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Sim Registration: Towards a Hitch Free Exercise

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This week will witness the commencement of a historic exercise in the development of telecommunications in the country, as it marks the beginning of registration of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards used by subscribers of Global System for Mobile communications and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators.
Sim card registration is the process of documenting biodata of subscribers of mobile telecommunications services in the country. This means that information about every user of mobile communications service will be available to both operator of the network the individual subscribed to as well as Nigerian Communications Commission. This exercise became necessary in view rising crime wave perpetrated with mobile phone without trace to the actual owners of such lines.
How it came about
Nigerian Communications Commission in its effort at making telecommunications sector vibrant has been supporting advocacy groups, providing them with the platform to contribute on the best way to grow the industry. The Sim card registration is fallout of activities of advocacy groups in the sector. It all started when immediate past president of Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (Atcon) Dr. Emmanuel Ekwumem, at a press conference advocated for Sim card registration as a way of addressing the incessant use of mobile phone in crime commission as well as provide the much needed national identity databank with close to 70 percent of Nigerians owning mobile phones.
This initiative was presented to NCC by Atcon, after thorough study of the exercise and the modalities of realizing it that the regulatory body adopted it and thereafter notified operators of its intension to commence the process by March 1 which was later shifted to May 1 this year.
Shortly after the initial announcement in December 2009 for the commencement of SIM card registration in March 1, 2010, telecom operators flooded the market with SIM cards, using direct sales method in selling them to customers. Young sales representatives from across all networks were seen selling SIM cards in market places and on popular streets in Lagos and other cities of the country. The sales campaign was so intensified that the sales representatives were approaching all kind of people with convincing words to purchase their SIM cards. They went as far as crashing the cost of SIM Card from N200 to N100 and were almost forcing them on people who were not even willing to buy additional SIM cards.
The marketing campaign, it was gathered, was to quickly dispose the large amount of SIM cards, which the operating companies had rolled into the market, with the plans to get more subscribers on their networks, before the commencement of SIM card registration.
Stakeholders view
Deolu Ogunbanjo, President of National Association of Telecom Subscribers (Natcoms), commended NCC for accepting the initiative but noted that the time frame given was still not enough for telecom operating companies to get fully prepared for SIM card registration, if they have to do a credible job.
Ogunbanjo accused the NCC for not carrying out proper enlightenment campaign on the registration process.

According to him, NCC ought to have embarked on serious campaign on radio, television and in the newspapers to create awareness on what subscribers need to know about SIM Card registration and its benefits to subscribers. He said people in villages do not know anything about SIM Card registration because of lack of awareness campaign on the part of NCC.
Ogunbanjo equally called for the review of the conditions attached to SIM Card registration, to allow for a seamless registration exercise when the time comes. "A situation where people must present national identity cards and divers’ licences before registering their SIM Cards is unacceptable because majority of rural dwellers do not have drivers’ licences and national identity cards." How do you expect the old men and women in villages to produce drivers’ licences and national identity cards before they could register their SIM Cards, Ogunbanjo questioned.
Reuben Muoka, NCC spokesman, announcing the shift in date for the commencement of registration of all new SIM Card users in Nigeria, earlier scheduled for March 1, 2010, to May 1, 2010 said the deferment became necessary following the discovery that large amount of SIM Cards with instant activation features, which were already distributed by the service providers before the earlier announcement, would not have been cleared out before March 1, 2010.
He said the period from March 1, 2010 to May 1, 2010, will give room to the operating companies to clear the backlog of SIM cards in the market to allow for seamless registration of all new SIM cards from the new date.
The commission said it has directed all telecom operating companies to put necessary arrangements in place to ensure that all new SIM cards are registered before they are activated with effect from May 1, 2010. The extended period will also give the service providers the extra time to finalize the installation of all necessary facilities for the registration, Muoka further said.
The registration process will include the capture of the photograph and biometrics of the subscriber.
In the case of existing SIM card holders, NCC said necessary processes and procedures were currently being put in place to guarantee a smooth registration exercise and that the general public and all relevant stakeholders would be notified in due course about the timing and how to proceed.
Lolia Emakpore, head of Consumers Affair at the Nigerian Communications Commission, said the SIM card registration is in line with complaints that the commission had gotten that mobile phones are used to aid crimes and government has instructed the commission to adopt a mode to help stop crime.
"Nigeria does not have an effective database and that is why we think six months is enough to cover the six geo-political zones in the country and even get to the local government areas," she said.
Telecoms operators are however pessimistic about whether the process will be well conducted.
According to Ms. Emakpore, the process will require subscribers to produce their National Identity card. Biometrics will also be taken, to curb fraud, during the process of registration.
Stakeholders concerns
Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (Atcon) and the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (Alton) have said that third parties should not be allowed in the proposed SIM card registration process.
A third party is someone (or company) other than the principals (telecom companies) directly involved in a transaction or agreement.
Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, Atcon president, said that “Atcon made it clear that operators should be allowed to register their subscribers’ SIM cards themselves. When you want to open a bank account, the bank marketers come to you to do the marketing, they give you all the forms to fill and open the account for you. There is no third party that is working for the bank.”
Also nodding in agreement, Engineer Gbenga Adebayo, Alton president explained that the process must be transparent as much as possible, it must be friendly, and it must be seamless and flexible. “Operators we expect should be allowed as a first option to register their own subscribers. As a second option and for reasons of convenience, people should have the option of going to nominated centres to register,” he said.
NCC resolves concerns
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) may have accepted telecom operators as first level option as against engaging consultants only to carry out the process of Sim card registration of existing subscribers, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can now revealed.
This is sequel to directive the regulatory body issued to both Global System for Mobile communications and their Code Division Multiple Access operators to begin the registration of their existing subscribers on their network.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations revealed that some operators especially CDMA operators have notified their subscribers through short message service (SMS) to get ready for the exercise which starts this week.
With SIM card registration, the authorized dealer who sells SIM cards, must get security details of every buyer and forward such details to the operating company who must register the details against the SIM card before activating it.
The whole essence is to enable telecom operators to link every SIM card number to the identity of the actual owner.
As the exercise begins this week it the view of industry watchers that it will be a hitch free one that is devoid of complexities in the process that will make for easy registration.

 

 

 

 

 


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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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