Africa’s network operators need to make a New Year’s resolution that they will aim to both make their data cheaper for their users and to improve the quality of the networks they are delivering on. Data in Africa creates significant revenue challenges for operators and they must be prepared to meet them head on when they spend on their networks. Russell Southwood proposes five things that need to be done to bring these things about.
Dear readers, viewers, contributors and advertisers
It has been another action-packed year in which the pace of change in the industry has not left much time for reflection. However, there are now some very substantial issues the industry has to get to grips and this is perhaps slowing done some of the things that should be happening more quickly.
Mobile technology is changing as it comes to terms with the IP world and everything becomes data. The UK deployment of micro networks for rural areas by EE offers an interesting route for Africa’s mobile operators as they get to grips with 4G delivery. Russell Southwood spoke the vendors on that deployment, Parallel Wireless’ two founders Rajesh Mishra and Steve Papa to see why it may offer a cheaper solution.
Comoros is a tiny telecoms and Internet market but has failed to develop as successfully as its more competitive neighbors in the Indian Ocean. All attempts to open the market and to privatize the state-run monopoly telco Comoros Telecom have run into the sand. Russell Southwood looks at what has happened in one of Africa’s smallest market and what lessons it might hold.
With faster, cheaper bandwidth either ready or not far off, Africa is experiencing the digital content and services moment. Like all things at the beginning, it’s full of fits and starts but the direction is clear. Russell Southwood senses that something is happening here but maybe you don’t know it is.
About two years, we started (rather quietly) a web TV channel (called smartmonkeytv.com) to replace the now defunct Balancing Act You Tube Channel. It’s taken us a bit of time to get clear what it was about and who might be interested but we’ve got there.
For Africa’s digital economy to work, it desperately needs an effective payments system that can handle micro payments and with transaction costs that are reasonable. Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative has partnered with payments provider Skrill to offer an answer. Russell Southwood spoke to Nilesh Pandya, SVP Emerging Markets, Skrill and Frank McCosker, General Manager, Affordable Access and Smart Financing Africa Initiatives.
The big knock-down, drag out fight of industry talkfest AfricaCom 2014 was the Over-The-Top operators vs the mobile operators. In the event, the former arrived smiling and diplomatic, rather catching the more pugilistic of Africa’s mobile operators off-balance. Russell Southwood dips below the surface to take the temperature of Africa’s dazed and confused mobile operators.
A recently published report shows the stratospheric growth in African bandwidth over the last five years and the extent of the build-out of fibre networks. 44% of Africa’s population is now within reach of fibre networks.
Back in 2009 we reported that international bandwidth from Sub-Saharan Africa hadincreased from 11.3 Gbps in 2006 to 17.5 Gbps in 2007 to 26.1 Gbps. Overall international African bandwidth (including North Africa) was 96.3 Gbps in 2008. All this seemed very impressive at the time but is absolutely dwarfed by growth over the last five years.
Africa’s voice subscriber data may not always be reliable but it exists. The equivalent Internet data is extremely hard to find. Lack of data is equivalent of trying to cross a busy expressway in the complete dark. Russell Southwood looks at what’s available and argues that in a data future involving more than the mobile operators, there’s a crying need for regular data.
Payment methods and logistics challenges have made e-commerce in Sub-Saharan Africa (outside South Africa) more talked about than actual. But recent players in Nigeria have shaped the way things work to meet market conditions and are having promising signs of success. Russell Southwood spoke to Jeremy Doutte, CEO, Jumia Nigeria.