Science & Technology
NCC gets Sept 26 deadline on 9.2m improperly SIM cards
Minister of Communications, Dr. Ibrahim Pantami on Monday gave the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) September 26 to rectify all improperly registered subscriber identity module (SIM) cards in the country.
Pantami, who received the Management Team of the Commission in his office in Abuja, however, praised the Commission for its ability to reduce the number of improperly registered SIM cards from 9.2 million to 2.42 million within one week.
He told the team led by its board Chairman Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye that it had become necessary to ensure that not a single SIM card is being used in the country without proper registration considering its security implications and the challenges facing the country.
Pantami said: “Based on the report I received today from the NCC, within the period I issued a statement on improperly registered SIM and now, they were able to reduce the number significantly.
“Within this period, they were able to rectify at least over 6. 775 million lines with incomplete registration of SIM cards. So the total number of incomplete registration of SIM cards as it is today based on the report I received is 2.42 million. So the reduction within this period is about 73. 2 percent.
“This is a significant achievement from 9.2 million we are back to 2.4 million. Within this period, 6.775 million have been rectified and this highly commendable.”
Science & Technology
N270bn Debts crippling Discos
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) yesterday disclosed that the total indebtedness of the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) to it (TCN) now stands at about N270billion.
Also yesterday, the federal government disclosed its willingness to have a private gas supplier – Greenville Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), take gas to the 215 megawatts (MW) Kaduna power generation company (Genco) which had been delayed from producing electricity almost 10 years after it was initiated.
Speaking at a meeting with donor agencies in Abuja, Managing Director of the TCN, Mr. Usman Mohammed explained that the N270 billion unpaid debt was for the electricity transmission services it rendered to the Discos.
The TCN boss, who stated that the company was working hard to attain self-sustainability in its operations, stated that the debts if paid, would enable it to pay multilateral donor agencies that loaned it monies to execute transmission projects.
He, however, noted that the transmission company had reformed its project procurement and implementation processes and would be able to offset about $1.661 billion worth of loan it secured from multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) amongst others, to upgrade the national grid.
“The Discos owe us N270 billion cumulatively as uncollectible debts. We can finance our operation and so all the loans we have been taking, we are now signing agreements with the federal ministry of finance that we are going to pay the loans by ourselves,” said Mohammed.
“We also ask that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) should agree to reset the books of the Discos.
“They are owing to the TCN N270 billion but is it possible to collect that money until the books are reset so they can be clean. NERC (is) supposed to provide tariff that is cost-reflective”, he added.
Mohammed equally stated that with reforms and improved in-house engineering capacity in the TCN, the company recovered 775 stranded equipment containers out of 880 units that were left in Nigerian ports for years.
Science & Technology
DisCos ask FG to respect electricity contracts
The electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to respect the various agreements it entered into with the investors in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
Following the commencement of the Transition Electricity Market (TEM), the electricity market was expected to be governed by the sanctity of power purchase agreements that the private investors entered into with the government.
Part of the power agreements is the minor and major reviews of the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO), which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has frozen since 2015.
The Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), Barrister Sunday Odutan yesterday insisted that “the Federal Government of Nigeria must respect the sanctity of contracts”.
Science & Technology
Uber hopes to expand its bus system to Lagos
Uber is hoping to expand its imprint on public transportation in Africa’s largest city.
The ride-hailing firm is working on plans to help develop a bus system for Lagos, a gridlocked metropolis with over 20 million people. Company representatives have met with transport officials from the city, toured the terminals of the newly-launched smart city buses, and discussed plans for collaboration, Uber’s general manager for sub-Saharan Africa Alon Lits confirmed to Quartz Africa on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town.
In June, Uber’s chief business officer Brook Entwistle visited the city and met with the Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Any plans would require full approval and collaboration by the state government which is known for its proclivity for bureaucratic control.
The moves are indicative of Uber’s plan to become the “Amazon” for transportation and tap into riders’ preferred mobility options. It’s also part of a strategy to add into its array of locally-popular forms of motorized transport, given the roll-out of boda-boda motorcycles in cities like Kampala, three-wheeled tuk-tuks in Dar es Salaam, or quick-trip, low-cost options on fuel-efficient vehicles in Nairobi. The e-hailing firm has also been partnering with transit agencies in cities to expand transportation access, decrease car ownership, and reduce congestion.
The bus options offer a “huge opportunity,” Lits said, given millions of people across the continent use them to move on a daily basis. In Lagos, about 80% of total daily passenger trips as of 2015 were made by public transport dominated by buses.
One option Uber could consider for the city is to offer real-time transit information and cashless ticketing on the Lagos Bus Services, allowing riders to plan their journeys and buy tickets. Traffic is a major challenge in Lagos with inadequate traffic guidance, bad roads, and unruly drivers making it all the worse. The city also does not yet have a modern light railway system for regular commuters though it is building one.
“I think the bus will prove to be a game-changer for Lagos and is obviously very much needed,” Lits said. He also added city officials were “excited” by the prospects of partnership. “It is a longer-term engagement but it is something we are willing to do and I think grateful for the willingness on the other side.”
The ride-hailing giant has launched similar experiments in cities including Denver, where commuters can buy, book and pay for bus and train rides using an in-app ticketing service
Six years after launching in Africa, Uber has been constantly adapting its business models to the needs of local markets amid competition from rivals. For example, African cities, led by Nairobi and Lagos, played a key role in driving Uber’s global strategy around cash. Last December, the San Francisco-based company launched its first bus service globally in Cairo: another traffic-clogged city where local firm SWVL was already using technology to help customers reserve seats on clean, air-conditioned, and high-quality buses.
After raising about $80 million in the past two years, SWVL has now expanded to Kenya and Pakistan and is looking to move into Nigeria, South Africa, and Côte d’Ivoire, chief executive Mostafa Kandil recently told Quartz. In Kenya, Safaricom-backed Little also launched a bus service to bring order to the unruly public matatu buses.”