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Terror Attacks Threaten $25Bn Investment

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The rising terrorist attacks on information and communications technologies (ICTs) infrastructure is threatening the over $25 billion investment in the telecommunications sector and creating an atmosphere of uncertainty, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can now report.

The telecom industry which rose from the Dark Age and surged on private sector led investment in the last decade has become the new target of Islamic fundamentalists seeking to create a Muslim north and ban on western education.

Two weeks of coordinated attacks on ICT infrastructure has left many parts of Northern Nigeria without telecom services while operators count their losses.

In Borno state which appears worst hit, the MTN regional corporate office was razed and several other masts and BTS were also destroyed in the targeted attack, ostensibly carried by Islamic Boko Haram sect.

Wale Goodluck, MTN Corporate Services Executive (CSE), in statement reviewing the weeks’ events, stated that the destruction has affected mobile operations drastically.

He did rule out the possibility of the company pulling out of the region.

However, analysts’ believe the worst could still happen and warned of the adverse consequences if the sect is not reined in.

MTN’s out-sourced call centre operation has already pulled out of Jos, Plateau state, following the unending violence in the Northern Middle Belt state.

It is not clear yet the extent of damage the attacks have done to the nation’s economy.

Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulatory agency revealed that to date, the sector’s contribution to direct foreign investment (FDI) to the economy stood at $25 billion.

But with the targeted attacks against the sector, the huge optimism is threatened!

Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licenced Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (Alton), spoke of the collateral consequences of breach in telecom industry.

Adebayo warned that targeting telecom infrastructure for specific destruction would cause untold hardship and stunt national economic growth.

“When a base station is put out of service, often the implications go farther than the immediate environment. And this is one of the things we have been telling agencies of government which take delight in shutting down operators’ base stations. There are base stations which are hubs for an entire region. When it is out of commission, the entire region is blacked out. It’s as simple as that.” Adebayo added

Nodding in agreement, Lanre Ajayi, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (Atcon), urged that the government to urgently enact law declaring ICT facilities ‘critical national infrastructure.’

“Until the government makes telecom facilities, critical national infrastructure and provide tight security for them, these ugly incidents may continue to happen. But now, everybody including the operators, common people and even the terrorists are suffering the fatalities of this action.

That is why it should not be left as the burden of the operators alone. Time to look at these issues differently is now.” Ajayi said

For now, industry operators are still counting their losses and are not able to volunteer information on cost implication of the terror attacks.

A publicist for a major telecom company said cost implications are enormous.

“It is not yet time to talk on that, at the appropriate time we will speak. The industry is computing its loss both in human and infrastructure” the publicist said

Dr. Eugene Juwah, executive vice chairman/CEO NCC, said that telecom contribution to Nigeria’s GDP earnings has risen to 2.39 per cent by 2007.

It was a sharp rise considering it recorded only 0.06 per cent before the turn of the century in 1999.\

He gave further encouraging statistics noting that the entire ICT sector contribution to the national GDP stood at 8.2 per cent in 2010. This figure is little over 50 per cent of the projected GDP contribution by 2015.

Mrs. Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communications Technology, said at an industry-wide stakeholders’ meeting early in 2012 that the ICT sector would contribute about 15 per cent to the nations’ GDP by early 2015.

She was optimistic that new investment inflow and optimum capacity utilization would enhance rapid development of the sector.


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Phase3 Moves on Multilayer Network Technology Upgrade

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Phase3 Telecom, leading independent fiber optic network infrastructure and telecommunications services provider  has said that it is amplifying the scope of network technology upgrades to enhance its communications, cloud and connectivity solutions across business and enterprise segments in Nigeria and the West African sub-region.

Phase3 Moves on Multilayer Network Technology Upgrade

This followed its ongoing Security Operation Centre (SOC) network capability upgrade.

This development, is targeted at expanding the scope of its enterprise solutions drive for its increasing user portfolio of small/large scale enterprises, institutions, corporates, services sector and multinational companies, contributing to the nation’s thriving broadband penetration drive.

According to Stanley Jegede, chairman, “the principal goal of Phase3 ongoing multilayer technology upgrade is to optimize “network infrastructure capabilities, scalability, interconnect operational capacity, resilience, service optimization and coverage that will enhance communications, cloud and connectivity projects across multiple locations to support more start-ups, growing businesses and institutions to boost economic growth and increase their successes.

He also added that this Phase3 technology upgrade is quite expansive in model, to accommodate the new digital realities and possibilities created by COVID-19.

Especially in the areas of amplified work-from-anywhere and dedicated remote connectivity solutions as well as service delivery that is targeted at increasing networks data handling capacity vis a vis making them faster and smarter as the current global clime demands.

In conclusion, he stated that beyond enhanced network backbone and bandwidth capabilities for point-to-multi point access, chief components such as network security and speed are the driving force of Phase3 new technology upgrade for secured and latency-free connections as well as growing network expansion plan.


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Unitellas Partners Zadara On Data Infrastructure Project

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Unitellas International Limited and its partner Zadara, have taken the bold initiative to save Nigeria from exposure to rising Cybercrime by making significant investment in data infrastructure in the country.

Unveiling the initiative in Lagos, Smith Osemeke, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Unitellas International Limited, revealed that Nigeria is hugely susceptible to cyber attacks due to failure to develop in-country data saving infrastructure.

Osemeke, observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced governments around the world to deliver vital Public Services in unprecedented ways and to experiment with Digital Technologies on an unforeseen scale.

According to him, In Nigeria, a lot of organizations had to turn to Local Service Providers and other Public Sector Organizations for help during the crisis, most of which are overburdened and challenged by outdated IT Systems.

As a result, a lot of organizations were forced to move their data to the Public Cloud through the services of AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

This he continued had led many organizations in Nigeria to default on the guidelines on Local Content law i.e. all organizations operating within Nigeria should have their data stored within Nigeria.

Osemeke, alerted that Storing Data in the Public Cloud outside Nigeria creates the problem of Data Protection since data stored in the public cloud is exposed to Cyber and Ransomware attacks because the existing public cloud service providers do not provide Absolute Data Protection.

He noted that Sensitive Citizens data such as BVN, National Identity Numbers and other private and confidential details needs to be protected from such attacks and exposures.

“It becomes a challenge to uphold “Data sovereignty”- the concept of storing data within the Nation’s Borders. Since Local Service Providers are unable to effectively Store Data not to mention Protect Stored Data due to the fact that present Legacy Storage Infrastructures do not have the capabilities to offer the latest Data Protection Mechanism (DATA STORAGE IMMUTABILITY).”

He said that Local Service Providers in Nigeria cannot compete with international cloud service providers such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud in terms of Infrastructure, Pricing, Service Delivery and Management and as a result this has caused a lot of companies in Nigeria to patronize International Public Cloud Service Providers by Storing Data from Nigeria in other Countries thereby making it practically impossible to comply with the Local Content Law..

“As a result, Financial Service Institutions (FSI) and other Key Organizations invest Millions of Dollars annually in acquiring and managing IT Infrastructures instead of focusing on their Core Businesses because they must have an IT department to build and manage their Data Storage Infrastructure – a service that is supposed to be handled by Local Service Providers in Nigeria.

“If this sad narrative is not corrected, sensitive Data from Nigeria will continue to be hosted outside Nigeria and inevitably leading to Data Insecurity. Unfortunately, Nigeria is one of the countries lacking Data Security due to the inability of Service Providers to effectively Store and Protect Data Locally.” he said.

To reverse this ugly situation, Unitellas International Limited in Partnership with ZADARA is empowering all Service Providers in Nigeria to meet up with International Standards with regards to Data Storage Infrastructure, Service, Pricing and Security.

Unitellas is the official distributor of Zadara Solution in Nigeria, while Zadara is a renowned World Leader in Infrastructure -as-a-service and Enterprise Data Storage-as-a-service.

Osemeke said that Unitellas in partnership with Zadara is willing to empower local service providers in Nigeria to meet up with International Managed Service Providers (MSP) standards by providing Local service providers with Infrastructure-as-a-service and Enterprise-Storage-as-a-service model which eliminates huge Capital Expenditure (CapEX) with minimum Operational Expenditure (OpEX).

By subscribing to Zadara Data Storage services with Compute Capability, Local Service Providers and MSPs can now offer Data Storage and Compute services with the latest Data Protection Mechanism competing effectively with renowned Public Cloud Providers in Infrastructure, Security, Pricing, Management and Service.


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ICTEL EXPO 2020: Stakeholders Urge Nigerians to Seize Opportunities Provided by Digital Economy

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Nigerians have been urged to seize the opportunities provided by the digital economy especially now, that the nation is seeking ways to overcome the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and are deploying technology needed for economic recovery and sustainability.

The Information and Communications Technology ICT, Stakeholders disclosed this at the virtual Information Communication Technology and Telecommunications Conference and Exhibition, ICTEL EXPO 2020 with theme: ‘Exploring Opportunity in the Digital Economy’, organized by Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry LCCI, speaking at the conference, said: “there is no better time to explore the opportunities provided by the digital economy than now when every nation is seeking ways to overcome the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. And as nations face dwindling growth, deployment of technology is key to economic recovery and sustainability.”

She explained that the new normal brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has ensured that virtually all sectors have now leveraged ICT for optimal performance.

According to her, “This is evident in the financial services sector, where almost all banking transactions are conducted through digital channels, the agriculture sector, where sophisticated technologies, such as robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images and global positioning systems, the GPS technologies, are largely employed.

“Nigeria has witnessed a phenomenal growth in its ICT sector over the past decade.

“The ICT sector remains one of the most resilient sectors of the Nigerian economy, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a foremost private sector body in Nigeria today, established since 1888, the Lagos Chamber is providing, through this expo, an incredible platform, to advance the opportunities and linkages in the world of ICT”, she concluded.

Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, while declaring the conference and exhibition open, said that globally, digital revolution is changing lives and societies, with unprecedented speed and scale, delivering immense opportunities, as well as associated challenges.

“As predicted by the World Economic Forum, over 60% of global Gross Domestic Product, (GDP), will be digitized, by 2022 and that, over the next decade, digital platforms, will be used to create, close to 70% of new value”, Pantami noted.

The Minister, who was represented by the Executive Secretary, Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), Mr. Ayuba Shuaibu, stressed that: “globally, businesses are shifting from brick and mortar form, to innovative enterprises driven by digital technologies and now is the time for business, enterprises and organisations, to reinvent and automate, to fit into the global digital economy.

“I want to congratulate the Director General and members of the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry for organising this Information Communication Technology and Telecommunications Conference and Exhibition, ICTEL EXPO 2020, to spotlight this national discourse, on how we can take advantage of digital technology for accelerating our economy”, he concluded.

Delivering her keynote address, Ms Funke Opeke, CEO/Managing Director, MainOne and Chairmperson, Presidential Committee on National Broadband Plan, identified three activities that will enable digital economy to work well in our clime. These include connectivity, a device and a platform that enables one to connect with parties at the other end.

“When we look at private sector participation in Nigeria and the challenges we face as an economy, especially with the recession, with the dip growth rate and high inflation economy that we have and I think the recognition, globally, that growth across the world can only be fuelled by digital adoption in the years to come. I think it is important that our government provide more support to the ICT industry”, she concluded.

Some panel discussions also took place on the first day of the event, while some companies exhibited their products and solutions to the general populace, via the online virtual platform.


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