The future of business: technology-led or soon-to-be-dead

The future of business: technology-led or soon-to-be-dead

Cameron Beveridge, Director: Cloud, SAP Africa.

The future of business is in the cloud. That is the message from global analysts as the latest IT sales figures show a marked shift away from hardware. The shift to cloud services and other Digital Business solutions has slashed Gartner’s global IT spending growth forecasts by half: a cut of $67bn for this year alone, with data centre growth predicted at a modest 0.3% in 2017.

This is not necessarily bad news, depending on where you are with your digital transformation journey. The same Gartner report expects growth in enterprise software spending of 5.5%. This was echoed by SAP’s Q1 2017 revenue figures: cloud subscriptions and support revenue in the EMEA region grew 43%, with an overall revenue growth of 10% for cloud and software revenue across the region. In South Africa, the results were even more indicative, with triple-digit software growth recorded.

From Capex to Opex

The shift to widespread adoption of cloud services in essence turns traditional IT Capex into Opex. This is how it works:

Take a data centre as example. From the rebar in the foundations to the halon extinguishers in the ceiling and everything in between, it all sits on your balance sheet as an asset. As CEO, you have to create a return on your capital employed. That becomes hard to do when your scale is sub-optimal, and you need to keep in mind the added costs of development, testing and quality assurance systems. Often, you end up with systems sprawl that becomes ever more complex to manage, and makes those positive returns all the more elusive.

Cloud computing takes those assets off your balance sheet and turns them into opex: this makes it far easier to predict and extract positive returns on capital employed, especially when working with the leading global cloud vendors such as SAP. Because they’re operating at a scale that most businesses are unlikely to ever reach, they are able to determine best-practice processes quicker and transfer these learnings on to their clients. In addition, they can provide cloud solutions at lower costs and offer clients the flexibility of a subscription model that scales with the business – this is highly impractical when you’ve invested huge sums into physical data centres.

Every CEO needs a business strategy for the Digital Economy

The ubiquitous and constant generation, processing and consumption of information and content is an inescapable part of life for all but the most marginalised. The latest global statistics show that there are currently more than 3.7 billion Internet users, of which 2.7 billion use one or more social media. In Africa, Internet penetration is still low at around 29%, but rapid urbanisation and continent-wide investment in especially mobile Internet infrastructure is driving web usage growth.

All of this would point to the need for a digital strategy for every organisation doing business on the continent.

But the modern business does not need a digital strategy. The modern CEO needs a business strategy for the Digital Economy.

CEOs today are tasked to improve shareholder returns, help the business become more profitable, ensure the business survives and grows, attract and retain scarce talent, reduce risks to the business, and drive innovation.

This last point – innovation – is critical. More than half of the Fortune 500 from 2000 are gone. In their place are a highly innovative new breed of digital business: think Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Tesla and more. These companies leverage technology to become more competitive and create new profit pools, upending entire industries seemingly overnight.

Levelling the playing field

Cloud computing enables innovation by levelling the playing field. All modern innovation requires a solid technology backbone to achieve the type of scale that would help translate innovative ideas into commercial drivers. By eliminating the complexity and managerial burden associated with running on premise IT, businesses can direct their IT to address tomorrow’s business problems instead of maintaining yesterday’s landscape.

By virtue of their size and scale, leading global cloud services providers such as SAP get the benefit of feedback from hundreds of millions of users, giving them unique insights into the types of innovations and improvements they have to make to ensure their cloud services are delivering optimum value. This ensures that the cloud technology supporting modern businesses is constantly improved and remains ahead of the innovation curve.

Leveraging the power of cloud solutions brings every aspect of the business together, seamlessly integrating customers, operations, devices, and business partners. It allows you to focus on innovation, freeing you up to reimagine your future in a Digital Economy.

Can you afford anything less?

By Cameron Beveridge, Director: Cloud, SAP Africa

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Entertainment the focus with new Dell releases

Entertainment the focus with new Dell releases

VR, Gaming & Top Performance Go Mainstream with New Dell Inspiron AIOs & Gaming Rig.

Yesterday at Computex 2017, Dell revealed two new all-in-ones (AIO) and a new gaming desktop to round out its popular Inspiron PC product line. The new products will be available starting today on Dell.com and worldwide in the coming weeks.

Dell’s new line-up includes the Inspiron 27 7000 All-in-One (AIO), the Inspiron 24 5000 All-in-One (AIO) and the new Inspiron Gaming Desktop — the first gaming desktop to join Dell’s expanding Inspiron Gaming line-up. Dell’s new systems for the Inspiron desktop line includes Dell’s iconic virtually borderless InfinityEdge display and “Ready for VR” configurations capable of delivering immersive experiences through high-end VR headsets like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

With Dell’s immersive, virtually borderless InfinityEdge display technology – available for the first time on the Inspiron AIO line – Dell’s new Inspiron 27 7000 AIO and Inspiron 24 5000 AIO offer a beautiful edge-to-edge viewing experience for multimedia entertainment and streaming in a sleek, compact design perfect for the home office, study room, living room and more.

Dell also brings VR to the Inspiron line for the first time making this disruptive technology more accessible across a range of budgets. Dell is the only OEM in the industry providing end-to-end VR solutions from VR content creation and playback to serving VR content via Dell cloud servers and infrastructure. With the new “Ready for VR” Inspiron Gaming Desktop and AIO, Dell is positioned to be a central player in driving broad adoption of this technology which will transform and enhance our lives.

“Dell has experienced 17 consecutive quarters of PC growth by continuously innovating with our PC designs and experiences,” said Ray Wah, senior vice president and general manager, Dell Consumer and Small Business Product Group. “With more people than ever streaming movies, gaming and consuming VR content on PCs, Dell remains committed to providing the best visual and audio experiences and the new Inspiron All-in-Ones and Gaming Desktop bring that innovation mainstream.”

Inspiron Gaming doubles down with first-ever gaming desktop

The new Inspiron gaming line is set to deliver high-performance and quality systems – built for gamers seeking a competitive advantage – at a budget friendly price. Committed to providing powerful gaming solutions for players of all types even up to the most demanding professional e-sports athletes, Dell introduces a new Inspiron Gaming desktop, starting at $599 (R7900).

The new Inspiron Gaming Desktop sports the latest AMD multicore Ryzen processors featuring SenseMI which dynamically optimises power consumption, task routing and clock speeds to deliver exceptional responsiveness and performance whether it’s gaming, Virtual Reality or streaming. These desktops are built with expansion in mind, with power supply options up to 850 watts¹ for supporting dual discrete graphics, Ready for VR graphics cards, up to 32GB DDR4 memory², advanced cooling options and Waves MaxxAudio Pro with Performance 7.1 Channel HD audio. They also offer a convenient SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C™ port and up to six SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports total, a wide selection of high-capacity hard drives with responsive SSD and dual-drive options plus up to five bays for future storage upgrades.

The Inspiron Gaming Desktop is attractive on the outside as well, featuring a striking, dramatic design with advanced ventilation offering a view inside the system while improving airflow to performance components illuminated with Polar Blue LEDs.

INSPIRON 27 7000 AIO

Sleek, premium AIO built from the ground up for VR

Thoughtfully designed from the ground-up as a VR and entertainment system for the home, the Inspiron 27 7000 AIO brings beauty to every single inch of the screen. Its virtually borderless InfinityEdge, 27” display, with resolutions up to 4K UHD, and performance grade audio delivers a stimulating visual and audio computing experience. It offers the latest multi-core Ryzen AMD processors and AMD Polaris RX500 Series graphics, giving it the performance to power virtual reality, multimedia content and everything in between. It comes with a sleek, silver colour and is packed with future ready technology like Windows Hello One-Look login, Far-Field Speech Recognition with Cortana, USB Type-C 3.1 and Dual Drive options with SSD storage. Available beginning today in China on Dell.com and at select retailers and worldwide in the coming weeks starting at $999.99 (R13 125).

INSPIRON 24 5000 AIO

The AIO offering the best video streaming

Because video streaming is one of the top activities on a PC3, Dell has engineered the best AIO for video streaming and multimedia experiences. The new Inspiron 24 5000 AIO comes with the new SmartByte technology by Rivet Networks – developed with, and exclusively for, Dell – that helps prevent buffering when streaming content. The software detects critical network streams and prioritises video ahead of less urgent network traffic, so videos and movies run without interruption.

With a 24” InfinityEdge IPS FHD touch display, the latest 7th Gen AMD processors and AMD Polaris RX500 graphics, this new AIO delivers powerful performance and high-graphics fidelity. It features a beautiful white, sleek design and articulating stand making it the ideal PC for the living or study room. It is also equipped with Windows Hello One-Look login, Far-Field Speech Recognition with Cortana, USB Type-C 3.1 and Dual Drive options with SSD storage. Available beginning today in China on Dell.com and at select retailers and worldwide in the coming weeks starting at $699.99 (R9 200).

Staff Writer

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Interview: Rack Centre MD believes in Nigeria's growth potential

Interview: Rack Centre MD believes in Nigeria's growth potential

Ayotunde Coker, Rack Centre Managing Director.

In another interview which showcases the innovation and development taking place on the African continent, IT News Africa spoke to Ayotunde Coker, the managing director of Nigerian data center company, Rack Center.

Coker is a business executive with over 25 years’ experience in the ICT Industry. He has international experience across Europe, USA, Asia and Africa as a consultant at Cap Gemini with global blue chip organisations, such as, ABN Amro Bank, UBS, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Swiss Life and The Prudential.

He held the position of Global Applications Director at BP, the global oil and gas major, and prior to returning to Nigeria in 2009, was Chief Technology Officer for the United Kingdom Criminal Justice System, and CIO, UK Ministry of Justice.

On returning to Nigeria, Coker became the Group CIO of Access Bank PLC where he played a key role in the bank’s transformation to a top tier bank in multiple countries in Africa, and has also served as the MD/CEO of Emerging Markets Payments, West Africa.

Following his arrival at Rack Centre in 2014, Coker has gone on to revolutionise the IT industry in Nigeria which resulted in him being voted as Nigeria’s IT Man of the Year 2016 at the Beacon of ICT awards.

IT News Africa spoke to Coker who revealed more about Rack Centre as a business, where they operate and how they plan to expand. He also highlighted the challenges facing operation in Africa but also the opportunities present on the continent.

1. Can you tell us more about Rack Centre?

Rack Centre is wholly owned by Jagal, a  Nigerian conglomerate holding. We are located in Lagos Nigeria, and have been operating since October 2013 with 100% uptime. We are carrier neutral and were the first in Sub Sahara Africa to be Design Certified by the Uptime Institute in May 2014.

We are now the only carrier neutral colocation facility to be Constructed Facility Certified in Africa. The company is now the most connected Tier III data centre in Africa, with direct connection to all five undersea cables serving the Atlantic coast. This means every country on the Atlantic Coast of Africa is directly connected to Rack Centre by high speed fibre. In addition The Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria is also hosted in Rack Centre.

Since inception we have grown exponentially, successfully doubling our capacity in April 2016. This has led us to numerous prestigious regional and global awards in Nigeria, West Africa, Africa and globally.

Rack Centre is proudly the first African company to have won the Data Centre Dynamics awards in the UK, the first African company to be finalist and runner up at the Data Centre Solutions Awards also in the UK, keeping company with some of the most respected global players.

2. Are you operating in any other African countries, or are you looking to expand into other countries?

No we are currently not present in other African countries. However we are looking at other locations in West Africa; this is very much of interest. Given our level of connectivity, we can peer another data centre with Rack Centre while we deliver a broader footprint across the region.

3. What are some of the challenges you have faced while operating in Nigeria?

The challenge has been to create the awareness and belief that such quality could exist in Africa. We have actually been able to engineer our power systems to overcome some of the regional power challenges. We also have a harsh climatic environment given the high humidity of over 90% and temperatures over 35 degrees centigrade. However the sophistication of our cooling systems means we run the most efficient data centre in the region. I am proud of my team at Rack Centre and we have been able to cultivate some amazing local talent; all African to run such a sophisticated facility.

5. Do you see Africa as a largely untapped market?

Yes. Although we have had some economic set backs over the past two years across the continent, we are now seeing a new growth that will be powered by technology. Technology will be a key factor to enable Africa leap frog some more established and advanced economies. This will be the high growth region of the world with 1.3 billion people. Even in other continents, it is about 20% of the population that transform the continent, and that will be the case in Africa. Just in Nigeria, we have 20 million SMEs, larger than the entire population of some European countries such as Belgium. Building Cloud Services in Rack Centre will lower the entry point of computing services to the SMES, transforming the efficiency of the SMEs and the continent. This is certainly an under-tapped market, if not an untapped one. There will be more regional diversity in the key economic regions across the continent.

6. What is the advantage of using your solution?

I would prefer to say the advantage of using the Cloud solutions in Rack Centre compared to other solutions hosted elsewhere outside the continent. Rack Centre’s quality and reliability is evidenced through its achieving the Uptime Institute Certification. A mark of global quality. It is the most connected Tier III data centre in Africa, so we provide high speed universal access locally to Cloud Services. Our customers enjoy our services without the latency of traversing across to services on a different continent. We host our website in Rack Centre, and increasingly migrating customers for foreign web hosting services. The low latency performance is stunning. We are also building local technology capability in the region and creating a technology value chain that has significant impact on local capacity building.

By Dean Workman

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‘How Lagos can become smart city with technology’

‘How Lagos can become smart city with technology’

Source: Google

• Ambode sees culture, politics as limitation
With the drive to make Lagos a ‘Smart’ city now more intense than ever, the state handlers have been urged to push the vision with all enthusiasm and needed policies.

According to experts at the International Conference tagged: ‘Towards a Smart City’, as part of the Lagos at 50 celebrations, the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode led regime, which is championing the transformation has been urged to see Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as an integral component of the vision.

At the Panel session with a sub-topic: ICT-Making Lagos the Technology Frontier of Africa, moderated by the Founder, MTech, Sheri Williams. The panellists included, the Chief Executive Officer, SystemSpec Limited, John Obaro; Managing Director, Accenture, Niyi Yusuf; Founders of EchoVC Partners and Paga, Eghosa Omoigui and Tayo Oviosu respectively, and canvassed an inclusive development of the state including the hinterlands.

Yusuf described Smart city as a country that has embedded technology into the city design and management. This involves using technology to drive value management and use at different layers of infrastructure development. “Lagos is on track to be a smart city,” he added.

To Omoigui, a smart city is self-monitoring, self-reporting and allows different infrastructure blocks to talk to each other automatically, saying in Nigeria, Lagos remains the ideal state to drive this innovation.

To Oviosu, making a state ‘smart’ means all services are driven electronically, using same data, adding that if indeed, Lagos wants to be ‘smart’, it shouldn’t wait for Nigeria, as a smart city should carve out smart health, education and agriculture, among others.

From Obaro’s perspective, what brought the state and even Nigeria to where it is now, is not what will take it to where it planned to be in another 50 years.

He noted that while the population is growing from its current 22 million, the land mass is not expanding, “as such there is a need to develop infrastructure that will outlive the people, while we constantly maintain it.”

The SystemSpec boss, while canvassing for the involvement of Robotic technology in the development of the state, noting that the main accounting package running Nigeria is from Estonia. As such, it has become necessary to develop Lagosians that can make money for the state outside the state. “We must develop a software economy,” he stated.

On how to get it right, the Accenture boss said the initiative must be designed to focus on the users, “citizens centred than administrator centred,” and it must also be Public Private Partnership (PPP) driven with the citizens at heart.

Supporting Yusuf on the PPP-led model to drive funding, the EchoVC boss said there must be a framework for it, saying the people gets smart if the city is smart.

To Obaro, Lagos may not have the problem of getting funding for the project because the people are yearning for a change, and stressed the need for government to also respect agreements.

Obaro and Oviosu emphasised the need to run Lagos smartcity with an efficient identity management system, where it becomes seamless to pay for government services.

They called for urgent hamonisation of the various disparate data bases in the country for better management of the nation.

Reacting to some of the issues raised, the State Governor, Ambode, said “smartness had to be microscopic from the grassroots,” adding that there are cultural and political issues to be dealt with, which if not adequately handled can mar the entire process.

“As we turn 50, while still forging ahead as a leading entity in Africa it’s time to shift gears. In the emerging knowledge era, ICT has taken centre stage and as the city of the future, Lagos must take advantage and indeed leverage on the tools of ICT in moving towards a Smart City,” Ambode said.

The Governor pointed out that there was an urgent need to support the citizens, no matter the tribe. “One needs to be methodical to take Lagos out of Nigeria,” added.

According to him, there are impediments that prevent one from performing; stressing that there must be concerted efforts by everyone to make Lagos like Dubai.

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NITDA to monitor compliance by MDAs with local content policy

NITDA to monitor compliance by MDAs with local content policy


• NCS commends FG on directive

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) put in place measures to facilitate compliance with the Executive Order on Support for Local Content in IT Procurement, by monitoring compliance among Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

In compliance with the recent Executive Order No 003 “Support for Local Content in Procurement by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Federal Government of Nigeria,” signed by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on May 18th, NITDA has embarked on strengthening its strategy to foster patronage of  indigenous IT products and services.

According to the Director-General, NITDA, Dr. Isah Pantanmi, the strategy focuses on two tracks: make Nigerian IT products viable; and promote local content first policy in IT procurement by MDAs.

Pantanmi disclosed that in an effort to make Nigerian IT products viable and competitive, NITDA has invested in: building IT hubs, incubation and acceleration centres in the country; partnering with private IT hubs to identify and accelerate innovative IT solutions.

It has drafted policies and guidelines that will make Nigerian environment conducive for IT business; and building hardware and software testing labs to certify IT products before going to market. It has also empowered the two subsidiaries of the Agency, the Office for Nigerian Content in IT (ONC) and the Office for IT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), to synergise the IT ecosystem as well as develop a vibrant and world class indigenous IT industry Nigeria.

According to Patanmi, this is aimed at mitigating waste and mismanagement of government funds as well as ensuring that procurement of goods and services are in line with the national development goals.

Similarly, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), has expressed support for the Executive Order, saying: “Over the years, NCS has strongly advocated for the development of local content in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to drive growth, unlock youth potential and create jobs in Nigeria.”

NCS President, Prof. Shola Aderounmu, said the development should stop the wasteful and unsustainable importation and adoption of foreign expertise and solutions.

Aderoumu said Nigerian companies in the ICT sector have proven to be capable of delivering solutions needed in our public and private sectors, noting that deploying domestic products and services expands the local industry, fosters job creation and boosts the economy.

“Using innovation to bring efficiencies and create jobs in virtually all sectors, not just in ICT is critical to the success of the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (EGRP). EGRP and sustainable development depend on having a vibrant and growing domestic ICT sector. Effective implementation of the Executive Order should therefore be a priority.

“NCS commends this bold and inspiring decision to support local initiatives and views the Executive Order as a welcome enabler. For the tech sector, the consistency is appreciated as the Order builds on the existing Guidelines on Nigerian Content in ICT,” he stressed.

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School adopts technology to drive dynamic learning process

School adopts technology to drive dynamic learning process

The school Administrator, Dr. Akindoyo Edward Olusoga, said the world has gone far beyond, and how kids can compete favourably with the world especially in an information technology age, aside from classwork is necessary.

Fourier International School, said it is determined to invest more in technology that would drive curriculum in the school system, in efforts to move to the next level in the 21st century where learning has seen a significant shift in expectations from teachers and students in the education sector

The Executive Director, Fourier International, a nursery and primary school in Akure, Ondo State, Omosuyi Olumide Abayomi, to The Guardian on the telephone that the school is planning to unveil it access control system in September.

The director explained at a briefing in Lagos, with the theme: ‘Blending Technology and Education for World Class learning,’ that the access control system will strengthen the security system of the school, and will be either eye ball or finger print enabled.

He said: “Nigeria can no longer wait and be playing catch up with technology or keep waiting for technology transfer. We have to leap frog to catch up and get our young Nigerians prepared for the new technology driven world. We are pleased to be making substantial investment in this direction.”

Speaking further on the challenges, he said: “The Challenge is how to produce children to think out of the box and make them clearly different. Communication is the key. If a child has all the A’s in the world and cannot communicate, it’s a waste of time. The result is the only benchmark to show how well the school is doing on the students.

The school Administrator, Dr. Akindoyo Edward Olusoga, said the world has gone far beyond, and how kids can compete favourably with the world especially in an information technology age, aside from classwork is necessary. He noted that the Access Control System is a project that will introduce the use of technology in education. “We went round the world to see how this will be achieved. With this, things will be changed.”

He added that some educational apps will be made available in the school computer laboratory, including “Ever-green apps”, which will be used across all subjects on the curriculum; and “iMovie” that sallow students make educational movies. There are also “Presentation Software” for voice over of educational materials, and shobe apps that enables the photographs of their written work to be sent to the teacher for feedback, amongst others.

He announced that the inter-connectivity bandwidth of the school was recently launched, and had increased learning process for teachers as well the students, and will be scalable, while the fibre optics has been rolled out for coverage and density.

According to the Academic Manager of the school, Oluwasomi Motunrayo, who spoke on, “Blending Technology and Education: The Fourier International School, has Experience” there are four keys essential for learning and competence in the 21st century – critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

Motunrayo, reiterated thus: “Fourier has been developing these skills in their students ever since the inception of the school and now feels that the development of these competencies are integrated into our culture. Hence we are looking to move to the next level where we can further develop our use of technology to transform learning”.

Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation.

His words: “As knowledge becomes freely and easily available through Summarising key factors that Fourier believes will ensure most effective transformation of learning, the manager pointed them out to include, Effective Research before implementation, investing time and resources, training of all staff ,planning Ahead and pacing one’s self.

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Six ways to stay safe on public Wi-Fi

Six ways to stay safe on public Wi-Fi

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

With data connection rates still comparatively pricey in Nigeria, Wi-Fi hotspots are often a source of joy for most smartphone/device users in need of some free Web browsing or social media time. The benefits of free Wi-Fi access such as the ease of connectivity and opportunity to conserve cellular data makes it a common occurrence for most users to seek out these free connections in public locations such as parks, banks, hotels, restaurants, etc.

Findings by the Research and Development Unit of Yudala, Nigeria’s fastest growing composite e-commerce outfit showed that caution must, however, be exercised when accessing sensitive personal information and/or carrying out online shopping or mobile banking activities over a free public Wi-Fi connection as this could pre-dispose you to grave losses from hackers.

Armed with routers, remote spying software and other tools for their nefarious trade, these hackers, whose increasing level of sophistication is a source of global alarm, are capable of setting up fake hotspots. This is booby-traping you into thinking you are connecting to the Wi-Fi of a hotel you are staying in, for instance, while in actuality, you have fallen prey.

These tips from Yudala’s Research and Development Unit will help keep you protected:
Always remember you’re vulnerable on public Wi-Fi: This knowledge is essential as it will help keep you weary when using public Wi-Fi networks. Due to their often unsecured connections, chances are that the Wi-Fi hotspot you have so gleefully connected to be occupied by a potential hacker. Within this shared virtual space, it becomes considerably easier to infiltrate your device and compromise your personal information.

Disable automatic connection to Wi-Fi networks: Most smartphones are capable of automatically connecting to available Wi-Fi networks – a development that may expose you to lurking hackers. While this feature is often disabled by default, you can do yourself a world of good by double-checking to make sure. Better still, you can tweak your device’s settings to ensure manual connection to Wi-Fi hotspots. This way, you are protected from unwittingly connecting to a rogue network which may compromise your privacy and other sensitive information.

Verify the network’s name before connecting: Research shows that most hackers label their fake hotspots with generic names that may fool you into thinking you are on the right network. A public institution such as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), for instance, may not have its public Wi-Fi network named “Free NCC Wi-Fi.” Same goes for that hotel you may be staying in or the fast food outlet on the street corner. Obvious generic names such as these could be a well-sprung trap by a hacker to snare unsuspecting users.

If you are not certain of that generic name being the official Wi-Fi network you are about to access, you will do yourself a world of good by asking.  An employee of the organization concerned should be able to guide you in this regard and help you get connected to the right network. In the event that there is no one to verify from, it is better to err on the side of caution in order to avoid being hacked.

Stick to HTTPS for websites: To avoid exposing yourself to the risks of being hacked over a public Wi-Fi network, stick to websites that use HTTPS during your internet surfing activity. While regular websites transfer content in plain text thereby making it an easy target for potential hackers; websites that use HTTPS, on the other hand, encrypt your activity thus offering an extra layer of security. In order to be sure you are on an HTTPS website, simply look for a padlock in the address bar or check the URL for “https://…” In addition, you can download and use software such as HTTPS Everywhere to protect your data.

HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.

Turn off file sharing when using a PC: While you may not have a direct control over the Wi-Fi network you are connected to, your computer is thankfully still in your control.  Your computer may share certain information such as your printers, files, music library or even go as far as granting remote login to other computers on a trusted network or your personal Wi-Fi network. If not disabled when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, you may just be opening the door to a potential hacker.

File sharing must be turned off or at best automated to ensure that your computer automatically switches to a more secure setup when you are on a public Wi-Fi network.

Keep all financial transactions off public Wi-Fi:  This applies to mobile banking, online shopping or any other activity that involves exposing sensitive personal or financial information. Every public Wi-Fi network should be regarded as a major security risk as you may be sharing these connections with an eagle-eyed hacker. Where the transactions cannot wait until you get to a secure network, it is best you rely on your cellular data for these purposes.

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Operators claim 85% increase in OPEX threatens broadband target

Operators claim 85% increase in OPEX threatens broadband target


• Seek regulator’s urgent intervention

Telecommunications operators, mainly the Tier II players, have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to the increase in network operating expenses (OPEX) in Nigeria, which they claimed had increased by 85 per cent in the last 15 months.

The Tier II operators, which include nTel, Smile, Spectranet, Swift and a host others, raised the alarm when they visited the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, in Abuja, at the weekend. They claimed that the rise in OPEX, among other challenges threaten their survival.

“Network OPEX of telecommunication operations has sky rocketed in the last 15months by over 85 per cent with revenues remaining relatively flat,” they complained.

They warned that if not adequately and timely tackled, the development is capable of derailing the Federal Government’s 2018 broadband target, where it hoped to increase Internet penetration by 80 per cent and deepen broadband penetration by 30 per cent.

The Tier II operators, which are broadband companies, urged the NCC to take immediate and decisive steps to avert the looming threat of strangulation, which its members currently face.

Operators present at the meeting with the NCC EVC were the managing directors and chief executive officers of Smile Communications, and Spectranet, Godfrey Efeurhobo, and David Venn respectively.

The Director Regulatory and External Affairs, nTel, Osondu Nwokoro, and the Chief Commercial Officer, Swift Networks, Chuma Okoye, represented their respective CEOs.

The operators warned of possible systemic industry failure with likely negative collateral and great national socio-economic implications in the offing.

According to them, the industry is in a situation where all operators are finding it difficult to justify the required investment case for additional CAPEX for network capacity expansion to improve quality of service to customers.

Most operators, they observed, are currently struggling with meeting obligations to their suppliers particularly network vendors, TowerCos and servicing Loan obligations. This worrying trend, they noted, includes even some of the Tier I operators.

According to them, “a perfect storm is brewing and if not headed off will result in the collapse of key players in the industry. This is because the domino effect of bankruptcy of any of the Tier I or Tier II operators on the entire ecosystem particularly, banking, employment, corporate and SMEs businesses constitutes a major threat to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the current administration.

“Such bankruptcy and consequent collapse will also substantially lessen competition with its attendant deleterious impact on consumer choice and attainment of the Broadband objectives of the country.”

The chief executives noted that the NCC’s declaration of 2017 as, the Year of the Telecoms Consumer can be derailed by the failure of operators to deliver on the expected quality of service. This is particularly on data throughput and experience due to the weak investment case to support additional CAPEX as a result of deteriorating market conditions.

Symptoms of the declining fortunes of operators, they said, are already evident in the market, as debts continue to grow and overall service quality continues a downward trend.

“As it is, there is a grave threat to the Broadband Agenda of the government and expected dividend from growth in broadband penetration envisaged in the Economic Recovery and Growth plan 2020. This threat, will materialise if the market is not sanitized and the Tier II Operators are not protected to encourage and justify the capital investment required to continue to invest and improve Broadband penetration in the country.”

The Tier II operators also bemoaned their deteriorating fortunes due to predatory pricing and cross subsidy of data using voice by Tier I operators, who possess significant market power, and urged NCC to intervene immediately.

While applauding the various interventions of the NCC in engaging other stakeholders in ameliorating the difficulties that operators face, they expressed their gratitude to Danbatta for intervening with the CBN to reduce the burden of foreign exchange liquidity.

They also commended him for his role in leading the campaign to educate the populace that base stations do not cause cancer. They however implored him to protect the Tier II Operators so that their operations will not collapse.

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Android software creator unveils 'Essential' phone

A creator of the Android software powering most of the world’s smartphones stepped into the competitive hardware market on Tuesday with a new handset called Essential.

Andy Rubin said in an online post that he is tackling clutter, complexity and rapid obsolescence in the smartphone market by issuing a high-quality phone that allows for accessories such as a 360-camera to be magnetically snapped on when wanted.

“For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone, it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives,” he said.

The smartphones will first be released in the United States, where they can be reserved at the website www.essential.com for $699. A 360-camera that snaps on magnetically to the back of the phone can be ordered for an additional $50.

Rubin said he created the company behind Essential to use “21st-century methods to build products for the way people want to live in the 21st century.”

That mission includes letting people decide what features they want on phones, keeping products simple, using premium materials and enabling devices to evolve so they don’t “become outdated every year.”

Google’s abandoned Project Ara dabbled with the idea of smartphones users could customize with modular components. Motorola now sells an Android-powered modular smartphone.

Rubin was a co-founder of Android, which Google bought in 2005.

Google makes Android software — which powers most smartphones sold — available free to device makers.

But Rubin left the company about three years ago to launch a fund devoted to cultivating hardware technology startups.

The Essential will have to compete in a crowded field.

“Andy Rubin has quite a reputation and anything he launches will be accorded a fair measure of respect,” Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson said.

“But the pitch here feels so much like almost every other new entrant in the market,” he added. “I’m extremely skeptical that this phone will do any better than any other recent attempt to change the smartphone market.”

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Tour to Raise €20M for African Tech Start Ups

Tour to Raise €20M for African Tech Start Ups

Applications Open for African Start-Ups to Join Inaugural Tour of Five European Cities.

Co-creation Hub (CcHUB), a technology innovation centre in Nigeria and Google for Entrepreneurs, have announced the launch of PitchDrive, a three week, five-city European tech hub tour across London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Zurich and Paris. This partnership will bring 15 elite African tech companies together to pitch to investors, explore international opportunities and learn about frontier technology markets.

African startup founders looking to raise Series A funding and above will be selected by the PitchDrive team to embark on a landmark tour that aims to build stronger networks between European investors and African tech talent.

Starting in London on 14th of August 2017, the cohort will visit Google’s Campus London, TQ Amsterdam, Factory Berlin and Impact Hub in Zurich, concluding at NUMA Paris. Upon completion of the tour, the inaugural cohort will have pitched to over 300 investors, with the specific goal of raising over €20M in the three week period. This is the first tour of its kind to connect African tech companies with European capital, and the PitchDrive team is aiming to open up the sector to investors who want to build their portfolios to include emerging markets.

‘Bosun Tijani, CcHub Founder and CEO says, “PitchDrive will hit the road in August to connect Africa’s tech elite with Europe’s most influential investors. Applicants will be subjected to a rigorous selection process, and those selected will go on to have their business models scrutinised and analysed by some very shrewd and highly experienced investors at a Demo Day on each stop of the tour. It will be tough, but ultimately, we hope to help secure a number of breakthrough capital deals for those who embark on this journey with us. This is an incredible opportunity, and applications for just 15 places on the PitchDrive bus, are now welcome.

“Google started in a garage two decades ago. Our bus is the equivalent of their garage. We hope that with the support of Google for Entrepreneurs on the PitchDrive tour, we may secure capital to launch a new trajectory for one or two African unicorns of the future”.

PitchDrive will provide all travel, accommodation and visa support, as well mentorship and support from notable tech founders well versed in fund raising, including Iroko Founder and CEO Jason Njoku, Saidah Nash Carter of Reuters, Stephen Newton of Illuminate Africa and David Grunwald of Google for Entrepreneurs.

David Grunwald, Head of Global Partnerships Google for Entrepreneurs, adds, “Entrepreneurs from across Africa are building world-class tech companies, and we are delighted to be able to use the power of the Google for Entrepreneurs network to showcase their fantastic products to audiences in some of Europe’s most important tech ecosystems”

Applications are now open for African tech startups who are in a position to fundraise at seed stage and above. Those looking to apply must have been running for at least two years, and be a legal, registered enterprise able to demonstrate a minimum of 12 months revenue-generating operations and must be based in Africa. Ideally, startups will also have a strong management team who have worked together for at least 12 months and the founding team should own between 30-60% of the business with a high quality board. Founders must also be available for a three week period through the Summer of 2017.

The PitchDrive team are also looking for companies that are tech enabled or proprietary/patented tech, technology that has been validated by large reputable corporate customers (where applicable), relates to retail, mobile, financial technology, health or agriculture or have a high differentiation of technology / know how.

Potential applicants can find all criteria and apply at www.pitchdrive.xyz – #PitchDrive

Staff Writer

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