NIGCOMSAT to Be Privatised

Seidu Mohammed


THE federal government is to sell the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, NIGCOMSAT, in order to inject the entrepreneurial spirit into the running of the company. Benjamin Dikki, director general, Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, said the need to privatise the NIGCOMSAT is borne out of the need to inject entrepreneurial spirit into the company and make it more commercially viable.

Dikki stated this when Seidu Mohammed, director general, National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA, paid him a courtesy visit. He explained that in privatising NIGCOMSAT, the security of the nation would not be compromised but that the Bureau would strategise and evaluate how much private sector participation would be required in the company to drive growth.

He stressed that the BPE would rely on informed guidance from key stakeholders to determine the model of privatisation to be recommended to the National Council on Privatisation, NCP, which would be used in privatizing NIGCOMSAT.  Dikki said in executing the transaction, a Joint Project Delivery Team, PDT, comprising of the BPE, the ministry of communication technology, the NASRDA and other key stakeholders would be empanelled for the purpose.

Earlier, Mohammed said the purpose of the visit was to intimate the BPE of the activities of his agency and to seek more clarification on the planned privatisation of the NIGCOMSAT. He explained that there was need for communication satellite for all Nigerians as it was vital for not only telecommunications but for earth characterisation to support the agricultural sector of the country. He lamented the poor funding of the science and technology sector of the country and called for more investment in the sector to boost the competitiveness of Nigeria.

SON Seals Up Citadel Oracle


CITADEL Oracle Concept Limited, a leading information technology firm, has raised alarm over the invasion of three of its business premises located in Ibadan, Oyo State, by officials of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON. Benjamin Joseph, managing director of the firm, said since the illegal closure of the branches, the company is losing sales to the tune of several millions of naira. He alleged that, since there was no inspection carried out on its products, and that the management of the company were now worried about the motive behind the closure.

According to Joseph, on February 12, about eight officials of SON escorted with heavily armed policemen and journalists invaded and sealed three branches of the company without reasons. “This illegal invasion violates the provision of Section 17 of SON Act which urged the director general of the agency to apply to the magistrate court for an order to seal any company. In a clear violation of this provision and abuse of public office, the compliance and enforcement team failed to provide the said order issued by a magistrate court,” he said.

Joseph stated that his firm was informed that the order to seal up their premises came from Lagos, adding that they were required to query their Lagos office for a response.  At this point, we categorically state that no inspection was carried out on our products by SON and we have not been indicted by any investigation carried out by SON or any other regulatory agency for that matter.  In reference to the dictates of the principles of the rule of law, we are of the opinion that SON cannot be accuser, prosecutor and the judge in the same case, he said.

“We are not superstitious people but we believe that this might be connected to a matter of fraud which is presently before the Lagos State High Court and investigated by the Special Fraud Unit before it was transferred to the Department of Criminal, Intelligence and Investigation, perpetrated against our company by a syndicate of powerful and highly placed Nigerians who had threatened to fight our business with the help of regulatory agencies,” he said.

First VMK store opens in Abidjan

Vérone Mankou

VMK, a company founded by Vérone Mankou, the Congolese entrepreneur behind the first tablet made in Africa, announced the opening of its first VMK store in Abidjan on February 19. Located in the Treichville commune at Zone 3 C, Immeuble Rive Gauche, this point of sale – which will exclusively sell products from the VMK range – marks the beginning of the Congolese company’s expansion beyond its borders. The Abidjan VMK store, which will ultimately employ around 10 people, will be an addition to VMK’s first-ever store in Brazzaville, which was opened in partnership with the South African operator, MTN.

VMK plans to expand its store locations to five countries in the region by the end of the year. A second store is scheduled to open in the Ivory Coast economic capital, before the opening of three other VMK stores in Kinshasa, Douala and Dakar before the end of 2015. “My underlying ambition is to bridge the digital gap in Africa. These VMK stores are being set up to make new technologies accessible to as many people as possible,” explains Vérone Mankou. “We will offer a top-of-the-range selection of products, aimed at the general public.”

The VMK range, which also includes two smartphone models available from FCFA 11,900 and FCFA 19,900 (EUR 18 and EUR 30 respectively) has recently been enhanced by the addition of a premium model, the Elikia L. This outstanding handset, offered at FCFA 64,900 (EUR 99), comes equipped with a larger screen than its predecessor. Not only that, but VMK is getting ready to launch its second tablet in March. It will be available for less than FCFA 140,000 (EUR 210). “The opening of a store in Abidjan is an essential step in the extension of our Pan-African vision. It is here, at the crossroads of West Africa, that VMK has decided to embark upon conquering the new class of African consumers,” adds Vérone Mankou.

Produced in China until now, VMK devices will shortly be assembled in the soon-to-be factory in the Republic of Congo. This production unit, which is in the process of being built in the Mpila neighbourhood of Brazzaville, has required an investment of nearly two million dollars and will be used exclusively for the VMK range of products. VMK’s Chinese partner company has started training the locals who will be employed at the factory – more than 90 people in total. VMK plans to produce 350,000 units per month.

— Mar. 2, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT