Controversies Lifestyle Religion

“In The Name Of The Father …”

0510LD1The influence of technology on religion has long been a subject of discourse on this blog and it is definitely an issue that will continue to generate a lot of controversies.

You can read my earlier posts on the influence of technology on religion here.

Apart from the “End of the World” proponents who are very convinced about the very negative role technology would play in the end times, even those who are less believing would have to admit that there is an increasing influence technology is having on World religions.

And with the increasing affordability of tablets and higher end smartphones, it is now very common place to see a lot of Nigerians toting at least one of these mobile devices at anytime.

For a while now, i have paid very little attention to this new age phenomenon. However, my visit to the church last Sunday created a reawakening. It was a bit of a shock to me when it was time for Bible reading and about one-third of the congregation flashed out their tablets and fancy smartphones. Even the presiding Pastor had to comment about this. This is indeed the new face of churches in Nigeria, especially for the churches that cater for the middle and high income earners in the Lekki axis of Lagos, Nigeria.

Even the low income earners have refused to be left behind, thanks to the cheap android knock off tablets that have flooded the country from China. It will indeed be research-worthy to compile the number of these devices now available in Nigeria.

The appropriateness of these devices in the church is still generating a lot of divergent views, even among the church leaders. While some Nigerian Pastors welcome this development as a portrayal of prosperity among its parishioners, however in the world over, some religious leaders worry that the inherently isolating and attention-diverting nature of smart phones has created a generation of worshippers unable to fully engage with the sublimation of self and quiet meditation that underlie both the Eastern and Western religious traditions.

The fact can not be ruled out that for the church to shore up shrinking congregations with new devotees,  those younger worshipers expect activities to include smart phone and tablet use. Device multitasking has become such a pervasive part of their life that quiet, paper-text based religious ceremonies seem even stranger and more off-putting.

However, some religious leaders who have already tried to conduct services over a mobile device to a geographically scattered audience, and those who have tried to integrate smart phones into a physically unified congregation, say they have noticed a significant difference in how worshippers process the experience. Unfortunately, they have found that most people tend to disengage from the experience of communal worship with this mode.

I no longer read a bible from a printed paper based format and i honestly do not know where i have placed mine. Reading my bible from mobiles is a habit that i took on right from the days of my trusty Nokia 3650 back in the mid 2000s. For me, though, I must admit that there is indeed something about digital bibles that does not give you the same experience that you get from the paper based ones but the convenience and the excitement the digital ones give you has made this form of bible the only option for me and many out there.


Nigeria Not On ICT Top Ranking

Omobola Johnson, Nigeria’s ICT Minister

Information and Communication Technology uptake has continued to grow worldwide, spurred by a steady fall in the price of telephone and broadband Internet services.

New figures released on Thursday by the International Telecommunications Union confirmed this.

However, the report shows that Nigeria and other countries in Africa need to do more to gain top ranking in Information and Communications Technologies. The situation is coming despite the advances in mobile telecommunication penetration in the region.

The new data, released in ITU’s flagship annual report, Measuring the Information Society 2012, ranked the Republic of Korea as the world’s most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

Of the 10 top-ranked countries, eight are from Europe. The two remaining countries come from the Asia-Pacific region, with the Republic of Korea in the first place, and Japan coming eighth.

The top five countries have not changed their rank between 2010 and 2011. The only new entrant in the top 10 is the United Kingdom, which moved up from 14th place in 2011 to ninth place in 2012.

ITU’s ICT Development Index ranks 155 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2010 and 2011 scores.

All countries in the IDI top 30 are high-income countries, underlining the strong link between income and ICT progress.

Although the full report has not yet been released, the United States occupies the first position in terms of the revenue generated from telecommunications in 2010. The only country showing up from Africa among the first 20 nations is South Africa, which occupies the 16th position.

There are huge differences between developed and developing countries, with IDI values on average twice as high in the developed world compared with developing countries.

The report identifies the group of countries with the lowest IDI levels – so-called ‘Least Connected Countries’ – and highlights the need for policy makers to pay keen attention to this group.

ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Touré, said, “ITU’s Measuring the Information Society report is the most comprehensive statistical and analytical report on the shape of ICT markets worldwide.

“Our reputation as a wholly impartial and reliable source of ICT market statistics makes this report the annual industry benchmark for technology development.”

Developing countries account for the lion’s share of mobile growth.

The report also identifies countries, which have made the most progress when it comes to ICT development.

These dynamic ICT markets are mostly located in the developing world – evidence that many developing countries are catching up quickly in efforts to bridge the so-called ‘digital divide’.

The strong performers are Bahrain, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Saudi Arabia.

In the mobile sector, developing countries now account for the lion’s share of market growth.

Mobile-cellular subscriptions register continuous double-digit growth in developing country markets, for a global total of six billion mobile subscriptions by end 2011. China and India each account for around one billion subscriptions.

Mobile broadband continues to be the ICT service displaying the sharpest growth rates.

Over the past year, growth in mobile-broadband services has been at 40 per cent globally and 78 per cent in developing countries.

There are now twice as many mobile-broadband subscriptions as fixed-broadband subscriptions worldwide.

Prices of ICT services drop by 30%

Globally, telecommunication and Internet services are becoming more affordable.

According to a report by ICT Price Basket, which spans 161 economies and combines the average cost of fixed-telephone, mobile-cellular and fixed-broadband Internet services, the price of ICT services dropped by 30 per cent globally between 2008 and 2011, with the biggest decrease in fixed- broadband Internet services, where average prices came down by 75 per cent.

While prices in developed economies have stabilised, those in developing countries continue to fall at double-digit rates.

That said, fixed-broadband services still remain too expensive in most developing countries: by the end 2011, the price of a basic, monthly fixed-broadband package represented over 40 per cent of monthly gross national income per capita.

This compares to 1.7 per cent in developed economies. Affordability targets set in 2011 by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, on which ITU serves as co-vice chair, set the targeted cost of an entry-level broadband subscription at less than five per cent of GNI.

One promising development is the growth of mobile-broadband services. In developing countries, mobile-broadband services are more widely accessible and, in the case of low-volume packages, less costly than fixed-broadband Internet services.

Mobile broadband was expected to boost Internet use, which stood at 32 per cent globally and 24 per cent in developing countries at the end 2011, the report said.

Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Mr. Brahima Sanou, said, “The past year has seen continued and almost universal growth in ICT uptake. The surge in numbers of mobile-broadband subscriptions in developing countries has brought the Internet to a multitude of new users.

“But despite the downward trend, prices remain relatively high in many low-income countries. For mobile broadband to replicate the mobile-cellular miracle and bring more people from developing countries online, 3G network coverage has to be extended and prices have to go down even further.”

Developing countries are key growth markets

The report also shows that the ICT sector has become a major contributor to economic growth. For instance, in 2010, global exports of ICT goods accounted for 12 per cent of world merchandise trade, and as much as 20 per cent in developing countries.

ITU data show that global revenues from telecommunication services reached $1.5tn in 2010, corresponding to 2.4 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product.

Investment (measured by capital expenditure) in telecommunications amounted to over $241bn, or an estimated two per cent of the world’s total gross fixed capital formation.

The figures highlight the important role developing countries are playing in terms of telecommunication revenues and investments, particularly during the recent economic crisis.

Between 2007 and 2010, both telecom revenues and investment had grown by 22 per cent in developing countries, whereas revenues stagnated in developed countries.

Developing countries are also increasingly becoming attractive destinations for foreign direct investment in telecommunications.

By the beginning 2011, nine of the top 20 telecom markets globally in terms of revenues were developing country markets – including Brazil, China, India and Mexico – and developing countries accounted for 35 per cent of world telecommunication revenue.

At the same time, ITU research and data suggest that developing countries need a relatively higher level of investment in advanced ICT services to fuel growth, mainly because ICT infrastructure levels are still limited.

Source : Punch Newspaper


Nigeria Ranked Second In The World For Software Piracy

THERE seems to be no end yet in the war against software piracy in Nigeria, as the country has been ranked second highest in a recent 32-country study of Personal Computer (PC) pirated software users.

The latest study conducted by a global firm, Ipsos Public Affairs department of Business Software Alliance (BSA), on users’ acts and attitudes toward software piracy and intellectual property rights, noted that 82 per cent of personal computer users in Nigeria acquired software illegally most or all of the time.

The 32-country study, ranked Nigeria’s software pirate population second only to China’s, which stood at 86 per cent – looming far above the worldwide percentage of 47 per cent.

The study, according to BSA, entailed surveying approximately 15,000 PC users including 400 to 500 in-person or online interviews per country. Its findings revealed that large number of computer users in the developing world regularly acquired software through illegal means — such as buying a single license for a programme and then installed it on multiple machines, or downloaded programmes from peer-to-peer networks — even though they expressed support for intellectual property principles.

Reacting to the development, Anti-Piracy Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Seye Oloruntoba, said: “Many people in Nigeria aren’t clear on what constitutes piracy. Everyday we come across stories where people have unknowingly bought discounted counterfeit software from online brokers. Many people think that because they’ve paid for the software, it must be genuine. This is just one of the ways many consumers become ‘accidental pirates’.

The study found that significant majorities of software pirates in developing markets incorrectly believed that typically illegal means of acquiring software were in fact legal. At the same time, they believed software piracy was common, and thought it was unlikely that software pirates would be caught.

Unfortunately, according to BSA, business decision-makers around the world exhibited acts and expressed opinions that were similar to these other computer users included in the survey.

Pirating software is often seen as a ‘cheap’ alternative to purchasing it legally. However, in the long-term it can be far more costly, and for businesses, disastrous. It brings in many dangers in the form of malware, spyware, and viruses that can lead to identity theft, loss of data and more.

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Strolling through Nigeria’s Computer Village”

nigerian-geekLAGOS, NIGERIA– I’m in Lagos to speak at an event and decided to come a week early to check out the country’s tech and entrepreneurship scene.

Apparently Arrington thought I was kidding when I told him this. But he should know by now, I don’t need a lot of arm twisting to visit a country of 150 million people chaotically surging into modernity. Where there’s that much opportunity, there’s always entrepreneurship.

Nigeria has fascinated me for the last few years: It has the largest population of any country in Africa. It has abundant natural resources, most notably oil. And it has a ton of potential outside of oil. According to the World Bank the non-oil economy has grown at 8% per year for most of the last decade.

The problem is employment hasn’t budged and the country has fifty million unemployed young people. Those are the official figures, but people in the country tell me it’s actually much higher than that. That helps explain why Nigeria is more known in the West for 419 email scams than its vast economic potential.

Simply put: Nigeria is a nation desperate for more entrepreneurship, but there are some significant challenges for local entrepreneurs and foreign investors. More on the good and the bad in a future post. A lot more. One story includes guys with machetes. But let’s talk about Nigeria’s tech appetite first. Like anyone else they lust for that new, new thing, and many of them go to a place called “Computer Village” to find it.

It’s the Nigerian answer to Shenzhen’s SEG Electronics Market, a crammed, multistory building that holds booths and booths of nearly any component and hardware knock-off you can imagine. SEG is simultaneously thrilling and horrifying for techies, summing up why China is so central to the Valley’s modern gadget boom and why its low-cost, copy-cat goods are such a threat at the same time. You know you are getting close to SEG, because the street hawkers stop pitching you massages and start offering up illicit copies of Windows.

In Lagos, we could tell we were getting close to Computer Village because of the rows of parked trucks of busted out boom-boxes, televisions and other has-been electronics being fixed and rehabed for parts. Hawkers try to get your attention with a sound that’s a combination of a kissing-noise and a hissing noise. It surrounds you as you walk through Computer Village, making you feel like you’re either walking past a rowdy construction site or a den of snake charmers. That’s a good way to describe the sales tactics too.

Nigerian tech entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with this week have complained that many of the developers who apply for jobs are too book-trained; that they lack that raw creative problem solving or “jugaad” as the Indians call it. Jugaad is core to what makes startups able to thrive within constraints and outperform giants. And as you’ll see from the photos below, it’s on full-display in Computer Village.

They’ve got hardware:


Nigerian Geek Squad:

Printer cartridge refills:

And the app store: