Science & Technology

Africa Free Trade Area: NCC to boost investment in telecoms industry

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it will boost investment in the telecommunications industry, while leveraging opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said this on Wednesday in Lagos during the Stakeholders’ Sensitisation Workshop on the Implications of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement for Nigeria’s Communications Industry.

The two-day workshop organised by NCC in collaboration with Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiation (NOTN) was themed:”Improving Nigerian Communications Industry Competitiveness for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Initiative”.

Danbatta, who was represented by NCC Director of Licensing and Authorisation, Mohammed Babajika, said that Nigeria-based communications businesses should harness the potentials of the AfCFTA Agreement to their own advantage.

He said that Nigeria joined the list of African countries that signed the trade pact when President Muhammadu Buhari on July 7, 2019, endorsed the AfCFTA Agreement at the African Union (AU) Summit in Niamey, Niger.

AfCFTA is an initiative of the AU, with the main objective of creating a single continental market for goods and services, in addition to facilitating free movement of investment and people across the entire African continent.

”The Federal Government’s aspirations to advance Nigeria’s economic development through continuous encouragement of pro-trade, pro-business, pro-investment and pro-export measures are in sync with the mandate of the NCC.

”NCC’s mandate is to stimulate investment and economic activity by protecting the interest of the government, investors and consumers within the Nigerian Communications ecosystem,” Danbatta said.

He said that there was the need to always improve the competitiveness of the over 70 billion dollars Nigerian Communications sector market for the Continental Free Trade Area.

Danbatta said that the workshop would draw attention of industry stakeholders to the need to fully appreciate the business implications of AfCFTA.

According to him, the workshop will encourage industry stakeholders on the need to seek and exploit opportunities that will emerge in the operational phase of AfCFTA.

The Chairman of NCC Board, Sen. Olabiyi Durojaiye, said that the Nigerian Communications industry’s participation in AfCFTA was necessary for achieving the rapid socio-economic development agenda of the government.

Durojaiye said that the commission was committed to ensuring that the sector continued to improve on its contribution to GDP and by extension, the Nigerian economy.

He said that through its direct contribution to the GDP and its indirect contribution to the performance of other sectors, the telecommunication sector remained a facilitator of economic development.

According to him, NCC recognises that the Continental Free Trade Area arrangement means that there is now access to extend communications services to 1.2 billion people across the African continent.

”With a larger proportion of this population made up of young people, whose hunger for data and mobile services continues to grow, there is no limit to achievement by innovative operators/investors in terms of business opportunities.

”Just the way we recognize the opportunities for investors in the African market, we also know that there are challenges not to say threats.

”Operators and investors within the communications ecosystem must fully appreciate these dynamics, in order to ensure that they prepare adequately for them. Hence, the need for this Sensitisation Workshop,” he said.

The acting Director-General of NOTN, Mr Liman Liman, said that there was the need for strong regulatory institution in order to prevent unfair competition in the market.

Liman said that in order to be globally competitive, telecommunications infrastructure would require significant amount of investment both by domestic and foreign investors.

Edited by Abiemwense Moru/Wale Ojetimi

Science & Technology

NAN correspondent wins CSTD 2019 award for excellence

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Mrs Ijeoma Olorunfemi, a Nigeria News Agency Science and Technology correspondent has received the Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD) 2019  journalistic award for supporting the centre.

Presenting the award to Olorunfemi, Prof. Spencer Onu, during dinner, Director of CSTD said it was in recognition of her tremendous role in covering the activities of the centre,this year.

The director,who described her as a member of the family of CSTD, urged her to see the award as a morale booster for greater performance in her chosen career.

Some members of staff of the centre also received long service and awards for their outstanding performance.

CSTD is one of the activity centres of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in Abuja.

He said the event was organised to recognise some hardworking staff of the centre and individuals who had contributed to project the image of the centre.

 Onu said CSTD was committed toward achieving its mandate of developing satellite technology in the country,hence the need for committed staff and collaborators to put in their best for the realisation of the objective.

According to him, satellite technology has a huge capacity to transform the socio-economic development of the country, if well applied.

“If we must work together to develop our country’s satellite,space technology,we need people who are committed and we also need to recognise and reward hardwork, to encourage other people.

“CSTD attaches much importance to recruitment, reward and retainment, which every staff should take seriously,” Onu said.

He called on other staff of the centre to take their jobs seriously to enable the centre achieve its goals.

The director pledged to deploy his leadership skills to advance activities of the centre.

Onu also commended Mr Zakariya Adaramola of Daily Trust Newspaper, another awardee, for supporting and promoting the activities of the centre.

Responding,Olorunfemi, thanked the management of CSTD for the recognition, assuring it of her resolute in reporting activities of the centre.

NAN reports that other categories of the award include: 10 years meritorious service, best performing staff both technical and non-technical, best units, directors and supporting journalists to the centre.
 

Edited by: Dada Ahmed

(NAN)

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Science & Technology

Pantami promises resolving ATCON challenges

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has promised to resolve issues surrounding the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) to ensure it’s accelerated progress.

Pantami made the promise at the special reception party organised by ATCON on Friday in Abuja to welcome him as Minister.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the telecommunications industry faces vandalism of telecoms infrastructure and over taxation by state governments, among other challenges.

Pantami explained that the ministry had presented the issues to the National Security Adviser, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for amicable resolution.

“I have the privilege of receiving most of the stakeholders on courtesy visit, I listened to the challenges facing the industry and gave my commitment to use the chance I have to make a difference.

“Last week, one of the issues we received regarding the industry, was presented at Federal Executive Council chaired by the President.

“The issues were presented to this body since it is the most relevant platform and actions are being taken to resolve them.

“I have been in touch with the Attorney-General of the Federation and even today, he sent me reply seeking for more clarification on the executive order,” he said.

Pantami said that the task of taking the industry to greater heights should be the collective responsibility of the private and public sector.

He called for constructive criticisms from stakeholders rather than resorting to intimidation and propaganda to get the attention of the ministry.

He urged on members of the association to put all hands on deck by working together and always be in touch with the ministry for the association to go higher.

He said his doors were open for advice, recommendations, suggestions and constructive criticisms.

The minister thanked the association for the gesture for such an amazing gathering.

“Most of your challenges are known to me and I will take them upon myself to ensure that after every 24 hours, we will make progress in resolving them.  I am more of a result- oriented person.

Earlier, Mr Olusola Teniola, President, ATCON  pledged to work with the ministry in order to create an industry that would attract huge investments where innovation would create an eco-system for smaller and larger operators to co-exist.

Teniola assured that ATCON would continue to advocate in a professional, mature and objective manner to protect and promote the business of its teeming members in Nigeria.

He thanked the minister and commended him for the recently launched documents on National Digital Economy Policy Strategy.

Teniola promised that the association would collaborate with the ministry to realise the set broadband target of 75 per cent in the documents within 5 years.

He noted that the collaboration would help the association remove obstacles working against the growth of the industry in the country.

Edited by: Emmanuel Nwoye/ Dada Ahmed

(NAN)

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Science & Technology

NFMC: Pantami stresses autonomy of council

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has restated the need for National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) to regain its autonomy in accordance with the provisions of the Act establishing it.

Pantami said this in a statement signed by the Mrs Uwa Suleiman, Special Adviser to minister’s on Thursday in Abuja, following resolutions reached at the end of an inaugural meeting with members of NFMC in Abuja.

The minister, who is the Chairman of Council, faulted the domiciling of the Council as a department under the Ministry, citing Section 30(2) of the Act to buttress his point.

According to the section: The Council should be positioned properly as an autonomous body with the secretariat serviced by officials of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

It also stipulates that there should be frequent audit of the Council, to be carried out on all the spectrum licenses issued from its inception till date.

This is to determine the amount paid and to determine if spectrum licenses issued were been used for the purposes they have been assigned accordingly.

Suleiman said that the meeting ended with resolutions: That the Council be positioned properly as an autonomous body with the secretariat, serviced by the officials of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

She said the meeting also resolved that frequency audit be carried out on all the spectrum licenses issued by the Council from its inception to date.

This according to the meeting is to determine amount paid and to know if spectrum licenses issues were being issued for the purposes they were assigned.

The minister emphasised the need not reduce the Council to the status of a department within the Ministry, adding that its independent status was clearly spelt out in the Act establishing it.

He noted that NFMC was established by the Communications Act of 2003 which empowered the body to coordinate and regulate spectrum license allocations across regional and international borders.

The minister called on the management of all regulatory bodies represented in the Council, particularly, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to immediately propose subsidiary legislation to support the existing Act.

He expressed optimism that this would enhance efficiency and fairness to the consumers with regards to payment by satellite television stations among others.

Highlight at the meeting was  the inauguration of the National Frequency Management Council / Nigeria Police Force (), Joint Committee on evaluation of 450MHz Police equipment.

Umar said this was done in line with the provisions of the law empowering the Council to extend membership to competent and qualified persons or organisations to assist in the discharge of its duties.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the meeting, which was Pantami’s first as NFMC Chairman, was the 48th of the council and the fourth to be held this year.

The minister assured that the nation that “under my leadership, national interest must supersede sectoral or personal interests.“

He described protection of the consumer as paramount, adding that the ministry would continue to provide enabling environment for industry players to thrive, “within the dictates of the law. ’’

Edited by: Emmanuel Nwoye/ Dada Ahmed

(NAN)

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Science & Technology

NITDA trains South-West women in ICT for job creation

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has trained 100 women in the South-West geo-political zone on Information Communication Technology skills to consolidate plans of the Federal Government to create jobs.

Mr Kashifu Inuwa, the Director-General of the agency made the disclosure in a statement issued and signed by Mrs Hadiza Umar, Head, Cooperate Affairs and External Relations of the organisation on Friday in Abuja.

Umar said Inuwa was represented by Dr Vincent Olatunji, Director, e-Government Development and Regulation Department of the agency at the capacity building training.

The director-general said the training would also close the gender digital divide, promote job creation, financial inclusion and provide women with the skills to participate in the digital economy.

He said the empowerment programme, which took place between Dec. 8 and Dec. 13, was aimed at leveraging on digital economy for national development at the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti.

The key objectives of the programme, he said include: boosting digital literacy, creating digital jobs, bridging the digital divide, promoting digital inclusion and using technology to address gender imbalance in economic opportunities.

“The programme is part of the agency’s continuous efforts aimed at implementing the administration’s key priorities of economic diversification, job creation, investing in Nigerians and achieving gender balance in economic opportunities.

“It is also part of NITDA’s strategy toward the realisation of Mr President’s promise to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.

“We should know that women clearly have unequal access to economic opportunities in comparison to men and NITDA believes that technology can bridge the gap.

“The 100 women being trained are projected to create 300 direct jobs and over 1,000 indirect jobs,’’ Inuwa said.

He recalled that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), Federal Government programme, focused on restoring growth, developing human capacity and building a globally competitive economy.

According to him, meaningful growth can take place when citizens’ development is prioritised through increased social inclusion, creating jobs and improving the human capital base of the economy.

Inuwa, who noted that statistics showed that women’s participation in ICT was less than 24 per cent, pledged the commitment of the agency to increase the percentage.

Mrs Bisi Fayemi, Wife of Governor of the state, in a statement, commended the state government for promoting gender issues.

These she noted include women empowerment and promulgation of laws that could tackle socio-cultural and economic impediments against women.

Fayemi said that steps in the right direction needed to be taken for Nigeria to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda of 2030,which include industrialisation and developing human capital.

“Technology has a lot of benefit and women in developing nations have a large proportion of illiteracy in the digital world.

“This programme can make women active in the world of ICT and enable equal access to innovative ICT concepts,” she said.

Edited by: Dada Ahmed

(NAN)

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Science & Technology

Group commences ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ park rally, donates breathalyzer to FRSC

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The Beer Sectoral Group (BSG) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), in collaboration with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), on Thursday commenced the “Don’t Drink and Drive” Park Rally across the country.

Mr Tony Eneh, the Executive Secretary of BSG, said the group donated breathalyzers to the FRSC during the rally at Ojota and Ketu parks.

The Nigeria News Agency reports BSG had earlier launched the ‘Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign to create awareness of the danger of drunk driving.

Eneh said the breathalyzers were for the FRSC to determine alcohol intake by drivers while driving.

According to him, the group was happy to give back to the country by creating awareness on the dangers of drunk driving through the “Don’t Drink and Drive” rally and by donating breathalyzers.

Also speaking at the occasion, The Lagos State Sector Commander, FRSC, Corp Commander, Hyginus Omeje, said the “ember” months campaign was an integral component of the FRSC’s strategic intervention to elevate the consciousness of Nigerians to the realities of road crashes.

The sector commander said dangerous overtaking and speeding remained the greatest risk factors on highways.

He said a survey it carried out showed that 204 motorists tested positive to alcohol use out of 2,058 randomly tested with breathalyzer within Lagos-Ibadan expressway command.

According to him, Driving Under Influence (DUI) was the highest among drivers who accounted for 154 positive cases.

Omeje said in Lagos State, road traffic crashes and fatalities recorded from the first to third quarters of 2018 stood at 225 and 74 respectively.

According to him, the statistics over the same period in 2019 currently stood at 419 crashes and 84 fatalities, which translated to 51 per cent increase in crash cases and 14 per cent fatalities.

“These are colossal human capital with frightening impact on health systems, sustainable development, city liveability and survivability of society.

“Available statistics have annually depicted increased road traffic crashes during the period of September to December.

“Risk exposure to road crashes during terminal months of the year, especially December, escalates due to increased socio-economic activities, inordinate traffic surge that over stretch road transport system,” he said.

The FRSC commander appreciated the different groups and individuals, who had contributed and supported the commission on its campaign on safe road system.

Edited by: Oluyinka Fadare/Salif Atojoko
(NAN)
(NAN)

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