When the word telecommunications is mentioned, what readily comes to mind of many Nigerians is voice communications. This perception could be explained by the emphasis on voice by most telecom operators as well as voice being the most required of other services on their table.
There are four major services commonly being delivered by operators in the telecommunications sector of any economy, these include, voice, data, internet and video.
Today, these services are playing fundamental role in powering advancement in other sectors of any economy. Some of the sectors include financial, aviation, medical, education, manufacturing among others. In all of these, telecommunications is helping in enhancing effectiveness of the services delivered in the sectors.
Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) explained that telecommunications is an essential infrastructure of the information economy, and that countries that lack sufficient access to modern telecommunications networks, find it difficult to be effectively integrated into the global economy. Against this backdrop, he said that the Nigerian government has, over the past eight years been providing the right environment to attract serious investors and encourage market forces to thrive, all aimed at attracting new sources of capital, accelerating network expansion, improving pricing, enhancing quality of service and introducing new technologies.
“There is no doubt that without ICT a nation or person cannot reach her full potential in today’s world. Two new reports, by the World Bank (Information and Communication for development report, 2006) and World Economic Forum (Global Information Technology report, 2005-2006), underline the fact that economic development depends on overall progress in a country’s ICT sector, and that, without such progress, both economies and companies suffer. Thus the World Banks study finds that firms that use ICT grow faster, and are more productive and profitable than those that do not. Access to broadband has also been identified as key to keeping small businesses competitive in any modern economy” he said.
According to him, “even for the poor and rural population, investments in ICT have been known to help reduce the burden of inadequate infrastructure particularly in the area of transportation. Rural areas, where the vast majority of the world’s population lives, as well as a significant proportion of poor people, tend to be greatly underserved by essential infrastructure. ICT can enable them to save both time and money if they are able to access information and services closer to home. ICT facilities are critical for local producers to coordinate activities, linkage with national and global opportunities as well as being able to withstand competition in their domestic markets”. Survival and growth in these contexts he said increasingly depend upon their innovativeness, capacity to learn and their effectiveness in using and absorbing technology, which is becoming essential factor in production, distribution, marketing and planning processes at all levels.
Even in the case of the “informal sector”, the source of livelihoods for most of the world’s poor and for a large percentage of women, ICT can assist with the delivery of social services, with micro-finance, with strengthening coping strategies and income generation thus contributing to general sustainable development.
Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (Alton) said telecommunication had replaced to a large extent, the need for travels, the need for physical meetings as conferences are held over video teleconference facilities with parties located in different parts of the world.
These advantages, he said, had changed the way people live and the way they do businesses and that Nigeria was on the map of this transformation. The modern day economy, he added, cannot be sustained without commensurate development in telecommunication. He further explained that virtually all industries in the country today depended on telecommunication services in one form or the other, be it manufacturing, oil exploration, production, traffic management and control, security and surveillance systems and the banking and finance sector.
Benefits to Financial sector
Before the liberalization of telecommunications sector in the country’s economy, there was nothing like online banking, where a bank customer can carry out transactions in any branch of the particular bank across the country outside where such account is domicile. Then, Nigerians where forced to carry cash from one city to the other to make purchases because they can not withdraw money from any other branch of the same bank order than where the account is domiciled.
Online banking services are the distance banking services over electronic media from the early ’80s. The term online became popular in the late ’80s and referred to the use of a terminal, keyboard and TV (or monitor) to access the banking system using a phone line.
Aside online banking, the financial sector has also benefited from the telecommunications which facilitated the introduction of electronic payment. Initial efforts in the use of electronic cards to carry out transactions through Automated Teller Machine (ATM) failed because there were no reliable telecommunications services to provide the communications link required for the system to work. A typical e-payment system requires communications link such as General Package Radio Service (GPRS) or cable between the ATM and the bank’s data centre as well as the switching platform. This is provided by telecommunications operators.
Adeyemi Adeyinka, managing partner, Intermac Consulting, an integrated consulting firm with focus on e-business with particular emphasis on e-banking and e-payment intermediation has observed that Nigeria has continued to make steady progress towards ensuring full banking transaction automation with the value of e-payment rising to N360 billion in 2008.
He noted that the increase in the adoption of the electronic model is not only driven by the need for electronic services but also by the love and speedy uptake of new technologies by Nigerians.
According to him, most astonishing, is the fact that the uptake of technology in the country cuts across all strata of society. This is even as artisans, market women and Okada riders make use of the e-payment systems as well as the upwardly mobile professionals. All these are great indications that there is a lot of prospect for electronic payment in Nigeria.
Ordinarily, one would argue that medical profession has little or nothing to do with telecommunications, except when a nurse needs attention of the doctor she can call him or her through mobile phone, if he is out of the hospital premises. But, telecommunications goes far beyond this. We hear the word ‘telemedicine’ this system allows doctors to carry out surgery or treatment at remote locations from the city. This system is powered by telecommunications. Without telecommunications there is nothing like telemedicine which is the way forward in the effort to achieve advancement in the primary health care service delivery in the country.
Oil and Gas
Oil and Gas sector of the country’s economy has become the biggest corporate customers of most telecommunications operators providing satellite communications as well as two way radio services. The nature of oil prospecting demands that workers at the rig which are located at creeks which are far from the city need to communicate with their operational base in the city. This is done through effective communications services provided through Very Small Aperture Terminal (Vsat) as well as two radio service that makes use of satellite communications all part of telecommunications services.
Nay, oil and gas companies require satellite communications to monitor their facilities located at creeks to determine point of damage if such facility suffers one.
In Education, the use of information and communication technologies continues to expand exponentially, bringing unprecedented opportunities for achieving greater educational access and success. Given this potential, governments and its agencies have invested substantial resources to providing facilities in schools, colleges and universities around the country, thus increasing access to IT education, improving literacy and improving the quality of education generally. More importantly, distant education programmes are made possible by internet connectivity, where a student in Nigeria can be part of a lecture in an educational institution say, in London or United State America (USA) live as well as make contributions while the lecture is going on.
Aviation sector is not left out as one of the sectors that are benefiting from the services of telecommunications. Without missing words, telecommunications is the bedrock of aviation industry as aircrafts flying in the air maintains constant communications link with the control tower without which the plane will immediately crash. This vital link that makes flight possible is provided by telecommunications sector.
The Federal Government as well as the State Governments declared their commitment to positioning Nigeria among the top twenty economies of the world by 2020, and are of necessity, required to be seen to be committed to providing the right policy and regulatory environment that will attract massive investment into the various sectors of the economy. The telecom sector leads the way in this regard and has achieved international recognition for Nigeria as the leading country in Africa and among the top ten in the world as a result of this commitment.
With the growth being experienced in the telecommunications sector and its adoption in different sectors of the economy, it is believed that the hope of the country becoming one of the top twenty economies will be realized if the right policy is put in place to encourage the application of Information and communications technology to our national life.
Danbatta Inaugurates Evaluation Committee for 2020 Research Proposals
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman and chief executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has inaugurated a 15-member Evaluation Committee for the assessment of the 2020 Telecommunications based research from Academics in the Nigerian tertiary institutions.
The Committee, chaired by Prof. Mu’azu Bashir, a professor of Computer and Control Engineering and Head of Computer Engineering Department at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was inaugurated at the Commission’s Head Office in Abuja on Wednesday, September 24, 2020.
Speaking during the inauguration, Danbatta said that the initiative speaks to the Commission’s commitment towards encouraging the development of indigenous innovative solutions that impact not only the Telecom industry/ICT sector positively but also the nation as a whole.
“We want to continuously support research projects that can lead to the development of new products and services in the industry as the key enabler of the nation’s digital economy.
“We are all aware of the appreciable contributions of the Nigerian Telecommunication sector to the growth of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) over the years, which peaked at 14.53 per cent in second quarter of 2020,” he said.
Danbatta, stated that the Commission understands that funding Research and Development (R&D) is fundamental to ensuring that the needs of consumers are properly anticipated and met while enabling sustainable economic growth, adding that the Digital Economy-based Research Innovations project underlines the importance of funding R&D.
According to the EVC, for the year 2020, the request for proposals was tailored to providing innovations and solving challenges in five emerging areas of technology.
“These include innovative clean energy technology; 5G deployment in Nigeria; Internet of Things (IoT), low power Wide Area Network (WAN) technology; advanced methods of Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) management and test mechanism as well as monitoring and localisation of drones.
“While emphasising the importance of telecommunication/ICT industry to innovative developments and transformations within the economy, Danbatta tasked members of the Committee to thoroughly evaluate all submissions in order to sieve, identify and select the best from the proposals submitted.
“Members of this Committee have been carefully selected from the Academia, related government institutions and the industry based on their pedigree.
“I have no doubt in my mind that you will carry out the assignment to the highest acceptable standards,” the EVC said.
The Committee is expected to carry out the assignment and submit its report within four (4) weeks from the day of inauguration.
FG Awards Cash Prizes Worth N16.5m to Winners 0f Nigeria @ 60 Challenge
The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, has awarded prizes worth N16.5million to nine Nigerians who emerged winners of the Nigeria @60 Independence Challenge.
It could be recalled that the Federal Government of Nigeria, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR approved an inclusive National Independence Day Celebration programme with the theme: “Together at 60,” where it called on creative Nigerians to choose brand and come up with elements that will beautify the anniversary.
The Sub-Committee, chaired by Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), minister of Communications and Digital Economy, launched the challenge Portal on Friday, 4th September, 2020, with the aim of providing opportunity for talented, critical thinking and creative individuals or teams to produce the event slogan, photograph, and a poem.
The Jury, made up of Directors from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), evaluated the submissions based on the relevance to the theme, originality, creativity, impact and mode of presentation.
During the evaluation, a total of 3,258 entries were received, out of which 1,931 Slogan, 638 Poetry, and 689 Photography entries were submitted.
While presenting the Awards and Prizes, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and Chairman of the 60th Independence Celebration Sub-Committee, Dr Pantami said that the competition was meant to create a platform for all Nigerians to participate in the diamond jubilee anniversary.
He said “Federal Government provided this opportunity for Nigerians to choose their brand and harness the power of creative minds to create other elements that will form the brand of the anniversary.
Dr Pantami congratulated the winners and charged those that participated to continue utilising their skills for the betterment of themselves and Nigeria at large, adding that “the nation will be proud of them”.
He said the Diamond Anniversary which is will last till September 30, 2021 is a period for Nigeria to celebrate its unity.
He also commended the jury that worked day and night to ensure fairness during the selection of nine winners from each category of the competition.
Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), while delivering the welcome address, described the process as first of its kind, where citizens are engaged virtually to plan the celebration.
Abdullahi said that COVID-19 pandemic has brought another opportunity for Nigerians to celebrate 60 years anniversary in style.
The Chairman of the Independence Competition Judging Committee, Director, IT Infrastructure Solution, NITDA, Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi said the competition was meant to tap into the creative and innovative potential of the youths.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi- Esan represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Tope Fashedemi commended the efforts of all participants, describing every Nigerian as a winner.
The outcome of the assessment saw the emergence of the following as second runners up: Sani Ibrahim (Slogan), Samson Mayor Emeka (Photography) and Umoru Patrick Eghiegbai (Poetry); first runners up Yusuf Muhammad Ahmad (Slogan), Leke Adebule and Team (Photography), and Mustapha Dauda Gwary (Poetry). The winners of the challenge are: Nwakuba Ezinne (Slogan), Amao Daniel Oluwadarisimi (Photography) and Kalu Rejoice Chioma (Poetry).
The winners were presented with awards and cash prizes in each category, with the second runners up getting One Million Naira each, first runners up One Million and Five Hundred Thousand Naira each, and the winners, Three Million Naira each, for their creativity and innovative contribution to the Diamond Jubilee Celebration.
The Diamond/Innovation/Change Sub-Committee is made up of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy as Chairman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Honourable Minister Education and Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Head of Civil Service of the Federation as members, while DG NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, was later co-opted as member.
Ekeh, Zinox Boss, Says Tech Experience Centre Perfect 60th Anniversary Gift to Nigeria
Leo Stan Ekeh, serial digital entrepreneur has described the Tech Experience Centre, an ambitious technology project that is widely expected to bridge the gap to cutting-edge technology for millions of Nigerians, as the perfect birthday gift to Nigeria as it turns 60.
The revolutionary Tech Experience Centre, the first of its kind in Africa, is set to be formally unveiled on Thursday, October 1st 2020, incidentally the occasion of Nigeria’s 60thIndependence Anniversary.
Equally important, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, is expected to commission the auspicious project located within the high-rise Yudala Heights on 13 Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Also expected to attend the launch are stakeholders from the technology sector, corporate egg-heads and other dignitaries.
The event, which is scheduled for 5pm on Thursday, will be streamed live to millions across the world via digital channels.
Ekeh, who has remained in the forefront of digital evangelisation and promoting knowledge democracy in Nigeria and beyond, has expressed excitement with the birthing of the Tech Experience Centre.
The tech guru affirms that the formal unveiling of the Centre on the occasion of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary makes it a fitting present to the country and to all Nigerians.
‘‘Nigeria’s journey as a sovereign independent nation is one that is filled with so many memorable milestones. Although we still face some peculiar challenges, there is much to be proud of as Nigeria clocks 60.
“In the same vein, the launch of the Tech Experience Centre represents a major milestone in Nigeria’s march to technology independence.
‘‘Indeed, the unveiling of this unprecedented project right here in Nigeria is a powerful statement of intent and a positive development that every Nigerian should be proud of.
“It is, in my opinion, the perfect birthday to Nigeria as we celebrate 60 years of our independence,’’ he said.
Ekeh, who had called on the Federal Government to consider declaring October 1st Nigeria’s technology independence day, restated the landmark strides that Nigeria had recorded in the area of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
The Zinox helmsman affirmed that the multiple collaborations, increased local participation and access to the latest technologies that would become a right of every Nigerian with the establishment of the Tech Experience Centre is a bold step forward in Nigeria’s march to technological emancipation.
‘‘On a number of occasions, I have reiterated that no country achieves true independence without a level of technological independence.
“The set-up of the Tech Experience Centre is one of such bold investments Nigeria requires to confidently stake a claim for relevance as a technology force to be reckoned with, not only in Africa, but on the global stage.
“The current administration also deserves commendation for its greater emphasis on technology – a critical sector that is being championed professionally by the Honourable Minister, Dr. Pantami.’’
In addition, Ekeh heaped praises on the various tech giants that have partnered with TD Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s technology, lifestyle and solutions distributor, to bring the idea of the Tech Experience Centre to life.
‘‘We must also not fail to recognize and appreciate the global OEMs that have identified with this project.
“Having renowned tech brands such as Cisco, Microsoft, Dell Technologies, HP, Schneider Electric, Zinox, Philips, Samsung, Apple and Bosch, among others, come together under one roof to build local capacity and place the latest technologies at the fingertips of every Nigerian is a huge development that will come with a number of positive multiplier effects for the country,’’ he concluded.
The Tech Experience Centre will officially open its impressive doors to Nigerians on Thursday, October 1st by 5pm.
For the first time, Nigeria will play host to the latest global technologies including those not normally available in Africa, offering all classes of visitors a first-hand experience of new gadgets, solutions and infrastructure that would have previously required a visit abroad, thereby saving corporate organizations, government establishments and individuals money or scarce foreign exchange expended on these trips.
The Centre will house global technology giants under one roof, with the aim of making cutting-edge technology easily accessible to Nigerians and other nationals at entry costs that make sense.
Experts and economic watchers have hailed the expected launch of the centre as a major development that will shore up Nigeria’s relevance in the global technology space, while also boosting the nation’s economy.
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