Newsletter English

Issue no 583 2nd December 2011

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Top story

  • 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”. There is no doubt that South Africa leads the way regarding mobile data service penetration and revenue but is it an isolated case or the early sign of a trend that will sooner rather that later spread across other countries in sub-Sahara Africa.  Isabelle Gross looks at mobile data revenue in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana and concludes that behind all the well orchestrated PR work around the launch of 3G data services, current data revenue are very small.

    Whichever mobile operator you look at in South Africa, their figures show a strong growth in mobile data revenue. Between March and September 2011, Vodacom South Africa recorded an increase of 29.4% in data revenue and generated nearly US$450 million revenue over that six month period. MTN South Africa has generated close to US$250 million in data revenue during the first half of 2011. While absolute figures are interesting, they are pretty useless when it comes to comparing data revenue across several mobile operators in different African countries. Data ARPU (data revenue/total mobile subscriber base) is a much better indicator for a comparison purpose. In South Africa, both Vodacom and MTN register a data ARPU above US$2 (US$2.59 for Vodacom SA and US$2.07 for MTN SA). On this comparison basis, how are mobile data services performing in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana? In Kenya, Safaricom’s data ARPU is currently US$0.32. while in Nigeria, MTN’s data ARPU stands at US$0.21. The latter operator registers a data ARPU of US$0.11 in Ghana. MTN’s data ARPU in South Africa is ten times what it is in Nigeria and that says a lot about the low level of mobile data service penetration in Nigeria. The figures for Ghana and Kenya are not more encouraging even if Safaricom’s CEO could argue with reasons that his data ARPU is three times higher than that of MTN’s operation in Ghana.

    When it comes to compare data ARPU versus total ARPU, South Africa is well ahead again. For Vodacom SA, data ARPU represents now 15.2% of its total ARPU while for MTN SA it accounts for 10.4%. In Kenya, Safaricom’s data ARPU represents 6.4% of its total ARPU. In Nigeria and Ghana, MTN’s data ARPU accounts respectively for 2.1% and 1.6% of its total ARPU. Kenya is the second best after South Africa but Safaricom’s data ARPU versus total ARPU is still 10 points behind that of Vodacom SA. MTN Ghana’s data ARPU versus total ARPU is ten times lower than that of Vodacom in South Africa. If MTN’s Ghana data ARPU versus total ARPU were to double every year, it will still take more then three years to reach the current level of Vodacom in South Africa.

    While these figures show that mobile data service revenue still account for very little in African mobile operators overall revenue (except for South Africa), they also raise serious doubts on how well the strategy of using mobile data revenue as way to hedge overall revenue from falling voice revenue (this is currently what mobile operators in developed countries are betting on) will work for African mobile operators. As of September 30th 2011, Safaricom’s voice revenue over the last six month stood at US$356.6 million down by US$26.6 million compared to the same period a year earlier. Data revenue was US$34.8 million up by US$9.3 million when compared to the same period a year earlier. Safaricom’s SMS revenue were slightly down (-0.4%) but the revenue from M-Pesa, its mobile money service was up by US$29.9 million from US$59.8 million to US$89.2 million. It is clear from the above figures that mobile data revenue only, was not enough to cover for the loss of voice revenue for Safaricom. It is more that the revenue Safaricom got from its M-Pesa service covered for the loss of voice revenue.

    Most African mobile operators have a long way to go before generating any serious revenue from mobile data services and further, in the short term, this doesn’t give them much leverage to play when it comes to compensate for falling voice revenue.



    On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week a Nigeria special:

    Nadeem, Juma, CEO, Mobipay on m-payments and social media in Tanzania

    Scott Bain, Director of Sales, Range Networks on Open BTS and low cost BTS for Africa

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on changes in the satellite market in Africa

    Arvind Rao, CEO, OnMobile on comparisons between African and Indian mobile content

    Gour Lentell, CEO, biNu on this new feature phone platform taking off in Africa

    Jonathan Osler, Managing Director-Africa, Intelsat on its strategy in Africa

    Marc Rennard EVP Orange AMEA, on the challenges it is facing on the continent

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • Vodacom Tanzania plans to spend about Sh150 billion in the next year in expanding and upgrading its network infrastructure in the country.

    The additional capital investment is expected to consolidate network services through introducing new technologies to address customers’ need for voice and internet services. Vodacom’s new managing director Rene Meza told a group of editors last week that the firm also plans to improve its data services in order to make its Internet services more affordable.

    “We will also focus on putting the power of the internet in people’s hands by providing affordable internet services throughout the country and also upgrading our state of the art 3G network,” he said.

    Vodacom Tanzania has invested about Sh1 trillion since it started operations in Tanzania in 2000. It has 10 million subscribers and about eight million M-PESA registered subscribers.

    “M-Pesa expansion across the country will remain one of Vodacom primary focuses going forward as an enabler to change and improve people’s lives in Tanzania. We reach a large section of the population in both urban and rural settings as we provide services with innovation, at affordable cost and quality solutions," said Rene.

  • Zain Sudan has spent $60 million splitting its operations in two following the succession of South Sudan, but has yet to agree a license fee with the newly independent country, the telecoms operator's chief executive said on Tuesday.

    South Sudan seceded from the north in July, the culmination of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war.

    The fledgling country now has its own international dialing code, 211, which spurred Zain Sudan, a unit of Kuwait's Zain, to split its operations.

    "Our network is completely separated and we are running both the old numbers and the new numbers so that we don't deprive our customers of being disconnected until they make a full switch," Elfatih Erwa, Zain Sudan chief executive, told Reuters."There were very big technical challenges."

    Zain Sudan will spend $280 million improving its infrastructure in the north in 2012, while the operator's capital expenditure in the south is likely to be between $60 million and $80 million. Zain Sudan has 12.7 million mobile subscribers, up from 10.7 million at the end of March. The firm has continued operations in South Sudan despite no agreement over a licence fee.

  • MTN Nigeria has decried the interconnect debt of N10 billion owed it by private telephone operators (PTOs) and Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (Nitel) and its mobile subsidiary , Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTel) which has not been paid since 2002.

    A top official of MTN who did not want is name disclosed stated that Nitel owed MTN N5 billion of the total amount. He said that "Several operators however failed to make timely payment of their interconnect obligations in breach of a contractual and regulatory provisions."

    He said the interconnect exchange operators licenced by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 2004 to reduce the debts has however failed to make any meaningful impact as the debts still remained. Many of the private telephone operators are indebted to the major mobile operators like MTN, Glo, Airtel, Etisalat, Visafone and Starcomms.

    In another development, global credit card company, Visa and MTN, have partnered to introduce a new Visa prepaid account mobile service as an extension of MTN Mobile Money in developing countries. The product is a result of Visa's recent acquisition of local mobile money platform Fundamo, which has now been integrated with Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.

    Together with MTN Mobile Money, the new service will allow consumers to get a special Visa card which will be linked to their mobile money account, and which essentially has the same payment functionality as a bank card.

    Visa said the service would allow users to extend their mobile money payment functionality by allowing them to send money to each other, send and receive international remittances, withdraw funds from a Visa ATM and make purchases at merchants or online. According to MTN and Visa, the product has been designed to meet the needs of the unbanked and under-banked.

    Chief Executive Officer of Fundamo, Hannes van Rensburg, said: "In the past, issuing Visa cards to unbanked customers has been a challenge because the availability of Visa services has been limited. But now, this brings the Visa service together with the already well-established ecosystem of the MTN Mobile Money platform."

    Group Chief Commercial Officer,MTN, Christian De Faria, said while it has always been somewhat of a struggle for consumers to find a merchant that would accept a mobile wallet payment, the partnership with Visa means MTN Mobile Money customers can take advantage of Visa's global interoperability.

  • A bill seeking to make it compulsory for all service providers of Global System of Mobile Telecommunications (GSM) divest certain percentages of their shares to Nigerians will soon be presented for legislation in the House of Representatives, Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market and Institutions, Rep Herman Hembe (PDP, Benue) has said.

    Speaking to newsmen at the National Assembly yesterday, Hembe said that it was incumbent on them to pass legislative reforms that would encourage designated sectors to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

    "Telecom operators in Nigeria must get listed on the bourse of the NSE. This sector with a starting market of less than a million in 2000 now caters for over 90 million users and they make huge profits from Nigeria and are mostly not listed on our markets," the lawmaker said.

    "MTN for instance got a license in 2001 for the sum of $285 million mostly financed by Nigerian banks. But between January and June of same year, MTN repatriated some $5 billion as profits from Nigerian operation and the Nigerian MTN group accounts for 25 percent of the headline revenues of the MTN group listed on the bourse," he said.

    According to the committee, a preliminary extrapolated figure indicated that MTN, Glo, Airtel and Etisalat have about N6.76 trillion in terms of market capitalisation with MTN N2.4 trillion, Airtel N1.55 trillion, Glo N1.70 trillion and Etisalat has N1.1 trillion by second quota of 2012. "If they are listed what they will bring will surpass the present market capitalisation," the legislators argued.

    Other sectors the law will cover, according to Hembe, include oil and gas, digital satellite television service providers such as DSTV Multichoice, among others.

  • Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu last week issued a 24-hour ultimatum to defrauding telecommunication service providers to pay up fines slapped on them by the National Communications Authority (NCA), or risk losing their operating licenses.

    The five telecom service providers were fined a total of GH¢ 1.2m for providing poor telecom services to consumers in the 24million people country. NCA, the regulator of Ghana's telecom industry also ordered them to, with immediate effect, improve the quality of services to consumers.

    However, the Business Chronicle has learnt that it is only Tigo that has fully paid the fine of GH ¢ 100,000 slapped on it by the NCA. Airtel had paid GH ¢ 150,000 out of its GH¢ 350, 000 fine. MTN had paid GH¢ 50,000 out of GH¢300,000. Vodafone and Expresso were yet to pay their fines.

    The vocal and affable Communication's Minister told telecom industry players, regulators and other stakeholders at the launch of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications in Accra that: "Government will no longer tolerate poor telecom services".

    Mr. Iddrisu, therefore, called on telecom service providers as a matter of urgency to have standard care for subscribers, saying "Ghanaians desire better".

    Touching on the recent SIM box fraud which was masterminded by British and Indian nationals, the sector Minister said Ghana and the telecom operators lost millions of Ghana Cedis.

    Iddrisu was quick to add that many of the policies the government is putting in place were targeted at particular challenges which aim at addressing the concerns of the telecom operators and the subscribers. According to him, we are setting up a committee to address the arbitrarily charges by the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

    Iddrisu also suggested to telecom operators in Ghana to set up customer complaint units to enhance the relationship between them and customers.

    The Vice President, H.E John Dramani Mahama, who performed the launch, noted that the telecom industry has catapulted the development of other sectors of Ghanaian economy, saying "Ghana has a vibrant telecom industry in West Africa". He observed that currently, the industry was dominated by 90% of voice and 10% of data and urged operators to enhance the development of the industry.

    The Paramount Chief of the Akyem Traditional Area, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, who chaired the function, called on telecom service providers to extend their services to all communities of the country. As the operators are here to maximum profits, he entreated them to provide quality services to their subscribers dotted across the country.

    The Chairman of the Governing Council of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Philip Sowah, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Ghana, said the mission of the chamber is:

    "To be the platform that delivers and sustain productive relations between telecom operators and their stakeholders, while maintaining fair and strong competition that yields world class services".

    The objectives of the chamber, according to Sowah include guiding and influencing policy formulation in the telecom industry, promote and protect the common interests of operators, and support research and development in telecom in the country.

    Reiterating the contributions of telecom service providers in Ghana, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Kwaku Sakyi Addo hinted that: "Nearly 40% of mobile operators' revenue go into the Ghanaian government coffers".

    The renowned broadcast journalist added that telecom service providers, operating in Ghana since the 1990s, had invested over $5billion into the Ghanaian economy, while the operators employ more than 1.5 million people directly and indirectly.

internet

  • Internet users are set to enjoy cheaper rates as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) promised to slash interconnectivity fees during the first half of next year, a move that underlines the growing competition.

    Rwanda has the highest internet charges in the East African region even after the landing of undersea fibre optic cables. Sam Nkusi, the Executive Chairman of Altech Stream Rwanda, told The New Times, that Rwanda needed an affordable pricing and true broadband, predicting that subscription fees would go down in first quarter of 2012.

    "Prices have slightly gone down of late but they are still high compared to the rest of the region. What we want is to have them go down as those in Tanzania or Kenya," Nkusi noted.

    According to Nkusi, the current internet charges range from US$300 (Rwf178,800) a Megabyte per second (Mbps) to US$700 (Rwf417,200) Mbps depending on the capacity that the client opts for.He added that as a landlocked country, internet connection in Rwanda is mostly affected by the fibre cable cuts between Kenya and Uganda. "Vandalism along the way has made most ISPs to connect to more than one cable which is costly," he said. Altech Stream Rwanda is connected to both SEACOM and EASSy submarine cables.

    MTN's Marketing Operations Manager, Robert Rwakabogo explained that the current competition is expected to usher in cheaper broadband access. "On seeing new players on the market, Altech Streams, New Altel, Broadband Systems Corporation (BSC) all connected to the same undersea cables, definitely we have to scale down the subscription fees in order to compete on the market," Rwakabogo said.

    Mobile data accounts for the biggest percentage of MTN's internet users with more than 495,000 subscribers compared to 1,000 subscribers on fixed internet. Rwakabogo said with connection to undersea cables like TEAMS, which runs from Kenya through Uganda as well as EASSy from Tanzania, the operator has a capacity of 5-STM1s. MTN charges Rwf21,000 on modems per month from Rwf35,000 a few months ago and Rwf1,000 per day.

    The government has invested billions of Francs in fibre optic networks and waived duty on imported electronics with the hope of lowering internet costs, as a way of transforming the country into an ICT hub by 2020.

    Broadband Systems Corporation (BSC) charges the highest internet rates in the country.
    "The current fees end in January and after that we are introducing a new price range," Manzi Rwaka, the Senior Accounts Manager of BSC said.

    BSC charges between Rwf1,080,000 per 1 Mbps and 5Mbps at Rwf4,212,000 on internet bandwidth. On Wibro service, the firm charges between Rwf20,000 and Rwf30,000 on a monthly subscription exclusive of a modem.

    In Kenya, the largest telecom provider Safaricom charges between Ksh1.25 (Rwf8.2) to Ksh2 (Rwf13.1) per megabyte.

  • More than 11,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have benefited from an initiative by Google, Equity Bank and Safaricom to create own websites at no fee.

    Designing a simple website costs between Sh15, 000 and Sh20, 000 excluding the cost of managing it. But under the initiative, the enterprises have access to a template for free and customised for their use.

    Dubbed 'Getting Kenya Businesses Online', the initiative is expected to transform the Kenyan SME landscape, a sector expected to become a key driver for growth by making it quick, easy and free for businesses to register online presence at a time the Internet traffic is getting busier every year.

    "The response shows enthusiasm the local businesses have to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Internet," said Olga Arara-Kimani, the Google Kenya country manager.

    She said the power of the Internet will help the SMEs to grow their businesses and give them access to the global village. The initiative has attracted new partners such as Barclays Bank, who see the platform as the right avenue of widening the SMEs' portfolio.

    Njambi Kiritu from Impact by Design is among the many business people that benefited from the initiative. "The Kenyan public is already online, searching for information. Information about my business is now readily available to them on www.impact-by-design.com. I have reached over 90 new customers and increased revenue tenfold since 2008."

    She says the easy access to the tools made it easy for her to set up a website and reduce the number of trips she makes in search of clients.

  • Dar es Salaam. A financial consultancy firm has said East African organisations lag behind peers in the continent in information security breach preparedness due to lack of awareness creation and training to employees on security matters. The 2011 East Africa Security Study Report compiled by Deloitte East Africa revealed organisations in the region responded to problems as they happened rather than working to prevent them from happening.

    The Report was conducted on firms in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda across diverse industries.The increased usage of the Internet after the launch of the fibre optic undersea cable has also brought in more security threats.

    Experts say that more than 30,000 new Internet security threats are detected daily, a trend that has increased drastically since 2007, when less than 20 threats were being detected. Mr Makatiani, Deloitte’s manager Enterprise Risk Services, noted that entities faced challenges with the demands for corporate IT environments through outsourcing and technologies like cloud computing.

    He emphasized that although technology solutions were the most important piece in the security puzzle, failure to train people in physical as well as technical security left organisations vulnerable.He said those who leave workstations logged on or share passwords invited vulnerabilities.

  • Multinational media company Naspers released its interim results for the six months to 30 September on Tuesday. They show subsidiary MultiChoice has enjoyed far slower growth than in 2010 but the group’s Internet interests are expanding rapidly and accounting for much of its growth.

    Consolidated revenues were up 17%. Though its largely offshore Internet businesses grew during the period, subscriber growth at MultiChoice, which owns DStv and M-Net, slowed after a flurry of activity in 2010 driven by the soccer World Cup.

    The media group says its print media business has experienced strain on account of the economic downturn, but it managed to maintain market share.

    Core headline earnings grew by only 8% during the period and the company attributes this to the new platforms and businesses it launched during the period and the expenses those incurred.

    Consolidated revenues were R18,5bn, with most of the growth coming from the Internet businesses that saw revenues increase by 50%.

    Despite a decline in new MultiChoice subscribers when compared to the previous period, revenue at the pay-TV business increased by 14% to R11,6bn and trading profits rose by 8% by R3,4bn. Print revenues, meanwhile, managed revenue growth of 5%.

    Naspers says it is continuing to invest in MultiChoice and in upgrading its technology systems. In SA, specifically, MultiChoice added 209 000 subscribers, bringing the total to 3,7m households.

    Of the new subscribers, 142 000 came from the lower-priced Compact bouquet. Without offering specific figures, Naspers says its recent roll-out of pay-per-view video-on-demand product BoxOffice proved popular.

    In the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, MultiChoice’s subscriber base increased by 60 000 and now totals 1,5m homes. The lower-priced Compact and Family bouquets now account for 41% of the service’s subscriber base.

    During the period, Naspers also launched digital terrestrial services under the brand name GOtv in Zambia, Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria.

    Naspers expects overall revenue growth to continue to reflect the current trend when it releases its full-year results, but warns that the growth of profits is likely to be limited by ongoing reinvestment, something it hopes will drive long-term growth.

    The group’s share price was trading down about 1,7% at lunchtime on Tuesday.  —

computing

  • The laptops were destined for local leaders at the cell level, who needed to improve service delivery with the help of latest technologies. PAC heard that on November 16, 2009, the Ministry of Local Government through the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority contracted DIDADA Supply S.a.r.l, to supply the laptops within a period of 45 days.

    However, the laptops were delivered on February 23, 2010, almost - two months past the deadline - and as it turns out, they were fake. The total cost for the laptops was Rwf493.6million and according to the procurement officer of the Ministry, Phocas Kambali, an advance payment of Rwf 98.7 million was made.

    "Our ICT team had to verify each of the computers. At one point we also had to involve RDB-IT to assist in assessing the authenticity of the laptops," Kambali told PAC.
    The verification is said to last for a period of one year as each and every laptop had to be checked.

    "After realizing that the machines where fake, we canceled the tender. It was a counterfeit issue so we reported it to the police." Kambali added. The Ministry says that the HP laptops were not authorized by the manufacturer which raised suspicion but DIDADA claims that they have an HP license to distribute their products.

    However, PAC blamed the Ministry for not verifying DIDADA's HP license, prior to the purchase. MP, Jeanne d'Arc Uwimanimpaye went on to question the circumstances under which the ministry processed an advance payment to the distributor yet the credit line DIDADA Supply S.a.r.l had submitted as a credit security was expired.

    In his analysis, PAC chairperson, Juvenal Nkusi noted that there was poor contract management right from the beginning. Reacting to the development, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Cyrille Turatsinze said that the issue wasn't about contract management and that is why the Ministry had to file a case against the distributor.

    Before going to court, DIDADA Supply S.a.r.l wanted the issue to be solved through arbitration but when the Ministry of Local Government tabled the issue before the Ministry of Justice which provides government arbitrators, it was decided that the case be tabled before courts of laws.

    "Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) and RDB confirmed that the laptops where not authentic and not licensed by HP. This was a good reason for us to go to Court," Turatsinze said.

    Concerns were also raised, regarding the storage of the laptops, which were put under the storage of MINALOC.

    "You say that the case is in court and the machines are in your stores, so what if the distributor wins the case and later claims that there were damages to the laptops when they are in your stores, how will you cover that loss?" MP Saidat Mukanoheri asked.

    PAC Chair, Nkusi, commended the Ministry for having filed the case to court and requested them to inform his committee of the court proceedings and ruling.

  • Local developer Wise Tablets, based in Centurion, has announced the imminent release of a new range of tablets that will cater specifically for the country's consumer and educational needs. The Wise Touch 1, a low-cost tablet designed especially with the average South African in mind, will be released on 1 December.

    It ships with an array of applications that have been developed and pre-loaded on behalf of around 115 South African brands, and also features numerous educational programs.

    A limited batch of tablets is expected in stores next month, while the tablet will be officially launched and distributed in February 2012. The economical 10-inch Wise Touch, which runs on Android version 2.2, will retail for R3 500 (US$429).

    The seven-inch 3G tablet will retail for R2 500 ($306) and the entry-level seven-inch wi-fi version will cost less than R1 500 ($184), according to reports. Both will come with Android version 2.3.

    The company has also recently added an eight-inch version, which is said to be a perfect size for handling, reading and web browsing. The price of this device has yet to be disclosed.

    All tablets have a capacitative touch screen, a standard 3.5mm earphone jack, and a mini HDMI and USB port. Although on-board memory is modest, it can be expanded up to 32GB with a micro-SD card.

    According to Wise Tablets MD Gian Shipton, the Wise Touch was developed to provide South Africans with a tablet that would allow them to shop at local retailers from their own homes.

    "Most South African companies have a good web presence but have not migrated to tablets. Now the Wise Touch gives them a platform to be active on the tablet," said Shipton. "These are brands people relate to."

    Though the tablets are manufactured in China - as is the Apple iPad - Shipton said they are made according to strict specifications and standards. Wise Touch applications fall into one of three categories, namely the Wise Shopping Mall, Wise Business Park and Wise Education Centre.

    The Wise Shopping Mall allows users to shop for groceries, take-aways, movies, toys and books, do their banking, and access newspapers and magazines. Shipton said that companies in developed countries and elsewhere in Africa are already expressing interest in the Wise Shopping Mall concept.

    The Wise Business Park caters for non-retail enterprises such as airlines, broadcasters, media houses, insurance companies, law firms, and property agents. For a company to be included on the list of applications, Shipton said they would have to be nationally recognised and own a well-known brand.

    Apart from the applications, which include the standard offerings for social media, multimedia and entertainment, Shipton has said that Wise Tablets' other drawcard is a full local support service. Walk-in repair centres will also be opening soon, while sortware updates will be freely available.

    Another tool added to the tablet is the omnibus communicator, a free application that allows companies to communicate with customers directly.

    The Wise Education Centre is designed for schools that could use the tablet as a teaching tool. Shipton mentioned that 50% of the Wise Touch strategy is to bring the tablet to the education sector. Wise Tablets have created a specific module that allows pupils to view documents, flash videos and load any other media.

    The company already has access to most of the public school syllabus and some university content, all of which will be provided to pupils and students for free.

    However, the content can only be used on the Wise Tablet because of encryption and digital rights management issues with content owners.

    Shipton said the company is working with the University of JohannesburgUniversity of Johannesburg, Wits University, the University of Pretoria and 40 private schools in distributing the tablets and its content.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • First National Bank (FNB) is to enhance its eWallet solution, which enables employers to pay salaries directly to their employees' mobile phones, by introducing features that enable users to pay money from their eWallet directly to a bank account, and even to pay their bills.

    FNB has had success with eWallet, with over R1-billion being transferred using the solution during the year between its launch in October 2009 and October this year. Encouraged by the success of eWallet in South Africa, FNB has since made the solution available in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.

    "Enabling South Africans to transfer money directly into a bank account or pay their bill without having to leave their homes is taking us closer to making banking truly accessible to the previously unbanked," added eWallet Solutions CEO Yolande van Wyk.

    "The beauty of eWallet is that the recipient doesn't need a bank account to be able to access the money sent to them," she said. "In addition to withdrawing cash, buying prepaid airtime or sending the money to another person, they can also pay their bills instantly and conveniently."

    eWallet has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Financial World Innovation Awards 2011 in the Innovation in the delivery of financial products - Multichannel and Mobile Banking.

  • A rumour went round this week that Digicel in consortium with other investors was going to buy Lap Green Networks. The rumour was later denied by the Libyan investment agency but is worth repeating as it gives an indication of interest as the country opens up to new investment. Irish businessman Denis O'Brien appears to have set his sights on Africa and is planning to bid for a majority stake in Libya's Lap Green Networks, the Irish Times reported.

    According to the daily, O'Brien's Digicel mobile group is part of a consortium proposing to pay USD 270 million for a majority stake in Lap Green, a company owned by a Libyan state investment fund with telecom holdings throughout Africa. There was no comment from Digicel but informed sources confirmed to Irish Times the company's involvement in the consortium. Centamon, a company controlled by British consultancy Levant Group, and Demco, a Greek investment company, reportedly bought 65 percent in Lap Green and asked Digicel to run the business. It is not clear what size of equity participation Digicel would have in the business. The deal is subject to approval from the UN Security Council and the European Union.

    A report in the Times newspaper cited documents that suggested the takeover agreement was signed on 8 August, just two weeks before the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime. It added that the deal had been given the green light by the National Transitional Council of Libya and would proceed. Lap Green was incorporated in February 2007 to invest in communications and technology. It started with a licence in Uganda and has since spread its operations into Rwanda, Niger, Ivory Coast, southern Sudan, Zambia, Togo, Sierra Leone and Chad.

  • Safaricom and Telkom Kenya’s infrastructure sharing plan could get a boost following an announcement by Nigerian telecommunication towers company IHS that it is seeking Sh18 billion ($200 million) to finance its expansion strategy.

    The Financial Times newspaper reported Monday that the mobile phone towers builder, which rents out its infrastructure, had appointed Citibank to raise the extra equity it needs to grow beyond Nigeria.

    IHS said it was targeting lease contracts with East African market telecommunication operators. The firm said it was eyeing Kenya, Uganda Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa in its new bid to increase footprint after a successful bid in Tanzania that saw it enter into a lease back contract with Tigo of Tanzania and Millicom of DRC.

    It comes at a time Safaricom and Telkom Kenya are negotiating tower sharing deal that will see the two firms hand over their current infrastructure to an independent operator in a cost-cutting move. “Voice penetration is about 60 per cent across Africa but real penetration is about 10-15 per cent less than that. So there will be a massive growth in voice traffic that will need building to ensure more capacity, while data use is almost non-existent and will grow rapidly,” CEO Issam Darwish was quoted saying by the FT.

    The firm, which is West Africa’s largest telecommunications infrastructure provider, wants to increase the number of mobile phone towers it owns to 2,000 next year from its current 850, according to the report. Some of the money will also be used to buy towers that are being sold by companies such as France Telecom in Uganda, the newspaper said.

    Darwish put the total value of the African tower market at around $50 billion and estimated that Africa requires another 50,000 masts for voice and traffic data. Nzioka Waita , Safaricom’s Corporate affairs manager, Monday told the Business Daily the two firms are still negotiating a deal that will see them ride on each other’s infrastructure and lower their recurring costs and capital expenditure. Safaricom and Telkom Kenya have 4,000 towers between them. “The talks are still on but I cannot divulge much details due to the non-confidentiality agreement between the two firms,” said Mr Waita.

    Regional mobile firms are turning to independent tower sharing companies to manage the facilities on their behalf in a bid to reduce capital and operational expenses in the competitive sector that has seen voice revenues shrink.

    Tigo of Tanzania and Millicom of Democratic Republic of Congo set the pace of tower sharing last year after they entered into a tower leaseback agreement with Helios Towers Africa, an equity funded mobile tower operator.

    Airtel on the other hand has outsourced its network management to Nokia Siemens and is said to be pursuing a similar strategy by Tigo and Millicom that may see it sell its towers to an independent company and then enter into a leaseback agreement with it.
    Safaricom and Telkom Kenya’s arrangement, however, differs with that of Tigo and Millicom in that they are bringing in their towers as equity to the firm rather than selling them to a third party as in the case of Tigo and Millicom.

    Helios bought the 1,180 telecoms towers from Tigo, the Tanzanian operation of South Africa’s Millicom International Cellular, in December 2010.

    Tigo Tanzania will receive $80 million in cash upfront and retain a significant minority interest in the company. Helios Towers has also bought 729 towers from Millicom in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Digital Content

  • The OXFAM/ISODEC mobile phone distribution initiative forms part of a maternal and child health care project known as the Top Project which is funded by OXFAM and implemented by ISODEC in collaboration with two Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and the Ghana Health Service. Four communities in the Upper East Region namely Gia and Naaga in the Kasena Nankana West District, and Sumbrungu and Zuarango in the Bolgatanga Municipality are benefiting from the project.

    The Top project aims at plugging some of the gaps in maternal health care delivery in the country in order to help reduce the high maternal mortality rate. At a project review meeting recently held in Bolgatanga it was refreshing to learn how the support and training of Community Health Committees (CHCs) and TBAs for rights-based advocacy and education help address some of the negative attitudes and cultural barriers which have hitherto hindered acceptability and access of orthodox health care services. The TBAs and CHCs took on critical issues such as taboos that prevented women and children from eating meat, the attitude of women not wanting to deliver at health facilities, the "Landlord is not in the house" factor, among other things.

    In a region where 80% of the people live in hard to reach rural communities, the role of TBAs and community health volunteers such as CHCs and mobiles remain crucial in ensuring that essential health services and education reach the people. And such efforts as the collaboration between OXFAM/ISODEC and the Ghana Health Service certainly inspire and make one to look into the future of health care delivery in the Upper East Region and the nation at large, particularly maternal and child health, with some optimism.

  • ICT hiccups remain among the biggest challenges as the East African Community (EAC) eyes a full-fledged trans-boundary business in utilising the common market protocol.

    At least customs officers at Mutukula border point with Uganda admit that the internet communication hitches were hindering the quick clearance of goods and other services at border checkpoints on either side of the two countries.

    The assistant commissioner of Trade in the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Magela Stephen, said recently that the reported delays of vehicle clearance at the Mutukula border checkpoint were occasioned by poor clearance infrastructure and procedures that are bureaucratic in nature.

    Magela said the infrastructure were mainly characterised with network hiccups. He said the current system should be automated for facilitating fast clearance at designated one-stop centres.

    “It was anticipated that the reported delays in the clearance of goods would no longer be a major problem after the construction of the EA communication cable network that was doing well in a number of countries in the region,” he said.The URA clarification follows complaints levelled by Tanzania businessmen over the alleged delays during the clearance of vehicles and goods at the Mutukula border point.

    However, in a communiqué after a joint meeting between Tanzania and Uganda local communities at Mutukula recently, EAC authorities were also urged to address non-tariff barriers, the Citizen reports.

    The two sides agreed that there was a need for continued efforts toward enhanced cross border trade within the bloc with the priority being given to the establishment of border markets along Mutukula, Kikagati and Murongo borderlines.In a separate development, EAC officials said recently that the revenue collected by individual partner states have improved steadily since the launch of the customs union in 2005.

    According to the statistics availed recently at the Mutukula border community sensitisation meeting on the common market, Tanzania collected a total of $18,872 million against $13,217 by Uganda. Kenya tops the list with $36,704 million collections from the regional trade.

    According to the EAC officials, the revenue accrued was attained between 2005 and 2010 during which Burundi and Rwanda realised $1,826 million and $5,102 respectively.

  • NGOs will soon have the data capability that allows them to anticipate the climate changes taking place. The Group on Earth Observation is a global organisation that will allow data, collected by satellite, to be shared throughout the world.

    Another new initiative called the Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science, supported by the Department of Science and Technology, will ensure that South Africa
    becomes more able at generating knowledge on climate change matters.

    Department of Science and Technology, Minister Naledi Pandor explained that the department would be investing in young scientists because they are important and remain the key to the future.

    Minister Naledi Pandor added that it's not only about developing the technology but also about the required human resources who will carry out the studies that will give solutions to the future.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe has indicated that it is yet to assign spectrum for 4G technologies. This comes as some telecommunications and information communication technology (ICT) firms have claimed that they are introducing the technology into the country. Potraz deputy director-general Mr Alfred Marisa told the Herald Business that although ICT companies did not require any special licensing to provide 4G services, the regulator had not allocated any such spectrum as at present.

    - In commemorating the World AIDS Day, Tanzania Youth Alliance (TAYOA) in partnership with mobile operators in Tanzania are launching '15017 free SMS services', a set of services that allows users in the country to access health SMS information starting from December 1, 2011.

More

  • - Ghanaian information technology (IT) guru, Herman Chinery-Hesse is listed 62 among the top 100 global thinkers list published by the Foreign Policy magazine November 28, 2011. According to the magazine, Chinery-Hesse was listed for “bringing Africa into the mobile age.”

    -  Mobile handset manufacturer Nokia has downgraded its Kenya office from regional headquarter to a sales office and put it under South Africa in a review that saw the exit of its regional head Kenneth Oyolla.

  • Alcatel NMS Engineer, Location: Cameroon

    Posted date: Fri, 2nd Dec

    NMS Engineer – Cameroon

    Alcatel Lucent, NMS

    My client is a global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions are currently seeking an NMS Engineer with experience of Alcatel – Lucent equipment for a 3 month rolling contract based in West Africa. They offer a wide choice of products ranging from voice, data, multimedia and wireless broadband services.

    Keys Skills:

        * NMS Software Installation and Configuration
        * Network Integration and Node insertion into SDH rings
        * NMS Operations Administration

    To discuss this opportunity in more detail please submit your application to alan_ngo@glotel.com

Issue no 582 25th November 2011

node ref id: 23613

Top story

  • 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.

    Africa has gone from having hardly any cables in 2000 to having no less than 9 cables that will now connect almost all African countries by 2012. Eritrea’s the exception but they’ve always been the exception.

    However, despite the arrival of terabytes worth of capacity, there still exists “below-the-radar” a small but significant number of projects to build more international capacity to and from Africa. Interestingly the WASACE map of routes consolidates several of these dreams into a single project.


    The key part of the project is a link to the USA via Brazil, which offers an alternative routing to North America that does not need to travel via Europe and the North Atlantic.  The idea is that south-south trade is increasing and one pole of that is the growth of trade between Brazil and Angola. Indeed, WASACE’s launch motto is – “WASACE: Because the world is changing”.

    Other more long-term aspirations expressed in the map above include three continent-crossing terrestrial routes linking east and west coast countries: the Algeria-Nigeria link (at least three projects have had a run at that one); Tanzania to Congo-B via DRC (no takers for that one previously); and Djibouti via Sudan and Chad to Nigeria (something France Telecom talks wistfully about).

    WASACE claims to be the first trans-Atlantic system to deploy the next-generation “100G” technology, with ten times the capacity of previous systems. Its promoters say that it will represent a total investment of billions of US dollars from investors on four continents (which must be USA, Brazil, Africa and Europe), including the international private equity investment firm VIP Must, represented by CEO Patrick Perrin, and the African Development Bank, represented by COO Raymond Zoupko, as well as Brazilian and other investors. VIP Must was established to invest in major global development projects. Angola has enough money to have talked of putting up its own satellite so why not a fibre link?

    The project is headed by WASACE Cable Company Worldwide Holding a multinational development company represented by CEO Ramon Gil-Roldan of Spain. Project development will be managed by the David Ross Group, represented by CEO David Ross of the USA. Ross is a well-respected consultant and project manager who has had experience working on the continent before.

    The key initial route connecting Brazil and Africa would have to rely on three different types of traffic: 1) direct traffic based on trade between Angola and Brazil; 2) Latin American carriers seeking a new route to the Far East; and 3) those wanting redundancy for blockages on other international routes. Does all this traffic add up to a business case? Probably not in the short to medium term but maybe, just maybe if you take a very optimistic long-term view. But all of those things will only work if those participating in the cable offer North Atlantic level prices. This means a major shift in attitudes from some of the coastal monopoly telcos that still remain in “high price, low volume” model, most notably Angola Telecom.

    In the meantime, a bigger set of issues remains to be addressed. The cheap wholesale prices are at the landing station but in most places they have yet to be passed on to the end user, whether a consumer or a corporate. Bandwidth is over-priced on national fibre networks and local access is still nowhere near as prevalent as it should be. Mobile operators and ISPs are still hunting the corporate customers in great numbers but have yet to really engage with the idea of “at home” broadband Internet consumers. There’s a thirst for online content but not always enough bandwidth to access it. Operators are still acting as if bandwidth is in short supply. Once the back of these problems has been broken perhaps a rosier view can be taken of international fibre prospects beyond the existing terabytes….

     


    On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week video clips from AfricaCom:

    Nadeem, Juma, CEO, Mobipay on m-payments and social media in Tanzania

    Scott Bain, Director of Sales, Range Networks
    on Open BTS and low cost BTS for Africa

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision
    on changes in the satellite market in Africa

    Arvind Rao, CEO, OnMobile on comparisons between African and Indian mobile content

    Gour Lentell, CEO, biNu on this new feature phone platform taking off in Africa

    Jonathan Osler, Managing Director-Africa, Intelsat
    on its strategy in Africa

    Marc Rennard EVP Orange AMEA
    , on the challenges it is facing on the continent

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

     

telecoms

  • The Minister of Telecommunication and Postal Service Madut Biar Yel said most operators now use their own gateways, but a government is planning to assign a company to operate Government-owned international gateway, he said. However the Minister did not reveal to the media the name of the company that is to be assigned. The Government is aware of the fact that the software and hardware industry are two sides of the gold coin that would enable Southern Sudan to emerge as a regional IT hub.

    In the realization of this objective, the Government will undertake a number of initiatives such as the establishment of a High Level Institutional Framework to coordinate ICT policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation; promote government services; promote ICT Human Resource Development; enhance investments in ICT; and create partnerships with all stakeholders in the sector. The over-arching goal of this policy framework is therefore to ensure a more accessible, equitable, efficient, affordable and effective telecommunications and postal services sectors, he said.

    Yel said they are assisted by the World Bank in the process of improving their internet system. He told the media that Gemtel mobile operating company is owned by Libyan Government as well as the Government of South Sudan which has some shares.

  • The Federal Government has commended National Carrier, Globacom for its leading efforts in innovation and other milestones even as Globacom calls for government support in the provision of communication infrastructure to be shared by all players in the industry. This according to it, would help reduce the heavy cost of installation being borne by the respective players, which ultimately is transferred to the subscribers.

    Speaking during a courtesy visit to the minister by Globacom officials, led by its Group Chief Operating Officer (GCOO), Mr. Mohamed Jameel and the Head of Glo 1, Mr. Folu Aderibigbe, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, described Globacom as a very important player to the GSM services industry in Nigeria. She particularly commended Globacom for being a catalyst in price reduction and for being a leader in value added services.

    On the challenges facing the industry, Jameel lamented that if conscious steps are not taken to save the medium and small players in the GSM category, their fate may soon follow the trends in the CDMA category who have been sapped dry due to heavy and unbearable interconnect charges paid to the dominant player. He also drew attention to multiple taxations from local youths, local government authorities, state governments and federal government authorities, pleading with government to publish a common Code of Conduct to govern the demands of the various tiers of government.

    On multiple taxation, the Minister criticized some arms of government for over-levying successful companies. She explained that contrary to existing laws governing all aspects of taxation, the level of compliance has been rather low saying that some state governments are "under pressure to shore up internally generated revenues which has made them descend so heavily on the industries they perceive as "successful", including telecommunications operators". She however informed the team that discussions are on-going to get the various arms and layers of government to comply with the laws governing the telecoms industry.

    Mrs Johnson added that as Nigeria is trying to build a local ICT industry, it cannot allow the any operator in any category to die, because they address dire and specific needs of the populace. To this end, she said government is working with a team of consultants to see that interconnect fees are reduced to something fair to all players.

  • Two Chinese telecommunication firms and four local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have stayed out of the government's second call for the 4G tender, ceding control to Kenya's four mobile operators and a number of Western firms.

    The fourth generation (4G) is a wireless technology with a larger capacity to deliver data and facilitate high-end services such as video conferencing and gaming.

    Chinese firms Huawei, ZTE, and Kenyan firms AccessKenya, Wananchi Group, Swift Global, and Jamii Telecom Ltd were among the first to express interest in forming a consortium to run the 4G network when the tender was first announced in August.
    However, they have stayed out following the government's review of tender terms.

    This has left the race for the 4G network to local mobile operators Airtel Networks, Essar Kenya, Safaricom, Telkom Kenya, and multinationals Epesi Com, Alcatel Lucent, Kenya Data Networks, MTN Business Kenya, and Nokia Siemens which had not participated in the initial bidding. "Some of the firms that had initially expressed interest did not re-apply.

    There is however no cause for alarm as the network is going to be operated under the open access model," Dr Bitange Ndemo, the permanent secretary at the Information ministry told the Business Daily.

    The ministry reviewed the tender rules by widening the ownership of the 4G network and also allowed international firms to participate so long as they are registered locally before February 1, 2012.

    The review provided a window for interested international firms to register local affiliates and seek a waiver from the regulatory requirement to have local investors buy 20 per cent stake in their operations.

    Dr Ndemo said it was not automatic for the nine firms that have now tendered to own a stake in the consortium as they will still be subjected to commit themselves through equity contribution. The winning consortium is set to earn millions of shillings as fees from leasing the network to other firms.

    The ministry has written to Treasury to start the formation of a special purpose vehicle under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in which the 4G network will be run.

    Aside from contributing to the capital outlay, firms can also participate in the venture by availing their existing networks.

  • Telecom operators have been warned that the renewal of their operating licenses will now be dependent on the quality of the service. The frequency of surveys is also likely to increase to as often as every seven days, a senior government official said last week.

    Recent technical surveys by telecoms regulator, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) between May and September, revealed that none of the seven mobile telephone service providers met the standard for a maximum 2% for dropped and blocked calls.

    The survey established that Airtel dropped 15.2% of its calls, uganda telecom 11.4%, MTN 11.1%, Warid 8.75% and Orange 3.75%. Dropped and blocked calls are those that are unable to establish connection with the intended call recipient or those that lapse midway due to network problems.

    "Now that we have about 20 million mobile phone subscribers, what we need is quality.
    Before we renew a license we have to ensure that the service is excellent," Nyombi Thembo, the ICT state minister said at the opening of the Orange Telecom Expo..

  • Vodacom-Mozambique, the second largest mobile phone company in the country, recently announced that it is to invest 12 million euros (about 16 million US dollars) in expanding and modernising its network.

    Addressing a Maputo press conference, the chairperson of the Vodacom Executive Board, Jose dos Santos, said this work will be undertaken in the coming two to three years, in partnership with the Chinese company Huawei, regarded as a market leader in equipment for telecommunications networks.

    "This partnership falls within Vodacom's strategy to always offer the best quality network, to improve continually the experience of our clients in using the network, and allow them to benefit from a service of excellence, with more modern technologies", he said.

    "We shall replace our entire network, replacing the equipment which is in the masts", dos Santos continued. "This will double the capacity of our network. It will be possible to double the number of calls made on our network"

    The agreement with the Chinese company envisages that, at the end of the first year, Vodacom will increase its coverage across the country, with the installation of 200 new 3G base stations and about 100 new 2G base stations.

    By the end of the fourth year of the partnership, a total of 400 2G base stations will allow Vodacom to cover all the districts in the country, and many of the administrative posts, said dos Santos.

    "This partnership will also allow users of the internet service to enjoy greater speed in the transmission of data and multi-media services in real time", he added. "It will become the largest network with 3G technology in the country".

    The partnership will also allow Huawei to supply several types of smart phone at the lowest prices available on the Mozambican market, dos Santos promised.

  • African Prepaid Services Nigeria (APSN), a now-mostly-dormant company in which JSE-listed Blue Label Telecoms has an effective 37% stake, is claiming US$481m, or about R4bn at the prevailing exchange rate, in damages from Multi-Links, Telkom’s former Nigerian subsidiary, after Multi-Links walked away from a lucrative, 10-year contract with the company. Multi-Links has filed a counterclaim of $123,9m.

    Though Telkom has sold the Multi-Links business — the sale to Hip Oils Topco became effective in October — part of the agreement of sale stipulates that the JSE-listed telecommunications group must accept liability for “certain litigation claims” against Multi-Links if these claims exceed $10m.

    However, Telkom said this week it was “not considered probable” that the claims would exceed $10m and also that it had filed a counterclaim against APSN. Telkom had not responded to a query from TechCentral by the time of publication seeking details for its reasons for filing the counterclaim. However, it has said APSN has filed its defence to the counterclaim.

    Arbitration between the parties is set down for hearing for a year from now, from 5 November to 14 December 2012. Blue Label Telecoms’ head of investor and media relations, Michael Campbell, says confidentiality agreements preclude him from providing detailed information about the dispute. What he will say is that APSN has sold most of its assets and is now little more than a shell company after it lost Multi-Links as its primary customer.

    In June, Blue Label said it had decided to terminate its business activities in Nigeria on the back of the cancellation of the Multi-Links contract. This would allow it to “redeploy” its resources to its other international businesses, in particular India and Mexico, co-CEO Mark Levy said at the time.

    Blue Label has an effective 36,7% stake in APSN by virtue of its 72% shareholding in Africa Prepaid Services. APSN signed a 10-year contract with Multi-Links in 2008 for the exclusive distribution of its wireless products to the Nigerian market.

    Telkom has lost billions of rand through its investment in Multi-Links, which owns a CDMA) network in a market thoroughly dominated by companies that operate networks based on GSM, a rival technology.

internet

  • The Office of the President will house a new department to monitor cyber security on all public platforms set up with the adoption of online services. Falling under the directorate of e-Government services, it comes when manual records are being upgraded into electronic forms, rasing the possibility of increased cyber crimes.

    It will take charge of electronic security on government systems, including the telecoms infrastructure and data storage, migrating from an arrangement where individual ministries and departments were in charge of cyber policing.

    Katherine Getao, the ICT secretary at the directorate of e-Government, said the "creation of the department has been approved and the next step will be to recruit the required personnel," said Dr Getao. She said the Government would hire the team on competitive terms, seeking to match what the private sector is offering to stop the loss of talent.

    Low remuneration has seen the Government lose key IT experts to the private sector, which is a threat to the ambitious digital projects. Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said the government had lost eight officers it had trained to tackle cyber crime due to uncompetitive salaries.

    The demand for security analysts and administrators is being propelled by the increased automation of services, especially by financial institutions and telecoms firms. "The greatest challenge we are witnessing is the ability to retain IT officers capable of tackling cyber crime due to low remuneration that has seen us lose a number to the private sector," said Dr Ndemo.

    Cyber crime varies from receiving unsolicited material, commonly referred as spam mails, hacking, extortion, espionage, viruses and using some software to get critical information from an individual, an organisation or government computer system.

    In the recent past, websites of the police and the Kenya Revenue Authority have been under attack by hackers. This effort will supplement the industry regulator Communications Commission of Kenya, which has also invested Sh20 million in equipment to connect to other regional and global networks to monitor and tackle cyber crime issues.

    It has also set up a computer incident response team to counter the rising cases of cyber crime in the country. The Kenya Computer Incident Response Team will help CCK to protect consumers from attacks that might lead to loss of resources.

  • Lusaka High Court judge Albert Wood has granted Zamtel an injunction restraining Zesco from preventing the communication company having the indefeasible right to use its optic fibre network as agreed in the agreement entered into by the two companies.

    Judge Wood granted the order following an application by Zamtel for an order of an interim measure of protection for an injunction pending the resolution of the dispute through arbitration. The application was made pursuant to Section 11 of the Arbitration Act number 19 of 2000 and Rule 9 of the Arbitration (Court Proceedings) Rules 2001.

    According to the order, judge Wood said, "It is hereby ordered that an order of interim measure of protection by way of an injunction be and is hereby granted to restrain the respondents whether by itself and or its servants or agents and whomsoever person or persons from preventing and interfering with and or disrupting the applicant's rights to the indefeasible right to use the respondent's fibre optic network as agreed to in terms of the indefeasible right of use agreement dated 17th December 2009 between the applicant and the respondent pending the hearing and determination of the arbitral proceedings and the applicant undertakes to indemnify the respondent for any damages that the respondent may suffer as a result of this order of an interim measure of protection by way of an injunction should the court afterwards be of the view that the order should not have been granted."

    In an affidavit in support of ex-parte originating summons deposed by Zamtel managing director Hans Paulsen, by virtue of that agreement, Zesco agreed to grant Zamtel an exclusive indefeasible right of use of its fibre optic network including any future extensions or fibre networks based on the terms and conditions of the agreement.

    He stated that in reciprocity, Zamtel also granted Zesco a non-exclusive indefeasible right of use for capacity of its fibre optic network including any future extensions or future fibre network based on terms and conditions of the agreement.

    Paulsen said the agreement gave both Zamtel and Zesco the right to interconnect on each others fibre optic networks.
    He further said as a result of the agreement and with the full knowledge of Zesco, Zamtel invested US $1,400,000,00 of the budgeted US $3 million in infrastructure and related developments of the fibre network.

    Paulsen said sometimes in October this year, the Minister of Land, Energy and Water Development was reported as stating that the agreement between Zamtel and Zesco would be terminated.

    He said following the purported pronouncement, on October 13, 2011, Zesco wrote a letter to Zamtel terminating the agreement on the premise that there was no notification from the electricity supply company confirming that all the three conditions of the agreement were satisfied and henceforth, the agreement had not become effective and that the three months period from December 17, 2009 had since elapsed.

    Paulsen said his company believed that by the pronouncements in the press, Zesco had already formed a premeditated scheme to wrongfully terminate the agreement with no tangible and justifiable basis.

    "…that the respondent's actions appear to be tainted with illegality and with ill motive in that it is calculated to deliberately disrupt the business of the applicant," Paulsen said.

    "If the applicant is prevented from accessing the fibre optic network belonging to the respondent, the applicant shall be in breach of various contractual undertakings that it has with suppliers, engineers and other contractors who have been engaged on the strength of the existing agreement."

    He added that both parties had been implementing the agreement unfettered since December 17, 2009.

    "For instance, in August 2010, the applicant wrote to the respondent that it was planning to implement the optic grand wire across the Zambezi River at Kazungula to facilitate interconnection of the respondent's optic fibre network with the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation," stated Paulsen.

    "The respondent accordingly confirmed to the applicant that it would provide it with 15 kilometers of the OPGW that needed to be used on the 66KV line at Kazungula between the respondent and the Botswana Power Corporation." The matter came up for inter parte hearing on November 21, 2011.

  • Inside a small internet cafe in Monrovia, only three customers hunch over computers. Getting on-line in Liberia's capital costs $2 an hour, more money than many Liberians earn in a day.

    Emmanuel Dolo is trying to apply on-line for a scholarship, but he's not having much luck.

    "The Internet here is very slow. Sometimes you pay for 60 minutes and you only get to use 20 minutes. It just keeps loading and loading," Dolo said. "It's frustrating." In Liberia, businesses and internet providers must pay for expensive satellite service, which is far beyond the reach of most Liberians.

    Elliott Blidi, a project coordinator in Liberia for the West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program, said Liberia has the lowest access to internet penetration in the region.

    "In West Africa, Africa in general, our penetration is very low - about 0.02 percent. During the civil war years, the cables that were available, the financing and political will were not there to bring it in," Blidi said.

    But eight years out of war after the end of Liberia's civil war, that is finally starting to change. Last week, a French ship arrived on the Liberian coast, carrying with it a fiber optic cable, two inches thick and 10,000 miles long. The ship is dragging the cable from France to South Africa.

    The Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable system, run by a consortium of telecom operators led by French Telecom, will provide broadband connectivity to more than 20 countries in Africa and Western Europe.

    A crowd gathered on a sandy beach near downtown Monrovia, watching as a diver emerged from the sea, pulling a rope. Eventually, the underwater cable popped out of the ocean onto the beach, which prompted cheers from the crowd.

    It was a moment of celebration for Ciata Victor. She's a Liberian businesswoman who returned home after the war ended in 2003, armed with a degree in computer engineering technology. But she said it's been difficult to work here.

    "I moved my company home from America to Liberia and internet access has been extremely challenging. I have paid as high as $449 a month for internet access," she said.

    After lagging far behind, Africa is on the verge of an internet boom, according to a recent World Bank study. As of 2010, there were 12 submarine cables in sub-Saharan Africa and another five under construction.

    For Liberia, as well as Gambia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the ACE submarine cable is the first connection to a fiber optic system.

    Elliott Blidi is confident that internet use here will increase by 75 percent in the next four years, even though many here have never used a computer. Blidi said the explosion in cell-phone use proves it's possible.

    "Any illiterate person, any farmer who has never sat a day in school can use a cell phone. Any old mother sitting in the market can use a cell phone. If you can use a cell phone, then it's just a next step to going online," Blidi said.

    The entire ACE cable must be in place before broadband service can begin in Liberia. That's expected to happen by mid-next year. Meanwhile, the Liberian government and local companies must do their part -- install wires, cables, and towers to share the technology with the country.

computing

  • The Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson, has stressed that lawmakers have a critical role to play in the development of the nation's Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector through advancing legislation that will increase the availability of ICT networks services and devices to Nigerians.

    Johnson, who made this call during the presentation of the roadmap of the ministry to the House of Representatives' Committee on ICT in Abuja, urged the lawmakers to aid the development of ICT in Nigeria via provision of legal instruments that will deliver the necessary inputs for a profitable and sustainable ICT industry.

    She stressed that there was a need for lawmakers to enact relevant cybercrime and cyber security laws that will not only protect Nigerians, but protect the interest of the nation.

    The minister also urged the lawmakers to protect the vulnerability of ICT infrastructure in Nigeria by "enacting laws that will make it a crime punishable by law for anyone to tamper with ICT infrastructure in any part of the nation", and emphasised that ICT infrastructure need to be critically protected by law for security and business continuity reasons.

    She said that despite the perceived growth of the telecoms sector, Nigeria still remained at the bottom of the African Broadband download performance table with download speeds of 1.38Mbps, as compared to Ghana who tops of the table with 10.1Mbps.

    According to her, this was due to several challenges and constraints which have hampered the growth of ICT in the nation, some of which include multiple and illegal taxation on ICT infrastructure, fragmented IT industry, delays in necessary government approvals, and inadequate ICT skills and capacity.

    In his remarks, the Committee chairman, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, laid emphasis on the policy direction of the ministry in the area of provision of ICT tools, local content as it exists in the oil sector and harmonisation of the agencies of the ministry (many of which have overlapping functions).

  • The Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited said the Nigerian Communications Satellite-1Replacement (NigComSat-1R) would be launched on Dec. 19. The managing director of NigComSat-IR, Timasaniyu Ahmed-Rufai stated this at the stakeholders' conference and exhibition on NigComSat-1R, entitled "Pre-launch Marketing and Sensitisation on NigComSat-1R." He said that the new satellite would be sent into the orbit from China.

    The managing director noted that 18 months after the launch of NigComSat-1 on May 13, 2007, the satellite was de-orbited on November 10, 2008.

    'We spent five months to analyse what happened to NigComSat-1 before commencing on the manufacturing of NigComSat-1R,' he said. He said the new satellite was a super hybrid geostationary satellite for communications and would also serve in telemedicine, e-learning, aircraft, aside others.

    'The launch of NigComSat-1R is symbolic on different levels. For us at NigComSat Limited, it is the end result of many years of hard work and sacrifice. It is another step towards the fulfillment of our vision to be the leading satellite operator in Africa.

    'For the federal government of Nigeria, it is a prerequisite for a knowledge based economy, and to the ICT industry, NigComSat-1R will serve as a critical infrastructure,' he said.

    Ahmed-Rufai called for the cooperation of the government and the ICT industry to enable the average Nigeria to reap the benefits of the launch. According to him, whilst the de-orbiting of NigComSat-1 was disappointing, it paved the way for growth and improvement.

    'The improved features will enable us meet our core mandate in covering the entire African continent and parts of Europe and Asia with clear, clean and high-resolution signals on our footprints.

    'The NigComSat-1R satellite, therefore, will bring the expected bandwidth, not just to Nigeria, but the entire continent. We shall ensure the bandwidth is available for customers at competitive prices,' he said.

    He called on the broadcast industry to take advantage of the opportunity to meet what he called the challenges of global migration in the industry. The NigComSat-1R has a life span of 15 years.

    The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, said the new satellite would add value and improve the fast growing ICT landscape in Nigeria, especially in the area of broadband Internet connectivity.

    'Recently, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) rose up from its yearly meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, with a marching order to its member countries to make broadband connectivity available in at least 40 per cent of households by 2012.

    'Nigeria as a member of ITU will abide by ITU decision by creating an enabling environment for broadband Internet connectivity through adequate investment by both the government and the private sector,' Johnson said.

    She added that NigComSat-1R would domesticate broadband services by curtailing capital flight of about 500 million dollars yearly.

  • At the just concluded Microsoft's Partners in Learning global forum 2011 held in Washington DC, the software giant in partnership with the British Council have each committed $1 million to build 80 digital hubs at schools across Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda using Windows MultiPoint Server.

    Partners in Learning is a 10-year, nearly $500 million commitment by Microsoft to help education systems around the world. Since its inception in 2003, the Partners in Learning program has reached more than 196 million teachers and students in 114 countries.

    The capacity building project is expected to train more than 20,000 school leaders and teachers and provide more than 100,000 learners and communities with digital access, while promoting literacy throughout the region.

    The project, it was leanrt was inspired by similar work already underway in Africa by the British Council and by a commitment that Microsoft and other partners made at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2010 to build labs powered by Windows MultiPoint Server in 40 lighthouse schools in Haiti, serving 24,000 students.

    The software giant's partnership with the British Council would combine the assets of both organizations to nurture the use of information communications technology for innovative practice in teaching and learning in order to equip millions of students with the knowledge and skills they need for life and work in the 21st century.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • First National Bank (FNB) has opened up access to the PayPal service so that people with accounts at any of South Africa's banks can link their accounts to their PayPal account and receive funds from anyone belonging to the PayPal network across the world.

    The service was previously exclusive to FNB customers. PayPal has more than 100-million active users in over 190 countries and territories. "One and a half years after launching our exclusive Top Up and Withdraw services for FNB customers we are pleased to open up the PayPal service for receiving funds to all customers with a South African bank account," FNB general manger for complementary online services, Chris Savides, said in a statement this week.

    "They will now be able to withdraw funds from a PayPal account into a qualifying South African bank account regardless of which South African bank that they bank with."

    South Africans already making use of PayPal but not banking with FNB have been able to make credit card-based payment transactions, but can now benefit from the added security of transacting online with PayPal by linking their credit card to an authorised PayPal account.

    Receiving funds and withdrawing these funds into a South African bank account was previously offered exclusively to FNB banking customers. New users are still required to create a free FNB Online Banking profile in order to link the accounts, even if they do not bank with FNB.

    Customers can simply open a PayPal account by visiting  and are then required to link it to a qualified South African Bank account.

    They will be able to receive payments in 24 different currencies via PayPal and FNB will convert the currency to rand when the money is withdrawn into their South African bank accounts.

    FNB's agreement with PayPal enables international businesses and individuals to transact with South African service providers via a secure and convenient payment service.

    Over 20 000 FNB-banked merchants and individuals have already signed up for the PayPal service to-date. By opening up access, FNB is able to offer the more than 500 000 South Africans with registered PayPal accounts the ability to receive funds through PayPal into their selected bank accounts.

    Savides added that the internet has changed the global commerce landscape, and encouraged South Africans to think about selling their goods and services to people outside of South Africa's borders.

    "One of South Africa's leading online floral and gifting retailers, NetFlorist.co.za started making use of PayPal after it realised that 30% of its business comes from outside of South Africa's borders," he said. "PayPal is a trusted and safer payment service for people transacting from abroad."

    Oded Zehavi, the head of PayPal's business in South Africa, pointed out that with South Africa's solid financial infrastructure and its status as one of the continent's largest economies, there had been "great strides" in eCommerce in the country.

    "FNB and PayPal have a similar focus on innovation, so it makes sense that we would work with FNB to make online payments even easier for merchants and consumers in South Africa," he said. "The success of FNB and PayPal's initial offering will be further bolstered by offering all customers with a South African bank account a safer way of getting paid online with PayPal."

  • In a matter of days it will be possible to send or receive money in Uganda across international borders at the push of a button on your cell phone. Subsequent to the $110m (sh282b) Visa Inc acquisition of Fundamo, a global mobile money firm, Africans especially those in Uganda and Nigeria will enjoy international mobile money transfers through a partnership with telecom company MTN.

    The development is poised to increase amounts of money remitted to the country after media reports indicated that remittances from the diaspora increased to about $2 b (sh5trillion) from about $845 m (sh2trillion) between 2006 and 2010.

    Central Bank reports indicate that remittances from workers in African countries like Angola, Namibia and South Africa are rapidly growing to match remittances from workers in overseas countries such as the UK and United States of America (USA) back home to Uganda.

    At the end of 2010, the Money Remittance Fund had grown to sh1.9b in efforts to provide security to persons who deposit money with money remittance firms.

    Jim McCarthy, head of product for Visa Inc says the company's VisaNet product will make reliable electronic payments a reality as well as increase access to formal financial services in the developing countries.

    "Mobile technology has become the single most important driver of financial inclusion that is enabling financial institutions, mobile network operators and Visa to connect unbanked consumers to each other and the global economy," he noted.

    Apparently, the new technology has the capacity to handle more than 20,000 transaction messages every second across more than 200 countries. This being the launch of the service, the jury is still out on the security of the transactions.

    However, Visa and MTN give assurances that authentication through a PIN or password in addition to fraud monitoring capabilities will mitigate and prevent fraud.

    Uganda and Nigeria are set to be the first beneficiaries of the service in Africa, according to press statements, as MTN rolls out the service to its 5.7m mobile money users on the continent.

    "As the appetite for mobile technology grows, the launch of this product with Visa doesn't only enhance our current mobile money offering, but also represents yet another crucial milestone in our journey to bring value-adding services to the growing population of mobile phone users in our markets," said Christian de Faria, MTN Group boss.

    Bank of Uganda regulates and oversees the mobile money operations of telecom companies Airtel, MTN Uganda, and Uganda Telecom (UTL) in the country.

  • Egyptian shares have fallen for the eight day in a row after clashes in Tahrir continue. Egyptian shares have dropped $1.2-billion dollars of the market value but traders have said it was not as steep as they had expected, attributing it to non-Arab buying.

    Telecom operators appear to be hit hardest, with worries the ruling military junta could cut communications if violence continues in the country. “Investors were speculative over shares like Mobinil and Talaat Moustafa,” said analyst Marwa Hamed. “Investors now are calmer in dealing with crises like these. They do not overreact.”

    Egypt’s benchmark EGX30 shed 2.45 per cent to 4,023.45 points, its lowest level in a month. The broader indexes EGX70 and EGX100 were also in the red, taking a dive by 3.96 per cent to 443.26 points. The EGX100 plunged by 3.39 per cent to 696.64 points. Volume totalled LE1.3 billion, according to Bourse data.

    “The fall was expected in the wake of the clashes. It’s natural,” said Mohssen Adel, a Cairo-based analyst. “Investors will be taken by selective buying after the decline. Today may witness selective buying on blue-chip shares.”

    Egypt’s heavyweight CIB plunged 2.61 per cent to LE23.12 per share, while EFG-Hermes, the country’s biggest investment bank by market value, shed 1.8 per cent to LE11.99 per share.

    The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) reduced the size of its treasury bill auction yesterday, as yields surged to their highest level since the 2008 global economic crisis, according to Reuters.

  • Blue Label Telecoms shareholders on Tuesday approved a plan by the JSE-listed company to buy the 12% of the company’s shares held by US software maker Microsoft in a deal worth R390m.

    Microsoft is selling the shares at a loss. It bought 91.9m shares in 2007 for R6,75/share and is selling them back to Blue Label, which intends to cancel them, for R4,25/share. Blue Label’s head of investor and media relations, Michael Campbell, says the two companies have “no further plans to work together”.

    “Our strategies dovetailed well in 2007, reflected in [Microsoft's] investments in us and bilateral agreements, but circumstances have since changed,” Campbell says. “During the last four years as a listed business, our relationship has not continued to develop in the way that either party envisioned and there are no common denominators apparent to either of us going forward.”

    Campbell says the parties have agreed not to disclose what percentage of shareholders voted in favour of the buy-back, but it had to be improved by a 75% majority.

    Microsoft originally bought the shares when Blue Label listed on the JSE. It acquired the stake and entered into a partnership with the SA company to “exercise reasonable efforts to provide mutual assistance to one another in exploring new business opportunities”. 

  • An attempt to block four mobile phone operators from offering money transfer services has failed after a judge dismissed the case challenging it. The case challenging the legality of the mobile money transfer was based on the grounds that the four companies do not have licences from the Central Bank.

    Eric Orina who filed the case said failure to obtain licence from CBK threatened consumer rights as they would have no recourse in law should their money be lost or interfered with in any way. He argued that as long as there is no law to regulate the mobile money transfer business as operated by Safaricom, Airtel, YU and Orange would be operating in a legal vacuum.

    He said mobile money transfer business ought to be regulated and licensed by CBK and not the Communications Commission of Kenya."The operation of service providers are in the province of banking business and are currently undertaken by the four in contravention of the Act, which bars any person who is not licensed from engaging in banking business," he says.

    However, the mobile telephone operators argued that Orina was misguided as mobile money transfer services did not in any way fall within the definition of 'banking business'. Judge Gacheche agreed with the four mobile phone service providers that CBK would have no right to supervise them.

Digital Content

  • Nigeria's agency against fake drugs is seeking help from communications technology ministry to bring down the cost of text messaging, the platform for its newest anti-counterfeiting technology in time for its nationwide deployment next January.

    The Mobile Authentication Service, MAS, allows consumers to check the authenticity of regulated products by texting special scratch PIN numbers on their packaging to short code 38353 at point of purchase.

    National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, working with the firm Sproxil Inc, introduced MAS last February and hopes to deploy the service for all anti-malaria drugs nationwide by January 2012 on the strength of an agreement among stakeholders.

    SMS to static codes cost between N30 and N50, but pharmaceutical companies using the service have so far "shouldered the main burden of the financial implications involved," said NAFDAC director-general Dr Paul Orhii when he met communications technology minister Omobola Johnson last week.

    He said pharmaceutical companies want "government to intervene in persuading the GSM telecommunication companies to drastically reduce the price of SMS as part of their corporate social responsibility."

    MAS is only one of four new technologies deployed by NAFDAC to combat counterfeiting. Others are Truscan, Black Eye, and Radio Frequency Identification, which compares samples of drug active ingredient against a database of known chemicals.

    MAS works by comparing coding on drug packaging against NAFDAC's database of regulated products over a phone line.

    "If the drug packaging contains a counterfeit code, the consumer will receive a message alerting him/her that the pack may be a fake, as well as a phone number to report the incident," Orhii explains.

    He said MAS has put the power to detect counterfeit in the hands of an estimated 80 million Nigerians using mobile phones to confront the products of counterfeiter who target developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

    The technology further arms NAFDAC to provide different layers of protection in an "ever changing landscape of combating counterfeits," says Orhii.

    The agency's rate of detecting fakes has increased significantly but still faces an industry it says is now run by former drug barons put out of trafficking in narcotics.

    Counterfeiting in drugs generates at least $75 million a year globally, according to data from the Pharmaceutical Society Institute.

    But the World Customs Service values global counterfeiting at $200 billion a year.

  • Christine Ampeire, a second-year student of Software Engineering at Makerere University, was beaming with delight after her mobile app, Mafuta GO was announced winner of the AppCircus competition at Protea Hotel in Kampala.

    The decision was reached by a panel of 6 members of the jury, composed of Veronica Ssempebwa, Evelyn Namara, Annie Njenga, Ali Ndiwalana Gerald Begumisa and Boaz Shani, after each of the ten shortlisted developers had presented their creations to the over 200 delegates at the Mobile Monday Kampala event.

  • The government has said it is not certain of beating the December 31, 2012 deadline that requires East Africa member states to have switched from analogue to digital broadcasting.

    A delay in migration from analogue to digital is likely to slow investment in business opportunities that accrue from digital transmission. Addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday at the launch of the Comesa digital migration workshop in Kampala, Mr Nyombi Thembo, the state minister for ICT, said digital migration is a huge process that will be hard to accomplish in the set time.

    "We are looking at the December 2012 East Africa set deadline. However, as you may know the migration is not an event but a process, thus by 2012, we will have achieved digital migration in some parts of Uganda as we look at other regions in the years to follow," he said.

    Mr Thembo's pronouncement, however, contradicts the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation's position that insists that Uganda will beat the set deadline.

    Mr Paul Kihika, acting UBC managing director, told participants at the same workshop that Uganda was ready for the migration and would thus beat the regional deadline.

    Migration master plan

    "We have developed a comprehensive migration master plan that will start with greater Kampala and by April 30, 2012, Kampala would have achieved a full migration from digital to analogue," he said.

    By June 17, 2015 all countries in Europe, Asia and Africa shall be required to have shifted from analogue to digital. However, none of the five member states apart from Kenya has tested for the implementation of the migration.

    Besides Kenya, South Africa has also tested for the migration from analogue broadcasting to digital. Mr Kihika told journalists that after connecting Kampala, the corporation will embark on other parts of the country which as he said will be done before East Africa's set deadline.

    The contradiction between the two government entities which are key players in the migration process is a clear indication that the government is no longer sure of its ability to beat the set target. Mr Thembo said although he was not certain of hitting the December 31, 2012 deadline, the government would before the global switching deadline of 2015 have achieved full migration.

    Recently while appearing before a Parliamentary Committee, Mr Godfrey Mutabazi the Uganda Communications Commission executive director, told parliamentarians that the commission mandated to implement the switching process was not certain whether it would be able to beat the December 31, 2012 deadline.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Boingo Wireless has announced an agreement with Skyrove that will give Boingo customers access to an additional 600 hotspots throughout South Africa, bringing the total number of Boingo hotspots in the country to more than 2,000.

    - Fourth GSM operator in Nigeria, Etisalat, has informed of plans to build about 1000 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in the country by 2012. This, according to Etisalat Nigeria, would help it to improve on its service offerings, especially in the areas of quality of service to its teeming subscribers, put at 10 million in Nigeria.

More

  • - Telecoms mogul Strive Masiyiwa is one of the richest in Africa, according to an inaugural survey by Forbes magazine. The Forbes Africa's 40 Richest list was topped by Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote worth US$10,1 billion.

  • Invitation to Tender – Botswana Telecommunications Authority
    Provision of Consultancy Services for the Development of a National Broadband Strategy for Botswana – Tender No: BTA/PT/005/2011-12
    To download the Tender Document click here:

Issue no 581 18th November 2011

node ref id: 23520

Top story

  • 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.

    No later than last September, the Kenyan newspaper Business Daily reported that Bob Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom “said that the cost of running diesel-driven base stations rose by 27% since January, especially in areas with no electricity and in western Kenya where frequent power outages mean the stations must run on diesel for up to four hours a day”. He also acknowledged that the raising operating costs will need to be addressed and a way to do so will be to increase calling rates.

    Charging more customers is one approach but it has numerous pitfalls. A price increase can result in lower call volumes and therefore the overall revenue will not go up. Most African mobile subscribers don’t have deep pockets and they remain much more price sensitive than their counterparts in developed countries. Increasing prices is a sure way to drive them to look more carefully at what the competitors have on offer.

    Faced with falling voice ARPU and hypothetical additional data revenue, African mobile operators have to pay more attention on the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures should be among the top items on their list as oil prices have gone up again. When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution but it can be done.

    The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay.

    The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. According to a case study carried out by Axiata, a large Asian telecommunication company, the energy saving in using an inverted air conditioning versus a traditional air conditioning system is between 14% and 22%
    depending on the temperature settings (13.8% at 25°C and 21.9% at 30°C).

    In a typical setting the pay-back time is about two years. In Africa for example, mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction (or not) with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    Beside free cooling, inverted air conditioners or higher operating temperatures, smarter ways of cooling have already been developed to reduce energy consumption. One
    option is to extract the heat directly from the source rather than attempting to cool
    the whole cabin.

    Equipment manufacturer Ericsson has for example conducted trials in Indonesia that show significantly lower energy consumption can be achieved through the use of heat exchangers for the shelters and separate cooling compartments for the battery back-up. The energy used for cooling the sites can be reduced by up to 60%.

    Energy efficient base stations offer interesting savings without requiring a big capital layout but then why are there still so few in Africa when a large number of BTS are running on diesel 24/7?

    Further reduction in OPEX will require some capital investments because it implies
    purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy
    power solutions. Green options range from the use of solar energy, wind
    power to hydrogen fuel cell, biomass, biofuel, etc. Solar and wind remain the most
    prominent green technologies used to power base stations in off-grid locations.

    When looking at the business case to implement renewable energy solutions to power
    base stations, three main factors need to be looked at. There is the price of oil, the BTS load and the renewable energy technology to be implemented. Let’s look at the first factor in more details.

    When oil prices are depressed, the pay-back time will be longer – a couple of years more for most renewable energy projects. When oil prices are high, the return on investment will take less time. When diesel price was at its peak in July 2008, mobile operators’ fuel costs were nearly 3 times higher than at the beginning of 2007 with the result of spiralling operating costs (OPEX) for African mobile operators. Shouldn’t the latter comparison start ringing an alarm bell in African mobile operators’ head?

    For more details on the short and long term options available to mobile operators engaging in better managing their diesel bill, please see Balancing Act’s report entitled “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” published in February 2011.


    On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week an AfricaCom special:

    Nadeem, Juma, CEO, Mobipay
    on m-payments and social media in Tanzania

    Scott Bain, Director of Sales, Range Networks on Open BTS and low cost BTS for Africa

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on changes in the satellite market in Africa

    Arvind Rao, CEO, OnMobile on comparisons between African and Indian mobile content

    Gour Lentell, CEO, biNu on this new feature phone platform taking off in Africa

    Jonathan Osler, Managing Director – Africa, Intelsat
    on satellite market trends on the continent

    Christoph Limmer, Senior Director – Africa, SES on its strategy for the continent

    Marc Rennard EVP Orange AMEA on the pressures faced by its operations in Africa

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • MAMA - Mobiles Against Malaria - is a community building effort in one of the very poor outskirts of the Malian capital Bamako, Yirimadjo. Dutch agency IICD wants to help a local association Muso Ladamunen combat the main diseases malaria and diarrhea in the neighbourhood via the integration of mobiles phones in the work of voluntary Community Health Workers, writes Francois Laureys, IICD.

    Approximately 60 women, most mothers who live in Yirimadjo, have organized themselves to pay regular visits to families in the different neighbourhoods of Yirimadjo. This allows them to take stock of the living conditions of these households, and to identify potential women and children at risk (pregnant women, young-borns etc.). They sensitize women about their rights, distribute mosquito nets to families in need, take rapid tests on malaria if they detect people who suffer from the fever, and facilitate access to the local Health Centre when necessary. In the past three years, these Health Workers have saved hundreds of lives, and the number of consultations at the Health Centre has tripled.

    Last summer, when I visited them in Bamako, they were distributing 22.000 mosquito nets to identified target families in Yirimadjo. The ‘captain’ of the Health workers, Mah Cissé, also told me that they are still struggling with the correct and timely identification of target families, and she asked me if we could help them to integrate an element of mobile phones in their work. This would allow the Health workers to send household data directly to a database and to geo-localize more exactly which areas of Yirimadjo are more at risk. Additionally, the mobile phones would also be used to send alerts and reminders about consultation visits to the Health workers in the neighbourhoods.

    We are now finalizing the project design of ‘MAMA – Mobiles Against Malaria in Mali’ , and we hope to be able to start with the mobile phones in december. If successful, this pilot could be extended to many other communities in Mali (and beyond). Both Muso Ladamunen and IICD have invested money in the project, and ‘De Parade’  (a dutch theatre festival) has raised an additional 6,083 euros, for which we are very grateful. But we still can use a little more help to get it really going.

    So have a look at the pages, where you can find a description, photos and updates of the project. You can support in different ways – just by leaving a comment or tips on the pages, by sending this link to others, by putting a link on your blog or webpage, by tweeting, or by donating a little amount via the Donate button. You can also read more about the other activities of Muso Ladamunen by clicking on this link:  or on the blog Antimoustic.

  • 8ta has empowered their subscribers by enhancing their free self-service portal with the ability to purchase airtime and data bundles online via credit card.

    According to Telkom Mobile Managing Executive, Amith Maharaj, this enhancement will facilitate online purchase of airtime and data bundles as and when subscribers need it, even when their airtime is depleted.

    This functionality will improve the user experience for Prepaid and Hybrid (Saver) subscribers. 8ta subscribers need to register online and complete the SMS verification process on 8ta’s website here:

    Logged in subscribers will not be charged to do the following:

    * Review airtime balance

    * Redeem vouchers for airtime

    * Convert airtime to data bundles

    * Review data bundles balances and expiry dates

    * Credit Card top up using 3D secure technology

    The portal is safe as 8ta has chosen 3-D secure as a key comfort factor for subscribers when disclosing their credit card details online. The 3-D secure system simply enables credit card holders to add a password over and above the usual credit card expiry and CVV three digit numbers. The platform caters for locally issued VISA and Mastercard users.

    “If your credit card is not already 3-D verified, the 8ta portal will securely verify the 3-D secure password online. The normal credit card process can then be completed, even with no airtime on the account, as the credit card application is zero rated,” says Maharaj.

    Over time the portal will be enhanced, based on subscriber feedback, market benchmarks and other developments in self-service technology.

    To date 8ta has enabled automatic redirection of all data users when their data bundle is depleted. This key network ability enables subscribers to be in control of their communication spend with 8ta.

    8ta subscribers can now further manage their airtime and data costs both on contract and prepaid products through the self-service portal.

  • Three new phones with deep Facebook integration and dedicated ‘F’ key available in Africa and Europe from Q4 2011 – offering the widest portfolio of affordable phones with deep Facebook functionality launched by an operator to date  Orange is bringing simple, affordable, social phones for under €100 to a broader range of customers in more than 15 countries*

     The new range includes the Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, one of the most affordable Android smartphones available, exclusive to Orange

    Orange will exclusively launch three new affordable phones with deep Facebook integration across Africa and Europe from Q4 2011, creating a swift, simple, cost effective social experience for more of Orange’s customers than ever before. 

    With access to the widest range of phones with Facebook built-in under €100, including the new Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, Orange customers can choose the phone best suited to their needs. Facebook’s social capabilities run through every feature of these phones, from the camera to contacts with the dedicated ‘F’ key allowing instant uploading and interaction. Orange customers can also purchase these handsets with affordable bundles and tariffs that include unlimited Facebook access without extra data charges. 

     “The rise of the smartphone and the explosion of social networks have completely changed how people keep in touch and share content. Until now many consumers across Africa and Europe have not had access to a phone that offers deep Facebook integration at an affordable price,” said Yves Maitre, Senior Vice President of Mobile Multimedia and Devices, Orange. “We feel strongly that it is Orange’s role to enable customers to enjoy a digitally rich, connected life and this and future work with Facebook and Alcatel One Touch will allow us to open up mobile social media access to even more of our customers.”

    “Orange and Facebook have a common goal of providing mobile social access to people throughout Europe and Africa,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business at Facebook. “These phones and our ongoing collaboration with Orange will offer an opportunity for people to easily connect and share with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere and, for some, experience the mobile web for the first time.”

  • Telecom Egypt (TE) has announced its plans to expand broadband and mobile-phone services after third-quarter profit dropped due to a decrease in subscribers.

    TE runs the nation’s fixed-line telephone monopoly. The company plans to begin operating a new undersea cable by the end of the year to increase capacity for data services, and is also in the process of negotiating a virtual mobile network operator license which they hope to acquire during the first quarter of 2012.

    TE is also currently negotiating with Egypt’s telecommunications regulator t acquire a license that would allow it to use the networks of other mobile-phone companies to provide services, according to TE’s Chief Financial Officer Hassan Helmy.

    The company also owns almost half of Vodafone Egypt Telecommunications Co., which is the biggest mobile-network operator in terms of users in Egypt.“In the medium and long-term, the dynamics of the local market are very attractive,” Helmy said. “We’re counting on the young population of this country.”

    The company reported a 21 percent drop in net income from last year, read a statement on TE’s website. Fixed line subscription also dropped to 8.6 million users, from 9.4 million last year.

    “The wider economic malaise is placing pressure on household incomes in Egypt,” Chairman Akil Beshir said in the statement today. “As predicated last quarter, there has been an impact on Telecom Egypt’s overall total number of active subscribers.”

internet

  • The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) has created infrastructure in the form of its Cape Town and Johannesburg Internet Exchanges (CINX and JINX) to help local consumers enjoy better performance from the Internet at a more affordable cost.

    ISPA has run JINX since 1996 and the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX) since 2009. The organisation is currently selecting the company that will host the Durban Internet Exchange, DINX. This infrastructure has an enormous positive impact on the consumer’s Internet experience, although most South African Internet users are unaware of its existence.

    Said Marc Furman, co-chair at ISPA: “The ISPA INXs have provided massive benefit to service providers, network operators and consumers over the years. They keep Internet traffic within the country, which results in faster response times between ISPs and reduces the congestion on international links.

    “By connecting to these exchanges, network operators are also able to keep their costs down, which in turn enables them to provide their services to end-users at a lower cost. The growth we have experienced over the years across these exchange points has been staggering.”

    One principle that ISPA has embraced since 2009 is that the exchanges should be open for non-members as well as members to streamline the exchange of traffic to the benefit of the entire industry. As such, even incumbent network operators are allowed to peer using the INX infrastructure.

    The exchanges also give members a great deal of freedom in choosing who they peer with and how they do so. Although ISPA operates high speed switches at each exchange, INX users are not obliged to connect using the public switch fabric. They may run private links between their equipment at the exchange instead of using the ISPA switch.

    “We take a hands-off approach to how ISPs and operators exchange traffic at each exchange. Most participants peer freely with everyone else connected to that INX but they are not obliged to do so. Some of the participants choose to only exchange traffic with a limited number of other parties,” said Furman.

    Furman noted that the INX infrastructures in Johannesburg and Cape Town have enjoyed runaway growth in the past few years.  More than 30 ISPs now connect to JINX and exchange more than 2.5 Gbps of traffic at JINX during peak times. CINX today handles more than 500 Mbps of traffic from 16 peering ISPs during peak times. With a sharp rise in mobile data usage and rapid growth in voice-over-IP traffic, traffic volumes at the exchanges will continue to grow sharply in the months to come.

  • Labaran Maku, the Nigerian Minister of Information, has expressed concern over the increase in the number of social media in the country. Maku made the observation on Tuesday in Benin City during the meeting of members of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) Constitutional Review Committee.

    Represented by Kingsley Osadolor, a legal practitioner, Maku said the rise of social media in the country was a phenomenon that needed to be addressed as part of the constitutional amendment or in the nearest future.

    He said the revolution that was taking place in Egypt, Syria, Libya and other Arab states was as a result of the reports dished out by the social media. Maku warned that the increase in the number social media might result in some traditional journalists losing their jobs.
    ``What business should the social media have with the NUJ? That is an important phenomenon that needs to be considered,'' he said.

    The minister noted that the constitutional review was coming at time when the Freedom of Information Act was operational. He said the FOI Act was not a substitute for ``crucial investigative journalism'', adding that its aim was to aid the journalist to get access to information.

    Maku noted that there were procedures and rules guiding the use of the FOI Act, and urged media practitioners to be acquainted with them in order not to get negative responses. ``It is useful and pertinent to know the sources of information that are available to the journalists so that they can tap into those areas,'' he said.

    `` The FOI Act is not a substitute for investigative journalism; it must not reduce us into lazy journalists because there are several journalists waiting for information to do their stories,'' he said.

    In his address, Emeka Wogu, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Press for its role in promoting peace and highlighting government policies.

    Wogu, who was represented by Tommy Okon, his Special Assistant on Media, said the constitution of any organisation, group and association, ``is an indication of how healthy the body is in terms of its operations''.

    He said that as the watchdog of the society, it was expected that the NUJ constitutional amendment would address the salient issues affecting journalists and the profession.

    ``I want to use this medium to thank the media for their positive role in promoting industrial peace and harmony in the country,'' Wogu said.

computing

  • A selected aggregation of Individual Information Technology Spend Plans for Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) have revealed that N4.5billion will be spent on data centres in the coming year even though the Federal Government has an IT agency that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and higher standards, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson has said.

    Mrs. Johnson, who spoke in Abuja at the 5TH public sector ICT infrastructure forum & the public presentation of ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification by Galaxy Backbone plc, said there are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources.

    She said in the light of technological developments like cloud computing and the constraints the financial and economic crisis has placed on governments, countries all over the world are promoting the concept of shared IT services because of the immense cost savings, efficiency and capabilities it has been proven to deliver. She said Nigerian MDAs have refused to key in into this.

    The minister, who said one of the mandates of the Ministry of Communication Technology is to drive transparency in governance and improve the quality of public service delivery, lamented that needless IT spending being embarked upon by most government agencies and parastatals.

    She said: "There are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources. A selected aggregation of individual IT Spend plans for MDAs have revealed that N4.5bn will be spent on data centres in the coming year despite the fact that we have within Government an IT organization that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and to higher standards evidenced in the achievement that Galaxy Backbone is celebrating today."

  • Listed SA IT company Gijima has formed a partnership with US company MobileIron as it ups its focus on the consumerisation of IT in business. Founded in 2007 and based in California, MobileIron provides mobile device management and security to large corporations.

    Gijima says the partnership will give it the capability to provide enterprise mobile device management and security solutions to its clients. It comes just a week after the company signed a systems integrator agreement with Apple, whose products such as the iPhone and iPad are being increasingly used in corporate environments.

    MobileIron designs solutions that allow companies to integrate smartphones and tablets with company networks. It offers solutions for devices running Apple’s iOS, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry OS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Windows Mobile, Symbian and Google’s Android mobile operating systems.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Algeria is in talks with Vimpelcom aimed at resolving a tug of war over the Russian telecoms group's mobile phone unit Djezzy and efforts to find a resolution could now speed up, according to Algeria's finance minister, Karim Djoudi.

    Vimpelcom hoped to acquire Djezzy as part of a planned $6 billion acquisition of Wind Telecom, parent of Djezzy's owner Orascom Telecom. But Djezzy's status was left unclear after Algeria said it wanted to take the business over itself.

    Djoudi's comments were the strongest hint yet that a resolution could be close after more than a year of deadlock over Djezzy, which had been the most lucrative part of Orascom Telecom's business.

    Asked about Djezzy, Djoudi said: "Things are taking place normally. I have had a meeting with a Vimpelcom representative at his request. Unfortunately, I cannot give you details because we are in talks."

    He said a valuation of Djezzy, a crucial step in determining the unit's future, was proceeding. "It is possible that things will go fast," Djoudi said. "There is a willingness on the other side to make things go fast."

    It remains unclear what shape a deal on Djezzy could take. There has been some speculation that the Algerian government could acquire a 51 percent stake and allow Vimpelcom to hold the remaining equity and be the operator.

    Before the Vimpelcom deal, Orascom Telecom was forced to agree to talks on Djezzy's nationalisation after it was hit with millions of dollars in back-tax demands from Algeria and prevented from moving the unit's cash abroad.

    Talks about the nationalisation had been stalled because of a dispute between the Algerian government and Djezzy's owners about how the unit is to be valued, and how much access the owners would provide to Djezzy's balance sheet.

    Djoudi suggested that issue had now been resolved. "We have opened the data room which gives us access to all ... (Djezzy's) details," he said.

  • The new Tunisian government has set up a national holding company to handle its stakes in the country's two mobile networks, Tunisiana and Orange.

    The CDC (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation) will be headed by Tunisia's Minister of Finance, Jalloul Ayed. An independent subcommittee has also been assigned to monitor corruption, approve the general policies of the funds and evaluate the investments.

    The CDC manages 25% of Tunisiana, 51% of Orange and the Zitouna bank, which were seized from the former ruling family and are now subsidiaries of the national holding.

  • Zenith Bank (Ghana) Limited in collaboration with Google Ghana has introduced a new product unto the Ghanaian market dubbed Z.com in an effort to give its customers the opportunity to position their businesses to enable them access the global market. Z.com is a business solution opportunity tailored to suit the needs of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana.

    In a statement copied to GNA on Friday, the product would afford SMEs the opportunity to globally advertise their businesses thereby increasing top of mind awareness and ultimately their turnover.

    Z.com, which is another product innovation from Zenith Bank Ghana, rides along the Bank’s quest to make available flexible business strategies to SMEs in Ghana.

    According to Daniel Asiedu Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Ghana, the bank would continue to introduce innovative products and services onto the Ghanaian banking industry.

    “This is in line with its vision of being the reference point in the provision of prompt, flawless and innovation products in the Ghanaian industry”, the statement read.

    The product would be formally launched at a business fair where key stakeholders, policy makers as well as entrepreneurs in the SMEs sector would be brought together to experience at first hand the benefits of e-commerce.

    The official launch of Z.com would take place on Thursday November 24, 2011 at the Accra International Conference Center.

    In a related development, Mr. Henry Oroh, a senior management staff from the parent company Zenith Bank Plc has been appointed to complement the bank’s marketing efforts in Ghana.

  • The fact that the new card will be linked to the user's phone will significantly enhance the security features, says Fundamo CEO Hannes van Rensburg.
    Global credit card company Visa and Africa's largest cellular operator, MTN, have partnered to introduce a new Visa prepaid account mobile service as an extension of MTN Mobile Money in developing countries.

    The product is a result of Visa's recent acquisition of local mobile money platform Fundamo, which has now been integrated with Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.

    Together with MTN Mobile Money, the new service will allow consumers to get a special Visa card which will be linked to their Mobile Money account, and which essentially has the same payment functionality as a bank card.

    Visa says the service will allow users to extend their mobile money payment functionality by allowing them to send money to each other, send and receive international remittances, withdraw funds from a Visa ATM and make purchases at merchants or online.

  • This week, an estimated 180 000 EasyPay customers will receive an e-mail that offers money-back rewards on all their transactions as part of the company’s strategy to restore its credibility and regain customers’ confidence after its site was hit by credit-card fraud two months ago.

    EasyPay will also carry the full liability of any fraudulent transactions, said Serge Belamant, the CEO of Net1, the holding company of EasyPay. He said he has confidence in the site’s newly built security features.

    EasyPay has one of SA’s largest third-party payment systems. It allows consumers to use their credit cards to pay their bills, including Telkom, the municipality and traffic fines, either through its website or at pay points in shops such as Pick n Pay.

    It also allows consumers to buy airtime and prepaid electricity online and it was these purchases that were targeted in September by a crime syndicate. The criminals obtained a list of credit card numbers, which it used to buy airtime, electricity and prepaid gift cards.

    The reaction from Absa, which found that one in three transactions were fraudulent, was to prevent its cardholders from transacting on the site temporarily until EasyPay removed the high-risk products. Some banks continue to limit the number of EasyPay transactions they allow.

    Walter Volker, CEO of the Payment Association of SA, said EasyPay had nothing to do with the release of the credit card details. An investigation is underway to determine how the syndicate obtained the credit card details, which resulted in losses of millions of rands. It must still be determined which banks will carry the liability.

    Belamant said the company had been unfairly targeted by the banks because it was not responsible for the breach. He said the high volume of traffic on the site — it does 4m to 5m transactions a month — made it attractive to fraudsters.

    EasyPay processes payments worth R120m/month, according to Belamant, and the new site is growing at a rate of 10%/month.

Digital Content

  • Many local firms have failed to get their strategies right in creating brand visibility and loyalty through social media, the latest industry survey has shown.

    However, many companies have invested heavily on Internet platforms with an aim of tapping the growing online audience.

    According to the TNS Digital Life Survey, 60 per cent of Kenyans on social media are resistant to brands and brand messages in their profiles, meaning that companies may not be getting returns on the investments they have made to reach the online community through the networks.

    "The race online has seen businesses across the world develop profiles on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube to speak to customers quickly and cheaply --but this study reveals that if these efforts are not carefully targeted, they are a wasted resource," says the report.

    The survey indicates that many firms have embraced the social media platform but without a clear strategy on who their target audiences are, leading to negative results.

    "Digital waste is the accumulation of thousands of brands rushing online without thinking who they want to talk to and why," said Matthew Froggatt, Chief Development Officer at TNS.

    "Many brands have recognised the vast potential of audiences available to them on social networks but they do not understand that these spaces belong to the consumer and their presence needs to be proportionate and justified."

    Mr Froggatt says although the online world presents massive opportunities for brands, only precisely tailored marketing strategies can realise this potential.

    The findings come at a time when the Kenyan social media space is full of content from local firms reaching out to users .But not all is lost as 54 per cent of online users interviewed in the survey admitted that social networks are a good place to learn about products.

    This implies that the use of social media to gain brand visibility and market penetration is not a misguided one. It only needs more direct strategies.

    These findings back concern expressed previously by social media analysts over the unplanned and disjointed online campaigns adopted by most firms in an effort to build their brand visibility.

    "Most businesses in Kenya enter social media but continue passing the same old messages as in traditional channels. Social media is more than just a platform to send your usual advertisement ; it has its own culture which means how people converse, the tone of the conversation, tone of channel (Facebook or Twitter),." says Mr Marvin Tumbo, social media specialist and CEO of Socialight Media, a company that provides social media solutions.

    Tumbo says failure by brands to understand how social media works is what causes conflicts between consumers and business online, with the major challenge coming in crafting the messages. Most firms have not come up with a specific messages for social media sites but are channelling messages created for the traditional media and which may not be appealing to this particular audience.

    The findings further state that users in fast growth markets like Brazil, Indonesia and Kenya are far more open to brands on social networks compared to developed markets like the US where brand tolerance in social media stood at nine per cent compared to 40 per cent in Kenya.

    This means that businesses targeting users in developing countries have a wider audience base, albeit one that must be used prudently. "Social media is not a bad tool for marketing. But it is the tact and targeting that many brands are getting wrong", says Mr Francis Waithaka, a social media analyst.

    "The first thing that brands must do is to listen and understand what customers want. Brands should do pull marketing and not push marketing. A great product and a good customer service will pull customers to your business."

    Waithaka further adds that it is essential for brands to work on their products and services well before going to social media to market them. "With a bad product or terrible customer service, no matter what marketing strategies you employ, it won't work", he says.

    In addition to this, disgruntled users have been known to tweet and post bad customer experiences to their friends and followers and this can go viral and end up being a crisis or an embarrassment to a brand.

    According to the survey, 62 per cent of Kenyan social media users trust comments people make online about brands while close to 30 per cent of users share their experience with brands in social media. In addition to this, 19 per cent of users write about brands to praise the service or goods while 10 per cent write to complain.

    "Most companies in Kenya have not thought through their social media engagement. There has been no strategy to their engagement and hence the high failure rate", says Mr Tumbo. "It's about time companies started having actual strategies and not me-too activities on social media."

    His sentiments are echoed by Withaka. "No matter how good your product or service is, regardless of how brilliant the advertisements are, and regardless of the price you're charging, if your targeting is off, then your whole marketing campaign will be missing the mark. You'll waste a lot of cash, energy and time marketing to people who will never buy from you".

  • Telkom is involved in a multibillion-rand project to increase the throughput of fixed-line broadband to speeds of up to 40Mbit/s. The plans also include dramatically upping the speed of entry-level broadband services and introducing video-on-demand (VOD) products, possibly from international providers such as Hulu, Netflix and Nangu.

    In addition, the company is planning a trial using superfast fibre-optic cables from selected telephone exchanges, with the pilot project expected to kick off as early as 15 January 2012. Details about the fibre project remain sketchy, however.

    VDSL2 is theoretically capable of offering download speeds of up to 250Mbit/s over short lengths of copper (up to 500m) and up 50Mbit/s for distances of up to 1km.

    Telkom has invested millions of rand in recent years bringing fibre closer to its customers — in many areas, it has built fibre to its street-level distribution cabinets — to offer faster access speeds to consumers over its copper network.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Airtel Kenya will offer a 50% airtime bonus to customers topping up their prepay account via its own Airtel Money platform.

    - Chinese vendor ZTE has announced that it has installed an integrated value added platform solution (iVAS) in Kinshasa for Vodacom DRC. The iVAS system encompasses SMS services, and ZTE claims that the installation has increased Vodacom’s SMS management tenfold, improving service on the South African-owned telco’s network by reducing congestion.

    - The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has imposed a fine of US$225,000.00 on the Lonestar Communications Company for noncompliance with LTA’s Order  (LTA 0005-10-04-11)  which calls for both Lonestar and Cellcom to expand their interconnection trunks and have the expansion remain in place until otherwise ordered.

    - The SA Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given the green light to SA Airways (SAA) to allow passengers on the airline’s flights to use their smartphones and other supported devices in “flight mode”, where the devices’ radio antennae are switched off.

    - Pan-African mobile operator MTN has announced a partnership with Singapore-based TransferTo, which allows MTN's customers with access to prepaid services to receive airtime transfers from the vast TransferTo international airtime transfer network around the world. TransferTo is a global airtime remittance hub that interconnects mobile operators' prepaid systems to deliver end to end cross-border top-up services.

More

  • Ghana’s Expresso Telecom has replaced their Managing Director just months after the buyout of Kasapa Telecom Limited. Just before Kasapa was rebranded, the Managing Director Bob Palitz resigned and was replaced by Hisham Ayoub.

    Sources within Expresso have said that Ayoub has been replaced due to poor performance. The new Managing Director is Al-Ameer Ahmed Al-Ameer Yousef, who was quietly put in while his counterpart left. It is not yet confirmed in what capacity Ayoub will be serving within the company.

    Under Ayoub subscriptions fell from 400,000 to just over 200,000, despite many changes implemented by Ayoub.

    Ayoub had introduced the Clig moden, which is one of the most competitive modems on the market in terms of prices, speed and tariff. Sources say the new Managing Director is not doing much better, but they are optimistic.

    “It looks like Mr. Yousef is going to bring some positive change, but some of the old guys at Expresso have entrenched themselves into their positions through all kinds of means so I am not too sure if he will succeed,” the source said.

  • Customer Project Manager ParaCell

    Posted date: Fri, 18th Nov

    Location: Western Africa

    ParaCell is searching for a Customer Project Manager

    Requirements:

    · We are looking for recent Ericsson Experience

    • University degree within relevant area

    · Minimum 10 years working experience in Project Management

    · Strong Leadership skills at least 5/10 years in a leadership role

    • PMP certified (Or on the way to be certified within one year)

    • Adequate operations managerial experience

    • Have excellent documentation and presentation skills

    • Have excellent communication skills

    • Have good customer and sub-contractor relation skills

    Must have ability to work independently, International experience and closely with the end-Customer are other essential skills.

    Please apply with accompanying CV indicating your availability visit here:

Issue no 581 18th November 2011

node ref id: 23520

Top story

  • 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.

    No later than last September, the Kenyan newspaper Business Daily reported that Bob Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom “said that the cost of running diesel-driven base stations rose by 27% since January, especially in areas with no electricity and in western Kenya where frequent power outages mean the stations must run on diesel for up to four hours a day”. He also acknowledged that the raising operating costs will need to be addressed and a way to do so will be to increase calling rates.

    Charging more customers is one approach but it has numerous pitfalls. A price increase can result in lower call volumes and therefore the overall revenue will not go up. Most African mobile subscribers don’t have deep pockets and they remain much more price sensitive than their counterparts in developed countries. Increasing prices is a sure way to drive them to look more carefully at what the competitors have on offer.

    Faced with falling voice ARPU and hypothetical additional data revenue, African mobile operators have to pay more attention on the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures should be among the top items on their list as oil prices have gone up again. When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution but it can be done.

    The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay.

    The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. According to a case study carried out by Axiata, a large Asian telecommunication company, the energy saving in using an inverted air conditioning versus a traditional air conditioning system is between 14% and 22%
    depending on the temperature settings (13.8% at 25°C and 21.9% at 30°C).

    In a typical setting the pay-back time is about two years. In Africa for example, mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction (or not) with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    Beside free cooling, inverted air conditioners or higher operating temperatures, smarter ways of cooling have already been developed to reduce energy consumption. One
    option is to extract the heat directly from the source rather than attempting to cool
    the whole cabin.

    Equipment manufacturer Ericsson has for example conducted trials in Indonesia that show significantly lower energy consumption can be achieved through the use of heat exchangers for the shelters and separate cooling compartments for the battery back-up. The energy used for cooling the sites can be reduced by up to 60%.

    Energy efficient base stations offer interesting savings without requiring a big capital layout but then why are there still so few in Africa when a large number of BTS are running on diesel 24/7?

    Further reduction in OPEX will require some capital investments because it implies
    purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy
    power solutions. Green options range from the use of solar energy, wind
    power to hydrogen fuel cell, biomass, biofuel, etc. Solar and wind remain the most
    prominent green technologies used to power base stations in off-grid locations.

    When looking at the business case to implement renewable energy solutions to power
    base stations, three main factors need to be looked at. There is the price of oil, the BTS load and the renewable energy technology to be implemented. Let’s look at the first factor in more details.

    When oil prices are depressed, the pay-back time will be longer – a couple of years more for most renewable energy projects. When oil prices are high, the return on investment will take less time. When diesel price was at its peak in July 2008, mobile operators’ fuel costs were nearly 3 times higher than at the beginning of 2007 with the result of spiralling operating costs (OPEX) for African mobile operators. Shouldn’t the latter comparison start ringing an alarm bell in African mobile operators’ head?

    For more details on the short and long term options available to mobile operators engaging in better managing their diesel bill, please see Balancing Act’s report entitled “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” published in February 2011.


    On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week an AfricaCom special:

    Nadeem, Juma, CEO, Mobipay
    on m-payments and social media in Tanzania

    Scott Bain, Director of Sales, Range Networks on Open BTS and low cost BTS for Africa

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on changes in the satellite market in Africa

    Arvind Rao, CEO, OnMobile on comparisons between African and Indian mobile content

    Gour Lentell, CEO, biNu on this new feature phone platform taking off in Africa

    Jonathan Osler, Managing Director – Africa, Intelsat
    on satellite market trends on the continent

    Christoph Limmer, Senior Director – Africa, SES on its strategy for the continent

    Marc Rennard EVP Orange AMEA on the pressures faced by its operations in Africa

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • MAMA - Mobiles Against Malaria - is a community building effort in one of the very poor outskirts of the Malian capital Bamako, Yirimadjo. Dutch agency IICD wants to help a local association Muso Ladamunen combat the main diseases malaria and diarrhea in the neighbourhood via the integration of mobiles phones in the work of voluntary Community Health Workers, writes Francois Laureys, IICD.

    Approximately 60 women, most mothers who live in Yirimadjo, have organized themselves to pay regular visits to families in the different neighbourhoods of Yirimadjo. This allows them to take stock of the living conditions of these households, and to identify potential women and children at risk (pregnant women, young-borns etc.). They sensitize women about their rights, distribute mosquito nets to families in need, take rapid tests on malaria if they detect people who suffer from the fever, and facilitate access to the local Health Centre when necessary. In the past three years, these Health Workers have saved hundreds of lives, and the number of consultations at the Health Centre has tripled.

    Last summer, when I visited them in Bamako, they were distributing 22.000 mosquito nets to identified target families in Yirimadjo. The ‘captain’ of the Health workers, Mah Cissé, also told me that they are still struggling with the correct and timely identification of target families, and she asked me if we could help them to integrate an element of mobile phones in their work. This would allow the Health workers to send household data directly to a database and to geo-localize more exactly which areas of Yirimadjo are more at risk. Additionally, the mobile phones would also be used to send alerts and reminders about consultation visits to the Health workers in the neighbourhoods.

    We are now finalizing the project design of ‘MAMA – Mobiles Against Malaria in Mali’ , and we hope to be able to start with the mobile phones in december. If successful, this pilot could be extended to many other communities in Mali (and beyond). Both Muso Ladamunen and IICD have invested money in the project, and ‘De Parade’  (a dutch theatre festival) has raised an additional 6,083 euros, for which we are very grateful. But we still can use a little more help to get it really going.

    So have a look at the pages, where you can find a description, photos and updates of the project. You can support in different ways – just by leaving a comment or tips on the pages, by sending this link to others, by putting a link on your blog or webpage, by tweeting, or by donating a little amount via the Donate button. You can also read more about the other activities of Muso Ladamunen by clicking on this link:  or on the blog Antimoustic.

  • 8ta has empowered their subscribers by enhancing their free self-service portal with the ability to purchase airtime and data bundles online via credit card.

    According to Telkom Mobile Managing Executive, Amith Maharaj, this enhancement will facilitate online purchase of airtime and data bundles as and when subscribers need it, even when their airtime is depleted.

    This functionality will improve the user experience for Prepaid and Hybrid (Saver) subscribers. 8ta subscribers need to register online and complete the SMS verification process on 8ta’s website here:

    Logged in subscribers will not be charged to do the following:

    * Review airtime balance

    * Redeem vouchers for airtime

    * Convert airtime to data bundles

    * Review data bundles balances and expiry dates

    * Credit Card top up using 3D secure technology

    The portal is safe as 8ta has chosen 3-D secure as a key comfort factor for subscribers when disclosing their credit card details online. The 3-D secure system simply enables credit card holders to add a password over and above the usual credit card expiry and CVV three digit numbers. The platform caters for locally issued VISA and Mastercard users.

    “If your credit card is not already 3-D verified, the 8ta portal will securely verify the 3-D secure password online. The normal credit card process can then be completed, even with no airtime on the account, as the credit card application is zero rated,” says Maharaj.

    Over time the portal will be enhanced, based on subscriber feedback, market benchmarks and other developments in self-service technology.

    To date 8ta has enabled automatic redirection of all data users when their data bundle is depleted. This key network ability enables subscribers to be in control of their communication spend with 8ta.

    8ta subscribers can now further manage their airtime and data costs both on contract and prepaid products through the self-service portal.

  • Three new phones with deep Facebook integration and dedicated ‘F’ key available in Africa and Europe from Q4 2011 – offering the widest portfolio of affordable phones with deep Facebook functionality launched by an operator to date  Orange is bringing simple, affordable, social phones for under €100 to a broader range of customers in more than 15 countries*

     The new range includes the Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, one of the most affordable Android smartphones available, exclusive to Orange

    Orange will exclusively launch three new affordable phones with deep Facebook integration across Africa and Europe from Q4 2011, creating a swift, simple, cost effective social experience for more of Orange’s customers than ever before. 

    With access to the widest range of phones with Facebook built-in under €100, including the new Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, Orange customers can choose the phone best suited to their needs. Facebook’s social capabilities run through every feature of these phones, from the camera to contacts with the dedicated ‘F’ key allowing instant uploading and interaction. Orange customers can also purchase these handsets with affordable bundles and tariffs that include unlimited Facebook access without extra data charges. 

     “The rise of the smartphone and the explosion of social networks have completely changed how people keep in touch and share content. Until now many consumers across Africa and Europe have not had access to a phone that offers deep Facebook integration at an affordable price,” said Yves Maitre, Senior Vice President of Mobile Multimedia and Devices, Orange. “We feel strongly that it is Orange’s role to enable customers to enjoy a digitally rich, connected life and this and future work with Facebook and Alcatel One Touch will allow us to open up mobile social media access to even more of our customers.”

    “Orange and Facebook have a common goal of providing mobile social access to people throughout Europe and Africa,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business at Facebook. “These phones and our ongoing collaboration with Orange will offer an opportunity for people to easily connect and share with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere and, for some, experience the mobile web for the first time.”

  • Telecom Egypt (TE) has announced its plans to expand broadband and mobile-phone services after third-quarter profit dropped due to a decrease in subscribers.

    TE runs the nation’s fixed-line telephone monopoly. The company plans to begin operating a new undersea cable by the end of the year to increase capacity for data services, and is also in the process of negotiating a virtual mobile network operator license which they hope to acquire during the first quarter of 2012.

    TE is also currently negotiating with Egypt’s telecommunications regulator t acquire a license that would allow it to use the networks of other mobile-phone companies to provide services, according to TE’s Chief Financial Officer Hassan Helmy.

    The company also owns almost half of Vodafone Egypt Telecommunications Co., which is the biggest mobile-network operator in terms of users in Egypt.“In the medium and long-term, the dynamics of the local market are very attractive,” Helmy said. “We’re counting on the young population of this country.”

    The company reported a 21 percent drop in net income from last year, read a statement on TE’s website. Fixed line subscription also dropped to 8.6 million users, from 9.4 million last year.

    “The wider economic malaise is placing pressure on household incomes in Egypt,” Chairman Akil Beshir said in the statement today. “As predicated last quarter, there has been an impact on Telecom Egypt’s overall total number of active subscribers.”

internet

  • The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) has created infrastructure in the form of its Cape Town and Johannesburg Internet Exchanges (CINX and JINX) to help local consumers enjoy better performance from the Internet at a more affordable cost.

    ISPA has run JINX since 1996 and the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX) since 2009. The organisation is currently selecting the company that will host the Durban Internet Exchange, DINX. This infrastructure has an enormous positive impact on the consumer’s Internet experience, although most South African Internet users are unaware of its existence.

    Said Marc Furman, co-chair at ISPA: “The ISPA INXs have provided massive benefit to service providers, network operators and consumers over the years. They keep Internet traffic within the country, which results in faster response times between ISPs and reduces the congestion on international links.

    “By connecting to these exchanges, network operators are also able to keep their costs down, which in turn enables them to provide their services to end-users at a lower cost. The growth we have experienced over the years across these exchange points has been staggering.”

    One principle that ISPA has embraced since 2009 is that the exchanges should be open for non-members as well as members to streamline the exchange of traffic to the benefit of the entire industry. As such, even incumbent network operators are allowed to peer using the INX infrastructure.

    The exchanges also give members a great deal of freedom in choosing who they peer with and how they do so. Although ISPA operates high speed switches at each exchange, INX users are not obliged to connect using the public switch fabric. They may run private links between their equipment at the exchange instead of using the ISPA switch.

    “We take a hands-off approach to how ISPs and operators exchange traffic at each exchange. Most participants peer freely with everyone else connected to that INX but they are not obliged to do so. Some of the participants choose to only exchange traffic with a limited number of other parties,” said Furman.

    Furman noted that the INX infrastructures in Johannesburg and Cape Town have enjoyed runaway growth in the past few years.  More than 30 ISPs now connect to JINX and exchange more than 2.5 Gbps of traffic at JINX during peak times. CINX today handles more than 500 Mbps of traffic from 16 peering ISPs during peak times. With a sharp rise in mobile data usage and rapid growth in voice-over-IP traffic, traffic volumes at the exchanges will continue to grow sharply in the months to come.

  • Labaran Maku, the Nigerian Minister of Information, has expressed concern over the increase in the number of social media in the country. Maku made the observation on Tuesday in Benin City during the meeting of members of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) Constitutional Review Committee.

    Represented by Kingsley Osadolor, a legal practitioner, Maku said the rise of social media in the country was a phenomenon that needed to be addressed as part of the constitutional amendment or in the nearest future.

    He said the revolution that was taking place in Egypt, Syria, Libya and other Arab states was as a result of the reports dished out by the social media. Maku warned that the increase in the number social media might result in some traditional journalists losing their jobs.
    ``What business should the social media have with the NUJ? That is an important phenomenon that needs to be considered,'' he said.

    The minister noted that the constitutional review was coming at time when the Freedom of Information Act was operational. He said the FOI Act was not a substitute for ``crucial investigative journalism'', adding that its aim was to aid the journalist to get access to information.

    Maku noted that there were procedures and rules guiding the use of the FOI Act, and urged media practitioners to be acquainted with them in order not to get negative responses. ``It is useful and pertinent to know the sources of information that are available to the journalists so that they can tap into those areas,'' he said.

    `` The FOI Act is not a substitute for investigative journalism; it must not reduce us into lazy journalists because there are several journalists waiting for information to do their stories,'' he said.

    In his address, Emeka Wogu, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Press for its role in promoting peace and highlighting government policies.

    Wogu, who was represented by Tommy Okon, his Special Assistant on Media, said the constitution of any organisation, group and association, ``is an indication of how healthy the body is in terms of its operations''.

    He said that as the watchdog of the society, it was expected that the NUJ constitutional amendment would address the salient issues affecting journalists and the profession.

    ``I want to use this medium to thank the media for their positive role in promoting industrial peace and harmony in the country,'' Wogu said.

computing

  • A selected aggregation of Individual Information Technology Spend Plans for Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) have revealed that N4.5billion will be spent on data centres in the coming year even though the Federal Government has an IT agency that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and higher standards, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson has said.

    Mrs. Johnson, who spoke in Abuja at the 5TH public sector ICT infrastructure forum & the public presentation of ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification by Galaxy Backbone plc, said there are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources.

    She said in the light of technological developments like cloud computing and the constraints the financial and economic crisis has placed on governments, countries all over the world are promoting the concept of shared IT services because of the immense cost savings, efficiency and capabilities it has been proven to deliver. She said Nigerian MDAs have refused to key in into this.

    The minister, who said one of the mandates of the Ministry of Communication Technology is to drive transparency in governance and improve the quality of public service delivery, lamented that needless IT spending being embarked upon by most government agencies and parastatals.

    She said: "There are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources. A selected aggregation of individual IT Spend plans for MDAs have revealed that N4.5bn will be spent on data centres in the coming year despite the fact that we have within Government an IT organization that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and to higher standards evidenced in the achievement that Galaxy Backbone is celebrating today."

  • Listed SA IT company Gijima has formed a partnership with US company MobileIron as it ups its focus on the consumerisation of IT in business. Founded in 2007 and based in California, MobileIron provides mobile device management and security to large corporations.

    Gijima says the partnership will give it the capability to provide enterprise mobile device management and security solutions to its clients. It comes just a week after the company signed a systems integrator agreement with Apple, whose products such as the iPhone and iPad are being increasingly used in corporate environments.

    MobileIron designs solutions that allow companies to integrate smartphones and tablets with company networks. It offers solutions for devices running Apple’s iOS, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry OS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Windows Mobile, Symbian and Google’s Android mobile operating systems.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Algeria is in talks with Vimpelcom aimed at resolving a tug of war over the Russian telecoms group's mobile phone unit Djezzy and efforts to find a resolution could now speed up, according to Algeria's finance minister, Karim Djoudi.

    Vimpelcom hoped to acquire Djezzy as part of a planned $6 billion acquisition of Wind Telecom, parent of Djezzy's owner Orascom Telecom. But Djezzy's status was left unclear after Algeria said it wanted to take the business over itself.

    Djoudi's comments were the strongest hint yet that a resolution could be close after more than a year of deadlock over Djezzy, which had been the most lucrative part of Orascom Telecom's business.

    Asked about Djezzy, Djoudi said: "Things are taking place normally. I have had a meeting with a Vimpelcom representative at his request. Unfortunately, I cannot give you details because we are in talks."

    He said a valuation of Djezzy, a crucial step in determining the unit's future, was proceeding. "It is possible that things will go fast," Djoudi said. "There is a willingness on the other side to make things go fast."

    It remains unclear what shape a deal on Djezzy could take. There has been some speculation that the Algerian government could acquire a 51 percent stake and allow Vimpelcom to hold the remaining equity and be the operator.

    Before the Vimpelcom deal, Orascom Telecom was forced to agree to talks on Djezzy's nationalisation after it was hit with millions of dollars in back-tax demands from Algeria and prevented from moving the unit's cash abroad.

    Talks about the nationalisation had been stalled because of a dispute between the Algerian government and Djezzy's owners about how the unit is to be valued, and how much access the owners would provide to Djezzy's balance sheet.

    Djoudi suggested that issue had now been resolved. "We have opened the data room which gives us access to all ... (Djezzy's) details," he said.

  • The new Tunisian government has set up a national holding company to handle its stakes in the country's two mobile networks, Tunisiana and Orange.

    The CDC (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation) will be headed by Tunisia's Minister of Finance, Jalloul Ayed. An independent subcommittee has also been assigned to monitor corruption, approve the general policies of the funds and evaluate the investments.

    The CDC manages 25% of Tunisiana, 51% of Orange and the Zitouna bank, which were seized from the former ruling family and are now subsidiaries of the national holding.

  • Zenith Bank (Ghana) Limited in collaboration with Google Ghana has introduced a new product unto the Ghanaian market dubbed Z.com in an effort to give its customers the opportunity to position their businesses to enable them access the global market. Z.com is a business solution opportunity tailored to suit the needs of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana.

    In a statement copied to GNA on Friday, the product would afford SMEs the opportunity to globally advertise their businesses thereby increasing top of mind awareness and ultimately their turnover.

    Z.com, which is another product innovation from Zenith Bank Ghana, rides along the Bank’s quest to make available flexible business strategies to SMEs in Ghana.

    According to Daniel Asiedu Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Ghana, the bank would continue to introduce innovative products and services onto the Ghanaian banking industry.

    “This is in line with its vision of being the reference point in the provision of prompt, flawless and innovation products in the Ghanaian industry”, the statement read.

    The product would be formally launched at a business fair where key stakeholders, policy makers as well as entrepreneurs in the SMEs sector would be brought together to experience at first hand the benefits of e-commerce.

    The official launch of Z.com would take place on Thursday November 24, 2011 at the Accra International Conference Center.

    In a related development, Mr. Henry Oroh, a senior management staff from the parent company Zenith Bank Plc has been appointed to complement the bank’s marketing efforts in Ghana.

  • The fact that the new card will be linked to the user's phone will significantly enhance the security features, says Fundamo CEO Hannes van Rensburg.
    Global credit card company Visa and Africa's largest cellular operator, MTN, have partnered to introduce a new Visa prepaid account mobile service as an extension of MTN Mobile Money in developing countries.

    The product is a result of Visa's recent acquisition of local mobile money platform Fundamo, which has now been integrated with Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.

    Together with MTN Mobile Money, the new service will allow consumers to get a special Visa card which will be linked to their Mobile Money account, and which essentially has the same payment functionality as a bank card.

    Visa says the service will allow users to extend their mobile money payment functionality by allowing them to send money to each other, send and receive international remittances, withdraw funds from a Visa ATM and make purchases at merchants or online.

  • This week, an estimated 180 000 EasyPay customers will receive an e-mail that offers money-back rewards on all their transactions as part of the company’s strategy to restore its credibility and regain customers’ confidence after its site was hit by credit-card fraud two months ago.

    EasyPay will also carry the full liability of any fraudulent transactions, said Serge Belamant, the CEO of Net1, the holding company of EasyPay. He said he has confidence in the site’s newly built security features.

    EasyPay has one of SA’s largest third-party payment systems. It allows consumers to use their credit cards to pay their bills, including Telkom, the municipality and traffic fines, either through its website or at pay points in shops such as Pick n Pay.

    It also allows consumers to buy airtime and prepaid electricity online and it was these purchases that were targeted in September by a crime syndicate. The criminals obtained a list of credit card numbers, which it used to buy airtime, electricity and prepaid gift cards.

    The reaction from Absa, which found that one in three transactions were fraudulent, was to prevent its cardholders from transacting on the site temporarily until EasyPay removed the high-risk products. Some banks continue to limit the number of EasyPay transactions they allow.

    Walter Volker, CEO of the Payment Association of SA, said EasyPay had nothing to do with the release of the credit card details. An investigation is underway to determine how the syndicate obtained the credit card details, which resulted in losses of millions of rands. It must still be determined which banks will carry the liability.

    Belamant said the company had been unfairly targeted by the banks because it was not responsible for the breach. He said the high volume of traffic on the site — it does 4m to 5m transactions a month — made it attractive to fraudsters.

    EasyPay processes payments worth R120m/month, according to Belamant, and the new site is growing at a rate of 10%/month.

Digital Content

  • Many local firms have failed to get their strategies right in creating brand visibility and loyalty through social media, the latest industry survey has shown.

    However, many companies have invested heavily on Internet platforms with an aim of tapping the growing online audience.

    According to the TNS Digital Life Survey, 60 per cent of Kenyans on social media are resistant to brands and brand messages in their profiles, meaning that companies may not be getting returns on the investments they have made to reach the online community through the networks.

    "The race online has seen businesses across the world develop profiles on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube to speak to customers quickly and cheaply --but this study reveals that if these efforts are not carefully targeted, they are a wasted resource," says the report.

    The survey indicates that many firms have embraced the social media platform but without a clear strategy on who their target audiences are, leading to negative results.

    "Digital waste is the accumulation of thousands of brands rushing online without thinking who they want to talk to and why," said Matthew Froggatt, Chief Development Officer at TNS.

    "Many brands have recognised the vast potential of audiences available to them on social networks but they do not understand that these spaces belong to the consumer and their presence needs to be proportionate and justified."

    Mr Froggatt says although the online world presents massive opportunities for brands, only precisely tailored marketing strategies can realise this potential.

    The findings come at a time when the Kenyan social media space is full of content from local firms reaching out to users .But not all is lost as 54 per cent of online users interviewed in the survey admitted that social networks are a good place to learn about products.

    This implies that the use of social media to gain brand visibility and market penetration is not a misguided one. It only needs more direct strategies.

    These findings back concern expressed previously by social media analysts over the unplanned and disjointed online campaigns adopted by most firms in an effort to build their brand visibility.

    "Most businesses in Kenya enter social media but continue passing the same old messages as in traditional channels. Social media is more than just a platform to send your usual advertisement ; it has its own culture which means how people converse, the tone of the conversation, tone of channel (Facebook or Twitter),." says Mr Marvin Tumbo, social media specialist and CEO of Socialight Media, a company that provides social media solutions.

    Tumbo says failure by brands to understand how social media works is what causes conflicts between consumers and business online, with the major challenge coming in crafting the messages. Most firms have not come up with a specific messages for social media sites but are channelling messages created for the traditional media and which may not be appealing to this particular audience.

    The findings further state that users in fast growth markets like Brazil, Indonesia and Kenya are far more open to brands on social networks compared to developed markets like the US where brand tolerance in social media stood at nine per cent compared to 40 per cent in Kenya.

    This means that businesses targeting users in developing countries have a wider audience base, albeit one that must be used prudently. "Social media is not a bad tool for marketing. But it is the tact and targeting that many brands are getting wrong", says Mr Francis Waithaka, a social media analyst.

    "The first thing that brands must do is to listen and understand what customers want. Brands should do pull marketing and not push marketing. A great product and a good customer service will pull customers to your business."

    Waithaka further adds that it is essential for brands to work on their products and services well before going to social media to market them. "With a bad product or terrible customer service, no matter what marketing strategies you employ, it won't work", he says.

    In addition to this, disgruntled users have been known to tweet and post bad customer experiences to their friends and followers and this can go viral and end up being a crisis or an embarrassment to a brand.

    According to the survey, 62 per cent of Kenyan social media users trust comments people make online about brands while close to 30 per cent of users share their experience with brands in social media. In addition to this, 19 per cent of users write about brands to praise the service or goods while 10 per cent write to complain.

    "Most companies in Kenya have not thought through their social media engagement. There has been no strategy to their engagement and hence the high failure rate", says Mr Tumbo. "It's about time companies started having actual strategies and not me-too activities on social media."

    His sentiments are echoed by Withaka. "No matter how good your product or service is, regardless of how brilliant the advertisements are, and regardless of the price you're charging, if your targeting is off, then your whole marketing campaign will be missing the mark. You'll waste a lot of cash, energy and time marketing to people who will never buy from you".

  • Telkom is involved in a multibillion-rand project to increase the throughput of fixed-line broadband to speeds of up to 40Mbit/s. The plans also include dramatically upping the speed of entry-level broadband services and introducing video-on-demand (VOD) products, possibly from international providers such as Hulu, Netflix and Nangu.

    In addition, the company is planning a trial using superfast fibre-optic cables from selected telephone exchanges, with the pilot project expected to kick off as early as 15 January 2012. Details about the fibre project remain sketchy, however.

    VDSL2 is theoretically capable of offering download speeds of up to 250Mbit/s over short lengths of copper (up to 500m) and up 50Mbit/s for distances of up to 1km.

    Telkom has invested millions of rand in recent years bringing fibre closer to its customers — in many areas, it has built fibre to its street-level distribution cabinets — to offer faster access speeds to consumers over its copper network.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Airtel Kenya will offer a 50% airtime bonus to customers topping up their prepay account via its own Airtel Money platform.

    - Chinese vendor ZTE has announced that it has installed an integrated value added platform solution (iVAS) in Kinshasa for Vodacom DRC. The iVAS system encompasses SMS services, and ZTE claims that the installation has increased Vodacom’s SMS management tenfold, improving service on the South African-owned telco’s network by reducing congestion.

    - The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has imposed a fine of US$225,000.00 on the Lonestar Communications Company for noncompliance with LTA’s Order  (LTA 0005-10-04-11)  which calls for both Lonestar and Cellcom to expand their interconnection trunks and have the expansion remain in place until otherwise ordered.

    - The SA Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given the green light to SA Airways (SAA) to allow passengers on the airline’s flights to use their smartphones and other supported devices in “flight mode”, where the devices’ radio antennae are switched off.

    - Pan-African mobile operator MTN has announced a partnership with Singapore-based TransferTo, which allows MTN's customers with access to prepaid services to receive airtime transfers from the vast TransferTo international airtime transfer network around the world. TransferTo is a global airtime remittance hub that interconnects mobile operators' prepaid systems to deliver end to end cross-border top-up services.

More

  • Ghana’s Expresso Telecom has replaced their Managing Director just months after the buyout of Kasapa Telecom Limited. Just before Kasapa was rebranded, the Managing Director Bob Palitz resigned and was replaced by Hisham Ayoub.

    Sources within Expresso have said that Ayoub has been replaced due to poor performance. The new Managing Director is Al-Ameer Ahmed Al-Ameer Yousef, who was quietly put in while his counterpart left. It is not yet confirmed in what capacity Ayoub will be serving within the company.

    Under Ayoub subscriptions fell from 400,000 to just over 200,000, despite many changes implemented by Ayoub.

    Ayoub had introduced the Clig moden, which is one of the most competitive modems on the market in terms of prices, speed and tariff. Sources say the new Managing Director is not doing much better, but they are optimistic.

    “It looks like Mr. Yousef is going to bring some positive change, but some of the old guys at Expresso have entrenched themselves into their positions through all kinds of means so I am not too sure if he will succeed,” the source said.

  • Customer Project Manager ParaCell

    Posted date: Fri, 18th Nov

    Location: Western Africa

    ParaCell is searching for a Customer Project Manager

    Requirements:

    · We are looking for recent Ericsson Experience

    • University degree within relevant area

    · Minimum 10 years working experience in Project Management

    · Strong Leadership skills at least 5/10 years in a leadership role

    • PMP certified (Or on the way to be certified within one year)

    • Adequate operations managerial experience

    • Have excellent documentation and presentation skills

    • Have excellent communication skills

    • Have good customer and sub-contractor relation skills

    Must have ability to work independently, International experience and closely with the end-Customer are other essential skills.

    Please apply with accompanying CV indicating your availability visit here:

Issue no 581 18th November 2011

node ref id: 23520

Top story

  • 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.

    No later than last September, the Kenyan newspaper Business Daily reported that Bob Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom “said that the cost of running diesel-driven base stations rose by 27% since January, especially in areas with no electricity and in western Kenya where frequent power outages mean the stations must run on diesel for up to four hours a day”. He also acknowledged that the raising operating costs will need to be addressed and a way to do so will be to increase calling rates.

    Charging more customers is one approach but it has numerous pitfalls. A price increase can result in lower call volumes and therefore the overall revenue will not go up. Most African mobile subscribers don’t have deep pockets and they remain much more price sensitive than their counterparts in developed countries. Increasing prices is a sure way to drive them to look more carefully at what the competitors have on offer.

    Faced with falling voice ARPU and hypothetical additional data revenue, African mobile operators have to pay more attention on the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures should be among the top items on their list as oil prices have gone up again. When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution but it can be done.

    The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay.

    The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. According to a case study carried out by Axiata, a large Asian telecommunication company, the energy saving in using an inverted air conditioning versus a traditional air conditioning system is between 14% and 22%
    depending on the temperature settings (13.8% at 25°C and 21.9% at 30°C).

    In a typical setting the pay-back time is about two years. In Africa for example, mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction (or not) with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    Beside free cooling, inverted air conditioners or higher operating temperatures, smarter ways of cooling have already been developed to reduce energy consumption. One
    option is to extract the heat directly from the source rather than attempting to cool
    the whole cabin.

    Equipment manufacturer Ericsson has for example conducted trials in Indonesia that show significantly lower energy consumption can be achieved through the use of heat exchangers for the shelters and separate cooling compartments for the battery back-up. The energy used for cooling the sites can be reduced by up to 60%.

    Energy efficient base stations offer interesting savings without requiring a big capital layout but then why are there still so few in Africa when a large number of BTS are running on diesel 24/7?

    Further reduction in OPEX will require some capital investments because it implies
    purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy
    power solutions. Green options range from the use of solar energy, wind
    power to hydrogen fuel cell, biomass, biofuel, etc. Solar and wind remain the most
    prominent green technologies used to power base stations in off-grid locations.

    When looking at the business case to implement renewable energy solutions to power
    base stations, three main factors need to be looked at. There is the price of oil, the BTS load and the renewable energy technology to be implemented. Let’s look at the first factor in more details.

    When oil prices are depressed, the pay-back time will be longer – a couple of years more for most renewable energy projects. When oil prices are high, the return on investment will take less time. When diesel price was at its peak in July 2008, mobile operators’ fuel costs were nearly 3 times higher than at the beginning of 2007 with the result of spiralling operating costs (OPEX) for African mobile operators. Shouldn’t the latter comparison start ringing an alarm bell in African mobile operators’ head?

    For more details on the short and long term options available to mobile operators engaging in better managing their diesel bill, please see Balancing Act’s report entitled “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” published in February 2011.


    On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week an AfricaCom special:

    Nadeem, Juma, CEO, Mobipay
    on m-payments and social media in Tanzania

    Scott Bain, Director of Sales, Range Networks on Open BTS and low cost BTS for Africa

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on changes in the satellite market in Africa

    Arvind Rao, CEO, OnMobile on comparisons between African and Indian mobile content

    Gour Lentell, CEO, biNu on this new feature phone platform taking off in Africa

    Jonathan Osler, Managing Director – Africa, Intelsat
    on satellite market trends on the continent

    Christoph Limmer, Senior Director – Africa, SES on its strategy for the continent

    Marc Rennard EVP Orange AMEA on the pressures faced by its operations in Africa

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • MAMA - Mobiles Against Malaria - is a community building effort in one of the very poor outskirts of the Malian capital Bamako, Yirimadjo. Dutch agency IICD wants to help a local association Muso Ladamunen combat the main diseases malaria and diarrhea in the neighbourhood via the integration of mobiles phones in the work of voluntary Community Health Workers, writes Francois Laureys, IICD.

    Approximately 60 women, most mothers who live in Yirimadjo, have organized themselves to pay regular visits to families in the different neighbourhoods of Yirimadjo. This allows them to take stock of the living conditions of these households, and to identify potential women and children at risk (pregnant women, young-borns etc.). They sensitize women about their rights, distribute mosquito nets to families in need, take rapid tests on malaria if they detect people who suffer from the fever, and facilitate access to the local Health Centre when necessary. In the past three years, these Health Workers have saved hundreds of lives, and the number of consultations at the Health Centre has tripled.

    Last summer, when I visited them in Bamako, they were distributing 22.000 mosquito nets to identified target families in Yirimadjo. The ‘captain’ of the Health workers, Mah Cissé, also told me that they are still struggling with the correct and timely identification of target families, and she asked me if we could help them to integrate an element of mobile phones in their work. This would allow the Health workers to send household data directly to a database and to geo-localize more exactly which areas of Yirimadjo are more at risk. Additionally, the mobile phones would also be used to send alerts and reminders about consultation visits to the Health workers in the neighbourhoods.

    We are now finalizing the project design of ‘MAMA – Mobiles Against Malaria in Mali’ , and we hope to be able to start with the mobile phones in december. If successful, this pilot could be extended to many other communities in Mali (and beyond). Both Muso Ladamunen and IICD have invested money in the project, and ‘De Parade’  (a dutch theatre festival) has raised an additional 6,083 euros, for which we are very grateful. But we still can use a little more help to get it really going.

    So have a look at the pages, where you can find a description, photos and updates of the project. You can support in different ways – just by leaving a comment or tips on the pages, by sending this link to others, by putting a link on your blog or webpage, by tweeting, or by donating a little amount via the Donate button. You can also read more about the other activities of Muso Ladamunen by clicking on this link:  or on the blog Antimoustic.

  • 8ta has empowered their subscribers by enhancing their free self-service portal with the ability to purchase airtime and data bundles online via credit card.

    According to Telkom Mobile Managing Executive, Amith Maharaj, this enhancement will facilitate online purchase of airtime and data bundles as and when subscribers need it, even when their airtime is depleted.

    This functionality will improve the user experience for Prepaid and Hybrid (Saver) subscribers. 8ta subscribers need to register online and complete the SMS verification process on 8ta’s website here:

    Logged in subscribers will not be charged to do the following:

    * Review airtime balance

    * Redeem vouchers for airtime

    * Convert airtime to data bundles

    * Review data bundles balances and expiry dates

    * Credit Card top up using 3D secure technology

    The portal is safe as 8ta has chosen 3-D secure as a key comfort factor for subscribers when disclosing their credit card details online. The 3-D secure system simply enables credit card holders to add a password over and above the usual credit card expiry and CVV three digit numbers. The platform caters for locally issued VISA and Mastercard users.

    “If your credit card is not already 3-D verified, the 8ta portal will securely verify the 3-D secure password online. The normal credit card process can then be completed, even with no airtime on the account, as the credit card application is zero rated,” says Maharaj.

    Over time the portal will be enhanced, based on subscriber feedback, market benchmarks and other developments in self-service technology.

    To date 8ta has enabled automatic redirection of all data users when their data bundle is depleted. This key network ability enables subscribers to be in control of their communication spend with 8ta.

    8ta subscribers can now further manage their airtime and data costs both on contract and prepaid products through the self-service portal.

  • Three new phones with deep Facebook integration and dedicated ‘F’ key available in Africa and Europe from Q4 2011 – offering the widest portfolio of affordable phones with deep Facebook functionality launched by an operator to date  Orange is bringing simple, affordable, social phones for under €100 to a broader range of customers in more than 15 countries*

     The new range includes the Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, one of the most affordable Android smartphones available, exclusive to Orange

    Orange will exclusively launch three new affordable phones with deep Facebook integration across Africa and Europe from Q4 2011, creating a swift, simple, cost effective social experience for more of Orange’s customers than ever before. 

    With access to the widest range of phones with Facebook built-in under €100, including the new Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, Orange customers can choose the phone best suited to their needs. Facebook’s social capabilities run through every feature of these phones, from the camera to contacts with the dedicated ‘F’ key allowing instant uploading and interaction. Orange customers can also purchase these handsets with affordable bundles and tariffs that include unlimited Facebook access without extra data charges. 

     “The rise of the smartphone and the explosion of social networks have completely changed how people keep in touch and share content. Until now many consumers across Africa and Europe have not had access to a phone that offers deep Facebook integration at an affordable price,” said Yves Maitre, Senior Vice President of Mobile Multimedia and Devices, Orange. “We feel strongly that it is Orange’s role to enable customers to enjoy a digitally rich, connected life and this and future work with Facebook and Alcatel One Touch will allow us to open up mobile social media access to even more of our customers.”

    “Orange and Facebook have a common goal of providing mobile social access to people throughout Europe and Africa,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business at Facebook. “These phones and our ongoing collaboration with Orange will offer an opportunity for people to easily connect and share with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere and, for some, experience the mobile web for the first time.”

  • Telecom Egypt (TE) has announced its plans to expand broadband and mobile-phone services after third-quarter profit dropped due to a decrease in subscribers.

    TE runs the nation’s fixed-line telephone monopoly. The company plans to begin operating a new undersea cable by the end of the year to increase capacity for data services, and is also in the process of negotiating a virtual mobile network operator license which they hope to acquire during the first quarter of 2012.

    TE is also currently negotiating with Egypt’s telecommunications regulator t acquire a license that would allow it to use the networks of other mobile-phone companies to provide services, according to TE’s Chief Financial Officer Hassan Helmy.

    The company also owns almost half of Vodafone Egypt Telecommunications Co., which is the biggest mobile-network operator in terms of users in Egypt.“In the medium and long-term, the dynamics of the local market are very attractive,” Helmy said. “We’re counting on the young population of this country.”

    The company reported a 21 percent drop in net income from last year, read a statement on TE’s website. Fixed line subscription also dropped to 8.6 million users, from 9.4 million last year.

    “The wider economic malaise is placing pressure on household incomes in Egypt,” Chairman Akil Beshir said in the statement today. “As predicated last quarter, there has been an impact on Telecom Egypt’s overall total number of active subscribers.”

internet

  • The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) has created infrastructure in the form of its Cape Town and Johannesburg Internet Exchanges (CINX and JINX) to help local consumers enjoy better performance from the Internet at a more affordable cost.

    ISPA has run JINX since 1996 and the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX) since 2009. The organisation is currently selecting the company that will host the Durban Internet Exchange, DINX. This infrastructure has an enormous positive impact on the consumer’s Internet experience, although most South African Internet users are unaware of its existence.

    Said Marc Furman, co-chair at ISPA: “The ISPA INXs have provided massive benefit to service providers, network operators and consumers over the years. They keep Internet traffic within the country, which results in faster response times between ISPs and reduces the congestion on international links.

    “By connecting to these exchanges, network operators are also able to keep their costs down, which in turn enables them to provide their services to end-users at a lower cost. The growth we have experienced over the years across these exchange points has been staggering.”

    One principle that ISPA has embraced since 2009 is that the exchanges should be open for non-members as well as members to streamline the exchange of traffic to the benefit of the entire industry. As such, even incumbent network operators are allowed to peer using the INX infrastructure.

    The exchanges also give members a great deal of freedom in choosing who they peer with and how they do so. Although ISPA operates high speed switches at each exchange, INX users are not obliged to connect using the public switch fabric. They may run private links between their equipment at the exchange instead of using the ISPA switch.

    “We take a hands-off approach to how ISPs and operators exchange traffic at each exchange. Most participants peer freely with everyone else connected to that INX but they are not obliged to do so. Some of the participants choose to only exchange traffic with a limited number of other parties,” said Furman.

    Furman noted that the INX infrastructures in Johannesburg and Cape Town have enjoyed runaway growth in the past few years.  More than 30 ISPs now connect to JINX and exchange more than 2.5 Gbps of traffic at JINX during peak times. CINX today handles more than 500 Mbps of traffic from 16 peering ISPs during peak times. With a sharp rise in mobile data usage and rapid growth in voice-over-IP traffic, traffic volumes at the exchanges will continue to grow sharply in the months to come.

  • Labaran Maku, the Nigerian Minister of Information, has expressed concern over the increase in the number of social media in the country. Maku made the observation on Tuesday in Benin City during the meeting of members of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) Constitutional Review Committee.

    Represented by Kingsley Osadolor, a legal practitioner, Maku said the rise of social media in the country was a phenomenon that needed to be addressed as part of the constitutional amendment or in the nearest future.

    He said the revolution that was taking place in Egypt, Syria, Libya and other Arab states was as a result of the reports dished out by the social media. Maku warned that the increase in the number social media might result in some traditional journalists losing their jobs.
    ``What business should the social media have with the NUJ? That is an important phenomenon that needs to be considered,'' he said.

    The minister noted that the constitutional review was coming at time when the Freedom of Information Act was operational. He said the FOI Act was not a substitute for ``crucial investigative journalism'', adding that its aim was to aid the journalist to get access to information.

    Maku noted that there were procedures and rules guiding the use of the FOI Act, and urged media practitioners to be acquainted with them in order not to get negative responses. ``It is useful and pertinent to know the sources of information that are available to the journalists so that they can tap into those areas,'' he said.

    `` The FOI Act is not a substitute for investigative journalism; it must not reduce us into lazy journalists because there are several journalists waiting for information to do their stories,'' he said.

    In his address, Emeka Wogu, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Press for its role in promoting peace and highlighting government policies.

    Wogu, who was represented by Tommy Okon, his Special Assistant on Media, said the constitution of any organisation, group and association, ``is an indication of how healthy the body is in terms of its operations''.

    He said that as the watchdog of the society, it was expected that the NUJ constitutional amendment would address the salient issues affecting journalists and the profession.

    ``I want to use this medium to thank the media for their positive role in promoting industrial peace and harmony in the country,'' Wogu said.

computing

  • A selected aggregation of Individual Information Technology Spend Plans for Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) have revealed that N4.5billion will be spent on data centres in the coming year even though the Federal Government has an IT agency that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and higher standards, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson has said.

    Mrs. Johnson, who spoke in Abuja at the 5TH public sector ICT infrastructure forum & the public presentation of ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification by Galaxy Backbone plc, said there are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources.

    She said in the light of technological developments like cloud computing and the constraints the financial and economic crisis has placed on governments, countries all over the world are promoting the concept of shared IT services because of the immense cost savings, efficiency and capabilities it has been proven to deliver. She said Nigerian MDAs have refused to key in into this.

    The minister, who said one of the mandates of the Ministry of Communication Technology is to drive transparency in governance and improve the quality of public service delivery, lamented that needless IT spending being embarked upon by most government agencies and parastatals.

    She said: "There are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources. A selected aggregation of individual IT Spend plans for MDAs have revealed that N4.5bn will be spent on data centres in the coming year despite the fact that we have within Government an IT organization that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and to higher standards evidenced in the achievement that Galaxy Backbone is celebrating today."

  • Listed SA IT company Gijima has formed a partnership with US company MobileIron as it ups its focus on the consumerisation of IT in business. Founded in 2007 and based in California, MobileIron provides mobile device management and security to large corporations.

    Gijima says the partnership will give it the capability to provide enterprise mobile device management and security solutions to its clients. It comes just a week after the company signed a systems integrator agreement with Apple, whose products such as the iPhone and iPad are being increasingly used in corporate environments.

    MobileIron designs solutions that allow companies to integrate smartphones and tablets with company networks. It offers solutions for devices running Apple’s iOS, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry OS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Windows Mobile, Symbian and Google’s Android mobile operating systems.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Algeria is in talks with Vimpelcom aimed at resolving a tug of war over the Russian telecoms group's mobile phone unit Djezzy and efforts to find a resolution could now speed up, according to Algeria's finance minister, Karim Djoudi.

    Vimpelcom hoped to acquire Djezzy as part of a planned $6 billion acquisition of Wind Telecom, parent of Djezzy's owner Orascom Telecom. But Djezzy's status was left unclear after Algeria said it wanted to take the business over itself.

    Djoudi's comments were the strongest hint yet that a resolution could be close after more than a year of deadlock over Djezzy, which had been the most lucrative part of Orascom Telecom's business.

    Asked about Djezzy, Djoudi said: "Things are taking place normally. I have had a meeting with a Vimpelcom representative at his request. Unfortunately, I cannot give you details because we are in talks."

    He said a valuation of Djezzy, a crucial step in determining the unit's future, was proceeding. "It is possible that things will go fast," Djoudi said. "There is a willingness on the other side to make things go fast."

    It remains unclear what shape a deal on Djezzy could take. There has been some speculation that the Algerian government could acquire a 51 percent stake and allow Vimpelcom to hold the remaining equity and be the operator.

    Before the Vimpelcom deal, Orascom Telecom was forced to agree to talks on Djezzy's nationalisation after it was hit with millions of dollars in back-tax demands from Algeria and prevented from moving the unit's cash abroad.

    Talks about the nationalisation had been stalled because of a dispute between the Algerian government and Djezzy's owners about how the unit is to be valued, and how much access the owners would provide to Djezzy's balance sheet.

    Djoudi suggested that issue had now been resolved. "We have opened the data room which gives us access to all ... (Djezzy's) details," he said.

  • The new Tunisian government has set up a national holding company to handle its stakes in the country's two mobile networks, Tunisiana and Orange.

    The CDC (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation) will be headed by Tunisia's Minister of Finance, Jalloul Ayed. An independent subcommittee has also been assigned to monitor corruption, approve the general policies of the funds and evaluate the investments.

    The CDC manages 25% of Tunisiana, 51% of Orange and the Zitouna bank, which were seized from the former ruling family and are now subsidiaries of the national holding.

  • Zenith Bank (Ghana) Limited in collaboration with Google Ghana has introduced a new product unto the Ghanaian market dubbed Z.com in an effort to give its customers the opportunity to position their businesses to enable them access the global market. Z.com is a business solution opportunity tailored to suit the needs of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana.

    In a statement copied to GNA on Friday, the product would afford SMEs the opportunity to globally advertise their businesses thereby increasing top of mind awareness and ultimately their turnover.

    Z.com, which is another product innovation from Zenith Bank Ghana, rides along the Bank’s quest to make available flexible business strategies to SMEs in Ghana.

    According to Daniel Asiedu Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Ghana, the bank would continue to introduce innovative products and services onto the Ghanaian banking industry.

    “This is in line with its vision of being the reference point in the provision of prompt, flawless and innovation products in the Ghanaian industry”, the statement read.

    The product would be formally launched at a business fair where key stakeholders, policy makers as well as entrepreneurs in the SMEs sector would be brought together to experience at first hand the benefits of e-commerce.

    The official launch of Z.com would take place on Thursday November 24, 2011 at the Accra International Conference Center.

    In a related development, Mr. Henry Oroh, a senior management staff from the parent company Zenith Bank Plc has been appointed to complement the bank’s marketing efforts in Ghana.

  • The fact that the new card will be linked to the user's phone will significantly enhance the security features, says Fundamo CEO Hannes van Rensburg.
    Global credit card company Visa and Africa's largest cellular operator, MTN, have partnered to introduce a new Visa prepaid account mobile service as an extension of MTN Mobile Money in developing countries.

    The product is a result of Visa's recent acquisition of local mobile money platform Fundamo, which has now been integrated with Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.

    Together with MTN Mobile Money, the new service will allow consumers to get a special Visa card which will be linked to their Mobile Money account, and which essentially has the same payment functionality as a bank card.

    Visa says the service will allow users to extend their mobile money payment functionality by allowing them to send money to each other, send and receive international remittances, withdraw funds from a Visa ATM and make purchases at merchants or online.

  • This week, an estimated 180 000 EasyPay customers will receive an e-mail that offers money-back rewards on all their transactions as part of the company’s strategy to restore its credibility and regain customers’ confidence after its site was hit by credit-card fraud two months ago.

    EasyPay will also carry the full liability of any fraudulent transactions, said Serge Belamant, the CEO of Net1, the holding company of EasyPay. He said he has confidence in the site’s newly built security features.

    EasyPay has one of SA’s largest third-party payment systems. It allows consumers to use their credit cards to pay their bills, including Telkom, the municipality and traffic fines, either through its website or at pay points in shops such as Pick n Pay.

    It also allows consumers to buy airtime and prepaid electricity online and it was these purchases that were targeted in September by a crime syndicate. The criminals obtained a list of credit card numbers, which it used to buy airtime, electricity and prepaid gift cards.

    The reaction from Absa, which found that one in three transactions were fraudulent, was to prevent its cardholders from transacting on the site temporarily until EasyPay removed the high-risk products. Some banks continue to limit the number of EasyPay transactions they allow.

    Walter Volker, CEO of the Payment Association of SA, said EasyPay had nothing to do with the release of the credit card details. An investigation is underway to determine how the syndicate obtained the credit card details, which resulted in losses of millions of rands. It must still be determined which banks will carry the liability.

    Belamant said the company had been unfairly targeted by the banks because it was not responsible for the breach. He said the high volume of traffic on the site — it does 4m to 5m transactions a month — made it attractive to fraudsters.

    EasyPay processes payments worth R120m/month, according to Belamant, and the new site is growing at a rate of 10%/month.

Digital Content

  • Many local firms have failed to get their strategies right in creating brand visibility and loyalty through social media, the latest industry survey has shown.

    However, many companies have invested heavily on Internet platforms with an aim of tapping the growing online audience.

    According to the TNS Digital Life Survey, 60 per cent of Kenyans on social media are resistant to brands and brand messages in their profiles, meaning that companies may not be getting returns on the investments they have made to reach the online community through the networks.

    "The race online has seen businesses across the world develop profiles on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube to speak to customers quickly and cheaply --but this study reveals that if these efforts are not carefully targeted, they are a wasted resource," says the report.

    The survey indicates that many firms have embraced the social media platform but without a clear strategy on who their target audiences are, leading to negative results.

    "Digital waste is the accumulation of thousands of brands rushing online without thinking who they want to talk to and why," said Matthew Froggatt, Chief Development Officer at TNS.

    "Many brands have recognised the vast potential of audiences available to them on social networks but they do not understand that these spaces belong to the consumer and their presence needs to be proportionate and justified."

    Mr Froggatt says although the online world presents massive opportunities for brands, only precisely tailored marketing strategies can realise this potential.

    The findings come at a time when the Kenyan social media space is full of content from local firms reaching out to users .But not all is lost as 54 per cent of online users interviewed in the survey admitted that social networks are a good place to learn about products.

    This implies that the use of social media to gain brand visibility and market penetration is not a misguided one. It only needs more direct strategies.

    These findings back concern expressed previously by social media analysts over the unplanned and disjointed online campaigns adopted by most firms in an effort to build their brand visibility.

    "Most businesses in Kenya enter social media but continue passing the same old messages as in traditional channels. Social media is more than just a platform to send your usual advertisement ; it has its own culture which means how people converse, the tone of the conversation, tone of channel (Facebook or Twitter),." says Mr Marvin Tumbo, social media specialist and CEO of Socialight Media, a company that provides social media solutions.

    Tumbo says failure by brands to understand how social media works is what causes conflicts between consumers and business online, with the major challenge coming in crafting the messages. Most firms have not come up with a specific messages for social media sites but are channelling messages created for the traditional media and which may not be appealing to this particular audience.

    The findings further state that users in fast growth markets like Brazil, Indonesia and Kenya are far more open to brands on social networks compared to developed markets like the US where brand tolerance in social media stood at nine per cent compared to 40 per cent in Kenya.

    This means that businesses targeting users in developing countries have a wider audience base, albeit one that must be used prudently. "Social media is not a bad tool for marketing. But it is the tact and targeting that many brands are getting wrong", says Mr Francis Waithaka, a social media analyst.

    "The first thing that brands must do is to listen and understand what customers want. Brands should do pull marketing and not push marketing. A great product and a good customer service will pull customers to your business."

    Waithaka further adds that it is essential for brands to work on their products and services well before going to social media to market them. "With a bad product or terrible customer service, no matter what marketing strategies you employ, it won't work", he says.

    In addition to this, disgruntled users have been known to tweet and post bad customer experiences to their friends and followers and this can go viral and end up being a crisis or an embarrassment to a brand.

    According to the survey, 62 per cent of Kenyan social media users trust comments people make online about brands while close to 30 per cent of users share their experience with brands in social media. In addition to this, 19 per cent of users write about brands to praise the service or goods while 10 per cent write to complain.

    "Most companies in Kenya have not thought through their social media engagement. There has been no strategy to their engagement and hence the high failure rate", says Mr Tumbo. "It's about time companies started having actual strategies and not me-too activities on social media."

    His sentiments are echoed by Withaka. "No matter how good your product or service is, regardless of how brilliant the advertisements are, and regardless of the price you're charging, if your targeting is off, then your whole marketing campaign will be missing the mark. You'll waste a lot of cash, energy and time marketing to people who will never buy from you".

  • Telkom is involved in a multibillion-rand project to increase the throughput of fixed-line broadband to speeds of up to 40Mbit/s. The plans also include dramatically upping the speed of entry-level broadband services and introducing video-on-demand (VOD) products, possibly from international providers such as Hulu, Netflix and Nangu.

    In addition, the company is planning a trial using superfast fibre-optic cables from selected telephone exchanges, with the pilot project expected to kick off as early as 15 January 2012. Details about the fibre project remain sketchy, however.

    VDSL2 is theoretically capable of offering download speeds of up to 250Mbit/s over short lengths of copper (up to 500m) and up 50Mbit/s for distances of up to 1km.

    Telkom has invested millions of rand in recent years bringing fibre closer to its customers — in many areas, it has built fibre to its street-level distribution cabinets — to offer faster access speeds to consumers over its copper network.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Airtel Kenya will offer a 50% airtime bonus to customers topping up their prepay account via its own Airtel Money platform.

    - Chinese vendor ZTE has announced that it has installed an integrated value added platform solution (iVAS) in Kinshasa for Vodacom DRC. The iVAS system encompasses SMS services, and ZTE claims that the installation has increased Vodacom’s SMS management tenfold, improving service on the South African-owned telco’s network by reducing congestion.

    - The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has imposed a fine of US$225,000.00 on the Lonestar Communications Company for noncompliance with LTA’s Order  (LTA 0005-10-04-11)  which calls for both Lonestar and Cellcom to expand their interconnection trunks and have the expansion remain in place until otherwise ordered.

    - The SA Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given the green light to SA Airways (SAA) to allow passengers on the airline’s flights to use their smartphones and other supported devices in “flight mode”, where the devices’ radio antennae are switched off.

    - Pan-African mobile operator MTN has announced a partnership with Singapore-based TransferTo, which allows MTN's customers with access to prepaid services to receive airtime transfers from the vast TransferTo international airtime transfer network around the world. TransferTo is a global airtime remittance hub that interconnects mobile operators' prepaid systems to deliver end to end cross-border top-up services.

More

  • Ghana’s Expresso Telecom has replaced their Managing Director just months after the buyout of Kasapa Telecom Limited. Just before Kasapa was rebranded, the Managing Director Bob Palitz resigned and was replaced by Hisham Ayoub.

    Sources within Expresso have said that Ayoub has been replaced due to poor performance. The new Managing Director is Al-Ameer Ahmed Al-Ameer Yousef, who was quietly put in while his counterpart left. It is not yet confirmed in what capacity Ayoub will be serving within the company.

    Under Ayoub subscriptions fell from 400,000 to just over 200,000, despite many changes implemented by Ayoub.

    Ayoub had introduced the Clig moden, which is one of the most competitive modems on the market in terms of prices, speed and tariff. Sources say the new Managing Director is not doing much better, but they are optimistic.

    “It looks like Mr. Yousef is going to bring some positive change, but some of the old guys at Expresso have entrenched themselves into their positions through all kinds of means so I am not too sure if he will succeed,” the source said.

  • Customer Project Manager ParaCell

    Posted date: Fri, 18th Nov

    Location: Western Africa

    ParaCell is searching for a Customer Project Manager

    Requirements:

    · We are looking for recent Ericsson Experience

    • University degree within relevant area

    · Minimum 10 years working experience in Project Management

    · Strong Leadership skills at least 5/10 years in a leadership role

    • PMP certified (Or on the way to be certified within one year)

    • Adequate operations managerial experience

    • Have excellent documentation and presentation skills

    • Have excellent communication skills

    • Have good customer and sub-contractor relation skills

    Must have ability to work independently, International experience and closely with the end-Customer are other essential skills.

    Please apply with accompanying CV indicating your availability visit here:

Issue no 581 18th November 2011

node ref id: 23520

Top story

  • 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.

    No later than last September, the Kenyan newspaper Business Daily reported that Bob Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom “said that the cost of running diesel-driven base stations rose by 27% since January, especially in areas with no electricity and in western Kenya where frequent power outages mean the stations must run on diesel for up to four hours a day”. He also acknowledged that the raising operating costs will need to be addressed and a way to do so will be to increase calling rates.

    Charging more customers is one approach but it has numerous pitfalls. A price increase can result in lower call volumes and therefore the overall revenue will not go up. Most African mobile subscribers don’t have deep pockets and they remain much more price sensitive than their counterparts in developed countries. Increasing prices is a sure way to drive them to look more carefully at what the competitors have on offer.

    Faced with falling voice ARPU and hypothetical additional data revenue, African mobile operators have to pay more attention on the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures should be among the top items on their list as oil prices have gone up again. When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution but it can be done.

    The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay.

    The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. According to a case study carried out by Axiata, a large Asian telecommunication company, the energy saving in using an inverted air conditioning versus a traditional air conditioning system is between 14% and 22%
    depending on the temperature settings (13.8% at 25°C and 21.9% at 30°C).

    In a typical setting the pay-back time is about two years. In Africa for example, mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction (or not) with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    Beside free cooling, inverted air conditioners or higher operating temperatures, smarter ways of cooling have already been developed to reduce energy consumption. One
    option is to extract the heat directly from the source rather than attempting to cool
    the whole cabin.

    Equipment manufacturer Ericsson has for example conducted trials in Indonesia that show significantly lower energy consumption can be achieved through the use of heat exchangers for the shelters and separate cooling compartments for the battery back-up. The energy used for cooling the sites can be reduced by up to 60%.

    Energy efficient base stations offer interesting savings without requiring a big capital layout but then why are there still so few in Africa when a large number of BTS are running on diesel 24/7?

    Further reduction in OPEX will require some capital investments because it implies
    purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy
    power solutions. Green options range from the use of solar energy, wind
    power to hydrogen fuel cell, biomass, biofuel, etc. Solar and wind remain the most
    prominent green technologies used to power base stations in off-grid locations.

    When looking at the business case to implement renewable energy solutions to power
    base stations, three main factors need to be looked at. There is the price of oil, the BTS load and the renewable energy technology to be implemented. Let’s look at the first factor in more details.

    When oil prices are depressed, the pay-back time will be longer – a couple of years more for most renewable energy projects. When oil prices are high, the return on investment will take less time. When diesel price was at its peak in July 2008, mobile operators’ fuel costs were nearly 3 times higher than at the beginning of 2007 with the result of spiralling operating costs (OPEX) for African mobile operators. Shouldn’t the latter comparison start ringing an alarm bell in African mobile operators’ head?

    For more details on the short and long term options available to mobile operators engaging in better managing their diesel bill, please see Balancing Act’s report entitled “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” published in February 2011.


    On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week an AfricaCom special:

    Nadeem, Juma, CEO, Mobipay
    on m-payments and social media in Tanzania

    Scott Bain, Director of Sales, Range Networks on Open BTS and low cost BTS for Africa

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on changes in the satellite market in Africa

    Arvind Rao, CEO, OnMobile on comparisons between African and Indian mobile content

    Gour Lentell, CEO, biNu on this new feature phone platform taking off in Africa

    Jonathan Osler, Managing Director – Africa, Intelsat
    on satellite market trends on the continent

    Christoph Limmer, Senior Director – Africa, SES on its strategy for the continent

    Marc Rennard EVP Orange AMEA on the pressures faced by its operations in Africa

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • MAMA - Mobiles Against Malaria - is a community building effort in one of the very poor outskirts of the Malian capital Bamako, Yirimadjo. Dutch agency IICD wants to help a local association Muso Ladamunen combat the main diseases malaria and diarrhea in the neighbourhood via the integration of mobiles phones in the work of voluntary Community Health Workers, writes Francois Laureys, IICD.

    Approximately 60 women, most mothers who live in Yirimadjo, have organized themselves to pay regular visits to families in the different neighbourhoods of Yirimadjo. This allows them to take stock of the living conditions of these households, and to identify potential women and children at risk (pregnant women, young-borns etc.). They sensitize women about their rights, distribute mosquito nets to families in need, take rapid tests on malaria if they detect people who suffer from the fever, and facilitate access to the local Health Centre when necessary. In the past three years, these Health Workers have saved hundreds of lives, and the number of consultations at the Health Centre has tripled.

    Last summer, when I visited them in Bamako, they were distributing 22.000 mosquito nets to identified target families in Yirimadjo. The ‘captain’ of the Health workers, Mah Cissé, also told me that they are still struggling with the correct and timely identification of target families, and she asked me if we could help them to integrate an element of mobile phones in their work. This would allow the Health workers to send household data directly to a database and to geo-localize more exactly which areas of Yirimadjo are more at risk. Additionally, the mobile phones would also be used to send alerts and reminders about consultation visits to the Health workers in the neighbourhoods.

    We are now finalizing the project design of ‘MAMA – Mobiles Against Malaria in Mali’ , and we hope to be able to start with the mobile phones in december. If successful, this pilot could be extended to many other communities in Mali (and beyond). Both Muso Ladamunen and IICD have invested money in the project, and ‘De Parade’  (a dutch theatre festival) has raised an additional 6,083 euros, for which we are very grateful. But we still can use a little more help to get it really going.

    So have a look at the pages, where you can find a description, photos and updates of the project. You can support in different ways – just by leaving a comment or tips on the pages, by sending this link to others, by putting a link on your blog or webpage, by tweeting, or by donating a little amount via the Donate button. You can also read more about the other activities of Muso Ladamunen by clicking on this link:  or on the blog Antimoustic.

  • 8ta has empowered their subscribers by enhancing their free self-service portal with the ability to purchase airtime and data bundles online via credit card.

    According to Telkom Mobile Managing Executive, Amith Maharaj, this enhancement will facilitate online purchase of airtime and data bundles as and when subscribers need it, even when their airtime is depleted.

    This functionality will improve the user experience for Prepaid and Hybrid (Saver) subscribers. 8ta subscribers need to register online and complete the SMS verification process on 8ta’s website here:

    Logged in subscribers will not be charged to do the following:

    * Review airtime balance

    * Redeem vouchers for airtime

    * Convert airtime to data bundles

    * Review data bundles balances and expiry dates

    * Credit Card top up using 3D secure technology

    The portal is safe as 8ta has chosen 3-D secure as a key comfort factor for subscribers when disclosing their credit card details online. The 3-D secure system simply enables credit card holders to add a password over and above the usual credit card expiry and CVV three digit numbers. The platform caters for locally issued VISA and Mastercard users.

    “If your credit card is not already 3-D verified, the 8ta portal will securely verify the 3-D secure password online. The normal credit card process can then be completed, even with no airtime on the account, as the credit card application is zero rated,” says Maharaj.

    Over time the portal will be enhanced, based on subscriber feedback, market benchmarks and other developments in self-service technology.

    To date 8ta has enabled automatic redirection of all data users when their data bundle is depleted. This key network ability enables subscribers to be in control of their communication spend with 8ta.

    8ta subscribers can now further manage their airtime and data costs both on contract and prepaid products through the self-service portal.

  • Three new phones with deep Facebook integration and dedicated ‘F’ key available in Africa and Europe from Q4 2011 – offering the widest portfolio of affordable phones with deep Facebook functionality launched by an operator to date  Orange is bringing simple, affordable, social phones for under €100 to a broader range of customers in more than 15 countries*

     The new range includes the Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, one of the most affordable Android smartphones available, exclusive to Orange

    Orange will exclusively launch three new affordable phones with deep Facebook integration across Africa and Europe from Q4 2011, creating a swift, simple, cost effective social experience for more of Orange’s customers than ever before. 

    With access to the widest range of phones with Facebook built-in under €100, including the new Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, Orange customers can choose the phone best suited to their needs. Facebook’s social capabilities run through every feature of these phones, from the camera to contacts with the dedicated ‘F’ key allowing instant uploading and interaction. Orange customers can also purchase these handsets with affordable bundles and tariffs that include unlimited Facebook access without extra data charges. 

     “The rise of the smartphone and the explosion of social networks have completely changed how people keep in touch and share content. Until now many consumers across Africa and Europe have not had access to a phone that offers deep Facebook integration at an affordable price,” said Yves Maitre, Senior Vice President of Mobile Multimedia and Devices, Orange. “We feel strongly that it is Orange’s role to enable customers to enjoy a digitally rich, connected life and this and future work with Facebook and Alcatel One Touch will allow us to open up mobile social media access to even more of our customers.”

    “Orange and Facebook have a common goal of providing mobile social access to people throughout Europe and Africa,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business at Facebook. “These phones and our ongoing collaboration with Orange will offer an opportunity for people to easily connect and share with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere and, for some, experience the mobile web for the first time.”

  • Telecom Egypt (TE) has announced its plans to expand broadband and mobile-phone services after third-quarter profit dropped due to a decrease in subscribers.

    TE runs the nation’s fixed-line telephone monopoly. The company plans to begin operating a new undersea cable by the end of the year to increase capacity for data services, and is also in the process of negotiating a virtual mobile network operator license which they hope to acquire during the first quarter of 2012.

    TE is also currently negotiating with Egypt’s telecommunications regulator t acquire a license that would allow it to use the networks of other mobile-phone companies to provide services, according to TE’s Chief Financial Officer Hassan Helmy.

    The company also owns almost half of Vodafone Egypt Telecommunications Co., which is the biggest mobile-network operator in terms of users in Egypt.“In the medium and long-term, the dynamics of the local market are very attractive,” Helmy said. “We’re counting on the young population of this country.”

    The company reported a 21 percent drop in net income from last year, read a statement on TE’s website. Fixed line subscription also dropped to 8.6 million users, from 9.4 million last year.

    “The wider economic malaise is placing pressure on household incomes in Egypt,” Chairman Akil Beshir said in the statement today. “As predicated last quarter, there has been an impact on Telecom Egypt’s overall total number of active subscribers.”

internet

  • The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) has created infrastructure in the form of its Cape Town and Johannesburg Internet Exchanges (CINX and JINX) to help local consumers enjoy better performance from the Internet at a more affordable cost.

    ISPA has run JINX since 1996 and the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX) since 2009. The organisation is currently selecting the company that will host the Durban Internet Exchange, DINX. This infrastructure has an enormous positive impact on the consumer’s Internet experience, although most South African Internet users are unaware of its existence.

    Said Marc Furman, co-chair at ISPA: “The ISPA INXs have provided massive benefit to service providers, network operators and consumers over the years. They keep Internet traffic within the country, which results in faster response times between ISPs and reduces the congestion on international links.

    “By connecting to these exchanges, network operators are also able to keep their costs down, which in turn enables them to provide their services to end-users at a lower cost. The growth we have experienced over the years across these exchange points has been staggering.”

    One principle that ISPA has embraced since 2009 is that the exchanges should be open for non-members as well as members to streamline the exchange of traffic to the benefit of the entire industry. As such, even incumbent network operators are allowed to peer using the INX infrastructure.

    The exchanges also give members a great deal of freedom in choosing who they peer with and how they do so. Although ISPA operates high speed switches at each exchange, INX users are not obliged to connect using the public switch fabric. They may run private links between their equipment at the exchange instead of using the ISPA switch.

    “We take a hands-off approach to how ISPs and operators exchange traffic at each exchange. Most participants peer freely with everyone else connected to that INX but they are not obliged to do so. Some of the participants choose to only exchange traffic with a limited number of other parties,” said Furman.

    Furman noted that the INX infrastructures in Johannesburg and Cape Town have enjoyed runaway growth in the past few years.  More than 30 ISPs now connect to JINX and exchange more than 2.5 Gbps of traffic at JINX during peak times. CINX today handles more than 500 Mbps of traffic from 16 peering ISPs during peak times. With a sharp rise in mobile data usage and rapid growth in voice-over-IP traffic, traffic volumes at the exchanges will continue to grow sharply in the months to come.

  • Labaran Maku, the Nigerian Minister of Information, has expressed concern over the increase in the number of social media in the country. Maku made the observation on Tuesday in Benin City during the meeting of members of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) Constitutional Review Committee.

    Represented by Kingsley Osadolor, a legal practitioner, Maku said the rise of social media in the country was a phenomenon that needed to be addressed as part of the constitutional amendment or in the nearest future.

    He said the revolution that was taking place in Egypt, Syria, Libya and other Arab states was as a result of the reports dished out by the social media. Maku warned that the increase in the number social media might result in some traditional journalists losing their jobs.
    ``What business should the social media have with the NUJ? That is an important phenomenon that needs to be considered,'' he said.

    The minister noted that the constitutional review was coming at time when the Freedom of Information Act was operational. He said the FOI Act was not a substitute for ``crucial investigative journalism'', adding that its aim was to aid the journalist to get access to information.

    Maku noted that there were procedures and rules guiding the use of the FOI Act, and urged media practitioners to be acquainted with them in order not to get negative responses. ``It is useful and pertinent to know the sources of information that are available to the journalists so that they can tap into those areas,'' he said.

    `` The FOI Act is not a substitute for investigative journalism; it must not reduce us into lazy journalists because there are several journalists waiting for information to do their stories,'' he said.

    In his address, Emeka Wogu, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Press for its role in promoting peace and highlighting government policies.

    Wogu, who was represented by Tommy Okon, his Special Assistant on Media, said the constitution of any organisation, group and association, ``is an indication of how healthy the body is in terms of its operations''.

    He said that as the watchdog of the society, it was expected that the NUJ constitutional amendment would address the salient issues affecting journalists and the profession.

    ``I want to use this medium to thank the media for their positive role in promoting industrial peace and harmony in the country,'' Wogu said.

computing

  • A selected aggregation of Individual Information Technology Spend Plans for Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) have revealed that N4.5billion will be spent on data centres in the coming year even though the Federal Government has an IT agency that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and higher standards, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson has said.

    Mrs. Johnson, who spoke in Abuja at the 5TH public sector ICT infrastructure forum & the public presentation of ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification by Galaxy Backbone plc, said there are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources.

    She said in the light of technological developments like cloud computing and the constraints the financial and economic crisis has placed on governments, countries all over the world are promoting the concept of shared IT services because of the immense cost savings, efficiency and capabilities it has been proven to deliver. She said Nigerian MDAs have refused to key in into this.

    The minister, who said one of the mandates of the Ministry of Communication Technology is to drive transparency in governance and improve the quality of public service delivery, lamented that needless IT spending being embarked upon by most government agencies and parastatals.

    She said: "There are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources. A selected aggregation of individual IT Spend plans for MDAs have revealed that N4.5bn will be spent on data centres in the coming year despite the fact that we have within Government an IT organization that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and to higher standards evidenced in the achievement that Galaxy Backbone is celebrating today."

  • Listed SA IT company Gijima has formed a partnership with US company MobileIron as it ups its focus on the consumerisation of IT in business. Founded in 2007 and based in California, MobileIron provides mobile device management and security to large corporations.

    Gijima says the partnership will give it the capability to provide enterprise mobile device management and security solutions to its clients. It comes just a week after the company signed a systems integrator agreement with Apple, whose products such as the iPhone and iPad are being increasingly used in corporate environments.

    MobileIron designs solutions that allow companies to integrate smartphones and tablets with company networks. It offers solutions for devices running Apple’s iOS, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry OS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Windows Mobile, Symbian and Google’s Android mobile operating systems.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Algeria is in talks with Vimpelcom aimed at resolving a tug of war over the Russian telecoms group's mobile phone unit Djezzy and efforts to find a resolution could now speed up, according to Algeria's finance minister, Karim Djoudi.

    Vimpelcom hoped to acquire Djezzy as part of a planned $6 billion acquisition of Wind Telecom, parent of Djezzy's owner Orascom Telecom. But Djezzy's status was left unclear after Algeria said it wanted to take the business over itself.

    Djoudi's comments were the strongest hint yet that a resolution could be close after more than a year of deadlock over Djezzy, which had been the most lucrative part of Orascom Telecom's business.

    Asked about Djezzy, Djoudi said: "Things are taking place normally. I have had a meeting with a Vimpelcom representative at his request. Unfortunately, I cannot give you details because we are in talks."

    He said a valuation of Djezzy, a crucial step in determining the unit's future, was proceeding. "It is possible that things will go fast," Djoudi said. "There is a willingness on the other side to make things go fast."

    It remains unclear what shape a deal on Djezzy could take. There has been some speculation that the Algerian government could acquire a 51 percent stake and allow Vimpelcom to hold the remaining equity and be the operator.

    Before the Vimpelcom deal, Orascom Telecom was forced to agree to talks on Djezzy's nationalisation after it was hit with millions of dollars in back-tax demands from Algeria and prevented from moving the unit's cash abroad.

    Talks about the nationalisation had been stalled because of a dispute between the Algerian government and Djezzy's owners about how the unit is to be valued, and how much access the owners would provide to Djezzy's balance sheet.

    Djoudi suggested that issue had now been resolved. "We have opened the data room which gives us access to all ... (Djezzy's) details," he said.

  • The new Tunisian government has set up a national holding company to handle its stakes in the country's two mobile networks, Tunisiana and Orange.

    The CDC (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation) will be headed by Tunisia's Minister of Finance, Jalloul Ayed. An independent subcommittee has also been assigned to monitor corruption, approve the general policies of the funds and evaluate the investments.

    The CDC manages 25% of Tunisiana, 51% of Orange and the Zitouna bank, which were seized from the former ruling family and are now subsidiaries of the national holding.

  • Zenith Bank (Ghana) Limited in collaboration with Google Ghana has introduced a new product unto the Ghanaian market dubbed Z.com in an effort to give its customers the opportunity to position their businesses to enable them access the global market. Z.com is a business solution opportunity tailored to suit the needs of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana.

    In a statement copied to GNA on Friday, the product would afford SMEs the opportunity to globally advertise their businesses thereby increasing top of mind awareness and ultimately their turnover.

    Z.com, which is another product innovation from Zenith Bank Ghana, rides along the Bank’s quest to make available flexible business strategies to SMEs in Ghana.

    According to Daniel Asiedu Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Ghana, the bank would continue to introduce innovative products and services onto the Ghanaian banking industry.

    “This is in line with its vision of being the reference point in the provision of prompt, flawless and innovation products in the Ghanaian industry”, the statement read.

    The product would be formally launched at a business fair where key stakeholders, policy makers as well as entrepreneurs in the SMEs sector would be brought together to experience at first hand the benefits of e-commerce.

    The official launch of Z.com would take place on Thursday November 24, 2011 at the Accra International Conference Center.

    In a related development, Mr. Henry Oroh, a senior management staff from the parent company Zenith Bank Plc has been appointed to complement the bank’s marketing efforts in Ghana.

  • The fact that the new card will be linked to the user's phone will significantly enhance the security features, says Fundamo CEO Hannes van Rensburg.
    Global credit card company Visa and Africa's largest cellular operator, MTN, have partnered to introduce a new Visa prepaid account mobile service as an extension of MTN Mobile Money in developing countries.

    The product is a result of Visa's recent acquisition of local mobile money platform Fundamo, which has now been integrated with Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.

    Together with MTN Mobile Money, the new service will allow consumers to get a special Visa card which will be linked to their Mobile Money account, and which essentially has the same payment functionality as a bank card.

    Visa says the service will allow users to extend their mobile money payment functionality by allowing them to send money to each other, send and receive international remittances, withdraw funds from a Visa ATM and make purchases at merchants or online.

  • This week, an estimated 180 000 EasyPay customers will receive an e-mail that offers money-back rewards on all their transactions as part of the company’s strategy to restore its credibility and regain customers’ confidence after its site was hit by credit-card fraud two months ago.

    EasyPay will also carry the full liability of any fraudulent transactions, said Serge Belamant, the CEO of Net1, the holding company of EasyPay. He said he has confidence in the site’s newly built security features.

    EasyPay has one of SA’s largest third-party payment systems. It allows consumers to use their credit cards to pay their bills, including Telkom, the municipality and traffic fines, either through its website or at pay points in shops such as Pick n Pay.

    It also allows consumers to buy airtime and prepaid electricity online and it was these purchases that were targeted in September by a crime syndicate. The criminals obtained a list of credit card numbers, which it used to buy airtime, electricity and prepaid gift cards.

    The reaction from Absa, which found that one in three transactions were fraudulent, was to prevent its cardholders from transacting on the site temporarily until EasyPay removed the high-risk products. Some banks continue to limit the number of EasyPay transactions they allow.

    Walter Volker, CEO of the Payment Association of SA, said EasyPay had nothing to do with the release of the credit card details. An investigation is underway to determine how the syndicate obtained the credit card details, which resulted in losses of millions of rands. It must still be determined which banks will carry the liability.

    Belamant said the company had been unfairly targeted by the banks because it was not responsible for the breach. He said the high volume of traffic on the site — it does 4m to 5m transactions a month — made it attractive to fraudsters.

    EasyPay processes payments worth R120m/month, according to Belamant, and the new site is growing at a rate of 10%/month.

Digital Content

  • Many local firms have failed to get their strategies right in creating brand visibility and loyalty through social media, the latest industry survey has shown.

    However, many companies have invested heavily on Internet platforms with an aim of tapping the growing online audience.

    According to the TNS Digital Life Survey, 60 per cent of Kenyans on social media are resistant to brands and brand messages in their profiles, meaning that companies may not be getting returns on the investments they have made to reach the online community through the networks.

    "The race online has seen businesses across the world develop profiles on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube to speak to customers quickly and cheaply --but this study reveals that if these efforts are not carefully targeted, they are a wasted resource," says the report.

    The survey indicates that many firms have embraced the social media platform but without a clear strategy on who their target audiences are, leading to negative results.

    "Digital waste is the accumulation of thousands of brands rushing online without thinking who they want to talk to and why," said Matthew Froggatt, Chief Development Officer at TNS.

    "Many brands have recognised the vast potential of audiences available to them on social networks but they do not understand that these spaces belong to the consumer and their presence needs to be proportionate and justified."

    Mr Froggatt says although the online world presents massive opportunities for brands, only precisely tailored marketing strategies can realise this potential.

    The findings come at a time when the Kenyan social media space is full of content from local firms reaching out to users .But not all is lost as 54 per cent of online users interviewed in the survey admitted that social networks are a good place to learn about products.

    This implies that the use of social media to gain brand visibility and market penetration is not a misguided one. It only needs more direct strategies.

    These findings back concern expressed previously by social media analysts over the unplanned and disjointed online campaigns adopted by most firms in an effort to build their brand visibility.

    "Most businesses in Kenya enter social media but continue passing the same old messages as in traditional channels. Social media is more than just a platform to send your usual advertisement ; it has its own culture which means how people converse, the tone of the conversation, tone of channel (Facebook or Twitter),." says Mr Marvin Tumbo, social media specialist and CEO of Socialight Media, a company that provides social media solutions.

    Tumbo says failure by brands to understand how social media works is what causes conflicts between consumers and business online, with the major challenge coming in crafting the messages. Most firms have not come up with a specific messages for social media sites but are channelling messages created for the traditional media and which may not be appealing to this particular audience.

    The findings further state that users in fast growth markets like Brazil, Indonesia and Kenya are far more open to brands on social networks compared to developed markets like the US where brand tolerance in social media stood at nine per cent compared to 40 per cent in Kenya.

    This means that businesses targeting users in developing countries have a wider audience base, albeit one that must be used prudently. "Social media is not a bad tool for marketing. But it is the tact and targeting that many brands are getting wrong", says Mr Francis Waithaka, a social media analyst.

    "The first thing that brands must do is to listen and understand what customers want. Brands should do pull marketing and not push marketing. A great product and a good customer service will pull customers to your business."

    Waithaka further adds that it is essential for brands to work on their products and services well before going to social media to market them. "With a bad product or terrible customer service, no matter what marketing strategies you employ, it won't work", he says.

    In addition to this, disgruntled users have been known to tweet and post bad customer experiences to their friends and followers and this can go viral and end up being a crisis or an embarrassment to a brand.

    According to the survey, 62 per cent of Kenyan social media users trust comments people make online about brands while close to 30 per cent of users share their experience with brands in social media. In addition to this, 19 per cent of users write about brands to praise the service or goods while 10 per cent write to complain.

    "Most companies in Kenya have not thought through their social media engagement. There has been no strategy to their engagement and hence the high failure rate", says Mr Tumbo. "It's about time companies started having actual strategies and not me-too activities on social media."

    His sentiments are echoed by Withaka. "No matter how good your product or service is, regardless of how brilliant the advertisements are, and regardless of the price you're charging, if your targeting is off, then your whole marketing campaign will be missing the mark. You'll waste a lot of cash, energy and time marketing to people who will never buy from you".

  • Telkom is involved in a multibillion-rand project to increase the throughput of fixed-line broadband to speeds of up to 40Mbit/s. The plans also include dramatically upping the speed of entry-level broadband services and introducing video-on-demand (VOD) products, possibly from international providers such as Hulu, Netflix and Nangu.

    In addition, the company is planning a trial using superfast fibre-optic cables from selected telephone exchanges, with the pilot project expected to kick off as early as 15 January 2012. Details about the fibre project remain sketchy, however.

    VDSL2 is theoretically capable of offering download speeds of up to 250Mbit/s over short lengths of copper (up to 500m) and up 50Mbit/s for distances of up to 1km.

    Telkom has invested millions of rand in recent years bringing fibre closer to its customers — in many areas, it has built fibre to its street-level distribution cabinets — to offer faster access speeds to consumers over its copper network.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Airtel Kenya will offer a 50% airtime bonus to customers topping up their prepay account via its own Airtel Money platform.

    - Chinese vendor ZTE has announced that it has installed an integrated value added platform solution (iVAS) in Kinshasa for Vodacom DRC. The iVAS system encompasses SMS services, and ZTE claims that the installation has increased Vodacom’s SMS management tenfold, improving service on the South African-owned telco’s network by reducing congestion.

    - The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has imposed a fine of US$225,000.00 on the Lonestar Communications Company for noncompliance with LTA’s Order  (LTA 0005-10-04-11)  which calls for both Lonestar and Cellcom to expand their interconnection trunks and have the expansion remain in place until otherwise ordered.

    - The SA Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given the green light to SA Airways (SAA) to allow passengers on the airline’s flights to use their smartphones and other supported devices in “flight mode”, where the devices’ radio antennae are switched off.

    - Pan-African mobile operator MTN has announced a partnership with Singapore-based TransferTo, which allows MTN's customers with access to prepaid services to receive airtime transfers from the vast TransferTo international airtime transfer network around the world. TransferTo is a global airtime remittance hub that interconnects mobile operators' prepaid systems to deliver end to end cross-border top-up services.

More

  • Ghana’s Expresso Telecom has replaced their Managing Director just months after the buyout of Kasapa Telecom Limited. Just before Kasapa was rebranded, the Managing Director Bob Palitz resigned and was replaced by Hisham Ayoub.

    Sources within Expresso have said that Ayoub has been replaced due to poor performance. The new Managing Director is Al-Ameer Ahmed Al-Ameer Yousef, who was quietly put in while his counterpart left. It is not yet confirmed in what capacity Ayoub will be serving within the company.

    Under Ayoub subscriptions fell from 400,000 to just over 200,000, despite many changes implemented by Ayoub.

    Ayoub had introduced the Clig moden, which is one of the most competitive modems on the market in terms of prices, speed and tariff. Sources say the new Managing Director is not doing much better, but they are optimistic.

    “It looks like Mr. Yousef is going to bring some positive change, but some of the old guys at Expresso have entrenched themselves into their positions through all kinds of means so I am not too sure if he will succeed,” the source said.

  • Customer Project Manager ParaCell

    Posted date: Fri, 18th Nov

    Location: Western Africa

    ParaCell is searching for a Customer Project Manager

    Requirements:

    · We are looking for recent Ericsson Experience

    • University degree within relevant area

    · Minimum 10 years working experience in Project Management

    · Strong Leadership skills at least 5/10 years in a leadership role

    • PMP certified (Or on the way to be certified within one year)

    • Adequate operations managerial experience

    • Have excellent documentation and presentation skills

    • Have excellent communication skills

    • Have good customer and sub-contractor relation skills

    Must have ability to work independently, International experience and closely with the end-Customer are other essential skills.

    Please apply with accompanying CV indicating your availability visit here:

Issue no 581 18th November 2011

node ref id: 23520

Top story

  • 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.

    No later than last September, the Kenyan newspaper Business Daily reported that Bob Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom “said that the cost of running diesel-driven base stations rose by 27% since January, especially in areas with no electricity and in western Kenya where frequent power outages mean the stations must run on diesel for up to four hours a day”. He also acknowledged that the raising operating costs will need to be addressed and a way to do so will be to increase calling rates.

    Charging more customers is one approach but it has numerous pitfalls. A price increase can result in lower call volumes and therefore the overall revenue will not go up. Most African mobile subscribers don’t have deep pockets and they remain much more price sensitive than their counterparts in developed countries. Increasing prices is a sure way to drive them to look more carefully at what the competitors have on offer.

    Faced with falling voice ARPU and hypothetical additional data revenue, African mobile operators have to pay more attention on the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures should be among the top items on their list as oil prices have gone up again. When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution but it can be done.

    The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay.

    The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. According to a case study carried out by Axiata, a large Asian telecommunication company, the energy saving in using an inverted air conditioning versus a traditional air conditioning system is between 14% and 22%
    depending on the temperature settings (13.8% at 25°C and 21.9% at 30°C).

    In a typical setting the pay-back time is about two years. In Africa for example, mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction (or not) with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    Beside free cooling, inverted air conditioners or higher operating temperatures, smarter ways of cooling have already been developed to reduce energy consumption. One
    option is to extract the heat directly from the source rather than attempting to cool
    the whole cabin.

    Equipment manufacturer Ericsson has for example conducted trials in Indonesia that show significantly lower energy consumption can be achieved through the use of heat exchangers for the shelters and separate cooling compartments for the battery back-up. The energy used for cooling the sites can be reduced by up to 60%.

    Energy efficient base stations offer interesting savings without requiring a big capital layout but then why are there still so few in Africa when a large number of BTS are running on diesel 24/7?

    Further reduction in OPEX will require some capital investments because it implies
    purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy
    power solutions. Green options range from the use of solar energy, wind
    power to hydrogen fuel cell, biomass, biofuel, etc. Solar and wind remain the most
    prominent green technologies used to power base stations in off-grid locations.

    When looking at the business case to implement renewable energy solutions to power
    base stations, three main factors need to be looked at. There is the price of oil, the BTS load and the renewable energy technology to be implemented. Let’s look at the first factor in more details.

    When oil prices are depressed, the pay-back time will be longer – a couple of years more for most renewable energy projects. When oil prices are high, the return on investment will take less time. When diesel price was at its peak in July 2008, mobile operators’ fuel costs were nearly 3 times higher than at the beginning of 2007 with the result of spiralling operating costs (OPEX) for African mobile operators. Shouldn’t the latter comparison start ringing an alarm bell in African mobile operators’ head?

    For more details on the short and long term options available to mobile operators engaging in better managing their diesel bill, please see Balancing Act’s report entitled “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” published in February 2011.


    On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week an AfricaCom special:

    Nadeem, Juma, CEO, Mobipay
    on m-payments and social media in Tanzania

    Scott Bain, Director of Sales, Range Networks on Open BTS and low cost BTS for Africa

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on changes in the satellite market in Africa

    Arvind Rao, CEO, OnMobile on comparisons between African and Indian mobile content

    Gour Lentell, CEO, biNu on this new feature phone platform taking off in Africa

    Jonathan Osler, Managing Director – Africa, Intelsat
    on satellite market trends on the continent

    Christoph Limmer, Senior Director – Africa, SES on its strategy for the continent

    Marc Rennard EVP Orange AMEA on the pressures faced by its operations in Africa

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • MAMA - Mobiles Against Malaria - is a community building effort in one of the very poor outskirts of the Malian capital Bamako, Yirimadjo. Dutch agency IICD wants to help a local association Muso Ladamunen combat the main diseases malaria and diarrhea in the neighbourhood via the integration of mobiles phones in the work of voluntary Community Health Workers, writes Francois Laureys, IICD.

    Approximately 60 women, most mothers who live in Yirimadjo, have organized themselves to pay regular visits to families in the different neighbourhoods of Yirimadjo. This allows them to take stock of the living conditions of these households, and to identify potential women and children at risk (pregnant women, young-borns etc.). They sensitize women about their rights, distribute mosquito nets to families in need, take rapid tests on malaria if they detect people who suffer from the fever, and facilitate access to the local Health Centre when necessary. In the past three years, these Health Workers have saved hundreds of lives, and the number of consultations at the Health Centre has tripled.

    Last summer, when I visited them in Bamako, they were distributing 22.000 mosquito nets to identified target families in Yirimadjo. The ‘captain’ of the Health workers, Mah Cissé, also told me that they are still struggling with the correct and timely identification of target families, and she asked me if we could help them to integrate an element of mobile phones in their work. This would allow the Health workers to send household data directly to a database and to geo-localize more exactly which areas of Yirimadjo are more at risk. Additionally, the mobile phones would also be used to send alerts and reminders about consultation visits to the Health workers in the neighbourhoods.

    We are now finalizing the project design of ‘MAMA – Mobiles Against Malaria in Mali’ , and we hope to be able to start with the mobile phones in december. If successful, this pilot could be extended to many other communities in Mali (and beyond). Both Muso Ladamunen and IICD have invested money in the project, and ‘De Parade’  (a dutch theatre festival) has raised an additional 6,083 euros, for which we are very grateful. But we still can use a little more help to get it really going.

    So have a look at the pages, where you can find a description, photos and updates of the project. You can support in different ways – just by leaving a comment or tips on the pages, by sending this link to others, by putting a link on your blog or webpage, by tweeting, or by donating a little amount via the Donate button. You can also read more about the other activities of Muso Ladamunen by clicking on this link:  or on the blog Antimoustic.

  • 8ta has empowered their subscribers by enhancing their free self-service portal with the ability to purchase airtime and data bundles online via credit card.

    According to Telkom Mobile Managing Executive, Amith Maharaj, this enhancement will facilitate online purchase of airtime and data bundles as and when subscribers need it, even when their airtime is depleted.

    This functionality will improve the user experience for Prepaid and Hybrid (Saver) subscribers. 8ta subscribers need to register online and complete the SMS verification process on 8ta’s website here:

    Logged in subscribers will not be charged to do the following:

    * Review airtime balance

    * Redeem vouchers for airtime

    * Convert airtime to data bundles

    * Review data bundles balances and expiry dates

    * Credit Card top up using 3D secure technology

    The portal is safe as 8ta has chosen 3-D secure as a key comfort factor for subscribers when disclosing their credit card details online. The 3-D secure system simply enables credit card holders to add a password over and above the usual credit card expiry and CVV three digit numbers. The platform caters for locally issued VISA and Mastercard users.

    “If your credit card is not already 3-D verified, the 8ta portal will securely verify the 3-D secure password online. The normal credit card process can then be completed, even with no airtime on the account, as the credit card application is zero rated,” says Maharaj.

    Over time the portal will be enhanced, based on subscriber feedback, market benchmarks and other developments in self-service technology.

    To date 8ta has enabled automatic redirection of all data users when their data bundle is depleted. This key network ability enables subscribers to be in control of their communication spend with 8ta.

    8ta subscribers can now further manage their airtime and data costs both on contract and prepaid products through the self-service portal.

  • Three new phones with deep Facebook integration and dedicated ‘F’ key available in Africa and Europe from Q4 2011 – offering the widest portfolio of affordable phones with deep Facebook functionality launched by an operator to date  Orange is bringing simple, affordable, social phones for under €100 to a broader range of customers in more than 15 countries*

     The new range includes the Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, one of the most affordable Android smartphones available, exclusive to Orange

    Orange will exclusively launch three new affordable phones with deep Facebook integration across Africa and Europe from Q4 2011, creating a swift, simple, cost effective social experience for more of Orange’s customers than ever before. 

    With access to the widest range of phones with Facebook built-in under €100, including the new Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, Orange customers can choose the phone best suited to their needs. Facebook’s social capabilities run through every feature of these phones, from the camera to contacts with the dedicated ‘F’ key allowing instant uploading and interaction. Orange customers can also purchase these handsets with affordable bundles and tariffs that include unlimited Facebook access without extra data charges. 

     “The rise of the smartphone and the explosion of social networks have completely changed how people keep in touch and share content. Until now many consumers across Africa and Europe have not had access to a phone that offers deep Facebook integration at an affordable price,” said Yves Maitre, Senior Vice President of Mobile Multimedia and Devices, Orange. “We feel strongly that it is Orange’s role to enable customers to enjoy a digitally rich, connected life and this and future work with Facebook and Alcatel One Touch will allow us to open up mobile social media access to even more of our customers.”

    “Orange and Facebook have a common goal of providing mobile social access to people throughout Europe and Africa,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business at Facebook. “These phones and our ongoing collaboration with Orange will offer an opportunity for people to easily connect and share with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere and, for some, experience the mobile web for the first time.”

  • Telecom Egypt (TE) has announced its plans to expand broadband and mobile-phone services after third-quarter profit dropped due to a decrease in subscribers.

    TE runs the nation’s fixed-line telephone monopoly. The company plans to begin operating a new undersea cable by the end of the year to increase capacity for data services, and is also in the process of negotiating a virtual mobile network operator license which they hope to acquire during the first quarter of 2012.

    TE is also currently negotiating with Egypt’s telecommunications regulator t acquire a license that would allow it to use the networks of other mobile-phone companies to provide services, according to TE’s Chief Financial Officer Hassan Helmy.

    The company also owns almost half of Vodafone Egypt Telecommunications Co., which is the biggest mobile-network operator in terms of users in Egypt.“In the medium and long-term, the dynamics of the local market are very attractive,” Helmy said. “We’re counting on the young population of this country.”

    The company reported a 21 percent drop in net income from last year, read a statement on TE’s website. Fixed line subscription also dropped to 8.6 million users, from 9.4 million last year.

    “The wider economic malaise is placing pressure on household incomes in Egypt,” Chairman Akil Beshir said in the statement today. “As predicated last quarter, there has been an impact on Telecom Egypt’s overall total number of active subscribers.”

internet

  • The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) has created infrastructure in the form of its Cape Town and Johannesburg Internet Exchanges (CINX and JINX) to help local consumers enjoy better performance from the Internet at a more affordable cost.

    ISPA has run JINX since 1996 and the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX) since 2009. The organisation is currently selecting the company that will host the Durban Internet Exchange, DINX. This infrastructure has an enormous positive impact on the consumer’s Internet experience, although most South African Internet users are unaware of its existence.

    Said Marc Furman, co-chair at ISPA: “The ISPA INXs have provided massive benefit to service providers, network operators and consumers over the years. They keep Internet traffic within the country, which results in faster response times between ISPs and reduces the congestion on international links.

    “By connecting to these exchanges, network operators are also able to keep their costs down, which in turn enables them to provide their services to end-users at a lower cost. The growth we have experienced over the years across these exchange points has been staggering.”

    One principle that ISPA has embraced since 2009 is that the exchanges should be open for non-members as well as members to streamline the exchange of traffic to the benefit of the entire industry. As such, even incumbent network operators are allowed to peer using the INX infrastructure.

    The exchanges also give members a great deal of freedom in choosing who they peer with and how they do so. Although ISPA operates high speed switches at each exchange, INX users are not obliged to connect using the public switch fabric. They may run private links between their equipment at the exchange instead of using the ISPA switch.

    “We take a hands-off approach to how ISPs and operators exchange traffic at each exchange. Most participants peer freely with everyone else connected to that INX but they are not obliged to do so. Some of the participants choose to only exchange traffic with a limited number of other parties,” said Furman.

    Furman noted that the INX infrastructures in Johannesburg and Cape Town have enjoyed runaway growth in the past few years.  More than 30 ISPs now connect to JINX and exchange more than 2.5 Gbps of traffic at JINX during peak times. CINX today handles more than 500 Mbps of traffic from 16 peering ISPs during peak times. With a sharp rise in mobile data usage and rapid growth in voice-over-IP traffic, traffic volumes at the exchanges will continue to grow sharply in the months to come.

  • Labaran Maku, the Nigerian Minister of Information, has expressed concern over the increase in the number of social media in the country. Maku made the observation on Tuesday in Benin City during the meeting of members of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) Constitutional Review Committee.

    Represented by Kingsley Osadolor, a legal practitioner, Maku said the rise of social media in the country was a phenomenon that needed to be addressed as part of the constitutional amendment or in the nearest future.

    He said the revolution that was taking place in Egypt, Syria, Libya and other Arab states was as a result of the reports dished out by the social media. Maku warned that the increase in the number social media might result in some traditional journalists losing their jobs.
    ``What business should the social media have with the NUJ? That is an important phenomenon that needs to be considered,'' he said.

    The minister noted that the constitutional review was coming at time when the Freedom of Information Act was operational. He said the FOI Act was not a substitute for ``crucial investigative journalism'', adding that its aim was to aid the journalist to get access to information.

    Maku noted that there were procedures and rules guiding the use of the FOI Act, and urged media practitioners to be acquainted with them in order not to get negative responses. ``It is useful and pertinent to know the sources of information that are available to the journalists so that they can tap into those areas,'' he said.

    `` The FOI Act is not a substitute for investigative journalism; it must not reduce us into lazy journalists because there are several journalists waiting for information to do their stories,'' he said.

    In his address, Emeka Wogu, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Press for its role in promoting peace and highlighting government policies.

    Wogu, who was represented by Tommy Okon, his Special Assistant on Media, said the constitution of any organisation, group and association, ``is an indication of how healthy the body is in terms of its operations''.

    He said that as the watchdog of the society, it was expected that the NUJ constitutional amendment would address the salient issues affecting journalists and the profession.

    ``I want to use this medium to thank the media for their positive role in promoting industrial peace and harmony in the country,'' Wogu said.

computing

  • A selected aggregation of Individual Information Technology Spend Plans for Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) have revealed that N4.5billion will be spent on data centres in the coming year even though the Federal Government has an IT agency that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and higher standards, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson has said.

    Mrs. Johnson, who spoke in Abuja at the 5TH public sector ICT infrastructure forum & the public presentation of ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification by Galaxy Backbone plc, said there are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources.

    She said in the light of technological developments like cloud computing and the constraints the financial and economic crisis has placed on governments, countries all over the world are promoting the concept of shared IT services because of the immense cost savings, efficiency and capabilities it has been proven to deliver. She said Nigerian MDAs have refused to key in into this.

    The minister, who said one of the mandates of the Ministry of Communication Technology is to drive transparency in governance and improve the quality of public service delivery, lamented that needless IT spending being embarked upon by most government agencies and parastatals.

    She said: "There are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources. A selected aggregation of individual IT Spend plans for MDAs have revealed that N4.5bn will be spent on data centres in the coming year despite the fact that we have within Government an IT organization that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and to higher standards evidenced in the achievement that Galaxy Backbone is celebrating today."

  • Listed SA IT company Gijima has formed a partnership with US company MobileIron as it ups its focus on the consumerisation of IT in business. Founded in 2007 and based in California, MobileIron provides mobile device management and security to large corporations.

    Gijima says the partnership will give it the capability to provide enterprise mobile device management and security solutions to its clients. It comes just a week after the company signed a systems integrator agreement with Apple, whose products such as the iPhone and iPad are being increasingly used in corporate environments.

    MobileIron designs solutions that allow companies to integrate smartphones and tablets with company networks. It offers solutions for devices running Apple’s iOS, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry OS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Windows Mobile, Symbian and Google’s Android mobile operating systems.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Algeria is in talks with Vimpelcom aimed at resolving a tug of war over the Russian telecoms group's mobile phone unit Djezzy and efforts to find a resolution could now speed up, according to Algeria's finance minister, Karim Djoudi.

    Vimpelcom hoped to acquire Djezzy as part of a planned $6 billion acquisition of Wind Telecom, parent of Djezzy's owner Orascom Telecom. But Djezzy's status was left unclear after Algeria said it wanted to take the business over itself.

    Djoudi's comments were the strongest hint yet that a resolution could be close after more than a year of deadlock over Djezzy, which had been the most lucrative part of Orascom Telecom's business.

    Asked about Djezzy, Djoudi said: "Things are taking place normally. I have had a meeting with a Vimpelcom representative at his request. Unfortunately, I cannot give you details because we are in talks."

    He said a valuation of Djezzy, a crucial step in determining the unit's future, was proceeding. "It is possible that things will go fast," Djoudi said. "There is a willingness on the other side to make things go fast."

    It remains unclear what shape a deal on Djezzy could take. There has been some speculation that the Algerian government could acquire a 51 percent stake and allow Vimpelcom to hold the remaining equity and be the operator.

    Before the Vimpelcom deal, Orascom Telecom was forced to agree to talks on Djezzy's nationalisation after it was hit with millions of dollars in back-tax demands from Algeria and prevented from moving the unit's cash abroad.

    Talks about the nationalisation had been stalled because of a dispute between the Algerian government and Djezzy's owners about how the unit is to be valued, and how much access the owners would provide to Djezzy's balance sheet.

    Djoudi suggested that issue had now been resolved. "We have opened the data room which gives us access to all ... (Djezzy's) details," he said.

  • The new Tunisian government has set up a national holding company to handle its stakes in the country's two mobile networks, Tunisiana and Orange.

    The CDC (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation) will be headed by Tunisia's Minister of Finance, Jalloul Ayed. An independent subcommittee has also been assigned to monitor corruption, approve the general policies of the funds and evaluate the investments.

    The CDC manages 25% of Tunisiana, 51% of Orange and the Zitouna bank, which were seized from the former ruling family and are now subsidiaries of the national holding.

  • Zenith Bank (Ghana) Limited in collaboration with Google Ghana has introduced a new product unto the Ghanaian market dubbed Z.com in an effort to give its customers the opportunity to position their businesses to enable them access the global market. Z.com is a business solution opportunity tailored to suit the needs of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana.

    In a statement copied to GNA on Friday, the product would afford SMEs the opportunity to globally advertise their businesses thereby increasing top of mind awareness and ultimately their turnover.

    Z.com, which is another product innovation from Zenith Bank Ghana, rides along the Bank’s quest to make available flexible business strategies to SMEs in Ghana.

    According to Daniel Asiedu Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Ghana, the bank would continue to introduce innovative products and services onto the Ghanaian banking industry.

    “This is in line with its vision of being the reference point in the provision of prompt, flawless and innovation products in the Ghanaian industry”, the statement read.

    The product would be formally launched at a business fair where key stakeholders, policy makers as well as entrepreneurs in the SMEs sector would be brought together to experience at first hand the benefits of e-commerce.

    The official launch of Z.com would take place on Thursday November 24, 2011 at the Accra International Conference Center.

    In a related development, Mr. Henry Oroh, a senior management staff from the parent company Zenith Bank Plc has been appointed to complement the bank’s marketing efforts in Ghana.

  • The fact that the new card will be linked to the user's phone will significantly enhance the security features, says Fundamo CEO Hannes van Rensburg.
    Global credit card company Visa and Africa's largest cellular operator, MTN, have partnered to introduce a new Visa prepaid account mobile service as an extension of MTN Mobile Money in developing countries.

    The product is a result of Visa's recent acquisition of local mobile money platform Fundamo, which has now been integrated with Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.

    Together with MTN Mobile Money, the new service will allow consumers to get a special Visa card which will be linked to their Mobile Money account, and which essentially has the same payment functionality as a bank card.

    Visa says the service will allow users to extend their mobile money payment functionality by allowing them to send money to each other, send and receive international remittances, withdraw funds from a Visa ATM and make purchases at merchants or online.

  • This week, an estimated 180 000 EasyPay customers will receive an e-mail that offers money-back rewards on all their transactions as part of the company’s strategy to restore its credibility and regain customers’ confidence after its site was hit by credit-card fraud two months ago.

    EasyPay will also carry the full liability of any fraudulent transactions, said Serge Belamant, the CEO of Net1, the holding company of EasyPay. He said he has confidence in the site’s newly built security features.

    EasyPay has one of SA’s largest third-party payment systems. It allows consumers to use their credit cards to pay their bills, including Telkom, the municipality and traffic fines, either through its website or at pay points in shops such as Pick n Pay.

    It also allows consumers to buy airtime and prepaid electricity online and it was these purchases that were targeted in September by a crime syndicate. The criminals obtained a list of credit card numbers, which it used to buy airtime, electricity and prepaid gift cards.

    The reaction from Absa, which found that one in three transactions were fraudulent, was to prevent its cardholders from transacting on the site temporarily until EasyPay removed the high-risk products. Some banks continue to limit the number of EasyPay transactions they allow.

    Walter Volker, CEO of the Payment Association of SA, said EasyPay had nothing to do with the release of the credit card details. An investigation is underway to determine how the syndicate obtained the credit card details, which resulted in losses of millions of rands. It must still be determined which banks will carry the liability.

    Belamant said the company had been unfairly targeted by the banks because it was not responsible for the breach. He said the high volume of traffic on the site — it does 4m to 5m transactions a month — made it attractive to fraudsters.

    EasyPay processes payments worth R120m/month, according to Belamant, and the new site is growing at a rate of 10%/month.

Digital Content

  • Many local firms have failed to get their strategies right in creating brand visibility and loyalty through social media, the latest industry survey has shown.

    However, many companies have invested heavily on Internet platforms with an aim of tapping the growing online audience.

    According to the TNS Digital Life Survey, 60 per cent of Kenyans on social media are resistant to brands and brand messages in their profiles, meaning that companies may not be getting returns on the investments they have made to reach the online community through the networks.

    "The race online has seen businesses across the world develop profiles on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube to speak to customers quickly and cheaply --but this study reveals that if these efforts are not carefully targeted, they are a wasted resource," says the report.

    The survey indicates that many firms have embraced the social media platform but without a clear strategy on who their target audiences are, leading to negative results.

    "Digital waste is the accumulation of thousands of brands rushing online without thinking who they want to talk to and why," said Matthew Froggatt, Chief Development Officer at TNS.

    "Many brands have recognised the vast potential of audiences available to them on social networks but they do not understand that these spaces belong to the consumer and their presence needs to be proportionate and justified."

    Mr Froggatt says although the online world presents massive opportunities for brands, only precisely tailored marketing strategies can realise this potential.

    The findings come at a time when the Kenyan social media space is full of content from local firms reaching out to users .But not all is lost as 54 per cent of online users interviewed in the survey admitted that social networks are a good place to learn about products.

    This implies that the use of social media to gain brand visibility and market penetration is not a misguided one. It only needs more direct strategies.

    These findings back concern expressed previously by social media analysts over the unplanned and disjointed online campaigns adopted by most firms in an effort to build their brand visibility.

    "Most businesses in Kenya enter social media but continue passing the same old messages as in traditional channels. Social media is more than just a platform to send your usual advertisement ; it has its own culture which means how people converse, the tone of the conversation, tone of channel (Facebook or Twitter),." says Mr Marvin Tumbo, social media specialist and CEO of Socialight Media, a company that provides social media solutions.

    Tumbo says failure by brands to understand how social media works is what causes conflicts between consumers and business online, with the major challenge coming in crafting the messages. Most firms have not come up with a specific messages for social media sites but are channelling messages created for the traditional media and which may not be appealing to this particular audience.

    The findings further state that users in fast growth markets like Brazil, Indonesia and Kenya are far more open to brands on social networks compared to developed markets like the US where brand tolerance in social media stood at nine per cent compared to 40 per cent in Kenya.

    This means that businesses targeting users in developing countries have a wider audience base, albeit one that must be used prudently. "Social media is not a bad tool for marketing. But it is the tact and targeting that many brands are getting wrong", says Mr Francis Waithaka, a social media analyst.

    "The first thing that brands must do is to listen and understand what customers want. Brands should do pull marketing and not push marketing. A great product and a good customer service will pull customers to your business."

    Waithaka further adds that it is essential for brands to work on their products and services well before going to social media to market them. "With a bad product or terrible customer service, no matter what marketing strategies you employ, it won't work", he says.

    In addition to this, disgruntled users have been known to tweet and post bad customer experiences to their friends and followers and this can go viral and end up being a crisis or an embarrassment to a brand.

    According to the survey, 62 per cent of Kenyan social media users trust comments people make online about brands while close to 30 per cent of users share their experience with brands in social media. In addition to this, 19 per cent of users write about brands to praise the service or goods while 10 per cent write to complain.

    "Most companies in Kenya have not thought through their social media engagement. There has been no strategy to their engagement and hence the high failure rate", says Mr Tumbo. "It's about time companies started having actual strategies and not me-too activities on social media."

    His sentiments are echoed by Withaka. "No matter how good your product or service is, regardless of how brilliant the advertisements are, and regardless of the price you're charging, if your targeting is off, then your whole marketing campaign will be missing the mark. You'll waste a lot of cash, energy and time marketing to people who will never buy from you".

  • Telkom is involved in a multibillion-rand project to increase the throughput of fixed-line broadband to speeds of up to 40Mbit/s. The plans also include dramatically upping the speed of entry-level broadband services and introducing video-on-demand (VOD) products, possibly from international providers such as Hulu, Netflix and Nangu.

    In addition, the company is planning a trial using superfast fibre-optic cables from selected telephone exchanges, with the pilot project expected to kick off as early as 15 January 2012. Details about the fibre project remain sketchy, however.

    VDSL2 is theoretically capable of offering download speeds of up to 250Mbit/s over short lengths of copper (up to 500m) and up 50Mbit/s for distances of up to 1km.

    Telkom has invested millions of rand in recent years bringing fibre closer to its customers — in many areas, it has built fibre to its street-level distribution cabinets — to offer faster access speeds to consumers over its copper network.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Airtel Kenya will offer a 50% airtime bonus to customers topping up their prepay account via its own Airtel Money platform.

    - Chinese vendor ZTE has announced that it has installed an integrated value added platform solution (iVAS) in Kinshasa for Vodacom DRC. The iVAS system encompasses SMS services, and ZTE claims that the installation has increased Vodacom’s SMS management tenfold, improving service on the South African-owned telco’s network by reducing congestion.

    - The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has imposed a fine of US$225,000.00 on the Lonestar Communications Company for noncompliance with LTA’s Order  (LTA 0005-10-04-11)  which calls for both Lonestar and Cellcom to expand their interconnection trunks and have the expansion remain in place until otherwise ordered.

    - The SA Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given the green light to SA Airways (SAA) to allow passengers on the airline’s flights to use their smartphones and other supported devices in “flight mode”, where the devices’ radio antennae are switched off.

    - Pan-African mobile operator MTN has announced a partnership with Singapore-based TransferTo, which allows MTN's customers with access to prepaid services to receive airtime transfers from the vast TransferTo international airtime transfer network around the world. TransferTo is a global airtime remittance hub that interconnects mobile operators' prepaid systems to deliver end to end cross-border top-up services.

More

  • Ghana’s Expresso Telecom has replaced their Managing Director just months after the buyout of Kasapa Telecom Limited. Just before Kasapa was rebranded, the Managing Director Bob Palitz resigned and was replaced by Hisham Ayoub.

    Sources within Expresso have said that Ayoub has been replaced due to poor performance. The new Managing Director is Al-Ameer Ahmed Al-Ameer Yousef, who was quietly put in while his counterpart left. It is not yet confirmed in what capacity Ayoub will be serving within the company.

    Under Ayoub subscriptions fell from 400,000 to just over 200,000, despite many changes implemented by Ayoub.

    Ayoub had introduced the Clig moden, which is one of the most competitive modems on the market in terms of prices, speed and tariff. Sources say the new Managing Director is not doing much better, but they are optimistic.

    “It looks like Mr. Yousef is going to bring some positive change, but some of the old guys at Expresso have entrenched themselves into their positions through all kinds of means so I am not too sure if he will succeed,” the source said.

  • Customer Project Manager ParaCell

    Posted date: Fri, 18th Nov

    Location: Western Africa

    ParaCell is searching for a Customer Project Manager

    Requirements:

    · We are looking for recent Ericsson Experience

    • University degree within relevant area

    · Minimum 10 years working experience in Project Management

    · Strong Leadership skills at least 5/10 years in a leadership role

    • PMP certified (Or on the way to be certified within one year)

    • Adequate operations managerial experience

    • Have excellent documentation and presentation skills

    • Have excellent communication skills

    • Have good customer and sub-contractor relation skills

    Must have ability to work independently, International experience and closely with the end-Customer are other essential skills.

    Please apply with accompanying CV indicating your availability visit here:

Issue no 581 18th November 2011

node ref id: 23520

Top story

  • 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.

    No later than last September, the Kenyan newspaper Business Daily reported that Bob Collymore, the CEO of Safaricom “said that the cost of running diesel-driven base stations rose by 27% since January, especially in areas with no electricity and in western Kenya where frequent power outages mean the stations must run on diesel for up to four hours a day”. He also acknowledged that the raising operating costs will need to be addressed and a way to do so will be to increase calling rates.

    Charging more customers is one approach but it has numerous pitfalls. A price increase can result in lower call volumes and therefore the overall revenue will not go up. Most African mobile subscribers don’t have deep pockets and they remain much more price sensitive than their counterparts in developed countries. Increasing prices is a sure way to drive them to look more carefully at what the competitors have on offer.

    Faced with falling voice ARPU and hypothetical additional data revenue, African mobile operators have to pay more attention on the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures should be among the top items on their list as oil prices have gone up again. When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution but it can be done.

    The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay.

    The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. According to a case study carried out by Axiata, a large Asian telecommunication company, the energy saving in using an inverted air conditioning versus a traditional air conditioning system is between 14% and 22%
    depending on the temperature settings (13.8% at 25°C and 21.9% at 30°C).

    In a typical setting the pay-back time is about two years. In Africa for example, mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction (or not) with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    Beside free cooling, inverted air conditioners or higher operating temperatures, smarter ways of cooling have already been developed to reduce energy consumption. One
    option is to extract the heat directly from the source rather than attempting to cool
    the whole cabin.

    Equipment manufacturer Ericsson has for example conducted trials in Indonesia that show significantly lower energy consumption can be achieved through the use of heat exchangers for the shelters and separate cooling compartments for the battery back-up. The energy used for cooling the sites can be reduced by up to 60%.

    Energy efficient base stations offer interesting savings without requiring a big capital layout but then why are there still so few in Africa when a large number of BTS are running on diesel 24/7?

    Further reduction in OPEX will require some capital investments because it implies
    purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy
    power solutions. Green options range from the use of solar energy, wind
    power to hydrogen fuel cell, biomass, biofuel, etc. Solar and wind remain the most
    prominent green technologies used to power base stations in off-grid locations.

    When looking at the business case to implement renewable energy solutions to power
    base stations, three main factors need to be looked at. There is the price of oil, the BTS load and the renewable energy technology to be implemented. Let’s look at the first factor in more details.

    When oil prices are depressed, the pay-back time will be longer – a couple of years more for most renewable energy projects. When oil prices are high, the return on investment will take less time. When diesel price was at its peak in July 2008, mobile operators’ fuel costs were nearly 3 times higher than at the beginning of 2007 with the result of spiralling operating costs (OPEX) for African mobile operators. Shouldn’t the latter comparison start ringing an alarm bell in African mobile operators’ head?

    For more details on the short and long term options available to mobile operators engaging in better managing their diesel bill, please see Balancing Act’s report entitled “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” published in February 2011.


    On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week an AfricaCom special:

    Nadeem, Juma, CEO, Mobipay
    on m-payments and social media in Tanzania

    Scott Bain, Director of Sales, Range Networks on Open BTS and low cost BTS for Africa

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on changes in the satellite market in Africa

    Arvind Rao, CEO, OnMobile on comparisons between African and Indian mobile content

    Gour Lentell, CEO, biNu on this new feature phone platform taking off in Africa

    Jonathan Osler, Managing Director – Africa, Intelsat
    on satellite market trends on the continent

    Christoph Limmer, Senior Director – Africa, SES on its strategy for the continent

    Marc Rennard EVP Orange AMEA on the pressures faced by its operations in Africa

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • MAMA - Mobiles Against Malaria - is a community building effort in one of the very poor outskirts of the Malian capital Bamako, Yirimadjo. Dutch agency IICD wants to help a local association Muso Ladamunen combat the main diseases malaria and diarrhea in the neighbourhood via the integration of mobiles phones in the work of voluntary Community Health Workers, writes Francois Laureys, IICD.

    Approximately 60 women, most mothers who live in Yirimadjo, have organized themselves to pay regular visits to families in the different neighbourhoods of Yirimadjo. This allows them to take stock of the living conditions of these households, and to identify potential women and children at risk (pregnant women, young-borns etc.). They sensitize women about their rights, distribute mosquito nets to families in need, take rapid tests on malaria if they detect people who suffer from the fever, and facilitate access to the local Health Centre when necessary. In the past three years, these Health Workers have saved hundreds of lives, and the number of consultations at the Health Centre has tripled.

    Last summer, when I visited them in Bamako, they were distributing 22.000 mosquito nets to identified target families in Yirimadjo. The ‘captain’ of the Health workers, Mah Cissé, also told me that they are still struggling with the correct and timely identification of target families, and she asked me if we could help them to integrate an element of mobile phones in their work. This would allow the Health workers to send household data directly to a database and to geo-localize more exactly which areas of Yirimadjo are more at risk. Additionally, the mobile phones would also be used to send alerts and reminders about consultation visits to the Health workers in the neighbourhoods.

    We are now finalizing the project design of ‘MAMA – Mobiles Against Malaria in Mali’ , and we hope to be able to start with the mobile phones in december. If successful, this pilot could be extended to many other communities in Mali (and beyond). Both Muso Ladamunen and IICD have invested money in the project, and ‘De Parade’  (a dutch theatre festival) has raised an additional 6,083 euros, for which we are very grateful. But we still can use a little more help to get it really going.

    So have a look at the pages, where you can find a description, photos and updates of the project. You can support in different ways – just by leaving a comment or tips on the pages, by sending this link to others, by putting a link on your blog or webpage, by tweeting, or by donating a little amount via the Donate button. You can also read more about the other activities of Muso Ladamunen by clicking on this link:  or on the blog Antimoustic.

  • 8ta has empowered their subscribers by enhancing their free self-service portal with the ability to purchase airtime and data bundles online via credit card.

    According to Telkom Mobile Managing Executive, Amith Maharaj, this enhancement will facilitate online purchase of airtime and data bundles as and when subscribers need it, even when their airtime is depleted.

    This functionality will improve the user experience for Prepaid and Hybrid (Saver) subscribers. 8ta subscribers need to register online and complete the SMS verification process on 8ta’s website here:

    Logged in subscribers will not be charged to do the following:

    * Review airtime balance

    * Redeem vouchers for airtime

    * Convert airtime to data bundles

    * Review data bundles balances and expiry dates

    * Credit Card top up using 3D secure technology

    The portal is safe as 8ta has chosen 3-D secure as a key comfort factor for subscribers when disclosing their credit card details online. The 3-D secure system simply enables credit card holders to add a password over and above the usual credit card expiry and CVV three digit numbers. The platform caters for locally issued VISA and Mastercard users.

    “If your credit card is not already 3-D verified, the 8ta portal will securely verify the 3-D secure password online. The normal credit card process can then be completed, even with no airtime on the account, as the credit card application is zero rated,” says Maharaj.

    Over time the portal will be enhanced, based on subscriber feedback, market benchmarks and other developments in self-service technology.

    To date 8ta has enabled automatic redirection of all data users when their data bundle is depleted. This key network ability enables subscribers to be in control of their communication spend with 8ta.

    8ta subscribers can now further manage their airtime and data costs both on contract and prepaid products through the self-service portal.

  • Three new phones with deep Facebook integration and dedicated ‘F’ key available in Africa and Europe from Q4 2011 – offering the widest portfolio of affordable phones with deep Facebook functionality launched by an operator to date  Orange is bringing simple, affordable, social phones for under €100 to a broader range of customers in more than 15 countries*

     The new range includes the Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, one of the most affordable Android smartphones available, exclusive to Orange

    Orange will exclusively launch three new affordable phones with deep Facebook integration across Africa and Europe from Q4 2011, creating a swift, simple, cost effective social experience for more of Orange’s customers than ever before. 

    With access to the widest range of phones with Facebook built-in under €100, including the new Alcatel One Touch 908F Android smartphone, Orange customers can choose the phone best suited to their needs. Facebook’s social capabilities run through every feature of these phones, from the camera to contacts with the dedicated ‘F’ key allowing instant uploading and interaction. Orange customers can also purchase these handsets with affordable bundles and tariffs that include unlimited Facebook access without extra data charges. 

     “The rise of the smartphone and the explosion of social networks have completely changed how people keep in touch and share content. Until now many consumers across Africa and Europe have not had access to a phone that offers deep Facebook integration at an affordable price,” said Yves Maitre, Senior Vice President of Mobile Multimedia and Devices, Orange. “We feel strongly that it is Orange’s role to enable customers to enjoy a digitally rich, connected life and this and future work with Facebook and Alcatel One Touch will allow us to open up mobile social media access to even more of our customers.”

    “Orange and Facebook have a common goal of providing mobile social access to people throughout Europe and Africa,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business at Facebook. “These phones and our ongoing collaboration with Orange will offer an opportunity for people to easily connect and share with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere and, for some, experience the mobile web for the first time.”

  • Telecom Egypt (TE) has announced its plans to expand broadband and mobile-phone services after third-quarter profit dropped due to a decrease in subscribers.

    TE runs the nation’s fixed-line telephone monopoly. The company plans to begin operating a new undersea cable by the end of the year to increase capacity for data services, and is also in the process of negotiating a virtual mobile network operator license which they hope to acquire during the first quarter of 2012.

    TE is also currently negotiating with Egypt’s telecommunications regulator t acquire a license that would allow it to use the networks of other mobile-phone companies to provide services, according to TE’s Chief Financial Officer Hassan Helmy.

    The company also owns almost half of Vodafone Egypt Telecommunications Co., which is the biggest mobile-network operator in terms of users in Egypt.“In the medium and long-term, the dynamics of the local market are very attractive,” Helmy said. “We’re counting on the young population of this country.”

    The company reported a 21 percent drop in net income from last year, read a statement on TE’s website. Fixed line subscription also dropped to 8.6 million users, from 9.4 million last year.

    “The wider economic malaise is placing pressure on household incomes in Egypt,” Chairman Akil Beshir said in the statement today. “As predicated last quarter, there has been an impact on Telecom Egypt’s overall total number of active subscribers.”

internet

  • The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) has created infrastructure in the form of its Cape Town and Johannesburg Internet Exchanges (CINX and JINX) to help local consumers enjoy better performance from the Internet at a more affordable cost.

    ISPA has run JINX since 1996 and the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX) since 2009. The organisation is currently selecting the company that will host the Durban Internet Exchange, DINX. This infrastructure has an enormous positive impact on the consumer’s Internet experience, although most South African Internet users are unaware of its existence.

    Said Marc Furman, co-chair at ISPA: “The ISPA INXs have provided massive benefit to service providers, network operators and consumers over the years. They keep Internet traffic within the country, which results in faster response times between ISPs and reduces the congestion on international links.

    “By connecting to these exchanges, network operators are also able to keep their costs down, which in turn enables them to provide their services to end-users at a lower cost. The growth we have experienced over the years across these exchange points has been staggering.”

    One principle that ISPA has embraced since 2009 is that the exchanges should be open for non-members as well as members to streamline the exchange of traffic to the benefit of the entire industry. As such, even incumbent network operators are allowed to peer using the INX infrastructure.

    The exchanges also give members a great deal of freedom in choosing who they peer with and how they do so. Although ISPA operates high speed switches at each exchange, INX users are not obliged to connect using the public switch fabric. They may run private links between their equipment at the exchange instead of using the ISPA switch.

    “We take a hands-off approach to how ISPs and operators exchange traffic at each exchange. Most participants peer freely with everyone else connected to that INX but they are not obliged to do so. Some of the participants choose to only exchange traffic with a limited number of other parties,” said Furman.

    Furman noted that the INX infrastructures in Johannesburg and Cape Town have enjoyed runaway growth in the past few years.  More than 30 ISPs now connect to JINX and exchange more than 2.5 Gbps of traffic at JINX during peak times. CINX today handles more than 500 Mbps of traffic from 16 peering ISPs during peak times. With a sharp rise in mobile data usage and rapid growth in voice-over-IP traffic, traffic volumes at the exchanges will continue to grow sharply in the months to come.

  • Labaran Maku, the Nigerian Minister of Information, has expressed concern over the increase in the number of social media in the country. Maku made the observation on Tuesday in Benin City during the meeting of members of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) Constitutional Review Committee.

    Represented by Kingsley Osadolor, a legal practitioner, Maku said the rise of social media in the country was a phenomenon that needed to be addressed as part of the constitutional amendment or in the nearest future.

    He said the revolution that was taking place in Egypt, Syria, Libya and other Arab states was as a result of the reports dished out by the social media. Maku warned that the increase in the number social media might result in some traditional journalists losing their jobs.
    ``What business should the social media have with the NUJ? That is an important phenomenon that needs to be considered,'' he said.

    The minister noted that the constitutional review was coming at time when the Freedom of Information Act was operational. He said the FOI Act was not a substitute for ``crucial investigative journalism'', adding that its aim was to aid the journalist to get access to information.

    Maku noted that there were procedures and rules guiding the use of the FOI Act, and urged media practitioners to be acquainted with them in order not to get negative responses. ``It is useful and pertinent to know the sources of information that are available to the journalists so that they can tap into those areas,'' he said.

    `` The FOI Act is not a substitute for investigative journalism; it must not reduce us into lazy journalists because there are several journalists waiting for information to do their stories,'' he said.

    In his address, Emeka Wogu, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, expressed appreciation to the Nigerian Press for its role in promoting peace and highlighting government policies.

    Wogu, who was represented by Tommy Okon, his Special Assistant on Media, said the constitution of any organisation, group and association, ``is an indication of how healthy the body is in terms of its operations''.

    He said that as the watchdog of the society, it was expected that the NUJ constitutional amendment would address the salient issues affecting journalists and the profession.

    ``I want to use this medium to thank the media for their positive role in promoting industrial peace and harmony in the country,'' Wogu said.

computing

  • A selected aggregation of Individual Information Technology Spend Plans for Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) have revealed that N4.5billion will be spent on data centres in the coming year even though the Federal Government has an IT agency that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and higher standards, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson has said.

    Mrs. Johnson, who spoke in Abuja at the 5TH public sector ICT infrastructure forum & the public presentation of ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification by Galaxy Backbone plc, said there are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources.

    She said in the light of technological developments like cloud computing and the constraints the financial and economic crisis has placed on governments, countries all over the world are promoting the concept of shared IT services because of the immense cost savings, efficiency and capabilities it has been proven to deliver. She said Nigerian MDAs have refused to key in into this.

    The minister, who said one of the mandates of the Ministry of Communication Technology is to drive transparency in governance and improve the quality of public service delivery, lamented that needless IT spending being embarked upon by most government agencies and parastatals.

    She said: "There are still too many instances of individual MDAs deploying ICT infrastructure that is better deployed through a more effective pooling of financial and human resources. A selected aggregation of individual IT Spend plans for MDAs have revealed that N4.5bn will be spent on data centres in the coming year despite the fact that we have within Government an IT organization that is positioned to deploy and deliver these services at a lower costs and to higher standards evidenced in the achievement that Galaxy Backbone is celebrating today."

  • Listed SA IT company Gijima has formed a partnership with US company MobileIron as it ups its focus on the consumerisation of IT in business. Founded in 2007 and based in California, MobileIron provides mobile device management and security to large corporations.

    Gijima says the partnership will give it the capability to provide enterprise mobile device management and security solutions to its clients. It comes just a week after the company signed a systems integrator agreement with Apple, whose products such as the iPhone and iPad are being increasingly used in corporate environments.

    MobileIron designs solutions that allow companies to integrate smartphones and tablets with company networks. It offers solutions for devices running Apple’s iOS, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry OS, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Windows Mobile, Symbian and Google’s Android mobile operating systems.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Algeria is in talks with Vimpelcom aimed at resolving a tug of war over the Russian telecoms group's mobile phone unit Djezzy and efforts to find a resolution could now speed up, according to Algeria's finance minister, Karim Djoudi.

    Vimpelcom hoped to acquire Djezzy as part of a planned $6 billion acquisition of Wind Telecom, parent of Djezzy's owner Orascom Telecom. But Djezzy's status was left unclear after Algeria said it wanted to take the business over itself.

    Djoudi's comments were the strongest hint yet that a resolution could be close after more than a year of deadlock over Djezzy, which had been the most lucrative part of Orascom Telecom's business.

    Asked about Djezzy, Djoudi said: "Things are taking place normally. I have had a meeting with a Vimpelcom representative at his request. Unfortunately, I cannot give you details because we are in talks."

    He said a valuation of Djezzy, a crucial step in determining the unit's future, was proceeding. "It is possible that things will go fast," Djoudi said. "There is a willingness on the other side to make things go fast."

    It remains unclear what shape a deal on Djezzy could take. There has been some speculation that the Algerian government could acquire a 51 percent stake and allow Vimpelcom to hold the remaining equity and be the operator.

    Before the Vimpelcom deal, Orascom Telecom was forced to agree to talks on Djezzy's nationalisation after it was hit with millions of dollars in back-tax demands from Algeria and prevented from moving the unit's cash abroad.

    Talks about the nationalisation had been stalled because of a dispute between the Algerian government and Djezzy's owners about how the unit is to be valued, and how much access the owners would provide to Djezzy's balance sheet.

    Djoudi suggested that issue had now been resolved. "We have opened the data room which gives us access to all ... (Djezzy's) details," he said.

  • The new Tunisian government has set up a national holding company to handle its stakes in the country's two mobile networks, Tunisiana and Orange.

    The CDC (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation) will be headed by Tunisia's Minister of Finance, Jalloul Ayed. An independent subcommittee has also been assigned to monitor corruption, approve the general policies of the funds and evaluate the investments.

    The CDC manages 25% of Tunisiana, 51% of Orange and the Zitouna bank, which were seized from the former ruling family and are now subsidiaries of the national holding.

  • Zenith Bank (Ghana) Limited in collaboration with Google Ghana has introduced a new product unto the Ghanaian market dubbed Z.com in an effort to give its customers the opportunity to position their businesses to enable them access the global market. Z.com is a business solution opportunity tailored to suit the needs of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana.

    In a statement copied to GNA on Friday, the product would afford SMEs the opportunity to globally advertise their businesses thereby increasing top of mind awareness and ultimately their turnover.

    Z.com, which is another product innovation from Zenith Bank Ghana, rides along the Bank’s quest to make available flexible business strategies to SMEs in Ghana.

    According to Daniel Asiedu Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Ghana, the bank would continue to introduce innovative products and services onto the Ghanaian banking industry.

    “This is in line with its vision of being the reference point in the provision of prompt, flawless and innovation products in the Ghanaian industry”, the statement read.

    The product would be formally launched at a business fair where key stakeholders, policy makers as well as entrepreneurs in the SMEs sector would be brought together to experience at first hand the benefits of e-commerce.

    The official launch of Z.com would take place on Thursday November 24, 2011 at the Accra International Conference Center.

    In a related development, Mr. Henry Oroh, a senior management staff from the parent company Zenith Bank Plc has been appointed to complement the bank’s marketing efforts in Ghana.

  • The fact that the new card will be linked to the user's phone will significantly enhance the security features, says Fundamo CEO Hannes van Rensburg.
    Global credit card company Visa and Africa's largest cellular operator, MTN, have partnered to introduce a new Visa prepaid account mobile service as an extension of MTN Mobile Money in developing countries.

    The product is a result of Visa's recent acquisition of local mobile money platform Fundamo, which has now been integrated with Visa's global payment network, VisaNet.

    Together with MTN Mobile Money, the new service will allow consumers to get a special Visa card which will be linked to their Mobile Money account, and which essentially has the same payment functionality as a bank card.

    Visa says the service will allow users to extend their mobile money payment functionality by allowing them to send money to each other, send and receive international remittances, withdraw funds from a Visa ATM and make purchases at merchants or online.

  • This week, an estimated 180 000 EasyPay customers will receive an e-mail that offers money-back rewards on all their transactions as part of the company’s strategy to restore its credibility and regain customers’ confidence after its site was hit by credit-card fraud two months ago.

    EasyPay will also carry the full liability of any fraudulent transactions, said Serge Belamant, the CEO of Net1, the holding company of EasyPay. He said he has confidence in the site’s newly built security features.

    EasyPay has one of SA’s largest third-party payment systems. It allows consumers to use their credit cards to pay their bills, including Telkom, the municipality and traffic fines, either through its website or at pay points in shops such as Pick n Pay.

    It also allows consumers to buy airtime and prepaid electricity online and it was these purchases that were targeted in September by a crime syndicate. The criminals obtained a list of credit card numbers, which it used to buy airtime, electricity and prepaid gift cards.

    The reaction from Absa, which found that one in three transactions were fraudulent, was to prevent its cardholders from transacting on the site temporarily until EasyPay removed the high-risk products. Some banks continue to limit the number of EasyPay transactions they allow.

    Walter Volker, CEO of the Payment Association of SA, said EasyPay had nothing to do with the release of the credit card details. An investigation is underway to determine how the syndicate obtained the credit card details, which resulted in losses of millions of rands. It must still be determined which banks will carry the liability.

    Belamant said the company had been unfairly targeted by the banks because it was not responsible for the breach. He said the high volume of traffic on the site — it does 4m to 5m transactions a month — made it attractive to fraudsters.

    EasyPay processes payments worth R120m/month, according to Belamant, and the new site is growing at a rate of 10%/month.

Digital Content

  • Many local firms have failed to get their strategies right in creating brand visibility and loyalty through social media, the latest industry survey has shown.

    However, many companies have invested heavily on Internet platforms with an aim of tapping the growing online audience.

    According to the TNS Digital Life Survey, 60 per cent of Kenyans on social media are resistant to brands and brand messages in their profiles, meaning that companies may not be getting returns on the investments they have made to reach the online community through the networks.

    "The race online has seen businesses across the world develop profiles on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube to speak to customers quickly and cheaply --but this study reveals that if these efforts are not carefully targeted, they are a wasted resource," says the report.

    The survey indicates that many firms have embraced the social media platform but without a clear strategy on who their target audiences are, leading to negative results.

    "Digital waste is the accumulation of thousands of brands rushing online without thinking who they want to talk to and why," said Matthew Froggatt, Chief Development Officer at TNS.

    "Many brands have recognised the vast potential of audiences available to them on social networks but they do not understand that these spaces belong to the consumer and their presence needs to be proportionate and justified."

    Mr Froggatt says although the online world presents massive opportunities for brands, only precisely tailored marketing strategies can realise this potential.

    The findings come at a time when the Kenyan social media space is full of content from local firms reaching out to users .But not all is lost as 54 per cent of online users interviewed in the survey admitted that social networks are a good place to learn about products.

    This implies that the use of social media to gain brand visibility and market penetration is not a misguided one. It only needs more direct strategies.

    These findings back concern expressed previously by social media analysts over the unplanned and disjointed online campaigns adopted by most firms in an effort to build their brand visibility.

    "Most businesses in Kenya enter social media but continue passing the same old messages as in traditional channels. Social media is more than just a platform to send your usual advertisement ; it has its own culture which means how people converse, the tone of the conversation, tone of channel (Facebook or Twitter),." says Mr Marvin Tumbo, social media specialist and CEO of Socialight Media, a company that provides social media solutions.

    Tumbo says failure by brands to understand how social media works is what causes conflicts between consumers and business online, with the major challenge coming in crafting the messages. Most firms have not come up with a specific messages for social media sites but are channelling messages created for the traditional media and which may not be appealing to this particular audience.

    The findings further state that users in fast growth markets like Brazil, Indonesia and Kenya are far more open to brands on social networks compared to developed markets like the US where brand tolerance in social media stood at nine per cent compared to 40 per cent in Kenya.

    This means that businesses targeting users in developing countries have a wider audience base, albeit one that must be used prudently. "Social media is not a bad tool for marketing. But it is the tact and targeting that many brands are getting wrong", says Mr Francis Waithaka, a social media analyst.

    "The first thing that brands must do is to listen and understand what customers want. Brands should do pull marketing and not push marketing. A great product and a good customer service will pull customers to your business."

    Waithaka further adds that it is essential for brands to work on their products and services well before going to social media to market them. "With a bad product or terrible customer service, no matter what marketing strategies you employ, it won't work", he says.

    In addition to this, disgruntled users have been known to tweet and post bad customer experiences to their friends and followers and this can go viral and end up being a crisis or an embarrassment to a brand.

    According to the survey, 62 per cent of Kenyan social media users trust comments people make online about brands while close to 30 per cent of users share their experience with brands in social media. In addition to this, 19 per cent of users write about brands to praise the service or goods while 10 per cent write to complain.

    "Most companies in Kenya have not thought through their social media engagement. There has been no strategy to their engagement and hence the high failure rate", says Mr Tumbo. "It's about time companies started having actual strategies and not me-too activities on social media."

    His sentiments are echoed by Withaka. "No matter how good your product or service is, regardless of how brilliant the advertisements are, and regardless of the price you're charging, if your targeting is off, then your whole marketing campaign will be missing the mark. You'll waste a lot of cash, energy and time marketing to people who will never buy from you".

  • Telkom is involved in a multibillion-rand project to increase the throughput of fixed-line broadband to speeds of up to 40Mbit/s. The plans also include dramatically upping the speed of entry-level broadband services and introducing video-on-demand (VOD) products, possibly from international providers such as Hulu, Netflix and Nangu.

    In addition, the company is planning a trial using superfast fibre-optic cables from selected telephone exchanges, with the pilot project expected to kick off as early as 15 January 2012. Details about the fibre project remain sketchy, however.

    VDSL2 is theoretically capable of offering download speeds of up to 250Mbit/s over short lengths of copper (up to 500m) and up 50Mbit/s for distances of up to 1km.

    Telkom has invested millions of rand in recent years bringing fibre closer to its customers — in many areas, it has built fibre to its street-level distribution cabinets — to offer faster access speeds to consumers over its copper network.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Airtel Kenya will offer a 50% airtime bonus to customers topping up their prepay account via its own Airtel Money platform.

    - Chinese vendor ZTE has announced that it has installed an integrated value added platform solution (iVAS) in Kinshasa for Vodacom DRC. The iVAS system encompasses SMS services, and ZTE claims that the installation has increased Vodacom’s SMS management tenfold, improving service on the South African-owned telco’s network by reducing congestion.

    - The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has imposed a fine of US$225,000.00 on the Lonestar Communications Company for noncompliance with LTA’s Order  (LTA 0005-10-04-11)  which calls for both Lonestar and Cellcom to expand their interconnection trunks and have the expansion remain in place until otherwise ordered.

    - The SA Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given the green light to SA Airways (SAA) to allow passengers on the airline’s flights to use their smartphones and other supported devices in “flight mode”, where the devices’ radio antennae are switched off.

    - Pan-African mobile operator MTN has announced a partnership with Singapore-based TransferTo, which allows MTN's customers with access to prepaid services to receive airtime transfers from the vast TransferTo international airtime transfer network around the world. TransferTo is a global airtime remittance hub that interconnects mobile operators' prepaid systems to deliver end to end cross-border top-up services.

More

  • Ghana’s Expresso Telecom has replaced their Managing Director just months after the buyout of Kasapa Telecom Limited. Just before Kasapa was rebranded, the Managing Director Bob Palitz resigned and was replaced by Hisham Ayoub.

    Sources within Expresso have said that Ayoub has been replaced due to poor performance. The new Managing Director is Al-Ameer Ahmed Al-Ameer Yousef, who was quietly put in while his counterpart left. It is not yet confirmed in what capacity Ayoub will be serving within the company.

    Under Ayoub subscriptions fell from 400,000 to just over 200,000, despite many changes implemented by Ayoub.

    Ayoub had introduced the Clig moden, which is one of the most competitive modems on the market in terms of prices, speed and tariff. Sources say the new Managing Director is not doing much better, but they are optimistic.

    “It looks like Mr. Yousef is going to bring some positive change, but some of the old guys at Expresso have entrenched themselves into their positions through all kinds of means so I am not too sure if he will succeed,” the source said.

  • Customer Project Manager ParaCell

    Posted date: Fri, 18th Nov

    Location: Western Africa

    ParaCell is searching for a Customer Project Manager

    Requirements:

    · We are looking for recent Ericsson Experience

    • University degree within relevant area

    · Minimum 10 years working experience in Project Management

    · Strong Leadership skills at least 5/10 years in a leadership role

    • PMP certified (Or on the way to be certified within one year)

    • Adequate operations managerial experience

    • Have excellent documentation and presentation skills

    • Have excellent communication skills

    • Have good customer and sub-contractor relation skills

    Must have ability to work independently, International experience and closely with the end-Customer are other essential skills.

    Please apply with accompanying CV indicating your availability visit here:

Issue no 580 11th November 2011

node ref id: 23486

Top story

  • 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.

    AfricaCom has become exhausting but necessary meeting place for many of the different parts of the telecoms industry, having expanded from its original GSM Africa footprint. This year it went off in search of even more territory with the addition of Enterprise ICT and Africast streams, the latter for broadcasters. The whole process has steady momentum which means that if you gather the equivalent of a small town together, your chances of meeting people will increase.

    No account of an event of this size will ever capture everything that happens and many of the stories below in the news sections are drawn from announcements at the events, including the winners of the awards event. (note to Orange: You have much to shout about so don’t enter every category multiple times.)

    Some of the key threads that we saw emerging at the event were as follows:

    * International bandwidth growing again: After a period when people were going, we’ve got all this bandwidth what are we going to do with, international fibre sales are on the move again. According to Chris Wood, CEO, WIOCC it has almost completely sold its initial 30 GB allocation and will upgrade to 160 GB which he thinks will sell through in 2 years. The drivers for all this growth? Mobile Internet and WiMAX coverage.

    ACE had a stand for the first time but whilst the project makes steady progress, it has not yet funded its South Africa leg. This is perhaps not surprising given the fact that WACS has all major telcos signed up. WIOCC has also signed an agreement with WACS to give it a west coast redundancy route.

    * The steady growth of national and cross-border terrestrial but price and access still issues: You still meet people who tell you that it might be true that Africa has all this international bandwidth but there’s still no routes from the landing station. Clearly there’s a perception lag operating. Chris Wood, WIOCC told us that its consortium members now have 50,000 kms of cross-border fibre with lower cost transit prices.

    Liquid Telecom’s network stretches north. There are gaps everywhere between these clusters of networks and some blank spaces (as Eric Osiakwan of Ghana Connect pointed out in his presentation) but the task of addressing this is far less daunting. Those endless maps with coloured lines that were “meat and drink” of conferences like this for several years are now a reality. Pricing remains an issue at both national, cross-border and local levels. Holding back the development of things like data centres and cloud computing, the latter being something of a buzz word at the event. Two telcos this week – Vodacom SA and Orange Kenya – have plans to get it beyond the “blah-blah” phase. One operator was saying that international bandwidth was now 20-40% of total delivery cost with national bandwidth making up 60-80%.

    * Satellite operators seem to have weathered the fibre storm: Satellite operators and resellers were remarkably chipper this year compared to last year. SkyVision’s new CEO Doron Ben Sira said revenues were holding steady and that it had moved from drawing most of its revenues from 4-5 countries and was equivalent amounts of revenues across 20 countries. Operators have seen their IP trunking business disappear and the number of remote base stations is falling rather than growing but they have got out and found new customers. “All the world and its aunt” are getting into the broadcast business where prices remain rock solid: how about some competitive offers?

    SkyVision is offering fibre in West Africa but sees it as “niche play” where it can use fibre to create a package of connectivity with good overall margins. C-band capacity availability is low, not helped by the antenna of the New Dawn satellite not opening. Jonathan Osler of Intelsat says he dreams that one morning he will wake up and it’s happened but he says it’s unlikely.

    On the near horizon, Kevin Viret of Yahsat says it will launch its new products early next year and says both pricing and sales channel approach “will shake the market up.” Further into the future 03B is still looking at a 2013 launch date with prices (depending on volume) between US$500-750 per meg. It has changed its business model slightly to offer slightly sub 100 MB offers asymmetrically. However, the idea that it will be good for redundancy purposes looks less and less compelling as the volume of fibre being shifted keeps ramping up.

    * Mobile content gets more and more interesting: Google’s Think Mobile event on Monday was pitching the growth of smartphones in the South African market, which is probably right. But the “ground-moving” moment seems to be happening with the much more numerous feature-phone part of the handset pyramid.

    We met Australia’s biNU mobile who have a feature phone content platform that has over 2 million users globally. It’s a low bandwidth optimized cloud-based service and it offers an extremely interesting content offer including books from the Guttenberg Project. It is getting user numbers in the hundreds of thousands and these are undoubtedly the early birds on the horizon.

    Comparing notes on mobile content in India and Africa with Arvind Rao, CEO of OnMobile was fascinating. He is part of what seems like a wave of Indian vendors who have followed Airtel into the market. He says that his sales in Africa are ahead of where he expected at this point. He told us that one big trend in India was independent musicians using mobile as a means of distribution. He also said that Indian music labels three years ago had something like 5% of their revenues from online but now they had 40-50% and of that proportion 80% was coming from mobile. Furthermore with the rise of independent music distribution and increased digital sales, the negotiating power of the labels had decreased, allowing sensible royalty deals to be done.

    At the higher end there’s a steady trickle of people offering VOD content. One of these companies Logiways offers a satellite-based, smart set top box service (costing US$200) that can serve movies. The box is controlled by the operator and can download a whole set of new movies on a monthly basis and stream them to consumers. Kenyan Fibre-To-The-Home operator Jamii Telecom told us that amongst its first small number of subscribers, 65% use their new bandwidth for downloads.

    On the content front, the Nation Media Group has had 84 million views on its You Tube channel over 3 years. Given that serious income from online advertising on platforms like these starts at around 1 million views, the content moment is finally coming into view. Or another example, Young Africa Live on the Vodacom platform in South Africa has 586,000 unique views. Mobile is well and truly media but current media owners have yet to wake up to this new dawning reality.

    * Mobile payment – when will the interconnect moment arrive? When mobile operators first started, operators didn’t connect to each other because they believed that people would prefer their service and in this fashion it would attract greater numbers. And then someone agreed to interconnect and the networking effect kicked in and the rest is history. M-money is going through a similar cycle but below the radar there are a number of operators that are not completely happy with their proprietary, on-net solution.

    The Nigerians have set the pace by saying platforms must operate with the banks which has meant a slightly more open process of platforms getting to market. Platforms like Paga in Nigeria and Mobipay in Tanzania (still just 100,000 subscribers) may currently be small in user numbers but may suddenly they may become flavor of the month. The issue for operators is that M-Money is not a highly profitable business but as with everything mobile, they do it because some else started doing it.

    Larger players are taking an interest. POS operator Verifone has bought into New Zealand’s Mobilis and is offering an m-wallet platform that has Near Field Communications on its “road map”. The current barrier to retail shopping in places like Nakumatt with say M-Pesa in Kenya is that the check-out staff and customers can’t be bothered to go through the slower process of paying this way. Cash is still faster but imagine a swipe and pay system. It’s a ways off but it’s coming…


    On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week a Nigeria special:

    Adebayo Oyewole
    , Hd Marketing & Strategy, Main One on its new IP products

    Uchechi Chuta on Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's use of social media

    Olalekan Olude, Head of Sales, Jobberman.com on the growth of this jobs website

    Azuka Ndulewe
    , Chief Marketing Officer, Helios Towers Nigeria on the business case for shared towers

    Ojaye Idoko, CEO, Layer3 on the barriers to broadband expansion in Nigeria

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • The AfricaCom Awards winners were announced this week (9 November), with MTN, SEACOM, Main One, Orange, Helios Towers, Ericsson, Huawei, Gateway Communications, SkyVision and SafariCom winning awards. MTN South Africa scooped two awards – best network improvement for their LTE trial network and the best marketing campaign for its MTN Zone re-launch. It’s a shame that network improvement does not yet seem to have hit Ghana (see story on NCA fines below).

    SEACOM and Main One were awarded “Best Pan African Initiative”. Main One and SEACOM announced in May 2011 that they had interconnected their west and east African cable systems to launch capacity services from PoP to PoP, from a STM-1 level and above.

    This partnership extends the Main One and SEACOM networks to create a system that offers connection between any SEACOM and Main One PoPs all around Africa.

    The 2011 AfricaCom Awards winners are:

        * MTN South Africa – Best Network Improvement (for their LTE pilot test) and Best Marketing Campaign (MTN Zone)
        * Orange – Best New Service
        * Helios Towers Africa – Best Cost Efficiency Initiative
        * Ericsson – Rural Telecoms Award
        * Huawei Technologies – Best Backhaul Solution
        * Gateway Communications – Customer Service Excellence
        * SkyVision – Satellite Service Provider of the Year
        * SafariCom – Best ICT Solution Provider for Enterprise Markets, Changing Lives Award
        * Seacom/Main One – Best Pan-African Initiative

  • Following a quality of service report released by the Kenyan Communication Commission, Telkom Kenya has criticized the scope and methodology used within the report. The CCK 2010/2011 Quality of Service (QoS) report, released last week, revealed that Telkom Kenya failed to meet half of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The report ranked them as the poorest network in the country in regards to the terms of service. They may be right but it’s a hard position to take where you end up arguing with the referee.

    According to Telkom Kenya, a different audit benchmarked on international standards and carried out by France Telecom Group rated the company as having one of the best GSM networks among its African subsidiaries.

    Telkom Kenya’s CEO, Mickael Ghossein, released a statement saying “[Telkom Kenya] have queried the scope and methodology on which the report is based, with a view to correlating it to our own independent evaluation of our networks based on the same parameters.”

    The company has also said that an assessment they had carried out in June showed its Call Completion Rate was 96.8 percent, against the 90 percent minimum set by the CCK. Their Call Success Rate also scored at 98 percent against the 90 percent minimum. The QoS report however, rated Telkom Kenya’s Call Completion rate at 38.50 percent, and its Call Completion Rate at 41.36 percent. The company has also said that its investments on the network were not appreciated by the regulator.

    “The results come as a surprise to us considering 2011 marked the successful upgrade and improvement of the Orange mobile network in preparation of our 3G rollout,” Ghossein added.

    The CCK has previously been criticized by Safaricom, which strongly opposed last year’s report. Safaricom raised questions on the credibility of the audit process. Since then however, their score has improved and the company has accepted this year’s findings.

  • Ghana’s telecoms regulator the National Communications Authority (NCA) has imposed fines totaling GHC1.2 million (USD751,990) on five domestic mobile network operators – MTN, Vodafone, Airtel, Expresso and Tigo – for delivering poor services to end users.

    The penalties, which cover the third quarter of this year, are part of measures introduced by the NCA to improve overall quality of services and ensure end users have value for money. Airtel was fined the most – GHC350,000 – after it experienced high levels of network congestion (particularly in Tamale, Sekondi-Takoradi and the Upper East and West, and Greater Accra regions), while MTN and Expresso were each fined GHC300,000. Vodafone was fined GHC150,000 and Tigo received the lowest fine of GHC100,000, the NCA said.

  • The department of communications is moving to wrest control over management of SA’s scarce radio frequency spectrum from industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), a reading of the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, published last week, shows.

    The bill gives power to the minister of communications, rather than Icasa, to determine how spectrum — some of which is in high demand from telecommunications operators — will be divided up.

    Operators are unhappy at the slow pace at which Icasa is licensing access to new spectrum, especially in the 2,6GHz and 3,5GHz bands that can be used for next-generation mobile broadband networks, and this may have prompted government to attempt to usurp some of the authority’s powers in this regard.

    In terms of the new bill, which must still be approved by parliament, the minister of communications — currently Dina Pule — will be responsible for coordination and approval of any radio frequency spectrum plans applicable to SA.

    Furthermore, the bill proposes the creation of a national radio frequency management committee to advise the minister on spectrum issues. The bill says this committee should consist of representatives from “relevant government departments identified by the minister and one or more representatives of the authority”.

    Mike Silber, Head of Legal and Commercial Affairs at fibre operator Liquid Telecom and a former regulatory adviser at the Internet Service Providers’ Association, says Icasa has “inefficiencies around spectrum allocation and management” and this is a “major concern and one that’s worth raising”. However, he warns that assuming the ministry or government department will somehow do better is “laughable”.

    Approached for comment, the big telecoms operators say only that they are still studying the bill and will comment later. But one industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he has to work with government and Icasa, says the bill amounts to the “same old story” of a “power struggle” between the department of communications and Icasa.

    The source says the proposed amendments “don’t sound like a particularly good thing” because, when it comes to issues surrounding spectrum, “you need independence” and “introducing political considerations slows the process”.

    Tracy Cohen, Chief Corporate Services Officer at Neotel, says government is responsible for the development of national policy on electronic communications matters and the law requires that Icasa “is independent in the implementation of government policy”.

    The law does not require that the Icasa is “vested with policy making”, though when it comes to actual implementation the divide is often blurred, Cohen says. She says Neotel will consider the amendment bill and will make detailed comments through the public consultation process, adding that the company supports any initiative to ensure that “critical competition-enhancing processes are effectively implemented”.

    Already, some industry players have expressed concern that the bill will result in further delays in allocating new spectrum. However, Cohen says given that the change is only likely to come to pass in six or 12 months’ time, it does not follow that a change will necessarily slow the process in which Icasa is already engaged.

    “Neotel is of the view that if the department and Icasa were to enable a spectrum secondary trading market, which was previously considered but not implemented in regulation, this would greatly assist in addressing many of the bottlenecks in spectrum efficiency,” she says.

  • The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) will be laying charges against the Democratic Alliance (DA) for “trying to kill copper thieves”. The federation says it will report deputy Cape Town mayor Alderman Ian Neilson's plans to electrocute copper cable thieves to the Public Service Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

    “Cosatu will also lay charges at the police station about the DA's intention to do grievous bodily harm, through the policy of the City of Cape Town.”

    Nielsen, during a radio interview, confirmed that the city leaves on electricity for streetlights during the day, in some areas, to deter thieves from stealing the copper.

    “This clearly is with the intent to electrocute the thieves. There has, however, been no notice sent out telling people that the electricity will be live with current. During the day, people generally expect the electricity to be off, and so people, including kids, try to steel copper to get money,” says Cosatu.

    It explains that this is not an attempt to justify theft, but to caution against the intention to try and kill copper thieves by leaving the current on.

  • The GSMA today announced that Africa is now the world's second largest mobile market by connections after Asia, and the fastest growing mobile market in the world. According to the new GSMA Africa Mobile Observatory 2011 report, Africa achieved this milestone as mobile penetration reached 649 million connections in Q4 2011 (having first exceeded 50 per cent mobile penetration in 2010). Over the past five years, the number of subscribers across Africa has grown by almost 20 per cent each year and will reach more than 735 million by the end of 2012.

    Ninety-six per cent of subscriptions are pre-paid with voice services currently dominating, although uptake of data services is increasing steadily. There are currently six live HSPA+ networks across Africa, with a seventh deployment planned in the near future. By 2015, next-generation LTE networks are predicted to reach 500,000 connections in Kenya, 1.1 million connections in Nigeria and 2.5 million connections in South Africa.

    The mobile ecosystem in Africa currently generates approximately US$56 billion or 3.5 per cent of total GDP, with mobile operators alone contributing US$49 billion. In recent studies by the World Bank and others, it was shown that there is a direct relationship between mobile penetration and GDP. In developing countries, for every 10 per cent increase in mobile penetration there is a 0.81 per cent point increase in a country's GDP. The mobile industry contributes US$15 billion in government revenues and is a significant contributor to employment in Africa. In 2010 alone, approximately 5.4 million people were employed directly and indirectly in the mobile ecosystem.

    However, the Observatory reveals that huge untapped potential remains. 36 per cent of Africans within the 25 largest African mobile markets currently have no access to mobile services. Projections indicate that reaching 100 per cent mobile penetration could add over $35 billion in aggregate GDP - an increase of 2 per cent - but only if governments and operators work together to bring mobile communication to the entire African population.

    "The mobile industry in Africa is booming and a catalyst for immense growth, but there is scope for far greater development," said Peter Lyons, Director of Spectrum Policy, Africa and Middle East, GSMA. "To take full advantage of its potential, African countries need to both allocate more spectrum for the provision of Mobile Broadband services, as well as introduce tax cuts for the industry. By doing so, they will increase consumption of mobile services, thereby boosting their economic and social development."

    African countries have currently allocated considerably less spectrum to mobile services than Europe, the Americas and Asia, which is inhibiting connectivity to large swathes of rural Africa. Sufficient spectrum should be provided for Mobile Broadband services through 3G HSPA and LTE technologies, to enable the mobile industry to 'connect the unconnected' and continue to act as a catalyst for growth.

  • Ugandan Telecom companies have recently addressed several key issues they face in penetrating the rural mobile market and providing reliable and affordable services. Among the issues are two major problems; vandalism and high operating costs.

    Uganda’s population is 87 percent rural, and so spread out that the per-unit cost f delivering communication services relatively high. The high illiteracy rate and the people’s inability to create an economic benefit through mass communication means that there are few businesses willing to invest in Uganda. As a result of this and inadequate infrastructure, almost all booster stations and masts must be run on diesel generators, further bolstering the cost.

    Themba Khumab, the MTN Uganda CEO said that while a large portion of their customers were rural based, vandalism of equipment remained a big challenge to the company. Khumab called for the government to put in place stringent vandalism laws against telecom equipment and materials. “Kenya did this a long time ago and the problem was solved. Why not here?” Khumalo asked.

    The UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi agreed, saying that the poor network is caused by several reasons, including the breakdown of infrastructure due to deliberate vandalism. “Any disruption at a single point triggers a series of failures over a wider area becacause of interconnection,” Mutabazi explained.

    According to the Warid Chief Commercial Officer, Shailendra Naidu, the operating costs are another barrier thwarting progress.“Each site costs the company $300,000 (about Shs 840m) or more and the costs keep on increasing,” Naidu said, adding that it will take time for telecoms to link all areas in the country to the network.

    “Our aim is to maintain quality to our customers and we can’t do that when we are operating beyond the input costs. That is why we increased our tariffs recently,” Naidu said, adding, “We are a young company but already we have many sites across the country and will continue expanding them until every part of Uganda is covered.”

  • Mobile carriers worldwide are steadily upgrading to Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks that support high-speed wireless services as an increasing number of consumers use tablet computers and Smartphones to access the internet. Due to Africa’s growing mobile phone market, an Ericsson executive believes the African market will have its first LTE (better known as 4G) network as early as 2012.

    Initially, the network would be unveiled in the larger urban centers where the demand for high speed internet access is constantly growing.

    “You will see the first networks going in 2012 already to a certain small degree,” said Lars Linden, head of Ericsson in sub-saharan Africa to Reuters. “It will surprise me if the big dragons such as MTN, Vodacom, (Bharti) Airtel and all these big brands, it will surprise me if they do not do anything,” Linden told Reuters.

    Africa’s poverty levels mean that many users remain lower end text and call users. There is however an increasingly tech-savvy market growing among the younger people in Africa, increasing the demand for data availability in the continent.

    African telecom giants MTN and Vodacom are already running trials in South Africa and Kenya’s Safaricom is also testing the technology.
    Furthermore, taxes imposed on the mobile industry in many African states should be reduced to drive an increase in mobile penetration, as well as, in many cases, ultimately increase the total tax intake for governments. The Kenyan government's abolition of the 16 per cent general sales tax on mobile handsets in 2009 has resulted in handset purchases increasing by more than 200 per cent. With mobile operators contributing a third more in taxes in 2011 than in 2009, mobile generated around 8 per cent of Kenya's GDP.

    Other regional success stories include Nigeria, which has the highest number of mobile subscriptions in Africa - over 93 million subscriptions, representing 16 per cent of the continent's total mobile subscriptions.

    South Africa, with its more developed infrastructure, leads the way in terms of broadband penetration: it has 6 per cent mobile broadband penetration, followed by Morocco as the next biggest market, with 2.8 per cent.

    Meanwhile Kenya is at the forefront of Mobile Money Transfers and m-banking, with 8.5 million users. For example, Safaricom in partnership with The Equity Bank in Kenya provides customers with an M-KESHO account allowing them to save money, buy insurance and arrange micro-finance loans.

    Lyons continued, "By working in partnership, mobile operators and African governments can continue the remarkable growth story of the African mobile industry. The benefits that mobile services have already brought to hundreds of millions of Africans can be extended to those who have yet to access communication technology. By so doing, the African continent can continue to bring not only communication services, but also banking, health and education to its people and drive an increase in the economic wealth and development of the region."

  • The telecommunication sector is by far the fastest growing and most lucrative market in the Africa region. In countries like Sudan, where 50 percent of the population uses mobile phones, the importance of the industry to the economy is undeniable. 59% of Zimbabweans have access to mobile phones compared with only about 5% in 2005

    Mobile phones today encompass many different useful tools, such as an alarm, watch, calculator, computer, camera, radio, and even the traditional landline phone. As Adrian Hon, founder and chief of the online gaming company ‘six to start,’ noted in his travels through Sudan; “You are never out of sight of a mobile tower.”

    The widespread use of mobile phones is indicative of their usefulness and the critical role communication plays in Sudan. With so much of the population living in remote areas and under the poverty line, the question arises as to whether so much time and money should be spent by Sudan in increasing their mobile telecom capabilities.

    With the poverty backdrop, it is hard to judge whether or not the government should focus on other issues such as education or healthcare. The reality is that the growing telecom market is growing at an astounding rate, providing many jobs and an increasing flow of wealth in to the country, creating more and more possibilities for Sudan to improve the quality of life for the people in the country.

    “Needless to say, mobile internet is cheaper in Sudan than in the UK at around 1 SDG (20p) per day, but it’s still a fair outlay for locals,” Hon wrote in the telegraph. “If you want proper mobile broadband for a laptop, then it rises to 5 SDG (£1) per day – comparable with the UK but presumably worth it if you really must be online, especially if you share the connection.”

    The ever increasing rate of technological advancement is clearly demonstrated in third world countries like Sudan, where a decade ago such a thing as mobile phones and wireless roaming were virtually non-existent.

    Today, a wireless connection can be bought for almost any mobile device such as a laptop or Smartphone and provides virtually global connections. Children today are seen interacting with a plethora of different mass communication methods, such as Facebook, Twitter, cell phones and the like, while their parents had most likely never seen a phone in their youth.

  • ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema is yet again at the centre of a social media explosion, as South Africans respond to the verdict of his disciplinary hearing.

    The ANC found Malema guilty of provoking divisions within the ruling party and of bringing the organisation into disrepute. The controversial leader has been suspended from the ANC for five years, and has been asked to step down as ANCYL president.

    The hashtags #Malema, #ANCYL and #ANC were all trending as soon as the announcement got under way.

    Here are some of the reactions from Twitter:

    @Jonathan_Witt: The Malema Verdict explained: Julius has a suspended sentence and now has been suspended but that suspension is suspended too.

    @GarethCliff: Now that Julius Malema has been suspended, who will frightened white people obsess about?

    @KoosKombuis: Rumour has it Malema might consider job as teaboy for the DA.

internet

  • Zimbabwean wireless broadband provider, uMAX has selected Alvarion's 4Motion solution to the roll-out a WiMAX network in its capital Harare, in the 2.5 GHz frequency.

    uMAX will be the first service provider to enable consumers and businesses access to such services in Zimbabwe.

    "uMAX is a fast-growing wireless broadband provider in an extremely dynamic market and our 4Motion solution will enable them to move forward and expand their customer base at an opportune time," said Eran Gorev, president and CEO of Alvarion.

  • Mobile telecom provider Nokia Siemens Network has launched a new Facebook application in Nigeria that enables users to manage their fixed and mobile services in the country, which is aimed at improving customer service in the country, company officials said on Monday.

    Nokia said the new app gives customers the ability to check their balance, browse and purchase special offers from mobile companies. It also will give users the ability to subscribe to new services.

    The company said in a press release that users will also be given the opportunity to share their experiences across social networks, in an effort to increase transparency. They will also “get rewards for recommending services to friends.”

    “The beauty of the Facebook app is that it engages with people on their preferred social-networking site,” said Rick Centeno, the head of Business Support Systems at Nokia Siemens.

    “People spend more time on social networks than individual websites. With this Facebook app, Nokia Siemens Networks helps operators to connect with people in a familiar setting where they already spend their online time. It takes self-care to a new level,” he added.

  • IS International's MD understands how tough Africa is, says IS MD Derek Wilcocks.
    Dimension Data subsidiary Internet Solutions (IS) aims to speed up its growth beyond SA's borders and has created IS International to facilitate the expansion.

    The new unit will provide additional support and investment to the group's existing operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique, it says in a statement.

    IS aims to establish further sales and operational presences in the “largely untapped markets” of Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi as it aims to grow across the continent.

    The company will “augment its existing London office by opening new sales offices in North America and Australia, with offices to be opened in other selected countries over time,” it says.

    IS says these outlets will “work with wholesale and multinational clients that are eager to expand into Africa and need a globally experienced and reliable ICT partner on the ground”.

    The company says IS International will be created to take care of these initiatives. It will be led by Tony Walt, who will become MD of IS International from January 2012. He will report to IS MD Derek Wilcocks.

    Wilcocks says Walt has 15 years' of experience in helping the firm's clients in SA with communications needs. “Tony [Walt] understands that Africa is a tough market and needs sound, resilient IT solutions,” Wilcocks says.

    Walt's current responsibilities in SA will be divided between Costa Koutakis and Tony Koutakis, both of who have been with IS for more than 10 years. They will take up the positions of chief client officer and chief sales officer, respectively.

    The country managers of the group's existing operations in the UK, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Mozambique will report directly to Walt in his new role as MD of IS International.

  • “The explosion of broadband data usage in South Africa and internationally is creating an ever-growing set of coverage and capacity challenges that cannot be addressed effectively by any single technology,” Winston Smith, head of Alvarion in South Africa, is quoted in a press statement issued this week.

    Smith added that the same is true for all types of wireless broadband networks from tier 1 mobile carriers to wireless internet service providers, enterprises, governments and municipalities, and private network operators.

    “The subscriber numbers and uptake of broadband for wireless users is much higher than in cabled options in South Africa, and this trend is set to continue into 2012,” said Smith.

    “The solution to under-capacity is to employ multiple complementary technologies which can be optimised for various types of networks and applications.”

    Alvarion highlighted that, in line with this “multi-technology approach,” it recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire Wavion, a carrier-grade Wi-Fi provider.

    According to Alvarion, interference is one of the biggest challenges in deploying Wi-Fi, which is where Wavion comes in.

    Alvarion said that Wavion provides better coverage, higher capacity and interference immunity using smart antenna, beamforming and SDMA technologies.

    “Alvarion is fast-shifting from a focus on WiMAX-based RAN solutions to a multi-technology wireless broadband provider, and with the inclusion of Wavion in our offering, we will have Wi-Fi as the final component of a complete solution for our customers,” Smith said.

computing

  • On Tuesday, Orange Kenya announced plans to increase its funding by mid next year in order to boost its data and cloud computing services in the country. The move comes as voice competition continues to rock the country and drop prices.

    The company said in a press release late on Tuesday that it would request additional funding from France Telecom, which owns a majority 51 percent share in the company, and the Kenyan government.

    Orange’s CEO Mickael Ghossein said that the company was also looking into local and international markets and financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for possible funding alternatives.

    He did not give an exact figure, but did confirm that it would include a $40 million investment for its 2012 budget, the same as this year. That is half of what it invested in the previous two years.

    Ghossein also said Orange Kenya will review its international calling rates by mid-November “to cushion against the weak shilling and increased calling rates in other countries,” which has raised termination rates. Ghossein said the rates in India and Uganda “had risen, meaning termination rates for international calls had also increased. The UK, India, Tanzania and Uganda are among other destinations for which Orange Kenya will revise its rates.”

  • The Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, José Carvalho da Rocha, visited on Wednesday in Luanda the first Data Centre of the country, based in CTT ward.

    Funded by South Korea, the construction of the centre is estimated at USD 30 million and implanted in an area of 5000 square metres.

    The centre is aimed for processing and storage of data of the government.

    The minister said that its functioning will be assured in a first phase by 50 employees, among engineers and high school technicians.

    The official said that with this centre, the country will have greater benefits in terms of human and financial resources.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • South Africa-based Vodacom Group has reported consolidated revenues of ZAR31.75 billion (USD3.99 billion) for the six months ended 30 September 2011, up 7.6% on the corresponding year-earlier period. Vodacom’s domestic unit, Vodacom South Africa, accounted for ZAR23.50 billion in sales (up 4.7% year-on-year), with the firm’s international operations accounting for ZAR4.39 billion (up 13.3% year-on-year). Group EBITDA for the period grew 7.6% to ZAR10.54 billion, whilst net profit climbed 2.8% to ZAR4.39 billion. Meanwhile, CAPEX for the six-month period increased 67.7%, to ZAR3.46 billion.

    In operational terms, Vodacom South Africa remains the firm’s largest unit by subscribers, with 28.91 million customers reported at the end of September, of which figure 23.47 million are pre-paid users. Elsewhere, Vodacom units in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho all increased their subscriber bases in the three months ended 30 September. Tanzania grew its base to 10.27 million users, whilst Mozambique weighed in with 2.99 million customers and Democratic Republic of Congo contributed 4.78 million subscribers. Finally, Lesotho grew its mobile base to 944,000.

    Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys commented: ‘I am really pleased with what we’ve achieved in the first six months of trading as the new ‘red’ Vodacom. [This year saw Vodacom re-branded in line with the red and white colour scheme used by parent company Vodafone, which secured a controlling stake in Vodacom in May 2009.] In South Africa, increased promotional activity and reduced data prices were well received, driving significant gains in both usage and customer numbers. Our average effective price per minute fell 24% and we also implemented a 22% reduction in average data prices. We’ve invested just under ZAR3.5 billion on our networks, making tangible improvements to both coverage and stability. In the second half of the year we aim to capitalise on all the steps taken to improve the customer experience, and prove to our customers that the change in colour really is just the beginning’.

  • JSE-listed IT services company Business Connexion (BCX) has turned in a poor set of financial results in its 2011 financial year to end-August. CEO Benjamin Mophatlane says the company has had a “tough year” and the results “haven’t met expectations”.

    Its technology and innovation divisions posted the most disappointing results. Mophatlane says the company’s recent acquisitions — of selected assets from IT company UCS and of the Canoa Group — have turned in “pleasing results”. UCS and Canoa Group contributed 11.4% of BCX’s revenue in the financial year.

    BCX’s “problem child”, according to Mophatlane, is its technology division. He says the main reason for the disappointing results are the global economic downturn and the fact that some vendors have begun “going straight to clients, particularly because of belt tightening” rather than through partners like BCX.

    He promises the company is taking “aggressive and corrective action to turn the [technology] division around”. BCX has replaced the division’s management and reassessed its business model. It is also exploring the option of reducing product brands to avoid “unnecessary and conflicting technologies”.

    For the year, BCX’s headline earnings per share collapsed from 47,6c in 2010 to 17,3c. The dividend also fell, from 23c/share to 14c, though the company did pay a special dividend of 40c during the period.

  • South Africa’s Allied Technologies said Wednesday it is no longer in talks to acquire unlisted Kenyan IT firm Symphony, a deal that Reuters previously reported could be worth up to $60 million (Sh6 billion).

    Altech, a $742 million telecoms and IT firm, had been in talks to acquire Symphony and was nearing the end of its due diligence, Reuters reported last week, citing a person familiar with the matter.

    “Altech was in discussions with the Da Gama Rose Group, the 100 per cent shareholders in Symphony, an unlisted Kenyan IT firm. Altech has informed the Da Gama Rose Group that it will not progress with further discussions,” Altech said in a statement.

    The Da Gama Rose Group is led by prominent Kenyan businessman and lawyer Horatius da Gama Rose who enjoyed close links with the administration of the former President Moi.
    The firm did not give a reason why the talks had been dropped, but Altech was hoping the deal would augment its existing business — Kenya Data Networks — in a region where it has struggled.

    Altech is a diverse business whose operations include telecoms, electronics, and IT services while Symphony provides IT consulting and services including hardware, software and networking.

Digital Content

  • The Wise Touch tablets are manufactured in China, but are locally branded and customised, with applications and content specifically for the local market. South African company, Wise Tablets, is soon to release a low-cost tablet developed and customised for the local market.

    The “Wise Touch 1” will be available in 7-inch and 9-inch formats, with capacitive multi-touch, running Android 2.3.

    The 9-inch tablet will retail for less than R3 500, while the 7-inch 3G tablet will cost less than R2 500, and the entry-level 7-inch WiFi tablet will go for less than R1 500.

    MD of Wise Tablets, Gian Shipton, says: “The problem with tablets available today is that all of them offer exactly the same thing; software markets”.

    “We found that most of the average South African consumers have a problem with the current high prices of the brand-named tablets, but apart from the pricing issue, it also relates to the fact that none of the tablets in the market, including the Apple iPad, present any form of local content.”

    Shipton says the content on the new tablets will be what sets them apart. “What makes the Wise Touch SA's first South African tablet is what's on the inside.”

    Apart from the regular Android apps, the tablets come preloaded with South African applications, developed specifically for the Wise Touch on behalf of local brands. The local content is categorised under the Wise Shopping Mall, Wise Business Park and Wise Education Centre.

    According to Wise, there are already over 115 “tenants” on board for the Mall and Business Park. While Wise doesn't yet want to release the names of the tenants, the company says they include major local retailers, banks, broadcasters, media houses, food outlets and airlines.

    “Within the Wise Shopping Mall you have a variety of shopping options available, just as you would have in a physical mall. Read a magazine or today's newspaper in the Magazine Store, order a take-away from your favourite restaurant in the Food Court, or do all of your shopping through the various Retail Stores,” says Shipton.

    Wise has its own team of full-time developers, as well as contract developers, who have been working on the project since the beginning of the year.

    “We have not only created apps, but a full back-end with billing and updates – similar to Apple and Android.”

    Speaking of the Wise Education Centre, the company says: “We have been inundated with many parties that have access to various pieces of education – from the public school syllabus to university departments and private schools.

    “We then get the education content provider to develop their content and provide it in a certain format, which our tablets use.” The company says it already has access to most of the public school syllabus and some university content.

    “This education content will be supplied almost free of charge to students, but is limited to being used on our tablets due to encryption and DRM (digital right management) issues with the content owners.

    “We are aiming to have most households of LSM7+ to have our tablets for education in their houses soon,” says Wise, adding that the main focus is a sponsorship programme with media partners that will sponsor devices with educational content for free for students.

    Wise Tablets says the size of the screen is of little influence to them. “We decided (although not finally) to have a 9-inch rather than 10-inch to avoid attracting negative patent wars from the larger players.

    “There is currently a fine line between design look and feel, and we want to steer clear of following them with design. Apart from that, we will actually also offer an 8-inch tablet next year,” says Wise.

    “Our Wise Touch 2 has already been placed on our roadmap and will actually include more hardware than even found in Apple and Samsung. At that stage, we might be seen as a serious competitor. We believe our content still is what makes us different, not the hardware.”

    The Wise Touch tablets are being manufactured in China. The company says that they are not a standard Chinese-boxed product, but made specifically to its specs and branding.

    “Our hardware partners own their own manufacturing chain, and thus we have development control over them,” says Wise.

    The company is expecting the first batch of tablets to arrive in December, but the official launch is planned for early next year.

  • ZTE says that it has deployed a value-added platform solution (iVAS) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, with Vodacom DRC.

    The iVAS system provides SMS services and aims to launch USSD services before the end of 2012. It has improved the Congo's short message service center capacity (SMSC) tenfold, relieving congestion and significantly improving service to approximately 5 million mobile users.

    The first phase of the project was completed in less than 90 days and included Smsc integration.

    "As a leading iVAS solutions provider, Zte has a deep understanding of the telecoms market in the Democratic Republic of Congo," said ZTE Senior Vice President Zhang Renjun. "Because of this, we were able to launch timely, low-cost, value-added technologies here."

  • Mobile advertising agency, InMobi says that mobile impressions grew by 26% over the past quarter across the African continent.

    This means that Inmobi now serves 15.4 billion quarterly impressions, up from 12.2 billion in the previous quarter.

    Isis Nyong'o, Vice President and Managing Director InMobi Africa confirms that "This latest data shows a steady growth in the African mobile media space. As more people on the continent start to use web-enabled phones, these numbers are sure to increase".

    Key highlights of the Africa data include:

        * The Nigerian market remains the fastest growing market on the African continent, followed closely by South Africa.
        * Nokia still holds the majority of the share impressions despite 0.5% decrease in impression. The phone manufacturing giant now holds 61.1% impression share.
        * Nokia and Samsung combined make up 80% of the impressions in Africa.

  • Search giant Google revealed South African smartphone statistics from survey results that were recently published online. Google recently unveiled the results of a new global survey on smartphone usage and mobile marketing, available freely online at a website called Our Mobile Planet.

    The survey, entitled “Global Mobile Research: The Smartphone User & The Mobile Marketer,” was conducted earlier this year.

    Google highlighted the following findings of the South African portion of the survey.

    The Typical Smartphone User: 18-34 Years Old, Well Educated and Working Full-Time

    The majority of smartphone users are between 18-34 years old, are well educated with full-time employment and earn an annual net income of more than R40,000. Many users are new to smartphones, with 64% saying it was their first smartphone device. Almost half of these new users had bought their device within the past 12 months.

    BlackBerry (44%) had the highest market share, followed by Nokia (27%).

    Consumers use their smartphones primarily at home, followed by work and then on-the-go. As important as a purse or a set of keys, 83% don’t leave the house without their smartphones. Users are driven by having information from the Internet at hand and having their smartphones to ‘kill time’ while out and about.

    Internet usage – especially browsing (56% of users) and e-mailing (57%) – is very important for smartphone users. Only every tenth user did not have cross-media usage habits: the majority of users indicated that they did something else while using their smartphones, like listening to music (62%), using the internet on another device (49%) or watching TV (49%).

    Internet Usage: High Frequency and Number of Daily Sessions

    The typical smartphone user accesses the web almost every day (63% mobile, 62% fixed) with several sessions on a given day – shorter sessions on mobile and longer ones on PC. Almost half expect to spend more time on mobile web via smartphones in the future. Users expect their web usage on PC to remain the same.

    Search: High Frequency and Google the Most Utilised Search Engine
    Search engines are a significant part of browsing activity (61% mobile, 80% fixed). Only 12% never use local search and almost 92% mention further actions after looking up specific information, with 36% making a purchase. For the majority of users, Google is the number one search engine.

    Videos: Low Frequency, with YouTube Coming Out Tops

    Every second smartphone is used to watch videos, at least on a monthly base. YouTube (64% mobile, 83% fixed) is in first place, followed by Facebook (62% mobile, 57% fixed).

    Social Networking: High Frequency, with Facebook the Most Visited Site

    63% of smartphone users access social networks via their smartphones every day – 35% post personal updates daily. The most visited social network is Facebook (95% mobile & fixed).

    Mobile Advertising: Accepted on High Level with High Awareness

    15% of users have used a mobile coupon in a store. Almost 84% of users have noticed mobile advertising – mostly on search engines. Almost 70% have taken action after seeing a mobile ad.

    Mobile Commerce: Growing Shopping Channels Hindered by Security and Convenience

    28% of consumers use their smartphones for price comparisons or product information when shopping – the same amount have changed their minds about a purchase, as a result of retrieving information via a smartphone.

    A fourth of consumers use their smartphones when shopping physically and also shop directly via the device – 47% of them within the past month. Preference of a fixed PC and fears that a purchase might not be secure are the main barriers to mobile commerce. 30% anticipate a higher purchase rate via their smartphones within the next 12 months.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Bharti Airtel has awarded a contract to Ericsson to upgrade an initial batch of 250 diesel powered base stations in Nigeria with E-site, a new "green" energy solution from Flexenclosure.

    - Rwanda: The Kigali Wireless Broadband (Wibro) technology is currently in the trial phase before it is fully operational, according to an official.

More

  • * Orange announces winners of the African Social Venture Prize

    Last June, Orange launched the African Social Venture Prize to support entrepreneurs and start-ups who use information and communication technologies (ICT) to meet the needs of African people.

    More than 600 candidates responded to the call for projects, which ran from June to September 2011, a sign of true entrepreneurial vitality on the African continent. Proposed projects spanned a variety of fields, including health, agriculture, education, financial services and e-commerce illustrating the potential of telecommunications in African development.

    The panel of judges, consisting of Orange specialists, the media and institutions that promote development, chose three prizewinners from among ten projects nominated, presented on the Orange African portal, StarAfrica.com.

    The awards ceremony was held yesterday in Cape Town, South Africa, during the AfricaCom Awards, an annual event that recognizes the most memorable innovations and performance of the telecommunications industry on the African continent.

    The winning projects were the following:

       1. The first prize went to the Nigerien project Horticultural Remote Irrigation system, which puts mobile technology in the hands of horticulturists, farmers and cooperatives for remote crop irrigation, allowing them to improve productivity while preserving water resources.
       2. AgaSha Business Network, which won the second prize, is a Ugandan start-up that uses the Internet to help small and medium African companies grow. Through its online business community, it facilitates interaction among economic players to boost market opportunities for small and medium businesses in Africa and abroad.
       3. Third place went to Kachile, a start-up in Côte d’Ivoire. With its e-commerce platform, it offers a way to “professionalize” cottage industries, which are well developed in Africa but lack visibility and market access.

    In addition to funding of up to 25,000 euros, Orange will provide support to the three projects for six months from its local subsidiaries and the strategic expertise of its venture capital subsidiary, Innovacom.

    The African Social Venture Prize demonstrates the Group’s willingness to contribute to the social and economic development of the countries in which it operates. In addition to supplying infrastructure and basic services, Orange is investing in deploying added-value services in key fields such as health, education, agriculture or financial services, and acts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation on the African continent.

  • * EAA 2012 Competition: African Developers Given a Global Stage

    Ericsson and Sony Ericsson partner to run competition for application developers in sub-Saharan Africa

    Ericsson LogoEricsson  in partnership with Sony Ericsson has announced plans to run a regional competition for application developers on the Android platform. The competition titled ‘Apps for Africa’ is to run under the aegis of the 2012 Ericsson Application Awards (EAA 2012) - an ongoing annual competition for application developers worldwide organized by Ericsson Research.

    The EAA 2012 awards themed ‘Apps for the Networked Society’, will run till May 2012, the competition provides a unique opportunity for developers to gain exposure within the telecommunications world and a chance to reach out to customers via Ericsson's distribution channels in addition to the opportunity to win the latest top of the range Sony Ericsson phones and €15,000 in prize money.

    Members of the winning teams in each region will each receive a Sony Ericsson Xperia phone, while teams in second place will receive Business Experience Packs (incl. Sony Ericsson MW600, office pro, McAfee, and a micro USB cable).

    Colin Williamson, Marketing Manager for Sony Ericsson said, “Our objective for Sony Ericsson is to be the preferred choice for Android devices and we’re thrilled that to help reach this objective we’re able to get under the skin of the very platform our handsets perform on by way of an Android Application competition.”

    The competition is open to students and to small and medium sized enterprises based in the region; it has been split into four sub competitions based on location as follows:

    ›        Southern Africa  for countries - Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Saint Helena, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe

    ›        Eastern Africa for countries - Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Réunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda

    ›        Central Africa; Central Africa - Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Côte D’ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Togo

    ›        Western Africa - Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone

    Interested developers in Southern Africa are required to register teams of two to four people online before February 01, 2012 and submit either a video of idea or an Android based application that addresses the theme and makes use of at least one Ericsson Labs API (e.g. Mobile Location or Text To Speech) before February 28th, 2012.

    The competition will be rolled-out across Sub Saharan Africa in November.  All application submissions will be automatically entered into the global competition - EAA 2012 - ‘Apps for the Networked Society’, for the chance to win the cash prize.
    To apply please visit here:

Issue no 580 11th November 2011

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Top story

  • 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.

    AfricaCom has become exhausting but necessary meeting place for many of the different parts of the telecoms industry, having expanded from its original GSM Africa footprint. This year it went off in search of even more territory with the addition of Enterprise ICT and Africast streams, the latter for broadcasters. The whole process has steady momentum which means that if you gather the equivalent of a small town together, your chances of meeting people will increase.

    No account of an event of this size will ever capture everything that happens and many of the stories below in the news sections are drawn from announcements at the events, including the winners of the awards event. (note to Orange: You have much to shout about so don’t enter every category multiple times.)

    Some of the key threads that we saw emerging at the event were as follows:

    * International bandwidth growing again: After a period when people were going, we’ve got all this bandwidth what are we going to do with, international fibre sales are on the move again. According to Chris Wood, CEO, WIOCC it has almost completely sold its initial 30 GB allocation and will upgrade to 160 GB which he thinks will sell through in 2 years. The drivers for all this growth? Mobile Internet and WiMAX coverage.

    ACE had a stand for the first time but whilst the project makes steady progress, it has not yet funded its South Africa leg. This is perhaps not surprising given the fact that WACS has all major telcos signed up. WIOCC has also signed an agreement with WACS to give it a west coast redundancy route.

    * The steady growth of national and cross-border terrestrial but price and access still issues: You still meet people who tell you that it might be true that Africa has all this international bandwidth but there’s still no routes from the landing station. Clearly there’s a perception lag operating. Chris Wood, WIOCC told us that its consortium members now have 50,000 kms of cross-border fibre with lower cost transit prices.

    Liquid Telecom’s network stretches north. There are gaps everywhere between these clusters of networks and some blank spaces (as Eric Osiakwan of Ghana Connect pointed out in his presentation) but the task of addressing this is far less daunting. Those endless maps with coloured lines that were “meat and drink” of conferences like this for several years are now a reality. Pricing remains an issue at both national, cross-border and local levels. Holding back the development of things like data centres and cloud computing, the latter being something of a buzz word at the event. Two telcos this week – Vodacom SA and Orange Kenya – have plans to get it beyond the “blah-blah” phase. One operator was saying that international bandwidth was now 20-40% of total delivery cost with national bandwidth making up 60-80%.

    * Satellite operators seem to have weathered the fibre storm: Satellite operators and resellers were remarkably chipper this year compared to last year. SkyVision’s new CEO Doron Ben Sira said revenues were holding steady and that it had moved from drawing most of its revenues from 4-5 countries and was equivalent amounts of revenues across 20 countries. Operators have seen their IP trunking business disappear and the number of remote base stations is falling rather than growing but they have got out and found new customers. “All the world and its aunt” are getting into the broadcast business where prices remain rock solid: how about some competitive offers?

    SkyVision is offering fibre in West Africa but sees it as “niche play” where it can use fibre to create a package of connectivity with good overall margins. C-band capacity availability is low, not helped by the antenna of the New Dawn satellite not opening. Jonathan Osler of Intelsat says he dreams that one morning he will wake up and it’s happened but he says it’s unlikely.

    On the near horizon, Kevin Viret of Yahsat says it will launch its new products early next year and says both pricing and sales channel approach “will shake the market up.” Further into the future 03B is still looking at a 2013 launch date with prices (depending on volume) between US$500-750 per meg. It has changed its business model slightly to offer slightly sub 100 MB offers asymmetrically. However, the idea that it will be good for redundancy purposes looks less and less compelling as the volume of fibre being shifted keeps ramping up.

    * Mobile content gets more and more interesting: Google’s Think Mobile event on Monday was pitching the growth of smartphones in the South African market, which is probably right. But the “ground-moving” moment seems to be happening with the much more numerous feature-phone part of the handset pyramid.

    We met Australia’s biNU mobile who have a feature phone content platform that has over 2 million users globally. It’s a low bandwidth optimized cloud-based service and it offers an extremely interesting content offer including books from the Guttenberg Project. It is getting user numbers in the hundreds of thousands and these are undoubtedly the early birds on the horizon.

    Comparing notes on mobile content in India and Africa with Arvind Rao, CEO of OnMobile was fascinating. He is part of what seems like a wave of Indian vendors who have followed Airtel into the market. He says that his sales in Africa are ahead of where he expected at this point. He told us that one big trend in India was independent musicians using mobile as a means of distribution. He also said that Indian music labels three years ago had something like 5% of their revenues from online but now they had 40-50% and of that proportion 80% was coming from mobile. Furthermore with the rise of independent music distribution and increased digital sales, the negotiating power of the labels had decreased, allowing sensible royalty deals to be done.

    At the higher end there’s a steady trickle of people offering VOD content. One of these companies Logiways offers a satellite-based, smart set top box service (costing US$200) that can serve movies. The box is controlled by the operator and can download a whole set of new movies on a monthly basis and stream them to consumers. Kenyan Fibre-To-The-Home operator Jamii Telecom told us that amongst its first small number of subscribers, 65% use their new bandwidth for downloads.

    On the content front, the Nation Media Group has had 84 million views on its You Tube channel over 3 years. Given that serious income from online advertising on platforms like these starts at around 1 million views, the content moment is finally coming into view. Or another example, Young Africa Live on the Vodacom platform in South Africa has 586,000 unique views. Mobile is well and truly media but current media owners have yet to wake up to this new dawning reality.

    * Mobile payment – when will the interconnect moment arrive? When mobile operators first started, operators didn’t connect to each other because they believed that people would prefer their service and in this fashion it would attract greater numbers. And then someone agreed to interconnect and the networking effect kicked in and the rest is history. M-money is going through a similar cycle but below the radar there are a number of operators that are not completely happy with their proprietary, on-net solution.

    The Nigerians have set the pace by saying platforms must operate with the banks which has meant a slightly more open process of platforms getting to market. Platforms like Paga in Nigeria and Mobipay in Tanzania (still just 100,000 subscribers) may currently be small in user numbers but may suddenly they may become flavor of the month. The issue for operators is that M-Money is not a highly profitable business but as with everything mobile, they do it because some else started doing it.

    Larger players are taking an interest. POS operator Verifone has bought into New Zealand’s Mobilis and is offering an m-wallet platform that has Near Field Communications on its “road map”. The current barrier to retail shopping in places like Nakumatt with say M-Pesa in Kenya is that the check-out staff and customers can’t be bothered to go through the slower process of paying this way. Cash is still faster but imagine a swipe and pay system. It’s a ways off but it’s coming…


    On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week a Nigeria special:

    Adebayo Oyewole
    , Hd Marketing & Strategy, Main One on its new IP products

    Uchechi Chuta on Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's use of social media

    Olalekan Olude, Head of Sales, Jobberman.com on the growth of this jobs website

    Azuka Ndulewe
    , Chief Marketing Officer, Helios Towers Nigeria on the business case for shared towers

    Ojaye Idoko, CEO, Layer3 on the barriers to broadband expansion in Nigeria

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on: @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • The AfricaCom Awards winners were announced this week (9 November), with MTN, SEACOM, Main One, Orange, Helios Towers, Ericsson, Huawei, Gateway Communications, SkyVision and SafariCom winning awards. MTN South Africa scooped two awards – best network improvement for their LTE trial network and the best marketing campaign for its MTN Zone re-launch. It’s a shame that network improvement does not yet seem to have hit Ghana (see story on NCA fines below).

    SEACOM and Main One were awarded “Best Pan African Initiative”. Main One and SEACOM announced in May 2011 that they had interconnected their west and east African cable systems to launch capacity services from PoP to PoP, from a STM-1 level and above.

    This partnership extends the Main One and SEACOM networks to create a system that offers connection between any SEACOM and Main One PoPs all around Africa.

    The 2011 AfricaCom Awards winners are:

        * MTN South Africa – Best Network Improvement (for their LTE pilot test) and Best Marketing Campaign (MTN Zone)
        * Orange – Best New Service
        * Helios Towers Africa – Best Cost Efficiency Initiative
        * Ericsson – Rural Telecoms Award
        * Huawei Technologies – Best Backhaul Solution
        * Gateway Communications – Customer Service Excellence
        * SkyVision – Satellite Service Provider of the Year
        * SafariCom – Best ICT Solution Provider for Enterprise Markets, Changing Lives Award
        * Seacom/Main One – Best Pan-African Initiative

  • Following a quality of service report released by the Kenyan Communication Commission, Telkom Kenya has criticized the scope and methodology used within the report. The CCK 2010/2011 Quality of Service (QoS) report, released last week, revealed that Telkom Kenya failed to meet half of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The report ranked them as the poorest network in the country in regards to the terms of service. They may be right but it’s a hard position to take where you end up arguing with the referee.

    According to Telkom Kenya, a different audit benchmarked on international standards and carried out by France Telecom Group rated the company as having one of the best GSM networks among its African subsidiaries.

    Telkom Kenya’s CEO, Mickael Ghossein, released a statement saying “[Telkom Kenya] have queried the scope and methodology on which the report is based, with a view to correlating it to our own independent evaluation of our networks based on the same parameters.”

    The company has also said that an assessment they had carried out in June showed its Call Completion Rate was 96.8 percent, against the 90 percent minimum set by the CCK. Their Call Success Rate also scored at 98 percent against the 90 percent minimum. The QoS report however, rated Telkom Kenya’s Call Completion rate at 38.50 percent, and its Call Completion Rate at 41.36 percent. The company has also said that its investments on the network were not appreciated by the regulator.

    “The results come as a surprise to us considering 2011 marked the successful upgrade and improvement of the Orange mobile network in preparation of our 3G rollout,” Ghossein added.

    The CCK has previously been criticized by Safaricom, which strongly opposed last year’s report. Safaricom raised questions on the credibility of the audit process. Since then however, their score has improved and the company has accepted this year’s findings.

  • Ghana’s telecoms regulator the National Communications Authority (NCA) has imposed fines totaling GHC1.2 million (USD751,990) on five domestic mobile network operators – MTN, Vodafone, Airtel, Expresso and Tigo – for delivering poor services to end users.

    The penalties, which cover the third quarter of this year, are part of measures introduced by the NCA to improve overall quality of services and ensure end users have value for money. Airtel was fined the most – GHC350,000 – after it experienced high levels of network congestion (particularly in Tamale, Sekondi-Takoradi and the Upper East and West, and Greater Accra regions), while MTN and Expresso were each fined GHC300,000. Vodafone was fined GHC150,000 and Tigo received the lowest fine of GHC100,000, the NCA said.

  • The department of communications is moving to wrest control over management of SA’s scarce radio frequency spectrum from industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), a reading of the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, published last week, shows.

    The bill gives power to the minister of communications, rather than Icasa, to determine how spectrum — some of which is in high demand from telecommunications operators — will be divided up.

    Operators are unhappy at the slow pace at which Icasa is licensing access to new spectrum, especially in the 2,6GHz and 3,5GHz bands that can be used for next-generation mobile broadband networks, and this may have prompted government to attempt to usurp some of the authority’s powers in this regard.

    In terms of the new bill, which must still be approved by parliament, the minister of communications — currently Dina Pule — will be responsible for coordination and approval of any radio frequency spectrum plans applicable to SA.

    Furthermore, the bill proposes the creation of a national radio frequency management committee to advise the minister on spectrum issues. The bill says this committee should consist of representatives from “relevant government departments identified by the minister and one or more representatives of the authority”.

    Mike Silber, Head of Legal and Commercial Affairs at fibre operator Liquid Telecom and a former regulatory adviser at the Internet Service Providers’ Association, says Icasa has “inefficiencies around spectrum allocation and management” and this is a “major concern and one that’s worth raising”. However, he warns that assuming the ministry or government department will somehow do better is “laughable”.

    Approached for comment, the big telecoms operators say only that they are still studying the bill and will comment later. But one industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he has to work with government and Icasa, says the bill amounts to the “same old story” of a “power struggle” between the department of communications and Icasa.

    The source says the proposed amendments “don’t sound like a particularly good thing” because, when it comes to issues surrounding spectrum, “you need independence” and “introducing political considerations slows the process”.

    Tracy Cohen, Chief Corporate Services Officer at Neotel, says government is responsible for the development of national policy on electronic communications matters and the law requires that Icasa “is independent in the implementation of government policy”.

    The law does not require that the Icasa is “vested with policy making”, though when it comes to actual implementation the divide is often blurred, Cohen says. She says Neotel will consider the amendment bill and will make detailed comments through the public consultation process, adding that the company supports any initiative to ensure that “critical competition-enhancing processes are effectively implemented”.

    Already, some industry players have expressed concern that the bill will result in further delays in allocating new spectrum. However, Cohen says given that the change is only likely to come to pass in six or 12 months’ time, it does not follow that a change will necessarily slow the process in which Icasa is already engaged.

    “Neotel is of the view that if the department and Icasa were to enable a spectrum secondary trading market, which was previously considered but not implemented in regulation, this would greatly assist in addressing many of the bottlenecks in spectrum efficiency,” she says.

  • The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) will be laying charges against the Democratic Alliance (DA) for “trying to kill copper thieves”. The federation says it will report deputy Cape Town mayor Alderman Ian Neilson's plans to electrocute copper cable thieves to the Public Service Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

    “Cosatu will also lay charges at the police station about the DA's intention to do grievous bodily harm, through the policy of the City of Cape Town.”

    Nielsen, during a radio interview, confirmed that the city leaves on electricity for streetlights during the day, in some areas, to deter thieves from stealing the copper.

    “This clearly is with the intent to electrocute the thieves. There has, however, been no notice sent out telling people that the electricity will be live with current. During the day, people generally expect the electricity to be off, and so people, including kids, try to steel copper to get money,” says Cosatu.

    It explains that this is not an attempt to justify theft, but to caution against the intention to try and kill copper thieves by leaving the current on.

  • The GSMA today announced that Africa is now the world's second largest mobile market by connections after Asia, and the fastest growing mobile market in the world. According to the new GSMA Africa Mobile Observatory 2011 report, Africa achieved this milestone as mobile penetration reached 649 million connections in Q4 2011 (having first exceeded 50 per cent mobile penetration in 2010). Over the past five years, the number of subscribers across Africa has grown by almost 20 per cent each year and will reach more than 735 million by the end of 2012.

    Ninety-six per cent of subscriptions are pre-paid with voice services currently dominating, although uptake of data services is increasing steadily. There are currently six live HSPA+ networks across Africa, with a seventh deployment planned in the near future. By 2015, next-generation LTE networks are predicted to reach 500,000 connections in Kenya, 1.1 million connections in Nigeria and 2.5 million connections in South Africa.

    The mobile ecosystem in Africa currently generates approximately US$56 billion or 3.5 per cent of total GDP, with mobile operators alone contributing US$49 billion. In recent studies by the World Bank and others, it was shown that there is a direct relationship between mobile penetration and GDP. In developing countries, for every 10 per cent increase in mobile penetration there is a 0.81 per cent point increase in a country's GDP. The mobile industry contributes US$15 billion in government revenues and is a significant contributor to employment in Africa. In 2010 alone, approximately 5.4 million people were employed directly and indirectly in the mobile ecosystem.

    However, the Observatory reveals that huge untapped potential remains. 36 per cent of Africans within the 25 largest African mobile markets currently have no access to mobile services. Projections indicate that reaching 100 per cent mobile penetration could add over $35 billion in aggregate GDP - an increase of 2 per cent - but only if governments and operators work together to bring mobile communication to the entire African population.

    "The mobile industry in Africa is booming and a catalyst for immense growth, but there is scope for far greater development," said Peter Lyons, Director of Spectrum Policy, Africa and Middle East, GSMA. "To take full advantage of its potential, African countries need to both allocate more spectrum for the provision of Mobile Broadband services, as well as introduce tax cuts for the industry. By doing so, they will increase consumption of mobile services, thereby boosting their economic and social development."

    African countries have currently allocated considerably less spectrum to mobile services than Europe, the Americas and Asia, which is inhibiting connectivity to large swathes of rural Africa. Sufficient spectrum should be provided for Mobile Broadband services through 3G HSPA and LTE technologies, to enable the mobile industry to 'connect the unconnected' and continue to act as a catalyst for growth.

  • Ugandan Telecom companies have recently addressed several key issues they face in penetrating the rural mobile market and providing reliable and affordable services. Among the issues are two major problems; vandalism and high operating costs.

    Uganda’s population is 87 percent rural, and so spread out that the per-unit cost f delivering communication services relatively high. The high illiteracy rate and the people’s inability to create an economic benefit through mass communication means that there are few businesses willing to invest in Uganda. As a result of this and inadequate infrastructure, almost all booster stations and masts must be run on diesel generators, further bolstering the cost.

    Themba Khumab, the MTN Uganda CEO said that while a large portion of their customers were rural based, vandalism of equipment remained a big challenge to the company. Khumab called for the government to put in place stringent vandalism laws against telecom equipment and materials. “Kenya did this a long time ago and the problem was solved. Why not here?” Khumalo asked.

    The UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi agreed, saying that the poor network is caused by several reasons, including the breakdown of infrastructure due to deliberate vandalism. “Any disruption at a single point triggers a series of failures over a wider area becacause of interconnection,” Mutabazi explained.

    According to the Warid Chief Commercial Officer, Shailendra Naidu, the operating costs are another barrier thwarting progress.“Each site costs the company $300,000 (about Shs 840m) or more and the costs keep on increasing,” Naidu said, adding that it will take time for telecoms to link all areas in the country to the network.

    “Our aim is to maintain quality to our customers and we can’t do that when we are operating beyond the input costs. That is why we increased our tariffs recently,” Naidu said, adding, “We are a young company but already we have many sites across the country and will continue expanding them until every part of Uganda is covered.”

  • Mobile carriers worldwide are steadily upgrading to Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks that support high-speed wireless services as an increasing number of consumers use tablet computers and Smartphones to access the internet. Due to Africa’s growing mobile phone market, an Ericsson executive believes the African market will have its first LTE (better known as 4G) network as early as 2012.

    Initially, the network would be unveiled in the larger urban centers where the demand for high speed internet access is constantly growing.

    “You will see the first networks going in 2012 already to a certain small degree,” said Lars Linden, head of Ericsson in sub-saharan Africa to Reuters. “It will surprise me if the big dragons such as MTN, Vodacom, (Bharti) Airtel and all these big brands, it will surprise me if they do not do anything,” Linden told Reuters.

    Africa’s poverty levels mean that many users remain lower end text and call users. There is however an increasingly tech-savvy market growing among the younger people in Africa, increasing the demand for data availability in the continent.

    African telecom giants MTN and Vodacom are already running trials in South Africa and Kenya’s Safaricom is also testing the technology.
    Furthermore, taxes imposed on the mobile industry in many African states should be reduced to drive an increase in mobile penetration, as well as, in many cases, ultimately increase the total tax intake for governments. The Kenyan government's abolition of the 16 per cent general sales tax on mobile handsets in 2009 has resulted in handset purchases increasing by more than 200 per cent. With mobile operators contributing a third more in taxes in 2011 than in 2009, mobile generated around 8 per cent of Kenya's GDP.

    Other regional success stories include Nigeria, which has the highest number of mobile subscriptions in Africa - over 93 million subscriptions, representing 16 per cent of the continent's total mobile subscriptions.

    South Africa, with its more developed infrastructure, leads the way in terms of broadband penetration: it has 6 per cent mobile broadband penetration, followed by Morocco as the next biggest market, with 2.8 per cent.

    Meanwhile Kenya is at the forefront of Mobile Money Transfers and m-banking, with 8.5 million users. For example, Safaricom in partnership with The Equity Bank in Kenya provides customers with an M-KESHO account allowing them to save money, buy insurance and arrange micro-finance loans.

    Lyons continued, "By working in partnership, mobile operators and African governments can continue the remarkable growth story of the African mobile industry. The benefits that mobile services have already brought to hundreds of millions of Africans can be extended to those who have yet to access communication technology. By so doing, the African continent can continue to bring not only communication services, but also banking, health and education to its people and drive an increase in the economic wealth and development of the region."

  • The telecommunication sector is by far the fastest growing and most lucrative market in the Africa region. In countries like Sudan, where 50 percent of the population uses mobile phones, the importance of the industry to the economy is undeniable. 59% of Zimbabweans have access to mobile phones compared with only about 5% in 2005

    Mobile phones today encompass many different useful tools, such as an alarm, watch, calculator, computer, camera, radio, and even the traditional landline phone. As Adrian Hon, founder and chief of the online gaming company ‘six to start,’ noted in his travels through Sudan; “You are never out of sight of a mobile tower.”

    The widespread use of mobile phones is indicative of their usefulness and the critical role communication plays in Sudan. With so much of the population living in remote areas and under the poverty line, the question arises as to whether so much time and money should be spent by Sudan in increasing their mobile telecom capabilities.

    With the poverty backdrop, it is hard to judge whether or not the government should focus on other issues such as education or healthcare. The reality is that the growing telecom market is growing at an astounding rate, providing many jobs and an increasing flow of wealth in to the country, creating more and more possibilities for Sudan to improve the quality of life for the people in the country.

    “Needless to say, mobile internet is cheaper in Sudan than in the UK at around 1 SDG (20p) per day, but it’s still a fair outlay for locals,” Hon wrote in the telegraph. “If you want proper mobile broadband for a laptop, then it rises to 5 SDG (£1) per day – comparable with the UK but presumably worth it if you really must be online, especially if you share the connection.”

    The ever increasing rate of technological advancement is clearly demonstrated in third world countries like Sudan, where a decade ago such a thing as mobile phones and wireless roaming were virtually non-existent.

    Today, a wireless connection can be bought for almost any mobile device such as a laptop or Smartphone and provides virtually global connections. Children today are seen interacting with a plethora of different mass communication methods, such as Facebook, Twitter, cell phones and the like, while their parents had most likely never seen a phone in their youth.

  • ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema is yet again at the centre of a social media explosion, as South Africans respond to the verdict of his disciplinary hearing.

    The ANC found Malema guilty of provoking divisions within the ruling party and of bringing the organisation into disrepute. The controversial leader has been suspended from the ANC for five years, and has been asked to step down as ANCYL president.

    The hashtags #Malema, #ANCYL and #ANC were all trending as soon as the announcement got under way.

    Here are some of the reactions from Twitter:

    @Jonathan_Witt: The Malema Verdict explained: Julius has a suspended sentence and now has been suspended but that suspension is suspended too.

    @GarethCliff: Now that Julius Malema has been suspended, who will frightened white people obsess about?

    @KoosKombuis: Rumour has it Malema might consider job as teaboy for the DA.

internet

  • Zimbabwean wireless broadband provider, uMAX has selected Alvarion's 4Motion solution to the roll-out a WiMAX network in its capital Harare, in the 2.5 GHz frequency.

    uMAX will be the first service provider to enable consumers and businesses access to such services in Zimbabwe.

    "uMAX is a fast-growing wireless broadband provider in an extremely dynamic market and our 4Motion solution will enable them to move forward and expand their customer base at an opportune time," said Eran Gorev, president and CEO of Alvarion.

  • Mobile telecom provider Nokia Siemens Network has launched a new Facebook application in Nigeria that enables users to manage their fixed and mobile services in the country, which is aimed at improving customer service in the country, company officials said on Monday.

    Nokia said the new app gives customers the ability to check their balance, browse and purchase special offers from mobile companies. It also will give users the ability to subscribe to new services.

    The company said in a press release that users will also be given the opportunity to share their experiences across social networks, in an effort to increase transparency. They will also “get rewards for recommending services to friends.”

    “The beauty of the Facebook app is that it engages with people on their preferred social-networking site,” said Rick Centeno, the head of Business Support Systems at Nokia Siemens.

    “People spend more time on social networks than individual websites. With this Facebook app, Nokia Siemens Networks helps operators to connect with people in a familiar setting where they already spend their online time. It takes self-care to a new level,” he added.

  • IS International's MD understands how tough Africa is, says IS MD Derek Wilcocks.
    Dimension Data subsidiary Internet Solutions (IS) aims to speed up its growth beyond SA's borders and has created IS International to facilitate the expansion.

    The new unit will provide additional support and investment to the group's existing operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique, it says in a statement.

    IS aims to establish further sales and operational presences in the “largely untapped markets” of Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi as it aims to grow across the continent.

    The company will “augment its existing London office by opening new sales offices in North America and Australia, with offices to be opened in other selected countries over time,” it says.

    IS says these outlets will “work with wholesale and multinational clients that are eager to expand into Africa and need a globally experienced and reliable ICT partner on the ground”.

    The company says IS International will be created to take care of these initiatives. It will be led by Tony Walt, who will become MD of IS International from January 2012. He will report to IS MD Derek Wilcocks.

    Wilcocks says Walt has 15 years' of experience in helping the firm's clients in SA with communications needs. “Tony [Walt] understands that Africa is a tough market and needs sound, resilient IT solutions,” Wilcocks says.

    Walt's current responsibilities in SA will be divided between Costa Koutakis and Tony Koutakis, both of who have been with IS for more than 10 years. They will take up the positions of chief client officer and chief sales officer, respectively.

    The country managers of the group's existing operations in the UK, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Mozambique will report directly to Walt in his new role as MD of IS International.

  • “The explosion of broadband data usage in South Africa and internationally is creating an ever-growing set of coverage and capacity challenges that cannot be addressed effectively by any single technology,” Winston Smith, head of Alvarion in South Africa, is quoted in a press statement issued this week.

    Smith added that the same is true for all types of wireless broadband networks from tier 1 mobile carriers to wireless internet service providers, enterprises, governments and municipalities, and private network operators.

    “The subscriber numbers and uptake of broadband for wireless users is much higher than in cabled options in South Africa, and this trend is set to continue into 2012,” said Smith.

    “The solution to under-capacity is to employ multiple complementary technologies which can be optimised for various types of networks and applications.”

    Alvarion highlighted that, in line with this “multi-technology approach,” it recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire Wavion, a carrier-grade Wi-Fi provider.

    According to Alvarion, interference is one of the biggest challenges in deploying Wi-Fi, which is where Wavion comes in.

    Alvarion said that Wavion provides better coverage, higher capacity and interference immunity using smart antenna, beamforming and SDMA technologies.

    “Alvarion is fast-shifting from a focus on WiMAX-based RAN solutions to a multi-technology wireless broadband provider, and with the inclusion of Wavion in our offering, we will have Wi-Fi as the final component of a complete solution for our customers,” Smith said.

computing

  • On Tuesday, Orange Kenya announced plans to increase its funding by mid next year in order to boost its data and cloud computing services in the country. The move comes as voice competition continues to rock the country and drop prices.

    The company said in a press release late on Tuesday that it would request additional funding from France Telecom, which owns a majority 51 percent share in the company, and the Kenyan government.

    Orange’s CEO Mickael Ghossein said that the company was also looking into local and international markets and financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for possible funding alternatives.

    He did not give an exact figure, but did confirm that it would include a $40 million investment for its 2012 budget, the same as this year. That is half of what it invested in the previous two years.

    Ghossein also said Orange Kenya will review its international calling rates by mid-November “to cushion against the weak shilling and increased calling rates in other countries,” which has raised termination rates. Ghossein said the rates in India and Uganda “had risen, meaning termination rates for international calls had also increased. The UK, India, Tanzania and Uganda are among other destinations for which Orange Kenya will revise its rates.”

  • The Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, José Carvalho da Rocha, visited on Wednesday in Luanda the first Data Centre of the country, based in CTT ward.

    Funded by South Korea, the construction of the centre is estimated at USD 30 million and implanted in an area of 5000 square metres.

    The centre is aimed for processing and storage of data of the government.

    The minister said that its functioning will be assured in a first phase by 50 employees, among engineers and high school technicians.

    The official said that with this centre, the country will have greater benefits in terms of human and financial resources.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • South Africa-based Vodacom Group has reported consolidated revenues of ZAR31.75 billion (USD3.99 billion) for the six months ended 30 September 2011, up 7.6% on the corresponding year-earlier period. Vodacom’s domestic unit, Vodacom South Africa, accounted for ZAR23.50 billion in sales (up 4.7% year-on-year), with the firm’s international operations accounting for ZAR4.39 billion (up 13.3% year-on-year). Group EBITDA for the period grew 7.6% to ZAR10.54 billion, whilst net profit climbed 2.8% to ZAR4.39 billion. Meanwhile, CAPEX for the six-month period increased 67.7%, to ZAR3.46 billion.

    In operational terms, Vodacom South Africa remains the firm’s largest unit by subscribers, with 28.91 million customers reported at the end of September, of which figure 23.47 million are pre-paid users. Elsewhere, Vodacom units in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho all increased their subscriber bases in the three months ended 30 September. Tanzania grew its base to 10.27 million users, whilst Mozambique weighed in with 2.99 million customers and Democratic Republic of Congo contributed 4.78 million subscribers. Finally, Lesotho grew its mobile base to 944,000.

    Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys commented: ‘I am really pleased with what we’ve achieved in the first six months of trading as the new ‘red’ Vodacom. [This year saw Vodacom re-branded in line with the red and white colour scheme used by parent company Vodafone, which secured a controlling stake in Vodacom in May 2009.] In South Africa, increased promotional activity and reduced data prices were well received, driving significant gains in both usage and customer numbers. Our average effective price per minute fell 24% and we also implemented a 22% reduction in average data prices. We’ve invested just under ZAR3.5 billion on our networks, making tangible improvements to both coverage and stability. In the second half of the year we aim to capitalise on all the steps taken to improve the customer experience, and prove to our customers that the change in colour really is just the beginning’.

  • JSE-listed IT services company Business Connexion (BCX) has turned in a poor set of financial results in its 2011 financial year to end-August. CEO Benjamin Mophatlane says the company has had a “tough year” and the results “haven’t met expectations”.

    Its technology and innovation divisions posted the most disappointing results. Mophatlane says the company’s recent acquisitions — of selected assets from IT company UCS and of the Canoa Group — have turned in “pleasing results”. UCS and Canoa Group contributed 11.4% of BCX’s revenue in the financial year.

    BCX’s “problem child”, according to Mophatlane, is its technology division. He says the main reason for the disappointing results are the global economic downturn and the fact that some vendors have begun “going straight to clients, particularly because of belt tightening” rather than through partners like BCX.

    He promises the company is taking “aggressive and corrective action to turn the [technology] division around”. BCX has replaced the division’s management and reassessed its business model. It is also exploring the option of reducing product brands to avoid “unnecessary and conflicting technologies”.

    For the year, BCX’s headline earnings per share collapsed from 47,6c in 2010 to 17,3c. The dividend also fell, from 23c/share to 14c, though the company did pay a special dividend of 40c during the period.

  • South Africa’s Allied Technologies said Wednesday it is no longer in talks to acquire unlisted Kenyan IT firm Symphony, a deal that Reuters previously reported could be worth up to $60 million (Sh6 billion).

    Altech, a $742 million telecoms and IT firm, had been in talks to acquire Symphony and was nearing the end of its due diligence, Reuters reported last week, citing a person familiar with the matter.

    “Altech was in discussions with the Da Gama Rose Group, the 100 per cent shareholders in Symphony, an unlisted Kenyan IT firm. Altech has informed the Da Gama Rose Group that it will not progress with further discussions,” Altech said in a statement.

    The Da Gama Rose Group is led by prominent Kenyan businessman and lawyer Horatius da Gama Rose who enjoyed close links with the administration of the former President Moi.
    The firm did not give a reason why the talks had been dropped, but Altech was hoping the deal would augment its existing business — Kenya Data Networks — in a region where it has struggled.

    Altech is a diverse business whose operations include telecoms, electronics, and IT services while Symphony provides IT consulting and services including hardware, software and networking.

Digital Content

  • The Wise Touch tablets are manufactured in China, but are locally branded and customised, with applications and content specifically for the local market. South African company, Wise Tablets, is soon to release a low-cost tablet developed and customised for the local market.

    The “Wise Touch 1” will be available in 7-inch and 9-inch formats, with capacitive multi-touch, running Android 2.3.

    The 9-inch tablet will retail for less than R3 500, while the 7-inch 3G tablet will cost less than R2 500, and the entry-level 7-inch WiFi tablet will go for less than R1 500.

    MD of Wise Tablets, Gian Shipton, says: “The problem with tablets available today is that all of them offer exactly the same thing; software markets”.

    “We found that most of the average South African consumers have a problem with the current high prices of the brand-named tablets, but apart from the pricing issue, it also relates to the fact that none of the tablets in the market, including the Apple iPad, present any form of local content.”

    Shipton says the content on the new tablets will be what sets them apart. “What makes the Wise Touch SA's first South African tablet is what's on the inside.”

    Apart from the regular Android apps, the tablets come preloaded with South African applications, developed specifically for the Wise Touch on behalf of local brands. The local content is categorised under the Wise Shopping Mall, Wise Business Park and Wise Education Centre.

    According to Wise, there are already over 115 “tenants” on board for the Mall and Business Park. While Wise doesn't yet want to release the names of the tenants, the company says they include major local retailers, banks, broadcasters, media houses, food outlets and airlines.

    “Within the Wise Shopping Mall you have a variety of shopping options available, just as you would have in a physical mall. Read a magazine or today's newspaper in the Magazine Store, order a take-away from your favourite restaurant in the Food Court, or do all of your shopping through the various Retail Stores,” says Shipton.

    Wise has its own team of full-time developers, as well as contract developers, who have been working on the project since the beginning of the year.

    “We have not only created apps, but a full back-end with billing and updates – similar to Apple and Android.”

    Speaking of the Wise Education Centre, the company says: “We have been inundated with many parties that have access to various pieces of education – from the public school syllabus to university departments and private schools.

    “We then get the education content provider to develop their content and provide it in a certain format, which our tablets use.” The company says it already has access to most of the public school syllabus and some university content.

    “This education content will be supplied almost free of charge to students, but is limited to being used on our tablets due to encryption and DRM (digital right management) issues with the content owners.

    “We are aiming to have most households of LSM7+ to have our tablets for education in their houses soon,” says Wise, adding that the main focus is a sponsorship programme with media partners that will sponsor devices with educational content for free for students.

    Wise Tablets says the size of the screen is of little influence to them. “We decided (although not finally) to have a 9-inch rather than 10-inch to avoid attracting negative patent wars from the larger players.

    “There is currently a fine line between design look and feel, and we want to steer clear of following them with design. Apart from that, we will actually also offer an 8-inch tablet next year,” says Wise.

    “Our Wise Touch 2 has already been placed on our roadmap and will actually include more hardware than even found in Apple and Samsung. At that stage, we might be seen as a serious competitor. We believe our content still is what makes us different, not the hardware.”

    The Wise Touch tablets are being manufactured in China. The company says that they are not a standard Chinese-boxed product, but made specifically to its specs and branding.

    “Our hardware partners own their own manufacturing chain, and thus we have development control over them,” says Wise.

    The company is expecting the first batch of tablets to arrive in December, but the official launch is planned for early next year.

  • ZTE says that it has deployed a value-added platform solution (iVAS) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, with Vodacom DRC.

    The iVAS system provides SMS services and aims to launch USSD services before the end of 2012. It has improved the Congo's short message service center capacity (SMSC) tenfold, relieving congestion and significantly improving service to approximately 5 million mobile users.

    The first phase of the project was completed in less than 90 days and included Smsc integration.

    "As a leading iVAS solutions provider, Zte has a deep understanding of the telecoms market in the Democratic Republic of Congo," said ZTE Senior Vice President Zhang Renjun. "Because of this, we were able to launch timely, low-cost, value-added technologies here."

  • Mobile advertising agency, InMobi says that mobile impressions grew by 26% over the past quarter across the African continent.

    This means that Inmobi now serves 15.4 billion quarterly impressions, up from 12.2 billion in the previous quarter.

    Isis Nyong'o, Vice President and Managing Director InMobi Africa confirms that "This latest data shows a steady growth in the African mobile media space. As more people on the continent start to use web-enabled phones, these numbers are sure to increase".

    Key highlights of the Africa data include:

        * The Nigerian market remains the fastest growing market on the African continent, followed closely by South Africa.
        * Nokia still holds the majority of the share impressions despite 0.5% decrease in impression. The phone manufacturing giant now holds 61.1% impression share.
        * Nokia and Samsung combined make up 80% of the impressions in Africa.

  • Search giant Google revealed South African smartphone statistics from survey results that were recently published online. Google recently unveiled the results of a new global survey on smartphone usage and mobile marketing, available freely online at a website called Our Mobile Planet.

    The survey, entitled “Global Mobile Research: The Smartphone User & The Mobile Marketer,” was conducted earlier this year.

    Google highlighted the following findings of the South African portion of the survey.

    The Typical Smartphone User: 18-34 Years Old, Well Educated and Working Full-Time

    The majority of smartphone users are between 18-34 years old, are well educated with full-time employment and earn an annual net income of more than R40,000. Many users are new to smartphones, with 64% saying it was their first smartphone device. Almost half of these new users had bought their device within the past 12 months.

    BlackBerry (44%) had the highest market share, followed by Nokia (27%).

    Consumers use their smartphones primarily at home, followed by work and then on-the-go. As important as a purse or a set of keys, 83% don’t leave the house without their smartphones. Users are driven by having information from the Internet at hand and having their smartphones to ‘kill time’ while out and about.

    Internet usage – especially browsing (56% of users) and e-mailing (57%) – is very important for smartphone users. Only every tenth user did not have cross-media usage habits: the majority of users indicated that they did something else while using their smartphones, like listening to music (62%), using the internet on another device (49%) or watching TV (49%).

    Internet Usage: High Frequency and Number of Daily Sessions

    The typical smartphone user accesses the web almost every day (63% mobile, 62% fixed) with several sessions on a given day – shorter sessions on mobile and longer ones on PC. Almost half expect to spend more time on mobile web via smartphones in the future. Users expect their web usage on PC to remain the same.

    Search: High Frequency and Google the Most Utilised Search Engine
    Search engines are a significant part of browsing activity (61% mobile, 80% fixed). Only 12% never use local search and almost 92% mention further actions after looking up specific information, with 36% making a purchase. For the majority of users, Google is the number one search engine.

    Videos: Low Frequency, with YouTube Coming Out Tops

    Every second smartphone is used to watch videos, at least on a monthly base. YouTube (64% mobile, 83% fixed) is in first place, followed by Facebook (62% mobile, 57% fixed).

    Social Networking: High Frequency, with Facebook the Most Visited Site

    63% of smartphone users access social networks via their smartphones every day – 35% post personal updates daily. The most visited social network is Facebook (95% mobile & fixed).

    Mobile Advertising: Accepted on High Level with High Awareness

    15% of users have used a mobile coupon in a store. Almost 84% of users have noticed mobile advertising – mostly on search engines. Almost 70% have taken action after seeing a mobile ad.

    Mobile Commerce: Growing Shopping Channels Hindered by Security and Convenience

    28% of consumers use their smartphones for price comparisons or product information when shopping – the same amount have changed their minds about a purchase, as a result of retrieving information via a smartphone.

    A fourth of consumers use their smartphones when shopping physically and also shop directly via the device – 47% of them within the past month. Preference of a fixed PC and fears that a purchase might not be secure are the main barriers to mobile commerce. 30% anticipate a higher purchase rate via their smartphones within the next 12 months.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Bharti Airtel has awarded a contract to Ericsson to upgrade an initial batch of 250 diesel powered base stations in Nigeria with E-site, a new "green" energy solution from Flexenclosure.

    - Rwanda: The Kigali Wireless Broadband (Wibro) technology is currently in the trial phase before it is fully operational, according to an official.

More

  • * Orange announces winners of the African Social Venture Prize

    Last June, Orange launched the African Social Venture Prize to support entrepreneurs and start-ups who use information and communication technologies (ICT) to meet the needs of African people.

    More than 600 candidates responded to the call for projects, which ran from June to September 2011, a sign of true entrepreneurial vitality on the African continent. Proposed projects spanned a variety of fields, including health, agriculture, education, financial services and e-commerce illustrating the potential of telecommunications in African development.

    The panel of judges, consisting of Orange specialists, the media and institutions that promote development, chose three prizewinners from among ten projects nominated, presented on the Orange African portal, StarAfrica.com.

    The awards ceremony was held yesterday in Cape Town, South Africa, during the AfricaCom Awards, an annual event that recognizes the most memorable innovations and performance of the telecommunications industry on the African continent.

    The winning projects were the following:

       1. The first prize went to the Nigerien project Horticultural Remote Irrigation system, which puts mobile technology in the hands of horticulturists, farmers and cooperatives for remote crop irrigation, allowing them to improve productivity while preserving water resources.
       2. AgaSha Business Network, which won the second prize, is a Ugandan start-up that uses the Internet to help small and medium African companies grow. Through its online business community, it facilitates interaction among economic players to boost market opportunities for small and medium businesses in Africa and abroad.
       3. Third place went to Kachile, a start-up in Côte d’Ivoire. With its e-commerce platform, it offers a way to “professionalize” cottage industries, which are well developed in Africa but lack visibility and market access.

    In addition to funding of up to 25,000 euros, Orange will provide support to the three projects for six months from its local subsidiaries and the strategic expertise of its venture capital subsidiary, Innovacom.

    The African Social Venture Prize demonstrates the Group’s willingness to contribute to the social and economic development of the countries in which it operates. In addition to supplying infrastructure and basic services, Orange is investing in deploying added-value services in key fields such as health, education, agriculture or financial services, and acts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation on the African continent.

  • * EAA 2012 Competition: African Developers Given a Global Stage

    Ericsson and Sony Ericsson partner to run competition for application developers in sub-Saharan Africa

    Ericsson LogoEricsson  in partnership with Sony Ericsson has announced plans to run a regional competition for application developers on the Android platform. The competition titled ‘Apps for Africa’ is to run under the aegis of the 2012 Ericsson Application Awards (EAA 2012) - an ongoing annual competition for application developers worldwide organized by Ericsson Research.

    The EAA 2012 awards themed ‘Apps for the Networked Society’, will run till May 2012, the competition provides a unique opportunity for developers to gain exposure within the telecommunications world and a chance to reach out to customers via Ericsson's distribution channels in addition to the opportunity to win the latest top of the range Sony Ericsson phones and €15,000 in prize money.

    Members of the winning teams in each region will each receive a Sony Ericsson Xperia phone, while teams in second place will receive Business Experience Packs (incl. Sony Ericsson MW600, office pro, McAfee, and a micro USB cable).

    Colin Williamson, Marketing Manager for Sony Ericsson said, “Our objective for Sony Ericsson is to be the preferred choice for Android devices and we’re thrilled that to help reach this objective we’re able to get under the skin of the very platform our handsets perform on by way of an Android Application competition.”

    The competition is open to students and to small and medium sized enterprises based in the region; it has been split into four sub competitions based on location as follows:

    ›        Southern Africa  for countries - Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Saint Helena, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe

    ›        Eastern Africa for countries - Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Réunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda

    ›        Central Africa; Central Africa - Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Côte D’ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Togo

    ›        Western Africa - Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone

    Interested developers in Southern Africa are required to register teams of two to four people online before February 01, 2012 and submit either a video of idea or an Android based application that addresses the theme and makes use of at least one Ericsson Labs API (e.g. Mobile Location or Text To Speech) before February 28th, 2012.

    The competition will be rolled-out across Sub Saharan Africa in November.  All application submissions will be automatically entered into the global competition - EAA 2012 - ‘Apps for the Networked Society’, for the chance to win the cash prize.
    To apply please visit here:

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