The ACE submarine fibre cable landed in Liberia on November 4th in between the two rounds for presidential election. On November 8th, Helen Sirleaf Johnson was re-elected President and will serve another five year term, giving the country and its population a another chance to carry on building a more prosperous future and definitely parting with the memories of more than ten years of civil war. So, what lies in for the ICT sector in Liberia? Isabelle Gross spoke to John Etherton about the iLab, an initiative to provide facilities and expertise to allow local IT use to flourish.
There’s a rather cruel definition that does the rounds amongst those who watch these things: what’s an international fibre project? A person with a power-point presentation who goes to conferences. This week sees the launch of an extremely ambitious project to connect Africa, South America, North America and Europe: WASACE. Russell Southwood looks at its prospects and how it might fit into the connectivity landscape.
At the presentation of Vodacom’s interim results for the six months ending 30 September 2011, Pieter Uys, Vodacom Group CEO commented on South Africa’s good data revenue performance adding that “the growth rate of smartphone data traffic is ten times higher than that of dongles and other modems”.
While oil prices have not yet reached the peak levels witnessed in the summer of 2008, their steady growth with the OPEC basket price of an oil barrel passing the US$100 mark in February 2011, should ring an alarm bell among African mobile operators. Their dependency on diesel to fuel their base stations remains very high but very few of them have make any serious efforts to tackle these critical issues. Isabelle Gross looks at what the short and long terms options are for African mobile operators when it comes to saving on the energy bill that they are currently running.
Africa’s annual gabba-gabba fest AfricaCom took place this week with the organisers claiming that visitor numbers were up yet again. Vendors from almost every corner of the globe were there with heavy representation from both India and China. Russell Southwood tries to separate the signal from the noise.
The growth in Africa’s Facebook numbers show that it has touched a chord with users at a near mass level. Social media played a part in the Arab Spring and they’ve been arguing about what part ever since. Here at Balancing Act we decided to engage with social media about 12 months ago and this article looks at what we’ve discovered since then.
Nigerian bandwidth is improving but ever so slowly. There is no sign of a broadband strategy to power this process forward. However, despite this unpromising soil for growth, there are a number of interesting start-ups in the online content and services space that are beginning to establish themselves. Russell Southwood tries to read the tea leaves in a country where data is hard to come by.
Liquid Telecom has been quietly building out its Southern Africa fibre network that will eventually be 8,500 kms long and cost US$170 million. Its network is now meeting the fibre networks of East Africa and it wants to go into DRC from Zambia. However, the continent’s other carriers’ carriers are not in bullish expansion mode and the example of Kenya’s KDN shows what can go wrong. Russell Southwood spoke to Liquid Telecom’s CEO this week.
In Africa, mobile operators are finding themselves in a situation where their data traffic exceeds their voice traffic but the income from data is much smaller. The crunch is that data also congests the network far more quickly than voice. Many assume that LTE will deal with this surge of data use but bandwidth is like a recreational drug: the more you have access to, the more you use. Russell Southwood looks at how good, old-fashioned Wi-Fi has suddenly come into its own and how it poses a number of challenges for Africa’s mobile operators.
This week saw a workshop on TV White Spaces sponsored by APC, the Open Spectrum Alliance of South Africa, the Wireless Access Providers Association in South Africa and Google Africa take place in Johannesburg. White spaces technology promises what one regulatory contributor dubbed the nirvana of more efficient spectrum use and the possibility of significantly lower costs to deliver it to the customer. Russell Southwood seeks to explain what TV White Spaces are and how they can be used to deliver wider wireless access.