Catherine Chen, Huawei corporate senior Vvce president and director of the Board, , has called on global telecoms regulators to work together to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Chen, who delivered a keynote speech at the online Better World Summit 2020, telecoms regulators across many nations and industries must work together to address the shared challenges that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and create a more inclusive future for all.
Other speakers at the summit included representatives from the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA), the South African Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, Thailand’s Office of the National Digital Economy and Society Commission, China’s Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), the Germany Association of the Internet Industry (ECO), and the ADL.
The speakers were joined by several thousand online attendees from more than 80 countries to explore how industry policy can promote development of the digital economy, facilitate economic recovery, and build a better future for all, by all.
In her keynote speech, Chen said: “Over the past 30 years, information technologies have advanced rapidly, making people’s lives and work much easier. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed though that digital infrastructure has not kept pace with technological developments.”
According to the ITU, over half of the world’s population still does not have Internet access nor access to other digital technologies. As economies across countries slow, governments grow increasingly concerned with economic recovery strategies.
“We envision a more connected, intelligent, and innovative future. Above all else, we must ensure this is an inclusive, sustainable, and better future by all, for all,” Chen said.
Speaking about top-down design, bottom-up creativity and vitality needed for economic recovery, Chen said: “As more countries and regions successfully implement infection control measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, economic activity in certain countries has begun to return to normal. Multiple governments have launched a variety of stimulus plans, and ICT invariably has held a key place in these plans. In China, the New Infrastructure plan has set aside over 140 billion US dollars to be invested in 5G alone over the next five years.
“This is expected to grow China’s digital economy by more than two trillion US dollars and boost domestic economic recovery. The EU has also announced a 1.1-trillion-euro package to enhance economic recovery.
“To revive the economy, we need top-down designs, as well as bottom-up creativity and vitality. “Supporting government policies coupled with active digital transformation across the industry will bring the benefits of digital technology to all industries, boost their efficiency, and restore growth.”
Referencing the recent World Bank report on the growing gap between the fast-growing global digital economy and a lack of digital skills, Chen said: “Huawei is continuing with its flagship Seeds for the Future program. This program was launched in 2008, and is designed to develop local ICT talent. So far, this program has benefited more than 30,000 students from over 400 universities in 108 countries and regions. Due to the pandemic, we are moving the program online and opening it up to more outstanding students than ever before. As more industries adopt digital technologies, they will drive the United Nation’s 2030 Strategic Development Goals, especially those related to climate change.”
Other speakers also shared their views on how to build a better world in the future at the event.
Senior officers from international organisations, including the ITU, GSMA, and ECTA, spoke on building globally unified ICT standards, promoting the digital economy, accelerating digital inclusiveness, and embracing these new economic normals.
National regulators and policy makers at the event focused more on best practices.
Regulators from South Africa, Thailand, China, and Germany as well as the senior management of multiple industry associations described current efforts and policy initiatives they are taking to drive investment in digital infrastructure and digital transformation across multiple industries.
Several senior analysts at the summit also explained at length how spillover from the digital economy will help revive real economies.
NCC Says 78.9m Nigerians now Connected to Broadband
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed that the number of Nigerians connected to high-speed internet rose to 78.9 million in June.
The data from the commission showed that telecommunications operators in the country added 2.2 million customers to their broadband database in the month to raise the figure from 76.6 million recorded in May.
This raised the country’s broadband penetration from 40.14 per cent in May to 41.27 per cent at the end of June.
The steady growth in penetration has been attributed to the telecoms operators’ aggressive push for deployment of 4G service across the country. To extend the service to more Nigerians, the largest mobile network operator in the country, MTN, recently announced more investments targeted at building more 4G infrastructure
MTN said it planned to spend an estimated N600 billion on technical infrastructure over the next three years as it looks to expand its 4G coverage across the entire country by 2024
The Federal Government also recently launched a new National Broadband Plan (NBP 2020-2025) with a target of achieving 70 per cent penetration in the next five years.
This followed the expiration of the NBP 2013-2018, which delivered 31 per cent penetration as of December 2018.
Aside from the 70 per cent penetration target, the government in the new plan also raised the benchmark speed for broadband service in Nigeria to 25 megapixels per second, which is an improvement from the 1.5mbps benchmark in the 2013-2018 plan.
Gilat Telecom, Spacecom, Unite to Bolster Satellite Services in Africa
Spacecom, operator of the AMOS satellites fleet, and Gilat Telecom, a connectivity service provider, have announced a collaboration “to develop a faster, more reliable and more cost-effective satellite service for organisations of all sizes across Africa.”
The service uses Spacecom’s AMOS-17 fully digital and advanced High Throughput Satellite (HTS) on both C and Ku band, and Gilat Telecom’s unique SD-WAN MAX technology.
The companies add that the service, available immediately, can be used for home and office connectivity including video conferences, e-health applications, e-learning, e-education, etc.
They add that the collaboration will benefit African MNOs and ISPs in several ways including CAPEX savings and higher throughput at reduced operational costs.
“Spacecom’s AMOS-17’s HTS fully digital payload enables cross-connection between all beam and all bands enabling the use of existing equipment which can also be set-up remotely by the end customers (on existing or new terminals). Using Gilat Telecom’s intelligent routing, capacity can be expanded by up to 20% (the equivalent of 6 Mbit/s can be achieved from a 5 Mbit/s downlink),” the companies state.
Another benefit is smart traffic management. The companies explain: “Gilat Telecom’s SD-WAN enables service providers and MNOs to centrally control the route that both satellite and fiber traffic takes to and from the customer.
It enables different applications – voice, streaming, caching (Facebook, Netflix, Microsoft cloud services etc.) – to be identified with automatic prioritisation, according to the customer’s needs and demands.”
Dan Zajicek, Spacecom’s CEO said: “This partnership enables us to boost the services offered to customers along with fast returns on investments to these growing markets. We are sure this fruitful cooperation will lead us to many great business opportunities in Africa.”
Asaf Rosenheck, Gilat Telecom’s CEO also said, “We are an innovative company always focused on how we can improve the service we provide to our customers. Our partnership with Spacecom demonstrates how we work across the ecosystem to drive down costs and improve capacity”.
Encomiums as Sonny Aragba-Akpore Bows Out of NCC
It was encomiums galore recently as Management and Staff of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) bid the Commission’s Head of Media Management and Public Relations, Sonny Aragba-Akpore, farewell following his retirement.
Aragba-Akpore, former Information and Communications Technology/News editor at the Guardian Newspaper, joined the service of the Commission in 2014.
Speaking at the valedictory party held in his honour on Thursday, which was attended physically and virtually by staff of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, appreciated the level of professionalism Aragba-Akpore brought to bear on his work at the Commission.
Represented at the event by Abigail Sholanke, director, Projects, Danbatta commended Aragba-Akpore for using his many years of industry experience and knowledge as a media professional and corporate communication manager to create a robust relationship with both mainstream and online media stakeholders, which, he said, has contributed significantly to the overall positive image and favourable public perception of NCC.
“On behalf of the Board, Management and Staff of Commission, we wish you a successful retirement and fruitful engagements in your future endeavours,” Danbatta said.
In his remarks, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, director, Public Affairs Department, said “within the short time I worked with Mr. Aragba-Akpore, I found him to be a man of uncommon passion for his work,” describing him as a very committed and hardworking colleague.
“We, therefore, wish you increased divine favour, as you retire from the services of the Commission.”
Other staff of the Commission, including directors, deputy directors, middle management staff, among others, took turns to talk about the favourable working relationship they had with Aragba-Akpore while at the NCC and wished him well in his retirement life.
Responding, Aragba-Akpore expressed gratitude to the Management and Staff of the Commission for their support and cooperation during his service and for organising a befitting valedictory ceremony in his honour, saying he enjoyed working with the NCC.
“This is one event I will not forget in a hurry. Indeed, I feel I am very lucky and singularly blessed and very appreciative of the privilege to work with a leading telecoms regulator like the NCC. For me, it is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said.
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