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Medallion, Galaxy Backbone Make Case for Infrastructure Sharing in ICT Sector

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The issue of infrastructure sharing in Nigerian telecommunications industry is extremely important since the resources used to provide the services are limited.

Whether in passive or active model, infrastructure sharing is a key element in promoting healthy competition among market players, with a reasonable investment value and a fair price to be charged to the consumer.

These were the thoughts of panellists at the Mobile and Disruptive Technology Forum (#MoDiTECH2019) organised by TechEconomy.ng in Lagos, recently.

Moderated by Mr. Toba Obaniyi, the Vice President, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), the panelists discussed issues around “Infrastructure as a Limitation to Unleashing Digital Services in Nigeria”.

Dr. Kris Ranganath, Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Medallion Communications, speaking during the panel session, reiterated that leveraging the capacity of colocation companies such as Medallion Communications Limited could be the way out for players to reduce capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX).

Dr. Ranganath said that despite a record of over $70 billion local and foreign direct investments (FDIs) into the country’s telecoms sector, lack of a robust infrastructure remains one of the challenges that have bedevilled the industry.

He said that as the major employer of labour and an enabler of economic development, the industry deserves protection by the government to continue to add value to the GDP.

He said that Medallion Communications Limited, one of West African one-stop interconnect and hosting companies readily comes into the picture as an enabler of colocation model for the country

The CTO said that the Company has preached and has painstakingly been building infrastructure backbone supporting Nigeria’s ICT and telecommunications industry in the area of carrier neutral infrastructure sharing and connectivity over the years and will continue to add value to the ecosystem.

He said, although they have not totally addressed the challenges, but their efforts have given rise to Nigerians appreciating the value of shared infrastructure and data center service delivery.

“The Medallion collocation center, located in Lagos, is today, one of the most connected facilities in Nigeria. Over 80 service providers, including all global system for mobile communications (GSM) operators, code division multiple access (CDMA) operators, fixed wireless and fixed line operators in Nigeria are connected to the Medallion’s collocation center.

“The resilience telecom infrastructure Medallion has built over the years is currently accommodating the hosting of contents from both local and international service providers in Nigeria. Therefore, we are localising a huge percentage of content and data, which were hitherto hosted abroad,” the Medallion Communications CTO added.

He said that while the Company drives colocation, among other services, the client lists also include all long distance, international fiber network operators and metro fiber transmission providers in Nigeria.

More so, Chidi Okpala, Marketing Manager, Galaxy Backbone Limited, said that infrastructure sharing is a way of reducing the costs of investing in networks, increasing the value of the business, optimizing the allocation and use of infrastructures when duplication is impossible, and guaranteeing the compliance with regulatory obligations.

He added that the resultant impact is in an improvement of the conditions of the service provided to the users, especially in offering quality service.

Okpala said that more importantly, infrastructure sharing is always advisable to foster competition in the sector, thus favouring the final consumer, either with an improvement in the quality of the service, or with a possible reduction in the prices charged by the sector.

According to him, Galaxy Backbone has continued to provide connectivity services to Government MDAs across the length and breadth of Nigeria on its 1GOV.ng platform.

“This has given federal government the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of economies of scale and encourage local partnerships”.

Galaxy Backbone (GBB) is the Digital and Shared Services Infrastructure provider of the federal government.

For close to two decades, GBB has continued to strive towards living its mission being, to drive national development through the provision of pervasive ICT Infrastructure and services to public institutions, underserved communities and other stakeholders.

This mission propels the day to day running of the organisation and how it interacts with institutions, local communities and other stakeholders.

Similarly, the persistent infrastructure deficit in the Nigerian telecoms sector are due to obvious multifaceted factors like multiple taxation, vandalism, inconsistent policies, among other factors.

In his contribution, the president, Association of Licensed Mobile Payment Operators (ALMPO), Mr. Chinedu Onuoha, said that in addition to improved infrastructure deployment, introducing innovative solutions that have the potential to reduce costs in digital payments is crucial too.

He said that FinTechs must continue to strive to develop and unleash real-time settlement solutions for financial institutions and capable of impacting of rural dwellers.

He said that standardization through policies cannot be overemphazised as the costs, risks and delays inherent in today’s infrastructure often limit electronic payment products, particularly to large-value transactions.

He referred to the recent issues generated by the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) charges by banks and telecos could have been addressed through stakeholders’ engagements.

He reminded the participants that infrastructure deficit is chief among the reasons financial institutions find it difficult to even offer low-value payment products.

For instance, banks and licensed mobile money operators lack capacity to manager issues arising from network downtime among other issues.

Mr. Onuoha said that for these reasons and more, ALMPO was formed “to create a voice for the industry in order to create, influence and shape policies, Government legislations and to build standards within the frameworks that will provide stability and growth to the mobile money environment and also to contribute to the economy of the Mobile payment initiative in Nigeria”.


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Phase3 Moves on Multilayer Network Technology Upgrade

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Phase3 Telecom, leading independent fiber optic network infrastructure and telecommunications services provider  has said that it is amplifying the scope of network technology upgrades to enhance its communications, cloud and connectivity solutions across business and enterprise segments in Nigeria and the West African sub-region.

Phase3 Moves on Multilayer Network Technology Upgrade

This followed its ongoing Security Operation Centre (SOC) network capability upgrade.

This development, is targeted at expanding the scope of its enterprise solutions drive for its increasing user portfolio of small/large scale enterprises, institutions, corporates, services sector and multinational companies, contributing to the nation’s thriving broadband penetration drive.

According to Stanley Jegede, chairman, “the principal goal of Phase3 ongoing multilayer technology upgrade is to optimize “network infrastructure capabilities, scalability, interconnect operational capacity, resilience, service optimization and coverage that will enhance communications, cloud and connectivity projects across multiple locations to support more start-ups, growing businesses and institutions to boost economic growth and increase their successes.

He also added that this Phase3 technology upgrade is quite expansive in model, to accommodate the new digital realities and possibilities created by COVID-19.

Especially in the areas of amplified work-from-anywhere and dedicated remote connectivity solutions as well as service delivery that is targeted at increasing networks data handling capacity vis a vis making them faster and smarter as the current global clime demands.

In conclusion, he stated that beyond enhanced network backbone and bandwidth capabilities for point-to-multi point access, chief components such as network security and speed are the driving force of Phase3 new technology upgrade for secured and latency-free connections as well as growing network expansion plan.


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Unitellas Partners Zadara On Data Infrastructure Project

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Unitellas International Limited and its partner Zadara, have taken the bold initiative to save Nigeria from exposure to rising Cybercrime by making significant investment in data infrastructure in the country.

Unveiling the initiative in Lagos, Smith Osemeke, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Unitellas International Limited, revealed that Nigeria is hugely susceptible to cyber attacks due to failure to develop in-country data saving infrastructure.

Osemeke, observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced governments around the world to deliver vital Public Services in unprecedented ways and to experiment with Digital Technologies on an unforeseen scale.

According to him, In Nigeria, a lot of organizations had to turn to Local Service Providers and other Public Sector Organizations for help during the crisis, most of which are overburdened and challenged by outdated IT Systems.

As a result, a lot of organizations were forced to move their data to the Public Cloud through the services of AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

This he continued had led many organizations in Nigeria to default on the guidelines on Local Content law i.e. all organizations operating within Nigeria should have their data stored within Nigeria.

Osemeke, alerted that Storing Data in the Public Cloud outside Nigeria creates the problem of Data Protection since data stored in the public cloud is exposed to Cyber and Ransomware attacks because the existing public cloud service providers do not provide Absolute Data Protection.

He noted that Sensitive Citizens data such as BVN, National Identity Numbers and other private and confidential details needs to be protected from such attacks and exposures.

“It becomes a challenge to uphold “Data sovereignty”- the concept of storing data within the Nation’s Borders. Since Local Service Providers are unable to effectively Store Data not to mention Protect Stored Data due to the fact that present Legacy Storage Infrastructures do not have the capabilities to offer the latest Data Protection Mechanism (DATA STORAGE IMMUTABILITY).”

He said that Local Service Providers in Nigeria cannot compete with international cloud service providers such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud in terms of Infrastructure, Pricing, Service Delivery and Management and as a result this has caused a lot of companies in Nigeria to patronize International Public Cloud Service Providers by Storing Data from Nigeria in other Countries thereby making it practically impossible to comply with the Local Content Law..

“As a result, Financial Service Institutions (FSI) and other Key Organizations invest Millions of Dollars annually in acquiring and managing IT Infrastructures instead of focusing on their Core Businesses because they must have an IT department to build and manage their Data Storage Infrastructure – a service that is supposed to be handled by Local Service Providers in Nigeria.

“If this sad narrative is not corrected, sensitive Data from Nigeria will continue to be hosted outside Nigeria and inevitably leading to Data Insecurity. Unfortunately, Nigeria is one of the countries lacking Data Security due to the inability of Service Providers to effectively Store and Protect Data Locally.” he said.

To reverse this ugly situation, Unitellas International Limited in Partnership with ZADARA is empowering all Service Providers in Nigeria to meet up with International Standards with regards to Data Storage Infrastructure, Service, Pricing and Security.

Unitellas is the official distributor of Zadara Solution in Nigeria, while Zadara is a renowned World Leader in Infrastructure -as-a-service and Enterprise Data Storage-as-a-service.

Osemeke said that Unitellas in partnership with Zadara is willing to empower local service providers in Nigeria to meet up with International Managed Service Providers (MSP) standards by providing Local service providers with Infrastructure-as-a-service and Enterprise-Storage-as-a-service model which eliminates huge Capital Expenditure (CapEX) with minimum Operational Expenditure (OpEX).

By subscribing to Zadara Data Storage services with Compute Capability, Local Service Providers and MSPs can now offer Data Storage and Compute services with the latest Data Protection Mechanism competing effectively with renowned Public Cloud Providers in Infrastructure, Security, Pricing, Management and Service.


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ICTEL EXPO 2020: Stakeholders Urge Nigerians to Seize Opportunities Provided by Digital Economy

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Nigerians have been urged to seize the opportunities provided by the digital economy especially now, that the nation is seeking ways to overcome the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and are deploying technology needed for economic recovery and sustainability.

The Information and Communications Technology ICT, Stakeholders disclosed this at the virtual Information Communication Technology and Telecommunications Conference and Exhibition, ICTEL EXPO 2020 with theme: ‘Exploring Opportunity in the Digital Economy’, organized by Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry LCCI, speaking at the conference, said: “there is no better time to explore the opportunities provided by the digital economy than now when every nation is seeking ways to overcome the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. And as nations face dwindling growth, deployment of technology is key to economic recovery and sustainability.”

She explained that the new normal brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has ensured that virtually all sectors have now leveraged ICT for optimal performance.

According to her, “This is evident in the financial services sector, where almost all banking transactions are conducted through digital channels, the agriculture sector, where sophisticated technologies, such as robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images and global positioning systems, the GPS technologies, are largely employed.

“Nigeria has witnessed a phenomenal growth in its ICT sector over the past decade.

“The ICT sector remains one of the most resilient sectors of the Nigerian economy, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a foremost private sector body in Nigeria today, established since 1888, the Lagos Chamber is providing, through this expo, an incredible platform, to advance the opportunities and linkages in the world of ICT”, she concluded.

Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, while declaring the conference and exhibition open, said that globally, digital revolution is changing lives and societies, with unprecedented speed and scale, delivering immense opportunities, as well as associated challenges.

“As predicted by the World Economic Forum, over 60% of global Gross Domestic Product, (GDP), will be digitized, by 2022 and that, over the next decade, digital platforms, will be used to create, close to 70% of new value”, Pantami noted.

The Minister, who was represented by the Executive Secretary, Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), Mr. Ayuba Shuaibu, stressed that: “globally, businesses are shifting from brick and mortar form, to innovative enterprises driven by digital technologies and now is the time for business, enterprises and organisations, to reinvent and automate, to fit into the global digital economy.

“I want to congratulate the Director General and members of the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry for organising this Information Communication Technology and Telecommunications Conference and Exhibition, ICTEL EXPO 2020, to spotlight this national discourse, on how we can take advantage of digital technology for accelerating our economy”, he concluded.

Delivering her keynote address, Ms Funke Opeke, CEO/Managing Director, MainOne and Chairmperson, Presidential Committee on National Broadband Plan, identified three activities that will enable digital economy to work well in our clime. These include connectivity, a device and a platform that enables one to connect with parties at the other end.

“When we look at private sector participation in Nigeria and the challenges we face as an economy, especially with the recession, with the dip growth rate and high inflation economy that we have and I think the recognition, globally, that growth across the world can only be fuelled by digital adoption in the years to come. I think it is important that our government provide more support to the ICT industry”, she concluded.

Some panel discussions also took place on the first day of the event, while some companies exhibited their products and solutions to the general populace, via the online virtual platform.


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