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Millicom plans to go from being a mobile operator to a digital services company in 3-5 years in some African countries

The discussion about mobile operators making the transition to digital has been relatively muted. MTN said last year this would be the direction it would be going in but did not give details. This week I spoke to Raul Martinez, Commercial Director – Africa, Millicom who laid out their stall for the kind of changes it’s going to be making.

Uganda’s Beyonic looks to extend the reach of bulk m-money payments through partnership with Mercy Corps’ Agri-Fin programme

M-money services take-up has taken time but as it passes the “critical mass” moment, two things begin to happen: firstly, their use spreads out beyond the first wave of users and secondly, more sophisticated service elements get built on top. Russell Southwood spoke this week to Luke Kyohere and Dan Kleinbaum about the work they’re doing.

Ghana’s Mobile Number Portability scheme outstrips South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria

Mobile Number Portability (MNP) schemes have been slow to take off in Sub-Saharan Africa and their performance has not been outstanding. Ghana is the exception and has good reason to be bragging about its success. Russell Southwood spoke to Bob Palitz, a telecom consultant who has been involved in the MNP process from its policy and planning stages through to implementation and launch.

Ghana’s MNP scheme was launched on 7 July 2011 and this week the Ghanaian regulator NCA issued its 3-year report on how it has worked. The stats provided are fairly compelling:

Broadband in Gulu and 4G in Accra – Two sides of the same coin for Africa’s new generation local roll-outs

A new ISP set up in Uganda’s remote north and 4G became available in Ghana from a new operator. Neither of these developments involved mobile operators and how they came about may set the pattern of Africa’s new roll-outs. Russell Southwood spoke to people at the heart of both initiatives this week.

Fibre-To-The-Home – South Africa’s big gorillas “wait-and-see” while consumers break the logjam

South Africa’s stately progress towards implementing Fibre-To-The Home seems to have taken a turn for the better in the shape of two residents’ associations who have taken matters into their own hands. One has appointed a supplier and the other is asking for quotes on delivering fibre-to-the-home to its area. Russell Southwood spoke to Indra de Lanerolle who is heading up the Parkview Residents’ Association’s fibre project.

Nigerian start-up MMIT offers wants to “connect the dots” by offering international payments service to mobile wallet operators

M-Pesa may have begun to change the face of domestic African payments but one of the missing pieces has been allowing m-money customers to make international payments as easily. Russell Southwood spoke to MMIT’s COO Kim Fraser on how it’s starting to “connect the dots”.

As the global handset market spits out its latest king, Africa will march to a different beat

With the news that last year’s global handset leader Samsung is in trouble, the speed with which consumers change their handset loyalties is dizzying. Russell Southwood looks at the kind of devices that might dominate African markets over the next three years.

The ups and downs of global handset manufacturers have an effect on Africa. Although there is no recent data, it is clear that Android phones in general and Samsung in particular have done well in many markets.

X-Lab pioneers connectivity using Mesh Wi-Fi software in Somaliland and Tunisia

Using Mesh Wi-Fi software that sits on a range of popular devices, US tech policy intervention start-up X-Lab has created a way of rolling out local connectivity. With two working examples in Somaliland and Tunisia, this is not just a good concept. Russell Southwood spoke to X-Lab founder Sascha Meinrath.

The case for remote operators in Africa grows stronger with new regulatory approaches and low cost technology

With the bankruptcy of low cost, remote base station vendor Altobridge, it looked like the case for niche, remote vendors had taken a nose-dive. But a number of things have come together to make the picture somewhat brighter than it might first appear. Russell Southwood looks at recent developments.

O3B starts operations in Africa and launches second constellation which will cover more countries

It was nine years ago that O3B started as an idea but it seems like an eternity. But with the launch of its second constellation of 4 Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites, it will now begin to swing into operation with services targeted at a range of countries, largely where fibre is absent. Russell Southwood spoke to Daniel Schapiro about current operations and what’s planned.

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