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Under my watch, NCC will be an enabler for increased investments in telecoms sector — Maida

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…Identifies improvement in quality of service as priority for NCC

The Executive Vice Chairman/ CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida has declared that under his watch, the telecoms regulator will be repositioned to be an enabler for increased investments in the telecoms sector.

Speaking at an interactive meeting with top Media Executives in Lagos, the NCC EVC commended his predecessors for their contributions in advancing the telecoms industry.

He noted that previous administration’s had established the telecoms industry and now it is time to make the sector contribute even more to economic growth under the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The NCC EVC also seized the occasion to unveil key drivers for the telecoms industry as he marked his first 100 days in office following his appointment as the new boss of the nation’s telecom regulatory body.

Maida also committed to driving a good total customer experience for telecoms consumers in the country.
He disclosed that he used the last 3 months for observation, fact findings, and engaging key stakeholders, pointing out that the regulator “should be felt and not seen.”

Maida said the commission would work with the blueprint of the Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, unveiled by the Minister, Bosun Tijani, saying all efforts will be deployed to ensure that the sector contributes more, especially in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the economy, job creation and more revenue to the government, adding that he would need the support of the media to be able to achieve that.

According to him, one of the key things “we have to recognise is that within the digital economy space the NCC plays a very huge role, because the communications infrastructure especially in this digital age is the backbone of the digital economy and of course the backbone of any nation noting that today when one talks about dispute and conflict between countries you cannot doing without mentioning cyber wars.”

He disclosed that the NCC, under his watch, will focus on key areas, such as collaboration, Data centric administration, compliance and monitoring and digitisation, working closely with the three major stakeholders in the industry namely the Operators, government and the consumer.

According to Maida, the consumers are the major stakeholders that the NCC would be addressing their needs, promising to end the era of telecom subscribers carrying multiple phones or having multiple SIM cards, by ensuring good QoS, empowering them to make the right choices while at the same time making the tariff very simple and transparent for the consumers. He added that the NCC will carry out enlightenment campaigns to ensure consumers understand and have good services.

Noting that it has become necessary to reposition the sector and push it forward, the NCC helmsman said that going forward, telecommunications sector licensees will be held more accountable for all their deeds in the sector.
Maida said the commission would hold all industry licensees accountable for all their deeds in the sector, stressing that operators must honour agreements.

The NCC, he said, is also working on reviewing the standard of operations for the telecoms operators to ensure corporate governance and international best practices from the operators adding that the Commission would also be doing more advocacy and will be very concerned about compliance.

“Everybody including industry licensees in the value chain shall be held accountable. Regulations will come in and there will be consequences,” he stated.

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PalmPay unveils first set of winners in Eid mobile bonanza

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PalmPay has announced the first set of winners in its ongoing Eid campaign tagged PalmPay Eid Bonanza, which kicked off on April 10th and will run until April 30th, 2024.

Since the start of the bonanza on April 10th, 5 lucky winners have been emerging daily simply by performing tasks on the PalmPay App such as transferring funds, airtime and data purchases, bill payments, and savings.

Comfort Udoh from Lagos, one of the proud recipients of an iPhone 15 Pro, expressed her sheer delight. “I simply won by recharging my phone with airtime on the PalmPay app. I received the exciting news via a call from PalmPay Nigeria. I thank them for the generous reward of a brand new iPhone 15 pro”

Also, Mr. Abegurin Patrick Segun’s winning entry came about when he placed a N100 bet using his PalmPay app. It was a delightful surprise for him to receive a call from PalmPay Nigeria, informing him of his victory in the daily raffle draw, and he’s now the proud owner of an Infinix Hot 40i.

To participate in the remaining weeks of the campaign, download the PalmPay App from Google Play or App Store. Sign up for an account and include your BVN or NIN to complete the process and click on the Eid Bonanza Feature.

There are still numerous phones to be won daily, along with the added bonus of daily free transfers to any bank via the PalmPay App.

Enakeno Umuteme, the Head of Marketing and Communications at PalmPay Nigeria, notes that, “Our primary objective is to reward and acknowledge our loyal customers. This campaign stays true to its promise of appreciating Nigerians who are PalmPay users”

PalmPay offers an array of services including money transfers, bill payments, credit services, and savings on its app and via its mobile money agents. Since its inception in Nigeria in 2019 under a Mobile Money Operator license, the platform has amassed over 30 million app users as part of its cashless payment ecosystem.

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Minister announces groundbreaking partnerships with Cisco, others

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The Minister for Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani has announced strategic partnerships with Cisco, 21st Century Technologies like Awarri and DataDotOrg.

Tijani made the announcements while speaking at a dinner to mark the end of a four-day National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (NAIS) Workshop in Abuja.

The workshop was themed: “Developing the High-Level Strategy and Implementation Plan for a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy for Nigeria”.

He informed that the partnerships would drive technological innovation and boost Nigeria’s digital Economy.

Tijani said that the workshop was to formulate a strategy focused on addressing the needs of Nigerian citizens and communities.

He noted the increased attention on AI across the world and growth in investments in the technology in Nigeria saying: “Over one Petabyte of storage is already being allocated to AI projects in Nigeria by Galaxy Backbone Limited.

“The Pilot Compute Programme that we are undertaking, which is seeing 21st Century Technologies invest over 2 million dollars in Graphics Processing Unit (GPU).

“It is also going to put us in a position to start building and narrating the story for why we need to invest in our computing power as a nation.

“We all know that the strength of a network is determined by the value that each node on the network brings to it.

“If our world is truly connected, you are not helping Africa or Nigeria by ensuring that we can come to the table and participate.

“By partnering with us, you are only ensuring that our world is stronger because we have something significant to contribute to the network.”

The minister outlined a number of strategic partnerships and projects facilitated by the Ministry to fast-track Nigeria’s growth in the field of AI.

He listed them to include the National Centre for Al and Robotics (NCAIR) relaunch, Nigerian multilingual large language model, Nigeria’s computing infrastructure pilot and the AI collective, accordingly.

Tijani explained that the NCAIR relaunch of new and improved capacity was to better fulfill its mandate.

“The Centre is a special purpose vehicle created to promote research and development on emerging technologies and their practical application in the areas of Nigerian national interest.

“As a digital innovation and research facility, NCAIR focuses on Al, Robotics and Drones, Internet of Things (loT), and other emerging technologies, aimed at transforming the Nigerian digital economy.

“The capacity building imperative is undertaken with support from global technology company, Cisco.

”For the Nigerian multilingual large language model, Tijani said it aimed to build the most robust Nigerian large language model,” Tijani said.

He said in order to achieve this, the project would leverage the support of the 3 Million Technical Talent (3MTT) programme Fellows to collate high quality Nigerian language data and fuel the development of some of the most sophisticated AI models.

Tijani explained, “The project is developed by Awarri in partnership with NITDA and DataDotOrg.”

He explained that Nigeria’s computing infrastructure pilot would accelerate the development of Al projects of national interest.

According to him, Galaxy Backbone Limited will partner 21st Century Technologies to develop Nigeria’s national computer project.

“The Compute will be available to local researchers, startups, government entities working on critical Al projects that are of national interest.

“It will reside at the Galaxy Backbone Data Centre and be accessible through NCAIR,” the minister added.

Tijani said,”The AI Collective is a community of practice collaborating towards accelerating the nation’s collective prosperity through an inclusive Al Ecosystem.

“The collective will harness the power of Al to drive economic prosperity, accelerate innovation and social development, and position Nigeria as a leading force in AI for good globally.”

The minister expressed appreciation to all the stakeholders for making the workshop possible, while stating the benefits of adopting cutting-edge technologies.

They include Artificial Intelligence (AI) in raising the productivity of users for our collective prosperity.

The workshop was supported by local and international organisations such asq Luminate, Google, Meta, Microsoft, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR).

Others include Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Galaxy Backbone Limited, and Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF).

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems capable of performing complex tasks that historically only a human could do, such as reasoning, making decisions, or solving problems.

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War against piracy: NCC parades three seized containers of pirated book in Rivers

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… We’ll prosecute perpetrators, accomplices — DG

Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt

The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has Friday conducted journalists round the three containers seized by the Commission in collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at Onne Port,Area 2, containing about 3,000 cartons of pirated books, estimated  over N100m at market value.

 Addressing the Press and other stakeholders in the book industry in Port Harcourt, the Director General (DG) of NCC, Dr John Asein said henceforth the Commission will not hesitate “to seal premises, go after the proceeds of crimes and deal with the suspected materials summarily,” courtesy of the stronger Copyright  Statute with stiffer penalties for criminal  infringement.

The DG added that “the Commission  will hold anyone found with copies of pirated books accountable and presumed to be complicit in crime of piracy either as primary or secondary suspects.”

He said the renewed commitment to tackle piracy in all sectors complements government’s high level policy intervention to turn around the economy and grow the country’s creative industry. This,the DG said is in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu led Federal Government of Nigeria.

He thanked the Nigeria Customs Service, the Department of  State Services (DSS) and other stakeholders whose  cooperation he said has made the seizures possible.

Dr Asein assured that henceforth NCC will be stepping up its enforcement  drive to decimate copyright piracy in Nigeria until it is reduced to a single digit number.

“With the support of partnering agencies and the cooperation of rights owners ,this is a task that must be accomplished. I invite landlords, transporters, warehouse owners, school proprietors,market authorities and the general public to report any suspicious activities in the book chain to the Nigerian Copyright Commission or any of the  partnering agencies,” the DG said.

Also speaking, the Area Comptroller of Customs, Onne Port, Babani Imam, who spoke through, CC Epundu said there is every need for  Federal Government Agencies to collaborate, noting that Customs Area 2 Onne has been intercepting drugs, arms and other contraband  products and handed them over to the appropriate agency handling such issue. He appealed for the  sustenance of the inter-agency partnership.

On his part, the President of Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Chief Uche Anoke, who was represented by his Vice and CEO of Africans First Publishers Plc, Austin Onwubiko lauded  NCC for the excellent job they have been doing in combating piracy. He pointed out that the fight no doubt will allow the patent right owners to enjoy the fruit of their labour. He urged NCC to sustain their collaborative activities with other agencies, for optimal results.

He lamented that Publishers struggle to produce books, but pirates would not allow them to reap from their sweat.

He called on the Federal Government to liaise with the Chinese Embassy to stop the unholy trade from that country.

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