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Interconnectivity debt: NCC pledges to protect telecom consumer from service disruption

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reassured the over 174 million telecoms consumers of their protection from service disruption following the lingering interconnectivity debt.

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, gave the assurances on Thursday in Abuja.

In a statement made available to newsmen by Mr Henry Nkemadu, the Commission’s Director,Public Affairs, Danbatta said NCC has taken regulatory intervention towards resolving the rising interconnectivity debts among telecoms operators resulting to service distrust ion..

He admonished debtor operators to settle interconnect debts owed their creditor networks without further delay to prevent possible revenue drop and customer flight from their networks to competitors.

The NCC boss said, as a consumer-centric telecoms regulatory authority, the NCC is keen on ensuring that the consumers continue to enjoy uninterrupted service while efforts are being made to address the issue of indebtedness in the industry.

Danbatta stated that the issue of interconnection is a matter being handled “delicately within the purview of the regulatory provisions to protect consumers by ensuring that their quality of experience (QoE) is not acutely affected”

He recalled that regulatory approval on permission for disconnection was granted to creditor networks late last year, as a last resort towards resolving the huge interconnection debts threatening the health and sustainability of the industry.

Specifically, he recalled that the Commission granted approval to MTN’s request to disconnect debtor networks from its network in line with Section 100 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003.

He, however, noted that, “what is happening now is that the creditor networks are restricting certain services to their debtor networks in form of one-way disconnection.

“It is one-way disconnection because, as a Regulator, we prevented total disconnection; not doing that would be frustrating for the consumers.

“So, we have ensured that subscribers on the affected debtor networks are able to receive calls and text messages from creditor networks.

“This means they might not be able to make seamless calls or send text messages to the creditor’s network at all times because of restriction of access to debtor networks, pending when satisfactory payment plans are reached with respect to the Interconnect indebtedness.

“This is to prevent further accumulation of interconnect debt by the debtor networks,” he said.

Danbatta, frowned at the slow pace at reaching settlement over undisputed interconnect bills among the affected operators.

He said with over 90 per cent of pre-paid customers on mobile networks, “operators have no reason not to be settling their interconnection bills as and when due.”

He advised Consumers experiencing such difficulty in reaching certain networks to use alternative lines bearing in mind that Nigeria is a multi-SIMing telecoms market.

“You will recall that in the Pre-Disconnection Notice issued last year on December 18, 2018, we gave another period of between 10-21 days for the debtors (depending on whether they are service networks or exchange operators) to pay, so as not to lose their interconnection rights.

“We had expected that as responsible business entities, the debtor companies will either pay up or agree satisfactory payment plans with their creditors.

“But it appears no agreeable settlements plans have been reached after the expiration of the deadline, leading to the creditor’s decision to go ahead with the execution of the one-way disconnection, as permitted by the NCA Act 2003, which is what some subscribers are currently experiencing,” he said.

Danbatta, while assuring the Nigerians and telecoms consumers that the issue would soon be resolved, expressed the commitment of the Commission to ensure respite comes the way of the consumers soon.

“As regulator, our central role is to protect the consumers and ensure sustainability of the telecom industry.

“We do this through creating a level-playing field for all the licensees such that no operator is allowed to undermine the operations of another licensee in a way that is capable of negatively impacting on the health of the industry.

“The NCC is on top of the situation to ensure measures are taken as soon as possible to address the concerns of the affected telecoms consumers.

“Allowing interconnect debts among licensees to accumulate without ensuring settlement is dangerous for our industry and for the telecoms consumers,” he said.

The NCC boss appealed to telecoms consumers for their understanding as the commission worked with operators to resolve the matter.

Edited by Rotimi Ijikanmi

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Science & Technology

MTN mPulse Planet thrills 5,000 children, showcases different games

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MTN mPulse Planet, a fun exploratory world, on Friday delighted 5,000 children mostly teens on ways to learn, play and shine.

The Chief Operating Officer, Mazen Mroue made the  statement during the opening of the event held in Lagos.

He said that the event was themed, “How the Future Will Look like in 2044’’.

“MTN mPulse is designed for Nigerian children, teenagers and secondary school students to learn and excel in their academics, development skills for now and the future, play brain-stimulating games and others.

“We segmented our customers and find out that teens between nine and 14 should be given extra attention by us, as looking at their hobbies and interest, it has to do with technology, online gaming, online education.

“We packaged all these together through mPulse platform to get them exposed to the latest technologies and educational materials available as at this age, they can have a final decision regarding their own future carrier.

“So exposing them to the maximum number of technologies that will aid them in future is the essence of our celebration today,” he said.

Mroue noted that connectivity was a must for every Nigerian and it was their role to really make sure that every Nigerian had access to technology and access to the connectivity that would push the technology.

He, however, added that the mPulse platform was available online to all Nigerians, between the ages of 9 and 14 irrespective of where they are.

Mroue pointed that while accessing the platform online, they could leverage all the freebies and all the offers available for  physical interaction.

“These children are already exposed to technology, they are already using our services and are already connected.

“So definitely, we need to give them attention to make life easier and enable them to make the right choice when they grow up.

“It is an opportunity for us, as well as for the country to really train our people in the early stage to take the right decision and we will ensure that all children present here gets the right attention,’’ he said.

Mroue said that the key success factor for this story was the company’s partnership with their strategic partners and all government support; and also thanking the regulator for their constant encouragement.

Also, the General Manager, Consumer Marketing MTN, Mr Olawale Rawa, said that mPulse was a proposition launched last year to help `Catch Them Young’ from the secondary school level.

“On the website you can see a lot of contents around games, education and others that will get your children interested in entrepreneurship.

“The physical event that we are witnessing here today is to enable the children see those things they have seen online and have a feel of them,’’ he said.

Rawa said that the event was free and one does not have to be rich to partake but an avenue for everyone to experience what the future would look like and understand it.

As regards pushing it out of Lagos, he said that it was also in their mind but they needed to understand what they were  doing very well as it had to do with children who were very delicate.

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Telecoms infrastructure vandalism affecting service – NCC

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says the spate of vandalism of telecoms infrastructure across the country has resulted in slowing the pace of growth of services.

The Director, Zonal Operations, NCC, Mrs Amina Shehu raised the concern on Friday at a programme to sensitise the Eggon community, near Lafia, Nassarawa, to protection of telecoms infrastructure.

The director, specifically frowned at the state of vandalism, theft and hostility from some host communities stressing that telecom facilities should be treated as collectively owned infrastructure.

Shehu, who was represented by Abubakar Usman, Principal Manager, Zonal Operation, NCC, said the telecom sector had contributed and recorded not less than 10 per cent growth in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

She said the programme was aimed at enlightening the public and other stakeholders on the need to protect telecom infrastructure within their communities.

She said it would also create awareness about the importance of telecommunication infrastructure and ensure that telecom consumers get satisfaction from the quality of service.

“This workshop is also intended to present a platform for cooperation between stakeholders in the telecommunications industry.

“It is also to reach an understanding towards putting into proper perspective the concerns most often expressed by the public about telecoms infrastructure,” he said.

The director said that the advent of GSM has re-engineered the economy and social well-being of the nation.

She noted that there were some challenges pervading the seamless provision of telecommunication services in the country arising from some misconceptions and misguided facts about key telecom infrastructure such as Base Stations.

The director assured that the commission would continue to collaborate with relevant agencies to ensure adequate security for telecoms facilities.

In his paper presentation, Engr. Kunle Olorundare, Principal Manager, Technical Standard and Network Integrity, NCC, also underscored the need to protect telecoms infrastructure.

Olorundare noted that the benefits were enormous, including job creation, attraction of investors.

He urged all stakeholders, traditional rulers, indigenes and individuals to collectively protect telecoms infrastructure in the communities.

The Chairman of Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Council Mr. Idris Danlami, applauded the NCC for for organizing the enlightenment programme.

Danlami who was represented by a Concillor, Mr. Masin Anzaku, promised that all hands would be on deck to mobilise more people for the protection of telecoms infrastructure in the communities.

JEZ/ROT

Edited by Rotimi Ijikanmi

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Onu’s reappointment will engender space technology development – NSE

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The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) says the reappointment of Dr Ogbonnaya Onu as Minister of Science and Technology will engender development of space technology and its deployment to tackling insecurity.

Mr Hamid Abdulkareem, the Chairman of NSE, Giri Branch, FCT stated this in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Abuja.

Abdulkareem recalled that during the first tenure of Onu, there were specific responsibilities assigned to parastatals within the Ministry of science and technology for the development of the sector.

He said it would be beneficial to the nation if the minister continued on the path he was towing towards developing the science and technology sector.

The chairman recalled that the minister, during his first tenure, assigned responsibilities to some engineers to collaborate with security agents on how to deploy space technology into addressing issues of insecurity.

He reiterated that space technology had proven impactful in developed nations across the world, adding that Nigeria could leverage on it.

Abdulkareem said that space technology can also address issues on food security, environmental challenges, among other issues.

“One of NSE’s contributions to the development of this sector is to create awareness, galvanise engineers towards deploying space technology into addressing issues of national security.

“In times past, our security agents seem to have deployed strategies within their reach to tackle the problem.

“With space science technology which requires the involvement of engineers, we can monitor activities of banditry, terrorism, food security, natural disaster, among other issues.

“Another mandate given to NSE at the Giri branch is collaborating with the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) to ensure that Nigeria has a meteorological satellite,’’ Abdulkareem said.

The branch chairman said that a meteorological satellite could be deployed towards monitoring weather for strategic planning in aviation, defense, water resources and agriculture.

“By the time we have our own built meteorological satellite; it will take Nigeria far in monitoring weather for strategic planning.

He urged the minister to consolidate on the existing projects and initiate more for the development of the sector.

Edited by Celine-Damilola Oyewole, Rotimi Ijikanmi

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Nigeria needs population that appreciates science knowledge – NAS

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The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) says the country needs a population that appreciates science knowledge.

The President of NAS, Prof. Mosto Onuoha, made the assertion at the `NAS Science Media Award’ held in Lagos on Thursday evening.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the NAS Science Media Award in its 8th year, seeks to promote excellence in science and science-related journalism.

The Academy is of the opinion that an improvement in science reporting will result in a well-informed public, bringing about greater accountability in policy-making.

NAN reports that the awards are open to all print and broadcast journalists in Nigeria who published science-related stories (health, environment etc) in 2018.

According to him, appreciating science will go a long way in the development of the country.

“It is good to appreciate people that are good in disseminating information especially in science as science changes the way we live and believe.

“As an academy, we want to popularise science in the country and this led to the starting of the Academy Science Media Award.

“The academy strives to push science forward but is saddled with obstacles like finance. This is the part of the roles Vitafoam Nigeria will play as they recognise the value of science,’’ Onuoha said.

The Managing Director of Vitafoam Nigeria, Mr Taiwo Adeniyi, said that the bedrock of what Vitafoam does evolve around science, the ability to innovate and conduct research.

According to him, if science is taken out of Vitafoam, it will not be relevant again, as science has replaced our natural way of doing things to technological advancement, which has led to production in large quantity.

“Beside Corporate Social Responsibility, embarking on this is an avenue to get people interested in science so as to push the country forward,’’ he said.

Ms Caroline Southey, Editor, Conversation Africa, South Africa, said that science reporting had to be done in a tireless and dogged way through adequate research.

Southey who presented the keynote address titled: `Captivating Science Reporting in the 21st Century’, said that she had witnessed that tireless and doggedness in Nigerian Science Journalists.

She said that a captivating science reporting should be done in a competitive way by maintaining facts and pursuing the truth at all times.

Southey decried the spread of misinformation by some journalists, saying that it damaged public trust in the new media and had a devastating effect on the health of a nation.

The Public Affairs Secretary, NAS, Prof. Olatunde Farombi, while presenting the awards to the winners, said that they had 22 entries from which four winners emerged.

He said that two persons from the print media and two from the broadcast media won the awards, saying the winners showed consistency and uniformity to have emerged.

 

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Stakeholders urge science ministers to focus on capacity development

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Some Stakeholders in bioethics have advised the new Ministers of Science and Technology to focus on capacity development, implementation of existing policies and funding of researches in the sector.

Bioethics relates to ethical issues emerging from advances in sciences and technology. It is the moral discernment from policies and practices in the fields of sciences and technology.

Speaking with the Nigeria News Agency at different interview sessions, the experts urged the ministers to take the sector to greater heights through harnessing both human and material resources.

NAN reports that Dr Ogbonnaya Onu was re-appointed as minister of science and technology by President Muhammadu Buhari while Mr Mohammed Abdullahi was deployed as the minister of State.

Prof. Adefolarin Malomo, a bioethics said: “Capacity development is not just about training people but training minds, emotion and will and carefully re-training people already employed.

“Some people may school abroad, that does not make them good for the job in Nigeria.

“We need people with a little more courage, honesty and maturity of mind to get the job done.

“The ministers must know that the ability to contribute to scientific insight and translate it to reality is beyond them. They will have to work with people in the sector, home and abroad,’’ he said.

Malomo said he expected the ministers to put people who would implement policies and transform the sector.

Another bioethics, Prof. Samuel Jegede said it was a great thing to have the ministers on board.

“The expectations are high because of immediate and future need of the society, so they have to look inward on how the needs can be meet.

“They have to ensure that all activities dovetail to immediate benefit of the people for sustenance of the economy,’’ he said.

Jegede advised the ministers to step up activities and put resources that would enable the country to leverage with other nations in the world.

Another bioethics, Prof. Emeka Ezeonu, advised the ministers to ensure effective implementation of science and technology policies and programmes.

Ezeonu also underscored the need for the ministers to formulate policies that will encourage public and private funding of researches in the sector.

NAN reports that the two ministers are expected to meet with the management, members of staff and directors-general of parastatal agencies under the ministry on Monday.

The ministry has the mandate to facilitate the development and deployment of science and technology apparatus to enhance the pace of socio-economic development of the country.

CIA/ROT

Edited by Rotimi Ijikanmi

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