virtual reality, 360° videos, Street View, ultra-high-resolution “gigapixel” images and Google Arts & Culture initiatives.

Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, country director, Google Nigeria, said “We’re always looking for new and creative ways in which technology can foster connections between people and the arts.

“‘Explore Nigeria’ is an expression of that desire and a tangible program that demonstrates our economic support of and commitment to Nigeria.”


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