Mr. Folorunso Aliu, managing director, iTECO Nigeria Limited is a results-driven professional. His flair, tenacity and can-do attitude have earned him various certifications.
Aliu before his appointment as managing director in 2007 was head of Service Delivery – Network Solutions. Aliu is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Computer Science / Engineering and has a Masters in Business Administration. He spoke with chike onwuegbuchi.
iTECO and Information Technology Sector
iTECO Nigeria Limited is a foremost brand in the area of systems integration in Nigeria. What that means is that iTECO’s skills and expertise come to bear when you have different networks or different equipments and solutions on the network and you are looking or a single entity that would bring together all these different elements, all the networks to provide business solutions that meet customers’ requirement. iTECO’s major skill is on any product, and element on the network that runs on Internet Protocol (IP), bringing it together to bring out business solutions to our customers.
Breaches in Telephone
Let me take you back, when I was discussing I said iTECO is a systems integration company. Let me give examples of what you might need systems integration for; systems integration can apply in the area of network security, it can come in the area of just general routing and switching, that is basic connectivity between one bank and another, one company and another. What we also do is in the area of voice networks as well. We are also in the area of audio-visuals or what is known as collaborations – video conferencing, tele-conferencing, audio bridge and things like that. Now, you asked a question about security – you have breaches in security if things are not done as they should be done and followed up. In security, we have what is called ‘the security wheel.’ Security wheel simply tells you that security is not a one-time thing. You look at the system, you appraise the system, you put in place security measures, you monitor the security measures, you improve on the security measures and you go back again to appraise the system so that you are always one step ahead of whoever wants to breach your security system. People look at security as a one-time thing – oh, I spent one hundred thousand on my security solution and that is it. Thank you! You can go away. It is an on-going event; you do not put security once and you stop because everyday, especially on the Internet people are bringing on newer things; newer threats arise everyday. The solution you put in place yesterday will probably not be able to mitigate the problems of today and that is why you need to consistently monitor and ensure you are in order. But in our environment, people see this as a waste of money. It is important and a continuous thing; just as business is a going concern, security requirement is a going issue too.
From the word unified, it means you are bringing in different elements to a single point and maximizing your investment. Let me give you a typical example of Unified Communication; you have a telephone system back in the days, when someone calls you and you are not in the office; that is it. You cannot be reached. You have e-mail system; someone sends you an e-mail and if you are not there, that is it. You have a GSM phone; if someone calls you on it and you are not there, that is all. But Unified Communications in a nutshell, brings all these things to a single point. Let us assume that you are not in the office and have traveled to America, would it not be good to know that if someone calls you on your desk in the office, your phone rings three times and it is automatically passed on to your GSM and then it is converted to text and sent to you; everything seamless. So that, at any point you are reachable, you are able to maximize your investment because everything has been unified – you have what is called text to speech and speech to text, in this case, I can record my e-mail as voice and it will be sent as e-mail for me. So, Unified Communication does those things – to distinguish between different entities. For example, most banks today were still in the era of general banking, over-the-counter solutions and all that; but you can actually build solutions that will help people especially in retail banking that Nigerian banks are trying to move into; Unified Communication is a veritable tool in the hands of these bankers if they want to do proper retail banking. You can reach your target audience right in their homes; there are various services you can deploy on the phones and other network elements that your customers carry. Mobile phone is a veritable tool for banking; it is not just for checking account balance. It is a proper banking tool that allows for easy communication between banks and their customers as well as enables the deployment of several other services.
Making IP Networks More Effective
I tend to disagree with you that we do not have terrestrial links because we have that in the country right now. MTN, Globacom have run some; Celtel has started out on that, even Visafone too. What we do not have yet is the aggregation of all those links. The bottom line is that they are there. 21st Century as far back as four years ago had actually laid a fiber ring all over the Island. Let us take Lagos for example, most of the business concerns are concentrated on the Island and right now if you need fiber connectivity on the Island, it is something you can get within two days. I understand that we still have extensive Vsat installation but I disagree that we do not have terrestrial infrastructure. Having said that, this Unified Communication can be seen from different strata – we have the intra-company usage, the inter-company usage and the global connectivity. In intra-company, you do not rely on the extensive external fiber to do this. Between one company and its branch office for example, you have some kind of connectivity that they are doing today. All Nigerian banks toady are online, real time. They are using that link for something. What some of them are doing is to maximize the use of that bandwidth which is what the real question is. The bandwidth we have today; what are we doing with it? Do we even know what is going over the bandwidth? How can we maximize the use of the bandwidth because it is expensive? That is one other thing that iTECO can do. iTECO is a foremost name in network management. We can give you what you call visibility into your bandwidth utilization. We can help you to maximize your bandwidth utilization so that you do not end up spending unnecessarily on increasing bandwidth while in fact, that is not what you need. My point is, yes, you have a lot of Vsat installation but you also have fiber optic installation but more importantly is what is going over your bandwidth and how are you utilizing it. Network management solution is what you need to do that. People are doing Unified Communication – the likes of Shell, LNG are involved in this. Different companies operate at various levels of Unified Communication. The maximum you can get from Unified Communication depends on how well you can use your imagination. The amount of services you can run on your mobile phone is only limited to your innovative power.
Approach towards Aggregation of Fibre Infrastructure
It is not duplication because the bottom line is Globacom has its own traffic route; all of them have their own traffic routes and patterns, so they need the backbone to be able to carry their traffic. However, there should be inter-connection between them, that is what I am talking about so that we can have ISVs. ISVs can do virtual carriage of data and voice. They do not need to build their own infrastructure. What I am saying is that, instead of Globacom just owning the whole thing and we are not sourcing from anybody apart from Globacom, they could come together as a majority so that they can carry traffic from others. We do services, not just data and voice. There are lots of services. If all the fibers that we are laying around are just for data and voice, then it is a waste of energy. They are laying fiber for all the other services that you can run on that; talk about video calls and other enhanced services. You have what is called Multi-Protocol Legal Switching (MPLS) that is the protocol they are running now on the core of their networks, to be able to carry out all these services and deploy them to the customers.
iTECO and Cost of Redundant Data Centre
Having a disaster recovery site is necessary now for big corporations because the principle behind it is, even if there is a disaster or a breakdown, service should continue. That makes a lot sense and things that are put in place would ensure this is done. Most banks today have offsites. What baffles me is that an entity has a private recovery site on Victoria Island; they have another one in Apapa. If you have a private site here, the minimum I am going to expect is to have a disaster recovery site say, in Abuja because whatever happens in this region should not break down the two sites. As much as possible, there are standards to how these things should be at the minimum. You can do what you call ‘server hotels’ or ‘IT hotels.’ What I mean by that is that instead of Bank A, B and C; each building their own site, you can actually collocate with the third party who is the service provider and all of them will have a secondary link through this place either with their own servers or with the server provided by the service provider and each would have its own storage and slot as it were. That way, they only pay for space and usage on a regular basis as agreed. That would be a cheaper alternative. But, most banks because they are big, put their recovery sites somewhere else and can also use it for other things. So, it is a choice people make.
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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