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Nigeria Mobile Operators and Host communities

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Since the emergence of mobile telephone in the 2001, combined subscription is inching close to the 50 million mark and many more yet to sign up. The potentials are still enormous given the fact that total population under the licensed territory (Nigeria) is close to 140 million people.
Good as it may sound that we can now connect to the world without the endless wait and shoddy services that characterized the pre-GSM era, when Nitel’s monopoly hold sway. Despite all the rapid expansion and coverage in most cities nation wide, quality of service issues seems to the albatross of the mobile operators.
Quality of mobile phone services is commonly the most discussed topic outside politics and Energy issues which we are daily confounded with. Even the newly inaugurated senate had already debated on it! While the national regulator, NCC, in many instances and at different forums reinforced the importance of provisioning high quality services to millions of subscribers, the stark reality is that the situation seems to be getting worse by the day.
NCC also initiated the consumer outreach and consumer parliament to resolve subscriber’s frustrations which had taken another dimension with subscribers forming associations and even going further to advocate service boycotts in protest against poor service delivery and in some extreme cases, initiated court cases against mobile operators.
In the midst of allegations, accusations and claims by operators and subscribers alike, what the entire population failed to look at genuinely are some points that operators are raising.
Some time ago, MTN Communications had reasons to alert the public about its facilities that were maliciously damaged. Important components of mobile telephony technology are the radio equipments which are mounted on towers and mast all over the towns and cities. Fiber Optics cables also carry traffic crisscrossing the national boundaries and some of the longest cables in Africa in located here in Nigeria.
Recently we all witnessed massive degradation of services across all the networks and despite all efforts, its seems the problem is beyond them. Most service disruption is directly link to the handiwork of vandals and community agitators. In many instances, workers and their sub contractors are denied access to the base station sites to service power generators and other equipments, fiber optics unearth from the ground and severed, diesel theft and generator vandals. The irony is that the communities that now turned vandals at some point clamored for the Base stations to be sited in their community.
Most of the demands of the communities are unrealistic, ranging from multiple payments for acquired site properties, road construction, powering of communities and even scholarships!!! These are not the duties of companies that pay all forms of taxes to government. Though some of the activities of the operators do impact the environment negatively sometimes, care should be taken to ensure strict compliance with environmental regulations to curb noise pollution from generating sets, spillages from diesel and used engine oil which can pollute source of community waters.
Community empowerment programs can be implemented through engaging locals as site security, civil repairs works and immediate remedial repairs whenever their activities impact on the communities negatively. Mobile operators should also leverage on site where some basic infrastructure that can support their services exists. They can leverage on the branch network of banks and as they roll out new Bank Branches, they make provision for tower erections on the properties on a rental basis. This offers some level of security. Implementation of integrated maintenance of cell sites, will also reduce numbers and frequency of site visits for maintenance purposes. Increasing the storage tanks for diesel will greatly help in reducing frequent top up visits which seems to be a lucrative target for community extortions.
With communities and vandals taking its toll on the operations on the mobile operators and high cost of subscribers acquisition in face of keen competition, it is only natural that the subscribers will be at the receiving end through poor services and high tariffs. Just like crude oil production where you need a maze of pipelines to deliver contents likewise the telecommunications services too. The base stations might look like a stand alone installation but operationally, they are inter connected and linked with many others elsewhere and when one goes down, it might lead to disruption of services or a near collapse in a locality .
The oil communities militancy that is threatening the revenue source of Nigeria started and got elevated to this level because we did not look hard enough at the root cause for many years and now they cant just stop.
So next time you tried to make that important call and it does not connect, it does not mean that the MTN,Zain AND GLO are not alive to their responsibility but maybe area boys and your community people had just tampered with a diesel hose that feeds the generator which powers the base station in your community or had just chased away telecoms workers from site and you are denied access to reach your loved ones via your mobile phone.


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NCC @ ICTEL EXPO, Pledges Robust ICT Infrastructure for Economic Growth

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Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has said that the Commission will continue to promote and facilitate expansion of robust broadband/Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure across the country for the rapid development of the nation’s digital economy.

NCC @ ICTEL EXPO,  Pledges Robust ICT Infrastructure for Economic Growth

Prof Umar Danbatta, EVC, NCC

Danbatta gave the assurance in a presentation titled “Communication Technology for Service Delivery in Health, Education, Tourism, the Creative Industry and Agriculture” delivered during the first virtual and sixth edition of Information Communications Technology and Telecommunications Conference and Exhibition (ICTEL) EXPO 2020.

He said the Commission, not only successfully achieved but surpassed the 30 per cent broadband penetration target in 2018.

Danabatta observed that through various policy initiatives, broadband penetration has further increased to 42.02 per cent as of July, 2020, noting that this has laid a solid foundation to drive the national efforts at achieving the new 70 per cent broadband penetration target set in the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025.

Represented by Efosa Idehen, director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, Danbatta said in line with this commitment, the Commission has commenced the review of the framework for engaging infrastructure companies to cascade fibre optic deployment to the hinterlands of Nigeria to ensure pervasive access to broadband services in the country.

He stated that with the support of the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, NCC is resolving the perennial problem of high cost of Right of Way (RoW) with the support of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) to hasten ICT infrastructure that will enable socio-economic activities across various sectors.

According to him, as the world is becoming increasingly digitised; there will be no sector or facet of human life where ICT will not be required for optimal service delivery and improved conditions of living for the citizens.

With regard to the health sector, Danbatta said ICT is playing a very important role in the manner health services are now delivered, adding that the new Internet speed and low latency of 5G technology are expected to further enhance the possibilities of telemedicine and remote surgery.

Similarly, the EVC said the educational sector has also greatly soared on the wings of ICT, as there has been a surge in online learning in many institutions around the globe due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, while illustrating the symbiotic relationship between ICT and educational sectors.

Danbatta said “the relationship between ICT and the educational sector has been mutually beneficial. He assured the stakeholders that the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to enhance the capabilities of the educational sector even further.”

According to him, the agricultural sector has also benefitted from ICT, as several agro-based apps have been designed to ensure that stakeholders in the sector are able to provide and improve on essential agro-services.

These developments have helped to boost food production and security, just as a lot of digitisation is also holding sway in the creative industry, enhancing its growth thereby enabling job creation and greater contribution to the Gross Domestic product (GDP).

 


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NDPR to Safeguard Personal Data of Nigerians -DG NITDA

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Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has disclosed that the motive behind the issuance of Nigerian Data Protection Regulations, (NDPR) by the Agency was to safeguard the right of natural persons to data privacy, fostering safe conduct for transactions involving the exchange of personal data, enablement of Nigerian businesses to be globally compliant and competitive and to create jobs for Nigerians.

 

Mallam Abdullahi revealed this Friday while delivering the keynote address  at the 6th annual conference of Institute Internal Auditors of Nigeria, (IIAN) with the theme:, “Agility and Resilience” which was held on zoom conference platform.

 

The Conference aimed at preparing participants across Internal Audits, Internal Controls, risk management, revenue and Government assurance and other business professionals to learn how to leverage on new technologies and procedures towards actualisation of the organisation’s goals and objectives.

 

The NITDA DG who was represented Director e-Government Development and Regulations, Dr Vincent Olatunji stated that since inception of the Agency in 2001, it has been playing a catalytic roles to spur the infusion of technology into nation’s work processes reiterating that the Agency plays “critical roles in capacity development, provision of working tools for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

 

“NITDA also has an existing arrangement with the office of the Auditor General of the Federation to aid the office in the discharge of its activities.”

 

Mallam Abdullahi said, “The Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) was issued on 25th January, 2020 by my predecessor, DrIsa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

 

“As part of his think-tank then, our thinking was that Nigeria needed to quickly provide a regulatory framework for the processing of personal data.

 

“This was even more pertinent in consideration of the global implications of non-performance.

 

“Businesses where losing bids because investors felt there was no data privacy regime in Nigeria.

 

“The Agency’s implementation of the NDPR has been innovative and impact oriented. For the first time in data protection implementation, auditors became recognised as Data Protection Compliance Organisations (DPCO)”.

 

He maintained that NITDA has 72 licensed DPCOs among which are members of this “august body,” adding that “this posture is not as a result of lack of professionals in the IT industry, rather, we have made conscious efforts to carry every relevant stakeholder along in our developmental regulatory strategy.

 

“ I hope this noble institute would repay NITDA’s generosity by imbibing ethical and professional principles on your members for better implementation of the Regulation.”

 

Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, New Capital Cooperatives Society Mr. Benedict Anyalenka while commending the organisers of the conference affirmed that data privacy and protection should be a requisite skill needed for development of the Information Technology Sector as it would create platform for protection of information against unauthorized usage.

 

Anyalenka, however, called for proper awareness on the importance of data privacy among organisations and stakeholders across the country to safeguard citizens’ data.


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FG Reveals Plans to Deploy Technology in the Health Sector

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As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government of Nigeria has announced plans to deploy information and communications technology (ICT) in the country’s health sector.

This is part of the plans to achieve transparency and accountability in health care delivery across the country.

Dr. Ngozi R. C. Azodoh, director, Special Projects, Federal Ministry of Health, who represented Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire, Honourable Minister of Health, revealed this while speaking at MTN Nigeria’s Revv Programme masterclass on Thursday, September 17, 2020 .

The virtual session themed ‘Bridging the healthcare divide through technology and partnerships’ had in attendance health sector experts including Chief Executive Officer, Hygeia HMO Limited, Obinnia Abajue; Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder, Afya Care, Kola Oni; Managing Director, Ingress Health Partners, Dr. Orode Doherty and Chief Executive Officer, Tremendoc Limited, Ugochukwu Chikezie. The session was moderated by the General Manager, Business Development, MTN Nigeria, Omotayo Ojulatayo.

According to Azodoh, the federal government has put structures in place to utilise ICT as part of efforts to standardise the healthcare system.

“The government is working hand in hand with state governments across the country to maintain transparency and accountability, adding that ICT and other forms of electronic platforms are currently being improved and expanded following the federal government’s COVID intervention”.

She also shared that the ministry is willing to support small businesses in the sector imploring the participating SMEs to seize the opportunities provided by The Revv Programme.

“I want to ask everyone who is listening to write to the MTN Revv team and say this is one thing I want the Federal Ministry of Health to do to help my business then we can engage on how to proceed,” she enthused.

In her parting remarks, she also commended MTN Nigeria for providing a platform for SMEs to expand their capacity. “I must commend MTN for this excellent initiative. It has been very productive for me and an opportunity to transfer knowledge.”

The Revv Programme is an initiative from MTN Nigeria to help small businesses rethink and retool their operations in order to withstand the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic using a four-pronged approach that includes masterclasses, access to market, productivity tools support and advisory initiatives.


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