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Innovative, Dynamic IT Policies are Key for Development- Shehu

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Mr. Sikiru Shehu, registrar, Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria) (CPN) has over a decade experience in the information technology industry.
Shehu has served as a fellow of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) and chartered member of the Information Technology professionals, an executive board member, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), and a member of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG). He spoke to chike onwuegbuchi on plans by the government agency to revolutionize IT education among others.

Supervising Computing Practice in the Country
It is true that there are computer companies and even individuals that are practicing   computing in Nigeria without registering with CPN. We all know that Information Technology is a profession that cuts across other professions. Therefore, it is a profession that makes substantial input into different disciplines and aspects of our life. Therefore, there is need for caution and awareness programme so that members of public will be able to differentiate between a computer user and a professional. This is necessary because we have find ourselves in a situation in which Information Technology practice is becoming an all comers affair.  Therefore, as a step towards solving the problem, the Council instituted an awareness generating programme that is known as IT Stakeholders forum. The programme is taking place in all the geo-political zones in Nigeria.  The thinking behind this programme is that we want to make sure that we educate the masses on the need for regulation of IT profession, CPN and its activities as well as professionalism in the IT industry. We have held the programme in South-West in Lagos, and South- East in Owerri as well as Abuja. We look forward to hold the programme in other geo-political zones. By the time enough awareness is provided. Then, we can now start applying force by bringing the full weight of the law to bear on recalcitrant people. That is why we still have some people practicing without registering with us. It is a temporary thing. It is not a situation that will continue like that.
 IT Training Institutes and Required Standard 
CPN is doing a lot on the issue of standard and quality control in Information Technology education. CPN, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education and with inputs from different stakeholders put together the National Information Technology Education Framework (NITEF) document. We have observed that Information Technology Education, particularly in the non-formal sub-sector, has been an all-comers’ affair, devoid of a coherent framework regarding the scope, content and quality.  As a result, there is a proliferation of computer training outfits in nooks and crannies in Nigeria, offering all sorts of certificates and programmes based on curricula that are undefined in philosophy, objectives and content for relevant skill acquisition. There is therefore a compelling need to design a specific framework for the structuring and regulation of the formal and non-formal educational institutions offering training in Information Technology in Nigeria in order to ensure global standard. This is what informed the development of the NITEF document.  The Forthcoming Information Technology Assembly
CPN  Information Technology Assembly is an annual event where Information Technology practitioners from the nooks and crannies of the country and abroad gather together to  rub minds and exchange ideas on topical issues that affect the profession and the nation’s quest for greatness in IT and draw a roadmap for the future. The event is an assemblage of senior Information Technology decision makers in the private and public sectors of the economy, Information Technology consultants, upcoming entrepreneurs, start-ups, IT Teachers, System Administrators etc. The assembly is also a platform to showcase some of the industry’s most innovative technologies as well as new products and services for participants to appreciate the emerging technologies, trends and risks that are associated with transforming the various industries using Information Technology.
NCS and CPN in IT Development
The Nigerian Computer Society (NCS) is an association of professionals that come together to work towards the growth of the profession and individual professional development through professional development programmes put in place for the benefit of members. However, we work hand in hand for the betterment of the industry and the profession. The structural arrangement in the industry is such that CPN is the apex regulatory body. The Nigeria Computer Society is a non-governmental organization while CPN is a government agency.  The activities of the society are being guided by its constitution as put together by members and other interest bodies.  The interest bodies group include: ITAN, ISPON, NIG etc. NCS and its interest groups have twelve representatives in the CPN Council which means that all the interest bodies are represented in the CPN Council. The point here is that CPN is different from NCS, but we work hand in hand.
CPN has made so much impact in the development of Information Technology in Nigeria. I will want to enumerate some of the impact we have made in the Information Technology profession in Nigeria.
We have put in place a Computer Professional Examination that will enable the products to become registered IT practitioners as we have in other professions like Accounting, Banking among others. Through the exam, the profession will no longer be seen as being elitist. Then, I mention the NITEF document earlier; it is part of our achievements.
The National Information Technology Education Framework (NITEF) is the first attempt to provide a roadmap for the development of IT education in Nigeria.  NITEF is targeted at ensuring that appropriate skills, competencies and attitudes are imparted to enable Nigeria take advantage of the global opportunities in Information Technology. Also, we have set up e-Learning and e-Campus platform to jump-start open and distance learning programme in Information Technology. This has made it possible for people to study from the comfort of their homes through the virtual school on our CPN online campus. Then, we try to ensure quality control and standards.
Additionally, we put in place an accreditation programme of formal and informal institutions offering computer studies. We have visited Universities to accredit their Computer Science programmes and we also signed an agreement of joint accreditation of Polytechnics and Monotechnics in Nigeria with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).  This is part of our statutory duty as spelt out in Paragraph 2(1A) of Act 49 of 1993. The signing of the MoU became important to cut out the issue of double accreditation and by extension duplication of resources by the two bodies, and much more importantly, so that standards would be consistently the same. Similar arrangements are being worked out with the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Council for Colleges of Education (NCCE).
CPN, in conjunction with National Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) developed the Computer Studies curriculum for Primary and Junior Secondary Schools. The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) is handling the distribution of the document to schools. Then, the Register of registered members of the profession is been published periodically to advise employers of labour in the public and private sector of the need to employ the services of qualified IT personnel. This is in addition to providing a Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for registered members of the profession. This is done with the aim of promoting professionalism and good practice in the industry. Also, we have put in place Mandatory Continuing Development Programmes (MCPD) for registered members in order to enable them update their knowledge in IT. There are host of other things which time cannot allow me to mention.
Implementation of National ICT4D Action Plan
CPN is currently working with stakeholders in the Information Technology profession to make the dream of the nation as encapsulated in the national ICT for development programme a reality.  We are of the opinion that with innovative and dynamic IT policies, a country could leapfrog from being an IT consuming nation to an IT producing one. A good example is the Asian Tigers, Malaysia, Singapore, India etc who have recorded giant strides in Information Technology. Through proper policy direction on Information Technology, the aforementioned Asian countries were able to leapfrog from the status of a backward nation to that of the fastest developing economies in the world.  Our own story could be the same if we put our acts together. Therefore, we have a robust working relationship with Nitda.  Once there is proper understanding and harmony in the profession. We will be able to work with government to actualize the vision of implementing the contents of the ICT 4 development programme for better result.
University Curriculum Meeting Current Trends in the Industry
We all know that Information Technology is a very dynamic profession. In fact, it is the fastest developing profession in the world now. Therefore, there is need for proper update of knowledge and skills in order to keep abreast of new developments in the profession. CPN is conscious of the need to update the Computer Science curriculum in our higher institutions and some steps are being taken to address it.  That kind of project will require the assistance and incorporation of people from the  Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (Nitda), National Universities Commission (NUC) and the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and it will definitely take sometime for the result to manifest.  In fact, CPN, Federal Ministry of Education (FME), Nitda and Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) have embarked on a collaborative process to commence IT curricula review immediately, with all stakeholders inclusive.
About e-library of CPN
CPN in its desire to assist the people especially the youth in having access to study materials in the comfort of their homes set up e-Learning and e-Campus platform to jumpstart open and distance learning programme in Information Technology. This has made it possible for people to study from the comfort of their homes through the virtual school on our CPN online campus. Access to our e-campus could be got through the purchase of our e-transact pin from any Zenith Bank branch. The price of the e-transact pin is very affordable.
The Computer Professional Examination has different entry points for different categories of candidates depending on the candidates’ background. Candidates with less than five ordinary level credits have their entry points, from which they can gradually move up while those with five credits and higher qualifications also have their entry points. The examination was designed in such a way that candidates who want to exit from the examination at any stage or level, for whatever reason, can do so and still have a certificate for the skill and knowledge acquired. Every stage or level of the examination has a corresponding recognition approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Graduates of the examination are expected to be industry-ready and immediately employable, and will enjoy similar status and benefits like graduates of other professional bodies like Ican, CIBN, and Coren among others. Therefore, the examination is not elitist at all. It is open to all and sundry.

 


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FG Offers to Support TStv to Relaunch with Pay per View Model

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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.

FG Offers to Support TStv to Relaunch with Pay per View Model

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.

 


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Why Businesses Should Take a Long-term Approach to People, Product, and Customers

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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.


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CBN Pulls Rate Cut Trigger, King Dollar Returns

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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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