Telecommunications industry in the country coming from the tortuous 2009 occasioned by global economic meltdown and Central Bank of Nigeria reform in the banking which have affected both operators and subscribers adversely resulting in reduction of Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) as well as expansion plans is looking forward to bounce back to growth path this 2010.
Operators and subscriber have entered 2010 with high hopes of a turn around experience in every sphere of telecommunications service delivery. These hopes are based on the facts that the economic meltdown which has started showing signs of recovery in America and Europe will reflect on Nigeria going by the fact that major telecom equipment vendors that supplies the country’s operators are based in America and Europe which will metamorphose into availability of credit facilities for operators to embark on network expansion projects among others.
More so, it is the expectation of both operators and subscribers that the ongoing reform in the banking sector will be concluded soon and banks positioned to start lending money to businesses that will increase liquidity in the sector and thereby increase ARPU.
SIM Card Registration
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has concluded all the necessary modalities for the smooth commencement of SIM card registration from March this year.
The SIM card registration an idea of Association Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (Atcon) being implemented by NCC requires pre-pay SIM cards to have their ownership details registered with the network operators. The registration process which starts next March will last for six months. SIM cards that are not registered after then will be shut out of the mobile networks.
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 that government instructed the commission to adopt a mode to help curb it.
She said that Nigeria does not have an effective database, which is why six months is enough to cover the six geo-political zones in the country and even get to the local government areas.
According to her, the process will require subscribers to produce their National Identity card. Biometrics will also be taken, to curb fraud, during the process of registration.
The importance of broadband internet service to development of information and communications technology cannot be over emphasized. This has led to different initiatives by both private and government geared towards making broadband internet services affordable and available to Nigerians. Among such initiatives are the state accelerated broadband initiative (SABI) project embarked upon by NCC and the laying of undersea submarine cable, Glo 1 to Nigeria from Europe by Globacom.
This year, many Nigerians are going to witness the availability of broadband services in their homes and offices expected to spring up small businesses. This projections are based on the fact that, the partnership entered into between NCC and Information Communication Technology company, ipNX and other companies to drive the state accelerated broadband initiative (SABI) project which began last year in the ancient city of Kano state will be extended to more towns and cities this year.
The project initiated by the Nigerian communication commission (NCC) contains retail product like the iwireless broadband which is a reliable, high speed wireless broadband solution designed to offer residential and small business subscribers the ability to browse, talk and fax documents all at the same time.
The 9,800 km long Glo1 submarine cable that will carry internet traffic between Nigeria and the rest of the world landed in Lagos last year.
The cable which is of the 32 STM 64 type has virtual infinite capacity and therefore offers sufficient capacity for traffic for the Globacom’s mobile, fixed, and internet telecommunication services. This service complemented by the launch of Glo fixed line service as well as the national fibre optic project is expected to be available to Nigerians this 2010.
MainOne another undersea cable initiative pioneered by MainStreet Technologies is expected to berth in Lagos by December this year.
More so, the renew bid to license 2.3 Ghz spectrum band will be concluded this year and operators that will emerge winners are expected to roll out service on this spectrum which is also NCC’s effort to make broadband affordable and available to Nigerians no matter where they may live.
Mobile Number Portability
One major challenge in the country’s telecommunications space especially in the voice service has been poor quality of service. This issue has generated a lot argument among industry stakeholders, while operators are blaming absence of infrastructure such as power supply, subscribers and the regulatory authorities are accusing operators of congesting their networks.
In all of these NCC decided that it will implement Number Portability expected to address the problem of poor quality of service. However, this is expected to be implemented this year.
The Commission however said Number Portability is one of the important tools it has at its disposal to foster open competition, stimulate improvements in Quality of Service and expand coverage in the Nigerian Telecommunications Market.
For the NCC, number portability must be implemented by all operators in Nigeria including fixed exchange operators, VoIP, Next Generation Networks Operators and Mobile Operators. This is even as transit of Interconnection Operators will also implement the service as it relates to direct routing of calls to the proper serving or terminating network as calls traverse their network avoiding unnecessary routing of calls.
It is also expected that NCC would consider including the porting of Toll Free/Free phone as well as Premium Rate Numbers, as it seeks inputs from the industry stakeholders on its implementation and timing.
Mobile Number Portability when implemented, allows mobile customers to port their telephone numbers between mobile operators, first while Fixed and Interconnect Operators will implement within their networks the ability to perform direct routing of calls originating in or transiting through their networks to the proper terminating mobile network.
Mobile number portability (MNP) enables mobile telephone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one mobile network operator to another.
MNP is implemented in different ways across the globe. The international and European standard is for a customer wishing to port his/her number to contact the new provider (Recipient) who will then arrange necessary process with the old provider (Donor). This is also known as ‘Recipient-Led’ porting. The UK is the only country to not implement a Recipient-Led system, where a customer wishing to port his/her number is required to contact the donor to obtain a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) which he/she then has to give to the Recipient. Once having received the PAC the Recipient continues the port process by contacting the Donor. This form of porting is also known as ‘Donor-Led’ and has been criticised by some industry analysts as being inefficient. It has also been observed that it may act as a customer deterrent as well as allowing the Donor an opportunity of ‘winning-back’ the customer. This might lead to distortion of competition, especially in the markets with new entrants that are yet to achieve scalability of operation.
Reduction in Tariff
Nigerian Communications Commission in an apparent move to reduce call tariff paid by telecommunications subscribers in the country, on December 21, 2009 released a new interconnect rate.
Interconnect rate is the rate at which operators terminate calls to one another’s network.
Interconnection is critical to the proper functioning of a competitive communications market. This is recognized in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, which requires network facilities providers and network service providers to provide other licensees with interconnection on request at any technically feasible location.
The last regime of interconnection rate regulation was implemented through the
Commission’s Interconnection Rate Determination issued on 21 June 2006. Since then, the Nigerian communications market has seen further market entry by new operators, the introduction of a Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) regime, and tremendous growth in both subscriber numbers as well as call and data volumes.
In the current determination the interconnection rate for mobile (voice) termination provided by new entrants in Nigeria irrespective of the originating network is now N10.12 which took effect from December 31, 2009; N9.48 from 31.12.2010; N8.84 from 31.12.2011; and N8.20 from the 31.12.2012. The interconnection rate for mobile (voice) termination provided by other operators in Nigeria irrespective of the originating network is now N8.20 from December 31, 2009.
The interconnection rate for fixed (voice) termination in Nigeria irrespective of the originating network shall be: N10.12 from December 31, 2009; N9.48 from December 31, 2010; N8.84 from 31.12.2011; and N8.20 from the 31.12.2012.
NCC also put the interconnection rate for SMS termination provided by new entrants in Nigeria irrespective of the originating network as follows: N1.94 from December 31, 2009; N1.63 from December 31, 2010; N1.32 from December 31, 2011 and N.1.02 from the 31.12.2012.
The interconnection rate for SMS termination provided by other operators in Nigeria irrespective of the originating network which took effect from the 31st of December 2009 is now N1.02.
The implications of the reduction in the interconnect rate means that both voice calls and short message service have been reduced and will continue to drive down each year according to the determined rate as published by the commission.
NDPR to Safeguard Personal Data of Nigerians -DG NITDA
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.
FG Reveals Plans to Deploy Technology in the Health Sector
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.
Peace House Charity Foundation Seeks for DCTC Intervention
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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