The rollout of services on the fifth generation (5G) network dominated the tech space in the country in 2022.
The year started with the great expectation of the roll out of services on the fifth generation (5G) network in the country by MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications Ltd, the two operators that had won the licences to so do.
In line with the information memorandum (IM) for the award of the 5G spectrum licence MTN Nigeria rolled out services in some cities including Lagos.
The second winner, Mafab Communications Limited was however been granted a five-month extension to roll out over delays in obtaining its unified operational licence (USAL) and Numbering Plan from the Commission.
MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communication Ltd had won the two slots put on offer during the auction that had $197.4million as reserve price. MTN and Mafab had paid the balance of the bid price of $253.86 million before February 24, 2022. While MTN beat the deadline, Mafab paid at the expiration of the deadline.
Chairman of Mafab Communications Limited, Dr. Mushabu Bashir, had said in a press statement that the company remained resolutely committed to the deployment of the technology in the country.
“We are fully committed to bringing the benefits of 5G services to Nigerians and deploying a network that will drive economic development with increased broadband capabilities nationwide. I have no doubt that the service will help deliver improvements in the fields of education, business, smart cities and entertainment.
“The goal remains to launch before the five-month extension period and we will be sharing more information in the near future,” he had said.
The 5G will offer Nigerians higher data speed, improved reliability and availability. The benefits are far reaching as the service will enable Nigerians to achieve more with broadband and increase the nation’s broadband penetration, quality of service and capabilities, he added.
According to the roll-out timetable prepared by the NCC, the operators are expected to complete band clearance and commence operation while by June 2023, they are expected to roll-out in at least two states in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.
By June 2024, they were expected to roll-out service in at least six states in each of the geo-political zones of the country while by June the following year, MTN and Mafab are expected to have completed the roll-out of services in all the geopolitical zones of the country.
Contribution to GDP
The telecom sector continued to be the pillar of the nation’s economic growth as the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 2.25 per cent in the third quarter of this year with its strong support.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which released the figure said the economy growth rate however, declined when compared to 4.03 per cent growth achieved in these period of last year.
It attributed the reduction in growth to the base effects of the recession and the challenging economic conditions that have impeded productive activities.
Statistician-General, National Bureau of Statistics, Prince Semiu Adeniran, said data for the analysis were obtained from the quarterly establishment survey conducted by the NBS.
He said the third quarter economic growth was driven by the non-oil sector which grew by 4.27 per cent in real terms.
He explained that the rate was lower by 1.18 per cent points compared to the rate recorded same quarter of 2021 and 0.50 per cent points lower than the second quarter of 2022.
“This sector was driven in the third quarter of 2022 mainly by Information and Communication (Telecommunication); Trade; Transportation (Road Transport); Financial and Insurance (Financial Institutions); Agriculture (Crop Production) and Real Estate, accounting for positive GDP growth,” the report said.
According to the report, in real terms, the non-oil sector contributed 94.34 per cent to the nation’s GDP in the third quarter of 2022, higher than the share recorded in the third quarter of 2021 which was 92.51 per cent and higher than the second quarter of 2022 recorded as 93.67 per cent.
The real growth of the oil sector was –22.67 per cent (year-on-year) in third quarter of 2022 indicating a decrease of 11.94 percentage points relative to the rate recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2021.
Growth also decreased by 10.91 per cent points when compared to second quarter of 2022 which was –11.77 per cent.
“Quarter-on-quarter, the oil sector recorded a growth rate of -1.80 per cent in third quarter of 2022. The oil sector contributed 5.66 per cent to the total real GDP in third quarter of 2022, down from the figures recorded in the corresponding period of 2021 and the preceding quarter, where it contributed 7.49 per cent and 6.33 per cent respectively,” the report said.
However, quarter-on-quarter, real GDP grew at 9.68 per cent in third quarter 2022, reflecting a higher economic activity than the preceding quarter. In the quarter under review, aggregate GDP stood at N52.25 trillion in nominal terms.
This performance is higher when compared to the third quarter of 2021 which recorded aggregate GDP of N45.11 trillion, indicating a year-on-year nominal growth rate of 15.83 per cent.
“The nominal GDP growth rate in third quarter 2022 was higher relative to the 15.41 per cent growth recorded in the third quarter of 2021 and higher compared to the 15.03 per cent growth recorded in the preceding quarter,” it added.
Boost in mobile lines
The number of connected lines across the mobile networks of MTN, Globacom, Airtel, and 9mobile continued to grow rising to 319.6 million in October, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
However, only 244.3 million of these lines were in active use. The implication is that a total of 104.9 million lines on the networks have become inactive.
MTN sustained its dominance accounting for 38.85per cent with a total of 83.2 million active subscriptions.
Globacom maintained its second position with a market share of 27.82per cent, having recorded 59.6 million active lines in the period under review.
Airtel’s market share stood at 27.37per cent with 58.6 million active subscriptions.
9mobile, on the other hand, had only a 5.96per cent share of the mobile market with 12.7 million subscriptions.
Airtel for 5G spectrum licence
The NCC announced that by the close of business on Monday, December 5, 2022, only Airtel Networks Limited (Airtel) and Standard Network & Connections Limited (Standard Network) had expressed interest in the auction of the 3.5GHz spectrum band.
However, only Airtel paid the Intention to Bid Deposit (IBD) as stipulated in the IM whereas, Standard Network sent an email appeal for the deadline to be extended by 12 working days which was not acceptable in view of the auction timetable.
Having met all the provision in the IM, Airtel has, therefore, emerged as the sole bidder.
Consequently, there shall be no further bidding and the Commission will proceed to the Assignment Stage in line with the published Information Memorandum guiding the licensing process.
Twitter takeover by Musk
On April 25, 2022, Twitter’s board of directors unanimously agreed that founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tesla, Elon Musk’s buyout offer of $44 billion which effectively made the company private. Musk had stated that he planned to introduce new features to the platform, make its algorithms open-sourced, combat spambot accounts, and promote free speech. He also said jobs must be cut.
The order for immediate workers sack activated the panic button signposting the chaos that became the lot of Twitter after Musk’s take over.
Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agrawal, and the chief financial officer, Ned Segal, were sent emails saying they had been fired. Twitter’s top legal and policy executive, Vijaya Gadde, and the general counsel, Sean Edgett were also fired. But the departures of two New York-based Twitter executives — Ms. Berland and JP Maheu, a vice president in charge of advertising hit Musk because they were well known in the advertising community.
Those Twitter executives “had great relationships with the senior-most people at the Fortune 500 — they were incredibly transparent and inclusive. Those things engender tremendous trust, and those things are now in question,” said Lou Paskalis, a long time advertising executive.
Just over a week after closing the deal, he eliminated nearly half of Twitter’s work force, or about 3,700 jobs. The job cuts affected many divisions across the company, including the engineering and machine learning units, the teams that manage content moderation, and the sales and advertising departments.
Then came the verification subscriptions. Twitter said it would begin charging customers $7.99 a month to receive a coveted verification check mark on their profiles. But the rollout was delayed until after the midterm elections after Twitter users and employees raised concerns that the new pay-for-play badges could be misused to sow seeds of discord.
Shortly after closing the Twitter deal, he said the company would form a content moderation council to decide what kinds of posts to keep up and what to take down. This backfired as advertisers halted spending over fears that the new owner will loosen content rules on the platform.
In his search for ways to generate more revenue, Musk toyed with the idea of adding paid direct messages, which would let users send private messages to high-profile users. The company has also filed registration paperwork to pave the way for it to process payments.
The scope of layoffs was a moving train. Twitter managers were initially told to cut 25 per cent of the work force, three people said. But Tesla engineers who reviewed Twitter’s code proposed deeper cuts to the engineering teams. Executives overseeing other parts of Twitter were told to expand their layoff lists.
Meta axes 11,000 workers
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, also sacked about 11,000 employees, an equivalent of 13 per cent of its global workforce, including Nigerian employees in diaspora and in Africa.
The gale of sack came a few days after micro-blogging platform, Twitter, sacked about 50 per cent of its workforce.
The CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, said the company was taking a number of additional steps to become leaner and more efficient by cutting discretionary spending and extending hiring freeze through Q1.
Zuckerberg sent an email to employees and also posted on its website details of compensation packages to employees.
“Today I’m sharing some of the most difficult changes we’ve made in Meta’s history. I’ve decided to reduce the size of our team by about 13per cent and let more than 11,000 of our talented employees go.
“We are also taking a number of additional steps to become a leaner and more efficient company by cutting discretionary spending and extending our hiring freeze through Q1.
“I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here. I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted,” Zuckerberg said.
The American tech company gave a brief breakdown of the severance package for the affected workers which include payment of 16 weeks of base pay plus two additional weeks for every year of service, with no cap.
“PTO-We’ll pay for all remaining PTO time; RSU vesting- Everyone impacted will receive their November 15, 2022 vesting; Health insurance- We’ll cover the cost of healthcare for people and their families for six months; Career Services-We’ll provide three months of career support with an external vendor, including early access to unpublished job leads,” Meta said.
About those on Immigration visas, Meta said it can’t do much about that as those affected might have to leave the country when their visa expires. “However, they will give you a specialist who can support you through the process.
“Immigration support- I know this is especially difficult if you’re here on a visa. There’s a notice period before termination and some visa grace periods, which means everyone will have time to make plans and work through their immigration status. We have dedicated immigration specialists to help guide you based on what you and your family need,” Meta said.
According to Meta, the international workers will also get a similar compensation to those in the US in accordance with local laws.
“Outside the US, support will be similar, and we’ll follow up soon with separate processes that take into account local employment laws.”
Explaining the circumstances that culminated to the job cut, Zuckerberg said: “At the start of COVID, the world rapidly moved online and the surge of e-commerce led to outsized revenue growth. Many people predicted this would be a permanent acceleration that would continue even after the pandemic ended. I did too, so I made the decision to significantly increase our investments. Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected. Not only has online commerce returned to prior trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected. I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.
“In this new environment, we need to become more capital efficient. We’ve shifted more of our resources onto a smaller number of high-priority growth areas — like our AI discovery engine, our ads and business platforms, and our long-term vision for the metaverse. We’ve cut costs across our business, including scaling back budgets, reducing perks, and shrinking our real estate footprint. We’re restructuring teams to increase our efficiency. But these measures alone won’t bring our expenses in line with our revenue growth, so I’ve also made the hard decision to let people go.”
While noting that the layoffs came as a last resort, Zuckerberg said the company has also decided to rein in other sources of the cost before letting teammates go. Overall, he said this will add up to a meaningful cultural shift in how the company operates.
The Nigerian Communications Commission’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT) was kept on its toes by a myriad of malware vulnerability reports.
From Somnia Ransomware, Xenomorph Malware, Schoolyard bully malware, Invisible Challenge on short-form video hosting service, TokTok, QBot malware and many others, it was indeed a year of massive malware attacks.
In response to the discovery of a new attack that compromises victims’ Virtual Private Network (VPN) accounts to compromise messaging app, Telegram, NCC-CSIRT advised users to adopt two-factor authentication to protect their Telegram accounts and not to download unknown Advanced IP Scanner Software.
Ukrainian cyber experts discovered the attack, which uses Vidar Malware (Vidar Stealer) to steal Telegram session data, which in the absence of configured two-factor authentication and a passcode, allows unauthorized access to the victim’s telegram account and corporate account or network.
The malware, which exploits unauthorized access to users’ Telegram accounts and corporate accounts to steal data, targets platforms across iOS, Android, Linux, Mac and Windows Operating Systems.
“The Ukrainian CERT alleged that a Somnia Ransomware was created to be used on Telegram that tricks users to download an installer that mimics ‘Advanced IP Scanner’ software, which contains Vidar Malware. The installer infects the system with the Vidar stealer, which steals the victim’s Telegram session data to take control of their account.
“The threat actors abuse the victim’s Telegram account in some unspecified manner to steal VPN connection data (authentication and certificates). If the VPN account is not protected by two-factor authentication passcode, the hackers use it to gain unauthorized access to the victim’s employer’s corporate network,” the alert and advisory stated.