ICT changes lives – a taste of my dreams

ICT changes lives – a taste of my dreams

My name is Victoria Aduwo, the only female child of my parents and the first of two. I am from Ondo State, Nigeria and I grew up in Navy Town, Festac area of Lagos. My father is a retired Nigerian Naval officer and my mother is an entrepreneur. I studied Chemical Engineering at the Lagos State University, LASU.

Growing up, I always wondered what it was like to be an innovator. As a little girl, I had dreams of being one of the world’s most prominent female innovators. I loved to create things. I enjoyed exploring and experimenting. This shaped all I thought about and all I aspired to do with my time. It fueled my passion. I spent my time experimenting and trying to develop solutions.

Unfortunately, this sort of behavior was generally regarded as masculine, especially as the male gender dominated the sciences, and information technology. I had little or no encouragement from my parents or the people around me. But I was not deterred.

I remember what it was like trying to convince my parents to allow me study Chemical Engineering in the University. My Dad wanted me to be a Medical Doctor. He clearly had his plans for me especially given my position in the family.

I was constantly reminded me that I needed to spend more time building myself as a woman, and not chasing ‘unrealistic’ dreams. The African society still considers the woman’s role as being primarily in the home. I do not entirely disagree, because the home and family should remain important to a woman. However, I do not agree with the idea that a woman should spend the better part of her life in the kitchen, or in the other room for that matter.

The world is itself the woman’s kitchen – a place she prepares and incubates her dreams before serving it to the world to enjoy. I am glad there are many more women in ICT, and that these women are looking to make a difference.

I remember studying Chemical Engineering at LASU. The course was expectedly male dominated and I faced the typical challenges women face being in such environments. People doubted my ability when I tried to prove myself. I was either not given the full credit for my work, or not rewarded for it at all.

This was very discouraging. For the first time in my life, I understood what it meant being in a man’s world. When I tried to be a voice, I was shut down; sometimes by threats. There were times when I would have spent all week building a model or perfecting an experiment. Yet the focus of students and teachers alike seemed to dwell lower down my anatomy than where my mind occupied. My hard work was often times secondary. However, I was determined to keep on trying and I am glad I did because all the hard work eventually paid off.

I had heard a lot about China but like many people of my generation, China meant Kung Fu. China meant the place where anything could be manufactured at low quality. I also innocently had the impression that it was a big country with poor people, poor housing and electricity problems. I had thought generators were used for power at night like most Nigerian neighborhoods. Although I knew it was a tech-driven society, I didn’t know to what extent until I was given the opportunity to see for myself.

My trip to China was facilitated by the ‘Seeds for the Future’ project championed by Huawei Technologies in partnership with the Nigerian Government. I had heard of the Seeds for the Future program through a friend who sent me the ICT for Change website link. When I told my parents about it, they thought it was one of those scams or ‘promise and fail’ offers by the Nigerian Government.

Though my parents agreed that I apply, no one really expected me to be shortlisted. After all, applications had come from all over Nigeria. Having applied via the online portal, we got feedback after three months that I was one of the shortlisted students. I was so excited but this was just the first phase.

My parents had slowly started to believe but they still had doubts of my final selection. We were invited for the training program, and scheduled to write an exam afterwards. Forty (40) out of two thousand (2000) students from different Nigerian universities were eventually selected.

The next phase was the interview, after which, ten finalists were selected, and I was one of the ten (10). I was so thrilled when I got the call informing me that I was one of the successful ten. I was commended for my effort and informed of my trip to China. My parents could not have been prouder! To be a top ten candidate from a pan Nigeria exercise, which only required intellectual input was an achievement almost unparalleled in my entire existence so far. Getting the B.Sc. in engineering was special but this was a completely different kind of rush.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw in China. Guangzhou airport alone was a wonder. On our trip to Shenzhen, I was completely blown away. During my stay, I realized China was made up of ultra modern cities, high level technologies, state of the art transport systems, great infrastructure. My original perception was completely wrong.

I particularly loved the Yellow Bike Park, which has bicycles accessible for public use via a mobile app. The app grants access to use the bike and makes payment when returned. I saw cars and buses running on electricity. What a wonderland!

Through the Seeds for the Future platform, we learnt so much about ICT and got first-hand experiences in a global ICT firm from leading ICT facilitators. I got hands-on with state of the art technologies.

My knowledge of ICT prior to the trip was clearly limited. I was introduced to the endless possibilities of information technology. I learnt about Smart Cities, Smart Banking, Smart Housing, Smart Digital Pipelines, Smart Agriculture, and Telemedicine. I learnt so much. My desire for innovation and to make an impact soared to an all-time high. Once again, I dared to dream. I could truly achieve anything I set my mind to.

Travelling to China broadened my horizon. I had a rich experience of the Chinese culture and visited so many historical centers like the Great Wall of China, the Zoo and Pearl Market in Beijing, Folk Town and Luohu Market in Shenzhen. I met other students from all over the world.
I made new friends from different countries like Ecuador, Sweden, Peru, and we still keep in touch up till now. I was thrilled to receive birthday messages from my new friends just a few weeks ago. And the people in China are so friendly. The food is exquisite, with a variety of delicacies to pick from like fried duck, crystal noodles, and dried beef. I really cannot wait to go back.

Professionally, my trip to China inspired me to keep believing that I had a future in ICT. I have developed more passion for innovation. I hope to acquire my Masters degree and probably get a doctorate degree in Information and communication technology, ICT.

Now I am back in Nigeria, with my nine colleagues, and I have new skills ready to execute on projects I am currently running. ICT is clearly the future, and has the capacity to change lives. I am so fired up and excited for the future of ICT in Nigeria, especially with my desire to train the coming generation of ICT enthusiasts.

I recommend that the Nigerian government explores the endless possibilities of ICT just like China has done to tremendously enhance its economy, particularly in the areas of human capacity building, knowledge acquisition and the creation of innumerable opportunities for individuals to optimize their potentials. ICT can be a part of our everyday lives, from smart education to smart telemedicine, smart communities, smart banking.

As Nigeria climbs back from its recent recession, the need for diversification increases and ICT can most definitely fast track the process. Currently, according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Nigeria is ranks 143 on the 2017 global ranking on ICT Development Index (IDI). This status can be improved with the joint effort of the Federal Government, academia, and the private sector.

With the appropriate funding for research and telecommunication infrastructure, and with the presence of leading ICT organizations like Huawei Technologies in Nigeria, the potential for success is without limit.

Through structured exchange programs, Nigerian ICT students can attend foreign programs in China and other leading ICT countries, to improve their skills. An ICT University with global facilitators can also be built in Nigeria. These skills and exposure can be used to improve the Nigerian economy.

My message to the other young people in the ICT space is that the possibilities are truly endless and with hard work, determination and dedication, their dreams are totally within reach.

Thank you Huawei Seeds for the Future, now I can believe again.

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ICT Change Lives – A Taste of My Dreams

ICT Change Lives – A Taste of My Dreams

Huawei

My name is Victoria Aduwo, the only female child of my parents and the first of two. I am from Ondo State, Nigeria and I grew up in Navy Town, Festac area of Lagos. My father is a retired Nigerian Naval officer and my mother is an entrepreneur. I studied Chemical Engineering at the Lagos State University, LASU.

Growing up, I always wondered what it was like to be an innovator. As a little girl, I had dreams of being one of the world’s most prominent female innovators. I loved to create things. I enjoyed exploring and experimenting. This shaped all I thought about and all I aspired to do with my time. It fueled my passion. I spent my time experimenting and trying to develop solutions.

Unfortunately, this sort of behavior was generally regarded as masculine, especially as the male gender dominated the sciences, and information technology. I had little or no encouragement from my parents or the people around me. But I was not deterred.

I remember what it was like trying to convince my parents to allow me study Chemical Engineering in the University. My Dad wanted me to be a Medical Doctor. He clearly had his plans for me especially given my position in the family.

I was constantly reminded me that I needed to spend more time building myself as a woman, and not chasing ‘unrealistic’ dreams. The African society still considers the woman’s role as being primarily in the home. I do not entirely disagree, because the home and family should remain important to a woman. However, I do not agree with the idea that a woman should spend the better part of her life in the kitchen, or in the other room for that matter.

The world is itself the woman’s kitchen – a place she prepares and incubates her dreams before serving it to the world to enjoy. I am glad there are many more women in ICT, and that these women are looking to make a difference.

I remember studying Chemical Engineering at LASU. The course was expectedly male dominated and I faced the typical challenges women face being in such environments. People doubted my ability when I tried to prove myself. I was either not given the full credit for my work, or not rewarded for it at all.

This was very discouraging. For the first time in my life, I understood what it meant being in a man’s world. When I tried to be a voice, I was shut down; sometimes by threats. There were times when I would have spent all week building a model or perfecting an experiment. Yet the focus of students and teachers alike seemed to dwell lower down my anatomy than where my mind occupied. My hard work was often times secondary. However, I was determined to keep on trying and I am glad I did because all the hard work eventually paid off.

I had heard a lot about China but like many people of my generation, China meant Kung Fu. China meant the place where anything could be manufactured at low quality. I also innocently had the impression that it was a big country with poor people, poor housing and electricity problems. I had thought generators were used for power at night like most Nigerian neighborhoods. Although I knew it was a tech-driven society, I didn’t know to what extent until I was given the opportunity to see for myself.

My trip to China was facilitated by the ‘Seeds for the Future’ project championed by Huawei Technologies in partnership with the Nigerian Government. I had heard of the Seeds for the Future program through a friend who sent me the ICT for Change website link. When I told my parents about it, they thought it was one of those scams or ‘promise and fail’ offers by the Nigerian Government.

Though my parents agreed that I apply, no one really expected me to be shortlisted. After all, applications had come from all over Nigeria. Having applied via the online portal, we got feedback after three months that I was one of the shortlisted students. I was so excited but this was just the first phase.

My parents had slowly started to believe but they still had doubts of my final selection. We were invited for the training program, and scheduled to write an exam afterwards. Forty (40) out of two thousand (2000) students from different Nigerian universities were eventually selected.

The next phase was the interview, after which, ten finalists were selected, and I was one of the ten (10). I was so thrilled when I got the call informing me that I was one of the successful ten. I was commended for my effort and informed of my trip to China. My parents could not have been prouder! To be a top ten candidate from a pan Nigeria exercise, which only required intellectual input was an achievement almost unparalleled in my entire existence so far. Getting the B.Sc. in engineering was special but this was a completely different kind of rush.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw in China. Guangzhou airport alone was a wonder. On our trip to Shenzhen, I was completely blown away. During my stay, I realized China was made up of ultra modern cities, high level technologies, state of the art transport systems, great infrastructure. My original perception was completely wrong.

I particularly loved the Yellow Bike Park, which has bicycles accessible for public use via a mobile app. The app grants access to use the bike and makes payment when returned. I saw cars and buses running on electricity. What a wonderland!

Through the Seeds for the Future platform, we learnt so much about ICT and got first-hand experiences in a global ICT firm from leading ICT facilitators. I got hands-on with state of the art technologies.

My knowledge of ICT prior to the trip was clearly limited. I was introduced to the endless possibilities of information technology. I learnt about Smart Cities, Smart Banking, Smart Housing, Smart Digital Pipelines, Smart Agriculture, and Telemedicine. I learnt so much. My desire for innovation and to make an impact soared to an all-time high. Once again, I dared to dream. I could truly achieve anything I set my mind to.

Travelling to China broadened my horizon. I had a rich experience of the Chinese culture and visited so many historical centers like the Great Wall of China, the Zoo and Pearl Market in Beijing, Folk Town and Luohu Market in Shenzhen. I met other students from all over the world.
I made new friends from different countries like Ecuador, Sweden, Peru, and we still keep in touch up till now. I was thrilled to receive birthday messages from my new friends just a few weeks ago. And the people in China are so friendly. The food is exquisite, with a variety of delicacies to pick from like fried duck, crystal noodles, and dried beef. I really cannot wait to go back.

Professionally, my trip to China inspired me to keep believing that I had a future in ICT. I have developed more passion for innovation. I hope to acquire my Masters degree and probably get a doctorate degree in Information and communication technology, ICT.

Now I am back in Nigeria, with my nine colleagues, and I have new skills ready to execute on projects I am currently running. ICT is clearly the future, and has the capacity to change lives. I am so fired up and excited for the future of ICT in Nigeria, especially with my desire to train the coming generation of ICT enthusiasts.

I recommend that the Nigerian government explores the endless possibilities of ICT just like China has done to tremendously enhance its economy, particularly in the areas of human capacity building, knowledge acquisition and the creation of innumerable opportunities for individuals to optimize their potentials. ICT can be a part of our everyday lives, from smart education to smart telemedicine, smart communities, smart banking.

As Nigeria climbs back from its recent recession, the need for diversification increases and ICT can most definitely fast track the process. Currently, according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Nigeria is ranks 143 on the 2017 global ranking on ICT Development Index (IDI). This status can be improved with the joint effort of the Federal Government, academia, and the private sector.

With the appropriate funding for research and telecommunication infrastructure, and with the presence of leading ICT organizations like Huawei Technologies in Nigeria, the potential for success is without limit.

Through structured exchange programs, Nigerian ICT students can attend foreign programs in China and other leading ICT countries, to improve their skills. An ICT University with global facilitators can also be built in Nigeria. These skills and exposure can be used to improve the Nigerian economy.

My message to the other young people in the ICT space is that the possibilities are truly endless and with hard work, determination and dedication, their dreams are totally within reach.
Thank you Huawei Seeds for the Future, now I can believe again.

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Accenture demonstrates technology capabilities to revolutionise  economy

Accenture demonstrates technology capabilities to revolutionise economy

Managing Director, Accenture Nigeria, Niyi Yusuf,

Accenture Nigeria has demonstrated its technology capabilities to help businesses across different sectors in the country boost their productivity and efficiency through its recent innovations and investments in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), robotics and blockchain.
  
The Managing Director, Accenture Nigeria, Niyi Yusuf, at the demo, in Lagos, said: “Early this year, we predicted that in five years, more than half of consumers and enterprise clients will select products and services based on a company’s AI, instead of the company’s traditional brand. And in seven years, most interfaces will not have a screen and will be integrated into daily tasks. These two predictions alone strongly suggest that companies must act now on developing their AI Journey.
  
“We want businesses in Nigeria – from banking to manufacturing, health, construction, education, retail, security, and other sectors to take advantage of the innovations we have created to improve their businesses. We believe as one of the biggest economy in Africa, the time to seize the future is now.”
  
Responding to the myth that robots will lead to fewer jobs, Tayo noted that there is clear evidence that points toward robotic automation in many cases being a complement for human labour, rather than a direct substitute.He asserted that mundane tasks are the ones being automated. As such, he said, “Human effort becomes more valuable as it is focused on higher-level tasks, creativity, know-how, and thinking.”
  
Accenture early this year published a report, titled, the 2017 Technology Vision, which studied how artificial intelligence will affect banks going forward. Over 600 of the world’s foremost bankers were surveyed and asked a series of questions about the new technology and how it’ll change the way banks operate internally and how they handle their customers externally.
  
According to the report, three quarters of the bankers surveyed, four out of five to be exact, believe that AI will become the primary way banks interact with their customers. This is in relation to customer service, and these bankers see AI technologies such as chatbots becoming increasingly essential for banks in the not-so-distant future.
  
Experts and academics in the technology industry were also among the individuals surveyed, which demonstrates how thorough Accenture’s study into the effects of artificial intelligence on the financial sector was.

The bankers surveyed also agreed that AI would help to improve user interfaces, and enable these companies to develop a more human-friendly customer service experience.

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New technologies to save telcos  from $386b exposure to OTT

New technologies to save telcos from $386b exposure to OTT

Telecommunications operators in Nigeria and other African countries have been urged to invest in disruptive technologies to curb the growing influence of Over the Top (OTT) platforms on their businesses.
  
For the past five years, the increase in uptake of mobile VoIP services provided by apps such as Google, Facebook, Skype, Viber, Wechat, WhatsApp, and many others, have eroded revenues and profitability of telecoms operators.
  
The telecommunications industry in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is projected to lose a total of N109trillion ($386billion) in voice revenue to the growing usage of OTT Internet voice applications by 2018.
  
United Kingdom-based research and analytics company, Ovum, stated in a report that “the $386billion loss will accrue over a period of six years – between 2012 and 2018 – from Nigerian customers using OTT voice applications.”
   
Checks by The Guardian showed that the rise of the OTT players, who provide voice and Short Message Services, is currently eating deep into the voice revenue of telecommunications companies in the country by more than 50 per cent.
   
However, to curtail this growing influence, SAP has recommended major investments in disruptive technologies by telecommunications operators.

Telco Industry Lead at SAP Africa, Mariam Abdullahi, in a paper titled: ‘Emerging Technologies: new revenue opportunities for African Telcos,’ noted that despite operators attracting an increased number of customers, the amount each of these customers spend, is decreasing.
   
She revealed that WhatsApp and its more than 900 million active users around the world, leverage telco infrastructure to send 30 billion messages per day at no cost.
  
The SAP chief noted that these OTT players have created loyal customer bases, as they provide valuable services at low costs, all leveraging the infrastructure that telcos built.
  
“I would argue that a far better route to the continued success and growth of the African telco industry is not to look back at missed opportunities, but to rather look ahead to the emerging technologies that will shape the business and consumer landscape across the African continent. And there’s no bigger or better emerging opportunity than the Internet of Things (IoT).”
    
According to her, with a projected 50 billion things connected by 2020, the IoT is set to become one of the most significant technological innovations in history. She added, “General Electric estimates that investment into the Industrial Internet of Things will reach $60-trillion over the next 15 years, while McKinsey predicts the IoT market will attain a compound annual growth rate of 32.6 per cent by 2020.”
   
Surviving, Abdullahi said telcos should look specifically at implementing four key components to drive an effective innovation process. These are: innovation strategy that highlights how the telco wants to take advantage of emerging technologies such as IoT; an understanding of the business models that would best support their customers’ objectives and approach to business; and an accurate and central system of records. There is also a need for a team of experts to ensure all components in the innovation engine work together seamlessly and effectively.

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Bharti Airtel battles Globacom, eight others for 9Mobile

Bharti Airtel battles Globacom, eight others for 9Mobile

Airtel

• Denies Africa exit rumour

Bharti Airtel is currently battling Globacom, Dangote (Alheri Engineering) and seven others for 9mobile – formerly the local unit of Etisalat – as bankers push to complete a sale by December 31.

The Guardian gathered that Abraaj Capital, Africa Capital Alliance, Carlyle Group, Centricus Capital and Africell,Helios Towers, Smile Telecoms Holdings and Teleology Holdings are the companies seriously bidding to takeover 9Mobile by year-end. The bidding process is being handled by Barclays Africa.

9mobile is being sold after regulators saved the company from collapse when both an investment fund and Etisalat exited the country in June following the default of a $1.2 billion loan.

Market Analysts believed that the battle for the soul of 9Mobile rest strictly between Globacom and Airtel because of their financial war chest and experiences in the Nigerian market. Should either be successful in the bid, the additional connections may see them overtake MTN as market leader.

Airtel is currently the third largest operator in Nigeria with 35 million customers as at October representing 25 per cent market share. Globacom is second after MTN. Globacom controls 26.6 per cent market share and 37 million customers. Embattled 9Mobile has 17 million customers, which is 12.2 per cent of the market.

MTN, with 50.7 million customers, controls 36 per cent market share.The statistics showed that Airtel is battling with Globacom for second position in the Nigerian market, but despite making inroads during 2017 both are still more than 10 million connections behind MTN.

The India-headquartered company operates in major markets across Africa, with Nigeria, being the largest, providing both communications and mobile money services. In its latest earnings statement – for the three months to end-September – the company reported improved customer numbers, Airtel Money service uptake and margins across its Africa business as a whole.

Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel has denied reports it was set to exit three unprofitable markets in Africa, though confirmed it was open to consolidation with other players in some countries.

According to Business Daily Africa, yesterday, the company denied it planned to exit Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania – as had been reported in The Economic Times (ET) and would instead pursue other options in a bid to turn a profit in the countries.

Airtel added that one of its options was “strategic acquisition”, and reiterated its aim to be one of the two largest operators in each of its African markets.

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Ojobo to get NIPR presidential award tomorrow

Ojobo to get NIPR presidential award tomorrow

Tony Ojobo

Consumate Corporate spokesman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Tony Ojobo, will tomorrow, December 14, receive the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) Presidential Award. 
 
The conferment of this prestigious award was communicated to Ojobo by the President and Chairman of Council of NIPR, Dr. Rotimi Oladele.
 
Specifically, Oladele told Ojobo in the letter that “the prestigious award is given in recognition of your sterling leadership qualities, outstanding contributions towards the development of the Public Relations practice and support for industry advancement.”
 
The award ceremony will climax the yearly Presidential Dinner billed for Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.Ojobo, the Director, Public Affairs at the NCC, has brought finesse and vitality to professionalism in his day to day handling of issues in Nigeria’s fastest growing sector, telecommunication and information technology commenting and communicating in everyday language in the public as matters arise.

Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), his alma mater, with an award of Excellence at a ceremony tagged, Alumni Home coming and 32nd Anniversary celebration of the Faculty of Management of the University.

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‘Nigeria needs enabling policies to drive digital transformation’

‘Nigeria needs enabling policies to drive digital transformation’

Gbenga Adegbiji

The General Manager of MainOne’s Data Centre subsidiary, MDXI, Gbenga Adegbiji speaks to ADEYEMI ADEPETUN on the importance of essential policies to support indigenous businesses to achieve digital transformation in Nigeria.

What are the challenges companies are facing in enabling the digital economy in Nigeria?
One of the major constraints we experience is the high cost of operations, vide access to forex, low availability of Power (as you have to rely mostly on diesel-powered generators for a 24/7 operations) and high cost of importation. Data Centres are capital intensive and usually require huge, clean power for its operations, whether via the public utility or privately owned diesel generators. We have invested significantly in a direct connection to the national grid via one of the DISCOs, in addition to the huge investment in specially designed diesel generators, so we can guarantee high availability of power that such a data centre requires.
   
Also, we face challenges importing critical equipment in-country. The Federal Government’s policy on forex has adversely affected telecoms companies. In addition, the impact of devaluation of naira to the dollar has been felt by most telecoms operators since most of our revenues are in Naira and the bulk of our expenses are in foreign currencies. We currently import all our equipment from outside the country and with the forex constraint; we have had to almost double what we were spending on equipment two years ago.
   
Unfortunately with this very high cost of operation, Nigerians still patronise data centres located outside the country which makes it more challenging from a cost/revenue perspective. Despite the existence of world-class data centres in country, built to international standards and armed with all the relevant certifications, most government and enterprise businesses still host Nigeria’s data abroad, rather than patronise indigenous data centres where the security of our data could be guaranteed.
   
The Federal Government needs to enable policies to drive the diversification from an oil-dependent economy to a services-focused one. Policies such as pioneer status for indigenous operators, tax exemptions, data residency and priority access to forex will go a long way to help Nigeria’s data centre operators, encourage foreign investments in this sub-sector and get us ready for the information revolution that is underway.

Data residency and localisation have become a recurrent theme in ICT in Nigeria. What exactly will the country benefit from implementing this?
Let’s imagine you attend an event or party; where do you park, far away from the hall or close? And if you park far away, do you park in a place with security or do you leave your car on the road where it can be stolen? Data localisation is exactly the same as this. You cannot protect what you cannot control effectively. If you do not park your car or leave valuables where you cannot guarantee its security and safety, why do we store critical government and enterprise data outside the country? A lot of Nigerian data is hosted outside the country, including very sensitive data containing national intellectual property and citizens’ information.

For example, everyone who holds the Nigerian Passport has his data outside the country. In the wrong hands, access to this data is dangerous and makes us extremely susceptible to cyber-attacks. If the servers hosting these details are attacked, we lose heavily; not government now, but all of us. We need to bring all that sensitive Nigerian data into local certified data centres, which are regulated by local laws. This also saves the country forex as capital flight is reduced, generates more employment opportunities for Nigerians and fosters rapid ICT development in Nigeria.
 
In the Oil and Gas industry for example, local data centres will enable upstream operators retain their data locally as well as provide the capacity to grow their systems on demand while complying with local content laws.

In addition, latency is significantly reduced as they can access their critical business applications without routing traffic outside the country. Reduced latency increases productivity and optimizes automation to positively impact overall production costs. And we can provide these services out of the most secure facility in West Africa, with all the benefits available in world-class facilities at no additional CAPEX costs to Oil and Gas operators. If international OTT players and financial giants are beginning to keep relevant Nigerian content in certified data centres in-country, there is no longer a question of our capability to provide reliable and secured data centre services in Nigeria.

Many world powers are already talking post oil including China. Can Nigeria really wean itself off oil; and what should be our focus?
Yes, Nigeria can evolve from oil-dependent to services-focused. We have depended for too long on crude oil and natural gas at great risk while our GDP is impacted by circumstances beyond our control.

Reliable Power, broadband availability and other transformational infrastructure are critical to this next phase. Once there is adequate power, other sectors, including manufacturing would witness significant expansion. Broadband is also another quick way to transform the economy to deliver services, engage the teeming youth population, create wealth and attract Foreign Investment.
 
Unfortunately, Nigeria continues to be ranked among countries with the lowest broadband penetration in the world. In latest International Telecoms Union (ITU) ICT Development Index, Nigeria was ranked 143 out of the 176 member states, behind many other African countries including South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco and Cote D’Ivoire. 
   
Nigeria’s position as the biggest economy on the continent may be in jeopardy in upcoming years if the country does not acquire the digital tools that are a necessity for economic growth in the 21st Century.  It is thus imperative that the Nigerian government aggressively implements strategies to drive internet and broadband penetration.

We have seen first-hand the capability of broadband to transform economies. Through MainOne’s infrastructure investments in the technology ecosystem of Lagos, Nigeria has attracted visibility from global technology companies, enabled over $500million direct investment into Nigeria and created 100,000 direct and indirect jobs by a stimulation of ISP, eCommerce and ePayment sectors.

What are MDXI’s plans for the future in West Africa in the mid-term?
We plan to expand data center build-outs across West Africa in Sagamu, Ghana and Cote Ivoire to address the growing demand for content hosting.We have been in the data centre collocation business for more than 5 years now and plan to remain the gold standard data centre company in the region with great focus on operational efficiency and security, giving our clients the time to focus on their core businesses. We will continue to maintain our certifications that set us apart from the crowd through operational excellence and best practices.
  
Currently, our Lekki Data Centre is the only PCI DSS certified data centre in Nigeria, which means it is the only facility within the country that can effectively protect consumer security for all businesses that process transactions using electronic payment cards. The wider the financial inclusion envelop, the more data centres like ours will be sought after, to protect our online card transactions.
  
In addition, we plan to remain West Africa’s biggest edge data centre, servicing both content providers, carriers and local ISPs. We plan to retain West Africa’s internet traffic, within the continent, by building the largest Internet hub in West Africa, with a new interconnection solution “Open-Connect”. Open-Connect is a service that facilitates improved interconnection, collaboration and peering within our data centre and enables superior peering at the Nigerian Internet Exchange also housed within the facility. This product enables the creation of an environment that allows collocated customers connect to multiple networks, cloud and content providers while significantly reducing the cost of backhaul links to various providers. It also ensures competitive pricing in an open access, carrier neutral environment.

MDXI is currently offering free passes and flight ticket to Mobile World Congress. Can you share details about that?
We will be attending the Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, organised by the GSMA. This event holds in Barcelona, Spain, and will attract over 108,000 attendees and 2300 exhibitors from 208 countries.

We are offering a lucky C-level executive the opportunity to join us to experience cutting edge technologies that they can adopt to support their business, at no expense. All the winner needs to do is visit our Tier III, ISO 27001 and PCIDSS certified Data Centre and you stand a chance of joining us on this all-expense paid trip to Barcelona.

What are your perspectives on Nigeria’s data centre landscape today?
We are in the information age and our lives now revolve around the availability of one application or the other which is accessed online. Today, almost everyone has one social media account or the other; Facebook, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, Twitter etc; or you use ATM card, do online transfer of funds, watch a movie on Youtube, upload photos or send messages, consult Google maps to know the shortest route; call Uber/Taxify from your phone or order from Konga/Jumia and so on. These applications reside in one Data Centre or the other around the world and accessing these applications rely on connectivity. This is why when one talks about data centre, you have to talk about connectivity as well.
 
Therefore, as we grow to be more sophisticated digital natives, we will continue to need bigger and more advanced data centres and MDXI and MainOne are rightly positioned for this future.
 
In Nigeria, the dynamic evolution of digital technology and adoption across multiple verticals is disrupting how business is done across industries, forcing companies to invent new, information-centric business models. Indeed, as Nigerian businesses expand their participation in the global digital and online economy, in areas such as electronic banking, eCommerce, online content distribution, e-learning and online testing, investment in ICT infrastructure will need to grow at a pace that precedes adoption. Data Centres lie at the heart of this, enabling enterprises, social networks et al to store their critical data.
 
Global regulation is also fostering data centre expansions; Apple, for instance will build its first data centre in China to speed up services such as iCloud for local users and abide by laws that require global companies to store information within that country.
 

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Consumers and mobile phones

Consumers and mobile phones

The Consumers’ assembly team has had to highlight what it considers critical considerations in evaluating the contribution of innovation in critical consumer product sectors, with special focus on the immediate character of disruption, at several forums. Our position has always been that change, and especially with technological advancement, must be carefully engaged because with its attractiveness comes natural negatives, some of which could be life-threatening. It is in same vein we have been considering the areas of possible concern in the innovative technological offering of the mobile phones (and the evolution of ‘smart phones’) and consumers’ experience. Our worry is in the main, propelled by the profile of consumers in this market, especially in the area of literacy and attitude.

Almost to the point of profligacy, and indeed in expression of our nature of abundance, we accommodated the innovativeness of mobile telephony in its entirety, without the reciprocity of collaborative engagement as consumers. Consumer nature with us is studded with certain level of such irresponsibility that questions our carefulness. So, we just consume. In the about 17 years of our experiencing the technological wonder of mobile telephone offering in its entirety, in totality of its hard and software components, every aspect of its value offering and proposition has been wholly consumed, resulting in the astronomical growth in its commercial derivatives. Equipment, application sad n other software market in Nigeria, grows fastest among peer-markets. It has even stretched to challenge market growth rate of technologically advanced markets. Asians from every corner of the globe are represented in this market for its size and growth rate.

Good as market growth should be, we are concerned with CONSUMERS’ well bring. As mentioned above, our consumption pattern and rate is unmindful of our responsibilities to know, and engage the offerings safely. And that is our concern. So in the interest of CONSUMERS we sat with the representatives of Gionee Communication Equipment Co., Limited’s brand management team, Mr. Somoye Habeeb, Marketing Manager, and Mrs. Aderonke Odukoya, Corporate Marketing Supervisor, to identify those areas of interest to the consumer, especially on the entirety of applicability, commercial guide and health safety. As consumers, owe plenty as our responsibility for careful engagement to protect against compromises in commercial terms and healthy application, with specific focus on mobile phones.

However, we like to state that there as evident regulatory compromise on the part of mobile phone equipment market operators, in regard to consumer information. From the issue of warranty through brand-specific value proposition & offering, to after-sales-service, majority of mobile phones are not keeping with their responsibility of gathering, processing and disseminating information in the proper manner and nature that should safely guide the consumer in his/her buying decision-making, and adequately inform the prospective buyer of the attendant rights and responsibility towards good and safe use of the phones.

Brand owners will push scanty reservoir of sales agents at point of sales, as being charged with the responsibility of consumer orientation, but we know no brand representative will tell truths that are damaging and antithetic to sales actualization. So that channel of consumer information cannot be said to be appropriate. As established by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) brands must engage in adequately informing the market of its offering so much so adequately sufficient to help or guide the consumer in making the buying decision, And by our peculiar nature in this market, such information must be in ample use of visual and text materials. And that is where the good use of communications consultants comes in; mobile (smart) phone brands must engage advertising agencies most adequately to tell their brand’s stories in the most useful and appropriate way that will serve consumers’ purpose.

From our interaction with the duo of Mr. Habeeb and Mrs. Odukoya, we derived the following as guide for the consumer:
Purchase decision: in the face of evident sophistication in brand offerings mobile phones are broadly categorized in the classes of gadgets and fashion accessories. Whereas offerings designed to support vital daily application with functional implication on business, relationship (family & social) management, bank and non-bank financial transactions come as gadgets, thatequipment designed to facilitate fashion values are principally designed to serve as such. Gadgets come with more of functional design and application, compromising on the fashion considerations of sleekness, beautiful appearance and handling, Gadget phones come with heavier duty batteries and applications that tend to make them heavier and less trendy in appearance. But they are more reliable for functionality and dependability.

Both are good and efficient in delivering on set-purposes, but the consumer must determine his/her over-riding priorities before investing in the purchase Warranty: as they say, the details can be delicate. Warranty is exclusive to factory damages. After sales damages such as broken screen, scratches and damages to charging systems and cords may not be accommodated in the warranty application because the manufacturer assumes such damages are consequent upon the user’s carelessness.

Charging method: Consumers must be careful in charging their phones. In their complicated nature, telephone equipmentis delicate to electricity, especially the source of power. It is safest to charge your phones on conventional electricity power source, as against the use of generating sets. If you must use the generating set, ensure it is one that functions optimally, devoid of fluctuations, and sudden outage. Such unsteady power source can damage the charging cable or the charging port inside the phone, in most cases.

After-Sales & Accessories: Whereas after-sales as a trade support infrastructer reassures, the extent of its engagement is statement of either product quality assurance or a warning sign to consumers. Experts say if as a consumer, you notice the after-sales service centre of any given brand is excessively busy, be guided to know that that brand is problematic. According to Mr. Habeeb, if you decide to buy such brand, you are likely to join the queue of waiting complainants soon after.

On aaccesory, consumers should pay particualer attention to source of purchase. Be sure to purchase your needs at own-brand outlets because you are likely to buy a compromised quality outside branded outlets. Finally, pay particular attention to the charging cable that comes with the phone because outside that, and as a result of compromises, the replacement may not be as reliable and efficient.

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Nigerians buy 1.6 million devices in nine months, says report

Nigerians buy 1.6 million devices in nine months, says report

Market research expert, GfK, has said about 1.6 million devices were sold between Q1 to Q3 2017, compared to 972,000 devices in the same period last year.

GfK identified Nigerian consumers as drivers of upward demand for 4G Smartphones, as sales performance in chain retail sales developments for 4G Smartphones in Nigeria recorded significant growth in the category.

With over 90 million internet users the savvy Nigerian consumer demands faster bandwidth and data transfer speeds, the kind that only 4G devices can provide.

GfK, which has since 2009 been involved in tracking the retail sales developments for mobile phones in Nigeria, noted that the advent of the recession in 2016, culminating in a weaker local currency impacted the market. It said this led to a decline in units sold, however with a marginal increase of three per cent in sales value.

It is expected with the end of the recession, and improved value of the Naira that the negative sales growth trends will be reversed.

The Managing Director, GfK Nigeria, Kenneth Doghudje, said: “the Nigerian consumer demonstrates his connectedness to the world, and everything around him/her via the smartphone. This device has come to typify a better quality of life and standard of living. Today’s consumer wants to engage and remain engaged. Running out of data to browse the Internet is simply not an option. And today’s network operators are data driven and focused as a result.”

Doghudje stressed that smartphone devices with screens 5 inches or larger, resonates very well with the Nigerian consumer. A year-on-year comparison of 5-inch screen sales indicates that the market grew from 1.16 million units sold in 2016 to 1.58million units sold in 2017, a growth of 37 per cent. This is proof that consumers desire enough screen “real estate” to enable them to maximise the use of their devices.

Business Group Manager Telecoms & IT, GfK Nigeria, Henry Egbejimba, explained, “Large screen sized phones are preferred by the Nigerian consumers; in fact, the larger the size of the screen, the better.

This is because Nigerians associate large screen sizes with premium quality. And everyone desires to have one or even two high quality smartphones in hand because smartphones are a status symbol.”

Today, many brands are able to play in the 5 inches segment, and churn out models within affordable price points that meet the yearnings and aspirations of the customers.

However, Egbejimba, comparing the 2016 and 2017 sales performances, said the market recorded tremendous growth in the chain stores sales. This channel recorded a 22 per cent increase in sales with a 47 per cent substantial increase in value when comparing the first three quarters in both years. Although the total market experienced a decline, the chain store segment didn’t and actually had a positive trend.”

More and more consumers are beginning to embrace chain stores as the best place to procure quality devices with sufficient warranty and after sales service.

They’re reputed as the best places because they provide an enabling environment to properly engage with the products and check out their characteristics and features, which is vital before you buy.

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New app to redefine digital airtime top up system

New app to redefine digital airtime top up system

A newly launched mobile application, Universa E-Mobile top up, is set to redefine operations of electronic mobile top up in Nigeria with its unified global loading feature.
  
At the launch of the application in Lagos, the Chairman, Bemas Technology, owners of Universa, Kola Balogun, said the new platform provides seamless possibilities through its diverse channels.
  
According to the Managing Consultant, Bemas Technologies, Ben Adeniyi, the application which operates in 130 countries of the world, seeks to bridge the gap most mobile top up application has.                
 
The global electronic platform, Adeniyi said makes provision for everybody, both the banked and unbanked, “unlike other short codes which are only available for the banked.”
    
The Bemas Managing Consultant explained that as the name implies, Universa enables users across the world to top up their phones and for others from 400 operators with a unified code across the globe regardless of the network.
    
Responding to how the network operates, Adeniyi mentioned that it supports all the currencies available in those countries, addresses the peculiarity of the currency and language, time zones and also, conversion.
    
Referring to the application as a game changer, he pointed further that once consumers load their wallet, is converted into their local currencies.
   
“The challenge of the current recharge system has been bridged,” he added.Adeniyi told The Guardian that the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), which are their strongest partner in the launching of the application has provided a short code *578# in Nigeria, which covers for the limitation of Internet connectivity.
   
“The code is currently functions with the Glo network as negotiations are still on course for its integration into the other networks in Nigeria,” he stated.
   
Talking about their mode of operation in Nigeria, he explained how the company is going through the existing dealership database of the various telecommunication companies in Nigeria, “as they would just have to key into the purchase of universa app pins alongside their existing ones.”
  
The application can be accessed on the playstore and IOS,“apart from the telecommunication, our targets are the business enterprises and the masses,” he noted.
  
The Chairman, who was represented by the company’s Executive Director, Lekan Anwgbua, recognised the competition in the market but was however, optimistic to breakeven with the application’s uniqueness.
 

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