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Nigeria’s top broadcast regulator arrested over 4G spectrum sale to MTN – Three questions needing answers

The sale of 700 MHz spectrum to MTN Nigeria by the broadcast regulator, Emeka Mba was already mired in controversy. But this week he found himself arrested by Nigeria’s anti-corruption body the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and taken in for questioning. Russell Southwood picks his way gingerly through the smoke to ask three questions.

The Battle over VoIP and resisting the future – Trend towards Skype, Viber and What’s App begins to bite into African operators’ premium revenues

The recent blocking of VoiP and IP-based services by all three operators in Morocco is the first shot in what is going to turn into all-out war across the continent this year. IP-based services are cutting operators’ premium international calling services. With 4G now spreading rapidly operators are on the wrong end of these changes. Russell Southwood looks at how things are developing.

Season’s Greetings from Balancing Act’s News Update

Dear readers, viewers, contributors and advertisers

In preparation for writing this seasonal message, I always go back and review the previous year’s. Sadly many of the issues raised I raised in December 2014 remain unresolved. It’s not that a year has been lost because much has happened but Africa’s new all-data industry is taking its time coming into focus. The shock of the MTN fine in Nigeria will perhaps begin to get operators to answer some of the key questions they face.

DreamOval’s m-money platform SlydePay partners with Stanbic Bank to roll out new ways of paying including cross-border and Bitcoin

DreamOval has partnered with Stanbic Bank in Ghana to launch its latest m-money platform Slydepay. Rather than go the independent route doing it all itself, it chose a trusted financial partner. Russell Southwood spoke DreamOval’s Derrydean Dadzie about Slydepay and how thinks have developed since its launch in April 2015.

Dadzie describes Slydepay as “a mobile wallet that’s creating a new business dynamic….” And its website boosts it as “A simpler, more exciting way to manage your money.”

US legal loop-hole creates a business model for ZenoRadio’s phone-up radio service in Africa and elsewhere

A US law designed to compensate rural carriers has created an arbitrage opportunity for ZenoRadio’s IVR-based radio service that is both listened to by several African diaspora communities and more recently across Africa. Russell Southwood spoke to ZenoRadio’s Yossi Rosenberg about its African business.

African users fear of data – Time for the continent to stop selling its customers shortage

The way almost all African operators are selling data to their customers is the biggest barrier to developing a broadly based consumer data market. African users’ fear that they will run out of data too quickly makes them cautious consumers. Russell Southwood seeks to chart a path out of this dilemma.

AfricaCom 2015: Back to the Future – Africa’s mobile operators struggling to transform themselves

Chart below: AfricaCom 100 - 2015 survey extract.


Africa’s biggest annual meet-point and gabfest is always a good point to take the pulse of the industry. Shocks and changes seem to be coming faster than ever. The mobile incumbents are publicly saying many of the right things but a close up look reveals a sharp contrast between aspiration and reality. Russell Southwood had his ear to the ground throughout the event.

Group TigoPaare accounts in Chad may lead to Peoples’ Banks for communities across Africa

M-money has had a transformative effect in some countries but the success of its roll-out has been patchy. Some places have taken to it like a duck to water whereas others have not really taken it up in any great numbers. Tigo has developed a new m-money concept that seems to be gaining traction in one of Africa’s poorest countries, Chad. Russell Southwood spoke to Toffene Kama who is working with Tigo on the project.

Digitata’s Dynamic Voice Tariffing helps Africa’s mobile operators to sell unused capacity – data version could crack giving lower data prices

Africa’s mobile operators are running increasingly complex businesses with multiple revenue streams. It’s no longer possible to just focus on voice and everything else will take care of itself. Russell Southwood spoke to Tinus Neethling, CEO of Digitata about dynamic voice tariffing, the data version it’s developing and using mobile media.

Tinus Neethling has only just taken over as CEO of Digitata. Formerly he held the same position in Rorotika Technologies in which Digitata acquired a controlling stake in October this year.

Currency Storm is the looming shadow over Africa’s operators – Getting out from under it

Africa’s above average growth over the last decade has lulled everybody into the thinking it would continue forever. But as the Chinese economy has slowed and the oil price dropped, big and unpleasant changes are coming. Russell Southwood looks at why currency exchange shifts are a coming storm for operators.

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