GLO Increases Their Internet Data Bundle Allowance

Plan Name Service Data Cap Validity period Code SMS to 127 Time of use
Always MAX N7,500 8GB 30 days *127*1# ’12’ All day
Always MIN N5,000 4GB 30 days *127*2# ’11’ All day
Always Day N500 195MB 24 hours *127*3# ’10’ All day
G 300 N15,000 12GB 300 hours/3months *127*4# ’21’ All day
G 100 N6,000 4GB 100 hours/1month *127*5# ’20’ All Day
G work N6,000 4GB 30 days *127*6# ’31’ 8am – 9 pm
G leisure N5000 4GB 30 days *127*7# ’30’ 8pm to 9am everyday + all day during weekend

Culled from Nairaland

How Earth, Mars Formed From Similar Building Blocks

A TEAM of scientists, including Carnegie’s Conel Alexander and Jianhua Wang, studied the hydrogen in water from the Martian interior and found that Mars formed from similar building blocks to that of Earth, but that there were differences in the later evolution of the two planets. This implies that terrestrial planets, including Earth, have similar water sources, chondritic meteorites.

However, unlike on Earth, Martian rocks that contain atmospheric volatiles such as water, do not get recycled into the planet’s deep interior.

Their work will be published in the December 1 issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Also, near surface water has shaped the landscape of Mars. Areas of the planet’s northern and southern hemispheres have alternately thawed and frozen in recent geologic history and comprise striking similarities to the landscape of Svalbard. This suggests that water has played a more extensive role than previously envisioned, and that environments capable of sustaining life could exist, according to new research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Mars is a changing planet, and in recent geological time repeated freeze and thaw cycles has played a greater role than expected in terms of shaping the landscape. In an attempt to be able to make more reliable interpretations of the landscapes on Mars, researchers have developed new models for analysing images from the planet.

The process of analysing satellite images from Mars has been combined with similar studies of an arctic environment in Svalbard. Despite the fact that Svalbard is considerably warmer than Mars, the arctic landscape shows a number of striking similarities to certain parts of Mars.

One important common feature is the presence of permafrost and frozen subsurface water.

Indeed much controversy surrounds the origin, abundance and history of water on Mars. The sculpted channels of the Martian southern hemisphere speak loudly of flowing water, but this terrain is ancient. Consequently, planetary scientists often describe early Mars as “warm and wet” and current Mars as “cold and dry.”

Debate in the scientific community focuses on how the interior and crust of Mars formed, and how they differ from those of Earth. To investigate the history of Martian water and other volatiles, scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Carnegie, and the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston studied water concentrations and hydrogen isotopic compositions trapped inside crystals within two Martian meteorites. The meteorites, called shergottites, were of the same primitive nature, but one was rich in elements such as hydrogen, whereas the other was depleted.

The meteorites used in the study contain trapped basaltic liquids, and are pristine samples that sampled various Martian volatile element environments. One meteorite appears to have changed little on its way from the Martian mantle up to the surface of Mars. It has a hydrogen isotopic composition similar to that of Earth.

Culled from GUARDIAN

Telecoms and Impact of Promos on Network Capacity

WITH an investment of over $25 billion in various segments of the telecoms sector in the country in the last 11 years, which has enabled the growth of just 400,000 lines in 2000 to over 107 million active mobile subscriptions as at September 2012, Nigeria, has in no doubt remained a reference point in Africa’s telecoms sector.

Beside, Nigeria is expected to lead the continent, which currently has over 750 million to a projected one billion mobile subscription marks by 2015.

According to statistics released by the London based Informa Telecoms and Media at the just concluded 15th edition of AfricaCom Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, Nigeria and indeed Africa have the world’s second biggest mobile market region by subscription count, behind Asia-Pacific but ahead of Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America and the Middle East.

According to Informa Telecoms and Media, Nigeria, which crossed the 100 million mobile subscriptions threshold in the second quarter of 2012, will continue to be Africa’s biggest mobile market and is projected to have 168.9 million subscriptions at the end of 2017, followed by Egypt with 129.4 million subscriptions.

Be that as it may, telecoms analysts, while appreciating the huge investments profile of various operators in the continent have consistently harped on the need for players to increase their investment profile and expand their network capacities, especially in a large market such as Nigeria, which grows at a geometric progression to be able to meet the increasing surge in mobile connections on the continent.

Indeed, the telecoms sector, especially in Nigeria is still beset with the issue of poor quality of service. The deteriorating telecoms service has made it pretty difficult to make smooth calls across networks or even within the same networks, as subscribers are faced with the challenges of dropped calls, call diversion, weak call signals to activate calls, poor voice clarity, delay in SMS delivery, among others.

Despite these observable challenges, the telecom subscriber base keeps growing everyday as more people joined the already congested networks.

From statistics, about two third of Nigerians now have telephone, which before now used to be an exclusive preserve of the rich in the pre liberalization era of the telecoms sector.

For the increasing poor services, several factors are being attributed for this, which include limited expansion capacity of the operators and chiefly regular promos by the operators, which put more pressure on their limited capacity.

Indeed, players in the Nigerian telecoms sector, including MTN Nigeria; Globacom; Airtel and Etisalat seem not to have envisaged the boom in the subscription rate in the country, with the networks now over congested and service quality plummeting lately and subsequently increasing subscribers’ agony across all the networks.

Painfully, none of the operators has ever mentioned or admitted the impact of recurrent promos as one of the major causes of the problem. It appears the stiff competition in the industry has done more damage than benefits to service quality.

The various freebies in the name of promos and lotteries seem to have negatively impacted the networks. This has subsequently drawn the ire of the regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The NCC had through its Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo issued a statement banning on telecoms promotions and lotteries, stressing that in recent times, it had been inundated with several complaints from consumers and industry stakeholders against the various promotions offered by telecommunications operators in the country, which seems to be congesting the networks.

NCC claimed that it had carefully evaluated the complaints received, especially against the backdrop of sustaining the integrity of the networks, the general interest of the consumers and the socio-economic impact of these promotions on operators and other relevant stakeholders.

Ojobo said the commission observed that on-net call was now being offered by operators at tariffs well below the prevailing inter-connect rates thereby introducing anti-competitive practices and behavior from one network to another and overall consumer experience on the networks has become very poor thereby making it extremely difficult for subscribers to make calls successfully.

Indeed, experts argued that promotions including MTN’s wonder promo, where it gave out an aircraft to the winner; Airtel’s 500 per cent bonus packages; Globacom’s Text for million promos, Etisalat’s promos recorded over 100 per cent participation and drastically congested the networks with services almost crumbling.

A telecoms expert, Tunji Ajao, who spoke to The Guardian on Monday, said indeed the ban was to bring sanity to the networks and save subscribers nightmares in connectivity.

Ajao believed that the networks are not robust enough to accommodate the volume of calls generated by the attractions of promos, stressing that operators should as a matter of urgency expand their networks to accommodate more surge that will be coming, especially during the festive periods.

According to him, the situation would have been better if it had been one or two of the operators engaging in the promo; at least, Nigerians subscribers, most of who use more than one network would have opted for the alternative, if one gets worse. “Unfortunately, in the spirit of competition, all the operators are in it, thus, leaving the entire networks in a mess of poor service”, he stated.

In his reaction to the ban, the National Association of telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) lauded government’s ban of the promotions.

NATCOMS President, Deolu Ogunbanjo believed that the move would free up the network and stop congestion of the networks.

Ogunbanjo said that stopping the promotions would compel telecoms operators to upgrade their services to meet up the present challenges.

“By this decision, telecom operators will want to expedite action to improve on their network, knowing that their promotions always attract more subscribers into their various networks. All these promotions here and there are affecting the quality of service. It is a good decision that the Federal Government has taken”, he stated.

However, the fact remains that poor quality of service issues go beyond promotions and lotteries. Government must also create an enabling environment; friendly tax system; protect telecoms infrastructure among others.

Supporting this argument was the president of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo.

Adebayo in an interview with journalists said the major cause of poor service quality across networks should be blamed on natural and man-made disasters, rather than on promos and lotteries.

According to him, the natural disasters were caused by flooding in some southern parts of the country, while the man-made disasters were caused by spontaneous attacks on telecoms facilities in some northern parts of the country last September.

Adebayo explained that the attacks on telecoms facilities last September and other incidences resulted in severe service disruptions in the areas primarily affected and by extension other parts of the country.

“The impact of the attacks had since limited the ability of millions of Nigerian subscribers to access telecommunications services, because the incidents affected over 250 telecoms sites that lost connection.

He added that the unprecedented flood in some parts of the country destroyed Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) along its path, leading to significant service disruption in the affected areas, with consequential impact on service availability in some other parts that were not affected by the flood.

“Other than disruption to services, our members have lost equipment worth several billions of naira to the flood disaster across the country, as over additional 300 BTS sites were affected by the flood,” Adebayo said.

He called on government to provide the necessary protection to telecoms facilities in the national interest of the country, adding that the infrastructure built and owned by the telecommunications industry is the springboard to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) revolution in Nigeria, which are essential for Nigeria’s socio-economic advancement.

Culled from THE GUARDIAN

Vodacom Business Nigeria Brings M2M Solutions to Financial Institutions

PROVIDER of telecommunications solution, Vodacom Business Nigeria, has launched its Machine-to-Machine (M2M) solutions suitable for the financial and the retail sector.

The new Vodacom M2M solutions are dual-SIM enabled, providing reliable, secure and a cost-effective solutions for ATM, Point of Sales (POS) connectivity and back-up applications.

The solution, which includes ATMLink, POSLink and 3G Back-Up, according to Vodacom, represents a milestone in scalable M2M technology in Nigeria.

The firm explained that these next-generation solutions utilise the GSM data network to connect retailer’s POS to the central servers or to the Nigerian Interbank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) network and the ATM to the bank’s central servers, adding that it enabled seamless network failover to a secondary GSM network in the event of failure on the primary network and vice versa, in which case, the user was oblivious to the network changeover.

The key concern among financial institutions and other retailers is data security, to which Vodacom has assured the market of the in-built security of its new M2M solutions.

Vodacom Business Nigeria Product Manager, Abu Etu said: “Our solutions are built on a secure network and all transactions are encrypted over the Vodacom MPLS network. We have put in place IPSEC tunneling, private APNs, SIM authentication and a host of security measures to provide much needed peace of mind.”

Ettu said: “Vodacom’s M2M solutions are able to offer connectivity in commercial districts and remote locations across all 36 states of Nigeria. Using our extensive countrywide network and leveraging the reach of the GSM data networks do this. At 99 per cent guaranteed availability, Vodacom’s M2M Solutions offer businesses the ability to improve service delivery and increase their competitive advantage.

“What’s more, M2M solutions are highly cost effective and offer real-time monitoring. They provide the customer with direct visibility of the usage and availability statistics of their devices.

Culled from GUARDIAN

Telecoms operators fault new Lagos rule on mast installations

TELECOMMUNICATIONS operators, under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has criticised Lagos State Government’s steep hikes in fees imposed on operators in the state.

The new Lagos rule is requesting telecoms operators to pay N3 million for new masts erected in the state as against N400, 000 paid for each with a yearly 15 per cent renewal fee. Existing masts erected by operators will now attract N1 million.

The state government also increased to N3 million per base station, the rent paid by telecoms operators for Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) erected in the state.

ALTON informed that the state’s Urban Furniture Regulatory Unit established by the Lagos Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to regulate the activities of telecoms operators, Internet service providers and banks, is making the new demand on masts and tower installations.

President of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, noted that the hiked fee had compounded the problem of the difficult operating environment for operators in the country, adding that it was further aggravated by the closure of sites by government agencies in many states across the federation while the recent flood disaster rendered many sites inaccessible.

According to him, ALTON members were uncomfortable acceding to such unlawful demands adding that such demands also contravened the provisions of the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) under the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

He recalled that last September, there were significant attacks and destruction of telecoms BTS and other infrastructure in some parts of Northern Nigeria.

“The impact of the attacks has been felt in other parts of the country, particularly in the North. The attacks have since limited the ability of millions of Nigerian subscribers to access telecommunications services.”

According to him, the incidents affected over 250 telecoms sites that lost connection and many suffered significant damage beyond repairs.

Adebayo also lamented the incessant closure of operators’ base stations by state government agencies on account of non-payment of business permits, ground rent and environmental rent.

“We hereby draw the attention of the Federal Government and the general public to the continuous, incessant and unlawful closure of telecommunication facility sites by some individuals, communities and indeed, state authorities, in spite of the disasters that we face,” he adds.

Culled from THE GUARDIAN

Dell Drops to Three-Year Low as Forecast Misses Estimates

Dell Inc. (DELL) tumbled to the lowest price in more than three years after forecasting a fourth straight quarter of declining sales, a sign that a slump in demand for personal computers will persist.

The stock dropped 7.3 percent to $8.86 in New York, for the lowest close since March 10, 2009. Fiscal fourth-quarter revenue will be $14 billion to $14.4 billion, the Round Rock, Texas- based company indicated in a statement yesterday. That’s less than the $14.5 billion average estimate of analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue was $16 billion a year earlier

Dell, the No. 3 PC maker, is struggling as companies wait to upgrade machines and consumers turn to smartphones and tablets like Apple Inc.’s iPad and iPhone. Even as Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell works to mitigate the decline by adding storage, networking gear, software and services through acquisitions, the company still gets half its sales from PCs, and it won’t quickly get relief from the release of a new version of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Windows operating system.

“They’ve been talking about changing the last five years,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., who has a neutral rating on the shares. “They’re in a very tough position, plain and simple.”

Dell has lost 39 percent this year, compared with a 7.5 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Information Technology Index.
PCs Languish

PC shipments tumbled 8.3 percent in the calendar third quarter from a year earlier, according to market researcher Gartner Inc., and are projected to decline this year for the first time since 2001, according to IHS iSuppli. Dell has spent more than $12.7 billion on 18 acquisitions since 2009, adding corporate data center products to lessen its reliance on PCs.

Today, the company said it bought software maker Gale Technologies for an undisclosed sum, adding tools to help companies expand in cloud-computing.

Sales in Dell’s fiscal third quarter, which ended Nov. 2, fell 11 percent to $13.7 billion, less than analysts’ average estimate of $13.9 billion. Fourth-quarter revenue will rise 2 percent to 5 percent from the prior period, the company said in the statement.

Third-quarter profit before some items fell to 39 cents a share, compared with analysts’ average 40-cent estimate. Net income dropped 47 percent to $475 million, or 27 cents a share, from $893 million, or 49 cents, a year earlier, the company said. Desktop and laptop PC revenue declined 19 percent to $6.65 billion.
Servers, Networking

Sales of Dell’s servers and networking gear fared better. Revenue in that product group rose 11 percent from a year ago to $2.32 billion, buoyed by strong demand for Dell’s PowerEdge servers, new machines that have the ability to attach to faster network connections, Chief Financial Officer Brian Gladden said on a conference call with analysts.

Sales of servers designed for large cloud-computing applications rose 126 percent from a year earlier, CEO Dell said on the call.

In the PC market, Dell’s touch-screen tablet computers running Windows 8 — Microsoft’s new version of its flagship PC operating system tailored for tablets and touch-screen PCs — have been another bright spot, Gladden said in an interview.

“There are some parts of the business that are actually doing well,” he said.
Windows 8

Still, Windows 8 hasn’t yet provided a boost for PC makers since its introduction last month, in part because corporate customers aren’t rushing to upgrade. Gladden said Windows 8 won’t affect Dell’s results in the next two quarters.

“The client business continues to be challenging,” he said. “Commercial customers tend to be lagging adopters of a new operating system. They’re going to wait.”

In addition, Microsoft released its first computer — a tablet called Surface that can function like a laptop — putting the software company in competition with PC makers such as Dell.

“The threat right now is minimal, but that’s only because the unit number is small,” said Richard Shim, an analyst at market researcher NPD DisplaySearch. “But when you look at the potential for it to disrupt partners, it’s pretty big.”

On top of the stagnating PC market, superstorm Sandy may have pared $500 million to $700 million from Dell’s third- quarter revenue, according to a Nov. 8 research note from Abhey Lamba, an analyst at Mizuho Securities USA who has a neutral rating on Dell shares. The storm struck the East Coast in late October, closed U.S. stock markets for two days, and may have caused as much as $20 billion in economic damage and losses.

Brian White, an analyst at Topeka Capital Markets in New York, wrote yesterday in a note to clients that Dell’s operating profit, which declined 31 percent in the third quarter, may have “bottomed,” auguring well for its stock price.

“The stock has limited downside from current levels as we expect value investors will be attracted,” wrote White, who recommends buying the shares.

Culled from Bloomberg

Intel CEO Retiring After Sluggish Shift to Post-PC Era

Intel Corp. (INTC) Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini will retire in May, in a surprise move three years before mandatory retirement, after failing to equip the world’s largest semiconductor maker for a shift toward mobile devices and away from the personal computers it long dominated.

The board will consider internal and external candidates to replace him, Intel said today in a statement. The company has never chosen an outside CEO. It’s leaning toward executives from within, according to people familiar with the planning who asked not to be named because the search is private.

Under Otellini, 62, Intel has stumbled in the transition to mobile computing, managing to garner less than 1 percent of the market for chips for smartphones and tablets. Though the company extended its lead over Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) in PC chips, the industry is shrinking as people do more computing on iPads and Android phones. The PC market this year will post its first annual decline in more than a decade.

“He’s been challenged by a tough PC market,” Richard Schafer, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., said in an interview. “You’ve got a company that’s heavily dependent on PCs, which is a vertical that’s in structural decline. Intel has yet to really establish a beachhead in mobile computing.”

When Otellini began his tenure as CEO in 2005, desktop and laptop machines powered by Intel’s chips set the standard for personal computing. More recently, smartphones and tablets have eclipsed the number of PCs being sold, crimping Intel’s revenue.

Under Intel bylaws, Otellini could have continued to serve as CEO until May 2016, when he would have reached the company’s mandatory retirement age.

Past Successions

Intel’s shares rose less than 1 percent to $20.25 at the close in New York, leaving the stock down 16 percent this year.

“The board accepted Paul’s decision with regret,” Paul Bergevin, vice president of communications at the Santa Clara, California-based company, said in an interview.

The company today promoted three senior leaders to the position of executive vice president: Stacy Smith, chief financial officer and director of corporate strategy; Brian Krzanich, chief operating officer; and Renee James, head of Intel’s software business.

In past successions, Intel has elevated the current COO to the top job. Both Otellini and his predecessor, Craig Barrett, stepped up from that position. Otellini, having served as technical assistant to former CEO Andy Grove, is also the product of Intel’s internal development program to groom future leaders.

COO Promotion

“We have excellent internal candidates but will also look outside,” Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.

“After almost four decades with the company and eight years as CEO, it’s time to move on and transfer Intel’s helm to a new generation of leadership,” Otellini said in the statement.

Krzanich, 52, was promoted to the COO role in January. He was head of the company’s manufacturing operations and now also leads human resources. He joined the company in 1982 after graduating from San Jose State University with a degree in chemistry. Smith, 50, has held positions in sales and marketing and finance and became assistant CFO in 2006. James, 48, would be Intel’s first female chief executive if she were chosen.

Intel should consider external candidates, including someone with experience changing course at a large company, said Doug Freedman, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

“If the board really wants a change, they’ve got to go and get a turnaround guy,” Freedman said. “That’s difficult for a company the size of Intel. You’d need someone from a big company.”

CEO Candidates

Freedman said that the board might look at Sanjay Jha, the former CEO of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., or executives from Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) Jha also served as operating chief at San Diego-based Qualcomm. Of the internal candidates, he said “Stacy is the most focused of the three, but do you want a finance guy running a technology company?”

Otellini helped Intel rebound from a 42 percent drop in profit in 2006 as the company lost share in the server market to Advanced Micro Devices. He presided over record profit and sales for two years starting in 2010. Last month, slow factory output and rising stockpiles of unsold chips led the company to forecast fourth-quarter profit margins that fell short of analysts’s estimates.
Market Shift

The total PC market will contract by 1.2 percent to 348.7 million units this year, according to IHS iSuppli. That’s the first annual decline since 2001, the market researcher said.

Intel’s biggest customers are PC makers Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ) and Dell Inc. (DELL), according to a Bloomberg supply-chain analysis.

Qualcomm, the world’s largest maker of chips for phones, surpassed Intel in market value for the first time earlier this month and is predicting double-digit earnings growth for the next five years.

Some 711.4 million smartphones will be sold this year, a gain of 44 percent, Canaccord Genuity Inc. analysts projected in a report. The market will grow 35.4 percent next year, the analysts estimated.

Like his predecessors, Otellini failed to parlay Intel’s position in computers, where it has more than 80 percent of the market for processors, to a stake in the more rapidly growing market for phones.

This year the company announced its first customers in phones, including Google Inc.’s Motorola unit. As yet, the company has less than 1 percent of that market, according to research firm Forward Concepts Co.

“Paul Otellini has been a very strong leader, only the fifth CEO in the company’s great 45-year history, and one who has managed the company through challenging times and market transitions,”Andy Bryant, Intel’s chairman, said in the statement.

Culled from Bloomberg

Boosting Nigeria’s Economy Through Coordinated Housing Development Scheme

As the federal government stepped up efforts at realising its tranformation agenda, analysts are of the opinion that a well-coordinated housing scheme can help to drive the programme through. 

At a time investors are becoming increasingly global in terms of seeking the most profitable returns on their investments and risk returns, the need to use the housing sector to revamp the economy and guarantee the productivity of the citizenry should be one of the strategic national economic development imperatives.

Housing as an investors’ haven even in times of steep economic downturn should be strategically positioned to get the attention of corporations who are desirous for maximizing shareholders’ value, while producing world-class  returns on its investment with both local and offshore components in their operations.

Over the years, the sector has remained the bedrock of the economy of developed nations. In more advanced economies like Britain , United States of America, Canada, it contributes between 30 to 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product(GDP).

Informed sources say Phdholders are presently scrambling for truck drivers’ jobs in Blue-chip organizations like Dangote Group of Companies because the enormous potentials inherent in the housing sector have been neglected.

This is because the sector has the potential to generate employment opportunity, increase productivity, raise standards of living and alleviate poverty thereby reducing the increasing level of crime rates, insurrection, militancy, terrorism among other sundry social maladies rocking the country.

This is because construction of housing units requires the services of architects, engineers, draughtsmen, bricklayers, tillers, plumbers, iron benders, painters, carpenters , block moulders and other vendors.

More so, empirical evidence has shown that the construction of a one-bedroom bungalow requires the services of 50 persons, and for a two- bedroom bungalow 76 different professionals.

To this end, observers conclude that 1000 housing units of two – bedroom bungalow would create 76,000 jobs. If this is replicated annually in each of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, a total of 2,812,000 jobs would be created on annual basis.

It is based on these postulations that analysts believe that the housing sector has as much, or even  greater potential than the oil sector in promoting the rapid growth and development of the economy.

Obviously aware of the pivotal role housing development play in the development of a nation’s economy, the Minister of Housing, Ms. Amal Pepple said under the transformation agenda and Vision 20: 2020, the provision of accessible and affordable housing have been carefully tailored by the government to ensure the well-being of the citizenry and ultimatelyrevamp the economy.

The minister, whose policy impact is gradually manifesting said emphasis was currently on the development of enabling sector policies to achieve the desired objectives.

According to her, the goal of the National Urban Development Policy, NUPD, is to promote a dynamic system of urban settlements, which foster sustainable economic growth, promote efficient urban and regional planning and development as well as ensures improved standard of living and well being of Nigerians.

To realize these fully in the sector, she explained that the ministry was partnering with Messrs Cyrus Project Nigeria Limited, consortium of Nigerians in the Diaspora to build unity villages in the country, adding that they are expected to build 10,000 of such in each of the six  geo-political zones.

According to her,” Under this agreement, the ministry is funding the pilot scheme for the provision of infrastructure in Lafia, Nassarawa State. In this Phase, 1000 units of socials housing schemes are to be provided in 2012”.

She stated further that, “ Moreover, extensive discussions have been held with various development partners for the delivery of 20,000 housing units before the end of 2013, using donor funds  that is between US$200-950 Million”.

Addressing the key business principles covered in the new rapprochement by the Federal Housing Ministry, Chief Kola Akomolede harped on what he called, “Three monsters that Housing Minister must confront” to achieve the objective of repositioning the sector.

Akomolede a renowned Estate Surveyor and Valuer said though the minister has passion to propel the ministry towards the provision of social housing for Nigerians, the feat will not be easily achieved if the government would not go into direct construction of houses but rather create enabling environment and work with the private sectors to produce affordable housing.

According to him, the stand of the minister that the government would not be involved in direct construction of houses for low income earners was not progressive. According to him,  it was the same policy of the FG in the past 12 years that had not yielded any result as far as affordable housing WAS concerned.

The failure of the policy, he said,  was obvious on the basis of the fact that the private sector was only interested in making profit while housing for the low income earner is not a profitable venture.

“The private sector will, therefore, not be interested in such ventures. Or can somebody tell me how many of the private developers of estates in Lagos and Abuja are meant for the low and middle income earners? The government cannot afford to leave affordable housing entirely in the hands of the private sector. Whoever is advising the government to do so is laying the foundation for a housing crisis”, he said.

He argued that for the minister to win the battle against high cost of land, she must propose a bill to remove the Land Use Act from the constitution to make it amenable to necessary adjustments as and when due.

“The issue of governor’s consent which had been an albatross against the transfer and perfection of title to lands should be immediately addressed among others. Easy access to land is the first step on the way to affordable housing for the masses,” he added.

Akomolede pointed out that there was a need for the minister to wage war against high cost of building materials if she must provide affordable houses to teeming low-income Nigerians in need of accommodation.

The erudite scholar posited that,  “I have discussed this in one of my earlier articles on the subject. The government can do the followings: Give grants or very low interest loan to cement manufacturers to expand their production capacities; remove import duties on cement manufacturing equipment, and remove excise duties on cement manufactured in the country”.

Speaking further, he said, “As an interim measure, allow the importation of cement for the next 12 months at no import duty. This should stop as soon as the local manufacturers have completed their expansion projects. This country can produce enough cement for our consumption and even export to other West African countries. We have the limestone in abundance. All the above should be applicable to all other building materials and not cement alone.”

On the high cost of finance, Akomolede urged the minister to propose to the government a way to make finance available at affordable interest rates as obtained in developed countries to both property developers and individuals who want mortgage to buy a house.

According to him,  “Interest rates on mortgage is between 3 per cent and 5 per cent in most civilized countries but here in Nigeria, it is between 18 and 24 per cent. By the time property developers add this to their cost of building the houses, the houses cannot be affordable at all. For people who want to buy these houses, it is difficult to meet the monthly or yearly repayment even on a long time basis.

For example, the monthly interest alone for a loan of N5 million is N75,000.00 This does not include capital repayment yet.   How many people can afford this in a country where the minimum wage is N18,000 per month? And you can hardly get a house that will cost less than N5m”, he queried.

He urged Pepple to set in motion the necessary machinery to re-examine the National Housing Fund (NHF).

“The NHF is a veritable vehicle for the collection of money for mortgage but government lacked the political will to implement it to the letters. Experts must be assembled to re-examine the law and remove areas of conflict in it and recommend how it can be implemented for the benefit of all.

He opined that if the government is asking workers to contribute 2½ per cent of their monthly incomes to the fund, the government at all levels must be prepared to show good example by contributing 2½ per cent of its revenue to the fund.

“ It can then compel all companies to contribute 2½ per cent of their annual profits before tax to the fund. In this way, the fund will grow from year to year and will provide sufficient fund for the mortgage institutions for on-lending to both property developers and individuals who want mortgage to build or buy a house. Over 90 per cent of human activities take place under a roof. After food and clothing, shelter is next in the human scale of needs! Why then does our government treat housing as a non-important sector? This must change.” Akomolede said.

The Lagos-based estate surveyor enjoined the minister to let the Federal Government accept housing as its social responsibility to the middle and low income earners and as well make budgetary allocations to the sector the way it does for education, health, agriculture, works, aviation and sports among others.

“After all, housing is as important as all these sectors where the government budgets huge allocations every year with nothing to the housing sector. Over 90 per cent of human activities take place under a roof. After food and clothing, shelter is next in the human scale of needs! Why then does our government treat housing as a non-important sector”, he queried?

According to the president of the Nigeria Institute of Building (NIOB), Chucks Omeife, one area that remained untapped in the quest for the nation’s economic development in the sector is the area of building materials needed to make a home.

He charged the government to put in place workable policy which will endorse usage of particular alternative building materials.

“I know that Nigerians are men and women of high quality and taste and this has been a bane too. Until the government takes pragmatic action on mass housing as regards alternative building materials, the issue of mass and affordable housing will be difficult to come by”.

This is because, according to him, “Some of the materials are available and economically viable, yet because of lack of government’s backing, such materials are not patronised. Almost all Nigerians still go for conventional structure”.

Economy records low growth, inflation rises by 11.7%

Iweala-and-SanusiThe National Bureau of Statistics on Monday said the country’s Gross Domestic Product recorded a slower growth of 6.48 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, as against the 7.37 per cent recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2011.

It also said the composite Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, rose to 11.7 per cent in October compared to11.3 per cent in September.

On a year-on-year basis, the relative moderation in the headline index in September was offset by the rising cost of food items during the period.

These were contained in the NBS GDP and CPI reports, which were both released by the Statistician-General of the Federation, Mr. Yemi Kale, in Abuja on Monday.

The GDP report put the nominal GDP for the third quarter of 2012 at N10.967tn, as against N9.856tn recorded during the corresponding quarter of 2011.

It said the economy, comprising the oil and non-oil sectors, witnessed slower growth output in the third quarter of 2012 as a result of declines in non-oil sector output.

For instance, the report said while the oil sector witnessed positive growth for the first time in four quarters, the slower non-oil sector growth was driven by growth in activities recorded in the building and construction, cement, hotel and restaurant, and electricity sectors.

For the oil sector, it said, “The average daily crude oil production stood at 2.52 million barrels per day in the third quarter of 2012, as against 2.38 mbpd in the corresponding quarter of 2011.

“These figures, with their associated gas components, resulted in a growth rate, in real terms, of 0.08 per cent in oil GDP in the third quarter of 2012 compared with the -0.26 per cent for the corresponding period in 2011.”

During the period, the report said activities of vandals and oil theives decreased as a result of intensified surveillance instituted by government in the oil producing areas, adding that re-entry into previously abandoned fields by some oil majors and renewed production was responsible for the slight improvement in oil GDP during the period under review.

It said the sector also benefited from the relative stability in international crude oil market price and the exchange rate of naira to the dollar during the third quarter of 2012.

The NBS report, however, said while the oil sector’s contribution to real GDP in the third quarter of 2011 was 14.28 per cent, this declined to 13.42 per cent in the third quarter of 2012.

For the non-oil sector, which is the main driver of the economy, the NBS said it grew by 7.55 per cent in real terms in the third quarter of 2012, compared with 8.76 per cent in the corresponding period of 2011.

It attributed the drop in non-oil GDP to declines in output in the agriculture, telecommunications, wholesale and retail trade, and real estate sectors.

On agriculture, the report said, “In terms of output, the real agricultural GDP growth in the third quarter of 2012 stood at 3.89 per cent as against 5.76 per cent in the corresponding period of 2011.

“In addition to the prevailing security challenges facing most agricultural producing states in northern Nigeria, growth in the sector was also partially affected by floods, which reached a peak between late October and early November 2012, affecting several states across the country to varying degrees.

“However, due to the fact that the peak of the flooding was towards the end of the third quarter, the impact on agricultural production was less observed during the quarter. It is conceivable that the full impact of the floods will be more visible in Q4 2012 and Q1 2013.

“Nevertheless, NBS’ preliminary analysis suggests that the impact of flooding on agricultural GDP may not be as severe as feared.”

Other contributors to GDP are banking and insurance, which grew by 4.04 per cent; wholesale and retail, 9.62 per cent; telecommunications, 31.57 per cent; real estate, 10.24 per cent; manufacturing, 7.78 per cent; and business and other services, 9.11 per cent.

Explaining the reasons for the increase in inflation, the bureau said, “The rise in the Food Index was mainly due to higher food prices in various classes led by meat, fish, potatoes, yam and other tubers, fruits, bread and cereals, as well as other foods.

“While the impact of security concerns on agricultural production has eased significantly, the higher food prices continue to reflect the impact of recent floods on the production of farm produce, resulting in difficulty of moving food products to markets across the country, coupled with higher demand for food items due to the just concluded Muslim festival.”

Culled from Punch

Boosting Nigeria’s Economy Through Coordinated Housing Development Scheme

As the federal government stepped up efforts at realising its tranformation agenda, analysts are of the opinion that a well-coordinated housing scheme can help to drive the programme through. Writes george okojie. At a time investors are becoming increasingly global in terms of seeking the most profitable returns on their investments and risk returns, the need to use the housing sector to revamp the economy and guarantee the productivity of the citizenry should be one of the strategic national economic development imperatives.

Housing as an investors’ haven even in times of steep economic downturn should be strategically positioned to get the attention of corporations who are desirous for maximizing shareholders’ value, while producing world-class returns on its investment with both local and offshore components in their operations. Over the years, the sector has remained the bedrock of the economy of developed nations. In more advanced economies like Britain , United States of America, Canada, it contributes between 30 to 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product(GDP).

Informed sources say Phdholders are presently scrambling for truck drivers’ jobs in Blue-chip organizations like Dangote Group of Companies because the enormous potentials inherent in the housing sector have been neglected. This is because the sector has the potential to generate employment opportunity, increase productivity, raise standards of living and alleviate poverty thereby reducing the increasing level of crime rates, insurrection, militancy, terrorism among other sundry social maladies rocking the country.

This is because construction of housing units requires the services of architects, engineers, draughtsmen, bricklayers, tillers, plumbers, iron benders, painters, carpenters , block moulders and other vendors. More so, empirical evidence has shown that the construction of a one-bedroom bungalow requires the services of 50 persons, and for a two- bedroom bungalow 76 different professionals.

To this end, observers conclude that 1000 housing units of two – bedroom bungalow would create 76,000 jobs. If this is replicated annually in each of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, a total of 2,812,000 jobs would be created on annual basis.

CULLED FROM

FG Moves to Improve FDI, Diversify Economy

Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga
Eromosele Abiodun

In a bid to ensure that Nigeria becomes one of the growth drivers of world economy by 2020, the Federal Government has embarked on steps to diversify the country’s economy and ensure that ongoing reforms are sustained, Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, has said.

Speaking at the ongoing investors’ conference organised by FBN Capital Limited, Aganga said Nigeria would continue its quest to become the leading investment destination in Africa through strategic policies and diversification of the economy.
According to him, this would enable the nation consolidate its position as Africa’s leading investment destination with a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of $8.9 billion which represents 16 per cent of Africa’s total FDI of $55 billion in 2011.
Aganga, who was represented by Director-General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr. Joseph Odumodu, said the government was committed to consolidating on the gains so far recorded by strengthening the one-stop investment centre of the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC). “Our target is to achieve a 48-hour response for all investment linked enquiries,” he said.

Attributing the FDI growth to the growing investor confidence, Aganga noted that the creation of the Trade and Investment ministry by President Goodluck Jonathan had impacted on the country’s economic growth through its strategic trade and investment policies and programmes.

Commending FBN Capital for organising the conference, the minister said the nation has the potential to sustain its drive towards emerging as one of the world’s leading economies given the continuous cooperation of all stakeholders.
He said the government would step up activities geared towards promoting investment opportunities in Power, Food, Education, and Transportation sectors, adding that the administration would also move to stimulate investment in other sectors of the economy through diversification and stimulation of investment in the oil and gas downstream sector.
Flagging off the two-day conference, Managing Director of FBN Capital, Mr. Kayode Akinkugbe, said this initiative was a necessary follow-up to the maiden edition last year.

The maiden edition of the investor conference focused on Nigeria’s aspiration journey to becoming a recongnised emerging market.
“We aim to move the conversation on to considering the enabling factors and practical actionable initiatives that can be taken to boost Nigerian growth. Some of these micro economic areas are: capital market, agriculture/agro-allied, real estate, power and oil & gas,” he said.

In his remarks, the Managing Director/CEO, FBN Holdings Plc, Mallam Bello Maccido said the conference could not have come at a better time in light of the Federal government’s transformation and reformation programmes.
Stating that FBN Holdings had always taken the leadership position in championing the cause of promoting national economic growth and development, Maccido said the forum would afford both investors, key operators and stakeholders in different sectors a strategic platform to interact, network and proffer sustainable solutions to the cause of moving the nation ahead.
Culled From :THIS DAY