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NCCT Urges NIPOST to Leverage PAV for Services

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The National Council on Communication Technology (NCCT) urged the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) to leverage on existing Public Access Venues (PAV) infrastructure around the country to deploy its services.

This was part of communiqué issued at the end of the Third (3rd) meeting of Council held in Yenogoa, Bayelsa State recently under the Chairmanship of Dr. Omobola Johnson, minister of Communication Technology.

The Communique, thus urged NIPOST to use its post offices to deploy ICT services all across the country.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Communication Technology in implementing the National Broadband Plan at all tiers of government, has urged States in the country to sign up to the Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry for the implementation of the Smart State initiative already pioneered in 3 states namely Lagos, Cross River and FCT; and being tested in Anambra, Bayelsa, Ondo with others to follow.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek had reported that 34 States are yet to sign the agreement which will, among other things, lead to reduction in taxations and levies charged on telecom infrastructures at the States level.

The Ministry of Communication Technology and the Broadband Council  chaired by Dr Omobola Johnson, is promoting a ‘’Smart State’’ initiative geared at engaging governors and relevant authorities at the state and federal level to address the issue of multiple taxation impeding the acceleration of the roll out of critical infrastructure across Nigeria.

The main aim of the Smart States initiative is to ensure that effective measures are adopted to remove arbitrary charges and eradicate multiple taxations across the nation impeding the roll out of critical ICT infrastructure across Nigeria.

In her keynote address at the NCCT Meeting, Dr Johnson commended Bayelsa State for Signing the Smart State MoU.

She indicated that the Ministry is currently collaborating with Bayelsa State in a number of areas and congratulated the Governor for pursuing a Digital Transformation Agenda in his State.

Johnson highlighted the top priority areas of the Ministry to include Connect Nigeria-which focuses on building ICT infrastructure, Connect Nigerians, ICT in government and Local Content.

She disclosed that the Ministry of Communication Technology has made progress in its priority areas resulting in improvements in a number of indicators including teledensity, active subscription, number of internet users, and internet penetration. She also noted that steady progress was being made in software industry development and ICT in government.

She assured that the Ministry of Communication Technology would provide the necessary leadership and rallying point for ensuring that the potential of the Nigerian ICT sector is fully harvested for the attainment of inclusive and sustainable development. 

The Council deliberated exhaustively on the 73-page report presented by the meeting of officials and other items of the Agenda and agreed on major decisions and recommendations highlighted in the Communiqué.

The NCCT urged States and Local governments in the country to make policy changes in the areas of investing in infrastructure security and development, active collaboration in negotiating Federal, State and local government jurisdiction issues as it affects ICT.

The changes should also incorporate the establishing or strengthening where they exist Ministries, agencies or authorities to build capability to coordinate  ICT that will pay due attention to ICT investment and funding as well as coordinated ICT development in States.

The Communiqué also urged Members to sensitize their Chief Executives and mobilize support for implementation of the National Addressing policy to be piloted in the six geopolitical zones with Ekiti, Nasarawa, Benue, Bayelsa, Osun, Plateau, Gombe and Anambra states as volunteers.

All states in the country were also urged to participate actively in the effort to finalise the national e-government framework.

The NCCT Meeting which considered 49 substantive memoranda in addition to a number of information memos also called on all tiers of government in Nigeria to consider the adoption of the Open Data policy as a means of creating jobs.

They also highlighted need to make data available for policy formulation and decision making as well as reducing the cost of governance and improving public service delivery and a call for the Federal Government to develop and implement a National Data security policy that would be entrenched in all tiers of government and other sectors.

Other recommendations contained in the Communiqué include a call for the institutionalization of equal participation for women and girls in ICT as a matter of priority for national development and the adoption and replication of the Ministry’s Digital Girls curriculum in State secondary schools across the nation.

The Communiqué also urged members of the Council to bring the contents of the Guidelines for Nigerian Local Content in ICT to the attention of state MDAs, ICT companies and the public in general. Other recommendations in the Communiqué include  the call for the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology to approach the National Bureau of Statistics NBS with a view to mainstreaming relevant ICT indicators into their data collection instruments as a complementary means of mitigating the present paucity of ICT data.

Furthermore, they called for Galaxy Backbone Limited partnership with the state governments to extend the data security facilities in the states from the existing infrastructure to fully optimize the value of the initial investment on the facilities.

To further promote the Digital Jobs initiative of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, the Communiqué urged each State to provide a suitable venue with 250 sitting capacity and nominate 800 unemployed youths  for the workshop for training of prospective job seekers on digital job opportunities.

States and local governments were also urged to support NigComSat as it negotiates with them on the acquisition of sites for the deployment of infrastructure to facilitate the affordability of its services.

In order to put a sustainable mechanism for addressing the problem of Cyber security in the country, Council also called on NITDA to actively work towards the development of National Cyber security Strategy without prejudice to ongoing efforts of the Office of the National Security Adviser.

Companies and entities at both the State and Federal levels were also urged by the Communiqué to have .ng domain names and to establish web presence.

The NCCT Council commended Dr Johnson for her commitment and hard work in moving the ICT sector forward in her three years in office as the Honourable Minister and noted and appreciated the efforts of many states that made presentations and shared their experiences on how they are using ICT applications for improved service delivery and greater efficiency.


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NCC Moves to Review International Termination Rate for Voice Services

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has embarked on a cost-based study to set the new pricing regime for mobile international termination rate (ITR) for inbound international voice calls in the country.

The ITR is the rate paid to local operators by international operators to terminate calls in Nigeria.

As part of the process for the rate determination, the Commission has organised a virtual stakeholder engagement forum with relevant industry stakeholders to intimate them with the ongoing cost-based study and the need to cooperate with Messrs Payday Advance and Support Services Limited, the consultants engaged to carry out the study

Addressing the stakeholders in Abuja recently, Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, said the study has become imperative following the various implementation constraints arising from contending industry and market dynamics that met previous efforts at finding an optimum price for the termination of international voice services in Nigeria.

Danbatta, who was represented at the forum by Adeleke Adewolu, executive commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC, said through the new ITR pricing, the Commission will be able to balance the competing objectives of economic efficiency and allowing operators the latitude to generate reasonable revenue.

The EVC, however, explained that in 2013, the Commission issued a determination stating that mobile termination rate (MTR) rates were the same irrespective of where the call originated, a clause he said was largely misconstrued by operators at that time to mean that ITR should be the same rate as the MTR.

He said this led to operators ignoring the international cost portion, where ITRs were agreed at MTR level without a positive residual to cover the costs of the international leg for local operators.

“As a result of this, the ITRs continued to decline, in line with the MTR glide path and as the ITR was set in Naira, it suffered a further downward slide in dollar terms following the currency devaluation.

“Ironically, the Nigerian operators paid the international operators in dollars to deliver international calls which created an imbalance of payments as the ITR in Nigeria declined,” he said.

As a result, Danbatta said Nigerian operators’ profitability and commercial results were negatively affected putting Nigeria’s ITR below that of most countries with which it makes and receives the most calls, thereby making Nigerian operators perpetual net payers.

“This has, therefore, led to undue pressure on the nation’s foreign reserves, which continue to get depleted by associated net transfers to foreign operators on account of this lop-sidedness, hence the need for Nigeria, with volatile currencies, to regulate the ITR to prevent or mitigate the imbalance of payments with international operators,” the EVC said.

According to Danbatta, where ITR is not properly regulated, it tends to have a negative effect on a market like Nigeria with major supply-side challenges and associated socio-economic implications.

“So, setting a rate substantially above the MTR has resulted in a number of repercussions. One of such is the consumer shift to online channels as calls are increasingly made through Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies such as Skype and WhatsApp because of high international call prices.

“To this end, an economically-efficient ITR that is cost-based will maximise economic benefits to all stakeholders,” Danbatta told the stakeholders.

Earlier in her remarks, Director, Policy, Competition & Economic Analysis, Yetunde Akinloye, said the forum is aimed at formally engaging with and sharing the perspectives and insights of industry stakeholders and ultimately enlisting their collective support in relation to the inputs and requirements towards the determination of a mutually- realistic ITR in Nigeria.

She noted that the project commenced on March 10, 2020 with a kick-off meeting but was stalled by the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, necessitating the need to explore emerging channels of engagement to move forward and ensure the completion of the project.

Akinloye reiterated the Commission’s commitment to continuously provide a conducive environment and level-playing field for the effective interplay of factors that would sustain market development and growth, while ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications regulatory services for the benefit of consumers and licensees.

 


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Ericsson Accelerates 5G for Enterprise with Acquisition of Cradlepoint

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Ericsson has agreed to acquire Cradlepoint, the US-based market leader in Wireless Edge WAN 4G and 5G Enterprise solutions. The investment is key to Ericsson’s ongoing strategy of capturing market share in the rapidly expanding 5G Enterprise space.

Cradlepoint complements Ericsson’s existing 5G Enterprise portfolio which includes Dedicated Networks and a global IoT platform.

The combined offering will create valuable new revenue streams for customers by supporting full 5G-enabled services for enterprise, and boost returns on investments in the network.

Cradlepoint will become a fully owned subsidiary of Ericsson while continuing to operate under its existing brand. Cradlepoint employees will remain within the company, headquartered in Boise, Idaho. It will be part of Ericsson’s Business Area Technologies & New Businesses.

The acquisition price amounts to an enterprise value of USD 1.1 b. with the transaction expected to close before the end of Q4 2020, subject to closing conditions. The purchase price, which is funded from Ericsson’s cash-in-hand, is paid in full on closing.

Cradlepoint’s sales for 2019 were SEK 1.2 b. with a gross margin of 61%. Ericsson’s operating margins are expected to be negatively impacted by approximately 1% in 2021 and 2022 – where half is related to amortization of intangible assets which arise from the acquisition. Cradlepoint is expected to contribute to operating cash-flow starting in 2022. Ericsson’s 2022 group financial targets remain unchanged.

Wireless wide area network (wireless WAN) Edge solutions connect through 4G and 5G to deliver fast, secure, and flexible connectivity wherever and whenever it is needed for businesses, mobility and critical frontline emergency services. Cradlepoint is strongly positioned in a market with underlying growth of 25-30%.

Börje Ekholm, President and CEO Ericsson, says: “Portfolio-near acquisitions are an integral part of our earlier communicated strategy. The acquisition of Cradlepoint complements our existing offerings and is key to our strategy of helping customers grow the value of their 5G network investments. Ericsson is uniquely positioned to build on Cradlepoint’s leadership position in Wireless Edge and the wireless WAN market.

Combining the scale of our market access and established relationships with the world’s biggest mobile operators we are making a strong investment to support our customers to grow in this exciting market. I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all Cradlepoint employees.”

George Mulhern, CEO and Chairman, Cradlepoint says: “We have led the way in bringing the power of cellular networks and technologies to enterprise and public sector customers – helping them connect beyond the limits of traditional wired WANs. Ericsson with its global 5G leadership is a great match for us and I am very excited to continue to scale and expand our business together.”

Founded in 2006, Cradlepoint has more than 650 employees, providing wireless WAN solutions that deliver enterprise-grade connectivity. In addition to the company headquarters in Boise, Idaho, USA, the company operates a research and development center in Silicon Valley, California, and new market offices in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Cradlepoint’s subscription model combines cloud-delivered software with hardware endpoints, support and training.

Ericsson’s long-standing collaboration with Cradlepoint dates back to the launch of 4G in the U.S. market more than a decade ago.


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Startups & Investors Set to Meet Virtually at the ISN Hubs Annual Gathering & Demo Day

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Innovation Support Network, Nigeria’s largest Hub network, is giving ten startups from across the country the opportunity to pitch before local and foreign investors at its inaugural Demo Day on September 24.

 

The ISN Demo Day is part of the two-day ISN Annual Gathering 2020 which would be holding virtually from 23 – 24 September, 2020.

 

The ISN Annual Gathering is the biggest convention of Hub founders, administrators, key partners and stakeholders and is targeted at growing visibility, building sustainable models and driving collaborations for the growth of Hubs as Entrepreneur Support Organisations in the country.

 

This year’s Annual Gathering “Stronger together – developing frameworks for collaboration” is very relevant at this time when Hubs and other members of the tech and innovation ecosystem need to become more collaborative.

 

In addition to the Annual Gathering, ISN Hubs would be hosting the ISN Hubs Demo Day on 24 September 2020.

 

Selected startups from within the ISN Hubs network would pitch virtually to an audience of investors, Corporates as well as members of the Development & Impact Community.

 

According to the Chairman of ISN Hubs, Tomi Davies, the ISN Demo Day is an opportunity for Angel investors to get a front-row view of some of the startups including a few outside of Lagos and Abuja, which they previously may not have had access to.

 

“This is a great opportunity for Hubs to showcase the startups that they are supporting, for startups to show what they are working on and the solutions that they are creating and for investors to get a better understanding of what is happening in the Nigerian tech and innovation ecosystem. It’s a win-win-win for everyone”. He concluded.

 

The first ISN Annual Gathering was held on 23 and 24 October 2019 at the Civic Center, Lagos. This year, due to the prevalence of post-COVID limitations on public events, the Annual Gathering would be held virtually on 23 and 24 September 2020.

 

Fayo Williams, partnership director, ISN, stated that “moving the event online has actually created an opportunity for us to reach a larger audience – not just across Nigeria but indeed, across the World.”

 

The event would hold for two days via Zoom and would feature two-panel sessions on Understanding the Innovation Support Ecosystem as well as Stimulating demand for homegrown solutions on September 23.

 

As a follow on to the second session on Day 1, the ISN Demo Day would hold on September 24. Register here to attend.

 

Innovation Support Network (ISN Hubs) is a not-for-profit Business Member Organisation made up of over 100 entrepreneurship, impact, innovation and technology Hubs across Nigeria.

 

ISN Hubs champion policy, drive collaborations and promote structures that help grow Nigeria’s innovation ecosystem. A Hub is an environment which provides Entrepreneur Support Services to startups by providing access to four critical resources: skills, infrastructure, funding and network. Hubs include business incubators, startup (or seed) accelerators, co-working spaces, makerspaces, hackerspaces and other structured innovation environments.


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