Daily Archives: March 10, 2014

Media owners challenge Wire Tap Bill

LAGOS:  THE Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) have criticized plans to implement the Wire Tap Bill opposing the proposed legislation as an attempt to abuse citizens’ right to free speech and communication.

President Goodluck Jonathan has sent the bill to the National Assembly by for consideration.  The bill which was muted by government last year, seeks to empower security agents to intercept and record electronic communications between individuals and track data use from internet service providers and mobile networks.

It also seeks to provide the legal and regulatory framework for the lawful interception of communications in Nigeria.  Government said the bill was necessary to check the growing challenge of security in the country.

In an outright opposition to the bill, NPAN in a communiqué issued at the end of its quarterly meeting, said the bill was “ill-conceived” and was an “open invitation to arbitrariness in the country.”  President of the NPAN, Nduka Obaigbena, signed the communiqué.  The organisation asked the government to withdraw the “obnoxious” bill in line with its constitutional obligation to protect the rights and liberties of the citizens.

Although most of members of the public have kicked against the bill, lawmakers in the country appear adamant on passing it into law.  In December, the bill scaled a second reading in the Senate.  The proposal is titled, “A Bill for An Act to Provide for the Interception, Development And Protection of Communications Networks and Facilities For Public Interest And Other Related Matters, 2013.”

At the second hearing of the bill, majority of the House of Representative members supported of the bill arguing that it would benefit Nigerians and also help to check the security challenges in the country.  The bill is currently before the House Committees on Communications and Justice for more input.


Public officials advised to take salary cuts

NAIROBI: HEADS of government agencies and parastatals have been ordered to emulate President Uhuru Kenyatta and take salary cuts or risk losing their positions.  Kenyatta has given the notice during the launch of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s “Rewarding Productivity” dialogue on the national wage bill.  “

Failure to do so, there are Kenyans who are willing to take up these jobs,” said the President.  The President reiterated that the executive’s move to take a pay cut was a valid one towards taming the burgeoning national wage bill.

He was however quick to add that must not be misconstrued to mean that the pay cut was being done to disempower officials adding the country’s wage bill was now standing at 56 percent of the revenue, which was way above the best practice.  In the same forum, the Deputy President, William Ruto, stressed on the seriousness of the wage bill saying that the subject of discussion was a very difficult one.

He decried the rate at which the wage bill was increasing saying that the current rate of 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product could rise to up to 15.4 percent of GDP in the next two years.  The Deputy President said that the government had put in place measures to bring down the cost of living and therefore increasing the citizenry’s buying power.

“We have laid plans on infrastructural development to make it easier for entrepreneurs and investors to do business in the country,” said Ruto.  He listed the plans that the government has in the pipeline in various sectors including agriculture and energy.  The leaders however conceded during the launch of the debate that the issue was sensitive one and would raise sentiments from the public sector.  “This is the beginning of a tough debate. We can no longer sweep it,” said Kenyatta.


Telcos pay for poor quality of service

LAGOS: LOCAL mobile network firms appear to have paid the fine the Nigeria Communications Commission recently imposed on them for alleged poor quality of service.  Airtel, Glo and MTN were fined a combined N647.5million.  A senior NCC official, who did not want to be quoted because he was not authorized to speak on the issue, confirmed to CAJ News at the weekend that all sanctioned firms met the March 7 deadline for the payment of the fine.  “

I can confirm to you that all the telecoms operators have paid up the fine as at Friday last week. The other aspects of the sanction barring them from selling SIM cards or engaging promotional offers is still however in place,” the official said.

On the issue of a court action filed by a consumer advocacy group, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS) seeking to halt the payment of the fine, the official said since no injunction or restraining order had been granted by the court, the commission had not defied any order.  NATCOMS had gone to court last week to challenge the payment of the fine by the affected telecoms firms.

Pending the final determination of the suit, NATCOMS is seeking an interlocutory injunction restraining the NCC from pocketing the new N645.7million fine.  “We are aware of the court action filed by NATCOMS on the issue. As long as the court has not made any pronouncement in the case, the right thing is for the sanctioned operators to pay up.

If eventually the court says they should not pay, then I can assure you that their money would be refunded to them,” the official added.  The registered trustees of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), MTN, Glo, Airtel and Etisalat are joined in the suit as co-defendants.


Technology agency addresses cybercrime

ACCRA: GHANA’S National Information Technology Agency Computer Emergency Response Team (NITACERT) has been developed to a coordinating centre for cyber security attacks in the country.  The strategy, which is expected to be launched later this month, is said to be the third in Africa after Uganda and Ivory Coast.

It is in line with the framework of the International Telecommunications Union-International Multilateral Partnership Against Cybercrime Threats (ITU-IMPACT) initiative.  The Ministry of Communications entered into an agreement with ITU last year on the setting up of a national Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT).

When established, it is expected CIRT would strengthen Ghana’s ability to prevent and mitigate cybersecurity incidents in the country.  “The strategy will provide Ghana with the necessary capacity and technical capabilities to build a national point of contact to respond in an effective manner to cybercrimes and cyberattacks,” Ghana’s Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah explained to ItNewsGhana.com.

He added, “This strategy demonstrates the commitment of Ghana to unleash the full potential of ICT by ensuring security in cyberspace and building trust and confidence in the use of the Internet.”  The Director Operations at NITA, Eric Akumiah, told CAJ News Ghana Bureau that NITA’s mission was to assist in the coordination and management of prevention, detection and resolution of security incidents that the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and other government institutions can be confronted with in the areas of computer and network security.

“Fighting cybercrime is a global thing. As we sit we don’t know the boundaries of Ghana in cyberspace, unlike the physical boundaries. Somebody can sit in his or her and launch an attack here.  “So, the only way we can do is to secure our cyberspace.

What it is mean is that since cyber-attack can be done anywhere, people may be here launching attacks to other people elsewhere. So, the effort to curb it is an international one,” Akumiah said.  Recently, senior managers with Information and Communication Technology staff of Ministries and Security Agencies had been schooled on the new security incidence response system to mitigate cyber security risks from internal and external sources.

The Chairman of NITA, Dr Nii Quaynor, said as part of the strategy, a similar capacity building event would be started in July for staff of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).  He said NITA would set up NITACERTs in all MMDAs to coordinate all incidents and share intelligence on new threats and publish incidence reports on its websites monthly.

He explained that although cyber security possibly could not absolutely be eliminated, risks of attack could be mitigated to an acceptable level.  “If the constituents of the networks on which they receive service are aware of the possible attacks and there are structures for reporting of incidences on the network it would help greatly,” he said.


TECHNOLOGY: MTN Ghana records solid results

ACCRA:  MTN Ghana has posted significant results in the year 2013 as revenue grew 13 percent to more than GHC 1, 75 billion ($405 million).  According to officials of MTN, data revenue grew by an outstanding 81, 6 percent and accounted for 9,7 percent of total revenue.  During the year under review, data users increased by 20, 9 percent to 4, 9 million users.  The company also recorded huge outgoing voice revenue increased by 7 percent.

The total revenue was however stifled by lower incoming voice revenue due to reduced incoming international traffic on the network.  MTN Ghana had increased its number of subscribers by 10, 2 percent to 12, 9 million by 31 December 2013.  MTN Ghana’s earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization margin expanded by 0, 5 percentage points to 37, 5 percent.

This was supported by cost savings across various areas of the business, notably on marketing and maintenance costs.  The Group President and Chief Executive Officer, Sifiso Dabengwa, making the financial statement presentation to stakeholders, expressed optimism at the potential of the Ghanaian market.  “We expect this to continue.

This is despite very competitive environment. We have been able to hold our market share to over 50 percent despite the fact that there are about 6 players in the market,” he said.  MTN Ghana’s performance was driven by increased regional segmentation, acquisition and retention campaigns and a focus on MTN Mobile Money.  A total of 110 2G and 175 3G cell sites were added while 408 kilometres of fibre was rolled out.