Top Story Archive

Telecoms in Africa

Kenya’s Steadman Group to research who will be watching the 2010 World Cup

Mobile operators who are amongst the largest advertising spenders in Africa have joined others in Project Eyeball, a massive research project to be carried out by The Steadman Group of…

THE LEGAL TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF THE ISLAND'S VoIP PIONEERS

It was in December 2003 that the Mauritius' Yiptong-family started offering VoIP services under the brand name of "WorldCard" (www.mauritel.net). The Yiptongs had obtained an ISP license and thought this…

Protecting Africa’s ICT Consumers in a fast changing market

Africa’s regulators are increasingly moving to assert their role as the protector of consumer interests in the ICT space. This week the Commissioner responsible for Consumer Affairs told a meeting…

VOD services are beginning to gain traction but are operators ready for this kind of traffic?

There’s a mismatch happening out there in African markets. Users have demonstrated that they want streaming video services and they want them now. However, the majority of operators do not…

Gambia’s Netpage makes it first across the line to launch 4G/LTE – Will make quality of service a priority

The race to be the first to provide 4G in Gambia has gone to Netpage which has launched its service last week. Others were in the race but have not…

ICT SECTOR LOBBYING FOR LOWER INTERNATIONAL BANDWIDTH PRICES

"We are fighting for the industry", is Ganesh Ramalingum’s explanation of what ICT industry association Act is doing. Act is the Mauritian association of alternative telco players, including ISPs and…

Namibia: WACS cable will arrive in 2011 but monopoly legacy holds back prices and growth

Namibia’s regulatory position is like stepping back ten years if you’re more used to the competitive rough and tumble in Africa’s more developed markets. The historic incumbent Telecom Namibia still…

Kenya’s Pasha Centres initiative seeks a new way to reach out into un-serviced areas

Kenya’s ICT Board is in the throes of setting up what it has dubbed Pasha Centres as part of its preparations for the opening of the Seacom cable at the…

MAURITIAN INCUBATOR HELPS ICT ENTREPRENEURS OVER START-UP HURDLES

Roshan Kumar Seebaluck’s job is to nurture ICT start-ups and to help them get over the numerous hurdles that prevent so many with business ideas to become entrepreneurs: Roshan Kumar…

Race to build a west coast fibre promises to push international bandwidth prices to new lows

Four international fibre projects are racing to complete ahead of each other on the west cost of Africa to give some much needed additional capacity and price competition to SAT3.…

COMOROS SET TO PRIVATISE INCUMBENT TELCO AS POLITICAL DUST OF LAST DECADE SETTLES

The slow privatisation of Africa's incumbent telcos has finally reached one of its smaller nations, the Indian Ocean island state of the Comoros. The Island's military leaders have made telecoms…

The end of the beginning: DRC plans ambitious infrastructure development

For all the difficulties in Eastern Congo, the DRC has seen a number of recent developments that will form the beginning of a backbone development plan for the country. Canadian…

KENYA AIRWAYS E-COMMERCE SITE SHOWS IT CAN BE DONE BUT CAN AFRICA’S BANKS KEEP UP?

Until recently e-commerce in Africa was something that happened in North Africa and South Africa but hardly anywhere else. A major breakthrough has recently been achieved by Kenya Airways whose…

Breaking through Africa’s payments pain barrier – lowering online mobile transaction costs

For Africa’s digital economy to work, it desperately needs an effective payments system that can handle micro payments and with transaction costs that are reasonable. Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative has partnered…

Altech Buys 51 Per Cent Stake in Sameer ICT Ltd

This week saw South Africa’s Altech buy a 51% stake in three subsidiaries of the Sameer ICT Group for $85.2 million. Part of the deal is that on top of…

EASSy parties in disconnect over end of the beginning– negotiations continue

The road to concluding the agreements leading to the implementation of EASSy was unlike the project’s name never going to be easy. There are 23 Governments that NEPAD’s e-Africa Commission…

The sun's rays power up laptops for primary schools in Rwanda

It is estimated that around nine out of ten Africans do not have access to electricity. Without electricity, many parts of Africa, particularly rural areas, cannot get access to electrical…

Central Africa: Some fibre network breakthroughs in the continent’s slow lane for development

African fibre development has a fast lane and a slow lane. The number of countries in East Africa that now have multiple redundant connections to neighbours and extensive national fibre…

* What’s happening with Lap Green and Vodacom?

After the story in issue 394 about Vodacom having plans to buy Lap Green’s Rwanda and Uganda operations, the company has denied reports that it was selling off its Ugandan…

Blogging and podcasting start to take off in Africa: first mobile phone podcast from Accra ?

"Leaving the Annan Centre, David and I drove across town past the sprawling campus of the University of Ghana until we reached the site of my workshop on blogs, podcasts…

Orange Mauritius turns IPTV and Fibre-To-The-Cabinet into “a driver for growth”

Fibre-To-The-Home is beginning to be announced in Africa’s larger markets: Jamii Telecoms in Kenya (see issue 540), i3Africa in South Africa and Algerie Telecom has been piloting it. But for…

Liquid Telecoms’ fibre network connects Southern Africa and may go into DRC but what’s happened to the carriers’ carriers?

Liquid Telecom has been quietly building out its Southern Africa fibre network that will eventually be 8,500 kms long and cost US$170 million. Its network is now meeting the fibre…

KDN pips EASSy at the post in $115m deal with Flag – cost of bandwidth? Around $150 per mbps per month

The EASSy saga, which has had more twists and turns than a mountain road, took what may be a final turn. Kenya Data Networks announced that it has secured a…

Season’s Greetings from Balancing Act’s News Update

Dear readers, viewers, contributors and advertisersThe pace of change in the telecoms and internet sectors in Africa in 2013 has seemed to accelerate. The established and accepted ways of doing…

Raid on Siemens throws new light on seamy side of buying and selling telco equipment

This week saw a police raid on telecoms equipment manufacturer Siemens at its fixed line telecoms unit in Munich. The investigation is in its early stages but according to a…

Africa’s powerline pioneers look set to get traction over the next three years

Next week will see the coming together of Africa’s powerline pioneers for an event in South Africa and an African Powerline Communications Forum has been set up under the ATU.…

Are mobile phone penetration rates in Sub-Saharan Africa really as low as they seem?

Many crystal-ball gazers in 2011 point to what they see as the low penetration rates of African mobile telephony as an indication that there is plenty of room for future…

African VoIP report reveals steady uptake of ip among carriers and grey market persisting despite price falls

This week sees the publication of Balancing Act’s African VoIP Markets. This 170 page report provides the first overall assessment of the use of VoIP in African markets that looks…

AGRIC-INFO SPECIAL - HELPING PRODUCERS MAKE MONEY FROM DIGITAL INFORMATION

Bananas can be bought for 200 Ugandan shillings a bunch on the roadside near to where they’re grown. The same bunch costs UGS6-7,000 in the capital Kampala and UGS 10,000…

African universities will buy 60 Gb of bandwidth and set up a continental network

Almost unnoticed African universities have come together to sort out their bandwidth problems in the new era of fibre. In April 2010, European NREN Dante will start to implement with…

EFFECTIVE INTERCONNECT - AFRICA’S NEXT LIBERALISATION FRONTIER

Charges to carriers for using the networks of others -otherwise known as interconnect - is a challenge for many African operators. Not a week passes without some African interconnect issues…

Double play in Nigeria: ipNX will use WiMAX to carve itself a niche offering voice and broadband

ISPs across the continent are being squeezed by the entry of the mobile companies into the Internet sector. There is double whammy hitting them: some mobile companies are buying their…

The QoS Moment of Truth – Tunisian regulator INT starts monitoring broadband services

Many African operators offering broadband services – whether fixed or mobile – continue to provide highly contended or congested services. Bandwidth speeds are improving but there’s no easy way for…

AppLab launches new SMS services after testing use and take-up with potential users – promising early use figures

AppLab Uganda has been testing and rolling out a range of new mobile information services. It has been experimenting to find out what it is potential users actually want before…

Four African countries try to turn back the clock by creating monopoly international gateways again

Licences for international gateways are the strategic heights of African telecoms competition. Some countries have liberalised access to them and will reduce licence fees (see Telecoms News). However four countries…

Willstream Labs connects diaspora with merchants to ensure safe payment

M-money services are making steady inroads into how cash is transacted in countries across the continent. Far less progress has been made in enabling low transaction cost payments from the…

We Name The Guilty Men – Top 5 Monopoly Incumbents that Keep Prices High and Stall Market Development

Because so many African countries have made huge strides over the last decade in developing their telecoms markets, it’s easy to forget that the majority have stuck with the old…

The battle for mindspace – Africa’s mobile operators get serious about branding

This week has seen the launch of the rebranding of Mauritius Telecom’s products under the Orange brand. Branding is ad-men speak for that curious alchemy of emotional and rational responses…

Transcorp looks at new carriers carrier strategy for“car wreck” Nitel

Although Transcorp succeeded in buying Nigeria’s incumbent Nitel, it does not have the necessary funds to invest in developing it. Despite conducting a fairly vigorous round of fundraising, both local…

ENERGY SPECIAL - GENERATING ELECTRICITY FOR ICT IN REMOTE LOCATIONS

Operating any form of ICT in remote locations offers considerable challenges beyond using the equipment itself. One of the key problems to overcome is being able to access a reliable…

SA’S SENTECH TO LAUNCH WIRELESS BROADBAND BY THE END OF THE YEAR

In a presentation at ISPA’s iWeek Dr Angelo Roussos, Group Executive Multimedia, Sentech signalled that the company will launch its wireless broadband service by the end of the year. It…

TV White Spaces trial in South Africa seeks to accelerate access to managed spectrum

TV White Spaces offers two potential benefits: immediate use of unused spectrum for rural area deployment and better overall use of existing spectrum. Africa currently has two active trials, one…

Etisalat launches 3rd. Data Centre in Nigeria capital Abuja

In late May 2015, Etisalat Nigeria launched a new data center in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. There are already several data centres of scale in Nigeria's commercial centre Lagos but…

Rwanda – the small country with a strong desire to succeed

Rwanda lost around a million of its 8-9 million population in its civil war. By any standard, this was a devastating human loss. But the impact of these dreadful events…

Africa's insatiable thirst for social networking spurs the growth of local mobile brands in key markets

Africa’s thirst for social networking seems insatiable and homegrown products to meet this thirst, like MXit and 2go, have really got traction. It’s a mixture of flirting, free messaging and…

DUOPOLY PLAYERS GET FULL SERVICE LICENCES

Since 2003, the telecommunications sector has been operated by a duopoly: the incumbent Rwandatel (now the Terracom) and MTN. Terracom is licensed to offer all services and MTN will be…

Benin's OPT appoints two companies to sell ADSL and VOIP

Beninoise telco incumbent OPT has given the right to sell its broadband service to two companies, Pharaon Telecom and one other. The deal is significant for two reasons. Firstly both…

NORTH AFRICAN ADSL ROLL-OUTS - THE BEGINNING OF THE SPREAD OF HIGHER BANDWIDTH OFFERINGS

Last week saw the announcement of ADSL broadband roll-outs in Algeria and Morocco by the incumbent telcos. Not so long ago broadband would have seemed a crazy commercial strategy in…

Ugandan mobile operator outsourcing company grows its revenues – Latest offer is fast market data intelligence

With enormous pressures on margins, mobile operators are increasingly outsourcing parts of their operation, particularly network operations. By and large, these contracts go to international companies. NFT Consult is a…

Two million people using e-retailers in Nigeria - e-Commerce Sub-Saharan Africa starts here

Payment methods and logistics challenges have made e-commerce in Sub-Saharan Africa (outside South Africa) more talked about than actual. But recent players in Nigeria have shaped the way things work…

FULL COMPETITION IN THE ISP SECTOR BUT RELATIVELY SMALL MARKET

There is full competition in the ISP sector with the following ISPs: Artel, Terracom, MTN and ISPA. There are three other current requests for licences including: Business Communications and Value-Added…

Algerie Telecom becomes first operator to pioneer Fibre-To-The-Home strategy

Algérie Télécom is the first African telecoms operator to put together a business strategy that includes Fibre-To-The-Home. Although the price of connecting households to fibre has dropped considerably elsewhere, it…

GOVERNMENT HAS AMBITIOUS PLANS IN ITS VISION 2020

In 1990s, the Government came up with Vision 2020. It wanted to see Rwanda make the transition from an agricultural economy into knowledge and service-based economy. The Vision was set…

Mobile goes Wi-Fi - an opportunity to expand internet usage?

With VoIP about to become a present reality rather than a distant dream, it's easy to forget that other technologies will come along and change the African market. Earlier this…

Liquid Telecom to launch Southern African fibre network at “good prices the like of which have not been seen”

Fed up with getting over-priced offers to transit its traffic to South Africa, Econet Wireless set up Liquid Telecom which is building its own link to the international landing station.…

Vodacom becomes the first operator to switch on an LTE network on the continent

Vodacom has switched on its Long Term Evolution (LTE) trial network in Midrand, and becomes the first operator into the ring with this new mobile data technology. It has predictably…

Welcome to the Future: A world of big data, voice without revenue and shared infrastructure for Over-The-Top services

At the end of March, Gateway Communications invited a panel of people and a selected industry audience to look at the “Future of African connectivity”. With the exception of a…

South Africa: Data centre professionals get together to talk green and expansion plans across the African continent

The hype about cloud computing and data centres can often seem overblown when you visit some of Africa’s smaller markets but in many of the larger markets, data centres and…

Sonatel and Gamtel heading towards "triple-play implementation"

Faced with impending competition, both Senegal and Gambia’s incumbents are preparing the ground for “triple-play” (voice, Internet and “television”) services. Just back from a visit to both countries, Russell Southwood…

UCC's Quality of Service survey shines a spotlight on MTN's challenges in a crowded market

This week the Ugandan regulator UCC presented research findings on the quality of service levels for mobile, fixed and Internet services as part of its wider work on developing its…

Head in the clouds – new opportunities emerge for African cloud-based services as bandwidth improves

Increased bandwidth in Africa has opened up new opportunities for cloud-based services. Unfortunately discussions about these kinds of cloud-based services have generated…well, clouds fully of empty corporate jargon. This week…

THURAYA OFFERS A REAL ‘ANYWHERE’ PHONE FOR AFRICA BUT CAN THE PRICE DROP ANYTIME SOON?

Real "anywhere" remote location technologies like Thuraya and Regional BGAN are currently expensive, niche market applications. But didn’t the mobile phone itself start out that way? The Thuraya is already…

Africa Online seeks the higher ground by targeting the corporate market

Pan-continental ISP Africa Online has been targeting the corporate market. Sales from this source have gone from 30% to half its turnover in two years. This means two things. Firstly,…

Interview: Airtel Nigeria CEO – Cash-flow positive in 18 months, no low price market strategy

With the changing of the guard at Africa’s mobile operators, their CEOs seem to be in the mood for a significant degree of disclosure. Last week it was the turn…

Convergence Partners looks at investment opportunities in infrastructure and services across the continent

Back in June 2012, Convergence Partners attracted up to US$45 million from the World Bank’s investment arm IFC for its Communications Infrastructure Fund to support the rapid expansion of infrastructure…

Digital television introduced to Africa - Mauritius and Senegal early adopters

Five years ago the idea of digital television in Africa would have seemed absurd. The continent was 'sucking information through a narrow straw'. Now two countries have announced their intention…

COMPETITION EMERGES IN THE LIBYAN MOBILE MARKET AS GOVT COMPETES AGAINST ITSELF

As Libya gradually loses its pariah status and slowly but surely returns to the bosom of the family of acceptable nations, changes are also afoot within the state-run Libyan economy.…

Liberia: Cellcom introduces a paperless SIM card registration process

Liberia, one of the poorest countries in Africa has joined in the race to register its mobile users. The process was officially launched on July 18th by the Liberia Telecommunications…

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

Lesotho is the fifth African market that Vodacom has launched M-Pesa in and it’s been learning the lessons from the other countries it has rolled out in. It has sought…

Nigeria’s Suburban set to operate a Lagos-Abidjan regional terrestrial fibre link

As the west coast of Africa prepares for cheaper international bandwidth from three possible contenders (Glo One, Main One and WACS), the race is now on to provide terrestrial fibre…

SMS becomes e-mail and chat – Safaricom implements new service and others will follow shortly

In issue 452 in May 2009 we asked what the difference was between e-mail and SMS? Answer: A different interface and one has a far more limited length of message.…

LTE launched in Cote d’Ivoire by YooMee, more countries to follow

Last week, YooMee launched the first TDD LTE in Cote d’Ivoire’s capital Abidjan. YooMee Africa Group is a Swiss based provider of mobile broadband Internet in sub-Saharan Africa. After becoming the…

Africa’s e-shopping sector is busy being born – Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon stake a claim

With hindsight, the growth of e-shopping in South Africa and Nigeria was perhaps inevitable. But the more interesting story is how internationally backed start-ups like Jumia are beginning to make…

Low-cost phone and voice operator bounces back with entrepreneur support from Cisco

South African low-cost phone and voice operator Dabba had its equipment confiscated by ICASA (for non-compliance) in February 2009. But it has bounced back today with new equipment and support…

Nigeria’s Medallion Communications makes interconnection in a complex liberalised market much easier and will offer facilities in 4 more cities

Liberalised markets create competition and that creates more operators in the market. But all those voice and data operators don’t usually operate in isolation: nearly all of them have to…

GSM>3G Africa 06: masters of the universe face a tougher climb

For the past ten years Africa’s mobile operators have walked on water. They have connected hundreds of millions of people incredibly quickly. They have extended coverage to places where there…

THE OPENING OF THE MARKET KICKSTARTS A STAGNANT INTERNET SECTOR

The opening up of competition in Kenya has re-ignited interest in what might otherwise have been a slowing market and it offers clues to what might happen when wider competition…

Fight the power: Ghana’s insurgent challenger ISPs set to take on the vertical-integrators

Ghana still has 7-10 active independent ISPs and the process of consolidation has not yet begun. Vertically integrated mobile operator MTN sniffed around for acquisitions and either decided against or…

TELKOM KENYA CLOSE TO THE FINANCIAL BRINK IF REDUNDANCY PACKAGE NOT SORTED

The redundancy package at Telkom Kenya continues to be one bullet the politicians do not seem willing to bite. One source told us:”People are sensitive to employment issues. The Government…

VoD will be a major opportunity for African telecoms operators and investors...now

At the end of 2012, it seemed like every week Balancing Act was being approached by film and video VoD platforms, either in business or promising to start soon. Some…

African Telecoms and Internet Markets

http://www.balancingact-africa.com/atim.html Over the next two years we will be producing five parts that cover the whole of the continent. Using data gathered in 2003 and 2007, it gives the growth…

KENYA’S SKYWEB TECHNOLOGIES STARTS UP CALL CENTRE USING VOIP

Although Kenyan ISP SkyWeb Technologies has 2200 dial-up customers, its CEO Gilda Odera told us last week that:”The market is getting tougher and this has forced us to look for…

WASHINGTON LAUNCHES US$2 MILLION PRIVATE-PUBLIC INITIATIVE IN SENEGAL

Almost lost amongst the drumbeats for war, the US Government has recently announced a modest initiative aimed at closing the digital divide in Africa: the Digital Freedom Initiative. The aim…

Thank you for your purchase – a mobile phone turns into a credit card terminal

There have been a number of obstacles to increasing e-transactions in Africa, even in those countries visited by large numbers of tourists. To of the most important have been the…

West African licence tendering processes – a case to answer

A recent gaggle of licensing decisions in West Africa demonstrate that all is not well with tendering processes in the sub-region. They have left the idea of supposedly independent regulatory…

Convergence – Getting to grips with the contours of the new media landscape with real data

Convergence has been creeping up on the telecoms and Internet sectors in Africa. Orange has been quietly promoting its Livebox product in a widening range of countries and Telkom will…

The imminent arrival of “fibre heaven” in Africa spoiled by a number of nagging questions

Although by 2012 Africa will be connected to the rest of the world by no less than 12 cables (if you include Atlantis II and LION), there remain a number…

BROADBAND WIRELESS ACCESS - COULD IT GIVE INCUMBENT TELCOS A RUN FOR THEIR MONEY?

There are technologies that can and will make a difference to Africa. One of these is broadband wireless access. Although presently aimed at the small and medium sized companies in…

LTE insurgent challenger Smile does a hard launch in Tanzania and will open its network on a wholesale basis to other operators

Smile Communications has put in place the first public roll-out in Africa of LTE in 800 MHz spectrum in Tanzania and has ambitious plans to roll out in the same…

The SAT3 fibre - a monopoly that stands in the way of cheaper international bandwidth

Africa has some of the highest costing international bandwidth on the planet. Building fibre connections should lower bandwidth costs. But despite the building of the SAT3/WASCSAFE fibre, the price of…

AFRICA'S TRANSITION TO FIBRE LIKELY TO BE SLOWER THAN EXPECTED, SAYS NEW REPORT

With the proposed EASSy fibre cable coming on stream in 2008 and the steady roll-out of national backbone and cross-border links, it might be expected that the proportion of African…

MALI SPECIAL - COMPETITION BEGINS TO HAVE AN IMPACT ON SOTELMA

Even small African markets like Mali are beginning to experience the impact of competition. It’s slow and uneven but it’s beginning to happen. State incumbent Sotelma bowed to the inevitable…

The case for remote operators in Africa grows stronger with new regulatory approaches and low cost technology

With the bankruptcy of low cost, remote base station vendor Altobridge, it looked like the case for niche, remote vendors had taken a nose-dive. But a number of things have…

Ghana’s Mobile Number Portability scheme outstrips South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria

Mobile Number Portability (MNP) schemes have been slow to take off in Sub-Saharan Africa and their performance has not been outstanding. Ghana is the exception and has good reason to…

Senegalese consumers called to boycott mobile phones to protest 2% tax increase on wide range of services

African politicians see the telecoms and Internet sector as the “golden goose” in terms of being able to tax its operators. In various countries a whole raft of different taxes…

It came out of nowhere – Low-end, mobile social network Eskimi shoots to 2.5 million subscribers in Nigeria

The speed with which Facebook grew in Africa was startling but the story is now well-known. Lithuanian social network Eskimi is designed for low-end handset users and in a little…

Mali’s school students prepare themselves for the arrival of OPLC’s laptops

As four years have passed since the launch of One Laptop Per Child by Nicolas Negroponte, it’s perhaps a good time to take stock of what the project has achieved,…

Season’s Greetings from Balancing Act’s News Update

Dear readers, viewers, contributors and advertisersIt has been another action-packed year in which the pace of change in the industry has not left much time for reflection. However, there are…

Orun Energy’s low-cost base station achieves 60% energy savings in tests with Ghana’s Kasapa

Africa now has its own home-grown low-cost base station producer. Long-time innovator Joe Jackson has teamed with Kwabenah Smith to push Orun Energy (Orun means sun in Yoruba) from promising…

Digicel may enter African market – Cape Verde’s ANAC to offer three 3G licences later this year

When the Cape Verdean regulator ANAC offered BWA licences, Digicel was one of the successful bidders. So when ANAC tenders for three 3G authorisations later this year, it looks reasonable…

Kenya to launch an open access LTE network to help drive down prices and extend coverage

Past experience with licensing WiMAX in Kenya has shown that a significant number of those buying spectrum failed to roll out. With LTE, the problem simply gets worse as there…

Central African Backbone project looks set to connect Africa’s fibre free triangle

Whilst there have been announcements about an increasing number of African countries building cross-border fibre links being built, politically-troubled countries like Chad and Central African Republic have missed out on…

MOBILE OPERATORS CASH IN ON WEST AFRICAN PEACE DIVIDEND IN LIBERIA AND SIERRA LEONE

Some of the best mobile opportunities are coming out of the peace dividend from the end of the civil wars of West Africa. As the smoke clears, the new Liberian…

Botswana and Cape Verde join the ranks of the real VoIP legalisers

The Agencia Nacional de Communicacoes of Cape Verde has signalled intention to legalise VoIP. It will licence international VoIP service providers offering cheap calling and offer two classes of numbering.…

Vivendi goes into Sub-Saharan Africa with Onatel purchase

Over the Christmas holiday French media conglomerate Vivendi has headed south into Sub-Saharan Africa with the purchase of Onatel by its North African subsidiary Maroc Telecom. Francophone Africa was until…

Show me the money - English judge on Econet: “serious non-disclosure or misrepresentation of true position”

In handing down judgement between Econet Wireless Ltd and Vee Networks Ltd and ORS, English judge Justice Morison said that:”There was serious non-disclosure or misrepresentation of the true position as…

INFINITY WORLDWIDE PLANS NEW WEST AFRICAN FIBRE CABLE TO RIVAL SAT-3

At a recent e-Africa conference in Dakar recently, it emerged that a new fibre cable to line the West African coast is being planned, which will increase competition in the…

YouTube opens the road to new online business models in Africa with video streaming

Video streaming will be the next big wave of online content use in Africa. There are still considerable network challenges but… The level of existing use shows that once these…

Metronet Fibre Networx wants to close the last mile fibre gap in South Africa and help open up 4G

While other African countries like Kenya, Nigeria and Mauritius have all started rolling out Fibre-To-The-Home and Fibre-To-The-Cabinet, there’s been a strange commercial caution in South Africa. What should have been…

Main One to offer Infrastructure as a Service in April in partnership with EMC and Microsoft

The transition to cloud based services in Lagos is coming into view. As the Lagos Infraco, Main One wants to be able to offer pervasive fibre and is launching Infrastructure…

Two new fibre contenders – this time it’s Southern Africa

One new major fibre project came into the light of day last week and further details emerged about another. The first is an ambitious initiative to create a Southern African…

CYBER-CAFÉ USERS CANNOT FIND LOCAL CONTENT THEY WANT, SAYS CCOAK SURVEY

The greatest number of internet users in Africa are to be found in its rapidly burgeoning number of cyber-cafes but thus far information on what they do has largely been…

Nigeria’s bitflux to launch an LTE-A local access wholesale network on open access principles

The bandwidth glass in Nigeria seems to be going from half empty to half full. One of the first new licences aimed at cracking open broadband supply barriers went to…

Flying blind into the bright lights of Africa’s data future – Spotting the known unknowns

Africa’s voice subscriber data may not always be reliable but it exists. The equivalent Internet data is extremely hard to find. Lack of data is equivalent of trying to cross…

SOUTH AFRICA’S TORTUROUS LIBERALISATION: SNO, SNO, QUICK, QUICK, SNO...

South Africa’s telecoms liberalisation process took another crab-like step forward last week. The prize will be the first large, liberalized market in Africa. With eventually three international operators, bandwidth prices…

Open Innovation Africa Summit focuses on ways to expand the mobile internet market

Last week saw a number of large private and public players sponsor the first Open Innovation Africa Summit in Kenya’s Rift Valley tourist destination of Naivasha. The moment was timely…

Movirtu rolls out a Cloud Phone aimed at low-income users: first market is Madagascar, others will follow

Right at the bottom of the pyramid are phone users who can’t afford the minimum cost for a SIM to share in someone else’s phone. Movirtu has produced a cloud-based,…

Congo: “Fibre to the people” – how to make the best use of the new international capacity

On September 12th, the ACE submarine fibre cable landed close to Banjul, the capital of the Gambia. Excitement and interest were high as you can see from the photos taken…

What the future of African broadband could look like – testing real-life LTE in Kampala

The subjective experience of using the Internet in Africa has always been a strange one. Having been using it for over 14 years, we know it’s got better but it’s…

ZIMBABWE’S SNO APPROVED AFTER A "PAINFUL WAIT"

Zimbabwe’s government has broken open its telecoms monopoly by granting a licence to a second fixed line telephone company, TeleAccess. "This comes as a great relief and gives us the…

MWEB LOOKS TO BUILD ITS AFRICAN INTERNET BUSINESS IN SUSTAINABLE MARKETS

After the setback of ABSA’s short-lived free internet offer in South Africa, it seemed like MWEB had taken itself out of commission as a continental internet player. But it has…

KENYAN FILTERING ROW ONE MORE STOP ON THE WAY TO LEGALISING VOIP SERVICES?

Kenya Telkom seems to be playing a hard cop/soft cop routine on the VOIP issue. First it tried to persuade cyber-café owners to offer a VOIP service from it. That…

STWS OPENS A MAJOR INTERNATIONAL CALL CENTRE

With over 1500 call centres already based in South Africa and hopes that the call centre industry can employ up to 50,000 in the years ahead, STWS, the low-cost voice…

France Telecom scores two in a row – will it make it a hat trick with Ghana?

If making acquisitions is your criteria for success, France Telecom seems to be on a roll at the moment. First it snapped up Telkom Kenya and this week it was…

Tradenet launches market intel platform for buying and selling agricultural goods

Last Tuesday saw the launch of an initiative that will combine lessons learned from the success of peer-to-peer sites with agricultural market intelligence in Africa. And perhaps most interestingly of…

Rascom targets 0.25m rural users with its satellite service due in 2006

Rascom has now completed its first round of funding and looks set to have its satellite operating in the first half of 2006. It is now putting in place its…

Bridges handheld apps competition focuses on health, ed and agriculture

Africa's ICT dilemma is how to find a multi-purpose computing device with connectivity at the right price. Computers are too expensive and therefore not yet widely used. Mobiles are widely…

UUNET NAMIBIA PEERS WITH TELECOM NAMIBIA

UUNet Namibia has signed an agreement with Telecom Namibia to offer a national peering solution to its customers in the local market. "The agreement between UUNet and Telecom Namibia only…

Foris Telecoms and Smile Telecom join the ranks of Africa’s insurgent challengers with a Ugandan WiMAX voice and data offers

This week and next sees the launch in Uganda of ISP Foris Telecom, a subsidiary of the Israeli Foris Group and Arab-backed Smile Telecom. Both are making use of WiMAX…

NIGERIA’S OPERATORS LAY OUT THEIR FUTURE SERVICE PLANS

All state capitals in Nigeria are to be hooked on to NITEL’S Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) next year.Work on this, according to NITEL’s Territorial Manager in Asaba, Mr…

Regulator penalises leading mobile companies for QoS issues by shortening their licence period

In an unexpected move, Niger’s regulator ARM has shortened the licence period for two of the country’s pan-continental mobile operators over Quality of Service (Qos) issues. QoS may become a…

EASSy arrival will bring down prices, spur national backbone roll-out and reduce satellite use

The EASSy cable connecting the east coat seaboard is currently in its testing phase and will go live some time around the middle of this month. Its WIOCC shareholder consortium…

SONATEL TO OFFER ADSL CONNECTIONS

Sonatel has announced that it will offer ADSL broadband connections that will be ten times faster than existing Senegalese internet connections. The new service will be branded as ADSL NetHome…

Rwandatel Management has no case against former CEO.

On Tuesday December 22 2009, The New Times published an article entitled “Former Rwandatel CEO wanted over missing funds”. The article was written by Ignatius SSUNA and Eugene MUTARA and…

A new breed of wireless VOIP providers– mobile operators’ nightmare may be just around the corner

Last week saw South Africa’s Sentech signal its intention to use its T-CDMA network for voice. Initially it will take on incumbent Telkom with fixed wireless but it is looking…

AFRICA ONLINE AND TRANSTEL SELECTED AS REGIONAL CARRIERS BY AFRISPA

The long-awaited announcement from AfrISPA (the African ISP association) on the appointment of regional carriers in response to its Request for Service has finally been made. The regional carriers will…

SA’S DEPT OF COMMS WANTS ‘ILLEGAL’ TELECOMS EQUIPMENT

The Department of Communications (DOC) has issued a tender for the installation of least-cost routing (LCR) equipment on its telephone system. Yet Telkom, majority owned by the government, has long…

African telcos can claim carbon credits under a new scheme launched by Nedbank Capital

Although a large number of African telcos use diesel generators to power their base stations and other telecoms equipment, the “green revolution” that should see them make more use of…

Nigeria – shaping up to become the next big M-money market

This week saw Orange announce the roll-out of its M-money service into Mali (Orange Money) and Zain saying that it will soon launch a service (Zap) to compete with Safaricom’s…

Two Kenyan companies get to grips with the new business model

The steady fall in the value of voice as the central revenue stream of the telecoms business is beginning to impact on the sector in Africa. The clock’s also ticking…

Enablis gives ICT entrepreneurs much needed early-stage finance and support

Since the creation of the Digital Opportunity Task Force (DOT Force) at the G8 Summit in 2000, many programmes and initiatives have emerged to address the digital divide and offer…

NIGERIAN ISPs LOBBY NCC OVER ISM BAND

As the February, 2003 deadline given by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) for commercial occupants of the Industrial Scientific and Medical Research (ISM) band approaches, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in…

East African mobile operators outsource call centres and HR to concentrate on winning competition battle

More mobile operators keep entering the fray: in Uganda a sixth licence holder (Essar) has just got a licence and in Rwanda a third licence operator (Millicom) will start at…

Telkom Kenya on the block – mobile licence sweetens the package

Telkom Kenya looks set to receive bids to buy it on 14 September with a bid award being made on 25 September 2007, according to the Preliminary Information Memorandum that…

KDN TRIALS ADSL2 AND MESHED WI-FI IP VOICE

Kenya Data Networks (KDN) is carrying out ADSL2 trials (probably the first on the continent) with both Alcatel and Siemens and is planning to roll-out the new service some time…

Connectivity News - In Brief

- African ICT market research company BMI-TechKnowledge says the Internet non-access services market is expected to grow from 12% of the total IT services market in 2001 to 18% in…

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

For years VoIP services in Africa were the grey market in voice calling, which was seen as rather grubby by the mainstream operators. VoIP came of age with  widespread use…

JAMBO TELECOM SEEKS TO FIND THE BUSINESS SHAPE OF TOMORROW

Launched 3 November 2005, Jambo Telecom is the new Telkom Kenya subsidiary responsible for end-user Internet and value-added services. It sells Telkom Kenya’s dial-in access service. The user can call…

Worldreader.org trials Amazon Kindles in Ghanaian schools and plans to roll-out in other African countries

Worldreader.org’s CEO David Risher is passionate about encouraging reading. After a “road to Damascus” moment in an orphanage in Ecuador with a locked library, he decided with his co-founder that…

Google invests an estimated US$14 million in a Metronet in Kampala to open up the market

Google has a global ambition to get Internet access available more widely (see Brett St Clair video link on access at the bottom of this story). This week it announced…

Mauritius call-centre and BPO sector needs lower international bandwidth prices to stay competitive

Bandwidth is the petrol of the new global economy and as the price of actual petrol continues to go through the roof, it is an essential component of being able…

Satellite and fibre: Good friends or the best of enemies?

Before SAT3 most of Africa was served by satellite. With the introduction of SAT3 in May 2002 things were bound to change in Africa’s connectivity markets and the ensuing competition…

AFRICAN TELCOS AND INTERNATIONAL CALL TIME: FINDING A NEW NEGOTIATING HAND

Most African incumbent telcos may have a monopoly on international call termination but even before this monopoly may be removed, they are under pressure from all sides. Their key revenue…

Africa’s race for data – making sense of the transition through everyday services today

There’s a growing acknowledgement that the all-data future is upon us but much less idea what the road looks like between here and there. MTN has announced that it will…

Online mobile music sites springing up in francophone countries – Two start-ups join the party in Congo-Brazzaville and DRC

There are well over 100 online and mobile music platforms in Africa and not a week seems to pass without another one being launched. This week it's the turn of…

WITH THE WAR NEARLY OVER, THE TELECOMS BOOM BEGINS...

With the slow ending of one of Africa’s largest conflicts, large parts of the DRC are beginning to get back to something more like a normal life. There are bound…

Tax on international inbound calls: Too good to miss… as more African countries are tempted to go this way

The list of African countries that have implemented, are planning to implement or have failed to implement a tax on international inbound calls is getting longer by the day. The…

Tomorrow’s Internet users today – African universities play catch-up with online content

African universities are crucial to the future development of the Internet on the continent in two ways. Firstly, they contain one of the largest groups of existing and potential users:…

Just as the power of the incumbent fades, the vertical integrators are on the march again

Africa’s incumbent telcos have for so long dominated the discussion about where the market’s going that it’s hard to spot the moment when their ability to dominate slipped below the…

Mauritania: arrival of third operator will shake up cosy duopoly

Mauritania’s new third operator has already paid a staggering USD107 million for its unified licence. And all this money for a country that only has a population of around 2.75…

WSIS special: World Bank offers East African fibre consortium EASSy funding

An estimated 20,000 plus people came together last week for the World Summit on the Information Society. Despite many passionate speeches and the usual turn from Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, not…

CDMA SPECIAL - COST AND TECH ADVANTAGES BUT CAN IT BREAK INTO AFRICA'S GSM MARKETS?

This week saw the close of the first CDMA technical trials in South Africa in which the benefits of CDMA2000 1x and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO were on display. The ‘CDMA Experience’,…

Africa’s Converged Content and Services Space – Finding out what’s what and who’s who in the new digital economy

With faster, cheaper bandwidth either ready or not far off, Africa is experiencing the digital content and services moment. Like all things at the beginning, it’s full of fits and…

WORLD BANK OFFERS EAST AFRICAN FIBRE CONSORTIUM EASSY FUNDING

At a meeting organised by NEPAD’s e-Africa Commission on Thursday morning last week, the World Bank’s Pierre Guislain outlined the financing offer the Bank has made to the East African…

A TECHNOLOGY BRIEFING: WHAT IS CDMA AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

Short for Code Division Multiple Access, CDMA is a digital wireless technology that uses spread spectrum techniques. Unlike competing systems, such as GSM, CDMA does not assign a specific frequency…

Satellite to fibre – Africa’s big change is really under way, says new report

2010 is not shaping up to be a good year for satellite operators and resellers in Africa. There have been rumours that for the first time one operators’ sales in…

Flashcast’s hybrid play seeks to create both an ad medium to reach the new middle classes and a mass-based Twitter

Flashcast’s founder Jeremy Gordon wanted to solve a simple problem. There were very few low-cast advertising channels for small businesses in Kenya. He decided to create a geo-locational, wireless-run bus…

AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES COME TOGETHER TO SET UP NRENS AND BUY INTERNATIONAL BANDWIDTH

Africa’s universities took a step nearer joining their developed world colleagues when a group of them decided that they would bid for international fibre capacity in the EASSy fibre project…

CDMA IN AFRICA: SEEKING TO ENTER A GSM WORLD

Only a few days ago the CEO of the Universal Service Agency, Sam Gulube, demanded that Telcos and service providers should do more to provide ICT access to under-serviced areas…

Targeting different groups of pre-pay customers - Business Logic wants to help African mobile operators get smarter

Africa’s mobile operators have been used to splashing about money on blanket advertising and using headline grabbing tactical price offers. But as an increasing number of African mobile markets move…

FEAR AND LOATHING IN TUNIS - WELCOME TO FLIC CITY, THE GATED COMMUNITY OF THE INFORMATION SOCIETY

The security for WSIS and the ITU’s Global Symposium of Regulators follows the popular tradition of saturation policing that follows large-scale international events these days. It seemed almost as if…

CDMA ON SHOW: WHAT THE REGULATORS AND OPERATORS HAD TO SAY

The technical trials were primarily staged to persuade ICASA, the South African telecoms regulator, to permit shared access to the 800MHz spectrum between television broadcasters and telecoms operators. It has…

MWEB Nigeria uses non line-of-sight wireless to pitch broadband and VOIP services

On 8th June MWEB launched their new fixed wireless internet service in Nigeria offering wireless access to the internet through affordable equipment and bandwidth speeds of up to 2MB. The…

CUEINCIDENT USES CDMA FOR CRIME PROTECTION SURVEILLANCE

Cueincident, previously called Business Against Crime Surveillance Technology, is the company that helped bring crime down by 80% in Johannesburg CBD since 200 surveillance of their cameras were erected in…

KENYA’S JAMBONET BLOCKS THE INTERNET BUT THE PRIVATE SECTOR FIGHTS BACK

The worm has finally turned. In mid-December Kenya Telkom’s monopoly, international internet connection company Jambonet decided to block a number of its ports claiming they "were being used to transmit…

Broadband pricing strategies the key to future international bandwidth growth, says third edition of BA voice and data forecasts

The third edition of Balancing Act’s Voice and data bandwidth forecasts highlights the key role that will be played by the introduction of new, cheaper international fibre bandwidth in 2009…

CAMPUSWISE USES CDMA FOR ONLINE LEARNING

CampusWise is the Pretoria-based dynamic LIVE e-learning company, which has been established to meet the needs of the corporate, educational, IT and public sectors e-learning markets; whilst in the process…

POLICE AND THIEVES: FAKE CARTRIDGE SELLERS, E-MAIL SCAMMERS AND CYBER-COPS

FAKE CARTRIDGE SELLERS RUINING THE MARKET FOR LEGITIMATE PRODUCTS Melanie Vermoter of Despec (an HP reseller) has a problem. People are selling cheap, fake ink-jet printer cartridges in some of…

Phase3 Telecoms to open Lagos-Accra terrestrial route in Q2, 2010 and set to go inland to landlocked countries

Another West African fibre route along the seaboard from Lagos to Accra will open up in Q2 of next year. Nigerian carriers’ carrier Phase3 Telecoms has signed an agreement with…

CSIRT: A ROUTE TO COMBATING AFRICA'S POSITION AS ONE OF THE WORLD'S CYBER-BADLANDS

Rightly or wrongly, Africa has gained a reputation as one of the cyber-badlands of the world. Ironically for a continent that has seemed to lag so far behind the rest…

Nigerian online content and services begins to make inroads despite the lack of affordable, reliable broadband

Nigerian bandwidth is improving but ever so slowly. There is no sign of a broadband strategy to power this process forward. However, despite this unpromising soil for growth, there are…

X-Lab pioneers connectivity using Mesh Wi-Fi software in Somaliland and Tunisia

Using Mesh Wi-Fi software that sits on a range of popular devices, US tech policy intervention start-up X-Lab has created a way of rolling out local connectivity. With two working…

Second wave investment in broadband kicks off with Wananchi putting US$100 million into HFC networks for Triple Play delivery in Kenya and Tanzania

Africa’s second wave of investment after mobile telephony has kicked off with a commitment from Kenya’s Wananchi to invest over US$100 million in an HFC network in Nairobi and Mombasa…

As industry gears up for fibre gear- shift, data centres become the next big growth area

Below the radar, a number of companies in a range of African countries have either installed data centres or are gearing up to do so. Some are run directly by…

Growing Africa’s Internet use: Top down vs bottom up - Which way is up?

The Internet is the basis of Africa’s second wave of investment after mobile. It’s much smaller but the potential is considerable. Almost everyone wants to see the Internet grow but…

Maintenance and up-time – the Achilles Heel of Africa’s new fibre network revolution

The reach of Africa’s fibre networks is extending relentlessly in ways that would have been barely imaginable ten years ago. The speed and the capacity of the new fibre networks…

DRC: The enemies of promise gather to throw away the digital opportunity

Last Friday the WACS cable was lit up at the DRC’s landing station in Muanda. This should be a cause for great optimism but the country is run by the…

Ghana special: Celtel to launch as Zain in Q3 and considering 3G roll-out

The dead hand of the Ghanaian Government has prevented a good market from reaching its full potential and becoming a great market. Everyone knows what needs to happen but somehow…

Zain Ghana’s Sowah will offer customers a “Rolls-Royce” network

Q: So how long were you with One Touch? Three years and before that I was in the USA as an e-Procurement Manager for Becton Dickinson and prior to that,…

Kenya Telkom's new MD Sammy Kirui promises explosive growth and action on revenue leakage

According to the widely leaked recent report from PKF Consulting on Kenya Telkom, it has 3052 watchmen, messengers and porters amongst its total payroll of 17,480. The Senegalese incumbent Sonatel,…

Improvements in mobile data in Liberia spur radio station to do international online hook-up to promote local music

While Liberia is a regular host of fairly useless, high-minded meetings on fragile states, the country’s youth keeps hustling from one small job to another to make ends meet. Liberia’s…

Rotten Wi-Fi – Driving better quality and speed in Wi-Fi hot-spots and 3G in Africa through getting consumer information

Wi-Fi hot-spots and 3G coverage are the main ways that Africans get the Internet. Being charitable, quality of service and price are very variable. A new Lithuanian start-up Rotten Wi-Fi…

CORRECTIONS:

Issue 403: African Telecoms, Media and Technology Fund to invest US$75 million in its chosen sectors plus an SME fund Two corrections: The Fund will be US$100 million and it…

AFRICAN TELECOMS INDICATORS - THE STORIES BEHIND THE NUMBERS BEAN-FEST

This week sees the publication of African Telecommunication Indicators 2004 by the ITU which is timed to coincide with Telecom Africa being held in Cairo next week. For a continent…

3G licence prices in Africa: how are they set?

Last week, Moussa Benhamadi, the Minister of Post and ICT announced that 3G services will be launched in Algeria in 2011. This announcement follows several other recent announcements by sub-Sahara…

SHANGHAI TELECOM LOOKS SET TO BECOME SNO EQUIVALENT IN CAPE VERDE BY DECEMBER

Africa's small Portugese-speaking countries seem to be stealing a march on their larger neighbours. First Guinea-Bissau opened itself up to VoIP, now tiny Cape Verde is about to allow a…

Newcomer Amitelo looks to enter telecoms and internet markets through acquisitions

International telcoms and internet carrier Amitelo Communications is less than a year old but has ambitious plans in Africa. Launched by Tunisian-German Khalid Akid it is going down the acquisition…

Online games sector for PCs and mobile springs into life in Nigeria – free now, pay-for later

Outside of South Africa, the games sector in Africa has had almost no profile, which is strange considering that it will almost certainly be one of the key content drivers…

Southern Sudan: SPLM bidding to put in place NGN communications

For years Southern Sudan was engaged in a deadly civil war with those in the North of the country. Now peace is in the offing and the sharing of oil…

African games sector stutters into life but needs some oxygen to help it breath

The available African consumer surveys show there is an audience for computer and mobile phone games but there is little evidence that anyone is much focused on trying to produce…

LTE cannot just be for the big guys if Africa is to reach its full broadband potential

Two contrasting news announcements about LTE this week highlight what will become the next front in the struggle between Africa’s mobile incumbents and the insurgent challengers. Vodacom made a surprise…

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

Officially launched this week, SmartMonkeyTV.com will replace Balancing Act’s existing You Tube channel. It will be a hybrid channel with video clip interviews, e-letters and some other surprises from time…

Nigeria’s Galaxy Backbone gears up to meet the needs of 1 million civil servants

African governments are one of the biggest buyers of ICT services in most markets and none comes bigger than the Nigerian Government. It employs a million civil servants. Galaxy Backbone…

Sudatel operates a 3-in-1 SIM for GSM, CDMA and 3G and Expresso will go GSM

CDMA operators in Africa face a number of market difficulties and at least one major operator has considered switching to GSM. Only really in Nigeria has the market developed a…

Revealed: the SAT3 consortium’s shareholder agreement they don’t want you to see

Suddenly out of the blue last week a copy of the SAT3 shareholders agreement came into our hands. This 76 page document (with extensive appendices) was signed on 17 June…

The African ISP is dead! Long live the African ISP!

The African ISP runs the risk of becoming an endangered species. Most of them are small, undercapitalised businesses that exist in the rather tight margin between greedy incumbents and price…

Going from shortage to abundance – strategies to target Africa’s broadband consumers

2011 is the year that broadband will finally come into its own for Africa’s long-starved Internet users. Operators will need to have a complete mind-shift if they are to come…

Kenya special: market gets ready for cheaper bandwidth

The Kenyan Internet market is set for a big change as the players transform their strategies to take advantage of new opportunities. With legal VoIP, they are now no longer…

Sprucing up mobile networks can add between 6-18% more capacity, says TIA Telecom's CEO Lance Dickerson

Over the last five years Africa’s mobile networks have undergone an intense period of constant upgrades as data has been added to the voice network. New infill sites have been…

AFRICA ONLINE’S NEW CEO LAYS OUT HIS STALL

In an interview last Friday, Africa Online’s new CEO talked to Russell Southwood about his strategy to revive the company and renew faith in its pan-continental brand. He spoke frankly…

DRC IXP WORKSHOP HERALDS THE START OF THE DISCUSSION FOR REGIONAL IXPS

So far most of the discussion about internet exchange points has been about setting them up and getting ISPs to use them at a local level. However the discussion took…

E-RATE FOR AFRICAN SCHOOLS ­ HOW WOULD IT WORK AND WHO PAYS?

NEPAD’s e-Africa Commission has set ambitious targets for wiring up the continent’s primary and secondary schools. Even if these targets are only partly met, the education sector will become a…

A new business model being born – Exit, stage left some of the Masters of the Universe

Prices for wholesale bandwidth are dropping across the continent but particularly in the more competitive markets. These price drops will shake up how wholesale bandwidth is delivered and undermine some…

iVeri’s implementation of e-commerce by debit card looks set to widen the user base

There was a period a few years back when African Governments seemed to devote an enormous amount of energy to putting in place legal frameworks for e-commerce. Despite all this…

KDN’S FREE ACCESS OFFER UNCOVERS EXTENT OF WI-FI DEVICES

KDN’s Wi-Fi service called Butterfly has been offered for free with no login page on the basis of a word-of-mouth “whispering” campaign and the results have thrown up some potential…

Jobs SMS services might offer mobile companies the killer app

Africa’s mobile companies have a stiff hill to climb if they are to get 5-10% of their revenues from data services. The current upgrade race to 3G and other less…

Uganda's Bwindi telecentre collects data on gorillas and targets tourists and locals

All too often telecentres have seemed like a solution in search of a problem. But Bwindi telecentre is being used to collect conservation information on local gorillas in the dense…

Tuluntulu’s low bandwidth video streaming service could open up video to a new market ahead of LTE

Tuluntulu has a technology that can deliver video over EDGE. It ensures that the audio signal remains intact and reduces picture quality with out breaking as the bandwidth goes down.…

Africa’s rapid mobile Internet growth will drive network expansion and media spend

The number of people in Africa using their mobile to access the Internet has rocketed over the last year. In many instances the number of mobile Internet subscribers far outstrips…

M4G LAUNCHES JOBS SERVICE FRANCHISE AFTER SUCCESFUL KENYA TRIAL

Social enterprise MobileForGood (M4G) last week launched its franchise scheme to attract investors in its SMS jobs service product after a successful launch in Kenya. Started in 2003 by OneWorld…

Game on ! – Call of Duty 4, multi player games and the arrival of LTE in Uganda

Along with video, the next wave of uses in Africa will be network gaming. Except for South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa has not really had this kind of competitive gaming culture.…

Africa’s Forgotten Featurephone Users – What they use, what they want and their future

Africa’s featurephone users number in the millions but are largely forgotten when start-ups start to target mobile Internet users. A piece of market research carried out by Balancing Act gives…

The Mobile Gender Gap in Africa is Costing Operator Revenues – Women own less phones and use them less says GSMA study

The gender gap in Africa is part of a broader global gap in terms of both handset ownership and use. Unless operators get to grips with closing this gap, they…

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY IS THE NATURAL EXTENSION TO ONLINE RECRUITMENT

Cellphone penetration in SA is massive and, with the Internet fast becoming the preferred way of searching for career opportunities amongst job seekers, it makes sense that mobile technology would…

Libya’s LPTIC heads for full NGN implementation with pilot local access projects

Libya’s national incumbent LPTIC has embarked upon what is probably the most ambitious overhaul of a telephone network in the whole of Africa. It plans to put in place a…

LIQUIDAFRICA - BUYING AND SELLING AFRICAN SHARES ONLINE

The telecoms downturn in the developed world has created an investment drought for Africa just when it needs to keep developing its infrastructure. Local capital markets have sprung up in…

The convergence moment – Gateway launches pan-African pay-TV service

African communications provider Gateway Communications this week announced that it would launch GTV, a pan-African pay-TV delivered service. By lowering the price of its service it will create some competition…

MVNOs to come to Africa with Virgin Mobile setting its sights on Nigeria and SA

This week it emerged that a battle may ensue in Nigeria over the acquisition of Vee Networks, which trades under the V-Mobile brand name. Over the past few days, South…

FIN-X-SIDE sa, LAUNCHES SWIFT SERVICE BUREAU FOR EUROPE

FIN-X-SIDE sa is a joint venture between SIDE International - the SIWFT Business Partner for France and Benelux and Comesa Financial Exchange (FIN-X) - the first recognized SWIFT Service Bureau…

Satellite to fibre – Africa’s big change is really under way, says new report

2010 is not shaping up to be a good year for satellite operators and resellers in Africa. There have been rumours that for the first time one operators’ sales in…

Algeria opens up its voice market to VOIP but sets the bar high

The Algerian regulator ARPT took the brave step of allowing 24 ISPs an experimental licence at the end of April 2004. After the revision its licensing framework, the first VoIP…

Launch of Samung’s Galaxy Tab will spark the beginning of device wars with Africa’s mobile operators offering tablets

Global Voice Group - An ApologyIn an article entitled; "Life in Africa's Slow Lane- Congo Telecom and Socatel Defend Their International Voice Monopolies, Disapora Callers Ask Why?" published in 491,…

Vodacom set to take over Lap Green’s Rwanda and Uganda operations

Reliable sources indicate that Vodacom is close to signing a deal with Libyan-owned Lap Green to take over its recently purchased operations in Rwanda and Uganda. A draft of the…

Ghana’s Soft Tribe carves itself a niche in the Nigerian ERP software market

Faced with the dual challenges of international competition and a small home market, not many ICT entrepreneurs would simply pick up their bags and move to a bigger market. But…

iSpace joins the wave of incubators setting up across the continent but questions still hover over the ecosystem

The past two years has seen the steady growth of things that are variously called innovation hubs, incubators and accelerators. They are now creating support networks that give ICT entrepreneurs…

READER’S COMMENTS:

Issue 383: Algeria Telecom becomes first operator to pioneer fibre to the home strategy In your leading article in issue 383 , an error was made about the equipment supplier.…

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that Fring – VoIP  nightmare for mobile operators

An early adopting reader alerted us last week to the existence of Fring. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s free Skype-style client specifically designed for mobile…

African ICT incubators: breeding new businesses and spreading innovation

Incubators provide business advice, accommodation, services and finance to start-ups. They have a good track record of ensuring that businesses of any type survive the crucial first 18 months of…

Mobile data service in Africa: too much talk for very little revenue

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 Battle Against High Fibre Prices from Monopoly Providers moves to Central Africa

Competition in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa on fibre has bought lower wholesale prices and these have in time led to lower retail prices. The margins of competition may be…

Unbundling the sacred SIM identity – Movirtu creates a service offering soft phone and low cost international dialling with your mobile number

When mobile carriers talk about owning the customer, it’s their SIM card that contains the “ownership” they’re thinking about. It contains both the customer’s identity and his or her ability…

National survey shows Kenyan Internet market heading towards “critical mass”

The latest national survey from market research company Synovate shows Kenya’s Internet market is growing fast and on the basis of this growth will soon reach “critical mass”. The growth…

NICE pioneers second generation low cost internet access points in Gambia – Will roll out in Tanzania and Zambia

With cheaper bandwidth access coming across Africa, cyber-cafes have been having a hard time surviving. Their non-profit cousins telecentres have always struggled to gain traction, particularly their Internet element, with…

Operator-agnostic mobile money transfer services Pata Express carves a niche for itself in Congo-Brazza and plans to launch Phone Page directory

While there is a lot of publicity made around mobile payment services launched by mobile operators in Africa (thanks to their very well-oiled PR machine) there is much less emphasis…

Mobile data revenue: the long road ahead for African mobile operators

Back in December 2011 Balancing Act published an article on mobile data revenue which highlighted that data revenues for mobile operators in Sub-Sahara Africa remain tiny in most countries with…

Sproxil aims to make counterfeiting unprofitable in Africa with mobile product authentication

Counterfeiting is rife in Africa and in many instances – with things like fake drugs and electrical products – it puts lives at risk. Sproxil has come up with a…

David takes on Goliath: South Africas Posix to offer Fibre-To-The-Home ahead of the big gorillas

South Africa is potentially a large market for home high-speed broadband but a number of factors have held up its implementation. Kenya got there three years ago so Russell Southwood…

Nigeria’s 3 LTE ISPs pull ahead of the pack as key spectrum remains unavailable

There have been significant delays in Nigeria’s digital broadcasting transition and other unexplained delays on a recent spectrum auction. These delays are giving independent LTE ISPs in Nigeria the kind…

Gambia special – new telecoms bill is the starter’s gun for liberalisation

Gambia is a small country (1.5 million population) that stretches either side of a river of the same name, barely 50 miles wide. But momentous changes are afoot in the…

Financial tide goes out on incumbent telco privatisations - who will buy Africa’s “problem children”?

When the Cameroonian Government tried to sell its telco incumbent Camtel only two Indian buyers - Reliance and Essar - turned up and it called off the sale. Was this…

QUANTUMNET USES ITS US$2 MILLION WI-FI NETWORK TO DELIVER BROADBAND

Gambia’s ISP sector includes four players: QuantumNet, Gamtel’s ISP (which is not a separate company), Netpage and Airtip. Overall there are around 5,000 dial-up subscribers, with the majority being split…

Smile Telecoms offers a real insurgent data challenge by delivering LTE – first in Tanzania and Uganda and then in Nigeria and DRC

Africa seems strangely unprepared for its next technology leapfrog, the implementation of LTE. But it’s happening already and it’s not just the small number of mobile operator LTE implementations (see…

TWO MOBILE CONTENDERS BATTLE IT OUT AND WAIT FOR THIRD OPERATOR

There are two Gambian mobile operators: Gamcel (which is a subsidiary of the incumbent) and Africell (which is owned by Lebanese investors). The two companies are almost neck-and-neck in terms…

Twenty African countries have introduced broadband and more set to follow, says new report

Two reports were released last week that chart the rapid changes taking place in African ICT markets over the last year. The first looks at the rise of broadband access…

VOIP TELEPHONY WILL BE LEGALISED FIRST IN WEST AFRICA, SAYS NEW REPORT

A new report on the internet in West Africa has two key findings. First the good news: VoIP telephony has been largely illegal in Africa but a new breed of…

Ghana’s NCA set to offer voice and data WiMAX licences but with conditions

Ghana’s regulator NCA is consulting on offering spectrum and a licence that will allow those who win them to offer both voice and data. But as you might imagine there’s…

South Sudan: Government planning fibre link connections to lower the cost of connectivity

South Sudan’s Juba and Eritrea’s Asmara were the only two African capitals without plans to introduce international fibre links. Now the South Sudan Government is moving towards working out what…

Online film platform Buni TV reaches 2 million views in year and uses comedy shorts to drive traffic

There has a big upsurge in launches of online film and music platforms since user bandwidth has started to improve (see Issue 658). But many are little more than technical…

GIPFZA TO ATTRACT NOKIA SERVICE CENTRE TO AIRPORT FREE ZONE?

The Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zone Authority has developed a 10 hectare “free zone” adjacent to Banjul’s airport which has 2000 sq mtrs of factory space with basic services…

FIRST REPORT ON MOBILE HANDSETS IN NIGERIA IDENTIFIES USER PREFERENCES

As far as we know, no-one thus far has produced a publicly available report looking at the state of the mobile handset market in any Sub-Saharan African country: what their…

African online content and services come of age – business models, users and delivery platforms begin to crystallize

Last week’s Mobile Entertainment World in Cape Town began to crystallize the beginning of successful, business-worthy African online content. It bought together a handful of mobile operators, mobile platform operators…

Augmented reality comes to Africa – what is it and what can it do for the continent?

Like a lot of technologies, augmented reality has long roots, going all the way back to the 1970s and 1980s. But the arrival of the smart phone has really started…

Nigeria: the beginning of the end for Africa’s international grey market?

With the new Nigerian telcos offering some of the cheapest prices on the continent for international calls, the VoIP grey market in Nigeria is in a tail-spin. This may turn…

Ethiopia puts off privatising ETC but rolls out nationwide fibre network

Sometimes dubbed the “North Korea” of regulatory change, Ethiopia stands out as the country resisting the tides of change that have begun to engulf the rest of the continent. Occupied…

Uganda’s Beyonic looks to extend the reach of bulk m-money payments through partnership with Mercy Corps’ Agri-Fin programme

M-money services take-up has taken time but as it passes the “critical mass” moment, two things begin to happen: firstly, their use spreads out beyond the first wave of users…

The International MVNO operators start arriving in Africa – more competition on international calling

This week international MVNO operator Lycamobile announced that it has got a licence in Cameroon where it has set up a subsidiary. Others are in the wings and this could…

New tax on international incoming traffic takes Côte d’Ivoire one step backwards

When the SAT3 submarine fibre cable was damaged on 24th July at Cotonou in Benin, alternative routes were quickly put in place to carry a major chunk of the international…

Zambian Minister and International Gateway – When you’re in a hole, stop digging

Despite Zambia’s sadly deceased President making helpful noises about liberalising the international gateway in Zambia, when it comes to the crunch the current Communications and Transport Minister Dora Siliya has…

AFRICAN INTERNET FRAUD BEYOND 419s - ORGANISED SCAMMERS OPERATING FROM CYBERCAFES

419 e-mail scams are only the tip of the iceberg. Africa’s cyber-cafes are being used by organised criminal gangs to carry out credit card fraud. It’s hard to estimate the…

Tanzania: New survey highlights steady growth of mobile as media

Intermedia has released the latest in its Audiencescapes series of surveys of media use in African countries. The survey covers Tanzania and contains a number of tantalizing clues as to…

South Africa leads the way in music download revolution but held back by broadband costs

South Africans are renowned for their love of music but until recently were not able to download music from the internet legally. However, avid music lovers finally have at their…

THE CURSE OF THE AFRICAN E-MAIL CLASSES - WHAT IS IT?

Yes it’s the word that starts in s and ends in m: the technical term is unsolicited bulk mail. Whisper it quietly because if we spell the word out this…

Tower sharing can save mobile operators “north of 20%” in costs, says Eaton Towers CEO

Tower sharing is beginning to take off on the continent with 3-4 companies now offering the service to operators. Operators with larger market share remain sceptical but those in extremely…

Mozambique - TDM's MD Adriano wants a new interconnect agreement

For most telecoms incumbents the interconnection agreement with other carriers is usually made on terms that they broadly find acceptable. But according to its Managing Director Salvador Adriano TDM finds…

NITEL’S CEO ZWOLSMAN; "30-40% REVENUES LOST TO INTERNAL FRAUD" BUT COMPANY IS NOW INVESTING

Nitel’s CEO Rein Zwolsman has been in the job for just over a year. In the first year, there have been two main tasks: getting to grips with the company’s…

Orange Money nears critical mass in Cote d’Ivoire and will launch in all African territories by end 2010

Last week Orange announced that its Orange Money service had been rolled out in three new countries (Madagascar, Mali and Senegal) and that it will be operational in all of…

Adventures in social media – What we’ve discovered over 12 months

The growth in Africa’s Facebook numbers show that it has touched a chord with users at a near mass level. Social media played a part in the Arab Spring and…

Kenya’s Sleepout.com raises seed funding to expand its offer across Africa and into the Middle East

The seed fund sum is a modest US$200,000 but it marks the slow but steady march of business going online in Africa. Sleepout.com attracted this seed funding from Amsterdam-based Africa…

M- money services – The rise and rise of Africa’ s “killer-app” for 2008

In the first four months of operation, from March to June 2007, M-Pesa, the mobile phone enabled payment system set up by Safaricom in Kenya, gained 150,000 customers. By December…

ACT 2004 -TROUBLE IN PARADISE AS LIBERALISATION HURRICANE PASSES OVER

This year’s ACT conference took place in Mauritius in Le Meridien Hotel alongside a beautiful tropical beach, lending the proceedings something of a holiday atmosphere. Away from beaches, Mauritius has…

Wind power may be part of the answer to Africa’s base station energy supply problems

Mobile operator’s margins are coming down from the heady days ten years ago and the growth left in the voice market is largely among low ARPU customers. Data may help…

Senegal: Jokkolabs hosts the first Mobile Monday Dakar

Last Monday, Jokkolabs hosted in Dakar the first Mobile Monday event ever held in francophone West Africa. The event which was attended by developers, mobile operators and key players in…

Satellite in Africa – Huge opportunities but it’s time for some disruptive business models

African satellite industry event Satcom 2014 took place this week in Johannesburg. As the satellite sector digests the loss of backhaul traffic to fibre, it is clear that there are…

POWERLINE TECHNOLOGIES FOR INTERNET AND VOICE ACCESS - AFRICAN TRIALS UNDER WAY

The idea of sending data down electrical power cables - called powerline technologies - has been around for some time but has nearly always received a mixed press. Keeping data…

Zimbabwean MVNO Viva! wants to take on the dominant mobile operator on price and service innovation

As we noted in Issue 747, the MVNO wave in Africa seems finally to be moving as regulators open up this space as a way of providing innovation and competition.…

Liberia creates Special Purpose Vehicle for landing station and national fibre backbone

Liberia probably has one of the smallest bandwidth markets in Africa but it has recently created a Special Purpose Vehicle consortium that has signed up as a member of the…

Senegal – land of the de-facto Internet monopoly – is urged to encourage greater competition and innovation to improve penetration levels

Senegal has always been the country where competition has a very different meaning. In the Internet sector, Orange-owned Sonatel controls pretty much the whole of the market. There are almost…

VoD platforms in Africa will be a key driver of the next spike in bandwidth capacity

This week Balancing Act is publishing a report on VoD platforms in Africa. Operators need to understand that all the evidence points to VoD platforms meeting a need that up…

Africa’s International Bandwidth Passes 2 Tbps – Fibre roll-out now reaches out to 44% of continent’s population.

A recently published report shows the stratospheric growth in African bandwidth over the last five years and the extent of the build-out of fibre networks. 44% of Africa’s population is…

CALL CENTRE SPECIAL - AFRICA FIGHTS FOR ITS SHARE OF A GLOBAL MARKET

Suddenly call centres are breaking out all over Africa. Well, in some obvious and a few less likely places. Where India has led the way, Africa now follows with South…

SMS – Africa’s coming media generates millions of responses and revenues

Mobile SMS messages are Africa’s coming media. The Ethiopian Government banned them because they were used to organise opposition protests but found it impossible to let them stay banned. They…

AfricaCom: Africa’s mobile industry needs to re-invent itself to meet tomorrow’s challenges

Four thousand people are slated to attend the industry’s biggest continent-wide talk-fest AfricaCom next week, which has been given the upbeat title of Driving the Next Stage of Telecoms Growth…

The Buying and Selling Game in Africa – A backstage look at the way Mergers and Acquisitions Happen

With the developed world economies flat-lining, the prospect of investing in Africa has never been more attractive. With the halo effect from the mobile growth years still in place, buyers…

Powerline deployed in SA and Uganda– IP-TV trial this autumn

Powerline technology has always seemed to promise much but never seem to quite come to the boil. But Goal Technology Solutions (known as GTS) has rolled out operational 30 meg…

Vodafone Egypt launches MVNO Bladna targeted at Egyptian diaspora living in Italy

Last Saturday in Milan, Vodafone Egypt threw in a free concert with the famous Egyptian singer Nancy Ajram to launch its first MVNO under the label “Bladna”. Bladna which means…

Getting cheaper data delivery for users and better quality networks in Africa in 2015 – 5 things that can be done

Africa’s network operators need to make a New Year’s resolution that they will aim to both make their data cheaper for their users and to improve the quality of the…

Benin –DIY wireless enthusiasts launch Wi-Fi broadband and IP-to-IP calling

The do-it-yourself wireless movement has strong roots in the developed world and its enthusiasts have provided a constant guerrilla challenge at the edges of the market. But in Africa there…

The strange case of Somalia and the lessons of war-induced anarchy

A country without any telecoms regulation with one of the highest percentage of people who have used a phone where there is no telco incumbent. A place where you do…

DESPERATE GHANA TELECOM SHUTS OFF OUTGOING ISP LINES, BLAMES VOIP BUT...

Ten days ago Ghana Telecom put all the country’s ISPs on one-way circuits so that they could only receive incoming calls. In a move uncannily reminiscent of Kenya Telkom’s ISP…

Understanding Africa’s social media storm – Facebook experiments with how to make itself the “on-ramp” for first-time Internet users

Facebook took Africa by storm and became the social media that everyone seemed to be on. Now Facebook is experimenting (with mobile operators) to use Facebook as the way of…

Ushahidi helps people by tracking what’s happening in a crisis by web and SMS

All too often African web apps have been pale copies of their Northern cousins and have not really seemed to either have found a real usefulness to their users or…

The world of virtual networks: Effortel seeks to enter African market with an MVNO offer

Africa is in two minds about MVNOs: on the one hand, they seem to have taken root in South Africa but elsewhere they provoke nervous reactions from other market players.…

Fibre backbone cables spreading across the continent should lead to cheaper traffic between countries

With the arrival of six international fibre cables over the next two years, the race is on to provide national fibre backbones and competitive connections between countries. There have been…

Kenya’s Jamii Telecom to launch Sub-Saharan Africa’s first Fibre-To-The-Home offering

Jamii Telecom is breaking the mould by launching a GPON network that will deliver Fibre-To-The-Home for the first time in Sub-Saharan African. It plans to deliver a host of services…

Mobile number portability slowly begins to take off in Ghana – Need for high profile MNP awareness schemes

Mobile number portability schemes in Africa have not yet been a real success. There are a variety of reasons, including multiple phone ownership. But Ghana’s NCA has been running a…

AFRICA'S DIGITAL DIVIDE INITIATIVES - TIME FOR A REALITY CHECK - AN OFF-THE-RECORD BRIEFING

Interest is using ICT for development is probably well over 20 years old. But interest in the digital divide seemed to come into sharp focus with the G8 Dot Force…

Africa Com 2012 – Separating out the anxiety signals from the overwhelming noise

Africa Com is Informa’s monster talk-fest that like Topsy just seems to grow and grow. This year it claimed over 8,000 pre-registered attendees, the equivalent of a small town. It…

VoIP wars – The battle moves closer to the mobile operators

Grey market voice operators have been feeling the heat in the last twelve months as operators have dropped their international calling prices. Also increasingly, mainstream operators like MWeb are taking…

Liberia: four mobile companies bring lowest prices in West Africa

This week saw the first ICT conference in Liberia and the publication of the country’s draft ICT strategy. It was a five day event that included public and private sector…

Shoden acquisition: Japanese giant Hitachi focuses on data centres to expand its IT footprint in Sub-Saharan Africa

All too often the news is about what China or India are doing to expand into Africa. This week saw a Japanese company Hitachi Data Systems buy South Africa based…

Africa’s Untold Universal Service Agency Story – Reaching the parts others don’t reach

In the main, Africa’s Universal Service Agencies have not covered themselves in glory. Although money has been collected from operators it has largely sat in the bank gathering interest. This…

Communauté Electrique du Bénin issues tender to operate fibre network over its transmission pylons in Benin and Togo

Last week the international power utility CEB issued a tender that will allow an external company to operate a fibre network over its transmission pylons in both Benin and Togo.…

Speeding up the future - A strategy for Africa’s data future where Internet is widespread and prices are much lower

Africa has a unique opportunity to make the transition to IP data more quickly than other continents. Using IP data will help reduce costs and could produce some of the…

Low-cost voice operators: Technology without a business model yet in sight

About a third of Africa’s far-flung peoples still have no access to mobile phones or the Internet. Both the high CAPEX cost of putting in base stations and the high…

CAPCOM aims to become Nigeria’s biggest retail broadband operator, offering faster fibre connections and triple play

The emerging deal that puts all the CDMA operators into a single pot with a US$200 million capital investment has been represented as the creation of a new mobile voice…

Reader’s Responses

In response to issue 372’s Top Story “West African licence tendering processes – a case to answer” one reader wrote: "Totally agree with this article you wrote. I might also…

Sharing infrastructure to speed up roll-out – reaching the parts you can’t reach by yourselves

This week saw the ITU’s 8th Global Symposium for Regulators take as its theme infrastructure sharing as a means of speeding up broadband roll-out in developing countries. Sharing is one…

Battle for the cheap education computer hots up

The holy grail of cheap computers for emerging markets is producing a sub-$100 laptop for education purposes. One Lap Top Per Child, the initiative launched by MIT’s tech showman Nicholas…

Power in the palm of your hand - Freeplay to launch self-powered mobile charger in Africa

In a continent where at best 20% of the continent has access to electricity, new forms of technology that require this kind of power can seem largely irrelevant. Battery technology…

Zambian Government reinforces Zamtel monopoly as country heads for competition

In the run-up to the privatisation of Zamtel, the Zambian Government is proposing to add a significant proportion of the fibre assets from the state-owned power utility Zesco. This move…

Uganda’s gorillas get their own Facebook pages – e-tourism in Africa starts spreading post World Cup

E-tourism has always seemed like a no-brainer for the continent as money could be paid direct to hotels and suppliers. But obstacles like the high cost of bandwidth, the lack…

Minimum CAPEX, Maximum OPEX - Expresso’s strategy for African expansion

Expresso is Sudatel’s international arm and it plans to move from four African operations to having an additional eight operations in its next financial year. Its strategy is focused on…

Gambia’s Unique Solutions will launch national WiMAX network to meet new demand from ACE fibre cable launch

One of Gambia’s leading corporate ISP providers Unique Solutions has bought Pure Wave’s 16e WiMAX solution to meet the up-coming demand from the opening of the ACE international cable. The…

Equatorial Guinea: Government signs with US company GridlineXstreme to roll out a national fibre network and data centre

One of the biggest clusters of high-price monopoly fibre providers is to be found in Central Africa. Things are changing but not as quickly as they should be for these…

Kenya – legal VOIP begins to shake up the market and bring prices down

Kenya is now open for legal VoIP business and its impact has been to lower international calling prices by just under 80%. But the medium-term impact will be to act…

World Bank financing approved for Central African Backbone and completion date set for 2011

With the arrival of the Glo One cable in Ghana and Nigeria, the two biggest bandwidth markets in West Africa, both countries will have two landing stations and by the…

Social media content platform biNu attracts 0.5 million books readers on low-end smartphones and feature-phones; 42% are in Nigeria

Africans have a thirst for mobile content and it’s not just for SMS news headlines and football scores. Last week social media content platform biNu announced that its partnership with…

The new business model – Everything becomes data but what does it mean for operators in Africa?

No-one can tell you how long it’s going to be but at some point all services – voice in particular – will be data. This poses enormous challenges to existing…

Outsider east coast fibre project comes in from the cold – Seacom goes public

There are four projects to build an international fibre cable to connect the east coast of Africa. There’s EASSy, the Kenyan Government’s TEAMS, Flag Telecom…and the fourth project? Sithe’s SEACOM…

WASACE: A new cable project that bundles together all of Africa’s fibre dreams

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.…

NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT THREATENS "FORCED RE-DELEGATION" ON DOMAIN NAME BODY

The current row over the .ng domain has thrown into sharp relief international discussions over whether ICANN’s GAC Committee or the ITU should be responsible for appointing national domain name…

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH OYSTEIN BJORGE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, GHANA TELECOM

Ghana Telecom’s new Chief Executive Officer Oystein Bjorge provides a frank assessment of the current problems faced by the company and his plans to overcome them in this News Update…

Togo: Moov subscribers go on to the streets in Lome to protest at closure of Moov

Demonstrators took to the streets this week in Lome to protest at the Government’s recent closure of the country’s second cellular operator, Etisalat-owned Moov. Togo is one of Africa’s leading…

O3B Networks promises low latency satellite bandwidth at US$500 a meg or less by 2010

O3B Networks has been quietly preparing itself over the last 12 months for the moment last week when it announced that it was going to be offering cheap, low latency…

SA's USALs get off to a slow start by reselling mobile minutes

South Africa's Under-Serviced Area Licences (USALs) were aimed at providing services to areas of low teledensity. They have taken a long time to come to fruition and a number of…

EVERYTHING SOLID MELTS INTO AIR – WELCOME TO THE NEW BUSINESS MODEL

With the publication of the competition frameworks in Kenya and South Africa, Africa’s internet and telecoms sectors enter a new era. It may not yet be nirvana but it’s certainly…

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ALBERT KAN-DAPAAH, MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS, GOVERNMENT OF GHANA

Ghana’s Minister of Communications outlines the Government’s commitment to making ICT one of the wealth-creating engines of growth for his country. When will the phone system improve for business and…

DRC heads towards peace with launch of 3G licence process

This week saw a number of ICT announcements from DRC that show the country is heading towards peace. There will be more upsets and diversions but steady progress is being…

VOIP wars - Skype hits Africa and Telkom Kenya disconnects Sema cards

Legal VoIP services are now becoming available in Kenya and South Africa. Their existence can only speed up the collapse of over-priced international services. If wholesale minutes are available for…

Burkina Faso: Anger at three day outage of ONATEL’s international internet Connection

Last week ONATEL’s international internet connection faltered and faded leaving those who rely on it largely unable to use it to communicate. ONATEL’s monopoly position means that it has some…

Bottom-of-the pyramid markets - the sub-USD100 laptop and the search for the holy grail

The idea is a simple one. Lower the price of a device and you will get more people to buy. Bottom-of-the-pyramid markets - those in the lowest global income band…

SKYPE: THE PROGRAMME THAT WILL EAT THE LUNCH OF AFRICAN TELCOS

Over the past year and a half, Skype’s popularity has exploded with over 25 million users currently signed up for the service worldwide. By 2008 that number is expected to…

ICT SECTOR WAITING FOR THE SALE OF ONATEL THE END OF ITS MONOPOLY

There seems to be tremendous wealth in Ouagadougou. Entire areas of the city are being knocked down and redeveloped. Smart cars abound. The city itself now stretches right up to…

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

LTE will be a game changer in terms of how a significant number of Africans use their phones. Its implementation has been slow so far because of the many obstacles…

M-Money: New competitor services throw their hats into the ring in Ghana and Tanzania

Safaricom’s M-Pesa service in Kenya is heading towards 2 million users and has really got first mover advantage. But it is facing competition in Tanzania from an upstart challenger that…

Industry’s dirty little secret - cross-country transit prices keep SAT3 international bandwidth prices high

Countries that are landlocked or have no landing stations of their own are finding that having access to fibre does not reduce their SAT3 international bandwidth prices. At present few…

TELKOM KENYA DISCONNECTS VoIP CALLING CARD SEMA AS IT PUTS HEAT ON ITS INTERNATIONAL REVENUES

Telkom Kenya has disconnected individuals and business using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling cards from making international calls. Telkom whose exclusivity ended in June last year have done this…

GHANA TELECOM TRIES TO STRONG-ARM GISPA'S MEMBERS OUT OF THE MARKET WITH PREDATORY PRICING

It all seemed to be going so well. The ministerial advisers had arranged for Ghana's Internet Association GISPA to negotiate cheaper prices with Ghana Telecom on SAT3 and some of…

INTERNET: GROWTH OF A SMALL MARKET CRAMPED BY GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT

There are seven ISPs: Onatel (Fasonet), Cenatrin, CFAO, ZCP, River Telecom, Net Access and La Delgi. 30-40,000 users. There are seven main players: ONATEL (Fasonet): 4500 Cenatrin: 600-1500 CFOA: 1,000…

SONATEL’S DOMINANCE A MIXED BLESSING FOR DEVELOPMENT OF SENEGALESE MARKET

Senegal has had privatisation without an accompanying dose of liberalisation. The privatised SONATEL dominates almost any telecoms or internet market worth anything in the country. Even with the end of…

South Africa - niche VOIP telecom player promising average 37% cuts on all calls

The introduction of South Africa's competition framework in February next year will give a preview of what will start to happen once the words "monopoly" and "exclusivity" cease to be…

REGULATION AND POLICY: NATIONAL ICT POLICY SOON TO BE COMPLETED

ARTEL sees itself as an independent agency but at present the "Conseil d’Adminstration" has only representatives from Government Ministries sitting on it." The draft ICT policy is recommending that the…

Mauritius: Bharat Telecom Ltd to launch island-wide fibre network and high-speed FTTH broadband

A joint venture between local and Indian investors, Bharat Telecom Ltd has set itself the ambitious target of connecting every home and office in Mauritius to a fibre network. It…

The Battle Against High Fibre Prices from Monopoly Providers moves to Central Africa

Competition in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa on fibre has bought lower wholesale prices and these have in time led to lower retail prices. The margins of competition may be…

COMPUTING: MARKET IS CHAOTIC AND LARGELY INFORMAL

In hardware terms, CFAO reports that it is selling between 500-600 machines a year, largely from Dell and IBM. But the market is chaotic and largely informal with few large-players.…

AFRICA’S NEW COMMUNICATIONS USERS - WHAT DO THEY USE AND WHY?

The explosive growth of communications technologies has given potential users a wide range of new tools to communicate. Yet beyond the familiar numbers generated by the growth of mobiles, very…

Two new deals signal wider investor interest in African telecoms and internet

Two recent announcements have signalled wider investment in Africa outside of new mobile licences: African Telecom’s contested bid for African Lakes (owners of pan-African ISP Africa Online) and India’s Flag…

PEOPLE SPECIAL: AN INTERVIEW WITH SYLVESTRE OUEDRAOGO, YAM PUKRI

Sylvestre Ouedraogo is a man of many parts. He’s written a book about how ICT might be used to further development in Africa. He’s an academic who carries out interesting…

AFRICA ONLINE AT THE CENTRE OF A CONTESTED TAKEOVER BID

On 28 December African Telecoms Company Limited (ATC) formally announced to the London Stock Exchange its intention to “make a cash offer to acquire the whole of the issued and…

Africa’s competition laboratory Kenya is the one to watch

No regulation regime is perfect but the three East African countries – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – are leading the way in terms of breaking down many of the old…

FLAG TELECOM ANNOUNCES IT WILL BUILD KENYA-SOUTH AFRICA FIBRE ROUTE

India’s Reliance Communications is planning to spend US$1.5 billion on four more new undersea cables, rolling out the FLAG Telecom network to an additional 23 countries and upgrading its entire…

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

No-one has ever said that Africa is short of potential creative talent – in music, film and writing – but until recently it has lacked the channels through which newcomers…

Mobile Web Ghana rewards two local mobile apps developers

Last week’s News Update reported on the winners of the World Bank Competition on “Apps for Development”. In the same issue we also covered the ITU’s announcement about the “Green…

Mobile as Africa’s debit card: Mobile Money Integration Services is the next wave of mobile money growth

In the countries where mobile money has been particularly successful like Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the next unfolding wave of growth is payments integration. It sounds boring but it’s tying…

Heavy blow to COMTEL fibre project as Ericsson says it will not be an investor

One of Africa's major fibre network projects was struck a heavy blow this week by the revelation that its only announced external private investor - Ericsson - will not become…

KENYA SENDS OUT MIXED MESSAGES ON COMPETITION: VOIP IN CYBER-CAFES BUT NO JAMBONET COMPETITORS YET

Kenya’s new Government has made clear its intention to liberalise the telecoms and internet sector but the reality remains mixed. The good news? This week Telkom Kenya’s Managing Director John…

Nigeria mobile money special: Mobile money providers still struggling to get to grips with the need for strong agency network and the scale of the market

In this Nigeria mobile money special, there are two views of the market. Emmanuel   Okoegwale, Principal Associate, MobileMoneyAfrica identifies lack of clarity over current regulation and lack of focus on…

The Year of Living Dangerously – how to survive in a low growth world

Whilst Africa has as yet been largely untouched by the apocalyptic financial meltdown, everything is now connected. So less sales of Chinese clothes and shoes in developed countries (witness the…

Zambia soon to feel the double-effect of international fibre and liberalisation

This week’s news (see Internet section below) is full of stories about the impact of the Seacom cable on East African countries. With all this brouhaha, it would be easy…

Kenya’s Eat Out generates real cash not burn rate and plans to expand across East Africa

Beyond donor-funded web services and apps, new online commercial services are beginning to set up and attract traffic. Some like Eat Out in Kenya are generating actual revenues and have…

M-Money services a huge success in Kenya but waiting for their breakout moment elsewhere

Safaricom started its M-Pesa service in April 2007 with a first year target of getting 0.5 million users. It passed this target within six months and in February 2009 clocked…

Gambia: I-Link to launch LTE data services across Greater Banjul area in early 2015

LTE data services once seemed like a service that would only be for the larger markets in Africa. But LTE has now all but replaced WiMAX as the data delivery…

Dabba looks set to make micro low-cost voice telco operations a reality

The dream of creating micro-low cost voice operators for under-serviced urban and rural areas looks set to become a reality. The South African company Dabba with support from Internet Solutions…

Uganda’s ban on refurbished computers sparks the law of unintended consequences

The dirty downside of the ICT industry is that computers have to go somewhere when they die and because they are full of potentially toxic materials they cannot simply be…

Mozilla brings low, low-cost smartphones to Africa – Looking forward to 50-80% smartphone ownership

One of the most interesting players helping provide cheap smartphones is Mozilla. With its Firefox OS it both offers a route to a much cheaper smartphone and an OS that…

Burundi’s Onatel seeks South African govt help to retrieve scam payment

Burundi’s incumbent Onatel fell for the oldest trick in the book. Three South African businessmen offered the company a substantial loan. But first the alleged fraudsters asked the company to…

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

This month has been one for announcements of Fibre-To-The-Home roll-outs. What was once considered exceptional will soon become normal as bandwidth delivery ramps up in Africa’s key markets. Russell Southwood…

Nigeria’s Mainstreet Technologies to build new international west coast fibre

Mainstreet Technologies threw its hat in the ring this week to be the first to complete an African west coast fibre project to compete with SAT3. The cable will connect…

ANGOLA – OIL REVENUES FUEL RAPID GROWTH IN TELECOMS

After the Angolan civil war ended in 2002 a great deal of the country’s infrastructure was in ruins. Since then it has used its oil revenues to start the process…

The new scramble for Africa – acquisitions reshaping the communications landscape

A new scramble for Africa is under way as multinationals from all over the world take a new interest in acquiring communications companies on the continent. The temperature for fresh…

TELECENTRES SPECIAL: REACHING THOSE PARTS THE MARKET CANNOT YET REACH

Somwhere beyond where the market can deliver a phone and internet service are telecentres. Although recently these have been souped up with multimedia and suitcase radio, they remain essentially the…

A nice mobile music and video service with a handset attached – Solo launches in Nigeria and turns the business model on its head

Another made in China African handset launch would be deeply uninteresting. But the unveiling of Solo’s new handset bundled with data and content in Nigeria somehow turns the business model…

MOVICEL LAUNCHES 3G SERVICE AND ATTRACTS 3000 CUSTOMERS

Launched at the end of 2006, Movicel’s new 3G service, Movinet has in just over three months attracted 3,000 subscribers. This scale of subscriber base reflects a number of factors.…

South Africa: VoIP begins to change the landscape for both consumers and business users

The opening up of VoIP in Africa’s more liberalized territories over the last five years is beginning to make a small but increasing impact on the market. It is one…

Ghana Telecom joins operators offering “almost” triple-play offers, by introducing IP-TV

Africa’s incumbent telco operators are sidling towards offering their customers triple play. This week Ghana Telecom announced the introduction of IP-TV and Mozambique’s cable operator has approached the Mozambique regulator…

TWO ANGOLAN OPERATORS OFFER VoIP SERVICE

Although there is no formal law governing VoIP in Angola, existing operator MS Telecom and the new venture Mundo Startel are both operating voice on IP networks. MS Telecom was…

SOUTHERN AFRICAN INTERNET FORUM CALLS FOR LIBERALISATION TO ENCOURAGE GROWTH

The Southern African Internet Forum participants called for liberalisation of the current African regulatory frameworks to encourage internet growth in the region. They also highlighted the need for strong user…

Alliance For Affordable Internet wants to get Internet prices down to 5% of per capita income or below, focused on several African countries

In terms of widening Internet use, Africa faces several challenges including lowering the cost of both data use and device costs. The Alliance for Affordable Internet has sunk its teeth…

Issue 396: Infrastructure sharing to speed roll-out

I want to commend you on "Infrastructure sharing to speed roll out" story issue 396 with a focus of national and international fibre optic backbone networks following the recent ITU's…

US$99 smartphone ready to hit emerging markets: will it make it into Africa?

Two weeks ago, Synchronica, a UK based company developing and selling next-generation mobile messaging solutions, launched the “MessagePhone”, a low cost smartphone aimed at mobile users in emerging markets. Last…

South Africa gets its first comparison website for broadband services

With a growing number of internet service providers offering multiple broadband packages, South African users are now spoiled with choice. This is a good thing but the downside for the…

ZAMBIA’S FIRST WIRELESS ISP OFFERS HIGH SPEED BROADBAND SOLUTION

Always-on broadband is largely a dream for most African internet users. And even what is usually described as broadband would not pass muster as a high speed service in other…

SMS VALUE-ADDED SERVICES - CELL PHONES AN IDEAL CONTENT AND SERVICE PLATFORM

Africa’s most widely distributed information platform is the cell phone. Growth continues to be spectacular but all operators are looking for ways to add to their revenues. Text messaging services…

Liberalised South Africa starts to create market-opening mechanisms that allow cheaper access to fibre

After the successful Altech legal challenge, there are now 400 companies that can self-provision their own networks, interconnect with others and buy their own voice numbering blocks. With the arrival…

Hybrid base station power supplier Orun Energy conducts successful tests in India and is close to rolling out in Africa

There are a number of companies working on producing low CAPEX and OPEX base stations. Africa’s Orun Energy has chosen to focus on power and cooling and makes some bold…

Balancing Act’s News Update: Seasons Greetings to our Readers, Clients and Advertisers

Dear Readers, Clients and Advertisers2012 has been the year that online content and services really arrived in Africa. The combination of fast-growing social media (from the well-known international names plus…

As the global handset market spits out its latest king, Africa will march to a different beat

With the news that last year’s global handset leader Samsung is in trouble, the speed with which consumers change their handset loyalties is dizzying. Russell Southwood looks at the kind…

Cote d’Ivoire: Warid Telecom pays for licence but can’t get enough spectrum to operate

You would think that it would be fairly simple for a mobile operator to buy a licence and be assured that the necessary spectrum would be made available. But matters…

Interconnect Special: lower interconnect rates in Africa have not led to lower prices for customers, says new report

Falls in interconnect rates – the amount operators charge each other to use their networks – have not always led to reductions in the prices charged to customers, says the…

Top story: Ghanaian powerline test - exclusive report on performance and cost

Africa's first powerline implementation took a step nearer with a demonstration given in Ghana to a number of key players, including the Electricity Corporation of Ghana. Although there are now…

VOIP PEERING – HOW WILL IT AFFECT INTERCONNECTION PRACTICES?

As legal IP telephony spreads out across the continent, internet-based practices may begin to take over from past telephony ways of doing business. Russell Southwood looks forward to how this…

Nigerian start-up MMIT offers wants to “connect the dots” by offering international payments service to mobile wallet operators

M-Pesa may have begun to change the face of domestic African payments but one of the missing pieces has been allowing m-money customers to make international payments as easily. Russell…

TV White Spaces goes commercial in Africa – Microsoft seeks to calm the jitters of the mobile operators

The long-term shift in power between the OTT players and mobile operators is a bit like watching a Samuri wrestling bout. They move round each other threateningly, making loud grunts,…

Africa's Online and Mobile Music Platforms – The Puzzle of Who Will Succeed in a Crowded Field

There are well over 100 runners in the race to succeed as Africa's best and biggest online and mobile music platform (see last market report). Even now there are new…

D-day for East Africa - Seacom fibre arrives but SAT3 monopoly is still in place

The Seacom international cable is due to go live next week on Thursday and it will fundamentally change much of the underlying economics of the communications business. It will be…

Central Africa markets fail to get the attention they deserve, says new report

It is easy but lazy to talk about Africa for the continent contains fifty plus countries all of which are completely different in some way. Whilst operators like to think…

Kenya the latest African entrant to the international outsourcing market

The latest African country to take a decisive step into the international outsourcing market is Kenya. There are now between 12-15 companies offering various types of call centre and business…

 Enterprise software - finding a solution at a price to suit Africa

   Enterprise software is designed to bring together all the different applications that an organisation is using. It seeks to make (with suitable security) information available across the organisation in…

Rural roll-out, White Spaces and Wi-Fi: Scottish Isles meets Africa on the same road to providing service to scattered populations

Getting voice and data to Africa’s remaining un-served citizens will be a tough nut to crack. Some mobile operators are already saying that 10-15% of their existing base stations lose…

Millicom plans to go from being a mobile operator to a digital services company in 3-5 years in some African countries

The discussion about mobile operators making the transition to digital has been relatively muted. MTN said last year this would be the direction it would be going in but did…

Imagining the future: Africa looking forward five years from now

The start of the year always sees many predictions for the coming year and a certain amount of gloating from those who feel they guessed right last time around. Some…

  SENEGAL'S SENLEC INSTALLS ERP TO ADDRESS MERGER ISSUES LEGACY

  Senelec, Senegal's largest generator and distributor of electricity, has completed the implementation of an information technology system to support its growth and anticipated increased demand for electricity in Senegal.…

You take the high road, we’ll take the hot-spots– Africa’s data future slings a shot over the bows of today’s business model

At GSM 3G Africa (now AfricaCom) 2006. London-based South African Niall Murphy was talking about how the company he was then CTO for, The Cloud was covering the UK and…

Satellite dominates cellular backhaul, says new study

A specially commissioned annexe study for Balancing Act’s African Satellite Markets shows that some 29 out of 55 African countries and territories get more than 80% of their total international…

Two major North African markets look set to become legal VoIP pioneers, says new report

Although the Middle East has largely set its face firmly against the introduction of VoIP, two North African countries – Algeria and Egypt – look set to become the pioneers…

   AIR MAURITIUS SEES IT AS A KEY BUSINESS DRIVER

  Information Technology at Air Mauritius is regarded as an important enabler and driver of the business of this small, competitive yet consistently profitable company. The Indian Ocean island of…

NEW RESEARCH FINDINGS POINT TO HIGH RATES OF PHONE USE EVEN IN NO OR LOW SERVICE AREAS

Teledensity figures are probably no longer a useful guide to the number of people actually making use of phone services. New research carried out by Gamos looks at the different…

MTN Play Côte d’Ivoire getting "5,000 video views a month”: Broadband access is not an issue anymore

Since July 2013, MTN has been getting its feet wet with content by piloting a VoD services offer - MTN Play - in Cote d’Ivoire. Balancing Act’s associate editor Sylvain…

Mobile Internet take-up is speeding the take-up of IPv6 in Africa

A few years ago Africa’s new Internet Numbers Registry, AfriNIC looked more of a dream and a prayer than a reality. But the take-up of IPv4 Internet addresses, which has…

   CENTRAL BANK OF UGANDA REVAMPS INFORMATION SYSTEMS TO SUPPORT GROWTH

  The Central Bank of Uganda is using the financial modules of an E-Business Suite to set a course towards growth and banking best practice. The implementation of the inventory,…

DIREQLEARN: DELIVERING SOLUTIONS INTO SCHOOLS ACROSS THE CONTINENT

NEPAD has set ambitious targets to get computers into Africa’s schools. There is a widespread consensus that unless the next generation learn computer skills Africa will fall further behind. The…

GABON - MARKET GROWS IN THE LONG RUN-UP TO PRIVATIZATION

Gabon has entered the communications era with a bang. As elsewhere in Africa, mobile subscribers exceed fixed lines: a staggering 100,000 to 14,000. The state telco is being prepared for…

Corporate use of MPLS in Africa drives data growth and bandwidth provision increases

This week the mobile operators’ trade association, the GSMA issued a report saying that overall revenues from data would exceed those of voice by 2018. The steady shift of different…

Top story: African telecoms skills levels on the rise but still gaps in revenue assurance and logistics

The rapid growth of the telecommunications sector (particularly of mobile operators) has been the impetus behind one of the most significant skills transfers that has taken place on the continent.…

   TREASURY OF THE REPUBLIC OF MAURITIUS – IT-FREE TREASURY MANAGEMENT

  The Government of Mauritius deploys a Treasury Solution to provide a full statement of accounts annually to parliament. All 90 government departments that make up the government of the…

NIGERIA'S VEE NETWORK: THE TRANSACTION THAT SUNK A DEAL AND COST TWO SENIOR PEOPLE THEIR JOBS

All over the world business gets very rough-and-tumble, especially at the point when the ownership of companies changes hands. In Africa this rough-and-tumble frequently occurs without reliable external referees like…

Supplying diesel to the BTS: An every day nightmare for African mobile operators

The business of running a mobile operation in Africa in comparison to Europe or any developed countries should be roughly the same but there are major differences and this starts…

First shots fired in the coming mobile content war – competition breaks out amongst music streaming and download platforms

There are now several online and mobile music TV platforms that have started in Africa. Some like Iroko Partners started with Nollywood film and went into music, whilst others like…

African satellite prices rise in the wake of NSS8 burn-out

At Satcom Africa 2007 in Johannesburg this week, industry players were all talking about the shortage of satellite capacity in Africa following the failed launch last January of the NSS8…

Mobile data special - Africa's mobile users soon to go text-mad

Africa's mobile operators have been so busy making money from rolling out voice services that anything else must have seemed like a distraction. Some like Celtel have dabbled with the…

Mobile fraud in Africa: the scams that are pulled by wily dodgers

Internet fraud in Africa (see this week's Internet News) tends to grab the headlines. But there is a far more pervasive form of local fraud in the fast-growing mobile sector.…

KENYA'S SAFARICOM - ONE OF AFRICA'S "FIRST-MOVERS" ON GPRS

What's the extent of your mobile data services? It depends what you include in that term. Through our partnership with Wananchi (a Kenyan ISP), there are around 30,000 people using…

More African mobile operators embrace dynamic billing for their voice services as they look to differentiate themselves from the competition

In most African countries, mobile users are spoiled with attractive mobile promotion on voice services. In Kenya and Uganda, a price war has however left the mobile operators dubious on…

Umuntu Media’s Mimiboard looks to create social engagement for traditional media and a new monetizable business model

Profitable online business models are hard to come by in Africa because although the number of Internet users has shot up, it’s still hard to get a critical mass of…

ONE WORLD INTERNATIONAL ROLLS OUT JOBS AND HEALTH SMS INFORMATION SERVICES

In mid-November last year One World International (OWI) in Kenya soft-launched three innovative SMS services: a new jobs information service, a health service (that covers topics like breast cancer and…

UNICEF and Text to Change: how they are using technology in different ways

Donorland has been littered with pilot projects over the last ten years that took interesting technology and ideas and sought to make them work in the unforgiving African context. All…

Time is ripe for African innovators in the online services and apps market to up their game

Global Voice Group - An ApologyIn an article entitled; "Life in Africa's Slow Lane- Congo Telecom and Socatel Defend Their International Voice Monopolies, Disapora Callers Ask Why?" published in 491,…

Slimtrader targets everyday transactions with SMS and mobile web-enabled transactions

The success of M-Pesa in Kenya is really only the beginning. Its recent tie-ups with a range of retail outlets show that the next phase is all about making transactions…

Living with confusion – African operators find themselves pulled in new directions

Once it was simple. There was the Government incumbent and all the other operators were against it. Then the incumbents ceased to be the incumbents and some of the new…

iTOUCH BUILDS ITSELF A MOBILE DATA BUSINESS IN SA AND ROLLS OUT IN MOROCCO

The iTouch Plc group is a media company that provides a wide range of information, entertainment and messaging services to mobile users encompassing regular news updates, weather alerts, downloading ring…

AfricaCom 2010 – Bigger than ever but wide-scale changes as the industry seeks to absorb changes

The continent’s biggest telecoms talk-fest seemed to attract even more exhibitors and visitors than last year. Most people seemed to be relieved to have weathered a very challenging 2009 and…

Comoros Telecoms – The challenges of privatizing Africa’s remaining state-run monopolies

Comoros is a tiny telecoms and Internet market but has failed to develop as successfully as its more competitive neighbors in the Indian Ocean. All attempts to open the market…

One for the money, two for the show…Cabo Verde Telecom launches IP-TV

This week saw Cape Verdean incumbent telco Cabo Verde Telecom launch IP-TV ahead of the new competitor in its market. It also saw the introduction of what is probably the…

African mobile ARPUs set to fall up to 2013 in most countries except in those with mobile data potential, says new report

Good news for consumers is bad news for Africa’s mobile operators. As coverage areas widen and competition increases, ARPUs in many of their country markets will go into long-term decline…

A hybrid wind and sun solution for base station energy that claims to cut diesel costs by over 90%

With base station energy costs in Africa coming out at between US$30,000-60,000 a year, it’s hardly surprising that green energy solutions are becoming very much this year’s business decision for…

Going virtual - Africa’s maturing markets offer new wholesale and retail service opportunities

Africa’s larger maturing markets are offering new opportunities to providers whose services are either partly or completely run over someone else’s network. As some of the continent’s less well developed…

West Africa: New international fibre entrants playing a dangerous game of poker

One’s a monopoly, two’s competition, three’s intense competition and four or five is suicide. This should be the mantra that the new international cable entrants repeat to themselves as they…

MTC Namibia signs push-to-talk trial with police

Push-To-Talk has come to Sub-Saharan Africa this week with an agreement by the Namibian police to test MTC’s Push-To-Talk service over the festive season. Until now, the only Push-To-Talk service…

Marching to a different drum – Africa enters the age of mobile content

News Update concentrates all its coverage on what happens in Africa. But this week we have to describe events elsewhere because as all too often happens, key decisions that will…

Nigeria’s NITEL set to cut international call rates in half

NITEL looks set to cut its international call charges by 50%, according to Rein Zwolsman, its CEO at the Chief Executive Forum of the 2nd Nigerian Telecoms Summit. At the…

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ECONET’S STRIVE MASIYIWA ON AFRICAN TELECOMS OPPORTUNITIES

Africa has few significant regional players but one of the most interesting is Econet that was started by Zimbabwean Strive Masiwiya. News Update’s Russell Southwood spoke to him recently in…

Mobile Money – Liberia opts for bank-centric approach but gets low take up

In August 2011, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) officially issued guidelines for mobile money services that will serve as the legal framework for the future rollout of mobile money…

West African consumer broadband prices continue to tumble as OTI Telecom lowers its retail offer

West African consumer broadband prices continue to tumble as operators try to find the price point that will attract a wider public beyond the relatively small numbers of corporate customers.…

NEW MODEL INCUMBENT TELCOS - TEN WAYS TO SURVIVE A COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT

Everybody always talks about African incumbent telcos as if their position is unassailable but they may yet become an endangered species. Some have been battered by aggressive mobile operators, whilst…

The beginning of Africa’s long, slow transition away from SMS – new browser kids on the block making mobile Internet access easier

At the end of 2011, there were the first signs of smartphone use on SMS: for the first time in some countries, rather than the volume of SMS growing inexorably,…

Rules of the game changing as DSL subs head for 1 million and international fibre prices fall to all-time low

Almost unnoticed the rules of the game are changing and the South African market shows key developments that will transform how markets operate. DSL subscribers there look set to break…

Africa and TV White Spaces: The ghosts in the machine could provide additional spectrum at low cost

This week saw a workshop on TV White Spaces sponsored by APC, the Open Spectrum Alliance of South Africa, the Wireless Access Providers Association in South Africa and Google Africa…

Nigeria – Dancing around the threshold of a real broadband take-off

Nigeria is poised to move decisively into a better bandwidth future. As Sub-Saharan Africa’s second data largest market and maybe one day its largest, what happens in Nigeria is crucial…

African gaming looks set to raise its game with Kulaya.com raising seed stage investment, giving US$2 million valuation

Until recently, the African gaming sector has been largely a small number of dedicated and enthusiastic developers in search of a business model. This week’s announcement that Nigeria’s Kulaya.com has…

OpenBTS 4.0 offers new opportunities for Africa’s mobile operators – Targeting remote locations and the transition to IP

Africa’s mobile operators are faced with a number of network challenges that will have major commercial consequences. One of the key ones is the need to transition to IP for…

Madagascar: Telma joins the league of mobile operators offering mobile transfert services

Two weeks ago, Telecom Malagasy (Telma) in partnership with the bank BFV-SG (part of the Société Générale banking group) launched “MVola”, the first mobile money service in Madagascar. With MVola,…

Mimiboard gets nearly 1 m users through working with media owners, sets a target of 5 m by February 2012

Umuntu Media started life as a set of country portals but has developed its main product – Mimiboard – out of that experience. It’s now working with media owners to…

Indian Ocean islands agree a scheme to connect themselves by fibre

A meeting of the members of the Indian Ocean Commission in Addis Ababa last week decided to give the go-ahead to connect their island-members by fibre to each other and…

Burundi carriers form Africa’s first national infrastructure consortium to develop fibre backbone

One of Africa’s smallest countries is pioneering the use of a carriers’ consortium to develop its national fibre backbone and international links with help from the World Bank. Burundi Backbone…

Cameroon’s Matrix Telecom looks to VOIP as MTN set to provide nationwide internet service by November 2006

The war over who provides what services to African users is hotting up. This week saw MTN Cameroon announce that by November 2006 it will offer a nationwide Internet service…

AND THEY'RE OFF: AFRICA'S FIRST LEGAL VOIP SERVICES SET A CRACKING PACE

Legalised VoIP services are slowly creeping on to the mainland continent of Africa. South Africa has legalised them and Kenya was due to follow before the Kenyan Government sacked its…

Malawi’s Access Communications targets fixed line niche market with CDMA2000 EVDO Rev A network

With Africa’s mobile markets becoming increasingly crowded for operators and the mobile players planting their big feet on the Internet space, there’s not much room left for new entrants. That…

Mobile payment pricing structure: a two speed service with most African mobile operators

Four years ago, Safaricom launched M-Pesa in Kenya. The mobile operator which introduced the first mobile payment scheme in Africa on March 6th 2007 has since witnessed this service been…

Inconvenient Facts That Need To Change if Africa’s Telecoms Sector is to continue to grow

Africa’s telecoms and internet sectors have made enormous progress over the last ten years and many barriers to the expansion of the business have come down. But there are still…

Satcom 09: Africa’s satellite providers find themselves looking at a less rosy future

Satcom is the African satellite industry’s annual get-together and this year’s was held this week. On the second day of the conference the West African Cable System announced the signing…

WSIS host Tunisia guilty of denying access to information by filtering internet

In November Tunisia will be hosting the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, which according to the President of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, “constitutes…

Despite high costs, iLab creates a new initiative to promote ICT in Liberia

The ACE submarine fibre cable landed in Liberia on November 4th in between the two rounds for presidential election. On November 8th, Helen Sirleaf Johnson was re-elected President and will…

AFRICAN LAKES IN THE PROFIT SPOTLIGHT AFTER COLLAPSE OF IFC DEAL

African Lakes in its new technology incarnation is one of those businesses that could become emblematic of the whole African internet sector. If its dream of being a continent-wide service…

Google in Liberia – an overnight stay, or the start of a long-term relationship?

Global Voice Group - An Apology In an article entitled; "Life in Africa's Slow Lane- Congo Telecom and Socatel Defend Their International Voice Monopolies, Disapora Callers Ask Why?" published in…

EASSy project enters the final lap with critics on all sides

The EASSy fibre cable project is entering the final lap before construction begins. But as the vital phase that decides key issues like pricing, access and governance  comes to a…

E-MAIL THREATENS POSTAL SERVICES IN WEST AFRICA

At a recent meeting of the West African regional organisation of postal services (CPAO), delegates shared the pain they were taking from the impact of e-mail on their business. Business…

When will African mobile operators go “green”? – not yet, concludes a new report

The number of green mobile base stations deployed in Africa remains small. It represents a mere 3.1% of the total number of deployments worldwide (9,558). This news comes amid headlines…

New business model to save African cybercafés – higher bandwidth, higher margins and transactions

The growing number of African Internet users accessing the Internet via their mobile phone is increasingly becoming a threat to the survival of cybercafés. According to the 2010 Digital Life…

AfricaCom 2014: If you hum it, I’ll sing it – Africa’s mobile operators struggle to get to grips with the new content narrative

The big knock-down, drag out fight of industry talkfest AfricaCom 2014 was the Over-The-Top operators vs the mobile operators. In the event, the former arrived smiling and diplomatic, rather catching…

Mobile-XL offers handset browser aimed at low-cost GPRS phones to raise ARPUs

With increased competition, mobile ARPUs are dropping across the continent: good news for consumers but less good news for operators. Many operators are betting that increased revenues from data -…

ITXC judgement lifts the carpet on bribes to seven African telcos for contracts

Everyone knows it happens but the conclusion of the trial of three former ITXC employees has aired publicly how it is done. Employees of seven African telcos – all state…

Nigeria’s Galaxy Backbone gears up to meet the needs of 1 million civil servants

African governments are one of the biggest buyers of ICT services in most markets and none comes bigger than the Nigerian Government. It employs a million civil servants. Galaxy Backbone…

Google appoints Wananchi’s Mucheru to head up its new operation

Google is moving outside of the continental comfort zones for most global investors, North and South Africa, and is opening its first operation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya has been chosen…

Dash me - An anatomy of corruption in the ICT business - an off-the-record Briefing

Corruption is an ever present reality for most business sectors in Africa and is one factor cited as a barrier to doing business with the continent. In this week’s off-the-record…

Africa’s corporate data market follows consumers and starts to make major transformation

For years corporate data customers were the cash cow of operators as they were unable to resist paying ransom prices for basic bandwidth. Now data availability and prices in Africa’s…

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

African data networks have improved immeasurably in the last 3 years.  There are still many problems like under-provisioning and vandalism but they are beginning to start to work. However, go…

Apple makes a comeback in Africa with the halo effect of the iPod

Although Apple is an established niche brand of computers in the developed world, it has been almost invisible in Africa. Now you can spot Apple laptops in the hands of…

Guinea-Bissau: Eguitel defends its license and moves ahead with VOIP telecentres

In August of this year Guinea Bissau's Eguitel fell foul of a sudden withdrawal of licence by the country's regulator when it started offering international VoIP services within the terms…

WEST AFRICA'S FIRST VOIP LICENCE - NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON'T

It looked like last week's prediction of the first VoIP licence being granted in West Africa had already come true. Guinea Bissau's Eguitel has had a licence for nine months…

Creating the right weather for Africa’s services and applications entrepreneurs – new money and opportunities open up

With huge amounts of international bandwidth becoming available on the continent, Africa will shortly have enough new economy petrol but it has not really yet got the cars. The wave…

African Telecoms, Media and Technology Fund to invest US$75 million in its chosen sectors plus an SME fund

US Government investment agency OPIC recently agreed to put US$50 million into the African Telecoms, Media and Technology Fund, the first of its kind on the continent. This funding will…

Smartphones vs feature phones – The handset war that will shape the coming transition to all-data services

Safaricom’s recently announced that it would stop selling feature phones in its retail outlets in Kenya to encourage smartphone take-up. This was based on the fact that there is now…

Sudan special – oil fuels rapid growth in telecoms and internet sectors

Sudan is Africa’s largest country but more than 70% of its population live in its small towns and scattered across rural areas. The country sits strategically between Arabic-speaking North Africa…

INCUMBENT SUDATEL FACES NEW COMPETITION FROM SNO CANARTEL

There are four main operators: Canartel, Sudatel, Areeba and Mobitel. The latter two are GSM mobile operators and are described in the section below. The incumbent Sudatel is now a…

SUDAN GOES FROM TWO TO FOUR MOBILE OPERATORS WITH NEW UNIFIED LICENCES

There are two mobile operators: Areeba and Mobitel. Celtel recently bought Mobitel at a price that is widely acknowledged to have been a high one at US$1.23 billion. The valuation…

Google and Microsoft pitch TV White Spaces as a way to wring out more spectrum and beat the digital divide in rural areas

Around 100 people have gathered this week in Dakar to attend an event jointly co-hosted by Google and Microsoft to look at how TV white Spaces and the technology that…

EASSY consortium reaches crunch point for choices about pricing, access and governance – interview with project co-ordinator, John Sihra

The East African fibre project EASSy is reaching a crunch point for key decisions about pricing, access, equity and governance. Ministers from African Governments will meet in March to signal…

SUDATEL’S UNWILLINGNESS TO WHOLESALE BROADBAND MAY SPELL END FOR INDEPENDENT ISPs

The internet market is dominated by Sudatel as it was in the beginning the only company allowed to offer an ISP service. Indeed the growth of the first ISPs remains…

Senegal's Netcom challenges CFAO Technologies in francophone West Africa

The biggest technology player in francophone Africa is CFAO Technologies. A Lonrho-style concession company selling things like cars, it was bought by French magnate Francois Pinault. He decided to make…

LESOTHO - GOVT SELLS INCUMBENT AND OPENS UP INTERNATIONAL CONNECTIVITY A BIT

You don’t get to hear much about Lesotho but it has an interesting story to tell. The good news? It has recently sold off 70% of its incumbent telco to…

Moving pictures – the next step for Africa’s mobile Internet users

The speed with which Facebook has taken off on the African continent in the countries that are a bell-weather for early take-up has been impressive. Twitter is trotting behind but…

African international bandwidth set to grow by 81% to 2008 driven by mobile and broadband

The transmission capacity required to carry Africa’s international voice and data traffic increased by 91% in the three years to 5.09 Gbps 2002, will increase by at least 137% to…

Cote D'Ivoire: the unresolved civil war undermines a once strong ICT sector

The unresolved civil war in Cote D’Ivoire seems to be accelerating the process of consolidation in the ICT sector. But the whole country is suffering from the lack of trade…

The wall that stands between Africa and a fully functioning online content ecosystem

The global debate about “over-the-top” services (delivered by the Internet) vs the walled garden approach (delivered within apps or the mobile operators’ walled space) is not just some distant developed…

Kenya begins the countdown to cheap international fibre

It’s like waiting for a matatu. You wait for ages and none come along. But just when you’re about to give up hope, three come along at the same time,…

Main One will land in five places in Africa and makes alliance with Tata for European connections

Nigerian-owned Mainstreet Technologies said this week that it is on schedule to be operational by June 2010 and that the building of landing stations has started in Ghana, Nigeria and…

Strategies for shrinking former incumbents: double or quits in Togo, Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville

A significant number of Africa’s former incumbent telcos are in deep trouble as their fixed line network subscribers shrink and their mobile operations take a market share beating from larger…

WiMAX establishes a clear foothold in Africa with over 100 installations across the continent

The number of potential wireless data applications is bewildering but the big battle appears to be between WiMAX and a technology that doesn’t yet exist, LTE. But in Africa, there…

Geo-location – The what of the where is it begins to be the next apps wave in Africa

 Lost your way in Accra or Abidjan? Want to know where your friends are? Need to track your truck fleet or disease outbreaks? A wave of recent announcements look set…

Music to the ears – African online mobile music platforms break out all over the continent

Music is not as bandwidth-heavy as video so there have been a significant number of online mobile music platforms launched in the last 12 months. Russell Southwood looks at the…

Zain vs Vodacom row in Zambia hits a raw nerve over Africa’s 3G anxieties

Vodacom Zambia has taken out an injunction against the country’s regulator CAZ over a trial 3G authorisation it gave two years ago to Zain. All this might be a storm…

Africa’s mobile operators – are they the new incumbents?

Mobile operators have been the making of Africa in terms of delivering widely available voice services. They have shaken up the sleepy fixed line incumbents, rapidly outstripping their user base.…

DRC - INTERNET AND MOBILE TELECOMS GROWING RAPIDLY AS WAR SUBSIDES

The DRC is massive in every sense: it covers an enormous area and has a large population. Despite the continuing unresolved issues from the ending of the civil war, the…

AfricaCom: African telecoms ready for another growth spurt if world economy doesn’t tank

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…

Benin connects 2nd landing station (ACE) but continued Benin Telecoms monopoly holds back growth

This week saw the ACE cable connect one of its second phase cable landing stations in Cotonou, the capital of Benin. Like many francophone African countries, Benin has a monopoly…

Triple play and broadband will power the next stage of growth for Africa’s Internet

With dial-up, the experience of Africa’s Internet has been like trying to eat a meal by sucking it through a straw. It’s been slow and expensive for the individual user…

South Africa's Business Connexion finds new business growth from across the continent

South Africa is increasingly becoming a platform for ICT growth across Africa. A number of South African companies have targeted acquiring high-value corporate and government contracts. Donor-funded ICT developments in…

The African Lakes sale – questions begin to pile up

The sale of African Lakes (the owner of pan-African ISP Africa Online) has had more twists and turns than a Grand Prix race-track. Everyone involved – those selling the company…

Tanzania: Government’s national backbone completes second phase and lowers prices

Tanzania is making big strides in rolling out its national backbone and connecting to all of its neighbours. Also at the beginning of April this year, it dropped its bandwidth…

Continued high Internet and telecoms growth in West Africa, says new report

This week sees the publication of the first report in Balancing Act’s new series African Telecoms and Internet Markets. Part 1 covers 16 countries in West Africa and shows that…

Happy New Year Africa, 2018 – Imagining a different kind of future

It’s the morning of 1 January, 2018 and Africa is waking up to the New Year. All across the continent, Africans are thinking about what’s changed for them over the…

SIM registration in Africa: Subscribers number down but what about revenue and ARPU?

Following the SIM cards registration process, the number of mobile subscribers in Zimbabwe went down by nearly 2.4 million (see full story in the telecoms section). In Ghana, Nigeria and…

Despite setbacks, Somalia begins to pick itself up and looks at bringing international bandwidth to Mogadishu

It may be two steps forward and one step back but Somalia is beginning to pick itself up off the ground after years of civil war. In the absence of…

Africa reaches the point where the Digital Divide will turn into a yawning power divide

The success of many African countries in addressing the digital divide masks a large, yawning hole into which many are about to fall. The more successful they are at addressing…

Battle for 4G subscribers in Cote d’Ivoire set to hot up as mobile operators get ready to roll-out – YooMee wants to be reference point for quality and speed

The battle for 4G subscribers in Cote d’Ivoire looks like it will hot up soon as the “big gorilla” operators enter the market. There’s currently a blockage but the Government…

Walls come tumbling down: Uganda licences VoIP service provider

The Ugandan regulator UCC has granted a telecoms services licence to local operator TalkTelecom to be able to provide services to both residential and corporate customers. This is the first…

GHANA - CAUGHT ON THE HORNS OF THE CONTRACTING DILEMMA

The Ghanaian Government’s rather wobbly telecoms strategy is beginning to fall into place. It has at last signed a contract with Norwegian telco Telenor whose management will be on the…

ACT 2003 REPORT - A NIGERIA SPECIAL FROM AFRICA’S FASTEST GROWING MARKET

ACT 2003, the annual watering hole of the computing, telecoms and internet sectors took place in Abuja this week. Nigeria is one of the continent's fastest growing markets and it…

Madagascar: Despite political uncertainty, two new international cables offer market growth and new BPO opportunities

Despite the continuing political crisis in Madagascar, the worst of its impact seems to be over and the major players are looking forward to further expansion in the market. The…

Games distribution on mobile deal highlights the future growth of key content stream

The recent deal between Nazara Technologies based in Dubai and games publisher Electronic Arts to sell its games portfolio into Africa on mobile puts the spotlight on what will be…

Mauritius’ Nomad: Voice and Internet combine in the coming Wi-MAX business model

There are those who dream of a converged future where voice and data are combined, using significantly cheaper wireless technology. A number of those who see the future this way…

Tunisie Telecom: Foley bought in to transform company’s culture

At GSM>3G North Africa Forum which took place in Tunis this week, Isabelle Gross met Michael Foley who is currently attached to Tunisie Telecom as the Chief Entreprise Transformation Officer.…

South Africa’s Broadband Infraco to launch in Q1, 2010: Mission? Bringing national and international prices down

In various parts of Africa, Government has intervened to ensure lower prices and fairer access to national and international fibre infrastructure. In some countries like Kenya, the Government has actually…

Cameroon gets itself into a dead end in the transition to 4G ' Granting a 3G monopoly is not the answer to the question

Cameroon's approach to increasing mobile data speeds for its citizens is wrong-headed and will lead it into a time-consuming dead-end. Cheap mobile data prices come from competition between operators, not…

Jet Net’s new Jordanian investor plans voice and data challenge using WiMAX

WiMAX-based ISP Jet Net has recently come together with the Jordanian Neu Group to pioneer a WiMAX voice and data challenge in one of Africa’s largest markets, Sudan. The regulatory…

 NALEDI3D FACTORY - INTERACTIVE VIRTUAL REALITY COMPANY SURVIVES AGAINST THE ODDS

In April 2001 News Update carried a story on South African Naledi3D Factory which was just setting out to pioneer interactive virtual reality applications. One of company's founder's Dave Lockwood…

Cheaper mobile phone-based POS could make African credit card sales easier

For years credit cards have failed to penetrate developing nations the way they have impacted the rest of the world. This is down to the fact that many merchants and…

THE IMPACT OF ICT ON SMES - A MOTOR FOR FUTURE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN HARD-PRESSED TIMES

Africa’s economies are often dominated by Government and large corporations but the real engine of economic growth may be small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs in the jargon. By adding technology…

Hunting Africa’s newest Holy Grail – An affordable Internet and content device for the home

Up until now, the focus has largely been on seeing how the price of mobile phones (whether smart or feature phones) can come down to open access to different content…

Ghana - GISPA signs agreement with GT for new, low prices on SAT-3

After a testy and rather acrimonious set of negotiations, Ghana's ISP association GISPA last week signed an agreement with telecom incumbent Ghana Telecom for cheaper international fibre access on the…

Tanzania’s NICTBB crashes national backbone wholesale prices for the second time in five months

Tanzania’s plans for a national fibre backbone and fibre connections to all of its neighbours is finally being realized. The Government-run NICTBB has completed Phase 2 of its roll-out plans…

Getting ready for the Big Change - Putting the local into African services and applications

2009 is the year of the Big Change. Cheaper and more abundant international fibre capacity will come to East Africa and 2010 will see the same happen in West Africa.…

Egypt tries to control the use of GPS by banning except with individual licences

New technologies have again bumped up against the hard walls erected by the security state. Egypt has banned the use of GPS by its citizens on security grounds unless they…

The great African telecoms equipment giveaway - who stands to benefit?

Within the last month several African telecom incumbents have received sizable donations of telecommunications equipment from a number of foreign companies and governments. The most generous of these offerings have…

Africa’s mobile newcomers target off-centre country markets

Just as mobile markets in Africa seemed to be consolidating and the price for new entrants was going off the scale, a new wave of competition is breaking. Africa’s two…

Cable theft – the cancer eating at the heart of the fixed network

This week Cote d’Ivoire’s Union nationale des entreprises des télécommunications (UNETEL) called a press conference to protest against a rash of cable thefts. Vandalism is a constant problem for Africa’s…

VISA’S STUART BROCKLEHURST ON AFRICAN E-COMMERCE AND PAYMENT SYSTEMS

E-commerce was meant to be the thing that was going to transform Africa’s trade with the rest of the world. The practice has fallen some way short of the theory.…

Naspers backs Kenyan launch of Mocality to get into services and apps sector

Whether on mobile or PC, online businesses begin to thrive when cheap Internet access create a sufficiently large “critical mass” of users. Large numbers of users allow service and app…

Starfish Mobile sees mobile Internet and smarpthones’ growth in Africa as an opportunity for value added services

A month ago, Balancing Act released its latest report on mobile apps for Africa: strategies to make sense of free and paid apps, and since then news have carried on…

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

Vodafone’s contested acquisition of Kabel Deutschland was highly publicized and is but one high-profile move by one of the former “masters of the universe” to address the all-data future. Two…

2014 may be the year Africa’s mobile operators start operating VoD platforms – This week Glo Nigeria joins the party

Operating VoD platforms is proving to be a tough call for Africa’s mobile operators. Many don’t have the network capacity to support video streaming by any great number of subscribers.…

Malian MVNO Aidou Telecom set to launch later this year with cheaper prices and LTE – The African MVNO bandwagon starts moving?

MVNOs have hardly made a dent on African markets. A number of regulators have talked about issuing MVNO licences but it largely remains talk. However, an influential Malian is now…

A tale of two countries – services and apps uptake in Kenya and Tanzania

The arrival of plentiful and cheaper bandwidth is beginning to drive the uptake of services and applications in East Africa. Both individual and corporate behaviour is changing as they get…

Data moves centre-stage: the delights and perils of Wi-Fi offloading, pricing models and access

In Africa, mobile operators are finding themselves in a situation where their data traffic exceeds their voice traffic but the income from data is much smaller. The crunch is that…

Africa’s mobile media moves beyond ringtones, football scores and news headlines

Everyone will nod quickly at the idea that the mobile is Africa’s device of choice but people have been much slower to realize the implications for mobile media. Algy Williams,…

Ghana’s Blu pitches content as the show-stopper for its new LTE service

Ghana’s mobile operators are in danger of being outmaneuvered by the new breed of LTE licencees. The newest kid on the block is Blu which is making content and VideoOnDemand…

SAT3 to get a competitor – Infinity set to finalise $865 million financing

In the coming week the Infinity Worldwide Telecom Group of Companies (IWTGC) looks set to finalise the funding of its first phase build for its international fibre route from Portugal…

Second edition of BA voice and bandwidth projections forecast large increase in wireless broadband

According to the second annual edition of Balancing Act’s Voice and Data Forecasts the thirst for broadband is driving bandwidth growth. The rapid take-up of broadband in general and wireless…

MALI'S SOTELMA MAKES RETAIL VOIP AGREEMENTS BUT PRIVATISATION LUMBERS ON

Most agreed that when Mali’s SOTELMA cut its international call rates by 50% earlier this year that it had driven out call-back and cut illegal VOIP traffic. But SOTELMA seems…

FSO technology: Can it help African mobile operators to deal with an increasing demand for data bandwidth?

Last week at Africa COM, the smartphones were out on show - BlackBerrys, iPhones, HTC, Nokia and Samsung smartphones, you name them. They were joined by the soon commercially available,…

Rwanda’s Liquid Telecom will build Fibre-To-Wherever and 1 meg minimum access speed by next year

In June this year, Liquid Telecom took over former Rwandan incumbent Rwandatel, absorbing all of its assets except its property. The company is headed up by former Rwandan Communications Minister…

MTN’s purchase of Cameroonian ISP may spell the end of independent ISPs

Africa’s largely small ISPs are under threat from all sides. The launch of broadband by the telco incumbents in an increasing number of countries has shifted the balance of market…

High Throughput Satellite capacity in Africa may at last enable mobile operators to find a sustainable model for remote base stations

For a long time it looked as if satellite operators and resellers serving Africa were out of tune with their customers. When fibre arrived in quantity, customers were resentful for…

NIGERIA'S ADESEMI PIONEERS VOIP FOR BOTH TELEPHONY AND INTERNET SERVICES

Africa’s regulatory framework has made VOIP a grubby, under-the-counter business carried on by places as diverse as cyber-cafes and barber shops. VOIP with its ability to deliver a range of…

UGANDA SPECIAL - COMPETITION PUSHES INTERNET AND TELECOMS FURTHER AND FASTER

Uganda is country punching above its weight. As a landlocked country with a relatively small economy and only a satellite backbone, it has done well in ICT terms but it…

Mali: TSF reconnected Timbuktu’s population with the rest of the world.

Emergency aid usually seems focused on either food or medical help. France’s Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) chose to focus on the important issue of creating communications for both NGOs and…

SOUTH AFRICA'S DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATIONS UNDERGOES A COMPETITIVE MIND-SHIFT BUT...

Last Thursday South Africa's specialist ICT mail-lists suddenly sparked with the news "VOiP is legal" following an announcement from the Department of Communications. There was an almost audible whoop of…

SMS message ban in Mozambique raises difficulties operators and Government will have to deal with

Global Voice Group - An ApologyIn an article entitled; "Life in Africa's Slow Lane- Congo Telecom and Socatel Defend Their International Voice Monopolies, Disapora Callers Ask Why?" published in 491,…

Southern Africa leads the way with new trends, says just-published report

Africa's largest Sub-Saharan Internet sub-region, Southern and Central Africa leads the way with new trends, says a new report out this week. Outside North Africa, Southern and Central Africa has…

Dropping the ties that bind – how Africa can help itself to get lower bandwidth prices

In Kenya two international cables – Seacom and TEAMS – have arrived but a fierce row has broken out over pricing. On the Government-backed TEAMS cable, Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo…

Arrival of mobile music downloads heralds the beginning of a real services sector in Africa

With the arrival of cheap international fibre and the roll-out of national networks, there has been much talk (some of which we’ve been responsible for) of how a services and…

TNM’s Airtime Advances service hits almost 20% of its user base in six months – another money service that will spread

TNM’s Pasavute service is offering short-term, micro loans – Airtime Advances – to a staggeringly large number of its users. The sheer scale of use indicates that users find this…

Ugandan’s Lord’s Resistance Army uses technology to elude capture

Many of the continent’s rebel armies have taken the new communications technologies, including things like satellite phones, to heart. They allow them to co-ordinate between themselves but Government armies are…

Liberian Government turns up the heat on Comium to Renegotiate Agreement

There are always political risks for operators but none more so than in countries where a successor Government decides to unpick the decisions of its predecessor. The mayhem that followed…

African mobile roaming charges – one of the last forms of legal daylight robbery

Last week the European Commission announced that it will force mobile companies to lower their excessively high international roaming charges and scrap all roaming charges for receiving calls abroad. A…

Zimbabwe: TeleOne's 'turnaround agent MD Wellington Makamure on "living on the edge"

TeleOne is due to announce its first expansion plan in two years. Its Managing Director Wellington Makamure was appointed as a 'turnaround agent' for the company. He tells News Update…

Botswana liberalisation special - Re-arranging the deckchairs or the real thing?

Last week the Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) mounted a large public consultation event to look at how the industry might be liberalised further. It was a large event with several…

East African and Indian Ocean markets will get a “growth bump” from the arrival of the international fibre cables

The arrival of four international fibre cables in East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands will give larger markets in these regions a significant “growth bump” in what might otherwise…

Spectrum conflicts threaten existing services and new technology take-up

This week sees the simmering spectrum conflicts that have existed in Africa boil over as the Global VSAT Forum launches a global campaign to protect the wavelengths used by C-Band…

BOTSWANA’S INCUMBENT BTC IN POOR SHAPE AS PRIVATISATION LOOMS

If you were to put all of Africa’s incumbents on a line with the well-run and efficient on one end and the corrupt and incompetent on the other, BTC would…

New report gives insights on mobile apps potentials in Africa

There has hardly been a week without headlines on mobile apps in the last six months (see further in the newsletter, the announcement of Zantel launching an apps store in…

A new tool that will help identify African Internet market share and allow content providers to optimise delivery

Access to reliable and transparent information helps markets work effectively. There is plenty of mobile subscriber data for Africa, whether from company reporting requirements or from the continent’s better regulators.…

Mi-Fone seeks to increase handset roll-out with sub-US$17 handset aimed at rural areas

Alternative handset manufacturer Mi-Fone has set out to produce low-cost handsets that will enable operators to keep pushing out to a wider range of low-earning users. It is offering everything…

Cameroon’s Douala1.com launches T-CDMA wireless broadband service

Cameroonian ISP Doula1.com has launched a wireless broadband product called Kikao using T-CDMA and it looks set to shake up the local market. This is probably the first T-CDMA wireless…

BTA CONSIDERS MVNO AS THIRD MOBILE OPERATOR

There are two mobile operators – Mascom and Orange – who represent 50-60% of the market by value. Ovum’s prediction is that the market will grow to 850,000. Orange’s CEO…

Price wars in East Africa – Safaricom and Orange Uganda CEOs on the pressures on operators

Price wars are a now a fact of life in Africa’s competitive mobile markets and there few more competitive than East Africa. Lower prices are putting even established dominant mobile…

Open Innovation Africa Summit – The end of the beginning offers new opportunities for entrepreneurs but roadblocks remain

Sponsored by Nokia, infoDev and the Government of Finland, this week’s Open Innovation Africa Summit (OIAS) in Nairobi focused on how to create the ecosystem that will help develop services…

TV White Spaces comes under fire as number of African pilots grows

Last month saw the launch of another TV White Spaces Pilot in Ghana, joining the growing list of pilots across the continent. As the number of pilots has grown and…

ISPs WANT TO GET OUT AND SELL VoIP

Botswana has 22 licensed ISPs and 11 data service providers. But there are more like 10 operational ISPs with 2-3 main players (Botsnet, Gabs Wireless). Bytes Technologies is owned by…

Lifeline sells rugged, solar powered MP3 player/radio for rural education – next generation device will have video

The few attempts to create bespoke devices for education by NGOs and companies have not had a spectacular track record. The Worldspace satellite radio is no more and although One…

Mali: Mobile service helps bring down infant mortality

In Coura, a district of Mali's capital Bamako, it's now possible to monitor the health of local infants closely in real time with the launch of a new pilot project…

Zantel's new CEO Noel Herrity on expansion plans, IP networks and its investment in EASSY

When Tanzania recently signalled a new phase in liberalising its telecom markets, the Zanzibari operator Zantel was quick to announce its intention to operate in mainland Tanzania. It struck an…

PROPOSALS ON LIBERALISATION SEEM SHAPED BY FEAR OF INCUMBENT FAILURE BUT RECOMMENDS VoIP LEGAL BY 2006

The proposals put forward to the BTA by consultants Ovum seem shaped largely to reflect the dilemmas posed by BTC rather than to create a genuinely competitive market. There is…

Achieving a high-speed Africa: Closing the gap between the potential promise and current reality

Africa’s long road to high-speed broadband is being made in leaps and bounds. Every week brings news of another piece of the jigsaw fitting into place. This week it’s the…

Liberia: Cellcom rolls out HSPA+ network and gains a technology edge over its competitors

On June 21st, Cellcom officially launched its HSPA+ services at a ceremony attended by a crowd of over 400 VIPs. For a day, Monrovia’s City Hall was decorated with Cellcom’s…

Mobile content – Africa’s no longer a spectator at the feast but big challenges ahead

Time was when the best content you could get in Africa was SMS services bought in from Europe or the USA. Now with the spread of smartphones and feature phones,…

A Detailed Snapshot of Africa’s emerging Internet and social media space – the users and what they are doing

In 2013 Balancing Act carried out a detailed market research study in seven Sub-Saharan countries in the vanguard of adopting the Internet and social media. The study has four parts…

NEW BOTSWANA ICT STRATEGY – AMBITIOUS BUT ACHIEVABLE?

Alongside the liberalisation changes, the Government of Botswana was also launching a new ICT policy that in its words “provides (the country) with a clear and compelling roadmap that will…

Out of Nigeria and the UK, Gbamm! bids to become Twitter for football fans

A global football social community network called Gbamm! has been soft-launched by entrepreneur Ayo Alli, who divides his time between London and Lagos. Asa licensed Premier League Football agent who…

Power to the base stations – a modest proposition

Africa’s mobile operators have achieved an enormous amount in a very short period of time. Their roll-out of mobile services to millions of people has energised the economies of many…

Micro networks may offer a way to get 4G out of Africa’s cities and into towns and villages

Mobile technology is changing as it comes to terms with the IP world and everything becomes data. The UK deployment of micro networks for rural areas by EE offers an…

The Internet of vehicles – BMW brings ConnectedDrive to Africa in March 2015

When the BMW i3 and BMW i8 go on sale in South Africa in March 2015 they will have a built-in connection to the Internet. It will be able to…

Portugal Telecom to create separate African subsidiary to up its profile

Next week Portugal Telecom (PT) will announce that it will set up a separate subsidiary to consolidate all of its African investments in a 1 billion euro holding company to…

A new telecoms tax epidemic sweeps across Africa : Increases of up to 100% in international calling costs

A new telecoms tax epidemic is sweeping across Africa adding to the already high tax levels imposed on operators on the continent. This time the tax is being levied on…

TV White Spaces Proof of Concept offers promising route for rural coverage

A joint venture between the ISP Indigo, Microsoft and the Kenyan Government has rolled out a TV White Spaces Proof of Concept in two parts of rural Kenya. This is…

North Africa: Morocco to get full local loop unbundling in July 2008 and pressures to unbundle grow in Tunisia

With its more prosperous economies, North Africa has been amongst the leaders in terms of broadband subscribers on the continent. But now they are beginning to lead the way in…

The power to make it happen: Ugandan mobile operators to form rural power consortium

Africa faces two linked problems that are holding back the extension of mobile services into a wider range of rural areas: diesel supplies are sometimes unpredictable and prices are high.…

Tourist destinations the latest places to join Egypt’s hot-spot roll-out

The tourist destinations of Sharm el-Sheikh and Luxor are the latest cities to get on board Egypt’s fast-moving roll-out of Wi-Fi hot-spots. Although prices in these places will be expensive,…

Hitting the spot – African Wi-Fi hot spots come of age

Initially “pay-for” Wi-Fi hot-spots proved a difficult sell in developed countries but eventually those that couldn’t bear to be parted from their e-mail became slowly addicted. In the UK the…

Africa’s power shortages threaten the development of data centres and the cost of running base stations

All this rolling out of complex mobile Internet services requires powerful local data centres to make it all work. Effective data centres need reliable power at predictable prices. There is…

Access launches first LTE voice data network in Malawi aimed at high-end niche customers, leaving CDMA for lower end customers

Access Communications has launched Malawi’s first LTE voice and data network using its valuable 800 MHz spectrum. It wants to develop a high-end product for its existing niche customers. Russell…

Cheaper international fibre prices in 2009 will put the squeeze on national backbone prices

Africa’s operators say they cost their national backbone prices based on distance. The basis is that the further you want your traffic carried, the more it costs. However, this logic…

GUINEA-BISSAU: LAST AFRICAN COUNTRY GETS MOBILE ROLL-OUT AT LAST

Things are beginning to look up for Guinea Bissau and its incumbent telco Guine Tel. Along with Eritrea (see Telecom news below), Guinea Bissau now joins the rest of Africa…

IXPS - THE "NO-BRAINER" SOLUTION TO KEEPING AFRICAN TRAFFIC LOCAL

In most African countries if you send an e-mail across town it makes a long and circuitous journey to North America or Europe before going back to its intended recipient.…

Africa’s ICT entrepreneurs – On the brink of the long Summer of Love

For over a decade, Africa’s ICT entrepreneurs have struggled to make sense of how to innovate and make money on a continent that was largely connected to the outside world…

Africa’s transactional Internet will become an everyday experience – eBay-owned Gumtree gets 3-5 million uniques a month in South Africa

Alongside the growth of social media on the continent, using the Internet for everyday transactions is starting to become as natural as the things it is slowly replacing. Want to…

Senegal – As competition starts, enter the new service providers

In Senegal, everybody in the telecommunication and Internet sectors is focused on the outcome of the tender process for a third telecommunication licence. This new operator will at last give…

Kenyan supermarket chain uses its ERP System to turn its fortunes around

One of Kenya’s largest retail chains, Uchumi Supermarket has recently announced that it is streamlining its distribution network through a product distribution partnership with Bidco Oil Refineries Ltd, who will…

Somalia’s civil war hides steady growth of internet services

Despite continuing unrest, Somalia has taken the first tentative steps towards establishing a national government and AU peacekeepers have begun to arrive. It’s too early to say whether some sort…

SENEGAL: A POTENTIAL THIRD MOBILE OPERATOR WAITING IN THE WINGS?

Senegal's mobile market is a duoploy between Millicom's Sentel and Sonatel's Alize brand. But there are rumblings in the undergrowth that a third operator is expressing interest. Another company in…

GUINETEL EMBROILED IN DIALER SCAM FRAUD, SEEKS WAYS OF CLAMPING DOWN ON ABUSERS

Civil war, political instability and a continuing commercial dispute with the incumbent telco’s former owners Portugal Telecom in Guinea Bissau seem to be the ideal recipe for those wanting to…

IXPS DRAFT REQUEST FOR SERVICE THAT WILL KICK-START THE AFRICAN INTERNET EXCHANGE

The prospect of a continent-wide regional internet exchange took another step forward with circulation of a draft Request for Service (RFS) from existing local IXPs. This draft RFS will be…

HEALTH APPS USING PDAS AND CELLPHONES: THE RIGHT DEVICES AT THE RIGHT PRICE?

The cost of a computing device is one of the significant barriers holding back the use of ICT uptake in Africa, whether for personal, corporate or government use. Devices like…

Taxing international inbound calls: Is there a middle way between fleecing consumers and monitoring international voice traffic transparently?

Many African regulators’ have introduced a tax on international inbound calls. It started with Côte d’Ivoire and then spread like a plague to Gabon, Ghana and Senegal, to name but…

Belgacom ICS to launch GSMA approved international M-money services called Home Send for mobile carriers this summer

With national M-money services spreading out across the continent, the time is ripe for a service targeted at the international remittance market. Belgacom ICS is one of three GSMA approved…

Kenya’s economy held back by lack of online payment authorisation systems

The Kenyan Government is putting its country forward as a place that is open for business. It is moving to privatise both Telkom Kenya and divest itself of Safaricom. It…

Chinese-supplied CDMA 2000 becomes hybrid convergence challenger for African operators

The CDMA 2000 technology supplied by Huawei and ZTE has quietly carved itself out an interesting minority position underwritten by Chinese Government loans. It is delivering the early manifestation of…

Blame the foreigner - Ghana Telecom’s Norwegian management kicked out

Ghanaian press reports were full of jubilant crowing that the Norwegian contract managers Telenor were kicked out of Ghana Telecom in the run-up to privatisation scheduled for June 2007 (watch…

Technology put to the test as parts of East Africa reel from effects of Asian tsunamis

The relief effort in the wake of the Asian tsunamis has highlighted the importance of using ICT. African aid agencies have become significant ICT users and have sophisticated ICT managers.…

O3B starts operations in Africa and launches second constellation which will cover more countries

It was nine years ago that O3B started as an idea but it seems like an eternity. But with the launch of its second constellation of 4 Medium Earth Orbit…

Congo-Brazzaville’s incumbent Sotelco on the verge of bankruptcy

If you thought Gabon Telecom was in a mess (see issue 365), you ain’t seen nothing yet. This week the troubles afflicting Congo-Brazzaville’s incumbent Sotelco came into public view. It…

The Nigerians are coming – investing in Benin and Ghana

Although sometimes chaotic, the Nigerian market has always seemed big enough to keep its local entrepreneurs occupied. However over the last twelve months, there have been significant moves by Nigerian…

ACCELON TO LAUNCH INTERNATIONAL VOIP SERVICE IN NIGERIA IN 4-6 WEEKS TIME

Accelon launched two years ago and was financed through a trio of shareholders including African Venture Partners, IDC and global satellite operators, SES. Although it is currently focusing its roll-out…

Kencall sees the growth of new local outsourcing opportunities as telecoms companies realise call centres are not core business

With the arrival of the new international fibre cables, Kenya’s pitch to become one of continental Africa’s leading BPO centres may at last be gaining some traction. Kencall has been…

Glo has ambition to become a major West African player for both mobile and fibre

Nigeria’s Globacom has slowly been building itself a West African regional position, seeking mobile licences and trying to find more country operators to connect to its Glo One cable branching…

Naspers-owned comparison website and mobile app Price Check signs branded deal with MTN in South Africa and will sign another deal in Nigeria

Naspers online investments outside of South Africa have had a mixed track record. But this week one of the more successful ones signed a branded deal with MTN in South…

Orange Tunisie to launch Africa’s first apps store at the end of May

May 31st is a date to keep in mind because it is the day Orange Tunisie will launch its apps store. It will be the first apps store to go…

Fibre-To-The-Home – South Africa’s big gorillas “wait-and-see” while consumers break the logjam

South Africa’s stately progress towards implementing Fibre-To-The Home seems to have taken a turn for the better in the shape of two residents’ associations who have taken matters into their…

The Growth of Africa’s e-commerce sector – The Winners and Losers as this habit takes hold

Africa’s e-commerce sector has now got a foothold in a wide range of countries, some obvious but many less obvious. As with m-money, it will grow in some places but…

African countries’ ICT policy– going from the blah, blah, blah cycle to getting something done

In a week in which the heart of South Africa’s ICT industry - Sandton - suffered continuous load-shedding (rolling power cuts for those of you who speak English), no-one doubts…

Buyer beware: Maroc Telecom mired in fall-out from Gabon Telecom purchase

Vivendi-owned Maroc Telecom’s acquisition of Gabon Telecom highlights the pitfalls for any potential buyer of the current crop of African telco incumbents. When you open the cupboard, all of the…

Cheap Triple Play offers in Africa may be stifled by regulation that looks at the future through the rear-view mirror

Triple Play (voice, Internet and TV) offers are a good way for those in Africa with fixed networks to add revenues. There’s an odd perception that because mobiles are so…

EASSY members agree to hybrid SPV and KDN still going ahead

The trio of parties involved in getting the EASSy project of the ground – African Governments, external funders (DFIs in the jargon) and last but not least the EASSy consortium…

South Africa’s Maboneng Project offers a clue to potential urban regeneration strategies for Africa using high speed broadband

This week’s TV content market DISCOP in Johannesburg saw Neotel and property developer, the Maboneng Project promoting their joint fibre-to-the-home service aimed at attracting high-end media users to this pioneering…

Benin: Regulator plays poker with Moov and MTN by cutting networks over increased licence fees

The new Beninois Government decided to review all telecoms licensing arrangements when it came into office and tasked its newly independent regulator to carry out the task. It argued that…

Broadband in Gulu and 4G in Accra – Two sides of the same coin for Africa’s new generation local roll-outs

A new ISP set up in Uganda’s remote north and 4G became available in Ghana from a new operator. Neither of these developments involved mobile operators and how they came…

ISPs steal a march on mobile operators with LTE roll-outs – YooMee will go live in Cote d’Ivoire in February

WiMAX used to be the technology of choice for data insurgent challengers but now they seem to be shifting to LTE. West African ISPs Surfline (in Ghana) and YooMee (Cote…

Vyke introduces VoIP retail calls to Africa at near to wholesale rates

A new VoIP reseller called has entered the African market unobtrusively over the last few months and is now selling in some quantity in eight countries. So what you might…

IATA e-ticketing deadline creeping up fast on Africa’s unprepared airlines

International airline body IATA has set a deadline of 31 December 2007 for African airlines to adopt e-ticketing. This is meant to include not only online ticket sales but airport…

Africa’s mobile operators start to offer Blackberry-style e-mail and IM services

Faced with falling voice ARPU and uncertain levels of data revenue from 3G services (launched or scheduled to be launched soon), a lot of African mobile operators are thinking of…

HOME GROWN SOLUTION FROM GHANA’S EXPLAINER DC

Much of the airline industry relies on expensive legacy reservation systems, and equally expensive Global Distribution Systems (GDS) such as Amadeus and Galileo. The pricing is prohibitive for start-up airlines,…

One laptop per child starting pilots in South Africa and Nigeria

Although the roll-out date for One Laptop Per Child’s (OLPC) low-cost machine has been put back until October 2007, OLPC is using a limited number of trial machines to run…

DRC: Work now under way to link the country by fibre to its neighbours and the world

One of Africa’s largest countries, DRC, has taken the first towards creating a fibre link to its neighbours and the outside world. A little-noticed announcement was made at the end…

Most common complaints about phone service are price, quality and access, says new report

The three main areas of complaints from phone consumers are high prices, quality of service and getting access to the service, according to the authors of a new report published…

Africa’s Internet Exchange Points score well on lowering latency and local download speed but did not contribute to lowering of end-user costs, says new study

Those promoting Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in Africa (and Balancing Act was one of them) made several broad arguments. They would enable cost savings as a larger proportion of traffic…

Africa’s future data architecture beginning to fall into place – exchange points and data centres

The growth of data traffic and Internet and social media users has been the big story over the last two years. But more quietly behind the scenes, Africa has begun…

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

For those launching mobile content and services, Africa’s mobile users are a fragmented bunch. Overcoming this fragmentation is one of the key challenges for both entrepreneurs and developers face. Russell…

Mali – The Internet and social media but not as in other African markets

Francophone Mali is one of Africa’s poorest countries and the recent coup and military conflict in the north have threatened its former stability. Beneath these headlines, the country has continued…

Nigerians experience interactive TV using SMS: Happy birthday and I love messages on screen

As the fourth largest mobile market in Africa, Nigeria currently has more than eight million subscribers and according to a recent UK study, Nigeria’s cellular growth is doubling annually. Subsequently,…

No free pass: global financial crisis will impact Africa’s telecoms sector

It’s early days but the conventional wisdom so far has been that Africa will avoid the worst of the backwash from the global financial crisis. Its banks are less over-committed…

East Africa’s mobile competition cauldron grinds up new entrants and spits them out

With news that Tanzania’s seventh mobile operator Sasatel is entering the market, East Africa is proving to be a testing ground for high levels of mobile market competition. Those countries…

Africa’s Cloud Computing: what will it take for it to become big across the continent?

Cloud Computing has been big in Africa for a long time at the consumer level. Think of all those Internet users that use web mail browsers like Yahoo and Hotmail.…

Making best use of international cable capacity: a real wind of change for Africa in 2012?

When the WACS and ACE submarine cables are commissioned in 2012, in theory the African continent will have access to more international capacity than it knows what to do with.…

Second Africa ICT Best Practice conference in Ouaga – Closing the gap between words and action

This week, the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou hosted the second annual “Africa ICT Best Practice Forum” which serves as a practical way for Governments from across Africa to share…

AFRICA ONLINE GOES INTO PROFIT BUT ITS HOLDING GROUP IS NOT YET OUT OF THE WOODS

The annual financial results for the African Lakes Corporation plc (owner of Africa Online) have just come out (for the year ending September 2003) and they provide a useful dipstick…

GHANAIAN REGULATOR LOOKS SET TO ISSUE FRAMEWORK FOR NEW VOIP LANDSCAPE

The technologies that allow "grey market" operators to bypass those who are licensed to terminate calls are changing the whole African market dynamic and it will be impossible to hold…

Sudan archiving project turns dry-as-dust documents into bits for easy access

Archives conjure up images of rows of shelves with documents gathering dust. And this is precisely the problem a Sudan archiving project had when it wanted to digitalise the archives.…

GUINEA-BISSAU GOVERNMENT RESCINDS PORTUGAL TELECOM’S MONOPOLY AND TAKES BACK CONTROL

Guinea-Bissau’s telecoms sector has been in a mess. The Government sold 51% of the newly created Guine Telecom to Portugal Telecom International when it fell out with SIDA in 1989.…

The cost of diesel for Africa’s mobile operators: 2012 may be the year that this bird comes home to roost

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…

Hybrid provider Eduze wants to get local content available offline on smartphones at high footfall locations

Eduze co-founder Charlie Beuthin wants to provide free, local offline content for smartphone users using Wi-Fi boxes in high footfall locations. The content (some of which will be in local…

Africa’s Facebook explosion – user numbers double in many countries in just seven months

Facebook has become the single biggest non-mail client product in Africa. Over the last seven months user numbers have doubled in many countries and the smaller countries where it was…

Volo Broadband targets operators wanting to reach edge-of-network data markets in Sub-Saharan Africa

Except for new entry operators, the mobile companies have reached the edge of their addressable markets in most countries. If that’s true for voice, the situation is much worse for…

TELKOM KENYA’S IP NETWORKS READIES ITSELF FOR THE END OF ITS MONOPOLY

Telkom Kenya’s IP Data Networks (usually known by its brand name Jambonet) has had networks that burst their routers’ capacity to handle the rapidly growing traffic. However they have recently…

South Africa’s coming convergence may hold lessons for rest of the continent

There has been a recent set of developments in South Africa that bring convergence between the worlds of telecommunications, media and broadcast much closer. Three things in particular – media…

Knysna - Africa's first municipal wi-fi broadband network offers VOIP and internet access

This week saw BMI-Techknowledge organise an event called Digital Cities in Johannesburg to look at the potential for municipal networks. Several South African municipalities are interested in installing metropolitan area…

New wave of African VOIP operators emerge from the shadows of the grey market

Africa's grey market VoIP operators are coming out into the light as attitudes and legislation change. The emergence of a VoIP service providers sector could prove almost as significant for…

Ghana: New survey results uncover more complex patterns of mobile phone and Internet use

This week market research company InterMedia launches AudienceScapes, a research web site funded by the Gates Foundation. It conducted two country surveys (Ghana and Kenya) in 2009 and of the…

Africa’s mobile market will go open access – it’s not if but when and how it all work out

Global Voice Group - An ApologyIn an article entitled; "Life in Africa's Slow Lane- Congo Telecom and Socatel Defend Their International Voice Monopolies, Disapora Callers Ask Why?" published in 491,…

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

Until recently there were so many gaps in the ICT entrepreneurship ecosystem that new start-ups did not have much of a fighting chance of success. However, even with the recent…

STORM AND CITY OF TSHWANE TO CARRY OUT PROOF OF CONCEPT PROJECTS

The City of Tshwane has partnered with Storm to conduct three proof ofconcept projects to demonstrate that Tshwane can use its currentinfrastructure to bring down the costs of telephone and…

Mauritius special report - A status check on progress to the "cyber island" dream

Mauritius has set itself the ambitious target of becoming a "cyber island" and is grappling with what it means to make a reality of this concept. In this special report…

Private sector ICT lobbying: making friends and influencing people

Organised lobbying of any sort is relatively new in Africa and even newer for the ICT sector. Trade associations have always been there in some shape or form but their…

M-Money reaches critical mass of users in East Africa – Where next?

The close of 2009 saw M-Money services finally reach critical mass in East Africa. It’s taken a while for operators to get the hang of marketing it and for users…

Cameroon: Seemoh Networks launches a data and voice MVNO with former incumbent Camtel

MVNOs have been slow to take off in Africa as mobile operators have been reluctant to let go of any income. They would argue that many markets have not matured…

Central African Ministers sign Brazzaville Agreement, committing to Open Access but key signatories missing

In issue 688 we carried a Top Story on the dead end Cameroon has got itself into with its incumbent telco Camtel. (The Battle Against High Fibre Prices from Monopoly…

West Africa: The great mobile pricing mystery – who’s cheap and who’s expensive

Even for the sophisticated consumer, comparing mobile rates in Africa is a complicated business because often clear information is simply not available. The position is further complicated by the blizzard…

NETWORKPLUS OFFERS ISLAND-WIDE WIMAX COVERAGE

By the end of the year, Mauritius should be the first nation in the world fully covered by a WiMAX network. Only outlying islands will not be included in the…

MADAGASCAR: WIDENING LIBERALISATION LOOKS SET TO CREATE FOUNDATION FOR NEW ECONOMY

After a protracted power struggle with the previous incumbent, the current Malagasy government came to power in 2002. It has re-energised the privatisation process and made ICT a national priority.…

WeChat’s Brett Loubser on why Africa’s mobile operators have to change their attitude to OTT companies

Africa’s mobile operators and Over-The-Top (OTT) companies have moved in together but not yet worked out a way to live with each other. The mobile operators both want the love…

Ethiopia’s ETC: The elephant in the room slows down ICT development

The Ethiopian Government was one of the first to embrace the use of ICT as a way to change Government and improve the efficiency of the economy. The country has…

NEW CDMA OPERATOR SET TO CREATE GREATER COMPETITION IN MOBILE MARKET

Mauritian mobile operator Emtel installed the first mobile network south of the equator and the first UMTS network in Africa. In 2004, both Emtel and its larger rival Cellplus made…

KENYA’S NEW THIRD MOBILE OPERATOR WILL FACE A TOUGH ROAD TO SUCCESS

Last week’s Kenyan High Court decision cleared the way for Econet Wireless International to take up its licence as the country’s third mobile licence operator. The Kenyan mobile market is…

Egypt’s regulator NTRA tries to hold back the wave of the future by banning apps like Viber and What’s App on investment and security grounds

With data revenues set to exceed voice revenues by 2018 according to a GSMA report, there are still some places that are not yet on the programme for the new…

Understanding Sub-Saharan Africa’s Mobile Financial Services ecosystem - analysis in a new report to be released August 2015

Like Topsy, Africa’s m-money sector has just grown and grown with success in some markets and only slow growth in others. But the sector has spawned a whole undergrowth of…

Mauritius’ Emtel makes first mainstream African commercial deployment of Fibre Through The Air (FTTA)

Mauritian mobile operator Emtel has rolled out the first mainstream commercial deployment of Fibre Through The Air Technology in Africa. The technology has significant advantages for high-speed broadband service roll-out…

Despite massive new opportunities, Africa’s mobile operators are failing to grasp the digital music play

Not a month goes past without some new African digital music platform or service being announced. There are two them in the story below but beneath this constant flow of…

Equitel’s MVNO launch with Effortel and Airtel shows that despite operator consolidation, more competition is on the way

As if mobile operators did not have enough to worry about – with falling revenues and getting to grips with a data world – along comes the prospect of MVNOs.…

Nigeria’s VoD platform Dobox turns its attention to Francophone markets

Nigeria’s digital entertainment platform Dobox has quietly built itself a user base by concentrating on getting a number of things right. According to its CEO, it is now looking at…

Trends that will accelerate Africa’s data future – anticipating the end of the mobile operator as we know it

The transition to an all-data future in Africa will not necessarily be smooth or quick. But signs from elsewhere indicate an accelerating move from the old mobile ways to what…

Kooba set to become the first carrier-independent data centre in East Africa – Will target international content companies

South Africa has had an independent data centre company (Teraco) and Nigeria has one as well (Rack) but until now there has not been one in East Africa. This will…

Busy Being Born and Busy Dying – Taking the pulse of recent M & A in Africa’s telecoms and Internet sector

Who remembers HITS Telecoms? It came, it saw and it didn’t conquer. The blanched bones of failed businesses in the desert of lost opportunity can act as signposts for the…

Argon Telecom wants to halve the cost of data for residents of Kenya’s Kibera using low-cost Wi-Fi roll-out

One of the recurrent themes of the last three years in this e-letter has been the need for operators to cut the cost of data. More competitive African markets may…

Liquid Telecom’s Nic Rudnick on rolling out Fibre-To-The-Home in eight African countries and launching a VoD platform

It’s been a busy few months for Liquid Telecom as it gears up a new phase of its roll-out plans and it’s not over yet. It’s also launched a VoD…

The African Internet Effect – Everything it touches turns different

There’s been a lot of individual pieces of news and a slowly building awareness of the scale of Africa’s Internet users but no-one has yet taken in the breadth of…

Smile will launch VoLTE networks in three Africa countries and promises revolutionary voice pricing

Last Smile announced that it had raised US$365 million in debt and equity financing. This moved it from being a small ISP with an interesting story doing LTE into a…

Olleh Rwanda Networks’ 4G wholesale network plans to have 95% population coverage by 2017 and looks to expand across Africa

With the demise of Kenya’s idea for a 4G wholesale network, Olleh Rwanda Networks is the only fully implemented example of this type of model. Although not without its critics,…

Tanzania’s E-KYC registers a mobile user in 5-7 minutes – mobile operators increase registration throughput

Registering the SIM cards of Africa’s mobile phone owners has been a real headache for operators. They know they have to abide by the law but the processes of registration…

Google’s Project Link commits to building 1,200 kms of metronet fibre in three key Ghanaian cities and changes the pricing model

Working quietly “below the radar” Google has rolled out metronet fibre in Uganda and Ghana to break through the market barriers that are preventing lower cost retail bandwidth. Russell Southwood…

Seacom’s Pamoja aims to build an IT-as-a-service market through African resellers – Not should I go but when and what?

With African international bandwidth going down to commoditized prices, everyone has been talking for several years about higher margin, value-added services that can be used with the new bandwidth. But…

Currency Storm is the looming shadow over Africa’s operators – Getting out from under it

Africa’s above average growth over the last decade has lulled everybody into the thinking it would continue forever. But as the Chinese economy has slowed and the oil price dropped,…

Digitata’s Dynamic Voice Tariffing helps Africa’s mobile operators to sell unused capacity – data version could crack giving lower data prices

Africa’s mobile operators are running increasingly complex businesses with multiple revenue streams. It’s no longer possible to just focus on voice and everything else will take care of itself. Russell…

Group TigoPaare accounts in Chad may lead to Peoples’ Banks for communities across Africa

M-money has had a transformative effect in some countries but the success of its roll-out has been patchy. Some places have taken to it like a duck to water whereas…

AfricaCom 2015: Back to the Future – Africa’s mobile operators struggling to transform themselves

Chart below: AfricaCom 100 - 2015 survey extract.   Africa’s biggest annual meet-point and gabfest is always a good point to take the pulse of the industry. Shocks and changes…

African users fear of data – Time for the continent to stop selling its customers shortage

The way almost all African operators are selling data to their customers is the biggest barrier to developing a broadly based consumer data market. African users’ fear that they will…

US legal loop-hole creates a business model for ZenoRadio’s phone-up radio service in Africa and elsewhere

A US law designed to compensate rural carriers has created an arbitrage opportunity for ZenoRadio’s IVR-based radio service that is both listened to by several African diaspora communities and more…

DreamOval’s m-money platform SlydePay partners with Stanbic Bank to roll out new ways of paying including cross-border and Bitcoin

DreamOval has partnered with Stanbic Bank in Ghana to launch its latest m-money platform Slydepay. Rather than go the independent route doing it all itself, it chose a trusted financial…

Season’s Greetings from Balancing Act’s News Update

Dear readers, viewers, contributors and advertisers In preparation for writing this seasonal message, I always go back and review the previous year’s. Sadly many of the issues raised I raised…

The Battle over VoIP and resisting the future – Trend towards Skype, Viber and What’s App begins to bite into African operators’ premium revenues

The recent blocking of VoiP and IP-based services by all three operators in Morocco is the first shot in what is going to turn into all-out war across the continent…

Nigeria’s top broadcast regulator arrested over 4G spectrum sale to MTN – Three questions needing answers

The sale of 700 MHz spectrum to MTN Nigeria by the broadcast regulator, Emeka Mba was already mired in controversy. But this week he found himself arrested by Nigeria’s anti-corruption…

Trouble comes two at a time – international fibre outages are a sharp reminder of what’s still to be done with African infrastructure

On Thursday 21 January Seacom was hit by two route failures in Egypt. Almost simultaneously the WACS cable was hit by an outage on the route connecting it to a…

BusyInternet launches LTE in with zero rated YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Joy Online and Ghana Web freebies

The battle for Africa’s generation of high-speed Internet users just hotted up in Ghana. BusyInternet launched its 4G offer to both its corporate customers and to new consumer customers. Russell…

Start-up mPedigree uses mobiles to help companies track products and weed out counterfeits – building on “the plumbing” of business processes

The African start-ups that seem to be gaining fastest traction are those that have focused on “the plumbing”: business processes that can be both enabled and made more efficient by…

South Sudan: MTN becomes the number one player in Africa’s newest country market

When South Sudan became independent from Sudan it looked like a golden opportunity for operators.  Then came the disastrous civil war and things went rapidly downhill with a falling oil…

ViRural’s “upside-down” MVNO will fill the rural gaps in Africa, starting with Nigeria

Everyone knows that there’s more voice and data business at the edge of the current coverage areas but no-one yet has either got the business model or the regulatory relationships…

Selling microinsurance to African consumers by mobile – how a marriage made in heaven produced mixed results

African mobile companies are struggling to get to grips with the products and services that they can sell on their channel to produce the next generation of income. But their…

Nigeria: NBC’s sale of 4G spectrum to MTN, the questions that will not go away…

The controversy swirling round the sale of 4G spectrum to Nigeria’s leading operator MTN just won’t go away. Indeed there is a danger that it may yet find itself at…

Race for new international fibre build on east coast of Africa hots up but why build more capacity?

Africa is connected by 17 international cables, 12 of which connect Sub-Saharan Africa to the world. However, the East African seaboard has only three cables that connect directly to the…

A4AI’s Internet Affordability Index – The African countries making progress towards affordability

The Alliance for Affordable Internet has published its 2015/2016 Affordability Report that contains two sets of stats that should be of interest to those working in Africa: a ranking of…

Nigeria’s Making the Switch to VoIP – The African data future starts to become a reality

Everything in Africa’s telecoms sector will become data. The question is not if but when and how. Nigeria has begun to take some steps that will begin to accelerate that…

The Moment Minutes Turn Into Data – Smile launches VoLTE voice tariff based on data charges

When they write the history of Africa’s transition to everything becoming data, Smile’s announcement of its voice tariffs on VoLTE may well be the point at which voice really began…

Long lost fibre project finally announces next step – AfDB will fund Algiers-Abuja stretch of Niger-Chad fibre link

Before Nigeria was connected by five international seaboard fibre cables, the project that was hovering in the background was an Algiers to Nigeria link. Just when it seemed that it…

SavannaSunrise opens up global online hotel booking in East Africa – B2C processes drive digital take-up and data use

Set up by two Norwegians, SavannaSunrise aims to put locally owned, mid-range hotels in Africa on the online map. These types of online B2C processes are probably going to be…

Mawingu Network’s Tim Nderi rolls out low-cost, regional Wi-Fi hot-spots, adding new Counties – “Nothing holding back further expansion”

Kenya’s Mawingu Networks was set up to target areas in Kenya without either electricity or data access. It has quietly built itself a customer base from what at first sight…

Sliide launches the African version of a mobile Flipboard in Nigeria with free data for users as the incentive

There have been a number of different attempts to address the mobile data price barrier. In competitive markets data prices are now comparable to the USA and Europe but still…

Pangea launches Voice-To-Internet App in Nigeria for those who want Internet outside data coverage areas

Every now and then something comes along that sounds so unlikely your first instinct is to check whether it’s April Fool’s day. American start-up Pangea has put together a service…

Senegal’s ADIE begins to drive online services for Government and its own fibre roll-out

If you had a Government agency talking about the roll-out of online services five years ago, you might have looked closely at the gap between rhetoric and reality. But slowly…

Data close to overtaking voice revenues in one African market – The whole shape of the business is changing

For three years or more we have writing about how everything will become data and that Africa will not be any different from elsewhere as this change takes place. Two…

Nigeria’s BeepTool offers a home-grown Skype, WhatsApp and Viber rolled into one plus money transfer, claims 500,000 users

With increased smartphone use, voice apps are becoming increasingly popular among African users. Nigeria’s BeepTool is a local voice app that claims to have passed the half million user mark.…

Rwanda: Vanu innovates low-cost rural coverage by lowering both OPEX and CAPEX costs

Most of Africa’s mobile operators have reached the edges of their addressable markets and have more pressing business investments to make like improving their networks for LTE. But there are…

Nigerian payment gateway Amplify start-up targets the recurring payments market worth US$1.3 billion

MEST cohort start-up SlushPay has changed its name to Amplify and gone public with its intention to capture a slice of the US$1.3 billion recurring payments market. Russell Southwood spoke…

WIOCC CEO Chris Wood bullish about Africa’s international bandwidth growth but says new cables “more than market can soak up”

Africa’s international bandwidth markets are experiencing another growth bump with the roll-out of LTE moving ahead apace. Whereas the minimum unit to buy was an E1, it’s now an STM1.…

With 8 million clients in Africa, StarTimes now brings innovative Telecoms and IT solutions

  Picture above : William Masy, Oversea Public Relations Director, StarTimes International Investment Co., Ltd. By Sylvain Béletre for Balancing Act, July 2016. The 6th African Digital TV Development Seminar, a 2-days fruitful…

Facebook’s OpenCellular – Another disrupter in cracking Africa’s remote area nut?

Facebook’s OpenCellular project is designed to open up new ways of connecting the unconnected and designed to work with its other infrastructure initiatives, solar-powered aircraft Aquila and high-bandwidth laser beams.…

Bollore’s Vivendi has a plan to build a rail-based 5,000 kms fibre backbone linking half a dozen African countries

It looked like French mogul Vincent Bolloré had quit telecoms in Africa when Vivendi sold Maroc Telecom to Etisalat. But it seems that he has just shifted his focus to…

Comsol to spend US$70 million rolling out Millimetre Band nationally in South Africa to create fibre-like wireless for local access

Big international players like Facebook and Google are promising a range of connectivity solutions relevant to Africa including balloons, drones and lasers. Comsol has rolled out and has operational with…

Africa’s Data Future – Telecoms regulators need to innovate to get lower Internet access costs

Africa’s data and Internet communications infrastructure has improved so much in the last decade that it’s easy to become complacent. The dual challenges of price and quality of service have…

Kenya’s Safaricom edges quietly into the home space with the Big Box and possible FTTH option with Kenya Power

Kenya’s Safaricom has taken its time positioning itself to attack the home connectivity market. But with the Big Box it’s now got an improved product it feels happy with and…

Paga pulls away from the pack as Nigeria’s m-money market develops – Will offer improved payment choice functionality in September

Nigeria chose to follow its path on m-money and has not allowed the mobile operators to become direct market players. The market has taken longer to develop but is beginning…

Tanzania’s digital advertising: “our clients spend (including Tigo) 10 to 15% of their budget on digital media”, Nadeem Juma, Aim Group

As the revenues in telecoms change from voice to data, the importance of digital advertising cannot be underestimated. Not only will it be a stream of revenue for African telcos…

Ghana’s Busy Internet offers users a dual SIM Lenovo handset for its 4G service – What’sApp is growing fast

Ghana’s Busy Internet has been up and running for seven months and has already experienced considerable subscriber growth. It’s also shaking up the data market with new free offers and…

The new data-driven telco business model - Why digital advertising matters

Balancing Act has recently published a market report on Advertising in Africa . Five years ago the level of digital advertising was tiny. Now it has begun to grow and…

Kenya’s low cost data operator poa! Internet moves from soft launch in Kibera to hard launch and will roll out nationally and in East Africa

Last May poa! Internet  (formerly Argon began its soft launch in Kenya’s high-profile slum district Kibera. Now the service is bedded down, it’s moving to its hard launch there and…

#DATAMUSTFALL – The consumer nightmare that Africa’s mobile operators will have to get to grips with

Last week saw the #DATAMUSTFALL hashtag go viral in South Africa. This is every African mobile operators’ nightmare as data becomes more central to a far greater number of African…

#Legacybusinessmodelsmustfall – Taking the pulse of tomorrow’s industry at the Africa Tech Summit

The centre of gravity for tomorrow’s communications industry in Africa has shifted. It’s now possible to attend an event full of people who will have significant impact on the shape…

Tanzanian MVNO AMOTEL works with TTCL to connect remote villages with voice and data

Tanzania’s Amotel is pioneering a new approach to connecting areas that are unprofitable for big carriers. It is working as an MVNO on the TTCL network and World Telecoms Labs’…

“People are more reliant on data services”, What’s App and Uber really making waves, say Ben Roberts, Liquid Telecom

Kenya is one of Africa’s bellweather markets where you see early adoption and innovation. What’s App and Uber are making really large waves at the moment. Russell Southwood spoke to…

BluPoint’s content hub offers curated online content offline that can be updated and can operate where there is little or no Internet

There have been several initiatives to deliver online content offline to local communities and the latest is BluPoint’s Mesh-Wi-Fi hub that is already getting promising results. Russell Southwood spoke to…

Second generation international fibre projects will pile further downward pressure on wholesale prices – it’s a commodity market

There are two new proposed international fibre cable builds on the east coast of the continent and these have now been joined by one new cable on the west coast…

Digital Afrique Telecom seeks to make the transition from VAS provider for francophone Africa to mobile payment platform

The changing business model for operators is shaking up the VAS ecosystem and current providers are looking to change themselves. Russell Southwood spoke to Digital Afrique Telecom’s Simplice Anoh about…

Africa’s Platforms become the new channels and jostle to become the platform of choice

The shift to digital means that there are now several different platforms competing for killer services and content. Among them is Opera that announced this week that it has 100…

Angola: In tough times, Unitel focuses on CSR to combat malaria and keeps betting on content as a driver of data

With the oil price on the floor, Angola’s economy is experiencing really tough times. But privately-owned Unitel is focused on doing right by the country and wants to keep developing…

Inside the Operation of a Kenyan Grey Operator – Reaching out to new users with a very local focus

In an interview with Ben Roberts, CEO of Liquid Telecom Kenya we did in mid-October he spoke of the “underground ISP market” in Kenya. At the end of October Russell…

Uber ‘s Sub-Saharan operation is coming up to an estimated million rides a week – no revenue share, no carrier billing

International OTT player Uber probably has nearly a million users a week in six countries in Africa. From its initial launch in Johannesburg in 2013, it has expanded its footprint…

Supa Pesa opens up advertising business model revenues for mobile operators – South Africa now, Nigeria and Zambia next

With a slow but steady shift away from SMS, mobile operators need to be able to offer brand advertisers a wider and richer media offer. South Africa’s Supa Pesa has…

Seasons Greetings from Balancing Act - Issue no 857

Dear readers, viewers, contributors and advertisers The year seems to have sped by and so much seems to have happened that it’s hard to get your arms round it. I…

Legend passes 150,000 households in Abuja with 350 kms of cable offering double and triple play offers to householders

The steadily increasing roll-out of fibre in Africa’s cities is leading to a new breed of bandwidth providers offering fibre-to-the-home double and triple play offers. In the Nigerian capital Abuja Suburban…

Facebook’s Open Cellular GSM base station comes out of the shadows and goes on sale – a new way to address Africa’s remote areas

One of the first products from Facebook’s Telecom Infra Product will shortly see the full light of day: an Open Source, low cost GSM base station designed with remote areas…

The New Normal for Africa in 2017 - 4G Coverage and Higher Speeds driving new data uses

  4G coverage has steadily been replacing 3G coverage in Africa in 2016 and in 2017 it looks likely to be the year higher speeds and better coverage will drive…

Mauritius’ IOX wants to build an international cable to link India to Africa – “We are not operators, we are facilitators for the operators.”

An ambitious new cable project is seeking to link Mauritius to Africa and India. Formerly with Seacom, IOX’s Arun Kandasamy wants to make Mauritius a hub for enterprise business and…

Nigeria: IXPN’s local traffic could double over next 12 months with new content partners localizing their content

IXPN is one of Africa’s most successful IXPs and its success tells the story of how fast the Internet is developing in Africa. With Google caching video locally, the amount…

Straws in the Wind – Africa’s mobile business model takes the slow road to change battered by financial circumstances

Africa’s mobile industry is under significant financial pressure and this may yet be the forcing ground for wider changes. What the mobile operators are selling is changing from voice and…

Senegal: Big changes hit Sonatel-dominated market but new challengers need strategy to win

Senegal would see itself as a competitive market but is actually dominated by Sonatel. Recently there have been two changes that may yet shake it up. Russell Southwood looks at…

A4AI’s latest Affordability Report shows that Sub-Saharan Africa has a long way to go – more affordable Internet a must

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has just published its 2017 Affordability Report: It provides a very clear way of assessing Africa’s progress towards affordable Internet. Although there is some…

DRC: 4G licences to be issued shortly but already the digital transition is under way in Kinshasa

According to a report in Le Potentiel Online, Minister of Posts, Telephones, New Information and Communication Technologies (PT-NTIC), Amy Ambatob announced at the end of February that 4G licences would…

Falling into the cracks in data coverage – how a village close to the fibre and 45 minutes from Nairobi can’t get data access

Kenya has 96% population coverage for voice and it will not be long before it reaches near to 100%. But for data acess it’s a very different story. Even close…

Benin: Waiting for a fibre upgrade and price drops before its users make the big move to digital services

With certain notable exceptions (Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal), Francophone countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have been slow to move to greater data use. The legacy of monopoly state-owned telcos has acted…

Sliide’s Free Data App set to roll out in South Africa with expansion plans later

Sliide’s uses content to acquire a mobile audience that it sells to advertisers. It then passes back some of the advertising revenues as free data and airtime for users. Russell…

African regulation for the coming digital future – getting beyond the mobile paradigm for more competition

African telecoms regulation is at a crossroads. A combination of changing business models and a downturn in economies across Africa is impacting on the competitive dynamic in all markets. Incumbent…

Kenya: Surf wants to provide cheap Wi-Fi broadband for the “average consumer” in places where people will be throughout the day

Mark Summer and Kristin Peterson left Inveneo in September 2013 to set up a more commercially oriented version of what they had been doing: rolling out networks to unconnected communities…

African mobile operators start entering into deals with major broadcasters over streaming and download services

There’s now a steady trickle of download and streaming deals between key mobile operators and some of Africa’s most credible major broadcasters. The terms of those deals are undoubtedly more…

Orange sees relationship with start-ups as part of Africa’s broader digital transformation

Orange is one of a handful of mobile operators on the continent that has taken its relationship with Africa’s emerging start-up ecosystem seriously. It has launched its own incubators, supported…

Malawi: C3 to launch a nationwide wireless data network using Mimosa, TV White Spaces and Wi-Fi – Targeting Corporates, SMEs and NGOs

One of the first commercial African operators to use TV White Spaces technology will launch at the end of next month. C3 has already rolled out its network to a…