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Telcos Claim Voicemail Does not require Regulation

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Telecommunications operators in the country under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) have insisted that the voicemail service on mobile telephone lines does not require policy or regulatory intervention from the federal government or its agencies.

Telcos Claim Voicemail Does not require Regulation

Mr Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of ALTON

ALTON assertion followed an order issued by Dr Isa Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy to the telcos to deactivate  voicemail services on all existing phone lines in the country.

The minister directed the sector regulator, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), to ensure that the service providers complied with the order.

The minister claimed that Mobile Network Operators were using the automatic activation of the voicemail service on their platforms to exploit Nigerians.

About two months since the directive was issued, there is no indication that the telcos complied with the order.

Mr Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of ALTON, said that the voicemail service was a “basic system feature” that did not require the intervention of the government.

“Voicemail is a value added service offered to all willing subscribers and those who do not want the service can always opt out of voicemail services.

“It is a basic system feature and not one of those services requiring policy or regulatory intervention,” he said.

While ordering the deactivation of the voicemail on mobile phone lines, Pantami had alleged that the telcos were compelling Nigerian subscribers to use the service by default.

According to him, it was worrisome and totally unacceptable that subscribers were incurring financial charges for a service they were compelled to use.

The minister had equally directed the NCC to compel the telcos to stop “illegal deduction” of subscribers’ data, and reduce the cost of data in the country.

The telcos had denied reports that they were engaging in illegal deductions, arguing that updates, downloads and some other activities on smartphones were responsible for unaccounted depletion of data.

Adebayo insisted that the telcos were not guilty of illegal deductions, as alleged by the minister.

“There are no such things as illegal deduction by any operator,” he said.

In response to the order to slash the cost of data, the telcos had argued that the price of data was determined by market forces, including cost of operations.

Asked whether the NCC had asked the operators to reduce the cost of data, Adebayo said, “There are regulatory procedures and framework for price variation and we will continue to comply will all such provisions as may be directed by the NCC, our regulator, from time to time.”

Adebayo, in the same vein, outlined the telcos’ demands on the Federal Government in the New Year.

Top on the list of demands was the classification of telecommunications infrastructure as critical national infrastructure, a development which would ensure that the facilities are protected by the government as national assets.

“We want the government to classify telecommunications infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure and accord telecom cell sites, fibre optics cables and all supporting infrastructure the same level of protection being provided for critical economy infrastructure such as the oil pipelines and railway tracks,” Adebayo said.

Pantami had recently disclosed that the government was working on an Executive Order which would designate telecoms infrastructure as CNI.

Other issues ALTON is asking the Federal Government to resolve include “multiple taxation and multiple regulation” of telecom services.

ALTON had called for the amendment of Tax Order of 2015 to reduce multiple taxation.

Apart from the statutory taxes levied on operators, telcos pay Annual Operating Levy of certain percentage of earnings to the NCC and are also charged various rates by some other agencies of the federal, state and local governments.

“Illegal closure of telecom sites in the name of tax and revenue collection is an aberration that must be met with severe sanctions,” Adebayo added.

The ALTON chairman urged the communications minister, ensure that all the stakeholders in the sector work together to move the industry forward.

 


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9mobile Refutes Claims of N55Bn Debt to Keystone Bank

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Board of Directors of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited, trading as 9mobile, has refuted reports suggesting that a court ordered the company to pay a N55bn debt to Keystone Bank.

9mobile Refutes Claims of N55Bn Debt to Keystone Bank

In a statement at the weekend, the telecommunications company clarified that it was not a party to any legal suit or court order related to the debt.

The legal dispute involves only its minority shareholder, Teleology Nigeria Limited.

“Our attention has been drawn to a wave of syndicated media publications dated Friday, July 19, 2024, with the same misleading headline: ‘Court orders 9mobile to pay N55bn debt to Keystone Bank,’” 9mobile stated.

“The Management of 9mobile wishes to inform the concerned public and critical stakeholders that, contrary to this misleading headline, Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited, trading as 9mobile, was neither a party to any suit nor affected by the order said to have been made against it as an entity.”

On Friday, a section of the media reported that a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered Teleology Nigeria Ltd. to pay the sum owed to Keystone Bank.

Bode Olanipekun, SAN, Keystone’s counsel, claimed Teleology failed to service the loan used to finance its acquisition of assets in 9mobile.

Despite Keystone Bank’s offer to restructure the loan, Teleology did not meet the conditions set forth. Instead of repayment, the plaintiff received a proposal from PAC Ltd. suggesting a debt conversion to equity with no immediate repayment.

9mobile emphasised that the reports were false and defamatory, impacting its corporate reputation.

“If the correspondents who filed the obviously syndicated news stories were anywhere near the courtroom during the proceedings leading to the issuance of the said order, they would have known that at no point was 9mobile a party to the suit in question. Rather, the action was appropriately classified and filed as ‘Keystone Bank v. Teleology Nigeria Limited.’”

The company reiterated that no judgment was made against it and described the attempt to link 9mobile with the transaction of its minority shareholder, Teleology Nigeria Limited, as “false and maliciously misleading.”

9mobile highlighted that it is under new ownership, with a 95.5 per cent controlling stake in the business, and has not been found liable for the actions of its minority shareholder in the ongoing legal tussle.

“Our business transformation program has commenced, and we are poised to reclaim our place in the market,” 9mobile assured.

Teleology Holdings acquired 9mobile, previously known as Etisalat Nigeria, in November 2018 after a lengthy bidding process. However, just two months later, Teleology announced its withdrawal from the project due to dissatisfaction with its local partnership and operational challenges.

This decision jeopardised the initial $50m deposit made for the acquisition and highlighted ongoing financial difficulties faced by 9mobile, which has seen a significant decline in subscribers since its financial troubles began in 2017.

 


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TD Africa, BOSCH Strengthen Ties on Nigerian Consumer Electronic Market

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To further showcase its acknowledgment and endorsement of the Nigerian-born, Africa-wide technology distribution company, TD Africa, a delegation of Robert Bosch GmbH, popularly known as BOSCH, has paid a courtesy visit to the tech distribution giant at its Victoria Island, Lagos, head office.

L-R: Ifeoma Chigbo-Ndukwe (HR & Admin, TD Africa); Anastasia Etumeahu (Bosch Business Manager, TD Africa); Piet Ebersohn (Bosch Brand Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa); Chioma Chimere (Coordinating Managing Director, TD Africa); Chiamaka Okonkwo (Business Analyst, TD Africa); Omotola Basiru (Procurement Officer, TD Africa).

This pivotal visit marks a renewed commitment of the German multinational engineering and technology company to TD Africa as the strategic ally for Bosch business in Nigeria.

Mrs. Chioma Chimere, the Coordinating Managing Director of TD Africa, who warmly received the Bosch delegation, said the visit was to further strengthen the existing ties between the two companies and stamp the multinational’s presence in Nigeria.

Her words, “This visit signifies a renewed focus on making Bosch the most sought-after consumer electronics brand for the discerning Nigerian customer.

“We believe the collaborative strategies discussed will pave the way for big prospects and breakthroughs for Bosch in Nigeria, and TD Africa stands ready as a key partner in this journey.”

Topmost on the discussion were strategies for projecting TD Africa as the key distributor for Bosch products in the country. As both parties outlined plans towards achieving exponential growth through marketing initiatives, among others, to expand Bosch’s market share.

Mr. Piet Ebersohn, the Brand Manager for Bosch, Sub-Saharan Africa, who led the delegation, said: “TD’s commitment to the growth of the customer’s value chain is immeasurable and invaluable. This is one of the many reasons we value our partnership with TD Africa.”

For the continued efficacy of the alliance, the German company promised to ensure top-notch supply-chain management practices with TD Africa to ensure a steady flow of desired Bosch products to ease and meet the Nigerian consumer demands without delay.

While this collaboration further reinforces TD Africa’s commitment to making technologies accessible across the continent, the visit has again confirmed TD Africa’s position as the premier distributor of choice for leading global brands.


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FG Calls on Nigerians to Apply for ECOWAS Cybersecurity Hackathon

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Federal Government of Nigeria is calling on all Nigerian youths and IT enthusiasts to join the Capture the Flag (CTF) competition by registering to participate in the Economic Community of West Africa’s (ECOWAS) Cybersecurity Hackathon.

The event aims to empower citizens across the region with vital cybersecurity skills.

The event is being organised by ECOWAS and hosted by Nigeria in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, and NITDA.

The Cybersecurity Hackathon presents an excellent opportunity for both beginners and seasoned professionals to dive into the world of cybersecurity, acquire new skills, and network with fellow enthusiasts.

All talented individuals and teams are invited to join this exhilarating competition. Demonstrate your expertise, collaborate with peers, and push the boundaries of cybersecurity. Be part of the talent pool driving cyberspace security for your country and West Africa as a whole.

The hackathon fosters a platform for young technology enthusiasts, enhancing the cyber workforce in the region. Nigerian youths are particularly encouraged to participate and showcase their brightest minds in this competition. Whether a cybersecurity novice or a seasoned expert, this event offers a unique opportunity to learn new skills and connect with fellow cyber enthusiasts.

ECOWAS Hackathon is an annual ethical hacking competition that brings together top cybersecurity talents from across ECOWAS, providing a unique opportunity to showcase skills, encourage knowledge sharing, and promote excellence in the field of cybersecurity.

The first edition took place in Porto Novo, Benin Republic in 2022 and Lome, Togo in 2023.

Eligibility and Registration Details:

Registration Period: Open from July 19, 2024, to August 5, 2024.

Eligibility Criteria:

All participants must be citizens of ECOWAS

member countries.

Travel tickets will be provided for participants residing within the region.

Teams must consist of 3-4 members, with at least one female participant.

Participants must be between 17 and 35 years of age.

This initiative came at the time of a recent report by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2), which highlighted a global gap of four million unfilled cybersecurity jobs.

The Federal Government of Nigeria is addressing this talent shortage through its 3 Million Technical Talent (3MTT) programme, organised by the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy.

The programme aims to train three million Nigerians in technical skills, including cybersecurity.

Register Now:

Don’t miss this thrilling opportunity to be part of West Africa’s cybersecurity community. Registration for the ECOWAS Cybersecurity Hackathon is now open. Join this exciting Capture the Flag (CTF) competition by clicking the link below: https://ecowasctf.ng](https://ecowasctf.ng)


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