Categories
Technology

Demystifying Nigerian ATM Experience

The ATM in Nigeria has gone from a mysterious machine of very high distrust to a basic essential. Understandably, being at the perceived epicentre of online fraud and Internet scams has made Nigerians exceedingly weary of this machine which spits cash at the punch of just four digits. My personal take though, is that there exist more advanced hacking centres outside of Nigeria. Common knowledge seems to suggest that parts of Eastern Europe and Asia top Nigeria by a country mile.

My wife and many others like her, who have vowed never to test the efficacy of the banks’ assurances on the safety and security of their ATM systems against the increasing ingenuity of fraudsters have now become unwilling converts due to the higher risk of being unceremoniously shut out of modern day transactions. Regulatory pressures a-la the Cashless Nigeria initiative by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has also played their part in this conspiracy against the conservatives. Hefty penalties have now being instituted on cash transactions beyond a certain threshold. Thankfully, she has broken ranks and acquired an ATM card just only last year.

The CBN has tried to allay the fears of Nigerians by enforcing on the banks additional security measures such as the installation of anti-skimming devices, and two camera systems on all ATMs. The rational being that a fraudster who covers both cameras with his hands to avoid detection will have no spare to conduct his nefarious activities.

The average customer experience of the ATM user in Nigeria is still a tale of woes, mostly self-inflicted, and inadvertently by the same banks in whose major interest it should be to drive adoption to cut the relatively high cost of serving customers within the branch.

austin okere1Two very glaring examples; it is reported that on the eve of Christmas last year, customers looking for ATMs to withdraw cash for their festivities in the Gbagada area found to their dismay after visiting many ATMs and being greeted with the now familiar ‘temporary out of service’or’Unable to dispense Cash’messages, that the only ATMs that seemed to be working on the whole axis were the UBA ATMs at the Charlie Boy Bus stop.

Of course the queue had built up to the extent that faint hearted customers rather opted to go without cash than risk the possible consequences of a stampede. Similarly, on December 14, 2013 there were reports that virtually no ATM was working in the Badagry area.

These experiences are exacerbated majorly by the following factors; firstly, stagnation in the ATM population in spite of significant adoption rate by Nigerians. The ATM population in Nigeria has been stuck at the 11,000 mark for the past six years, resulting in an average of 11.39 ATMs per 100k adult population (adult population in Nigeria being about 56% or 95.2m according to a World Bank report on population).

This is not unconnected to the Central Bank’s misadventure with the Independent ATM Deployers (IAD) experiment of 2008 that barred banks from deploying ATMs outside their branches. This resulted in the abrupt halt in the momentum of ATM deployment by Banks. This was largely due to the hasty conduct of the CBN in trying to swallow an elephant at one go. Noble as the intention was, a pilot scheme would have uncovered the soft underbelly of the strategy, the major shortcoming being the fact that the cash in the offsite ATMs would have been too expensive for the IADs to carry, and therefore compel them to charge customers very exorbitant rates or render them totally unprofitable at the flat rate of N100 per withdrawal,then allowed by the CBN.

Six years later we have less than the 11,800 achieved at the highpoint, because many banks had to abandon the long term rents secured for their offsite ATMs and wheeled the ATMs into warehouses and parking lots because the IADs could not afford the book value to take on the sites and ATMs. The operational lives of those ATMs, about a third of the total volume were cut short, as they were subsequently unusable two years later when the CBN rescinded her decision.

Comparatively, Indonesia with an adult population of about 90m, more than doubled their ATM installed base from 16.7k in 2011 to 36.5k in 2012, resulting in 37 ATMs per 100k adult population, about three time the ATM per adult capita in Nigeria. South Africa has 60 ATMs per 100k adult population, while the UK has 124 ATMs per 100k adult population. Nigeria clearly has a lot to do as the largest economy in Africa.

Secondly, the quality of notes in the ATM are a far cry from standard. In the early days, the ATM was where to go if you wanted crisp notes. Today, the notes in the ATM are sometimes worse that the change you receive at the flea market. This is underscored by the fact that the security features and the general quality of the naira could do with some enhancements. Dirty notes generally cause paper dirt to be lodged in sensitive parts of the ATM when it is dispensing cash, therefore resulting in more frequent system faults or currency jams.

A telling revelation when we compare the work rate of the ATM in Nigeria to say the UK is that the Nigerian ATM has to dispense on the average five notes to one in the UK, if it is dispensing N1,000 notes and the UK one is dispensing 20 pound notes (20 pounds is approximately N5,000). This coupled with the low ATM density and challenged note quality contributes a lot to the frequent breakdowns and ‘unable to dispense cash’ notices.

Thirdly and very importantly, most ATMs in Nigeria are not under any guaranteed service level supportprogram. This is very shocking, and a serious anomaly by any stretch of the imagination. Banks inadvertently encourage this malaise. There is a notion that appraisal and compensation for ATM support heads in the E-banking departments seem to be heavily skewed on how much they can save in the ATM support costs. So they devise all means necessary to achieve this, even at the detriment of customer experience and the banks’ brand erosion. There is a blatant refusal to sign any Service Level Agreements (SLA) support for the ATMs in the first year of purchase under the illusion that warranty on the systems equates to SLA support. This results in fallacious claims of reduction in support costs.

This alluded cost efficiency cannot be further from the truth. Warranty and SLA support are quite different from each other as any owner of a car under warranty well knows. While SLA defines the time within which an ATM should be fixed or replaced in the event of a fault (usually two hours within urban areas and six hours in remote areas), warranty relies on a best effort basis for the replacement of factory defective parts.

Parts that are rendered unusable due to wear and tear, or as a result of exogenous effects such as power surges cannot be claimed under warranty (as sometimes the bank officials are wont to ferociously argue). For simplicity, warranty on ATMs is very similar to that on automobiles. If you drive your new car which carries a three year or 100,000km warranty to the dealer for a part replacement.

Firstly they check that it is not normal wear and tear, and that it is not due to abnormal circumstances such as the wrong type of fuel or an accident. Then they take in the car and order the part. They call you when the part arrives, which takes an average of three months, and then slap you with a labour bill. This is the type of service that the Bank is hoodwinked to render to their hapless customers. It is worthy to note that warranty does not cover periodic maintenance of the machines. Imagine driving your warranty car for three years straight or 100,000km without any service or Oil change! Not opting even for the bare bones labour-only quarterlypreventive maintenance service does drastically shorten the lifespan of the ATMs. It is therefore not surprising that some relatively new ATMs needlessly break down and cause customers to spend eternity looking for a working one, or in an endless queue.

The average annual support spend on an ATM in Nigeria is $2,500, about half of what obtains in Indonesia and South Africa, both spending about $4,500 per ATM per annum. By investing the right amount to keep their systems properly maintained, they prolong the lives of their ATMs and ensure better customer experiences, which we readily testify to when we visit those countries.

Thirdly, we now know that most ATMs work with the windows operating system. Many are currently on the Windows XP platform which has recently been announced by Microsoft as de-supported, and a new operating system, windows 7, announced to replace it. This means that any ATM that is not upgraded to the windows 7 operating system shall be vulnerable to viruses and fraud attacks, since the new security patches shall not work on them. Worldwide, 2.2m ATMs are vulnerable.

In Nigeria, a significant number of the installed base shall be affected. The solution is a simple upgrade of the operating system if the ATM is upgradable. This is free if the bank has been paying their software maintenance fee. They will otherwise have to incur huge capital costs to repurchase the new software licenses. Available data suggests that many banks have not kept up with the software support fees. A further complication is that certain category of ATMs cannot be upgraded because of non USB Interfaces. These have to be replaced, and will further deplete the already stretched ATM density.

Lastly, there are serious challenges in stable and consistent power supply, and network connectivity, both of which the ATM cannot operate without. There are also infrastructure challenges in access roads to ATMs in rural areas which cause support engineers to spend significantly more ‘travel time’ than ‘dwell time’ to fix machines. A possible solution will be for service providers to have enough support offices across the country than depend on engineers being dispatched only from the three commercial centers of Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. Cross training support engineers on ATMs, inverters and network connectivity will ensure that the first engineer to arrive at the ATM can fix the fault and does not have to call another specialist. A monitoring system if installed by the provider would ensure that the ATM correctly diagnoses itself and advices on the correct spare part to be carried to site. A monitoring system will however, require client licenses on the ATMs for which maintenance fees are due to be paid, and which many banks shy away from.

Banks are by no means the only clog in the wheel of good ATM customer experience. Some of the blame lie squarely on the shoulders of the service providers. In a bid to win business at all costs they are ready to accept terms that tempt them to cut corners in quality of products and service delivery. For example, there is a need to install monitoring systems and a call centre to aid support efficacy. There is also a need to ensure that the custodians are sufficiently trained to provide the crucial first level support. The negligence of these will make the support process expensive, unwieldy and ineffective. This drives the proverbial ‘race to the bottom’ for all stakeholders. A decimation in the number of service providers or their replacement by uncertified operators willing to collect the cutthroat rates offered by the banks will not bode any good tidings for the banks nor their customers.

Another emerging class in the clog of ATM availability is the gang of Marauders who attempt to blow-up the ATMs to gain access to the cash in the safes. For this group, Banknote staining could be an effective prevention technique, in which the anticipated reward of the crime is removed by denying the benefits, by marking the cash stolen with special security ink. Of course the ink should be machine detectable to ensure that deposit machines reject stained notes.

Surprisingly, some customers are also culpable. Furiously banging the ATM when ‘it swallows your card’ or does not dispense the money on your transaction will not solve any problem. If anything at all, it will only compound the problem by taking that ATM out of service. In the rare instance of this anomaly, the right thing to do is to call the number on the ATM body or visit the bank. There are usually journal entries and time stamps that will prove that you were not paid what you have been inadvertently debited, and a routine for redress and refund instituted.

While acknowledging the significant progress that we have recorded in payment systems, underpinned by the opportunity for the average Nigerian to be availed of having access to the global installed base of ATMs, courtesy of his local bank ATM card, and without recourse to a foreign bank account and ATM card, there is still the need to ensure that charity truly begins at home.

The above is not intended as an exercise in ATM service indictments, but rather a discourse that will help in the appreciation, and management of the root cause of the below average ATM customer experience in Nigeria from which we are all groaning.

 

Austin Okere, Group CEO, Computer Warehouse Group PLC

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Articles

20 Important African Startups to Watch

Kenya’s huge success with mobile money and the M-Pesa platform has launched Africa into the startup spotlight.

But African innovation goes way beyond mobile money. Whether it’s ecommerce in Nigera, price comparison in South Africa or mobile advertising in Tanzania, African startups are not only changing their continent, but the world.

1. Saya – Ghana

Chat messaging clients are hugely popular across Africa. Mobile chat app Saya Mobile builds on the success of such services. It works across the iOS, Android, Blackberry and Java platforms, and is a product of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) based in Accra.

2. Ushahidi – Kenya

Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, was initially a website developed to map reports of violence around the 2008 Kenyan election. The company has since evolved to become a tech non-profit that specializes in developing free open-source software for data collection, visualization and interactive mapping.

3. AdsBrook – Ghana

Digital and mobile advertising is big business everywhere, including Africa. AdsBrook provides a network of channels for advertisers to run integrated campaigns. Headed by New York-born Derek Jason Bossman, who relocated to Ghana with his parents as a teenager, the company operates in West Africa and is rapidly expanding across the continent.

4. Gloo.ng – Nigeria

In Lagos, a city of 21 million people with 30,000 more arriving every day, the idea of running an online grocery business seems insane, but Gloo somehow manages to grow. Founder Dr. Olumide Olusanya gave up his medical practice to devote time to building his business. It now employs more than 100 people.

5. Mara Online – Uganda

Mara Online is a family of web and mobile platforms that allow users to communicate, interact and collaborate. Sometimes referred to as Africa’s answer to Skype, the May launch of the company saw a chartered jet fly over Silicon Valley with a Mara-branded banner that read, “It’s Time For Africa.”

6. Aim Group – Tanzania

This digital agency is disrupting the media, marketing and brand space by harnessing social media and traditional communications. The company works with major African brands, such as Vodacom, Castle, Tigo and Ndovu to extend their reach and messaging.

7. PriceCheck – South Africa

As the largest price comparison site in South Africa and Africa as a whole, PriceCheck considers the prices of thousands of products. In May it faced 100,000 other entrants to win the International “App of the Year” at the BlackBerry Live conference in Florida.

8. Iroko Partners – Nigeria

Iroko is the world’s largest distributor of African entertainment, including Nigeria’s huge Nollywood film industry. Launched at the end of 2010, the company has a global audience of more than 6 million users from 178 countries — it’s regularly referred to as “Africa’s Netflix.”

9. biNu – South Africa

BiNu mobile app platform can boost Internet speeds by 10 times, which means even the most basic phones can have smartphone-like capabilities. Its more than 100 channels include social media, news, weather, entertainment and free books. BiNu users can also interact with each other via news feeds, social profiles and messaging.

10. Konga – Nigeria

One of Nigeria’s leading online megastores, Konga is growing rapidly across its mobile and SMS platforms. Founded in the summer of 2012, the company now has 150 employees. It promises to deliver products that range from flatscreen TVs to cosmetics anywhere in the country, within five days.

11. Bozza – South Africa

Backed by HP Ventures, Bozza is a mobile social networking startup aimed at township users. It’s headed by entrepreneur Emma Kaye, who describes the service as “a place to discover and share content, enabling small enterprises in a township environment to collaborate and prosper.”

12. Njorku – Cameroon

Launched in March 2011, the Njorku job search engine helps users find careers across Africa. Active in seven countries, the platform offers free and unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of job listings. The company has already raised seed funding from a business angel in France and a Canada-based technology company.

13. Fawry – Egypt

Fawry is a payment service customers can use through banks, post offices and a nationwide network of retailers. Services range from bill payment to Internet and mobile banking. The company employs 250 people and has already collected more than $220 million.

14. Spinlet – Nigeria

As a mobile music download platform, Spinlet offers media distribution to emerging markets in Africa. It encourages the social aspect of music by making it easy to create and share playlists to friends within the application, while enabling both the purchase and discovery of new music.

15. MXit – South Africa

MXit is Africa’s biggest social network, with 50 million users across more than 3,000 different mobile phones. Users can send free online messages, enjoy multiplayer games, buy music, exchange goods and even trade on the stock market.

16. Dropifi – Ghana

Dropifi users can see data in relation to industry metrics, access demographic and social media profiles of message senders and analyze the real sentiment behind the messages they receive. In May 2013, it became the first African company to join the 500 Startups Accelerator Program in Silicon Valley.

17. ForgiveMeNot Africa – Zimbabwe

ForgetMeNot Africa’s optimizer technology converts Facebook “actions,” emails and chat messages into SMS formats, without connecting to the Internet. The company’s ECONET Wireless Zimbabwe’s eTXT service is a cheaper alternative than a fixed-line Internet connection or most Internet cafés.

18. Jumia – Nigeria

As Africa’s biggest online shopping mall, Jumia operates in Egypt, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Kenya as an “African Amazon.” In March 2013 it received a $26 million investment from Summit Partners, which it will use to expand business to other African countries.

19. moWoza – South Africa

The company’s commerce service focuses on mobile as a delivery platform. Customers can “shop wherever they are, at any time” and register with a licensed agent. When the transaction is complete, both the customer and beneficiary are informed by SMS, which also indicates where the parcel can be collected.

20. Afroes – South Africa/Kenya

Afroes produces applications and content for young people, which contain educational and social messages. It is in development with a series of mobile games and SMS reporting platforms that will form the interactive component of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, “Champion for Children campaign.” In 2012, the company won the prestigious MEF Social Responsibility and Development Award for its Moraba game in London.

 

Source

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

What’s Your BB PIN?

blackberry babes“What’s your BB pin?”

The question is the ultimate social status badge for many young, urban Nigerians. Standing in front of a row of gleaming BlackBerry handsets in a Lagos phone shop, sales assistant Remi Olajuwon explained: “The average Nigerian has a very healthy interest in status and luxury. So if somebody asks for your BlackBerry pin and you don’t have one …” she trailed off with a dismissive flick of her false eyelashes.

Retailing at between $200 (£126) and $2,000 in a country where most live on less than $2 a day, the cost alone made it a status symbol, she added. “People come in to buy one just to show they’ve been promoted.”

Amid sagging sales in Europe and North America, developing markets offer a ray of hope for Research in Motion (RIM), after the maker of BlackBerry posted a $235m loss for the latest quarter. In Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, Africa’s three biggest economies, BlackBerrys outsold smartphone competitors this quarter. Kenya and Ghana also had buoyant sales, officials said.

Around one sixth of Africa’s 620 million active phone subscribers come from Nigeria. Half of Nigeria’s 4 million smartphone owners use BlackBerrys, and use among the wealthiest segment of society is forecast to increase sixfold by 2016.

“There’s a misconception Africans only want cheap phones [but] Nigeria is a key market for us. We’re seen as an aspirational product,” said RIM regional director Waldi Wepenerlast month, after the company opened its first Nigerian store in Lagos’s computer village, a sprawling haven for tech junkies.

With its image increasingly outdated elsewhere, RIM hopes to capitalise on Nigeria’s twin obsessions with status and communication. BlackBerry-related dramas flood newspapers’ agony aunt pages. On social websites, debate rages as to whether a bride photographed using her phone during her wedding ceremony was reading an e-Bible, or was merely a BlackBerry addict. The Nollywood film industry, whose clunkily named movie titles are a good cultural barometer and include delights such as the “Fazebook Babes” series, has recently spawned the hit multisequel “BlackBerry Babes”. The comedy follows a group of scantily clad university girls obsessed with getting the latest phones.

The popularity of BlackBerrys in Nigeria is partly born of necessity. Erratic internet services and a nonexistent landline network are plugged by unlimited data bundles, costing about £12 a month. Unpredictable phone networks force those who can afford it to own two handsets.

“I already have another smartphone, but I need a BlackBerry pin number to socialise with friends and get babes. BlackBerry has an edge because of the pinging,” George Emeka, a university student said, using the colloquial term for its instant messaging service.

Others are getting more bang for their buck. Yahya Balogun, who lives in a Lagos slum, used eight months of savings to buy a secondhand model. The taxi driver has caught on to the growing number of high-end businesses who advertise and communicate using BlackBerry pin numbers as well as traditional means. “All my clients in [upmarket district] Victoria Island own BlackBerrys. It is a good investment,” Balogun said.

In his rundown district where extended families squeeze into single rooms, neighbours frequently browse on his phone. “My daughter can use the internet [for schoolwork],” said neighbour Tosin Alabi, his face lit by the screen’s blue glow during a recent powercut. “Personally myself I can never pay 1,000 naira [£4] every week for internet. And the battery is terrible when I can go for two days without charging my own phone,” he added, indicating a battered Nokia feature phone.

Nokia’s low-cost phones remain the top overall sellers across Africa, though affordable mid-range mobiles could also erode RIM’s top-end dominance, analysts say. Last year, Chinese manufacturer Huawei gobbled up almost half of Kenya’s smartphone market with the launch of its $100 devices powered by Google’s Android software. RIM has felt the heat in South Africa, where, unlike Nigeria, mobile carriers offer packages with Apple iPhones. “You’re only with it if you have an iPhone, preferably the iPhone 5, or Samsung Galaxy SIII,” said Khayakazi Mgojo, based in Pretoria.

A three-day loss of service across Africa and parts of Europe last year was the final straw for some. “I switched because BlackBerry was frustrating me with all its constant freezing at the most inconvenient times, short battery life and the daily reboots,” Mgojo said. Nevertheless she added: “I still use it for social network because it’s cheap compared to buying data bundles.”

RIM hopes to bat away growing competition in its most important African markets by releasing its jazzed up BlackBerry 10 software in South Africa and Nigeria at the same time as other global markets next year. “At a time when Nokia is strengthening its distribution arm in Nigeria and Apple has recently appointed its first official distributor … the opening of the first BlackBerry-branded retail store is a logical step [to remain] the country’s No 1 smartphone vendor,” said Nick Jotischky, an analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media.

And for the consumer there still seems a popular groundswell for RIM’s best known product. Manzo George, a businessman who owns three BlackBerrys, said he had no plans to switch over to an Android phone anytime soon. “When people ask me why not try a new brand smartphone, I tell them there are smartphones and then there are BlackBerrys.”

Outsmarted

The once mighty BlackBerry is no longer a status symbol in western markets, but RIM hopes for a revival on 30 January with the release of its new operating system, BlackBerry 10.

Caught in the crossfire between Apple and Android, RIM has lost market share. Its devices excel at email and instant messaging, making them popular with younger users who cannot afford big phone bills, but the company has been left behind because of its failure to create a smartphone that can efficiently navigate the wider web.

RIM’s worldwide market share stood at nearly 20% in 2009, says research firm Gartner, but has now fallen to 5%. While smartphone sales are booming, RIM’s shipment volumes have fallen 57% in a year, according to IDC resaerch. In June the firm reported its first operating loss since 2004, and set out plans to shrink its headcount by a third, shedding 5,000 jobs.

Source

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Articles

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

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Articles

How To Combat Software Piracy

Recently it came to my attention that my buddy Glen Allsopp had one of his WordPress plugins being “sold” or offered with request of a donation, without his permission. To make matters worse, Glen gives away this plugin for free and no one should have to pay for something when the product’s creator intended this to be a giveaway in the first place. The product in question is called ViperBar and it was designed to provide a solid alternative to using another plugin known as Hellobar. The concept of the plugin is to increase email opt-ins without being annoying. Glen did a fine job with his plugin; too bad some affiliate marketers are taking advantage of Glen’s hard work.

Lessons learned here

Demonstrating the power of a strong following and dedicated community, Glen currently has some of his fans contacting the likes of Google, Plimus.com, among other affiliate entities informing them of the violation. Because Glen lives in South Africa, making any needed calls directed here in the States can get pretty pricey quickly. But by utilizing social media to put the word out about this theft, he will likely see this problem resolved quickly as I’m sure both Google and Plimus.com have no intention of allowing techbold.blogspot.com‘s activity to continue any longer.

How To Combat Software Piracy
Click to enlarge photo of bogus website

What Glen did right

Rather than flying off the handle at the person who committed the violation, Glen instead opted to seek out productive ways of taking on this problem head on. Locating the Web host, whomever is handling payments for the stolen goods, along with anything else that can be reported will in the end pay off. What is truly amazing is that the download link the scam artist appears to be using is actually the actual plugin download link (or so I thought at first). But then the guy selling the plugin makes the claim that you can lose the branding of the product by simply making a “donation” via a button provided on the TechBold page. Unbelievable.

Where things get fuzzy

At first pass, the download link looks legit. After all, it’s a WordPress hosted plugin! But when you download the plugin and examine the readme file, you’re suddenly exposed to just how sleazy the thief really is here. He re-packaged the toolbar and gave himself partial credit for its creation! Seriously, this is one for the record books. Because it’s common knowledge that this is of Glen’s own creation, the thief had to leave Glen’s branding in place.  So by asking for donations, this guy makes the entire thing seem legit. Too bad he blows it when he tells people the branding can be removed with a donation to him.

My advice to Glen in hindsight: get a copyright and license added to the plugin zip package immediately. While not critical in this instance, it will help in the future I imagine.

Categories
Lifestyle

Perhaps African Leaders Should Avoid Facebook

A new statistical analysis indicates that the more Facebook fans an African politician has, the more likely they are to be forced from power.

Statistics can be used to prove anything. In the realm of social media, for instance, they can even be used to predict the career longevity of African leaders. While correlation is not necessarily causation, it seems that the more Facebook friends an African politician has… the more likely they are to be thrown out of office.

African internet analysis site Oafrica recently published a data set of the Facebook presences of different African presidents, prime ministers and rulers. It revealed interesting data nuggets: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan gained more than 250,000 online ‘likes’ for his official page in five months, while President Fradique De Menezes of far-off Sao Tome & Principe only had a mere 24 Facebook fans for his community page as of December 2010. In the following months, only two more Facebook users liked de Menezes’ page.

But then Ethan Zuckerman, a researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, discovered that having more followers on Facebook was directly proportional to regime instability:

Here are the top leaders, in terms of followers, as of December 2010:

341,759 – Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria
232,424 – Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia
61,510 – Mwai Kibaki, Kenya
59,744 – King Mohamed VI, Morocco
57,072 – Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe (Prime Minister to Robert Mugabe)
21,306 – Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania
15,723 – Hosni Mubarak, Egypt
15,377 – Laurent Gbagbo, Ivory Coast
14,714 – Jacob Zuma, South Africa
12,658 – Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria

In that top ten, we’ve got two leaders who’ve been forced out of power (Ben Ali, Mubarak), one struggling to retain power after losing an election (Gbagbo), one facing protests like the ones that toppled his neighbor (Bouteflika) and one in danger of arrest from opponents within his coalition government (Tsvangirai.) In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a strong correlation between Facebook friends and staying power of a regime.

Of course, Africa is in a uniquely unstable geopolitical position right now. Egypt and the Maghrebi states have been turned upside-down as a result of the 2011 Arab revolutions. Meanwhile, the Ivory Coast is still suffering from an ongoing political crisis that puts Gbagbo’s government in serious jeopardy.

Regardless of the correlation/causality debate, 50% of the politicians on Oafrica’s list have either been thrown out of power or have dealt with career-threatening crises in the past four months. While it may not compare with Anne Hathaway’s mysterious power over Warren Buffet, it is still quite impressive.

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Gadgets

I Have a Dream …

The impending Mobile number portability in the Nigerian GSM sector has been welcomed with applause and expectations. This is with the assumption that the industry would become very much competitive, barring any form of cartel formation, that is, if it is not in existence already.

Number portability basically means that, say, using a “0809” number will not necessarily mean you are a subscriber to the Etisalat network. Also, you could have a “0803” number and be a subscriber to Airtel. You can switch within the networks whilst still keeping your number.

A number of countries have long deployed such services; South Africa, Egypt, Israel, US, UK,etc.

It is not news that the quality of service being rendered by these companies is appalling at best. Someone even commented that it is a joke. I agreed with him, especially when i read in the papers that one of them is about launching 4G in Nigeria. 4G! Very hilarious.  Not one of them can even boast of rendering quality 3G services, talkless of 4G. Dont even get me started.

It is an open secret that my GSM company of choice, for now, is Etisalat. Aside from their unrivalled customer services, the 2.5G or Edge speed they have been offering is very much better than what the other jokers have been touting as “3G” or “3.5G”. I just hope that with the recent acquisition of their 3G license, they will show us what true 3G is!

As usual, can anyone visualize how this portability concept will play out in Nigeria? For one, the almighty MTN will frustrate anyone wishing to leave its stables. I am actually quoting a staffer. To transfer your number to another network, it takes as little as a few seconds in New Zealand, few minutes in Australia, and at the extreme end, 5 days in the UK. Can someone give an educative guess on how long it would take MTN? I shudder to think. Unfortunately, Glo is not much better, i honestly do not know which company has the worst customer service. It is obvious that these two companies would witness not a few of their customers jumping ship.

And on the bigger scene, an article was published on this website detailing the incursion of some big names into almost every technological facet of our lives; Bulk sms,etc. True to that article, Google is now actively involved in VOIP telephony, making calls over the internet. They also offer basically all what is being offered by these GSM companies. And guess what? They allow for Number portability. Christened GOOGLE VOICE, unfortunately, the service is not yet available in Nigeria, but like most technological advances, it would eventually.

I have a dream, that one day, in our country Nigeria, “Everywhere i go”, people  “Glo with pride” and … Airtel stopped its endless adverts on TV!!!