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‘Digital central bank currency inevitable’

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‘Digital central bank currency inevitable’

Prediction

There is concern over potential of Facebook’s Libra initiative

 

P

hiladelphia Federal Reserve Bank President, Patrick Harker, has said that it is “inevitable” that central banks including the U.S. Federal Reserve will start issuing digital currency, adding, however, that the United States should not be the nation to lead such a move.

 

According to Reuters, Harker, who was speaking at a community banking conference in the US, said given the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency and the need to test out new technology, the US  should not  be the first nation to take the step.

 

 

He was, however, quoted as saying:  “It is inevitable … I think it is better for us to start getting our hands around it.”

 

 

His comment came in response to a question about the Fed’s decision to create its own real-time payments system.

 

 

Harker said with the so-called “FedNow” service in the works, “I am looking at the next five years after that. What comes next? I do think it is something around digital currency.”

The Fed and other central banks are debating both how to approach the rise of privately issued cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and examining how the underlying blockchain technology might change traditional central banking.

 

 

According to the news agency, the general mood is skeptical – about whether private cryptocurrencies will ever become large enough, or behave enough like true currencies, to require regulation, or to threaten the ability of traditional central banks to conduct monetary policy.

 

 

“We’re a long way from that,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in June, describing the technology as in its “infancy.” Other Fed officials have said that the benefits of a central bank issued digital currency were “not obvious.”

 

 

But there is also concern, particularly over Facebook’s potential to pull a large financial consortium together behind its Libra initiative. And globally, other central banks and institutions including the Bank for International Settlements have begun to take the possible spread of central bank digital currencies as more of a possibility.

 

 

Harker acknowledged his view was “in the minority” at the Fed right now. But his staff has begun research on the issue, and he said he is organizing a small research conference for academics to be held early next year.

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Population growth as panacea for development

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Population growth as panacea for development

The two-day economic summit of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), the annual policy dialogue between private sector players and public officials, ended last week in Abuja where stakeholders expressed concern about the looming 400 million Nigeria’s populations by 2050 and how to convert same into asset, Abdulwahab Isa recounts 

 

 

The year 2050 is 31 years away from 2019. Between now and then, experts predict that Nigeria’s burgeoning population could hit about 400 million; making it the third most populous country after China and India.

Huge population isn’t entirely a disadvantage. Like a coin with  two split  sides, huge population could be an  asset to a country that guarantees quality  education  to her citizens, give premium attention to  improved infrastructure   such as good  road network, uninterrupted power; improved health services and every item that scales up citizens’  living standard.

Regrettably, Nigeria is off these marks.  Blessed with a huge population, Nigeria ranks among   poor nations when measured by indices of a developed nation.

Lately, anticipated population size of about 400 million by 2050 has opened a fresh chapter, with experts projecting that an additional 200 million population will deepen an already sinking poverty level.  A population of 400 million size is a huge liability, which requires earnest work to avert its crippling effects.

To give up portends massive economic disaster lurking to happen. The Nigerian Economic Summit 2019 edition organized by Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) was conceptualised to lay the foundation for tackling socio- economic dislocations for 31 years journey into 2050.

The 2019 policy dialogue between private and public sector, themed: “NES 2019: “Shifting Gears,”  examined in details, every sector with a view to diagnosing what ails it, challenges that stifle its growth while  experts espouse solutions to fix them.

Bumpy road to 2050

NESG has kept faith with the policy dialogue for unbroken 25 years. Beneath the silver jubilee celebration package that the 2019 edition represented, the session unearthed the rough road Nigeria is primed to get to 2050 destination point.

NESG Chairman, Mr. Asue A.Ighodalo, in his opening remarks at NES 2019, explicitly painted a rough, long   road to 2050 characterized with series of layers.

According to him, “aside the global shifts that demand our attention, our country is also changing internally. Despite rising poverty rates, our population growth continues at a trajectory that should be cause for concern and decisive policy measures.  United Nations   projection that Nigeria’s population   will double by the Year 2050 to 410 million, and we will become the third most populous nation in the world behind China and India.  Basically, the population is projected to grow by a little over three per cent per annum. If true and it does not seem unrealistic, GDP must grow by at least that much, year on year, for us to just maintain our current GDP per capita – this is without accounting for inflation.  Clearly, we do not have that luxury.

“Our current GDP per capita, even at zero inflation, on its own, and more so when we factor in wealth distribution disparities, is not a metric we can afford to have stand still.  We at the NESG are convinced that only consistent and inclusive economic growth, underpinned by a competitive, private sector-led, productive economy can move us toward real progress. By 2050, majority of the country’s projected 400+ million people will be under the age of 35.

“We therefore need to confront our realities and craft a new national agenda that will proactively and urgently drive inclusive double-digit growth and development, over the next three decades. It sounds daunting, but it is not impossible. It has been done before; by others in situations similar to ours, but never by accident.”

All the participants, including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who for the first time, discountenanced other official matters to attend NES 25, admitted the road to 2050 was bumby.  He, nonetheless, assured that Nigeria coulds navigate through 2050 murky waters given her human resources.

On the focus of this year’s economic summit, which is discussing what Nigeria would be in the year 2050 when many studies estimate the country’s population will rise to over 400 million people, the President said: “As a government, our view is to equip our citizens with the means to seize any opportunities that may arise. This means we continue investments in education, healthcare, infrastructure, security and strengthen and entrench the rule of law.’’

Taming population size, prioritising girl child education

Some of the panelists included Founder of the Kukah Centre, Bishop Mathew Kukah, Emir of Kano, Mohammadu Sanusi (II), Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and CEO, Jumia Nigeria, Mrs. Juliet Anammah.

These eminent Nigerians x- rayed complexity of Nigeria coping in the event of anticipated 400 million population size, and the vital role an affordable quality education, with emphasis on girl child education could have on reducing poverty rate.

Emir of Kano, Mohammadu Sanusi (II) punctuated a notion that Nigeria’s huge population is asset. He said, it was a liability, and pegged the bad vices ravaging the country to huge, uneducated population.

“The huge population is clearly a liability. All the issues you have, Boko- Harram, drug addiction, youth unemployment, kidnapping all tied to huge population. People say that our population is an asset but we are yet to get there. Nigeria’s population is currently a liability because most of the root cause of problems such as kidnapping, armed robberies, Boko Haram, drug addiction are all tied to the population that we have and the question is how you turn that into a productive one.

“This population problem is perhaps the most important developmental challenge we have to face. If we don’t have a demographic transition, we will never have economic transition,” he said.

The former CBN governor said girl child education should be given priority, saying “if we don’t give them good, quality education, it will be a huge crisis for us. Some people are deluded with hope. It’s time to move from hope to reality.”

Father Kukah aligned his position with the former CBN governor, saying population growth of other countries afforded them the opportunity to boost economic output.

According to him, “everything that becomes an opportunity in other countries is a liability to Nigeria.  I don’t want to speculate how other nations have turned population into positive. Is either that there is something in Nigerian that makes it impossible for us, the lack of capacity and the sense of opportunities.”

For Anammah, she identified access to quality education as key to managing huge population for productive economy.

“We need policies that support micro industries. We have millions of people that are under employed today. How do we tackle it?”

Providing unemployed youths with enabled internet smart phone, she opined is one infrastructure that could take millions out of unemployment.

Also contributing, Fayemi noted that states were not in charge of their education curriculum, a development he said made states handicap in the area of developing suitable curriculum.

Industrialisation

Creating an enabling environment for industries to thrive is the surest way to grow the economy, and get majority of Nigerians employed.

President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, represented at the summit by Executive Director, Government and Stakeholder Relations, Ahmed Mansur, put this point forward at the first plenary session titled: “Competing with Giants.”

Mansur said private sector was key to the much touted industrial revolution, adding that his conglomerate was leading Nigeria into a new epoch through massive investment in the manufacturing sector and skill development.

Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council, Dr Doyin Salami, admonished Federal Government to get out of business and allow the private sector drive it. He also said that since the Federal Government was wooing the private sector to take risks and invest in the economy, it must be willing to mitigate the risks businesses face.

Chairman of First Bank Plc, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, said an emergency on the education sector must be declared, stressing that more than 70 per cent of Nigerian students were studying courses they are not interested in but are forced on them.

Last line

As with NES tradition, NESG recommendations, outcome of dialogue will be presented to the president via established channel, usually through the Minister of Finance.

The onus lies on Federal Government to take the recommendations seriously by committing them into policies for implementation. The earlier the government officials start by taking measures that will shift gears for a smooth ride to 2050 destination the better it will be for all.

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Giving force to Nigeria’s data protection regulation

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Giving force to Nigeria’s data protection regulation

Nigeria recently took a cue from the European GDPR by coming up with a data protection regulation. However, while the GDPR is a law binding on all handlers of European citizens’ data, Nigeria’s remains a regulation, which enforcement is at the discretion of the country’s ICT regulatory agency. SAMSON AKINTARO reports

 

 

Prior to its recent red flag against mobile app platform, Truecaller, Nigeria’s ICT regulator, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) had said it was investigating some banks and telecommunications operators in the country over possibility of flouting its data protection rule.

This was the regulator’s attempt to warn data handlers in the country that it was no longer business as usual as the country now has data protection regulation.

The NDPR was introduced in January this year to address the lacuna that existed in the country regarding data protection. While the National Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) is fashioned after the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), stakeholders are worried that Nigeria may not achieve much with the regulation except with dogged enforcement.

Key Provisions of NDPR

The regulation, which is binding on all entities handling Nigerians’ data “provides that personal data shall be collected and processed in accordance with specific, legitimate and lawful purpose consented to by the Data Subject.”

Article of the regulation mandates the data controller to expressly inform the Data Subject of the purpose(s) of the processing for which the Personal Data are intended as well as the legal basis for the processing. Data controllers are also expected to collect the minimum required data and avoid unnecessary surplus age. “Data that is not useful for the Controller ought not to be collected. No data shall be obtained except the specific purpose of collection is made known to the Data Subject. This principle relates also to the principle on purpose of collection.”

On enforcement, the NDPR classified Controllers into large and small categories. Those who process data of more than 10,000 data subjects are liable to forfeit two per cent of their Annual Gross Revenue (AGR) while those handling less than 10,000, would lose up to one per cent of their AGR.

NDPR enforcements

With the regulation coming into force April 2019, NITDA had on two occasions raised the alarm over some organisations’ non-compliance. While there is yet no sanction against any organisation for breach, the agency had threatened punitive measures, noting that some organisations were already under investigation.

Earlier in August, the agency said it was investigating some telecom operators, banks and fintech operators over allegation of breach of the country’s data protection regulation. The Director General of NITDA, Dr. Isa Pantami, in a statement, said some of the organisations under investigations have been reported to be violating the rule. Aside the private operators, the DG said the agency was also investigating the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) for alleged violation of the NDPR.

In a similar fashion, NITDA also in September announced that it was investigating the mobile app, Truecaller. The agency said its initial findings revealed that the mobile app’s privacy policy was not in compliance with global laws on data protection and the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation in particular.

NITDA said it also discovered that there were over seven million Nigerians who are active users of the service, hence the need to enlighten the need to look deeper into the app and enlighten public on some of the areas of non-compliance as well as guide those affected.

NITDA, in a statement signed by its Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, said the caller-identification service was putting “many Nigerians in unsavoury conditions.’’

Inuwa said some provisions of the Truecaller Privacy Policy were clearly excessive and invasive of the privacy of its users, adding that the provisions of the policy could be exploited to “put many Nigerians in unsavoury conditions.”

He said contrary to the expectation of many users, the Truecaller service collected far more information than it needs to provide its primary service.

GDPR enforcements

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on Friday 25 May 2018 and it has been described as the toughest data protection regime in the world as enforcements kick-started immediately. Late last year, authorities in Portugal issued a €400,000 fine to a hospital for failure to apply appropriate access controls over digital patient data. One of the most interesting aspects of this particular case is that no breach of data occurred. It indicates that corporations of all sizes, across the EU and in other jurisdictions, should expect a rise in regulator activity from a variety of catalysts, not just breaches.

In another GDPR enforcement, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) demanded that a Canadian-based organisation “cease processing any personal data of UK or EU citizens obtained from UK political organisations or otherwise for the purposes of data analytics, political campaigning or any other advertising purposes,” or else face significant financial penalties. That enforcement validated the expectation of many experts that data protection authorities will indeed pursue any company in violation of GDPR regardless of whether or not they are based in Europe.

Major breaches of the GDPR can lead to fines of €20 million or four per cent of the infringer’s global turnover, whichever is the higher. Major breaches include failures to respect the rights of data subjects (such as the right to erase data), failures to process on the basis of the one of the permitted grounds, failures to apply the prescribed procedures for special categories of data (e.g. health or genetic data), or transferring data outside the EEA without lawful process. “Less significant breaches” can lead to fines of €10 million or two per cent of the infringer’s global turnover, whichever is the higher.

Need for law

Before the introduction of NDPR this year, NITDA had introduced Data Protection Guidelines in 2017 as a way of protecting the citizens’ data. Obviously, failure of that regulatory guideline to address the issue led to the release of NDPR, a replicate of Europe’s GDPR.

To avoid same fate befalling NDPR, industry analysts said the country would need to give data protection force of law by signing the Data Protection Bill 2010, which has been pending before the National Assembly, into law. The bill sponsored by a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, seeks to protect parties in regard to publication of market survey details and information, ensure that unauthorised processing of personal information is reduced, and use of personal data and information without the prior consent of the data is subjected to scrutiny.

Passage of the bill into law is expected to bolster the objectives of the NDPR and help in enforcement of the regulation.

Last line

The introduction of the regulation, no doubt, ushered in a new era of data management in the country; however, to achieve success in the regard, enforcement must be taken seriously.

According to stakeholders, if the regulation is duly enforced and complied with, it will be in substantial compliance with the GDPR and may provide more comfort to Nigerian entities doing business in the EU or with EU entities.

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Fake phones: NCC to hire consultant for DMS solution

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Fake phones: NCC to hire consultant for DMS solution

The Nigerian Communications Commission stepped up its efforts to tackle the issue of fake phones through the use of technology. To this end, the telecoms regulator said it was set to hire a consulting firm to act as transaction advisor in the deals that would deliver a centralised Device Management System (DMS).

NCC said it would deploy the DMS through public private partnership (PPP) arrangement, whereby the procured private party is expected to provide end-to-end solution, with a cost recovery-based registration fee charged in Naira per device, for a determined period by both parties.

The role of the transaction advisor to be appointed, according to the Commission, is to develop a bankable DMS PPP Project and successfully move the transaction to market and reach financial close.

In a notice on its website, NCC said the advisor is to, among others, “provide full technical, managerial and financial advice to NCC on the proposed PPP project; assist in designing work-plans, timetables and technical support during the PPP procurement process; provide input in the conduct of the PPP procurement process for selection of the PPP Partner/Concessionaire for the DMS project; and provide market trends that will confirm decisions on scope, structuring, and timing of the transaction.”

The consultant is also expected to “provide duly required technical advice and any other assistance that will ensure a smooth conduct of negotiations with one or more parties that will lead to a quick actualisation of a robust PPP Agreement/network of relevant Agreements for the proposed PPP DMS project.”

Worried by the influx of substandard phones into the country, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, had recently announced plans to deploy technology solution.

According to him, the proposed DMS will have the capacity to facilitate the mandatory registration of all SIM-based devices in Nigeria, block all stolen, counterfeit, illegal or otherwise substandard SIM-based devices from operators’ networks and interface with Nigeria Customs Service, tax authorities, security agencies, Standards Organisations of Nigeria and other relevant agencies to ensure the full registration, payment of duties and taxes due on those devices and the protection of security and privacy of users in Nigeria.

To arrive at the decision, the EVC said several consultative forums had been held with the identified stakeholders.

Explaining how the system would work to detect cloned or fake phones, Danbatta said all mobile devices had IMEI, which are allocated by the GSMA. He added the DMS would be connected to the GSMA database for easy detection of devices with fake IMEI once they are connected to any of the networks in the country

While noting that counterfeiting is a global problem, which Nigeria is not insulated from, the EVC said the challenges posed by the menace were quite devastating as it has been hindering the progress made so far in ICT usage and processes in terms of its economic, social, environmental and security impacts on the country.

“The unchecked import and use of unregistered, cloned, substandard, counterfeit, stolen and or non-compliant devices pose a considerable threat to Quality of Service (QoS) and Experience (QoE), security, amongst others in Nigeria,” he said.

He said the increasing cybercrime, evasion of taxes, terrorism and health and safety concerns raised by the use of stolen, counterfeit and substandard devices in Nigeria are of serious concern to the regulator, hence the deployment of technology.

Through the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, NCC is mandated to establish and enforce standards for all telecommunications equipment in operation in the country to ensure that they operate seamlessly and safely within the Nigerian telecommunications environment. Mobile manufacturers that want to sell in the country are expected to first apply with the regulator for the type-approval, which is granted after the device has been tested.

However, despite the regulation, thousands of mobile phones still find their way into the market without approval.

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Border closure: Agonies of manufacturers, exporters

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Border closure: Agonies of manufacturers, exporters

Recently, local manufacturers and exporters under the auspices of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Export Promotion Group (MANEG) held its second annual general meeting (AGM) in Lagos where issues on border closure and other constraints were raised. Taiwo Hassan reports

 

 

In reality, the recent pronouncement by the Nigeria Customs Service that it is raking N5 billion daily from land border closure still sounds somehow before  local manufacturers/exporters amid the challenges and negative impact the development is currently having on their business bottom line and investment in general.

However, government has repeatedly stated that the border closure was more of security concern following influx of illegal weapons, ammunition and smuggled rice via the country’s land borders.

Ironically, even before government took the decision, members of the organised private sector had called on it to intervene in smuggling of fake and counterfeit goods coming into the country, saying that the trend was severely affecting their businesses. 

Agonies          

Speaking at the MANEG AGM, the association’s president, Chief Ede Dafinone, explained that its members were facing difficulties in their export businesses since government announced the closure.   

Dafinone noted that members were already counting huge losses as exporters no longer meet up with their production outputs.

He, however, maintained that MANEG wanted the Federal Government to reopen land borders with immediate effect following its negative consequence on the economy, especially the manufacturing sector.

“MANEG and MAN will continue to make representation to the Federal Government that there must be a time frame where we know that the borders can be opened for business because our members are losing significant revenues in this period. They will still be servicing loans and taking on board overhead cost this time that cannot be recovered.

“You may also be getting pressure from your customers for not complying with the delivery contracts order you have made. I say all these to enhance the points we have made and put it in perspective of those who are not aware so that the public, government, and agencies of government will be aware of the sufferings of the exporters through this border closure.”

Also speaking, the representative of Aarti Steel (Nigeria) Limited, Imokhai Ehimigbai, carpeted the Federal Government for the sudden announcement of border closure without prior notice to MAN and other private sector groups in the country.

He explained that the border closure announcement was counter-productive and inimical to genuine exporters of goods in the country, frowning that many of them were facing severe difficulties in their export business.

According to him, the border closure has put genuine exporters on the edge as the lull business has affected their bottom line. 

Ehimigbai said: “We were not informed about the border closure by the Federal Government, especially the Nigeria Customs Service as manufacturers and exporters that it would take place at such period, and till today, the borders are still closed. Many trucks are hanging there as at now, can you imagine if you are paying demurrage on your goods meant for export for over a month  now what will be the cost today? I don’t know if there is any way MANEG can step into this matter for those of us doing proper business so that we can be allowed to carry out our genuine businesses at the Seme border and other borders.”

The steel exporter noted further: “If I tell you that am not feeling the heat I will be telling you lie. I had an order from my client in Ghana to supply steels and then on getting to the border, we met it closed. Imagine there was no prior information to that effect. I had six trucks; four going to Ghana and two for Benin Republic hoping that it would be shut for a short period.

“After about a week, I have to recall these goods back to the factory, it was a big loss on the company’s side having paid for six trucks we could not recover the money. You have loaded and one week they got to the border one week they returned. Demurrage was paid money was spent so it was a very big loss to the company.” 

Apapa gridlock

Speaking on preference for land borders by some exporters, Ehimigbai noted that many local exporters had abandoned the ports because of the lingering gridlock, which is fuelling high cost of transportating goods meant for export to the port.

Recounting Apapa congestion experience, he said: “Until today, the orders are there from our foreign clients in neighbouring countries but we cannot export, we cannot meet the order from our own point because the borders still remain closed. And if you decided to export by sea, the problem we are facing in Apapa is another one. Do you know that to take out a truck out of the Apapa port is a hell.

“For instance, I have zinc ice going to Mombasa port in Kenya, this order was made in March this year, the products were available in factory but I could not export until May because of the congestion on the Apapa end of Lagos. I even faced query from Colbert because I opened my NSP as far back as March when the orders were made but did not export until May. They were asking me for the delays I have to do a letter explaining why the delay came up.

“We all know the problems we face at the Apapa end of Lagos, getting empty containers out of the ports is a problem, returning containers with products to the port is another problem and we decided to go by roads and the borders are closed.”

Challenges

The MANEG president stressed that it had been difficult for the association’s members as Apapa gridlock continues to linger.

Last line

MANEG stressed that the border closure was having serious multiplier effects on Federal Government’s revenue as well because a lot of money is being lost in the process.

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Firm rues dearth of road infrastructure

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The Board of Chemstar Group has said the deplorable road infrastructure across the country is a major crisis confronting paints industry, saying the poor situation of highways has continued to pose greater challenge and difficulty to the industry.

This board called on federal and state government to fix major highways in the country to easy the problems facing paints companies while transporting their products to the customers.

It also advised that government look at other areas, such as security, import tariff and electricity that have significant impacts on the real sector of the economy.

Chemstar Group is the owner of Chemstar Paints Nigeria Limited, manufacturer of Finecoat and Shield Paints, and its other subsidiaries.

  According to the board, like other sectors of the economy, Nigeria paint industry has also been adversely affected by the economic condition in the country.

It added: “Construction activities in the country have been at the low ebb; property development is also at its lowest pace; while the construction sector is not growing at the pace it has been growing in the past four or five years, and the lull in the property business has also affected the paints business.”

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2020: FG earmarks N103m for broadband plan, RoW

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2020: FG earmarks N103m for broadband plan, RoW

The Federal Government is to spend a total of N103 million on the implementation of National Broadband Plan and harmonisation of Right of Way charges next year. This was part of the N5 billion proposed for capital projects in 2020 by the Ministry of Communications.

According to the 2020 budget proposal, N72.1 million is to be spent on “implementation of national broadband plan,” while N30.9 million is to be spent on “implementation of the decision of government on the harmonisation of right of way (row) charges.”

For 2019, N138.8 million was proposed by the executive to be spent on implementation of the broadband plan, even though last NBP expired in 2018. This was, however, reduced to N74.9 million by the National Assembly. Similarly, for Right of Way harmonisation, N80.9 million was proposed but the lawmakers approved N76.8 million

Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (NBP 2013-2018), which is government’s policy direction to achieve ubiquitous broadband in the country, came to a close  in December last year  and a new plan is yet to be released almost one year after. Indeed, as at the time of filing this report, the government is yet to set up a committee to draft a new plan as being clamoured for by telecom operators.

The immediate past Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, had promised to set up a committee for another broadband plan before the end of 2018, but could not do so until he left office in May this year.  Worried by the delay, telecom operators have called on the new Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, to set up a committee to that effect.

The committee, according to them, is expected to come up with a new plan to drive 70 per cent broadband penetration in the next five years as proposed by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).

The Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, also recently noted that Nigeria was due for another national broadband roadmap. He, however, said government was yet to set up another broadband committee that would drive the process.

“As a regulator, NCC was part of the broadband committee for 2013-2018 and it will always be a member of such committee, but we have to wait for the appointment of a new committee to begin the process of achieving the proposed 70 per cent broadband penetration by ATCON in 2024,” Nkemadu said.

Stressing the importance of a broadband plan for Nigeria, President of ATCON, Mr. Olusola Teniola, said the country was able to attain and surpass the 30 per cent broadband target in 2018 because there was a roadmap.

According to him, “the general Nigerian economy is currently struggling between one and two per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but by the time we attain the proposed 70 per cent broadband penetration level by 2024, Nigerian GDP will reach 9.6 per cent, which is high in global ranking.”

On Right of Way charges, which is seen as one of the major hindrances against operators’ efforts at deploying broadband infrastructure, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had in 2017 resolved to harmonise the various charges across states, to ensure that it is same nationwide. The FEC recommended a uniform charge of N145 per metre to lay fibre cable anywhere in the country. However, until this month, telecom operators said states are still charging as high as N6000 per meter for Right of Way.

According to operators, states have arbitrarily fixed their own charges which range between N1, 500 and N6, 000. While states like Rivers and Abia charge N1,500 and N2,000 respectively, others like Lagos, Delta and Ogun charge up to N5,840, N4,600 and N6,500 respectively.

In total, the Federal Government had budgeted N172.4 million for the harmonisation of RoW charges between 2018 and 2019. Analysis of 2018 budget showed that N95.6 million was approved for this purpose, while in 2019, N76.8 million was approved to implement the government’s decision. If the N30.9 million proposed for 2020 is approved, the government would have spent N203.3 million on harmonisation of RoW charges in three years.

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MDXi wins Datacloud Africa Leadership awards

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MainOne’s data centre company, MDXi, came out tops at the 2019 edition of Datacloud Africa Leadership Summit and Awards held in Ghana. The company was awarded the “Excellence in Data Centre: Africa” as well as “Africa Cloud Service Provider of the Year.”

According to the organisers of the awards, the awardees were selected by an independent panel of global data centre experts recognised for being world-class data centre and connectivity providers and innovators.

“The highly competitive ‘Excellence in Data Center’ award, honours companies known for excellence in providing regional collocation services in Africa, focusing on the data centres that combine best practice in data centre management and infrastructure, with efficient technologies that lend towards the optimization and security of critical resources,” the organisers said.

Reputed as the largest purpose-built commercial data centre in West Africa, MDXi was recognised for its world-class data centre infrastructure designed with a strong focus on high availability, security, and open access connectivity and operational excellence.

Expressing his pleasure at receiving the awards, General Manager, MDXi, Gbenga Adegbiji,  said: “We are immensely appreciative of the recognition by the international community for the role we play in the West African digital ecosystem and we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to continued service excellence, by providing reliable collocation and cloud solutions.

“The data center business is about giving our customers peace of mind to run their businesses from wherever they may be, and we do not take the responsibility lightly.  We have just launched our Abidjan Data Centre and announced our Appolonia (Accra) Data Centre where we plan to bring our operational expertise and processes to ensure the highest quality standards are put in place for customers in those markets. We are firmly looking forward to serving more businesses as the region continues to grow its digital economy.”

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Bells’ students develop software to computerise hospitals

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team of 19 students of Bells University of Technology were recently mentored by leading US-based international IT company, New Horizons, to develop a high-end hospital management application to solve university-wide medical need. 

According to the school’s management, the development has further advanced the capability of Nigerian universities to be the provider of much needed IT solutions, which can bail the country out of dependence on oil economy and near-total reliance on foreign technology experts to solve critical societal issues.

At the commissioning event on the university campus, it was revealed that the students successfully developed a digital solution named Bells Hospital Management System (BHMS) that completely digitalises the university’s medical/hospital system through a project platform named “Bells/New Horizons TECH HUB.’’

According to the project’s team leaders, the technology hub was established as the project-based component of the high-end deliverable emanating from the partnership between the university and New Horizons organisation.

The university management led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Jeremiah Ojediran, was visibly impressed based on the fact that the project team consists of students from diverse disciplines, which include Atewogbola Yanmife – 400L Computer Engineering, Adetipe Kehinde – 300L Accounting , Oyienloba Joel -200L Computer Science, Umeh Tobenna -200L Computer  Engineering, Adedigba Mololuwa- 300L Accounting , Ushie Joan – 400L Electrical Engineering, Uko Akanowo- 300L Computer Science, Kevin Obaro – 300LComputer Science, Noiki Tomiwa – 400L Electrical Engineering, Oladele Seyi -300L Computer Science, Odusami Olatunde- 300L Computer Science, Yusuf Halimat -300L Mechatronics.

The rest are Arogundade Rahmat -300L Mechatronics, Jibueze Anthony – 300L Computer Science, Oguh Kelechi -400L Electrical Engineering, Makanjuola Eniola -400L Architecture, Onatoyinbo Timileyin -300L Civil  Engineering, Ogunseye Abiodun- 300L Accounting , Echefu Louis- 400L Mechatronics.

Professor Ojediran appreciated New Horizons management for mentoring the students from the scratch up to the development of the hospital solution.

According to him, various supports from New Horizons, which include periodic free ICT training for staff, media promotion of Bells University brand, prizes at convocation event, among others, have shown that the partnership with New Horizons is a viable one.

The Managing Director/CEO of New Horizons, Mr Tim Akano, who led the company’s team, commended the project team for having teachable spirit and being fast learners.

Akano charged the students on three main takeaways. Firstly, he said the students should have the mentality that they are not too young to be successful and that they should learn from internationally successful technopreneurs like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Dell, etc that started their researches and exploits as very young undergraduates.

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Inlaks to host banks, others at maiden digital summit

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Leading systems integrator in sub-Saharan Africa, Inlaks, is set to bring together leaders, regulators, and investors from the financial services industry to discuss issues around digital banking in Africa through its maiden digital summit.

Themed:  “Unlocking the opportunities in the Digital Banking Age,” the summit scheduled to hold in Lagos is expected to explore the diverse opportunities technology offers to the financial and banking sectors and how African business leaders can harness it.

Speaking ahead of the event in Lagos, MD, Africa Operations, Inlaks, Femi Adeoti, noted that “for over three decades, Inlaks has thrived successfully in bringing authentic and innovative solutions to its customers. In today’s world of unprecedented shift in digital tendencies across industries, every economic sector must be well-prepared for the imminent change to stay relevant. Inlaks Digital Summit 2019 will address issues relating to the relevance of technology to the financial and banking industries, preparing our industry for coming technological disruptions and arming them with adequate knowledge on the future of banking.”

In an interaction with the press, the Executive Director, Infrastructure Business at Inlaks, Tope Dare, noted that the financial service and banking sector, in the last decades, had witnessed disruption due to changing technology and consumer behaviours.

“By 2020, most of the big players in the fintech industry will be competing with banks for same customers. Therefore, only banks that can transform into an effective digital bank will survive the threat and stay relevant.

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Experts advocate technology adoption for Nigeria’s healthcare

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Practitioners in the healthcare delivering profession have been advised to take advantage of the several premium healthcare solutions and technologies that abound in the advanced economy to improve the Nigerian healthcare sector. Speaking at the HealthCare Business Conference (HBC) of the Medic West Africa Exhibition and Congress, held in Lagos, leaders in the health and technology sector said technological innovation would help bring healthcare services to millions of Nigerians.

Speaking in one of the sessions at the HBC, Co-CEO, DrugStoc , Dr. Chibuzo Opara, said advanced medical technology can improve the standard of medical practice in Nigeria, adding that it can be done through the introduction of innovative ,high quality affordable and state-of-the art medical equipment.

Beyond the impact of technological innovation on the health sector, the practitioners also had the opportunity to examine the issue of business management alongside bookkeeping skills. Highlighting the essence of business management, Country Director, Iqvia and Board Member of Healthcare Foundation of (HFN), Mr. Remi Adesuen said that most members of the HFN are in the SMEs sector of the economy and they offer primary healthcare services to Nigeria contrary to the notion that primary healthcare is that of government. According to him, over 70 per cent of Nigerians access their healthcare through the private sector noting that 60 per cent of the practitioners are SMEs, who needs business skills and technology to give the required medical care.

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