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TNM’s Airtime Advances service hits almost 20% of its user base in six months – another money service that will spread

TNM’s Pasavute service is offering short-term, micro loans – Airtime Advances – to a staggeringly large number of its users. The sheer scale of use indicates that users find this kind of service extremely useful. Russell Southwood spoke to Sean Pashley, Net1 Mobile Solutions whose Supa Pesa platform drives the service.

Gambia: I-Link to launch LTE data services across Greater Banjul area in early 2015

LTE data services once seemed like a service that would only be for the larger markets in Africa. But LTE has now all but replaced WiMAX as the data delivery technology for wireless broadband for new implementations. Russell Southwood spoke to the co-owner of the Gambian ISP I-Link, Danny Isaac.

I-Link started in 2004 as a small Internet café and over the years has morphed into an IT services and hardware company before also wanting to add ISP services for corporates and high end home broadband users.

Understanding Africa’s social media storm – Facebook experiments with how to make itself the “on-ramp” for first-time Internet users

Facebook took Africa by storm and became the social media that everyone seemed to be on. Now Facebook is experimenting (with mobile operators) to use Facebook as the way of attracting first-time users to the Internet. Russell Southwood reviews Balancing Act research on social media use in four African countries and talks to Nicola D’Elia, Head of Growth and Partnerships, EMEA, Facebook on what it’s trying to achieve.

Nigeria’s Medallion Communications makes interconnection in a complex liberalised market much easier and will offer facilities in 4 more cities

Liberalised markets create competition and that creates more operators in the market. But all those voice and data operators don’t usually operate in isolation: nearly all of them have to connect together to deliver voice and data. Russell Southwood spoke to Ike Nnamani, CEO of Medallion Communications about the the “carrier hotel” he provides.

A Detailed Snapshot of Africa’s emerging Internet and social media space – the users and what they are doing

In 2013 Balancing Act carried out a detailed market research study in seven Sub-Saharan countries in the vanguard of adopting the Internet and social media. The study has four parts – which are available for free as downloads – and looks at how the Internet and social media are changing Africa’s communications and media landscape. Russell Southwood highlights some of the key findings from the study.

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.

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