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Telecom Services Playing a New “Super-Utility Role” in the COVID-19 Era – Agusto & Co

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The global evolution from voice and short message service (SMS) to data services has continued to disrupt traditional telecommunications business models globally.

This has been amplified during the coronavirus (COVID-19) induced lockdown as “work from home” and “social distancing” became the buzzwords in the current business landscape, with the telecoms sector being the invisible hand driving the shift to remote working, video conferencing and streaming services.

According to data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the number of active mobile-broadband subscribers rose sharply by 17% year-on-year to 143.3 million as at 30 June 2020, to become the fastest growing segment of the Nigeria Telecommunications Industry.

MTN with over 60 million subscribers or 42.3% share of the total subscription leads the mobile broadband market, while Glo and Airtel with 26.5% and 26.2% shares respectively occupy the second and third positions. 9mobile is the smallest of the four operators with 4.9% of the GSM internet subscriber base.

Agusto & Co. Limited, Nigeria’s foremost research house and rating institution recently released its 2020 Telecommunications Industry Report, which is the most current and comprehensive report on voice, data, auxiliary services as well as the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the quality and affordability of telecom service in Nigeria.

According to the report, the entire telecoms market in Nigeria was estimated at circa ₦2.5 trillion in 2019 with MTN accounting for nearly half of the industry’s revenue in the same period.

Agusto & Co expects Nigeria’s Telecommunications Industry revenue to maintain an upward trajectory in 2020 increasing by at least 15% to around ₦2.9 trillion on the back of the exponential voice and data traffic witnessed in April 2020 during the 5-week long restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Coming out of the pandemic, millions of users in Nigeria are more connected, better educated and familiar with digital tools. In the same vein, network operators have gained first-hand experience in dynamic network traffic management, while businesses and their telco partners have a better understanding of the challenges of homeworking.

While the advent of the COVID-19 has somewhat fast-tracked Nigeria’s digitisation, particularly at the user experience level, the operational issues that have held back the country’s broadband penetration persist.

Operators are grappling with the stifling effect of high business costs occasioned by ballooning interest expense on borrowings and a burdensome tax regime, while the long delays in processing right of way permits and their arbitrary costing models are the main reasons for the prohibitive cost of leasing transmission infrastructure in the country.

This is in addition to the incessant cost of repairing damaged fibre infrastructure as a result of cable theft or damage during road construction, and insufficient electricity supply requiring operators to invest heavily in alternative energy projects to power base transceiver stations (BTS).

Furthermore, the network congestion witnessed during the COVID-19 lockdown owing to the spike in data traffic brought to the fore the inadequacies in the country’s communications infrastructures.

While discussions around additional spectrum for network operators and the declaration of communications infrastructure as critical national assets continue to dominate debate within the Industry, Agusto & Co. believes addressing some of these operational challenges will improve the accessibility and affordability of telecom services in Nigeria and ensure sustainable growth for key players.


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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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Peace House Charity Foundation Seeks for DCTC Intervention

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Mallam Kashifu InuwaAbdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), asserted that if we do not empower our people, they become a problem to the society in future.

 

He made this know on Friday while receiving a delegation from Peace House Charity Foundation,Yola who were at the Agency’s Corporate Headquarter, Abuja to seek for interventions in the areas of ICT.

 

The representative of the Director General, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, Director eGovernment Development and Regulation stated that one of the mandate of the Agency is the deployment of ICT infrastructure as such the Foundation’s visit at this time is very apt as the Agency is relentlessly working on the implementation of the Digital Economy strategy.

 

MallamAbdullahi affirmed that Agency at the moment is looking for organisations to partner with to sustain Digital Capacity Training Centres deployed across the country.

 

He commended the effort of the organisation in assisting orphans with not only providing basic education but also the provision of skills, mentorship and moral upbringing.

 

Speaking earlier, Mr Mohammad Bello, a Director with the Foundation said that the organisation was at the Agency to seek for ICT intervention and to commend NITDA’s effort in promoting ICT knowledge across the nation.

 

He stated that the organisation supports education for the orphans and the less privileged,  promote health care delivery especially among women and children, provide sensitisation workshop for parents (mothers) on parenting and matrimonial home, promote unity and encourage self-reliance among the populace.

 

 

 

 

 


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