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Nigeria: ipNX offers Fibre-To-The-Home and guarantees a 4 mbps connection as a minimum

This month has been one for announcements of Fibre-To-The-Home roll-outs. What was once considered exceptional will soon become normal as bandwidth delivery ramps up in Africa’s key markets. Russell Southwood looks at who is doing what and casts an eye over ipNX’s latest launch in Nigeria.

Balancing Act launches a new web TV channel – SmartMonkeyTV .com – out to capture the energy at the crossroads between culture and technology

Officially launched this week, SmartMonkeyTV.com will replace Balancing Act’s existing You Tube channel. It will be a hybrid channel with video clip interviews, e-letters and some other surprises from time to time. Below Russell Southwood sketches out why he decided to launch it and how Balancing Act’s existing readers will find it a useful addition to their weekly diet of information about Africa.

(The bracketed items in italics are a selection of videos that illustrate what Smart Monkey TV covers and why you might be interested in it.)

Vodacom Lesotho Launches M-Pesa and reaches a critical mass of users in three months

Lesotho is the fifth African market that Vodacom has launched M-Pesa in and it’s been learning the lessons from the other countries it has rolled out in. It has sought to ramp up numbers fast to get a critical mass and then switch to encouraging transactions. Muchangwe Ferrao looks at how Vodacom tackled the M-Pesa launch.

Angels over Johannesburg – South Africa hosts the first Pan-African event to introduce ICT entrepreneurs to angel investors

Until recently there were so many gaps in the ICT entrepreneurship ecosystem that new start-ups did not have much of a fighting chance of success. However, even with the recent improvements there has still been an “equity gap” for newer start-ups. The creation of the Angel Africa network and its Angel Fair event next week may change things. Russell Southwood talks to co-founder and long-time ICT activist Eric Osiakwan.

Welcome to Gulu – What it feels like being an Internet user at the edge of the network

African data networks have improved immeasurably in the last 3 years.  There are still many problems like under-provisioning and vandalism but they are beginning to start to work. However, go only a short distance from the core networks and it’s a very different picture. This week we talk to Brian Longwe, Programme Manager, Internet Now! about the forgotten Internet users of Gulu.

African LTE momentum is building despite all the obstacles along the way

LTE will be a game changer in terms of how a significant number of Africans use their phones. Its implementation has been slow so far because of the many obstacles it faces: a shortage of devices, lack of appropriate spectrum and waiting to get back investment on 3G. But from our tracking it’s clear that a momentum is building up that will see LTE implementation as the big story on data in 2014. Russell Southwood looks at the current state of play.

VoIP services in Africa already driving the transition to data – video will accelerate that trend

For years VoIP services in Africa were the grey market in voice calling, which was seen as rather grubby by the mainstream operators. VoIP came of age with  widespread use of consumer apps like Skype and Viber which have continued to increase in popularity, particularly among high-end consumers. Now a corporate version of this kind of VoIP calling is being adopted by companies in Africa. Russell Southwood spoke to Marc Israel, Microsoft Office Division Director and reflects on what this means for traditional mobile operators.

The irresistible Law of Circles – getting mobile and online content to African users in a fragmented market

For those launching mobile content and services, Africa’s mobile users are a fragmented bunch. Overcoming this fragmentation is one of the key challenges for both entrepreneurs and developers face. Russell Southwood looks at how the Law of Circles can help you understand how to overcome these challenges.

Mobile incumbents start to make early moves towards an all-data future by targeting online transactions and services

Vodafone’s contested acquisition of Kabel Deutschland was highly publicized and is but one high-profile move by one of the former “masters of the universe” to address the all-data future. Two similar things have happened in Africa that are closer to home.  Firstly, Millicom invested in Rocket Internet’s African companies and MTN pledged a wodge of cash for Amadeus Ventures’ for investment in online and mobile applications and services.

Bozza steps up its game to become a platform for new African talent – 300,000 users without marketing

No-one has ever said that Africa is short of potential creative talent – in music, film and writing – but until recently it has lacked the channels through which newcomers can project what they do. Bozza’s digital platform aims to take talent from the slum or township and allow it to connect with potential audiences. Russell Southwood talked to Emma Kaye about how she sees Bozza developing.

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