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Airtel speaks on its readiness for 5G technology in Nigeria

5G technologies will be about 100 times faster than the current 4G networks.

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Raghunath Mandava, MD and CEO of Airtel Africa, Airtel Africa receives NCC approval to acquire 10 MHz spectrum for $94 million

Airtel Africa Plc said it is almost fully ready for the implementation of the 5G network. Chief Executive Officer, Raghunath Mandava, disclosed this during the telecoms company’s recently-held Q1 2020 earnings call. The transcript of the earnings call was seen by Nairametrics.

Mandava responding to a specific question about Airtel’s perspective regarding the 5G network and how far they’ve come towards developing their 5G network.

“5G availability is valued across the world and I have said before this is an area where we are very keen. Some of our networks are actually very well set up for 5G or surely 4.5G,” Mandava stated.

READ MORE: Telecoms record 725% increase in foreign capital investment in 2019

Is Nigeria ready for 5G network?

Mandava noted that there are still a lot of things that need to be done in mapping out the framework for 5G network in Nigeria. This is because the country is not fully ready to adopt 5G technology, he stated. He then went ahead to fully explain his point of view, saying:

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“We are planning ahead but the key question is, what instances do we run 5G on and what are the use cases? We still have not seen enough of these use cases or of conversion. 5G normally requires a huge broadband spectrum. Currently, the way we are operating with this, let’s say we consider two uses. One, is for autonomous cars that everyone talks about. So, for this, the latency is very low. That latency is the amount of time you can take a decision between getting a signal and coming back. That has to be low for autonomous cars and many such devices. Then, you need very high speeds both for broadband and others.”

Meanwhile, despite this, the CEO said that Airtel is still very much keen on 5G network and is working towards implementing it. He, however, did not give any specific date as to when the network would be ready. According to him, “we will be actively looking at 5G but from a distance for the time being now.”

READ ALSO: FG vows to name & shame tax defaulters

NCC & 5G

Following successful demos in six locations across the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced last month that it had started working on a policy for the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.

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According to the telecoms regulator, the move is in line with a directive by the Ministry of Communications and the Digital Economy, to promote the development of Nigeria’s communications industry.

The NCC also noted that 5G technology is important because it is typically about 100 times faster than the current 4G network. As such, it has the capacity to accelerate the growth of the digital economy in the country.

5G rumours

Earlier in the year, controversies surrounding 5G technology had evoked strong emotions amongst Nigerians and others elsewhere, following unsubstantiated claims that it was linked to the outbreak of Coronavirus. The rumour, which was also peddled by some notable individuals such as Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, resulted in a serious online uproar and backlash against the government for allegedly licensing the likes of MTN Nigeria to operate 5G network in the country.

The NCC had to issue several statements, clarifying that 5G network does not cause Coronavirus and that it was yet to issue a 5G network license to any telco.

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According to the NCC, the approved 5G trial test conducted by MTN lasted a period of three months, and the trial had been concluded, with installation decommissioned.

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“The trial among others was to study and observe any health or security challenges the 5G network might present. Relevant stakeholders including members of the security agencies were invited to participate during the trial,” the statement read.

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Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career.As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Coronavirus

Only 68.8% of Nigerians believe Covid-19 is real – SBM Intel

The survey revealed that 68.8% of Nigerians believe Corona is real, 14.4% are not sure while 16.7% don’t believe it’s real.

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As the country and indeed, the rest of the world continues to be ravaged by the pandemic, only 68.8% of Nigerians believe Covid-19 is real. While 39.9% of Nigerians say they will take the vaccine, 63.3% are opposed to another lockdown.

These and more details were disclosed by SBM Intel, a geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm in its recent Covid-19 report titled, ” Covid in Nigeria: The Second Wave”.

“The age demographics of the correspondents for the survey were chosen across a broad age category., “The majority of the respondents were between 28-40 years (36.7%) followed by those between 18-27 years (24.0%), then 41-55 years (22.2%) which represents the active (working) population. 9.5% of the respondents were older than 55 years, and a smaller percentage, 7.7% were younger than 18 years,” the report revealed.

If Corona is real…

  • The survey revealed that 68.8% of Nigerians believe Corona is real, 14.4% are not sure while 16.7% don’t believe it’s real.
  • Ekiti, Enugu, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Sokoto states had less than 50% of their respondents stating that the virus is real. These states have relatively low official death rates, Ekiti (7), Enugu (21), Kogi (2), Nasarawa (13) and Sokoto (20) compared to states with high death rates as Lagos (250), the FCT (106) and Edo (117).

An interviewee said: “The virus is real, but does not believe that it is present in Nigeria because people are not dying and they are not observing most of the precautions.”

  • The report disclosed that most people of all age categories don’t deny the existence of a virus, however, people who are older than 55 years have the highest percentage of respondents who are unsure of the existence of coronavirus, citing reduced social interactions and smaller circles which keeps them away from contact with infected persons.

If people are taking the right steps to prevent the virus

Despite the fact that over 68% of the respondents believe that the virus is real, 59.5% of the respondents representing a majority of the respondents do not think that people are taking the right measures to prevent COVID-19.

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  • “More interestingly, in some public institutions like banks and eateries where private security personnel enforces compliance with mask-wearing and hand sanitizing, people tend to comply just because such enforcement serves as an entry ticket. Researchers observed that once many people got into such premises, they took off their masks and started to flout other precautionary measures.

Covid-19 vaccinations 

  • “Only 39.9% of the respondents said they will take the vaccine. An almost equal proportion of respondents (35.9 %) said they will not take the vaccine which the government announced is to arrive in the country at the end of January, and 24.1% are unsure of their position at the moment.
  • Reasons for not wanting to receive the vaccine include mistrust with the government and religious beliefs.
  • “Some respondents held that it is a religious war to contaminate the children of God with evil substances. Some believe that the vaccines are a tool to depopulate Nigeria, while others expressed concern about the effectiveness ratio and the side-effects that the vaccine might have,” SBM said.

In case of another lockdown

  • 63.3% of Nigerians are opposed to another lockdown. The report cited the number is much lower than the past report which revealed 90.24% were opposed to the idea of another lockdown.
  • 15.1% are on the fence on this issue and only 21.6% of the respondents would support another lockdown.
  • Opposition to lockdowns was linked to economic and security impacts witnessed during the previous lockdown as the economy contracted to lead to unemployment and increased hardship for Nigerians.

What you should know 

  • Nairametrics reported that the Federal Government said that Nigeria is not contemplating another lockdown and urged Nigerians to ignore social media posts rumouring of the possibility of another lockdown.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari already disclosed in October 2020 that the Nigerian economy is too fragile to go into another lockdown.
  • Professor Julius Ihonvbere, Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education & Services, said the Federal and States governments should not impose a lockdown, but rather focus on serious control measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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Coronavirus

Covid-19: Oxygen demand in Lagos State has risen 5 times – Sanwo-Olu

Governor Sanwo-Olu has lamented the rising second wave of the pandemic in Lagos as the demand for oxygen increases by 5 times.

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The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has warned that the rising second wave of the pandemic in Lagos has seen the demand for oxygen rise 5 times from 70 six-litre cylinders per day to 350 six-litre cylinders at Yaba Mainland Hospital alone.

The Governor also urged that all malaria-like symptoms should henceforth be considered as COVID-19 virus infection unless and until proven not to be so.

This was disclosed in a statement released by the Lagos State Government on Tuesday.

“Over the last few weeks, the demands for oxygen has risen from 70 six-litre cylinders per day to 350 six-litre cylinders in our Yaba Mainland Hospital. This is projected to more than double to 750 six-cylinders, before the end of January 2021,” the Governor said.

He added that the State Government has decentralized provision of oxygen and other services needed for Covid-19 patients, citing provision of oxygen kiosks.

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“ln addition to providing oxygen at our isolation centres, the Lagos State Government has decentralized the availability of oxygen across the State through the provision of 10 oxygen and sampling kiosks. Oxygen therapy and other related services will be provided to patients that require them.

“Five of these 10 oxygen centers have been commissioned while the remaining five will be ready for use within the next four weeks. It is our expectation that these sampling kiosks would be easily accessible to residents that require oxygen therapy at the level of LGAs as stabilization points prior to onward transmission to our Isolation centres, if required.

“This strategy is to further increase the fighting chance of Lagos residents that have contracted the virus and require immediate oxygen therapy,” he stated.

The Governor said that Lagos is closely monitoring plans by the FG to acquire vaccines and said the State has also resumed discussion with potential manufacturers. He also said the State is building its own regulatory framework for vaccine distribution.

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“We are closely monitoring ongoing action by the Federal Government to procure COVID-19 vaccines for use in Nigeria. We have also opened discussions with vaccine manufacturers so that when the vaccine comes eventually we can ensure that Lagosians are catered for.

“In the meantime, we are developing a strategy that will articulate the criteria, guidelines and regulatory framework for providing and monitoring vaccinations in Lagos.

“The Lagos State Government is actively partnering with the private sector in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the areas of testing, oxygen deployment, as well as the clinical management of moderate to severe cases. These partnerships have helped enhance the State’s response to the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic,” Sanwo-Olu added.

What you should know 

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  • The Lagos State Government earlier disclosed that its bed occupancy levels at its public and private COVID-19 care centres increased to 51 per cent.
  • The Federal Government also alerted Nigerians that hospitals across the country are running out of facilities to handle more serious cases of coronavirus infections as the virus is spreading fast with mild symptoms in some victims and severe illnesses and death in others.
  • Nairametrics recently reported that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance, announced the sum of N10 billion for the production of vaccines in Nigeria, to fight the coronavirus.

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Naira strengthens at NAFEX window despite 61% drop in dollar supply

The exchange rate between the naira and the dollar appreciated marginally closing at N393.35/$1.

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Naira falls across forex markets as businesses resume after public holidays

On January 19, 2021, the exchange rate between the naira and the dollar appreciated marginally closing at N393.35/$1 at the NAFEX (I&E Window) where forex is traded officially.

This is as dollar supply dropped by 61% with lower demand.

Also, the exchange rate at the black market where forex traded unofficially maintained stability at N475/$1. The exchange rate at the parallel market closed at N475/$1 on the previous trading day of January 18, 2021.

This is as the Central Bank of Nigeria sustains its intervention across the foreign exchange markets to meet the needs of manufacturers and end-users who need dollars for their medical trips, school fees payments, travel allowances, and others.

The apex bank has also resumed its dollar sales to Bureau De Change operators.

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The exchange rate disparity between the parallel market and the official market is about N81.65, representing a 17.2% devaluation differential.

The Naira appreciated against the dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window on Tuesday, closing at N393.35/$1. This represents a 48 kobo gain when compared to the N393.83/$1 that it closed on the previous trading day.

  • The opening indicative rate was N393.96 to a dollar on Tuesday, representing an 11 kobo gain when compared to the N394.07 that was recorded on Monday, January 18, 2021.
  • The N396 to a dollar was the highest rate during intra-day trading before it closed at N393.35 to a dollar. It also sold for as low as N390/$1 during intra-day trading.
  • Forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window declined by 61% on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.
  • According to the data tracked by Nairametrics from FMDQ, forex turnover dropped from $69 million on Monday, January 18, 2021, to $26.83 million on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.
  • The average daily forex sale for last week was about $169.93 million, which represents a huge increase from the $34.5 million that was recorded the previous week.
  • The exchange rate is still being affected by low oil prices, dollar scarcity, a backlog of forex demand, and a shaky economy that has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • There are fears that the exchange rate at the black market might be under pressure in the coming weeks as importers scramble for dollars to meet their demands.

Oil price steady rise

Brent crude oil price is currently at $54.88 per barrel on Monday, as it moves towards the $60 mark, a strong sign that global demand could sustain price increases in 2021.

  • Nigeria’s crude oil price benchmark for 2020 was $40 while it projected an oil production output of 1.8 million barrels per day.
  • Nigeria has a production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day but is subject to OPEC’s crude oil production cuts, which are expected to help sustain higher oil prices.
  • The higher oil prices and steady production output have positively impacted Nigeria’s external reserves, rising sharply to $36.304 million according to central bank data dated January 14, 2020.
  • This is the highest level since July 2020 and a sign that higher oil prices and steady output levels may be contributing significantly to Nigeria’s foreign exchange position.

Nigeria rising external reserves

  • The external reserve has risen to $36.3 billion as of January 15, 2021, suggesting that the government may have taken receipt of the $1-1.5 billion World Bank Loan.
  • The external reserves have increased by $1 billion since December 31, 2020, when it closed the year at $35.3 billion.
  • The unification of the exchange rate was previously cited as a major requirement for receiving the world bank facility.
  • Nigeria needs the external reserves to hit $40 billion if it is to adequately meet some of the pent up demand that has piled up since 2020 when oil prices crashed and the pandemic caused major economic lockdowns.

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