Africa’s mobile operators are faced with a number of network challenges that will have major commercial consequences. One of the key ones is the need to transition to IP for both voice and data to reduce costs and to be able create a data network out of their legacy narrow pipe networks that is fit for purpose. A small start-up that is using OpenBTS to reach remote locations may have a contribution to make. Russell Southwood spoke to Paul Homburger, Range Network’s Director of Sales.
In terms of widening Internet use, Africa faces several challenges including lowering the cost of both data use and device costs. The Alliance for Affordable Internet has sunk its teeth into getting developing country Internet prices down, Russell Soythwood spoke to its Executive Director Sonia Jorge about the challenges and how she will tackle them.
When mobile carriers talk about owning the customer, it’s their SIM card that contains the “ownership” they’re thinking about. It contains both the customer’s identity and his or her ability to get on to the network. Movirtu’s new service unbundles this relationship a little and provides new possibilities. Russell Southwood spoke to its CEO Carsten Brinkshulte about what they have planned.
With enormous pressures on margins, mobile operators are increasingly outsourcing parts of their operation, particularly network operations. By and large, these contracts go to international companies. NFT Consult is a Ugandan company that offers outsourced functions and has grown significantly by providing them to international companies like mobile operators, banks and oil companies. Russell Southwood spoke to its founder Badru Ntege about how his kind of outsourcing services are used.
In issue 688 we carried a Top Story on the dead end Cameroon has got itself into with its incumbent telco Camtel. (The Battle Against High Fibre Prices from Monopoly Providers moves to Central Africa. See more here:) This week Ministers in the region signed an accord endorsing Open Access as the basis for the Central African Backbone project. Russell Southwood looks at the implications of the accord.
Nigeria is poised to move decisively into a better bandwidth future. As Sub-Saharan Africa’s second data largest market and maybe one day its largest, what happens in Nigeria is crucial to the rest of the continent. It has the size of home market to make all sorts of things happen smaller countries do not. Russell Southwood takes a tape measure to the distance between dream and current reality.
In the countries where mobile money has been particularly successful like Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the next unfolding wave of growth is payments integration. It sounds boring but it’s tying in merchants and banks to mobile money to allow more payments to be made more effectively. Russell Southwood talked to Arnold Sentuwa Luwugge and Gerald Begumisa of Yo Uganda about what it might mean.
The subjective experience of using the Internet in Africa has always been a strange one. Having been using it for over 14 years, we know it’s got better but it’s sometimes hard to see it as anything but frustrating. There’s always cost, network or capacity restrictions that pull you down even if things speed up a bit. Russell Southwood looks at how LTE is working on Smile’s network in Kampala and wonders whether this might be how it will be everywhere in the near future in Africa.
Because so many African countries have made huge strides over the last decade in developing their telecoms markets, it’s easy to forget that the majority have stuck with the old monopoly incumbents. These state owned companies have kept prices high for customers and stalled the modernization of many African economies. Russell Southwood looks at why this happened and why it still matters.
Ghana’s mobile operators are in danger of being outmaneuvered by the new breed of LTE licencees. The newest kid on the block is Blu which is making content and VideoOnDemand a central part of its service offering. Russell Southwood spoke to its Chief Commercial Officer, Tara Squire.