The on-going initiative of the federal government to deepen the broadband market got a boost recently with the signing a of a partnership between America’s foremost broadband infrastructure company, Transition Networks and Nigeria’s Teledom International Limited. The alliance will help bring broadband services and products to homes, schools and workplace across the country.
The liaison, says Engr Emmanuel Ekuwem, will open a new vista of opportunities for Nigerians. The American company offers networking products that enable ICT Infrastructure builders, network designers and builders, systems integrators and network operators deliver and manage their networks efficiently, excellently and cost-effectively.
Transition Networks flaunts among others Enterprise Network Solutions including Ethernet Switches, Routers, Fiber Modules, Media Converters and Network Management Solutions. Others are Optic Fibre Network for Data, Voice & Video; Mobile Backhaul Applications, Connectors, Access Control and Video Surveillance Systems for homeland and national security operations and provides reliable network devices of the future applicable in government, education, industry (processing, manufacturing & infrastructure), telecommunications, IT, banks, electronic media, security among others.
One of the highlights of the event was the introduction of Nigeria’s first ever interactive smart class which will be launched soon. Ekuwem said the launch of the classroom will take place this month and will have everything done with Nigerian brain power, Nigerian integrated solution and Nigerian computers. This, he said, would help in human capacity development in the ICT sector.
HOW IT WORKS
In a smart classroom the teacher writes on a sympodium and whatever he/she writes appears on the desktop in the class. The smart classroom will have all made in Nigeria brand of computers. The class has full internet, as the teacher is teaching one camera is backing the teacher while another zooms on the interactive white board.
LEARNING MADE EASY
If you miss a class and you have a Wi-Fi you can long on to the classroom with your user name and password and you can be a part of the class anywhere you are. If there is an expert that wants to contribute to the class, that can be done via video conferencing with the class. Each student can write on his own tablet and you can download your lecture or copy to a flash drive (revision becomes easy). No teacher can come to the class unprepared.
Experts in the ICT sector seized the occasion to call for human capacity development in the sector as well as the need for more distribution channels. Ekuwem said Nigerians need to patronize made-in-Nigeria products as this creates jobs, keeps people off the street and prevents restiveness.
In his views, Engr. Lanre Ajayi, President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) said broadband access in Nigeria is lying unutilized and to make use of these unutilized access, he said more distributors need to come on board to distribute these to the end users.
Engr. Bayo Banjo, President of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) wants Nigerians to patronize high quality products for improved quality of service. “We should encourage high quality products in this environment because of our poor maintenance culture to bring about good quality of service,” he said.
On the growing insecurity, Banjo said: “a security gadget interfaces with human being, if the human being is incompetent, what is the use of the security gadget? In a country where people are given office based on tribalism, favouritism and not on merit the result is what we are getting now. If you had competent people appointed in correct places these things would not happen.
“Nigerians are now getting insensitive to the killings going on. It’s becoming like a joke, we’ve reached a level where the army should be given the free hand to handle things properly. If the army decides to take down these people, we know they’ll do a lot of collateral damage but they will be taken out.
On unity amongst telcos
Banjo said telecom operators are very unrealistic; they talk about double taxation and masts. How can they say that mast is a federal government matter? If a mast falls down and kills people in the state who will be held responsible? Of course it will be the state governor. Obviously a state must have the power for some regulation, what you do with the state is to control its limit. We should stop a state from exploiting the fact that telecoms operators are making money but you cannot say it’s a federal thing.
Even if you pass a law and it is taken to the Supreme Court it will fail because like I said if a mast falls in a state and kills someone the state governor will be held responsible. Telecoms operators sometimes have to be reasonable and enter into dialogue, it is when you enter into a dialogue that you can show whether or not a person is being ridiculous, he admonished.
According to Banjo, this shouldn’t really exist. What is the government doing in the telecoms sector? The whole essence was to get government out and NITEL will be privatised, so why bring in a government run institution. Give the satellite slot to a consortium of businesses or if the government wants to be involved give them a low interest loan.
The days when the government seemed to be able to run things like we had in the days of groundnut, cocoa and other agricultural produce boom seem to have gone and we all know the reason. So why would we invest in something when the government is running it? The government should stick to regulation and let the private sector handle these things. Now someone in the newspapers is saying the satellites are old and obsolete when they have not been used. This implies that it was just an exercise for someone to make money.
Privatisation of NITEL
The whole philosophy was that everything telecoms should be handled by the private sector and even NITEL should have been sold off to private people, so why introduce a new NITEL, what’s the sense behind it?
Mrs Florence Seriki of Omatek Computers said: “We want many companies to go out there and partner with first class manufacturers, to bring them to Nigeria and the first step to doing this is the representation, then the distribution. My advice at this point is that Teledom should aggressively embark on a serious distribution channel that will go round to the very minimal reseller even if it means smaller franchises.
We have a lot of fake security items out there. There is the need for Transition Networks to begin thinking of local manufacturing in Nigeria with Teledom since they are partners. Whatever it is we are doing goes beyond web training, because a lot of our engineers do not even know what they are doing. What this is telling us is that the level of human capacity is really going down. If training can give us a lot of capacity building, you can imagine that by the time the market is built and you are now producing here, you can have an idea how much knowledge transfer would have come to Nigeria.
All we’re telling the Minister of Communication Technology is to create the demand. As a manufacturer you need raw materials to produce whatever it is you are selling. It is one thing to produce a finished product. But the access to the various components that will produce these finished products, are they readily available? This is a question we must ask.
Can you imagine the number of factories that would come from just producing raw materials for your product? For example we assemble casing and we have different classes of suppliers from moulding companies, to suppliers of ordinary screw, cartons, and foams. That means we’ll have different companies or factories that will be producing all these.
Let us create demand and do capacity building and let’s go more into manufacturing. The reason I started with the distribution channel is because I like to start from the bottom line. There are so many computer companies that are no longer in business. One of the promises we made to the minister is that all the factories and big companies are going to organise a program, where we’ll get all of us to engage all other companies registering as distributors or resellers of different categories.
The distribution channels that Compaq, IBM, HP etc have are the Nigerian-based computer companies. We were either resellers or premium partners, which my company Omatek was at a time with Compaq. If we were not the companies that were at these various levels, there won’t be any foreign brand success story today. My final question is, “are we as Nigerians saying we cannot be resellers of our own country made products?”.