Privacy of Nigeria Telecoms Users | Regulator’s perspective

By Professor Umar Danbatta

T[/dropcap]echnological advances give insights into what constitutes consumer’s needs, wants and behaviours. Businesses collect data in order to deliver personalized services to meet consumers’ yearnings and behaviours. However, as technologies become more intelligent and intrusive, there is an increasingly higher risk of consumer’s personal data being misused or compromised.

The Federal Government through some of its agencies – Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), INEC, FIRS, etc. had implemented various initiatives that warranted the collection of citizens’ personal data. Such initiatives include the SIM card registration, National Identity Card registration, New Vehicle License regime, BVN, Voter’s Card, Tax Identification Number (TIN) and a host of many others.

Developments in the telecommunications industry have also led to a large growth in various telecommunication services and a corresponding rise in the number of subscribers.

The Federal Government’s efforts to increase Internet penetration via the deployment of broadband and the move for the adoption of cloud services makes it crucial that the security of citizens’ personal data and privacy issues be critically looked into.

NATCOM must pay, Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman at NCC, insists

Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC

The Federal Government’s efforts to increase Internet penetration via the deployment of broadband and the move for the adoption of cloud services makes it crucial that the security of citizens’ personal data and privacy issues be critically looked into.

It is therefore imperative that appropriate enabling laws need to be enacted side by side with these initiatives, technologies, and services, while at the same time efforts should be geared towards trimming and harmonizing the warehousing of personal data in order to enhance security and accountability.

Some countries have put in place laws to protect their citizens’ data and privacy, while some are in process of putting finishing touches to theirs. These laws will be used by these countries and they will affect citizens of other countries, irrespective of whether or not there exists one within their own countries.

With appropriate enabling laws, infringements on citizens’ rights and privacy as it relates to personal data can be curtailed.

The Main Issues at Stake:

The major concerns, which are by no means exhaustive, can be listed as follows:-

Ø Concern about possible breaches to collected personal data such as – unauthorized access, misuse, identity theft, etc.

Ø Inconveniences faced by citizens in having to go to different organizations to register and provide the same set of data.

Ø The need for agencies and organizations to provide convincing assurances that these personal data are hosted or kept in secure locations.

Ø Abuse of users’ privacy via unsolicited messages or calls in the form of advertisements and the likes.

Possible Solutions to Address these Concerns.

There are some existing policy documents that may need to be revisited / reviewed:-

Ø The National Information Technology Policy, which stressed the need for the enactment of a Data Protection Act.

Ø The National Data Protection Bill which is yet to be passed, is itself full of inconsistencies and omission of certain vital aspects and does not fully address the main concerns.

Ø The Industry has established a “Do Not Disturb” registry via the service providers; Consumers have the right to demand that certain calls/messages do not get to them.

From the Commission’s Perspectives, the following are proffered as directions:

Ø It is necessary to put in place a deliberate policy/mechanism (or review related existing ones), that will specifically focus on protection of citizens data and privacy.

Ø An Inter-agency and Multi-stakeholder working group should be established. This will ensure that the various views and opinions are taken into consideration in the development of the necessary framework for data protection.

Ø Data aggregation and harmonization would need to be considered; as this will ensure that a citizen’s data captured by one organization is available for use by any other authorized agency that requires same records, without having the citizen go through the process all over.

Ø The process of harmonization should include a clear definition and identification of what is considered personal data.

Ø Generally, the data protection framework should take the following into consideration:-

ü Collection, Classification and processing of Citizens’ data

ü Storage and Retention of Citizens’ data.

ü Access and Use of Citizens’ data.

ü Transfer of Citizens’ data.

ü Disclosure and Publication of Citizens’ data.

ü Aggregation of citizens’ data.

ü Penalties for clearly spelt out breaches.

ü Etc.

Conclusion.

The development of the framework proffered above, should be focused towards building the much needed trust between users / citizens and the agency (or agencies) that warehouse the aggregated information and data.

The equity considerations and the nation’s reputation should also be paramount.

In the global context, this would help cross-border transfers of information and strengthen Nigeria’s position as a trusted business hub.

Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) made this presentation at Kano Freedom Forum (KIFREF) organised by Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).

Digital Switch Over | Nigeria broadcast regulator on the road ahead

By Is’Haq Modibbo Kawu


Democracy is premised on the powers of the people of our country and an institution like the NBC, operates consciously on the basis of laws that were fashioned out to protect the Nigerian broadcasting landscape in the most patriotic manner. It is this consciousness that continues to guide our operations. The main issues that necessitated today’s press conference include matters arising from the DSO process; as well as the fundamental issues that we raised during our stakeholders’ forum last month.

  1. DSO:

As you are all aware, we successfully carried out the Abuja Switch on in December 2016. As I have informed you in the past, the Abuja switch on is the definitive beginning of the journey to conclude a national Analogue Switch Off (ASO) and a Digital Switch Over (DSO). I am very happy to share some of the interesting statistics of the Abuja switch on with you.  From our launch on December 22nd, 2016, 251, 447 STBs were sold in Abuja. In the same period, 145, 357 boxes were activated; our call center received a total of 325, 028 calls in the same period.   The next phase is our plan for the six states that we have chosen to switch on. As I address you today, Pinnacle Communications Limited has commenced the installation of the facilities for Kaduna. I was there to inspect the work being done at the weekend. Our colleagues can go to the site on Rabah Road, in Kaduna to verify that work is advancing very rapidly there. They have also concluded plans for Delta and Gombe states, while the second signal distributor, ITS, will similarly mobilize into Kwara, Enugu and Osun states.

I will also like to inform you that we have commenced the settlement of ALL indebtedness arising from the contracts awarded in respect of the DSO. We have effected payments to the Set Top Boxes manufacturers. Settlement of their monies came to about Five Billion Naira. The next phase of payment we are processing is what is due to the DSO BACKBONE group, our Signal Distributors, ITS and Pinnacle Communications Limited. These payments would help our various stakeholder groups to meet their obligations as well as deepen commitment to the entire effort to achieve a nation-wide DSO.

LICENSE FEES:

At our stakeholders conference with broadcast organizations, I had informed stations of a persistent pattern of refusal to pay license fees. Stations around Nigeria owe the NBC over N5Billion.  Even the statutory act of informing NBC, six months before expiration of licenses and signification of intention to continue as licensees is willfully ignored by stations. While every licensee is aware that EVERY license issued by NBC is PROVISIONAL and could be withdrawn at any point, stations carry on as if they OWN those licenses and can do as they pretty well please. License fees are in arrears; there is no plan by many of these stations to pay; while some even have the temerity to write NBC, the regulatory institution, that the amount they are obliged to pay is too much; consequently, they then tell us how much they are willing to pay, and even adding the time they are going to pay such sums that they have decided to pay. In truth, a pattern of gross indiscipline and misbehavior has been central to the relationship which many of the licensees had established in the past with the NBC. There are those who used political connections with the top most political leadership of Nigeria in the past, to get illegal and undue favours, that run contrary to the NBC Act and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. That is the only way they have operated and it is the way they know. But this is a new era, at the NBC and in Nigeria.

Let me re-iterate that ALL outstanding sums owed the NBC WOULD be COLLECTED! We gave a time line of March 15, 2017, for ALL stations owing outstanding license fees to effect payment. After consultations, that time line is being extended to March 31st, 2017. I want to affirm that AFTER March 31st, stations that refuse to meet their license fees obligations to the NBC, would be closed down! Period! After we have collected outstanding license fees, stations would then be requested to turn in their Annual Reports for us to carry out the obligatory assessment of what constitutes a percentage of the Annual Turn Over that they are also OBLIGED to pay the NBC. Let me re-assure our colleagues that we do understand that these are difficult economic times in our country, but that cannot be justification for not meeting lawful obligations. Some of these license fees were due even before the economy entered a recession; it means that they had refused to do the right thing even in a period of economic normalcy.

LICENSES REVOCATION:

Over the past two weeks, I gave directive that the licenses of 54 companies that were issued licenses but had refused to pay their fees within the mandatory 60-day window, be revoked. And those licenses are revoked! There is another list of over 120 licenses that were paid within the mandatory period but were unable to come on air, within the mandatory TWO YEARS; they are also being processed for revocation. And they will be revoked! Frequencies cannot be held indefinitely by individuals. We are delighted that Nigerians are investing in setting up radio and television stations; they create jobs; open up accesses for content producers to showcase talents and are contributing to national development. But no one has a right to hold on to allocated frequencies indefinitely, when the resource itself is finite and there are other people waiting and ready to make use of those frequencies.

FREQUENCY INTERFERENCES:

One of the very serious issues facing us today is the clash of frequencies all over Nigeria. City-based FM radio stations are permitted under the terms of their licenses to install 2KW transmitters. That way, it is possible for NBC to repeat frequencies in various cities around Nigeria. But what has been happening is that stations go to purchase and install transmitters beyond the power that they were initially allocated. So the normal pattern of illegality we are witnessing in Nigeria, is for licensees to purchase transmitters with 5KW; 10KW; 15KW power. A licensee even installed 30 and 35KW transmitters! While a powerful politician in the Southwest installed a transmitter beyond the power allotted him; went on air before NBC had given him approval and when our engineers visited the station, he set his thugs to chase away workers who were doing their lawful duties! Again, that was an experience from the impunity of the previous period in our country. Those acts of impunity are NOT acceptable in the present dispensation. To be civilized is to live in a law-governed society! Over 90 of such transmitters installed beyond capacity have been identified across Nigeria. Consequently, we have given ALL stations that installed such transmitters SIX MONTHS to procure and install the transmitters they were lawfully licensed to broadcast on. After the grace period, NBC would de-commission ALL transmitters that flout the law.

We are going to hold an interactive session with all owners of such transmitters very soon. Similarly, we have also written to the Nigerian Customs Service, for NBC to re-commence the process of pre-inspection of all imported transmitters into our country. That was the process in the past; that way, we can control the importation of these transmitters. There is also a national security issue involved. There are mobile transmitters being imported by non-state, secessionist groups, who are using these transmitters to broadcast anti-national, propaganda, as part of their effort to de-legitimize our country and propagate hate as well as secessionist propaganda.

HATE SPPECH:

Another point of concern for us at the NBC is the proliferation of hate speech and the profiling of the other: the other religion; the other ethnic group or the other region! These are serious issues that must concern all of us in the media. NBC is doing a major study of hate speech and we are hoping to put new elements in the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, that address hate speech. Freedom of speech is central to democratic culture. People have the right to robustly debate their country and its governance values. But there are boundaries beyond which no democracy can tolerate and hate speech belongs in that realm. The use of phone-in programming formats has been one of the most abused formats in Nigerian broadcasting today. It is very easy to set up but is also very easy to abuse. Our licensees must exercise a much more robust editorial control of the phone-in format, because of the tendency to cross boundaries of slander; hate and indecency.

SUNDRY ISSUES:

Other issues that worry us include the abuse of regulation in respect of the installation of Aviation Warning Light (AWL), that many stations have refused to install on their masts. They endanger all of us, and directive was issued for all our offices to monitor that these are promptly installed. Refusal to install AWL is enough ground to close down a radio station. In the same manner, we have given stations till the end of March 2017, to install Off-Air Recording facilities. This is mandatory!

On a final note, I will like to re-iterate that NBC is committed to the highest standards of broadcasting regulation in our country. We will do everything to assist the growth of our industry; we will continue to provide the ambience for the flowering of broadcasting in our country. But we would never tolerate a regime of impunity; refusal to obey the law or being cavalier with licensing issues, especially a prompt payment of license fees. The practice of going to the Aso Villa to seek black market endorsements for illegalities will not work in the current situation in Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari believes in processes and he would not help any licensee to flout the NBC Act. This is the reality of the new situation in our country. Change is real!


* Kawu, Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), made this presentation at a press conference in Abuja.

Mobile Marketing | Communicating smartly with thumb generation

By Neelam Biirthare

As soon as I was born; my parents posted my pictures on social media. All of a sudden I was a star on Orkut, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram. The name of their family groups and friend groups changed to “New-Baby Born”, “Congratulations Eric”, on Hike, WhatsApp and WeChat.

Inside my cradle, I was under a holy shock; What the heck does this thumbs-up sign mean? Now when I am used to this dynamic, digitally-sound human society, I have realised that I was a child born to the thumb generation parents!

Probably this could be the way, how our children will introduce their novels. Welcome to the world of mobile-first generation. In 2017, it is merely impossible to imagine life without smart phones, gadgets and a virtual identity.

On an average people have 20 mobile apps installed on their phones. 96% of smartphone owners use their devices to get things done. 70% of these populations (those) who bought something from a store, first turned to their smart devices for information related to their purchase. As a marketer, if I am still not on mobile then I am missing out on a market having huge purchasing potential.

On an average people have 20 mobile apps installed on their phones. 96% of smartphone owners use their devices to get things done. 70% of these populations (those) who bought something from a store, first turned to their smart devices for information related to their purchase. As a marketer, if I am still not on mobile then I am missing out on a market having huge purchasing potential.

A lady seen looking at a smartphone the AWIEF 2016 event in Lagos

A lady seen looking at a smartphone the AWIEF 2016 event in Lagos

Using mobile advertising, it is easy to access customers anytime and anywhere. Here lies a massive opportunity to impress them and make money or create a poor image by poor advertising. The question is what attracts this thumb generation audience? How to grab their attention? What drives sales on mobile?

To answer all such questions, here are some key points to be kept in mind before advertising to this “like-follow-chat” generation of the mobile-savvy world.

Innovation Begets Money:
Innovation is not only driving money, it steers brand image, fame, and loyalty. People are attracted to new ideas, new products, new methods of advertising. Native ads, Video ads ruled the market for long and are still having a huge market, but advertising is totally redefined by vlogging: a blog with a video, influence marketing and other new concepts such as virtual reality and near-field communication. Innovation attracts the audience and hence money.

Your Focus: Not Technology but Customer:
Mobile advertising is less about information but more about the way information is communicated. Almost all the smart marketers of the millennium are aware of the holistic view of a customer journey. They put their customer first. Understanding the intent and immediate need of your audience and catering it in the right context results in better ROI from the digital marketing efforts. The thumb generation is curious and smart enough to do a lot of research before making purchase decisions. Thus, focusing on their needs is still a key to good advertising.

Data collected by a screen lock app suggest that an average person unlocks his or her phone to check it 110 times a day. Some check it up to 900 times.

Technology Times file photo shows people seen taking selfies on a smartphone at a phone lauch event held in Lagos

Technology Times file photo shows people seen taking selfies on a smartphone at a phone launch event held in Lagos

Feed the Digital Hunger:
According to psychology today, 56% of Americans who own a smartphone are having some form of mobile addiction. Data collected by a screen lock app suggest that an average person unlocks his or her phone to check it 110 times a day. Some check it up to 900 times.
It sounds strange but it is even stranger if one fails to use this moment of opportunity to make an impact on the audience’s mind as a very powerful medium having great potential to drive sales is being left underutilized.

Key Takeaway:
It’s the age of “Intellectual Advertising.” One needs to understand that at the end, effective marketing communication is all about connecting with people and influencing their behaviour.
With technical advancements and new features such as offered by MobiVisits, Google analytics, Smaato; not only brands but even small businesses can benefit and make the best use of mobile advertising. Technology is an aid that will help to accomplish this goal of making an impact on the human mind at the perfect moment of time.

  • Neelam Biirthare is PR Manager at MobiVisits

 

OPINION | Why every marketer should implement data-driven advertising

By Neelam Biirthare

Relying on instincts is a good natural trait, but when it comes to business, advertising and driving revenue; making decisions based on intuitions is a bad idea. Especially in an age of intellectual advertising where machine learning, predictive analysis, and granular targeting are redefining the way brands and marketers connect with the audience.

As per the PwC research, data-driven organisations are three times more likely to make improved decisions changing the panorama of marketing. While every advertiser expects to increase revenue, campaign effectiveness and get maximum outputs from minimum inputs by strategic optimization, a majority of them still depend on experience and advice when planning and managing campaigns.

Observing the current trends in the digital marketing scenario, here arise a few questions. Is it really possible to drive action by organising data and organisational insights? What market analytics must be used to get desired results. How can advertising be made more accountable to enhance the revenue?

Digging answers for all these questions; here is an extraordinary example of how data-driven decisions empowered advertising :-

Red Lobster, an American casual dining restaurant chain analyzed the mobile behaviour of their consumers and found that 60% of audience visit their website during 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. They used this moment of opportunity by catering their customer’s need at the right time. Targeting strategies based on this finding was redefined and results were clearly visible. The smartphone users who saw a Red Lobster ad on their mobiles were 31% more likely than those who didn’t see an ad to visit a restaurant the same day. The restaurant used mobile marketing with data intelligence and accomplished their business objectives. These mobile campaigns also helped Red Lobster to enhance their brand awareness.

For example, 79% of consumers use their mobile devices to search for a product but only 10% of purchases are done by smartphone. Instead of relying on last click attribution model marketer needs to keep a track of consumer journey and its impact on the purchase funnel.

A mobile phone user seen at the 2016 Social Media Week Lagos

A mobile phone user seen at the 2016 Social Media Week Lagos

Coming back to the point, how can one use data-based advertising in his marketing strategy to make more money? Of course, the approach may vary from case to case basis but a marketer can make the best use of his digital investment if they take care of the following key factors:

Analysis of Consumer Footprints:
Your consumers are your best search engines. They exist to tell you what they want and when they want a certain product. The success of an organisation’s marketing endeavours depends on its ability to interpret these digital footprints and predict behavior thereafter. Pay attention to your consumer’s habits, these will help in drafting the right strategy.

Dig Data to Derive Information:
Once you have observed, collected and integrate data specific to consumer behaviour and needs. It is time to harness relevant information and use it as a competitive advantage. Use of integrated marketing technologies can help marketers to accomplish their business goals. Marketing data and analytics users are 57% more effective at increasing their productivity by implementing such technologies.

Use Right tools to Measure the Impact:                                                                                                                                                                                                  

In a multi-device digital ambiance, it is hard to conclude that which channel delivered sales. For example, 79% of consumers use their mobile devices to search for a product but only 10% of purchases are done by smartphone. Instead of relying on last click attribution model marketer needs to keep a track of consumer journey and its impact on the purchase funnel.

With the advent of programmatic advertising, mobile ad technology, and dynamic improvements, every Industry is becoming more and more consumer centric. Strategies and decisions based on data are a sure shot way of making advertising more accountable and connecting with consumers in a more meaningful manner.

  • Neelam Biirthare is PR Manager at MobiVisits

GOOD NIGHT, FLO! | Tribute to Florence Omatule Seriki

By Yomi Soyinka

Good night to a most indefatigable woman! An Amazon, my boss, my friend and my sister, your words were your bond, you were bold and fearless. You broke barriers. ‘No’ was not an answer, there was nothing like a shut door, just like nothing was impossible to achieve. You were a pioneer and a path finder. You were indeed a warrior, a colossus! You were a dynamite, small in stature but of great influence, ability and capability. You were an institution and so many people learnt from you. I did.

You were a blessing to Nigeria and Africa; you were at the forefront of the propagation of IT (especially hardware) not only in Nigeria, but Africa. We went all over Africa together; from Tunisia to South Africa, from Kenya to Ghana, looking to catch on great opportunities in the industry. In Nigeria, we went round the country, all the states and all tertiary institutions. We had dealings with all the federal and state governments.

You were a forerunner! While paperless office was yet alien to the Nigerian business environment, our Group had started running on that platform. I could be in Asia and access files, work on them and approve where necessary, right on my phone.

I am very sure the factories of Asia will not forget you so soon, you were constantly challenging them. As I write this tribute, many of your associates in Singapore, China and Hong Kong are in a state of shock.

You once asked me to see how we could lower the cost of our parts for the desktops. So three of us left for China. We had asked the Chinese if we could convert desktop speaker power source from A/C to USB and were told that was not possible at that time. Driven by your never-say-nay spirit, our engineers said we could achieve it. They went to work. Bingo! We achieved it and thereby reduced the cost of our parts. I will never forget how elated you were when I called you on phone and most importantly the words of appreciation, reward and praises for the engineers.

You were tireless! We would fly into Asia for almost 48 hours, and head straight into meetings from the airport. Tiredness or fatigue never stopped you. That got the company to great heights. Our brand was celebrated!

You were a maverick. I will never forget the day we were walking to a meeting on Admiralty Road, Lekki, Lagos and you suddenly pulled me back and you said, “Yomi, let’s go to the market”! Was I not taken aback? I asked you if you felt we were ready for that. In your usual confident way, you said yes, and it was the best time for us to do so. The rest became history.

You were a maverick. I will never forget the day we were walking to a meeting on Admiralty Road, Lekki, Lagos and you suddenly pulled me back and you said, “Yomi, let’s go to the market”! Was I not taken aback? I asked you if you felt we were ready for that. In your usual confident way, you said yes, and it was the best time for us to do so. The rest became history.

Facebook photo shared by Oluyomi Soyinka, shows Engineer Mrs Florence Omatule Seriki, GMD/CEO. Omatek Computers, on the right, showing the company’s laptop computer to then President Olusegun Obasanjo in the Presidential Villa in Abuja

Facebook photo shared by Oluyomi Soyinka, shows Engineer Mrs Florence Omatule Seriki, GMD/CEO. Omatek Computers, on the right, showing the company’s laptop computer to then President Olusegun Obasanjo in the Presidential Villa in Abuja

You were a highly regarded entrepreneur and industrialist, who pioneered the manufacturing and assembling of computers and other devices, not only in Nigeria but across West Africa. Out of a few other OEMs in Nigeria, you were the only woman and it remained so till you departed.

I vividly recollect when you decided it was time to venture into Ghana. We went into Ghana to survey the market; you had set up meetings with the relevant Ministers. After listening to you, it was no surprise that the Ghanaian government gave a nod to your plan to put up a computer factory in that country.

You had a knack for excellence; you were diligent, determined and highly focused. Once you set your goals and priorities, there was no looking back. Often I wondered where you got the energy from. You were able to manage the home front as well as the business front, despite the enormous challenges of both.

After one of those high-level meetings in Abuja, you had announced to a Minister that you were pregnant. He offered his congratulation and then asked you jokingly if despite all your tight business schedule, you still had time to play in the “other room”! You belonged not only to the room at the office, but also to the “other room” at home and that only attested to your ability to manage both rooms very effectively.

You were so passionate about computers and the brand Omatek that you defied every odd to establish factories in and out of Nigeria. Through so many of your original initiatives, we were able to make computers available to civil servants, educational institutions, homes and other individuals. A lot of these beneficiaries did not have to pay once as we were able to amortise for them.

You exuded abundant joy the day we computerised Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Because of our other schedules in Lagos, we arrived the university at about 6pm, the whole auditorium was filled to the brim with the community waiting for the delivery of their computers. The highpoint of that outing for me was that, when you were asked to deliver a speech, you bluntly refused and asked that I be given the microphone. You never saw yourself as “the Boss”.

I thank you for the opportunities you gave me to represent you at so many fora. I sat in your place on the National Identity Card Committee, right from the first minute till we submitted our report to Mr. President. The result of the work we did is what gave birth to the National Identity Card Commission.

I will never forget a day at the International Airport, Lagos. We were to travel to India, and your husband said to me: “Yomi, am happy you are going. I have confidence in you. Take care of my wife and slow Florence down. She works too hard!” But how do I slow down a woman who climbed the stairs to the 14th floor of the WAEC office for us to seal a deal, two days to when she had a baby?

We were to have a meeting a few weeks ago on a new project, but you shifted the appointment and I became a bit busy too. When I saw your text message some weeks back, I became unusually lackadaisical about replying, little did I know it would be the last contact from you.

You lived a very short but impact full life, so much that am yet to come to terms with the reality of your demise.

You were a Fellow of the Nigeria Computer Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and also a Fellow of the Nigeria Society of Chemical Engineers. You had countless local and international awards. You were a developer of women and the youths in ICT. Nigeria appreciated you, you were an MFR.

You left your foot print and legacies, and they will be indelible.

May the Lord console your aged mother, your husband and children, your siblings and the entire family.


 

Soyinka was Group General Manager of Omatek Computers