Issue no 140

top story

  • 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 ground by the end of the month. It is still calling Telenor "a strategic investor" but this is wishful thinking on its part. Meanwhile Telekom Malaysia is suing the Government and Ghana Telecom faces losses of US$100 million. Russell Southwood looks at the bumpy ride ahead.

    The telecoms downturn in the developed world has not been kind to those in Africa who missed their chance to sell while the market was high. With all the big international telcos seeking to shore up their balance sheets, taking on troublesome, loss-making African state telcos is something they are all seeking to avoid. The South African search for a second national operator illustrates the current rather dire state of the telecoms world in a much larger market. So it was hardly surprising that the Ghanaian government was unable to raise any investment interest for a minority position in its troubled telco after it summarily dismissed its previous strategic partners, Malaysia Telekom.

    Faced with this lack of interest from telecom investors, it has sought to put a brave face on it by bringing in Telenor as its management contractor. Because it would not sell a majority share in Ghana Telecom, this was probably the most sensible course of action open to it. The management contract is for three years and will be reviewed annually.

    However it comes with two substantial risks. If the management contractor cannot make the current employees of Ghana Telecom hit the targets agreed in the business plan that forms part of the contract, there’s not a lot the Government can do. It has undoubtedly geared the contract to performance but it is only a management contract and the cost to Telenor of "walking away" will be far less onerous than say the cost of the current minority shareholding to Malaysia Telekom.

    The business plan is full of politically saleable objectives that have received much exposure in the local press and these are examined below. All of these commitments will cost money and as the owner of Ghana Telecom, the Government will have to bear the direct burden of this investment. It is unclear what money the government will put in to make a reality of the business plan objectives or how it will cover the current losses. Without clearly stated answers to these questions, it could easily all end in tears.

    So what does the business plan task Telenor to achieve on the Government’s behalf? Minister of Communications and Technology Felix Owusu-Adjapong claims: "Unlike other businesses where many workers are laid off with the coming of a new management, particularly when a foreign management takes over a company, it is estimated that the staff strength of Ghana Telecom will increase from the present 3,900 to 6,000 by the end of the period."

    Evidence elsewhere - both from the developed and developing world - suggests that it is impossible to create a successful business model for state telcos that does not involve driving up productivity: as night follows day, this involves cutting employees to drive out the inefficiencies tolerated under state control. Usually the number of people employed in the sector increases with competition but these staffing increases are not made by the incumbent. So an increase of 1100 employees over three years is quite hard to take seriously.

    As always with public service contractors, Telenor are being asked to dance to two different tunes: financial (the needs of Government to make a return) and social (the need to develop the country’s infrastructure and the betterment of its citizens). The Minister says the plan involves the installation of telephone lines in all parts of the country within the next couple of years, and improvement in the infrastructural and financial base of Ghana Telecom. Without knowing what the government will invest, these two objectives move in opposite directions.

    The Government has prioritised the opening up of telephone access to the education sector: all existing telephone infrastructure in the country’s universities will be upgraded and secondary schools and teacher training colleges will be connected.

    But the past is still with us. Telekom Malaysia has sued the government and the case is now awaiting international arbitration. It says that it paid US$38 million and is presumably intent on recovering as much of this sum as it can and reaching a final position where it never has to go back to Accra again. Who is going to pay to get out of this mess? Well it’s probably going to be the Government again. The international courts are unlikely to find completely in favour of the Ghanaian government and in due course it will have to settle with Telekom Malaysia.

    Meanwhile the Minister still chairs what is supposed to be the independent regulator despite letting it be known informally that he was merely keeping the seat warm for an industry professional. And he still remains effectively in control of the investment plans of Ghana Telecom. Whatever happened to less state control and more competition?

telecoms

  • The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) and TeleAccess last week signed an agreement that ushered a second fixed telephone network provider on the market. The regulating body’s director general Dr Cuthbert Chidoori represented Potraz, while TeleAccess was represented by its chief executive Mr Daniel Shumba.

    TeleAccess was granted a licence with a 20-year lease following the slashing of the required licence fee from US$320 million, which was considered to be prohibitive to US$100 million after consultation among stakeholders.The fixed telephone provider has already successfully negotiated to have the payments to be made in local currency staggered over a period of time.

    The Herald via AllAfrica.com

  • In his New Year’s message, Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Touré announced a 47% drop in inter-urban, fixed line call charges and cuts of between 33-67% for international calling. GSM mobile charges will be lowered by 15% and international GSM calls also by the same amount. He also said that the state telco’s network would be increased by 20,000 lines in the first quarter of 2003. The new GSM operator Ikatel has plans to cover eight regional capitals: Kayes, Bamako, Sikasso, Ségou, Mopti, Gao, Tombouctou, Kidal. The President also promised to cut the costs of buying ICT equipment and to encourage the use of ICT in all development sectors.

    Ken Lohento

  • The Ugandan Consumer Protection Association (UCPA) has called for phone operators to bill customers by the second and not by the minute. Telephone calls in Uganda are more expensive because companies bill per minute and not per second.In Kenya, Sudan and South Africa, phone users can choose to be billed per second.

    "If you make a call on a Mango line for one minute and 10 seconds, you pay for one minute and 15 seconds. If you make it on an MTN line for one minute and one second, you pay for two minutes," said Sam Watasa, an executive director of the UCPA. "We believe they should be changed, strongly so."

    Calls are also made expensive by high interconnect charges - the cost attributed to calling another network. The three operators are renegotiating their interconnect agreements, Jackie Namara, Celtel marketing operations manager, said, a move which should bring call charges down.An agreement on this is likely to be reached in the first quarter of this year.Namara said that Uganda has some of the cheapest rates in the region, but admitted that it is standard practice in Kenya, Sudan and South Africa to bill per second. She added that billing per second can make the minute more expensive.

    The Monitor via AllAfrica.com

  • - Telecel Zambia says the next batch of its mango juice top-up cards will not be dollar denominated but quoted in units. Telecel commercial director Brad Magrath disclosed last week that new unit denominations, to be priced in kwacha, would be introduced once the old stock of dollar units was completely sold out. Magrath said "We acknowledge that our response time to the recent kwacha appreciation did not meet our customers’ expectations," he said. "We will in the very near future be moving our juice cards away from dollar pricing. The next batch will not be dollar denominated."

    - The Government of Mozambique has approved a new telecommunications bill that will open the way for greater competition in the sector.

    http//www.africanidade.com/economia/noticia.asp?noticia=883

    - Recent duopoly competition in the Tunisian GSM market will propel the market to new highs and increase its size by nine folds by 2006. A new comprehensive research report from Arab Advisors Group fully analyses the Tunisian Communications Market.

    See: www.arabadvisors.com/

internet

  • Egyptian MPs have voted to amend a clause of the government’s telecommunications bill that would have given police carte blanche to tap telephones and Internet servers. MPs changed Article 65 of the bill to require "due legal process" before any tap, after speaker Ahmed Fathi Surur insisted that authority should only be granted in accordance with the "rules and regulations of the penal code."

    The article only deals with procedures in cases involving crimes commanding jail terms of less than three years, in the expectation that more serious offences will be dealt with under the state of emergency imposed following president Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981. The amended text requires the authorities to either "stipulate a fixed timeframe" for a tap or "obtain a proper warrant."

    The main thrust of the government’s telecommunications bill seeks to end the state’s monopoly in certain fields in the light of the explosion in demand of the past two decades. Telephone ownership has mushroomed from just 500,000 in 1981 to some 10 million now, according to a parliamentary report. After the line-by-line reading, the entire text of the bill will have to be submitted to another vote in parliament before becoming law.

    inQ7.net

  • Government’s battle for control of the internet domain southafrica.com appears doomed to failure as a result of a precedent-setting ruling that a country’s name is not a trademark that a government has the right to own.

    Both the SA and New Zealand governments have been in litigation against US-based Virtual Companies, which has registered 33 geographic names as internet addresses. But the New Zealand government has lost its bid to force Virtual Countries to hand over newzealand.com, in a verdict that experts say may jeopardise SA’s case. The decision came from the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo), the body that arbitrates international domain name disputes.

    "The newzealand.com ruling is bad news for SA it would be impossible to prove that the words South Africa are a trademark that belongs to the government," said attorney Reinhardt Buys, a specialist in internet and e-commerce law. Communications department director-general Andile Ngcaba said yesterday that SA would pursue its claim regardless. "We will pursue this matter with Wipo and we believe we have a case."

    Business Day via AllAfrica.com

  • Three accused ‘419’ scam artists, Nigerians Raphael Ajukwara and Richard Ekechukwu and Ghanaian Charles Doe, appeared in Magistrate’s Court Wednesday, and were freed after posting Le2 million bail each (about $1,000), Awoko reporter Odilia French told the Sierra Leone Web. Ajukwara and Ekechukwu were arrested last December in a police sting set up after their scheme to use the internet to defraud a businessman in the Dominican Republic went awry. Doe was taken into custody shortly afterward when he showed up with a fraudulent document at the home of a Sierra Leonean banking official, claiming to be the son of a past Ghanaian finance minister. Two other Nigerian nationals were initially arrested during a search of Ajukwara’s residence, but were later freed for lack of evidence. The three defendants face four charges, including two counts of conspiracy to defraud, attempting to obtain money by false pretense, and obtaining money by false pretense.

    Sierre Leone News

  • - The TESPOK consortium seeking to compete with Jambonet have made their licence application to Kenya’s regulator CCK.

    http://www.mrc.ac.za/mrcnews/dec2001/telemedicine.htm

    - The cost of surfing the Internet in all Internet cafes in Ugandan town Jinja has been reduced to Shs 40 per minute, from Shs 50 per minute. The reduction in the charges comes in the wake of stiff competition in the cyber café business since the opening in December 2002 of six more Internet cafes. There are to eight Internet cafes in Jinja town. The cost of surfing the net in town has been falling from the initial Shs100, to Shs 75 per minute at the close of 2001, then dropping to Shs 50 in the middle of 2002.

computing

  • Two African countries have announced plans to assemble computers. The first Arab-financed computer will be manufactured in Egypt within the coming few weeks in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, an Arab investor and some companies in Taiwan and Korea. Egypt will contribute production lines and trained engineers and technicians.

    http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/030108/2003010830.html

    According to Senegalese ICT e-letter Batik, Landing Savan, Minister of Industry of the Senegalese Government said it was making ready a plan to assemble computers in order to facilitate access to new technologies. This commitment was reinforced by Aly Ndiaye, Director-General of "informatique" who said that the Government had a budget of three billion CFAs to improve access to ICT for the all of the country’s citizens.

    Enda Tiers-Monde : http://www.enda.sn/

  • Epicor Software Corporation last week announced the completion of its acquisition of certain intellectual property, strategic assets, and key staff of Atlanta-based Clarus Corporation, a leading provider of business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce software.

    The transaction, valued at approximately $1 million, extends Epicor’s enterprise solutions by providing customers with an advanced set of supplier relationship management (SRM) solutions covering Web-based procurement, sourcing, online invoicing and payment (settlement).

  • - T-Systems has been awarded a contract to migrate Sanlam, the second largest life insurer and asset manager in SA, from a shared Token Ring LAN to switched Ethernet, in a deal valued at R58.9 million.

    - An agreement to support training for the blind and visually impaired through ICTs in Ethiopia was recently signed by the representatives of the Adaptive Technology Centre for the Blind (ATCB), a non-profit resource and information technology center in Addis Ababa, the International Telecommunication Union and UNESCO.

    http://portal.unesco.org/ci/ev.php?URL_ID=6926&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=2 01&reload=1042195889

    - Aurora Associates International Inc. has been awarded the contract by USAID to implement an ICT development project. It will provide technical assistance to four South African government provincial Departments of Education in KZN, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Limpopo. The Project Manager is Dr. Terence Gugulethu Sibiya.

    info@balancingact-africa.com

Digital Content

  • South African news site the Mail & Guardian Online has joined the rush to offer online dating services, with the official launch of DatingBuzz on its site. Matthew Buckland, editor of the Mail & Guardian Online, says the site was prompted to introduce the service because of its revenue potential.

    "This is a slightly unusual venture for us in that a dating service is not normally associated with our brand, which is known for its in-depth, quality content, but recent overseas trends have shown huge growth in the online dating arena and enormous revenue potential."

    Buckland says a recent report from the US-based Online Publishers’ Association found that Internet personals and dating, together with business content and entertainment, accounted for 59% of all online consumer spending in the US for 2001.

    Mail & Guardian Online’s DatingBuzz was officially launched on the site this week, after an initial trial run. Users will be able to search the site and create their profiles for free, with an optional nominal fee charged to contact other members.

    Late last year, Ananzi.co.za and Independent Online also launched online dating services, with industry analysts describing online dating as one of the few Internet services still making money. Online dating is estimated to have doubled its turnover year-on-year for the past three years.

    "We’ve seen a huge rise in the number of people using our online dating services as people’s perceptions have shifted from seeing Œdating agencies’ as only being for the desperate," says DatingBuzz spokesman David Burstein. "Internet dating is a great way to look for friends and partners without the angst and hassles of trying to meet people at pubs and clubs."

    DatingBuzz is a Cape Town-based international company that powers the dating services of several local Web sites, including Ananzi Dating, Q-Men, Q-Women and M-Web DatingBuzz. The company says it will also launch a partnership with Media 24 within the next few days.

    Burstein says DatingBuzz has six local and three international partners, and has shown phenomenal growth since it was relaunched with a new platform in April. It has a total of around 15 000 active members through the various partnerships.

    http://www.itweb.co.za

  • - The PingER project at SLAC, headed by Les Cottrell, is collaborating with the ICTP to develop this monitoring aimed at better understanding and quantifying the digital divide. By January 1st 2003, about 19 hosts have been added in about 15 countries including: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Columbia, Ghana, Guatemala, India (Hyderabad and Kerala), Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Moldova, Slovakia and the Ukraine. But as you may have notice there is still so little response from Africa (Ghana is the only one)! What is required to participate is very little as you can read from: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/xorg/icfa/icfa-net-paper-dec02/ejds-email.t xt Further details on the project can also be found in the working report at: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/xorg/icfa/icfa-net-paper-dec02

  • - Sierra Leone’s Office of the President unveiled its own website last week, seeking to use the internet to reach out to its constituencies inside the country and abroad. Presidential spokesman Kanji Daramy, in an interview with the Sierra Leone Web, said the website would be used as a "public information tool" aimed at "all Sierra Leoneans, all development partners, and other stakeholders together with whom we normally collaborate in moving this country forward."

    www.sadtu.org.za

    http://www.google.com/intl/sw/

    http://www.afamin.net/

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Equipment vendor Siemens Telecommunications has sought to distance itself from Optis Telecommunications, a bidder for a 51% stake in the second national telephone operator, saying it had no official involvement in the Optis bid.

    Optis shifted the blame for apparent plagiarism in parts of its bid document to Siemens, saying the company was instrumental in preparing its bid for control of the proposed second national operator (SNO).

    According to documents Optis presented to ICASA, the Independent Communications Authority of SA, Siemens was to be responsible for the entire Optis bid. The consortium says Siemens withdrew its support at the last minute after trying to extort R2.7 million for its ongoing support. Optis has supported its version of events with a statement from a former Siemens employee.

    However, in a statement released today, Siemens said it had not provided assistance to Optis or its rival Goldleaf Trading."Siemens does not have a partnership or agreement with either of the two bidders for the 51% stake in the SNO, nor did it officially assist or supply any information to either of them to enable them to submit a bid," the company says. "While Siemens was approached by one bidder to assist in the preparation of documentation for the adjudication process, it was and still is Siemens’ policy that any assistance in this regard would have been contrary to the scope of Siemens’ interest in the SNO project."

    But according to former Siemens employee Stanley Phekani, Siemens was deeply involved in the Optis bid until September, shortly before it was submitted.

    According to Phekani, he and fellow Siemens employees met with Optis several times."I was instructed by my superior [business development director Fernando] Goncalves to assist Optis in the preparation of their SNO licence bid document," he says. Goncalves later instructed him to terminate the support, but by that time he had "already supplied a lot of information to Optis".

    Optis chairman Alan Friedland supports Phekani’s version of events, and says information was used with Siemens’ permission "after several meetings with Siemens’ representatives". Siemens is conducting an internal investigation to determine if any employees provided unauthorised assistance to either bidder, and has vowed to take disciplinary steps or even lay criminal charges if such evidence emerges. Phekani resigned from Siemens in December, at the same time the investigation was launched.

  • - Visual technology group Intervid, an associate company of technology investor Venfin, was one of the worst performing shares of 2002, coming in as the eleventh worst for the year - a drop of 70% to 120c from 400c a share. This compares to a 64% fall in the IT index during the year.

    www.glotec.com

    - Mustek Ltd, the largest supplier of computer products in southern Africa, listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange last week. Mustek is only the fourth foreign company to do so. Mustek will issue 20 million Taiwan Depositary Receipts (TDRs) on the TAIEX at a price of NT$18 each. The total issuance will be worth NT$360 million. TDRs are a means by which foreign companies can list in Taipei.

  •  

    ISSUE 138: IS PHS MADE FOR AFRICA?

    The two e-mails below came in response to our story on the PHP standard in issue 138. Benjamin Kowarsch of the Cellular Roaming Alliance argues that PHS is considerably more technically advanced, whilst Lorenzo Michaeletti of UTStarcom asserts that whilst it has adavanced capablities, it is its simplicity and low cost that will make it appropriate for Africa.

    - YOU UNDERESTIMATED WHAT PHS CAN DO...

    We have developed ZEBRA Roaming, an alternative roaming model which is based on the concept not to share revenue between operators, thereby avoid clearing, roaming risk and roaming charges, drastically reducing complexity and cost for operators and users in the process.

    ZEBRA was initially developed for GSM and it integrates seamlessly into the GSM standard without any changes nor amendments necessary. However, ZEBRA can be applied to other wireless standards, including PHS, for which we are undertaking a project in Japan to bring international roaming to the Japanese. Initially this will be roaming between PHS networks in Japan and other PHS networks in Asia, but will be expanded to GSM/PHS roaming using UTStarcom’s upcoming GSM/PHS dual mode handset. I have read your article on UTStarcom’s efforts to promote PHS in Africa with interest, but there are a few things that create the wrong impression about PHS and I would like to provide you with some ideas and further information:

    First, while not expressed literally, your article leads to the impression that PHS cannot offer roaming between various PHS networks. This is not the case. DDI Pocket, a PHS operator in Japan already offers international roaming service for visitors from FITEL, a PHS operator in Taiwan. The service is not based on ZEBRA and is a bit awkward to use, but it shows that it is possible to do international roaming with PHS.

    As mentioned above, we are undertaking a PHS roaming project for Japan and other countries in Asia with PHS and we expect to have a service operational next year. What is of particular interest is the fact that PHS and ZEBRA roaming can deliver what is not viable with GSM nor CDMA: seamless roaming between house (domestic cordless), offices, shopping malls, airports, hotels (cordless hot spots), outdoors (public PHS and GSM) and overseas (GSM and PHS in some countries).

    This would be too expensive and elaborate to do with GSM, because there is no license free spectrum for GSM to operate a private base station indoors at home or on company premises. As GSM does not have dynamic channel allocation, it would be very difficult to realise even if there was a political will to allocate license free spectrum.

    For Africa this means that small communities could run their own PHS networks and allow visitors from other communities to roam. Over time, most of the inhabited areas would then have PHS coverage and a user could use their PHS phone everywhere within the covered area, nationwide or even Africa wide. Each of these grassroots networks could be owned locally, there would be no need for central ownership or centralised management. Every visitor from out of town using their PHS phone in-town would contribute to the viability of the local network. As PHS infrastructure is fairly cheap, such a grassroots approach would seem to be the ideal approach to get Africa up to speed and overcome the digital divide.

    Another impression you gave is that PHS cannot be used while moving at speeds over 40 kph. This was a limitation only in the early days of PHS. Today, in Japan, PHS supports hand-off at speeds up to 120 kph. On the bullet train you can use PHS at 300 Kph for data service and though it cuts out most of the time, you will still get a throughput that is often better than what you get with most cellular data services. Besides, many countries are now putting legislation in place that outlaws telephony while driving. As long as messaging and data services are still working, not being able to use telephony while driving may actually be considered a safety feature rather than a lack of capability.

    As far as data services are concerned, DDI Pocket in Japan is about to launch Advanced PHS service, which is based on SDMA and supports 1Mbit/sec, surpassing the abilities of 3G at a fraction of the cost. As Africa doesn’t have the money to roll out 3G, it would seem that PHS and Advanced PHS might actually give countries who stay away from 3G a technology lead in the longer term.

    Benjamin Kowarsch
    Cellular Roaming Alliance Pty Ltd

    PHS HAS A COST ADVANTAGE IN AFRICAN CONTEXT

    While I love (obviously!) the strong case you make for PHS as a leading edge standard, I believe that the specific African context calls for some clarifications. As you can imagine, I know well that PHS can do much more than simple telephony with communitywide mobility. But I felt that Balancing Act was interested in PHS for Africa, rather than PHS per se.

    Not that Africa does not want the fancy new features, but the interview focused on what could be an affordable, baseline, low-cost implementation of PHS to help alleviate the chronic teledensity deficit that plagues so many African countries.

    I believe the article made this fact very apparent, as it did not intend to offer a comprehensive, technically detailed, overview of all that is possible with PHS. Actually, I found the article well balanced and to the point: providing realistic (i.e. affordable) expectations to the African service providers is more important - today - than painting the picture of the latest and greatest enhancements to the basic PHS service set.

    With respect, specifically, to some apparent inaccuracies you point out, let me briefly comment that:

    - the 40Kmph speed limit is what UTStarcom officially supports. The fact that Fitel’s network is capable of better performance is due to above-average cell density, cell power (500mW radio ports) and the deployment of top-of-the-line, twin radio handsets. It’s not a baseline implementation of PHS: it’s the rich man’s PHS service, although still much cheaper than GSM.

    - nationwide roaming is definitely possible, but it is not commonplace at all in low income countries, while seamless nationwide coverage (>85% of territory) is very rarely provided in a PHS market. International roaming is today limited only to the richest of PHS countries: Japan and Taiwan. Once again, affordability is going to be the key driver of teledensity growth in Africa, and research shows that nationwide coverage and roaming are lower a priority in the wish lists of these countries. Mr. Southwood’s wording in the article "Its (PHS) primary market is within town, cities or regions rather than between towns, cities and regions." is therefore to be considered, when referring to Africa, accurate.

    - 3G like features were discussed extensively during the interview. I showed and demonstrated a J95/UT719 phone and we talked of the Japanese M- stage music, M- stage visual and V- Live services, all based on PHS. The whole PHS-to-3G migration effort at UTStarcom is being taken very seriously. But also in this case I consider these features as overkill in most African markets, where stable and reliable 32Kbps Internet connections at no extra cost are what it is neededto bridge the digital divide.

    Lorenzo Micheletti
    UTStarcom

    - Chanda Peerthum-Woodum pointed out the ambiguity in our Namibiam second cellphone operator story. Was next year 2003 or 2004? It should have course have read this year and the year was therefore 2003. Several people have pointed out that Africa Online in Kenya was involved in the new consortium to compete with Jambonet through its involvement with UUNet.

More

  • * According to Mmegi.bw, Irish consultants IDI bid with the local KPMG for the second phase of a multi-million pound contract for Botswana Telecommunications Corporation and won. Good news you might think for both consultancy practices. Not so for the local KPMG. IDI promptly poached its Managing Director Siobhan Taylor (an Irish national) leaving KPMG out in the clod for the second phase of the contract.

    According to KPMG, the two parties worked together on the first phase of the project, which cost 1.3 million Irish pounds—about P10 million - which was completed in March last year before the price was "irregularly" inflated to P 62 million.

    "IDI told us that now they have our then managing director they no longer need us. And in May /June 2002 IDI was awarded a new three-year contract by BTC totalling P 62 million. This new contract was negotiated under different terms of reference, which was not re-tendered," sources said.

    The involvement of the Irish firm in BTC has caused local controversy, especially after its head Noel Herrity was appointed BTC chief executive in place of Mojaphoko.

    Contacted to comment on the KPMG allegations, Herrity said that the IDI/KPMG partnership was only for the initial strategic review contract. But BTC board chairman, Wilfred Mandlebe has urged KPMG to sue IDI if they have grounds they feel they have been cheated. "If they feel cheated they must sue IDI. That is what I think should happen," he said. He defended the decision of the board to hike the consultancy prices saying that "consultancies of this sought do not come cheap". However, he conceded that they could have advertised the second phase of the consultancy like they did the first one."If it were possible we would have had to re-tender the project but we did not find it proper because IDI was doing the strategic plan," Mandlebe said. "We thought that there is always room for the contract to be re-negotiated," he said, adding that, "had we gone the other way, that would have involved a preliminary contract and then tendering again after establishing the magnitude of the problem".

    http//www.mmegi.bw

    * Unsubstantiated rumours are reaching us that Augustine Cheserem, Managing Director of Kenya Telkom may soon make way for another...

    * Distinguished member of the Tanzanian ICT community Juma Chimbongwe (usually known as JC) died on 7 January and was laid to rest at the Sinza Graveyard in Dar es Salaam.

    * Speaking during iWay’s second anniversary, Albertus Aochamub, General Manager said:"We hope that a trust fund will be established to subsidise rural Internet access as the country moves towards narrowing the digital divide".

     

  • CAIRO ICT 2003, CAIRO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTER (12 - 15 JANUARY 2003)

    Cairo ICT 2003 starts in earnest tomorrow morning. The conference has sessions on: E-learning - strategies and policies (including a number of case studies); E-Health: Strategies and Policies of Using IT in the Medical Sector (including Dr Samir Shahin, Director of the Egyptian Tele-Medicine Network); E-Health: Using IT in Medical Applications ­ Success Stories; E-Access: Beyond Infrastructure ­ Plans and Solutions; A New Initiative: Affordable PC for Every Home ­ Challenges & Opportunities ­ Live Panel; Export Opportunities in IT Services: Value Added from Egypt (with several speakers on call centres);Wireless LANs (IEEE 802.11 Standard) and it’s Revolutionary Applications in Campus Networking; E-Learning: Regional Experiences; Policies and Strategies of ICT in Banking; E-Business in the Information Age; Smart Cards Technologies and Applications and the Free Internet Initiative: A Balance Sheet - Live Panel.

    SATCOM AFRICA 2003, JOHANNESBURG (11-14 FEBRUARY 2003)

    http://www.satcom.com/

    If our correspondent is "off the mark" or you have factual amendments, mail them to us and we will include them in subsequent News Updates. If you'd like to contribute, write and let us know.

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