Mr. Ikechukwu Nnamani, Chief Executive Officer of Medallion Communications has told Technology Times that the Nigerian technology company is deploying data centres across six geopolitical zones to boost local data hosting.
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]According to him, Medallion Communication like other key stakeholders in the technology space, is advocating the hosting of locally-relevant content as a key strategy to save scarce foreign exchange for Nigeria. Nnamani is concerned that majority of content accessed by Internet users in Nigeria are hosted abroad, and such content traverse often expensive and sometimes under-provisioned international links before it can be hosted.[/quote]Medallion Communication is pushing the nationwide spread of data centres across Nigeria because most competing providers of the critical infrastructure are concentrated mainly in Lagos, the nation’s economic capital, the company’s CEO says.
Nnamani told Technology Times in an exclusive interview that that preparations are now in top gear in spreading its data centres Nigeria as almost 90% of data centres and other facilities are domiciled in Lagos.
The spread of data centres across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones “is one of the effective ways to encourage local data hosting”, which experts believes will boost growth of the nation’s e-commerce sector.
“Within this year, we are looking at least six cities deployment and probably by next year, add additional 3 or 6. It’s something that we are already doing as we speak. It’s not long term; it’s immediate and midterm goals because the country really have to start seeing some of these benefits and the sooner we do them, the better,” Nnamani says.
He reckon that the Nigeria data center industry is emerging and that’s why his company is tapping stakes in the sector.
According to him, Medallion Communication like other key stakeholders in the technology space, is advocating the hosting of locally-relevant content as a key strategy to save scarce foreign exchange for Nigeria.
Nnamani is concerned that majority of content accessed by Internet users in Nigeria are hosted abroad, and such content traverse often expensive and sometimes under-provisioned international links before it can be hosted.
Highlighting some of the reasons why Nigerians prefer to host their data abroad, the Medallion Communication CEO told Technology Times that, ”one, the cost of the hosting companies is very minimal compared to here. We just have to be realistic. In addition to that, he (the foreign company) has already built a client based, so if he has got a million clients and he is charging them even one dollar a month, that’s one million dollars which is a lot of money. So, we need time to grow the customer base to that point where our unit cost can come down and become very affordable.”
According to Nnamani, ”in fact, I dare say that it will even be cheaper to host here than to host abroad in the next few years. If the right things are done.”
Also speaking on the issue issue of interconnect indebtedness in the local telecoms market, Nnamani says ”it is an issue threatening the success of the telecoms revolution.”
Section 96 of the Nigerian Communications Act (“NCA”) creates an obligation for companies within the industry to interconnect with each other in order to render their services efficiently, he says.
According to him, there is also provision in the Act for guidelines and procedure for granting of approval to disconnect telecommunication operators by NCC, a loophole which he says some operators are taking advantage of by deliberately refusing to discharge their financial obligations towards their interconnection partners.
But on the part of the Medallion Communication CEO, he sees the issue as a chicken and egg situation where they have accused the clearing houses of not having the capacity to clear debts, when in actual fact, the operators have refused to pass traffic through the clearing houses for some years now.
At the moment, over 90 percent of traffic exchanged by operators in the industry are routed among operators directly without the use of any clearing house. To the operators, passing traffic through clearing houses will be additional cost compared to direct routing of traffic, he says.
But for the Medallion Communication CEO, “operators should be made to pass traffic through interconnect exchange to ensure the fund used to put capacity is recovered.”
According to Nnamani, “the truth is, as long as the industry remains 90% peer-to-peer connection, those two issues are still going to be there. So, what we try to do working with the regulator is to migrate as much traffic away from the peer-to-peer interconnection to through the clearing houses and we are also developing a formal settlement scheme for the industry which hopefully should be fully unveiled within the coming months.”
For the Medallion Communication CEO, “we believe that if everybody participates in that, this issue of undisputed indebtedness will be a thing of the past.”
Commenting on what prompted him to start up Medallion Communication over a decade ago, Nnamani told Technology Times that ”I realized then as an urgent need for interconnection in the telecoms industry which arose with the emergence of multiple players in the industry.”
Interconnection among the top players then as he recollects was critically needed in a neutral and non-discriminating way because of how difficult it was with then incumbent player, NITEL.
“They delay you for close to six months if not more and you don’t know if that delay is purely based on technical challenges or they don’t want you to be connected purely from an anti-competition perspective. So, we identified seamless interconnection as a critical challenge that the industry was facing then and would face more as the time goes by, more operators come online.”
Nnamani says the company also saw the need for infrastructure-sharing which is the ability for multiple operators to share the same infrastructure and that speeds up the time to market for new and emerging operators.
He adds that, “it also makes it cheaper for everybody in the industry to offer efficient service. We have focused on these two core areas and over the last 12 years and we believe we have played our role in ensuring that the industry is more robust and operating more efficiently.”
Commenting on government policy and regulation that has shaped the ICT industry, he expressed satisfaction that the present government wants to continue with some of the policies already introduced and see them through.
According to him, the Broadband Initiative and the promoting local contents are two key area he wants the government to continue with.
He is also confident Nigeria will meet up with the 30% broadband target by 2018 as “it is still possible, especially if you are looking at wireless broadband. You find out that if the financial resource is there as well as the enabling regulatory environment in terms of spectrum and all, to roll out those networks can happen very fast so, in terms of ability to implement it, for sure, it’s achievable.”
Mr Nnamani, who was recently elected as an executive board member of the Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA), which manages the Nigerian .ng Internet name told Technology Times that he will bring in few initiatives to support what is on ground in the body.
“With my experience in terms of the policies, the advice and being that I’m an industry person, I have a lot of underground information that I can put on the table and because we directly interface with a lot of partners to NIRA,” he says.