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Public Outrage over Vendors’ Recharge Cards Hike

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and MTN Nigeria have washed their hands and refused to be drawn into the festering battle between consumers and retailers of MTN recharge cards who have added between N10 and N20 to the price of top up cards, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can report.

The vendors had during the last yuletide season increased prices of recharge cards; a development which has attracted public outrage.

Commercial Telephonists, SIMs, and Recharge Cards Retailers Association of Nigeria (COTSARCRAN) said the increment was from MTN.

MTN, has however denied any increment insisting that the face value of all its recharge card denominations remain the same.

Elsewhere, NCC exonerated the regulating body from the confusion, stating that its establishing act does not permit NCC to regulate matters on SIM cards and recharge cards sales.

But the little known COTSARCRAN which was registered only on January this year, said it will only revert to the normal prices when MTN and the dealers have removed  the added on their bulk purchases.

Mr. Adie Thomas Akomaye, president of COTSARCRAN, said, “On behalf of the entire members of the COTSARCRAN, I wish to appeal to MTN subscribers and the general public over the N10 increment on MTN recharge cards by MTN Company and its dealers.

Akomaye brandished documents and told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek  that “I promise that immediately MTN Company and its dealers resolve the issue and return to the initial price of minus N10, my members, the retailers will also return (back) to the minus N10 price with immediate effect”.

MTN on the hand maintained that “We have not effected a price increase and the retail price of the various denominations of our recharge cards and recharge vouchers remain the same”
 
According to Wale Goodluck, corporate services executive, MTN Nigeria, the recharge vouchers come in the following denominations: N1, 500, N750, N400, N200 and N100 and none of the prices has been reviewed upward.

“Any such hike,” said Goodluck, is ‘contrary to MTN’s wishes or knowledge. MTN has a well-established distribution structure and all our authorized partners within this structure are obliged to sell recharge cards at their face value. Any variance from the authorized face value of recharge cards is without MTN’s knowledge or authority.”

MTN’s 55 million customers can purchase airtime via recharge cards or recharge vouchers as well as through a virtual top up.

The airtime recharge options are generally distributed via a very extensive trade and distribution network which has over the years, successfully enhanced accessibility to airtime and customer convenience.

Goodluck assured customers that the company is currently working assiduously to arrest the situation.

In the meantime, he said, “We urge our esteemed customers in the affected areas to explore other options of purchasing airtime such as MTN Virtual Top Up (VTU)or  MTN Auto-Top Up”.

 Countering that Akomaye said: “MTN cannot deny it does not know that the dealers added the amounts. Other operators have not increased anything. They started the process around last year November. We were silent by then, because our registration with CAC was on-going. In other words, we sell recharge cards based on the amount we purchased.

“Today, the increment is a national thing. MTN started it when they reduced the number of dealers from 17 to 12. Those who left did not want to play the card according to what MTN presented to them. It is an exorbitant extortion. They should solve the equation with their dealers and revert to the old prices”. He aded.

When asked why some vendors still maintain the old pricing posture, he said, “I have some cards I bought about 3 months ago; so I can afford to sell at the old price. However, anybody buying card now does that under the new prices”.

 Speaking on the matter in a telephone interview with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, Tony Ojobo, director of Corporate Communications, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), said that the regulator primes customers’ satisfaction and has initiated, launched and implemented the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) scheme as a window to address such occurrences. 

Ojobo, said, “NCC does not have any powers to regulate the amount vendors collect on SIM cards or recharge cards. If we flash back, price of SIM cards were quite high, but NCC’s interventional schemes and customer awareness programmes led to the mega clash in the prices, particularly, the SIM cards.

“Meanwhile, NCC has been proactive; that is why we initiated and successfully implemented the MNP scheme. It is a window of opportunity for any customer that feels shortchanged by one operator to try the other. So, the present issue of an operator increasing the amount of its recharge cards is wholly a business decision; if they actually did,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Satellite Operators Push New Signal across Africa, Indian Ocean Regions

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The Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), has started to broadcast a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) signal over Africa and Indian Ocean (AFI), providing its first open service in the region via NIGCOMSAT-1R Satellite managed and operated the by Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd., under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Satellite Operators Push New Signal across Africa, Indian Ocean Regions

This early open service is provided as part of the programme, which pursues the autonomous provision SBAS services in Africa, to augment the performances of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo.

With improved accuracy to within a meter, and boosted integrity, availability, and continuity of safety-related applications, these SBAS services will improve flight safety and efficiency in Africa, and also benefit the economy in many areas as land, sea, and rail transport, as well as mass-market applications, supporting user safety, cost-effectiveness, and sustainable development.

The launched open service essentially aims to carry-out technical trials, and to undertake partner airlines field demonstrations for aircraft and rotorcraft, to demonstrate the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services, expected from 2024. It will also include early Precise Point Positioning (PPP), and emergency warning service to populations, which performance will be proven through other demonstrations.

The signal-in-space is generated by a dedicated system tested, developed as part of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” preliminary design phase, financed by the European Union, and awarded to Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67 per cent), and Leonardo (33 per cent).

The “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” is based on the European EGNOS (1) developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), acting under the delegation of the European Commission and operated by the European GNSS Agency GSA.

The system prototype uses as reference stations the SAGAIE network deployed by CNES and ASECNA with the support of Thales Alenia Space.

The signal is broadcasted via the SBAS payload on NigComSat 1R GEO satellite of the Nigerian Communications Satellite, and an uplink station deployed in Abuja, Nigeria.

It is compliant to the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and the minimum operational performance standard developed by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) organisation.

It will be visible in the whole of Africa and the Indian Ocean, up to the West Australian coast, and also in Europe.

Dr. Abimbola Alale, managing director/chief executive officer of NIGCOMSAT, said: “we are proud to be part of this ambitious program to provide satellite navigation services in the Africa and Indian Ocean region. The use of our geostationary communication satellite NIGCOMSAT-1R navigation payload to broadcast the first signal will be Africa’s premier contribution to SBAS as a regional satellite-based augmentation system for the continent.”

On his part, Benoit Broudy, vice president, Navigation Business at Thales Alenia Space in France, said the longstanding expertise acquired with the development of EGNOS1 SBAS in Europe, and KASS SBAS in Korea, combined with the new leading-edge satellite positioning technologies make Thales Alenia the ideal partner to best support countries to implement their own SBAS efficiently.

“The equatorial region represents also a key engineering challenge for such a system due to difficult ionosphere conditions, for which Thales Alenia Space has developed a proven solution,” he stated.

Mohamed Moussa, director-general of ASECNA, said the provision of the first African SBAS early service is a crucial major step forward in the development of satellite navigation in the AFI region, and in the deployment of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” system, the navigation solution for Africa by Africa.

He said: “It demonstrates the ambition and commitment of ASECNA to enhance air navigation safety for the benefit of the whole continent, in line with my vision for the unification of the African Sky.”


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ipNX, USTDA Ink Partnership Deal to Develop Nigeria’s ICT Infrastructure

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ipNX, Nigeria’s pioneering and leading information, communications and technology (ICT) company and the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) have signed a partnership deal that will further support the development of Nigeria’s ICT and broadband infrastructure and help ipNX expand its fibre-optic network to more than 200,000 residences in Lagos and other locations, including Abuja and Port Harcourt.

A virtual signing ceremony that signalled the beginning of this far reaching relationship between the two parties was held on Thursday, September 17, 2020.

Through this innovative initiative, the USTDA is supporting ipNX to promote inclusive, secure and sustainable connectivity across the nation.

The agreements were made possible as a result of several engagements between the USTDA delegation to Nigeria and the leadership of ipNX; and will advance the goals of the recently updated Nigerian Broadband Plan.

At the Signing Ceremony, Ejovi Aror, group managing director of ipNX, said: “We believe that world-class connectivity and broadband internet access will be pivotal to the digital transformation and socio-economic development of Nigeria.

‘We are very positive that this project will play a crucial role in making our belief a reality.”

Aror added that with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the case for a vibrant ICT sector has never been stronger and the new partnership will bring ipNX a step closer to achieving its mission to continually leverage technology to create innovative solutions that help mankind thrive, while making a crucial impact to the lives of Nigerians across the country.

Mary Beth Leonard, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, said’ “These projects will support the development of Nigeria’s telecoms infrastructure and help to achieve the goals of the National Broadband Plan.

“The U.S. Government has committed significant resources to improving telecoms infrastructure in Nigeria and this support is crucial as we believe that investment in critical ICT projects will strengthen the resiliency outlined in Nigeria’s economic sustainability plan.”

Also present at the virtual event, the Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Engr. Bako Wakil, who spoke on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, said: “The support this grant will provide to the telecommunications sector, in particular broadband, is in line with the National Digital Strategy and the National Broadband Plan.

“The NCC would like to congratulate ipNX as it shows the company’s integrity and commitment to be selected for this grant”.

ipNX also revealed that it intends to continue to work with USTDA beyond the preliminary stage, to execute many more projects into the future that will bring about the digital transformation and socio-economic development of major cities in Nigeria in alignment with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.

With their partnership, both parties fully agree that further development of the nation’s broadband infrastructure is key to unlocking the potential promised by Nigeria’s digital economy.

According to the World Bank’s ‘Nigeria Digital Economy Diagnostic Report’ released in 2019, Broadband is a key enabler to harness the digital economy transformation and high-speed broadband has the potential to accelerate Nigeria’s socio-economic development.

 


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Manfa, ANSICTA Boss Pledges to Collaborate with NITDA for Establishment of Zonal Office in Anambra State

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Mr Theo Manfa, managing director/chief executive officer, Anambra State Information and Communication Technology Agency, (ANSICTA) has hinted that they are ready to collaborate with National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) for the establishment of the agency’s South-East Zonal office in the State.

 

He stated this when he led ANSICTA delegation to NITDA’s head office in Abuja recently.

 

Mr Manfa explained that the call for special requests by the state is necessitated by the fact that the state “has long been known as a home of innovation and entrepreneurship, through the various markets like Onitsha and Nnewi and the plethora of locally produced goods they spawned over time.”

Dr Vincent Vincent Olatunji, Director E-Government and Regulation NITDA receiving an award on behalf of the DG from Theo Manafa MD ANSICTA

He said that innovation and entrepreneurship are important elements to drive the digital economy which the nation is striving to create adding that the state has been watching with keen interest the activities of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and NITDA which necessitated the intended partnership.

 

He requested NITDA’s partnership with ANSICTA in building an ICT Hub in Anambra State; hosting a NITDA regional office; hosting NITDA events and programs as a State and region; trainings and Skills development programs of NITDA where the State hopes to train 40,000 residents in the next 2 years in Digital skills; establishment of cooperation on the Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA) and the provision of the Unity Board where 150 units were requested for a program for secondary schools in Anambra.

 

ANSICTA also presented an award to the Director General for his “Outstanding Achievements in Driving theDigital Economy” which was received by Dr. Vincent Olatunji on behalf of the DG.

 

Dr. Olatunji responded along with comments from some of the Directors and said NITDA would be glad to cooperate with the State.

L-R: Theo Manafa, MD/CEO of ANSICTA, Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi, DG of NITDA and Michael Orekyeh, COO of ANSICTA

He said it was gratifying to note that Anambra State now has an ICT Agency as Gov Willie Obiano had visited NITDA 6 years ago and the agency had worked with the State in developing an ICT policy for Anambra.

 

The success of that exercise is the take off of the agency (ANSICTA) which is the execution arm of the policy developed by NITDA.

 

He further said ANSICTA was by the speech of its MD really in tune with the affairs and mandates of NITDA and stated that ANSICTA should make a formal application for the things requested at this meeting will be looked into by Management for approval by the Director General.

 

He also thanked ANSICTA for recognizing the hard work of the DG through the award they presented, which he said was most encouraging.

Michael Orekyeh; chief operating officer of ANSICTA was part of the delegation from Anambra State. while the Director General of NITDA, Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi was represented by the Director E-Government and Regulation, Dr. Vincent Olatunji; Director Office of ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship – OIIE, Dr. (Mrs.) Amina Sambo Magaji; Deputy Director of IT Infrastructure, Dr. Saidu Kumo; SA Technical to the DG, Dr. Mohammed Yahaya; Corporate Strategy Department, Dr. Taofik Yekini and other Directors and Key Management Staff.

 

 

 


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