- Local Content Devt in ICT to Top Agenda in 2017
Although 2016 was perceived as a tough year for telecoms and information technology (IT) business, ICT stakeholders are of the view that 2017 could be a better year if certain critical measures are put in place by the government to drive development of the industry. Among all identified factors that will shape ICT activities in 2017, the Nigerian Local Content Development, topped the agenda.
From broadband development and penetration, to spectrum management as well as protecting ICT infrastructure and licensing of additional InfraCos, up to regulatory framework, quality of service and data floor price, stakeholders strongly believe that if the issue of local content development and patronage are full addressed, it would automatically take care of all other factors that needed to be addressed in the ICT sector in 2017.
The Nigerian local content law in ICT
The Chief Executive Officer of Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, is one stakeholder that is passionate about developing the Nigerian local content law in ICT, which he said, would spur development in the ICT sector.
According to Ekuwem, “the economy is down with recession and the best way to move Nigeria out of recession is for government to develop her local content law by encouraging locally developed products and their patronage. If this is achieved, it would not only create jobs, but also boost GDP growth as well as the Nigerian economy.”
He therefore insisted on patronage, protection, projection and promotion of the Nigerian local content development. To achieve this, Ekuwem said government must put the right policies in place and ensure full implementation of such policies across boards.
“What Nigeria needs at the moment is a general consumer content law that will drive local content development in the ICT sector,” Ekuwem said, while frowning on a situation where the telecoms operators depended largely on importation of telecoms infrastructure, to the detriment of local manufacturers.
He expressed his displeasure over importation of items like switches and routers by telecoms operators, insisting that such items could be manufactured in the country, if the right policies are put in place, and backed with proper implementation strategies. Ekuwem is of the view that if local content development is encouraged in the ICT sector, it will boost development and create additional jobs for the unemployed youths of the county.
President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Mr. James Emadoye is another stakeholder who believes government must wake up to its responsibilities in 2017 in the area of policy implementation that will drive local content development in the ICT sector.
Emadoye, who blamed the federal government for policy inconsistencies and poor implementation, gave an instance where the federal government, through the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, wrote a letter with Ref No SGF/OP/1/S.3/VII/795, to head of civil service commission, ministries department and agencies (MDAs) of government, on the need to patronise made in Nigeria products, including procurement of locally assembled computers and locally developed software. He said the letter directed all federal MDAs to comply with the directive, but expressed deep dissatisfaction that such directive was never implemented. The situation, he said, has grounded several local manufacturers of ICT products and equipment in the country, while importation of ICT equipment still thrives.
Emadoye therefore called on government to expedite action in putting in place policies and the right implementation that would support local content development in a sector where there are willing and talented people that could develop ICT equipment with global standard and best practice.
The President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Olusola Teniola, said local content must be a priority in 2017 for the ICT industry in general and that government should further collaborate with industry, civic society and academia to find the best fit for Nigeria in ensuring that capital flight is minimised in the areas of software, digital content and data hosting.
In the area of spectrum allocation and sales, Teniola said the ICT industry needs further allocation and utilisation of spectra that would contribute to the growth of mobile broadband penetration in rural areas of the country and that the options presented at the Spectrum Trading Forum hosted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2016, should be explored and implemented in 2017, specifically in consideration of the Nigerian terrain. He added that the migration of analogue TV to digital TV should be a major focus during 2017 and this should free up more broadband type spectra that will allow high speed or superfast broadband to be easily rolled out.
“Until these are achieved, 2017 may witness more ‘refarming’ of spectrum usage amongst the mobile network operators (MNOs) and a gradual push to 4G type speeds with NCC having to put in place more enforcement to ensure spectrum is effectively being used to meet service quality standards across the industry,” he said.
In the same vein, Ekuwem said the Digital Switch Over (DSO) plan by the federal government to migrate the country from analogue to digital broadcasting, should be given serious attention, since the successful migration will free up spectrums that would be used for broadband penetration.
In the area of broadband infrastructure and penetration, Teniola is of the view that 2017 is the year when we need to have implementable programmes in place to ensure we are on track to achieve the National Broadband Plan (NBP) of 30 per cent penetration by end of 2018. The ICT industry, he said, would need all the government agencies in charge of and responsible for infrastructure at state level to work with and support the roll-out of much needed fibre optic metro infrastructure that supports the whole eco-system to deliver on the promises made in the NBP.
“Furthermore, the industry needs government policies in place that will attract much needed investments to support the capital expenditure programmes that should be undertaken to realise the country’s vision of a digital transformation through smart cities, e-Government and Internet of Things (IoT). The infrastructure that is rolled out for support broadband services needs to be fully protected from vandalisation, theft and destruction and therefore the enforcement of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) under the Cybercrime bill needs to be enacted without any further delay,” Teniola said.
Ekuwem said the country’s broadband plan should be vigorously pursued and implemented further in 2017, since several factors in ICT development revolves around broadband.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said NCC would intensify action to ensure deeper penetration of broadband infrastructure, using its 8-Point Agenda.
“Our decision to focus on facilitation of broadband penetration was guided by the empirically proven, and globally acknowledged potentials of this service to promote socio-economic transformation, citizen empowerment, and ease of governance. This is why we have taken very practical steps to actualise the Open Access Model of infrastructure required to drive broadband penetration. This is why we are currently inviting bids for broadband infrastructure deployments in five geopolitical zones of the country, having licensed two operators for Lagos and North Central Zone of the country for the same infrastructure.
We have also issued licenses in the 2.6GHz Spectrum Band and allocations of spectrum to service providers in the 5.4GHz Band began in the first week of December 2016.
Some service providers are already rolling out these services, including the Long Term Evolution, LTE-based services.
“We have been able to develop a broadband regulatory framework, with a monitoring committee set up to align our various efforts in this direction. So in 2017, we will work to meet the expectations of the approved National Broadband Implementation Plan, which has set a target of 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018. The encouraging news is that Nigeria’s broadband penetration as empirically adjudged by the global telecom regulator, the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, is 21 per cent. This means that our efforts are yielding desired results,” Danbatta said.
Licensing of InfraCos
In the area of licensing of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) that will drive deployment of broadband infrastructure across the country, Teniola said for Nigeria to realise the National Backbone Network (NBN) the Open Access Model needs to be fully implemented to the ‘letter’ and hence the remaining licences need to be given out within the first quarter of 2017.
“Also, issues surrounding the project execution in each geo-political region will need speedy intervention by federal and state government’s collaboration to avoid experiences observed in 2016 with the InfraCos that were awarded licences to cover Lagos and North Central regions. We must avoid the mistakes already made to ensure the success of the overall intent,” Teniola said.
ICT policies and regulations
In the area of ICT policies and telecoms regulation, Teniola insisted that telecoms regulation would need to balance Over the Top Technology (OTT) presence alongside the current industry setup of strong MNOs and a few Internet Service Providers (ISPs) against the uncertainty of the Nigerian economic situation vis-a-vis infrastructure investments and capital deployed to achieve it.
“In 2017 the telecoms industry needs to see an immediate clarity on data price floor and other intervention instruments that will need to be explored and maybe introduced into the industry to ensure competition doesn’t stifle innovation for the long term growth of industry as a whole. 2017 is the year where the NCC will be looked upon by all industry players for a level playing field to exist in the emerging broadband data era in Nigeria,” Teniola said.
Portland Paints, Chemical and Allied Products Plc Agreed to Merge
Portland Paints and Products Nigeria Plc and Chemical and Allied Products Plc have agreed to merge, according to the latest statement from both companies.
In a statement released through the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the Board of Directors of CAP said we are “pleased to inform you that following discussions and negotiations, the Boards of CAP and Portland Paints have reached an agreement to undertake a merger between both entities (the “Merger” or the “Proposed Merger”).
Accordingly, we “hereby present to you the terms and benefits of the Proposed Merger for your consideration and seek your support and approval to effect the Proposed Merger.
“The Proposed Merger presents a compelling opportunity to create significant value for shareholders of CAP and achieve the company’s strategic growth objectives as a larger company with a broader product portfolio, more corporate owned brands and diversified revenues.
“The resultant entity is also expected to benefit from enhanced distribution capabilities in addition to economies of scale and operational efficiencies.”
Tony Elumelu Acquires Shell, Total, ENI Stakes in OML 17
Tony Elumelu owned Heir Holdings Limited and its related company Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc on Friday announced it has completed the purchase of 45 percent stake in Oil Mining Lease (OML 17) through TNOG Oil and Gas Limited.
The acquisition includes all assets of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (30 Percent), Total E&P Nigeria Ltd (10 percent) and ENI (five percent) — in the lease.
It was further stated that TNOG Oil and Gas Limited will also have the sole right to operate OML 17.
The field presently has a production capacity of 27,000 barrels per day. Also, there are estimated 2P reserves (proven and probable) of 1.2 billion barrels and an additional one billion barrels in possible reserves — all of oil equivalent.
A consortium of global and regional banks and investors provided a financing component of $1.1 billion for the largest oil and gas financing in Africa in over a decade.
In a statement released on Friday, Shell said the completion was after all the necessary approvals have were received from authorities.
“A total of $453m was paid at completion with the balance to be paid over an agreed period. SPDC will retain its interest in the Port Harcourt Industrial and Residential Areas, which fall within the lease area,” the SPDC said.
Speaking after the completion of the deal, Elumelu said “We have a very clear vision: creating Africa’s first integrated energy multinational, a global quality business, uniquely focused on Africa and Africa’s energy needs. The acquisition of such a high-quality asset, with significant potential for further growth, is a strong statement of our confidence in Nigeria, the Nigerian oil and gas sector and a tribute to the extremely high-quality management team that we have assembled.
“As a Nigerian, and more particularly an indigene of the Niger Delta region, I understand well our responsibilities that come with stewardship of the asset, our engagement with communities and the strategic importance of the oil and gas sector in Nigeria. We see significant benefits from integrating our production, with our ability to power Nigeria, through Transcorp, and deliver value across the energy value chain.
“I would like to thank Shell, Total and ENI, for the professionalism of the process, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, and the NNPC for the confidence they have placed in us.”
Tony Elumelu is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, Transcorp and United Bank for Africa Plc.
Exporters Say CBN Pre-export Requirements is Frustrating Export of Goods
Exporters have said the recently introduced pre-export requirements by the Central Bank of Nigeria is creating unnecessary bottlenecks for exporters and the movement of goods out of the country.
Exporters, who spoke under the aegis of the Network of Practicing Non-oil Exporters of Nigeria (NPNEN), said the electronic Nigeria Export Proceed Form now required by financial institutions from exporters had come with so many challenges.
Ahmed Rabiu, the President, NPNEN, explained that the new policy had several requirements that often led to delays and loss of income on the part of exporters.
He said, “We acknowledge the CBN’s desire to ensure that all exports out of Nigeria are documented in order to ensure that the proceeds of such exports are repatriated.
“However, the reality on the field shows that the process is causing undue delays and consequently, encouraging corruption.”
According to them, in the new pre-export requirements, the Central Bank of Nigeria wants an export transaction to be initiated through eNXP processing on the trade monitoring system.
After which exporters are expected to have a pre-shipment inspection agent, the Nigeria Customs Service and other designated government agencies carry out their pre-export inspections.
The exporters said the pre-shipment inspection agent was expected to issue a clean Certificate of Inspection while Customs would issue the Single Good Declaration. All these they said takes time and delay goods from leaving the country on time.
Pointing to a recent report, they said about N868 billion worth of goods bound for export were stuck at the ports due to the new policy.
Speaking further Rabiu said, “For example, for the PIA to issue the CCI, the exporter is required to upload a certificate of origin as one of the supporting documents for the eNXP.
“The PIA is also required to upload the CCI to the TRMS(M) and until this is done, the Customs service will not issue the Single Good Declaration.”
He added, “After issuing the SGD, the customs is further required to upload it into the TRMS before the goods are allowed to be gated into the port and loaded on the vessel by the shipping line.”
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