Glo-MTN Settle Interconnect Debt Dispute

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced that the interconnect debt dispute between MTN Nigeria Communications Plc. (MTN) and Globacom Limited (Globacom) has been amicably settled.

A statement on Thursday signed by Mr.Reuben Muoka, Director, Public Affairs in NCC, explained that in accordance with this resolution, the disconnection approval granted to MTN for the disconnection of Globacom has now been withdrawn.

Muoka said: “Following its initial Public Notice, the Commission with the aim of mitigating any potential disruptions to subscribers undertook further regulatory intervention, by mediating between the parties and facilitating the reconciliation process.

“The Commission reiterates that strict adherence to the terms and conditions of licenses, particularly those delineated in interconnection agreements, is imperative for all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other licensees within the telecommunications industry.

“In order to proactively address and prevent future instances of interconnect indebtedness within the industry, the Commission will be requesting relevant records and regular updates from MNOs, as well as adopting a transparent approach towards industry indebtedness.

“This statement serves as a reminder of the Commission’s commitment to fostering a stable and compliant telecommunications ecosystem in Nigeria.”

Reduce Telecom Taxes,NCC Begs States

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC),has appealed to States and Local Government Areas in Nigeria to reduce taxes imposed on telecom companies to enhance their growth as well as attract foreign investors into the country.

Dr. Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),who stated this at a media parley in Abuja,disclosed that already between 50 to 55 per cent taxes are imposed on telecoms operators.

He maintained that it would be difficult to attract foreign investments into the sector in line with President Bola Tinubu’s directive to the Commission.

He said: “We are going to be going on an advocacy campaign to see how we can convince the states to remove some of these obstacles like Right of Way and multiple taxations because I have seen some studies which indicate taxation is almost 50% getting to 55% in some areas in this country.

“And you would agree with me that if we are trying to bring in foreign investment that is not a good picture to paint.”

He appealed to states to re-consider the long-term benefits that would come to them, if they allowed massive investments in the sector as job opportunities would be created alongside other value chains in the sector

He assured that the Commission would collaborate with stakeholders to tackle these challenges for the overall development of the telecommunications sector.

Unveiling his new strategies to reposition the telecoms industry, the NCC boss said consumer satisfaction would be at the core of his strategy, as he would put smiles on the faces of consumers.

Maida, who listed the strategies he would deploy to address various issues affecting the telecoms sector, said “my vision is to put smiles on the faces of telecoms consumers in Nigeria by improving the quality of services being offered them by service providers as well as increase investments in the sector.

“Consumers pay for their services and they expect high quality of service from the providers.Everything for me starts with the Consumers. The expectation of the consumers is very simple, which is, high quality of service.

“By this quality of service, we are talking about whole quality of experience for consumers.One of the mandates given to us by the honorable Minister of Communication which he also derived from the President and Commander -in- Chief is that we need to attract more foreign investments into the sector but there is no way we can do that if we are not satisfying the consumers because the consumers are the ones who pay for the services.

“This means the licensees can make their returns and investments, so we are going to be introducing some measures to help in this regard simply to improve the Ease of Doing Business.”

Digital Economy Grows Nigeria’s GDP By 20 Percent-Minister 

      Mohammed Shosanya
Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijjani on Thursday said that digital economy contributed 20 percent to the Nigeria Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Tijjani Bosun,who spoke in Kano at the end of a 5 days National Council on Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy,explained that this was made possible by the youths population who are digitally native.
He revealed that “Nigeria is extremely blessed, 60 percent of her population are youths under the age of 25 that are digitally native.”
Bosun noted that Nigeria digital economy is the best in Africa, adding that the strength, and dominant of the youth in the sector made the nation an investment hub in Africa.
He stressed “Computerisation change the world, it takes the burden off the human, and as well empower people to farm in the way we’ve not seen before simply through education.”
He advocated  the need to strengthen the backbone of our economy through technology to achieve  predetermined goals.
The Minister said “We need to build the workforce, and this has made it incumbent on Nigeria to invest on fibal optic networks to boost internet penetration”
NCC Suspends Glo’s Disconnection From MTN  For Three Weeks

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Communications Commission has suspended its planned barring of Glo subscribers from calling MTN lines for 21 days.

A statement on Thursday signed by Mr.Reuben Mouka, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, said the Commission is pleased to announce that the parties have now reached agreement to resolve all outstanding issues between them.

“For this reason, and in exercise of its regulatory powers in that regard, the Commission has put the phased disconnection on hold for a period of 21 (twenty-one) days from today, 17 January, 2024.

“Whilst the Commission expects MTN and Glo to resolve all outstanding issues within the 21-day period, the Commission insists that interconnect debts must be settled by all operating companies as a necessary component towards compliance with regulatory obligations of all licensees.

“It is obligatory that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other licensees in the telecom industry keep to the terms and conditions of their licenses, especially as contained in their interconnection agreements.”

Recall that on January 8, 2024 the Nigerian Communications Commission published a Pre-Disconnection Notice informing subscribers of the approval granted to MTN Nigerian Communications Plc. (MTN) to commence the phased disconnection of Globacom Limited (Glo) with effect from January 18, 2024 due to long-standing interconnection debt dispute between the parties.

FCCPC Boss Implores Nigerian Youths To Embrace Digital Technology

Mohammed Shosanya

Mr. Babatunde Irukera, Executive Vice Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission(FCCPC), has implored Nigerian youths to embrace digital technology to catch up with the rest of the world.

He spoke on Wednesday at the 7th Edition of the National Young Consumer Contest Awards 2023 organised by FCCPC in Abuja.

He added that digital technology defines their future and attainment in life.

He further tasked the youths to have good character, values, integrity, discipline and responsibility to succeed in life.

He said: “The future belongs to the young people. Africa is the fastest growing continent in the world from the population stand point.Digital markets are the future that will dominate Africa. Digital finance is important to the young people to direct their future.

“One of the most important things that will define your success in life is character.Inside character, you have integrity and values.

“When you put character, integrity and values apart, the next thing that will define your future and success is responsibility.

“The biggest responsibility that will define whether you have succeeded is fiscal responsibility.

“Learning restraint and discipline and respect to resources. Fiscal responsibility is a factor in controlling corruption.

“So if the future is digital, and fiscal responsibility is an important part of your success, making you to think digital markets is appropriate.”

He explained that Nigeria has become a hub for digital companies, adding that six technology companies with a market capitalisation of $1billion, have birthed in Nigeria in the last eight years.

He tasked Nigerian youths to be focused and intentional in embracing digital technology, adding that “the way to the future is digital technology.”

According to him, “Nigeria is a country of talents and a country that leads even in the digital space.

“In the space of 8 years, Nigeria has six unicorns or technology companies that have a market capitalisation of $1billion.It is much more here than anywhere in the continent. Nigeria is a respected as a country for technology start-ups in Africa

“We must be intentional and the young people must focus on this. We cannot catch up with the rest of the world by building new schools.The way to the future is digital technology.”

Why Nigeria’s Internet Growth Drags-Report

Mohammed Shosanya

An Internet Society report saysNigeria’s Internet penetration is lagging, with only 36% of its 213 million citizens using the Internet, ranking it 18th in Africa. To increase this percentage and reap the benefits of the Internet, including a highly connected economy,

Nigeria must address market-related challenges in order to increase this percentage and reap the benefits of the Internet, including a highly connected economy,the report said

According to the report,the number of companies that provide local access to the Internet, known as Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and companies that connect an ISP to the global Internet, known as Internet transit providers, servicing Nigeria is well below average compared to global standards.

The Internet Society’s Distinguished Technologist, Michuki Mwangi,said the observation points to local barriers that make it difficult to provide resilient and affordable Internet connectivity.

He added:“Nigeria can improve the resilience and usage of its Internet by reviewing its telecommunications-related policies, regulations, and other factors that discourage service providers from investing in the Internet infrastructure that will facilitate better connectivity,”

“Our Pulse Internet Resilience Index highlights that more efforts are needed to improve the infrastructure, performance, security, and market readiness.Improving these areas can have flow-on effects such as decreasing interconnectivity costs, improving performance, and increasing affordability”

Mwangi also notes that the country needs to increase its use of IPv6 to accommodate the future growth of the Internet—something that many populous countries are doing as more of their population starts to use the Internet.

According to the Pulse Country Report, Nigeria’s 1% IPv6 adoption rate ranks 18th in Africa and is the lowest among the top 10 most populous countries worldwide.

IPv6 is the next-generation Internet Protocol (IP) standard intended to replace IPv4, the protocol many Internet services still use today. IPv6 is a well-established protocol that is seeing increased deployment and adoption, particularly in mobile phone markets, as it enables networks to connect more devices and expand their networks without relying on additional resources. Mobile devices generate more than 84% of Internet traffic in Nigeria.

The Internet Society Pulse Country Report highlights governments, technology stakeholders, and industry players need to work together to prioritize competition and open the market to increase Internet resilience.

NITDA,CBN To Drive Regulation On Digital Payment

   Mohammed Shosanya
The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, has restated the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Financial Institutions in the country to partner with the agency in order to leverage emerging technologies such as Artificial intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics to deepen digital payments.
He spoke during a panel discussion segment at the Central Bank of Nigeria’s 2023 Payments System Management Departmental Retreat programme.
 The Director General,who was represented at the event by the National Director, National Centre for Artificial intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), Engr Ya’u Garba, alluded to the fact that financial technology (FinTech) has so far shown immense ability in driving Nigeria’s performance in the industry and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), especially with the application of developmental regulation approach and enabling policies co-created by the tech ecosystem.
He said,deepening collaborations with key stakeholders will fast track the realisation of the goal, adding that upping the game in digital payments will not only continue to put Nigeria at the forefront as Fintech driven economy but will also enhance consumers’ user experience and help move many people out of poverty.
 Responding to questions regarding Nigeria’s efforts toward dealing with the opportunities and threats posed by Artificial intelligence, Inuwa explained that the Federal Government had noticed that the trajectory of AI models which have moved from linearly to geometrical in proportions had in the previous administration, started working on Artificial intelligence Policy through the Agency which he said would be soon unveiled to the public.
“This AI Policy will form the basis on which all the rules will be highlighted and Agencies like  NITDA, which is the implementation arm will be talking about the strategies, framework and guidelines to navigate through its adoption and deployment.
“Although artificial intelligence is often regarded as a double edged sword, the potential and benefits are tangible but not without a lot of threats, and that is apart from the biases that abound, notwithstanding, our regulatory approach has always been not to stifle innovation.”, Inuwa noted.
Inuwa,who also mentioned other policies of the Federal Government for the industry, maintained that the policies are start-up ecosystem- friendly.
While avowing that there is the need for measures to be deliberately taken to reap the benefits and forestall the impending threats of AI, Inuwa emphasised that NITDA will be working collaboratively with CBN as with others,  in regulating the AI space, stressing that if CBN adopts a particular technology, the potential of such technology to move quickly is high.
The NITDA boss told the audience that the Start-up Bill which was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by former President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2022 will address almost, if not all the bottlenecks plaguing the tech ecosystem.
The Fintech industry, according to Inuwa, is blazing the trail, but said there are a lot more to be tapped from, if AI is explored and exploited accordingly.
He stressed that government needs to work with the United Nations, World Bank and others to see how they can help build the infrastructure for FinTech, in order to foster digital payments and possibly close the digital gap.
“The Startup Act is deemed to be a positive step forward for the country’s startup ecosystem, and it is expected to have a significant impact on businesses in the technology and innovation space”.
“We have other policies tailored towards the bigger picture, like the 3MTT programme by the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation & Digital Economy which is expected to generate a pipeline of technical talent in line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vision of creating two million digital jobs by 2025, National Broadband Plan, Digital Identity Policy and the National Financial Policy which drive the financial inclusion in the country,” Inuwa affirmed.
Welcoming guests, the Director, Payments System Management Department, CBN, Musa Jimoh, harped on the need to look into the future and embrace things that are contemporary to Nigeria and the world at large and ensure that all the thinking behind Payments system should be hinged on how it can benefit the common man on the street.
“Everything we do in Central Bank of Nigeria, if it cannot benefit the common man on the street, then we have done nothing because the payments system is not for us but for the public good, especially as everybody uses it.
“As such, our thinking should always be what can we do to ease the pain, reduce cost, serve and make things more efficient and available to the common man on the street and indeed to all Nigerians, whether in the country or in the Diaspora”, Musa said.
Tizeti Secures Debt Financing To Boost Internet Access In Nigeria

Mohammed Shosanya

Chapel Hill Denham’s Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund has agreed to provide long-term financing to Tizeti Network Limited,West Africa’s pioneer solar-based internet service provider.

The senior debt facility will be used to finance the rollout of Tizeti’s state-of-the art broadband network across 15 states in Nigeria,a statement said.

Anshul Rai, the Chief Executive Officer of NIDF, said, “Chapel Hill Denham is excited to partner Tizeti in the expansion of fast, reliable broadband network across Nigeria. Digital economy is a key strategic pillar for Nigeria to accelerate its economic and social development, and providing access to affordable internet services is crucial to achieve the true potential of digitisation. We continue to work with all stakeholders to support accelerated development of digital infrastructure in Nigeria by providing access to long-term, Naira-denominated financing for such projects – thus realising the government’s vision of reaching 70% broadband penetration by 2025.”

Tizeti’s founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kendall Ananyi, said:“We are excited to announce the closing of this new debt facility with Nigeria’s largest infrastructure debt fund. We see tremendous opportunity for domestic capital in addressing digital exclusion barriers in Nigeria and this partnership will hopefully be one of many. We will use this to build last-mile digital infrastructure that will move internet capacity to other Nigerian states and catalyze sustained development, value creation, improved connectivity, and a deeper and wider digital inclusion net. This will also increase our coverage from 5 states and make us the largest internet service provider in Nigeria by coverage”.

Tizeti currently serves over 3 million subscribers in Nigeria (residential facilities, businesses and hotspot users), via its wide network of solar-powered base stations in five states.

The company will deploy the debt funding to build new internet infrastructure and purchase additional equipment to expand its services to Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Abia, Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Abuja, Kano, and Kaduna.

Tizeti currently charges its customers a monthly fee starting from N12,500 which is the most competitive price in Nigeria and provides unlimited data usage and streaming.

Feature That ‘ll Detect AI-Generated Contents Underway-Zuckerberg

Mohammed Shosanya

The Chief Executive Officer, CEO and Founder of Meta, a parent body of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled plans to introduce features that will help people to discover easily a content or pictures that were generated by Artificial Intelligence.

He disclosed this while unveling advanced features of AI at the 10th anniversary of Connect, an annual products summit by Meta.

He said: “Images created with restyle and backdrop will indicate the use of AI to help reduce the odds of people mistaking them for human-generated content.

“We’re also experimenting with forms of visible and invisible markers to help people distinguish AI-generated content.”

On how the rise of AI and metaverse technologies are reshaping the way people experience physical and digital worlds, Zuckerberg said: “Today, we unveiled our image generation model. Emu (short for Expressive Media Universe) uses your text prompts to generate high-quality, photorealistic images in just seconds. And thanks to Emu and technology from Llama 2, you can create your own custom AI stickers in chat to liven up conversations on the fly.

“We also introduced restyle and backdrop, two new features coming soon to Instagram that use the technology from Emu to let you transform your photos or even co-create AI-generated images with friends.

“Restyle lets you reimagine your images by applying the visual styles you describe (you might type out “watercolor” or “collage from magazines and newspapers, torn edges,” for example), while backdrop leverages learnings from our Segment Anything Model so you can change your image’s scene or background.

“Prompts like “put me in front of a sublime aurora borealis” or “surrounded by puppies” will keep your subject in the foreground while creating the background you have described.”

He also disclosed that Meta smart glasses collection, Ray-Ban, stating that for the first time, people will be able to livestream directly from their smart glasses to friends and followers on Facebook and Instagram.

He said: “These are also the first smart glasses to ship with Meta AI built in. Starting in the US in beta, you’ll get our state-of-the-art AI hands-free, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, in real time.

“And next year we’ll roll out a free update so your smart glasses will be able to understand what you’re looking at and help you out. If you want to know what building you’re standing in front of or get a translation of a sign on the fly, your Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses will have the answer.

“Smart glasses will be an important platform in the future not only because they’re a natural way to see digital holograms in the physical world, but also because soon you’ll be able to let your AI see what you see and hear what you hear, which will make your smart glasses more useful over time,” Zuckerberg added.

Moniepoint, Nithub UNILAG Produce Graduates From HatchDev Programme

Mohammed Shosanya

Nithub University of Lagosi n partnership with Moniepoint Inc,Africa’s digital financial services provider, has announced the graduation of the pioneer cohort from its HatchDev programme.

The nine-month specialized training, sponsored by Moniepoint, is designed to produce hundreds of market-ready software engineers every year.

In Nigeria, where the digital economy is rapidly expanding, there is a pressing need for skilled tech talent. According to estimates,there are only around 115,000 developers in Nigeria,highlighting a significant talent shortage that hampers the growth of the tech sector.

Recognizing this challenge,Moniepoint in partnership with Nithub is taking proactive steps to bridge the gap and empower the youth with valuable skills for a brighter future.

The competitive programme with a strict recruitment policy, which began in October 2022, aspires to yearly shape 300 junior software engineers, 100 intelligent systems developers, and 100 IoT/embedded systems engineers.

These professionals, upon completion of the course, will be readily absorbed into a market eager for their expertise. The programme’s structure is such that it starts with nine months of classroom-based training, culminating in a three-month industry-specific internship.

NItHub envisions a transformative approach to the use and creation of digital technology in Nigeria. This vision encompasses upskilling, startup incubation, product development, all aimed at setting new benchmarks for digital proficiency and innovation in Nigeria.

Besides Moniepoint,with its extensive reach and influence, plays a pivotal role in this digital revolution and financial inclusion. Currently, 1.6 million businesses across Nigeria rely on Moniepoint’s suite of payment, credit, and business management tools to achieve socioeconomic growth and stability.

The platform facilitates an average monthly transaction value of $12 billion, demonstrating its profound impact on businesses and the economy at large.

Speaking on the success of the initiative, Chukwudum Ekwueme, VP Engineering, Moniepoint,said:”Nigeria is a booming economy and with the innovative contributions of tech businesses, like Moniepoint, that are solving some of society’s critical issues, it is very gratifying to be a significant part of those giving local talent the training and tools they need to compete on a global stage. Also, this initiative aligns perfectly with our vision of empowering the next generation of tech leaders. We believe that by investing in talent development, we can accelerate Nigeria’s growth in the digital economy and contribute to the overall prosperity of our great nation.”

Africa’s Internet economy is revolutionizing development on the continent by creating job opportunities, stimulating economic growth, and offering innovative solutions to complex challenges, including access to healthcare, education, and finance. This transformation is driven by factors such as increased access to high-quality Internet connectivity, a burgeoning urban population, a growing pool of tech talent, and a vibrant startup ecosystem.

Dr. Victor Odumuyiwa, NitHub Director and HatchDev project lead, said: “Nigeria is at a critical inflection point at the moment as we continue to grow and develop our economy. As a new wave of technology companies emerge, and with increased digitalisation in every aspect of life, it’s vital that we have the local talent available here to ensure homegrown businesses can reach their full potential. That’s why courses like HatchDev are so valuable – we’re training Nigeria’s top future talent. We’re delighted to be working with Moniepoint to help bring this vision to life.`

Some industry analysts said that the initiative between Moniepoint and NitHub, University of Lagos, is poised to be a game-changer in the tech industry. By equipping young Nigerians with cutting-edge skills through the HatchDev programme, they are opening doors to limitless possibilities and helping Nigeria tap into its full potential in the digital era.