The Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria , in partnership with AITEC Africa, organized ComBIT Africa 2009 at the Lagoon Conference Centre, Lagos, over 3-4 November 2009 with the theme “Leveraging on Information & Communication Technologies to Survive and Thrive Through a Recession”.
The forum called on ICT stakeholders to harness the full potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the country.
In a welcome address, President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua, who was represented by the Minister of State for Information and Communications, Alhaji Ikra Aliyu Bilbis, called on African nations to work together and harness the full potentials that ICT presents for development. Most developing nations, he said, were trailing behind as a result of late technological transformation of their economies, hence a digital divide among nations. The President said the immediate plan of government was to use ICT for providing cost-effective educational and medical facilities to very remote areas of the country as well as empowering the less privileged and the physically challenged through ICT to enable them live honourable and dignified lives.
In his opening address, Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, said the concept of ICT for development had over the past 10 years, garnered momentum in Africa. He said the new world order is driven by knowledge and exchange of information and ideas and that surviving in today’s information age depended on access to national and global information technology networks with all the stakeholders playing their roles, he said. Ndukwe spoke on broadband, infrastructure, efficient spectrum use and regional ICT initiatives as catalysts for ICT development.
The following gave goodwill messages:
ALTON Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr Gbenga Adebayo, said telecommunication facilities remained the most remarkable infrastructure, compared to other facilities in other sectors and urged the government to provide security for telecom infrastructure in the country and put in place, severe penalty for those who vandalize telecom infrastructure. He said Nigeria had started experiencing brain drain in the telecom sector, and called on government to provide better incentives to Nigerian professionals in order to retain them in the country.
President of Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Lanre Ajayi called on government to focus on DNA, describing it as Device, Network and Application. According to him, investment in telecom devices and infrastructure would do Nigeria more good than investing in the petroleum subsidy. He frowned on the over N600 billion which government spends on oil subsidy yearly, while calling on government to invest such money in buying computers for all Nigerian students to boost their research skills.
In the area of network, Ajayi said Nigeria was doing well, thanks to NCC and the rolling out of submarine fibre optic cables for broadband penetration. He noted, however, that Nigeria was not developing appropriate software applications that would drive the economy.
Chief Executive of Omatek Computers, Mrs. Florence Seriki, spoke on the impact of ICT in education and called on government to relate ICT with education.
The CEO of Helios Towers, Fazal Hussein, spoke on shared infrastructure and outsourcing. He said there was a need for telcos to consider co-location for shared infrastructure. He said Helios Towers was on ground to manage services of telcos in the area of mast building and management. He promised that Helios Towers would surpass its present over 1,000 towers to over 4,000 in the next two years.
Oyerunke Oyetunde, Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs of MTN Nigeria, spoke on the need for critical infrastructure in the country, which she said, was essential and indispensable. She said MTN has spent over $15 billion in capital investment to provide voice and data services to customers. She called for proper legislation to guide against vandalisation of telecom infrastructure across the country.
Speaking on progress of the Nigerian Internet Exchange Point (IXP) and the expected rise in traffic, the speaker described IXP as a platform that interconnects Internet service providers (ISPs) in a region or country, allowing them to exchange domestic Internet traffic locally without having to send those messages across multiple international hops to reach their destination. He called on Nigerians to recognize the nation’s exchange point and route their data traffic through it.
CEO of the Main One cable, Funke Opeke, spoke on the impact of submarine cables on broadband development. According to her, “Africa has adequate capacity for effective communication including broadband services (Data, Video & Voice) on the continent and with the rest of the world. Africa may be provided with a well managed connectivity platform towards the realization of effective Internet telecommunications access across the continent.”
Speaking on the challenges of regulating telecommunication in Nigeria, Adewale Jones said the challenge of how best to regulate telecommunications is one we must as a nation address without any further delay as we march into the future with strong optimism in the success of our economy. He called on policy makers and stakeholders to ask questions and attempt to provide answers on what path is best to follow.
Speaking on the prospects and challenges of Green Computing in Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Jibueze said many recyclers sell used and outdated electronics and computers to brokers who ship them to developing nations, where environmental enforcement is weak. He said 50 per cent to 80 per cent of recycled electronics end up in developing nations and called on government to take a close look at the ugly situation, which he said, results to toxic waste that pose harm to individuals and the nation at large.