Issue no 220
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 ways that will benefit a company's customers. A database of available information from all the different functions within a company should help speed up and automate processes that might still be time-consuming or manual.
It sounds like an absolute "no-brainer" for African organisations where administrative processes - particularly in Government - are laborious and slow. It can also help deliver financial transparency for organisations like banks that have report on complex financial management processes. So where's the "but" coming in the sentence?
Buying enterprise software is not cheap in developed world countries and although pricing is being adopted to fit new markets in developing countries, it can be expensive. Because each organisation is different, there is no easy way of making transparent price comparisons. News Update has heard of a case where two broadly similar companies implemented enterprise software systems and one paid almost five times as much as the other.
The two most prominent enterprise software vendors on the continent are Oracle and SAP, both of whom are selling products that have a considerable track record in the developed world. Implementation is often driven by the need for a subsidiary of a multinational to be able to deliver information back to its corporate headquarters.
The difficulty for African companies is that the level of investment and the pay-back period can sometimes be far greater than an African market can cover. For governments, it raises issues of what it might do if process re-engineering actually delivers staff savings: do they redeploy or actually cut the wage bill? Because of this, there has been a small but steady growth of linux-based server applications. These have crept in almost unnoticed as part of back-room support applications. Nevertheless they have made Microsoft - which is seeking to come up from the bottom end of the enterprise market - sufficiently nervous to have it start offering a reduced price starter package of its enterprise software. Sun Systems has also weighed in with a per-citizen pricing model (see Computer News below) aimed at capturing software market share in the fields of health and education.
Below we look at four organisations that have installed enterprise software and the types of problems they have sought to tackle by using it:
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. The company, which was listed as a public company in 1998, restructured its IT in order to become compliant with statutory requirements.
Senelec was established in 1983 with the merger of Electricité du Sénégal and Société Sénégalaise de Distribution d'Electricité. Senelec employs 1800 staff, and posted revenues of USD151.53 million in 2001.
As a result of the merger of the two companies and its transformation into a public entity, Senelec found itself with several disparate legacy information systems that presented the company with a number of challenges:
- Lack of integration of systems
- Information duplication and redundancies
- Complex interfaces that provided limited functionality
- Certain applications were more than 15 years old and therefore not compatible with new information technology
- No systems back-up
- Support services for existing systems were not guaranteed
Faced with these challenges, Senelec felt that its current information systems could not deliver on the business needs and statutory requirements of the company.
Senelec evaluated a number of products, including Sage, SAP and Great Plains. The company chose Oracle as a single product that could deliver all its requirements. The robustness of the solution and Oracle's strong presence in Africa were also important factors in Senelec's choice.
The implementation was carried out in three phases: HRMS including payroll and human resources, Financials and Supply Chain Management. The applications run against the Oracle8i Database and Senelec also makes use of Oracle Alert and Oracle Express.
Teams were formed for each phase consisting of Oracle and Senelec staff. Senelec wanted to ensure that it retained ownership of its projects and gained support from its management for the projects. Procedures and methods were adapted to ensure that these requirements were fulfilled. Teams of Oracle technicians and Senelec database and systems administrators were dedicated to each project. During implementation, Senelec introduced procedures that ensured that the technical competences of management were enhanced.
Today Senelec runs its commercial information systems on a Bull Dps7000 mainframe. The payroll, financials and logistics systems are integrated, and customer information is imported and analysed using Discoverer.
Senelec says the new system is easier to use and more secure. It allows Senelec greater control over corporate information, with advanced analysis and query capabilities. An immediate benefit was certification for financial compliance, essential for public companies. Senelec plans to move other systems onto the Oracle platform, and e-enable them in the future.
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 Mauritius is experiencing vigorous economic growth, and its local air carrier has undergone strategic change and market realignment to take advantage of the growth of the island both as a business hub and as a tourist destination.
Air Mauritius was the recipient of the African Aviation Award for "African Airline of the Year 2002" from African Aviation Journal in recognition of its achievements in several key areas in the past year, including route development, fleet modernisation, customer service, profitability and financial performance. Mauritius is the most economically active country in the Indian Ocean island region and is taking the lead in economic development, which presents many opportunities for the airline. Air Mauritius operates routes into Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia.
Air Mauritius runs its core financial and human resources management systems on ERP application products, and aggregates its organisational data on a single database.
"Our Information Systems department is poised to support the new challenges facing the airline business, both in the light of the growth opportunities and the negative impact of international incidents," says Sushil Baguant, Chief Business Support Executive at Air Mauritius. "We compete with the major airline operators, which means we have to not only be competitive with regard to pricing, but also provide a better service.
"Ultimately, though, all our activities have to be focused on delivering a better, differentiated service to our customers, and this principle has been built into our mission statement." Customers include individual passengers, travel agencies, tour operators and freight forwarding companies.
Competitive pricing hinges on the ability to control costs and maximise resources, and Oracle Financials plays a critical role in supporting these functions. The most significant costs are those associated with fuel and aircraft, the former being subject to constant price fluctuations. Operational data is leveraged to allow multi-faceted analysis of key performance indicators and allows management to readily feel the financial pulse of the company in order to optimise profitability through reporting tools such as a Financial Analyser.
Interfaces have also been developed to harmonise information between the Oracle ERP systems and other applications such as the airline's Passenger and Cargo Revenue systems and Aircraft Maintenance system, among others. This has ensured the capture of data at source and the enhancement of the quality and reliability of information. In its incessant drive to continuously rationalise and streamline its business processes across the organisation, Air Mauritius is planning to roll out Oracle Financials to its offices around the world.
To manage its 2400 employees, Air Mauritius runs a Human Resource Management System (HRMS), including employee self-service for quicker related HR decision-making processes and more staff empowerment.
With the database and financial and human resource management systems in place, Air Mauritius has a stable information technology infrastructure upon which to base growth. These systems provide the foundation for further development, including growing the airline's cargo-carrying business, and developing a strong customer relationship management system.
"IT will play a critical role in formulating these and other plans," says Mr Baguant. "We were given a mandate to use IT to leverage our competitiveness through revenue enhancement, cost containment, excellent customer service and greater efficiency.
"Today our team of IT staff are working to develop and implement systems that will support Air Mauritius to reach its customers, and make it easy for customers to do business with us – be they passengers, tour operators, commercial organisations or freight forwarders. We have the business processes in place, a customer-centric culture and a powerful IT infrastructure. Our IT systems will definitely be significant enablers and drivers of further business growth opportunities."
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, purchasing, order entry and the bank's recurrent and capital budget modules took just four months to complete and was managed by a joint team of consultants from the vendor and from the Bank.
According to the Bank of Uganda (BOU), there was a requirement for an integrated system that could provide a high level of automation and support best practices. "The Bank's need to plan for future growth and compliance to statutory requirements meant that a number of its financial systems had to be re-engineered," says Mr Magued Mahmoud, head of Oracle African Operations' consulting division.
The Bank of Uganda was established in August 1966 under The Bank of Uganda Act, 1966. Today, BOU has more than 1,000 employees in eight centres around the country.
With the growth of the Bank's activities, it found itself with several isolated legacy information systems, which presented to the Bank a number of classic challenges: the usual lack of integrated systems, complex user interfaces and technology that was not keeping up with the demands of the bank.
Faced with these challenges, BOU felt that its information systems would not deliver on the future business needs and statutory requirements of the Bank. BOU had evaluated a number of products and found in Oracle a single product that could deliver all its financial system requirements. The robustness of the solution and Oracle's strong presence in Africa were also key factors in BOU's choice.
BOU made the decision to implement Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) using Oracle Financials as the core of its financial systems, internally referred to as the Integrated Financial System (IFS). BOU has implemented the General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Fixed Assets and Payroll modules for its accounting operations, as well as the Purchasing, Inventory and Order Management modules.
The roles and responsibilities within the project were distributed in such a way that BOU was able to maintain the ownership of its projects and gain support from its management throughout the implementation of the different projects. "The new system is easier to use and more secure," says Mr Mayebo. "It allows BOU greater control over the Bank information, with advanced analysis and query capabilities."
BOU runs its system on a Sun Solaris central server with Unix operating system on Windows clients, over a local area network. The Oracle Financials, Payroll and Logistics systems are integrated, with additional reporting capabilities using Discoverer.
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 Republic of Mauritius enter their accounts on to the system, consisting of a single database and the Treasury Solution.
According to the Account-General,Jaganaden Valaythen, the consolidation of the government's expenditure and revenue is conducted seamlessly, with government departments entering their transactions either remotely or at the data capture centre at the offices of the Treasury.
The Treasury initially implemented its software solution ahead of the year 2000, when it realised it would need to replace its bespoke system before it began the 2000 financial year on 1 July 1999. The implementation of the application and database took only four months, and from the first month of implementation the Treasury was able to meet its obligations without disruptions.
"At that time we were not fully aware of the potential of the application, but at the end of that financial year we took only eight weeks to draw our accounts, whereas before it would take us six months," says Mr Valaythen. "In 2002 it took us only three weeks, and we could have achieved it in a week if we did not have to include figures from other departments."
As a result, the Treasury could present its statement of accounts to the Auditor General earlier, and submit the report to parliament in November, a full three months before the February cut-off date for presentation of financial statements.
"We run the application on a single database, running on a single Sun Microsystems server, and we very rarely require the services of our IT staff," says Mr Valaythen. Because all departments are linked to the central system, they are able track their expenditure against budgets on a daily basis. A complete data set spanning four years of government business is housed on the database, giving Treasury a complete information repository on all activities within government over those years.
The Treasury has implemented an identical system on the island of Rodrigues, which lies some 470km north east of Mauritius and is home to 60,000 Mauritians. In terms of a law passed in 2002, Rodrigues is required to present a similar statement of accounts to parliament each year.
In the near future the Treasury plans to implement the cost accounting, fixed assets and purchasing modules of Oracle Financials, and will move off cash-based accounting to accrual accounting in line with trends in the eastern and southern African countries.
But a great goal is to move into e-government. "Our ability to run a massive system with the minimum of IT support and administration is a clear demonstration that such systems can run with a high level of automation," says Mr Valaythen. Large company tax payments to government, as well as government's payment of suppliers, are conducted on-line.
"We are a proof-point for service delivery on-line, and we envisage that a separate portal will be established for citizens to access government on-line," he adds.
(Our thanks to Oracle for the four case studies above.)
According to a report in Technology Times, the Nigerian Government is on the brink of appointing British Telecom to sell capacity on the SAT3 fibre cable linking it to the rest of the world. It will make Nitel divest itself of the high-capacity transmission facility.
Government sources say that even though details of the contract are yet to be announced, approval has been given the consulting company to manage SAT-3. BT Consulting is expected to open up the revenue potentials of SAT-3 through an autonomous holding entity for the full scale commercial operation of the submarine optical fibre infrastructure that carries commercial international traffic for other operators.
The SAT-3, with its Nigerian end landing in Lagos, forms part of the 120-Gb/s South Atlantic Telecommunications Cable No. 3/West African Submarine Cable/South Africa-Far East (SAT-3/WASC/SAFE) system spearheaded by Telkom, the South African fixed line operator. The submarine cable is owned by a consortium of 36 companies which include leading African telecoms companies among them Nigeria's NITEL that contributed about $50 million while South Africa's Telkom SA staked USD85 million into constructing the USD650 million link that went into commercial service in April 2002.
Minister of Communications, Chief Cornelius Adebayo had earlier hinted of the divestment plan in an interview when he confirmed to Technology Times that plans are underway to sell NITEL but declined providing details when he said that, "I can't sell NITEL. You will have to ask the BPE."
Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) officials said anonymously that they are yet to receive details of the fresh plans to sell the public national carrier. Reacting to questions surrounding the issue of SAT-3, he said, "Why must government sell NITEL with SAT-3? We have an obligation to the people of Nigeria. We can't sell NITEL cheaply." He however referred further questions on the planned sale to BPE, the government privatization agency.
Amid the build up of fresh interest in the sale of NITEL, sources said that some groups jostling for the 51 per cent government stake were surprised to learn that far reaching decisions to divest SAT-3 cable from NITEL ahead of its sale. Technology Times had reported reported that various Nigerian, South African and other foreign investors are already in the race to acquire control of NITEL.
Rather than the entire NITEL bouquet of service, sources said investors have their eyes focused on MTel, the government mobile cellular operator and the SAT-3, the submarine cable link. The interest in MTel is driven by its potentials for profitability induced by the rapid uptake of cell phones as against fixed lines in Nigeria.
The other reason is that the high bandwidth SAT-3 link supporting high speed transmission of voice, video and data offers huge market potentials among operators seeking alternatives to the expensive satellite links used to carry their international telecoms traffic outside Nigeria. Also part of the move, the new owners of the privatised NITEL may inherit the existing management contract that government has signed with Pentascope International of the Netherlands appointed to turn around the value of the company to enhance its sales value for privatisation.
Federal Government of Nigeria had in March 2003 signed a three-year Management Contract with Dutch Consultancy firm Pentascope International for the turnaround of NITEL and MTel. This was the fallout of the botched privatization of NITEL after Investors International London Limited (IILL) the preferred bidder, failed to pay up the balance of its $1.317 billion price for NITEL when it won the bid for 51 per cent stake in November 2001. Technology Times confirmed that Singaporean investors, the Chagouri family which owns Motophone, may feature in the new race for NITEL.
NewTel, a consortium that made an unsuccessful bid in the January 2001 auctions of GSM licences may also participate. NewTel is expected to feature Kwame Amuah, Chairman of the team as well as son-in-law to former South African President Nelson Mandela. Amuah, who participated actively in South Africa's controversial second national operator (SNO) bid, may be lining up for the bid with Moletsi Mbeki, brother of South African President Thabo Mbeki. Also part of the NewTel team are Tokunbo Sijuade, son of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade; Amuah's advisor Andre Gyenifie; Lagos lawyer Seye Kosoko and Seye Oladapo, a Director in National Bank of Nigeria who doubles as Financial Director of the group while the Chagouris are expected to feature in the reconstituted NewTel Consortium.
Telkom has instituted what could be the largest claim against trademark infringement in SA Internet history, for R5 million, against the owners of the parody web sites Hellkom.co.za and Telkomsucks.0catch.com.
Letters were sent to the owners and administrators of the offending sites yesterday demanding that they refrain from making unauthorised use of Telkom's trademark and using disparaging logos.
Telkom media liaison specialist Ravin Maharaj confirmed that legal letters had been sent to Stirton and the alleged owner of Hellkom. Telkom also said the sites encourage "hate speech", although it does not give any specific examples.
The www.hellkom.co.za site has become popular as a forum for people to post strongly worded complaints against Telkom's pricing structure and service. It has a section that lists various jokes at South Africa's only fixed line operator's expense. The site also carries derivations of the Telkom logo by changing the colour to red and giving it devil horns and a tail.
Telkom's legal letter, drafted by their representatives Adams & Adams, emphasises the equity Telkom has invested in its brand and logo it also mentions that it would take action against telkomsucks.0catch.com in "the High Court of the United States." However, it makes no mention of any hate speech issue.
Gregg Stirton, who administers the hellkom.co.za site and used to own the Telkomsucks.0catch.co.za site, says he is still formulating his response the demands set by Telkom for which they have set a deadline for Friday, 13 August.
"The Telkomsucks site doesn't exist anymore. So I am not sure what they want to do about that," he says.
Regarding the claims of hate speech, Stirton says, the site posts his and other peoples' opinions and none of it can be considered hate speech - being offensive to any race or religious group as defined by the SA Constitution. "There is no way I would allow anyone to post something saying 'let's bomb Telkom', because that would be totally irresponsible and offensive," he says.
According to the Domain Name Registry, the Hellkom.co.za name is owned by "Henry Smith", but ITWeb was unable to contact him as the telephone number provided does not exist.
Stirton is being voluntarily aided by Johannesburg advocate Michael Alachouzos, who is also a registered attorney in the US state of New York.
"I am quite puzzled by the Telkom letter as it threatens legal action in the US. Firstly, there is no 'High Court' there, so they must mean some kind of equivalent. Secondly, this kind of issue has been well litigated there and US courts are strict about upholding freedom of speech," Alachouzos told ITWeb.
Rudi Briedenhann, a legal advisor at e-law firm Buys Inc says the Telkom letter posted on the Hellkom.co.za site has nothing to do with it at all. "So far that site is free to operate as it chooses. However, it may be sailing a bit close to the wind as far as the Telkom logo is concerned," he says. Briedenhann also says the threatened claim of R5 million is unheard of in SA Internet history. Stirton says that more than 50 000 people have visited the Hellkom.co.za site since it was launched on 1 July.
Zambian Communications Authority (CA) Chief Executive Shuller Habeenzu has said the inter-connectivity problems in the mobile telecommunications sector would be resolved when guidelines and regulations were enforced. Habeenzu said the CA was working on draft guidelines and regulations, which were now ready for public comment.
Habeenzu said the CA open forum that was launched at the weekend would serve as an interactive public communication channel and would focus on the regulation of Information and Communication as a strategy for facilitating accelerated growth in the sector. He noted that the interconnectivity problems between Zamtel and Celtel, apparently due to commercial disputes, have been to the detriment of customers. Many callers have for a long time been facing difficulties in making phone calls from a Zamtel landline to a Celtel number.
"We are coming up with inter-connectivity guidelines and regulations in the interests of customers," he said. "We are even addressing the issues of tariff regulation and linkages to dollarisation through transparent procedures." Habeenzu said when regulations were in place, it would lead to a lot of sanity in the communications industry. He said the CA has been unable to resolve interconnectivity regulations, as the organisation currently has no powers to intervene.
Habeenzu said effective regulations in the ICT sector would make the cost of services affordable to more Zambians. On the emergence of a fourth mobile telecommunications provider, Habeenzu said consultations were still in progress. Currently, the total number of mobile phone subscribers in the country is only slightly over 350,000 whereas the total number of landlines is less than 100,000. According to the CA estimates, there are only about 18,000 active Internet users. If the number of people using Internet cafes is considered, the CA estimates indicate that the figure comes up to approximately 50,000 people.
IP Planet Network announced last week the launch of VoipSAT - its new service for worldwide voice termination. The international voice services are being delivered through VipSAT - C-Band, VSAT/Hub-based Internet backbone connectivity services to Cyber-Cafes, Voice-over-IP providers, corporate and government customers in Africa.
VoipSAT allows the end user to call to any destination worldwide, using a VoIP phone or a regular phone with a VoIP gateway connected to a VipSAT terminal, and pay a highly competitive rate. IP Planet's remote terminals are provided with an integral Voice-over-IP gateway that enables the operation of a telephone set for international calling. IP Planet's service includes competitive international calling rates, web-based billing software and easy reporting for both end users and VoIP service providers.
VipSAT includes a range of services that can match the usage profile of a diverse group of customer segment and applications. Uplink services range from 32Kbps to 384 Kbps on both a dedicated and burstable basis. Downlink services can grow up to 2Mbps and more. These bandwidth packages can match the needs of a wide variety of organizations that require multiple voice channels for international calling, Internet browsing, data and IP-based VPN services, either for their own use or for their commercial customers. Services are available immediately across the African and Latin American continents.
"We are very proud to introduce VoipSAT -complete package of international calling services for Africa and Latin America. We believe that the high quality service and competitive calling rates will find a large segment of new customers that will join our growing community of satisfied customers and service providers worldwide", said Erez Gissin, CEO of IP Planet.
France Telecom may be questioning whether it will stay invested in Mauritius Telecom and whether it should increase its share in the company as it had previously announced. Président-Directeur Général Thierry Breton of France Telecom on a private visit to the island paid a courtesy visit to Mauritian Prime Minister Paul Bérenger.
The discussions covered the participation of France Telecom in Mauritius Telecom. As a 40% shareholder in the company since the end of 2000, would not be against an evolution of its participation but that was not discussed officially, according to one source at the meeting. The two main participants spoke about "reinforcing collaboration between the two companies" and that Mauritius Telecom wanted to be in the "cadre of liberalisation." They also discussed how they could make the island a regional telecommunications hub.
However there have been for some time rumours that France Telecom was wanting to pull out of its shareholding in the company. Last year the company wrote down the value of its investment in the company.
The next largest shareholder in the company is the Government at 41% (if you include the 6.5% of the National Pension Fund). The State Bank of Mauritius controls a further 19% and 1% is spread amongst employees.
The Ugandan regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has received over Ushs 3 billion (USD1.7m) from the three telekom operators in the country: MTN-Uganda, Uganda telecom limited (UTL) and Celtel (U), writes Esther Nakkazi.
The fee is a requirement under the Communications Act for the Rural Communication Development Policy (RCDF) established in 2001 for all providers of ICT services in the country to contribute 1 percent of their annual revenue to the Fund. UCC officials said this is the third year Celtel (U) has been paying the fee, after getting another licence in 2002 that allowed it to roll out up-country. Before that only the two national operators-MTN and UTL - had been paying the fee. Unlike Celtel, the two national operators have an obligation to provide mobile services countywide.
MTN today handed over a check worth Ushs 2.1 billion (USD1.2m) to the UCC Executive Director Patrick Masambu, UTL paid U shs 1.02 billion (USD583,000) and Celtel (U) 153 million (USD$87,420). According to statistics from UCC all the companies have increased their contributions from last year MTN paid Ushs. 1.7 billion (USD971,000), UTL Ushs. 873 million (USD498,000) and Celtel Ushs.140 million (USD80,000) in 2003.
Masambu said during the press conference to announce receipt of the funds that their target was by the end of 2004 for every district to have an Internet point of presence, public pay phones, ICT training centers, content development and Internet connectivity built through subsidies from the annual contributions by service providers.
- SA's Vodacom has come up tops in the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI's) annual consumer satisfaction index for the second year in a row. Consumers ranked South Africa's leading cellular network as the best performer in the telecommunications sector. According to the DTI, the study is aimed at encouraging competitiveness across industries and "is consumer-driven, objective, neutral and comparative".
- Nokia has recently consolidated its Middle East and North Africa operations under one management hub based in Dubai. As well, the regional Nokia web portal has been revamped and expanded to mirror the new regional structure.
Nokia MENA now is responsible for sales and marketing in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, as well as its traditional territories – the GCC, the Levant, Iran, and Pakistan. Nokia's business partners in the Maghreb and Egypt, including Raya, Sicotel, Mobi One, and Ring, will now be serviced by Nokia's local representatives with support from the UAE office.
- Monopoly incumbent Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC), the sole telecommunications service provider in the country, introduced new tariffs for its mobile telephone service as of last Monday. Charges for a call from mobile to mobile within the same zone is 0.72 cents per minute while that of inter-tariff zone is 1.50 birr per minute. The Corporation used to charge 0.75 and 2.72 birr respectively. A call from mobile to normal telephone or vice versa within the same tariff zone, used to be 0.75 cents per minute, is now reduced to 0.72 cents per minute and for outside tariff zone the charge is 1.50 birr per minute. Meanwhile, ETC urged customers of different tariff zones to limit and restrict the use of their mobile phones to their respective zones in order to avoid the current congestion in the network.
- SA's MTN has decided to take complete ownership of its customer relationships and is ending its third-party partnership with eBucks. In an e-mail sent to subscribers, the cellular operator claims it will be able to offer its customers an improved offering and enhanced service levels by taking total control of its customer service. It has announced that MTN subscribers will continue to earn eBucks until 30 June next year, as it phases out its relationship with the online rewards programme, and that all eBucks earned will remain valid and will not be forfeited, as they never expire.
- SA's Vodacom is now oferring its cellphone tracking service, Look4me to prepaid customers. Currently, 30,000 Vodacom contract customers have registered for the service enabling them to determine the general location of tens of thousands of consenting Vodacom prepaid and contract customers, which has obvious value in emergency situations. Mthobi Tyamzashe, Group Executive - Corporate Affairs of Vodacom said:"Look4me users are discovering numerous applications for the service, from checking that their children are at school, to tracking their own cellphones when they are lost or stolen." For more information on Look4me, Vodacom customers can go to www.look4me.co.za, or make a free call to Vodacom Customer Care on 111 from their Vodacom cellphones.
- Telkom Kenya last week announced that it plans to increase by price of local calls by up to 16 percent. The highest increment will affect those with private lines, whose tariffs have been adjusted by 16 per cent from Sh7.40 to Sh8.60 for three minutes. Public Payphone (booths) users will pay an extra 14 per cent when the new price of Sh8 per three minute comes into effect. Previous they paid Sh7. The company also increased the price of local calls using prepaid and calling cards, which are billed per second. Consequently, prepaid customers will now pay 11 cents more, reflecting the Sh0.50 price up from Sh0.39. Telkom also announced that its calling card customers would pay an adjusted price of Sh0.33 per second, up from Sh0.29 per second.
Telkom also reduced the price of trunk calls within the East African region as well as out of the region. National trunk calls were reduced by 31 per cent from Sh17.40 to Sh12 per minute, peak hour tariffs within the region went down to Sh40 from Sh45, reflecting a reduction of 11 per cent. Similarly, peak rate international calls to any destination in the world were reduced to Sh72 (USD0.90 cents).
- SA's MTN is aiming to prove that mobile phones really are mobile by encouraging the millions of people who travel in communal taxis every day to make a phone call on the move. The initiative to increase access to communications and to boost MTN's income will see the network operator provide pay phones specially designed to be fitted in taxis. The initiative is dubbed Ring'uvaya, or phone while you travel, and will eventually be rolled out across SA. The first phones were fitted in Durban taxis last week.
- Nigeria's M-tel, has said that Kafanchan in Southern Kaduna will soon be re-connected to the national telephone network. The work was currently going in the area to ensure that the people begin to enjoy telephone services by December 2004. NITEL services to the area was put on hold about five years ago when the organisation's mast crashed.
The secretary of Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA) Eric Osiakwan, last week, told the Business Chronicle in Accra that the negotiations between GISPA and Ghana Telecom to purchase the SAT 3 capacity had reached the pricing stage this week, after successfully agreeing to the conditions for negotiations.
Prior to the breakdown of the negotiation, Ghana Telecom had sent GISPA a series of conditions upon which they would give GISPA a special or reduced price. "We have currently finished with negotiating for the conditions. We are now currently negotiating on the price at which we are going to get the bandwidth under these conditions," he added.
According to Osiakwan, the opening price for a two Meg circuit was USD9,000 and they hoped to negotiate it downwards. He said after some calculations had been done, members of GISPA would be very competitive in the Internet service provision business if the price were to be between USD4000 and USD6000. He said this would help them meet the market they had created by providing one Meg at USD245.
He was optimistic that Ghana Telecom would be able to meet the market price suggested. Osiakwan further indicated that the National Communications Authority (NCA) had indicated that GT did not go through certain processes with them, leading to the NCA dealing with GT, taking them through the regulatory processes. Osiakwan said the restart of the negotiation was due to intervention from the ministry of communication.
Three more companies, including Postal Corporation of Kenya, have applied to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) for Internet gateway licenses. This brings to 9 the number of companies that have applied for the licences to operate Internet node and backbone services. The other new applicants are Kenya Data Network (KDN), and mobile telephone service provider, Safaricom.
They join six others who had handed in their applications for licenses following expiry of Telkom Kenya's monopoly at the end of June. The first six were Fast Lane, UUNet Kenya, Simbanet, Panafrican Communication Network, Access Kenya and Afsat Communications Limited.
Fast Lane is a consortium of seven local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) including Wananchi Online, ISP Kenya, Kenyaweb, Interconnect, Nairobinet and Swiftglobal Kenya.UUNet is an ISP while Simbanet is a Public Data Network Operator (PDNO).
The regulator is said to be weighing two options including awarding the license to three additional operators or to fully open up the market and license the applicants on a 'first come first served' basis. The official government position has been that four operators be licensed, including Telkom's Jambonet, an operator to be managed by the Second National Operator (SNO) and two other companies. Should the commission opt for this alternative it will have to award the licenses through a tendering process, which may take a full year to complete.
East African Standard
Internet Solutions (IS) first experienced an outage on three of our five international fibre circuits on Monday the 26th of July. These three 45 Mbps circuits operate between New York City in the US, and Cape Town and Rosebank (2 circuits) in SA respectively. The other two fibre circuits are via the SAT2 fibre and SAT3 fibre cables respectively, and these have not been affected. IS also operates a sixth circuit, via Satellite. IS is adding a sixth fibre circuit on 1 September 2004, which will result in 7 circuits in total.
The total duration of this initial outage was just over three hours and occurred just before 09:00. The outage was as a result of a cable fault on a segment of the cable system in Spain, where this portion of the cable system is managed by the Spanish telco, Telefonica. The net result of this outage was that approximately half of IS' international capacity was unavailable.
On Thursday the 29th of July, at 03:00 in the morning, the same three circuits were taken out of commission for what was to be emergency repair work performed by Telefonica. It was believed after this work that the service returned to stability.
On Wednesday the 11th of August, the same three international fibre circuits failed again just before 09:00 and only returned to operation just before 13:00. It was confirmed this morning in review with Telkom SA that the fault causing this outage occurred in a telco exchange again in Spain, when the backplane of a telco switch failed.
On Thursday 12 August at 13:00, the same three international fibre circuits failed again. At this stage these circuits are still not functional. The feedback at this stage is that there is a cable break in Spain (again) but in a different location than previously experienced.
IS contracted with Telkom SA and AT&T respectively for the provisioning of these three circuits (an STM1). These circuits are mapped across different cable systems managed by different telcos. From South Africa, the circuits operate on the SAT3 undersea fibre cable, and are connected in the Canary Islands with the PenCan6 undersea fibre cable and some terrestrial cable components to Conil on the Spanish mainland, where the last connection en route to the US, to the Columbus 3 undersea fibre cable (crossing the north Atlantic), is made. The Spanish component, where all three outages over the last three weeks have occurred, is under the management of Telefonica. Telkom SA and AT&T have contracted with Telefonica for the connecting service between SAT3 and Columbus 3.
These Telefonica services have been in commission for just under a year, and barring the last three catastrophes, have been exceptionally stable and robust, with these the first critical failures to have occurred on these services.
The outages obviously had, and are still having, a massive impact on services to customers. Though IS still has three other large bandwidth services available, the nature of the outages is such that services to all customers are affected.
During and after the previous outage yesterday, IS had two extensive engagements with firstly executives and secondly a senior technical planning team, from Telkom SA and AT&T. Good progress was made in evaluating potentially weak points in the service and developing alternatives. It is unfortunate that a third outage occurred before we were able to action the changes we agreed on.
IS has assured customers that it "is aggressively pursuing the stabilisation of this service, which involves the mapping of this service onto alternative underlying infrastructure. The focus now is on returning the service to production as soon as possible, after which we will make changes to the underlying infrastructure to ensure a robust service our customers expect from us. We separated the links to build in redundancy, now to be let down on numerous occasions by the international carriers. It is this redundancy that we are continually looking to improve upon".
Zimbabwean ISPs have approached the country's Central Bank over plans by the country's incumbent telco, Tel*One, to charge them in foreign currency. Tel*One is used by most ISPs to move their traffic and it is demanding that ISPs pay in foreign currency in contravention of exchange control regulations.
The chairman of the ISP association ZISPA, Shadreck Nkala, confirmed approaches to the RBZ were made this week. "Some people found it necessary to approach the Reserve Bank over the payment requirements set by Tel*One because we feel this is in conflict with the country's regulations," Nkala said. Nkala said Tel*One was charging as much as USD4 million depending on the service licence of the individual company.
- The World Bank infoDev program has recently published an "Information Technology Security Handbook," oriented to the needs of individuals, small businesses, governments and system and network administrators in developing countries. The Handbook is now available on-line at the web site http://www.infodev-security.net/.
- Gilat Satellite Networks announced last week that it would supply Koochi Communications an additional 300 Skystar 360E terminals to deliver broadband communications to SOHO and SME users in Nigeria and West Africa.
- Simbanet Limited, a Kenyan Public Data Network Operator (PDNO) lastweek launched a local loop wireless service. Subscribers for the data service for 32k will each month pay USD99 (Sh7, 920). Subscribers for 64k bandwidth will pay, USD190 (Sh15, 200) while those who need 128k, 256k, and 512k will each month pay USD275 (Sh22, 000), USD380 (Sh30, 400) and USD540 (Sh43, 200).
Hundreds of gaming fanatics are expected to gather at Northgate last week, for the long-awaited launch of Doom 3 at midnight. Megarom and Budget Technologies are hosting the South African Doom 3 launch party, which will feature a Doom 3 multiplayer competition in the hours before midnight, to whet players' appetites.
Event organiser, Arena 77, says the 96-player competition will offer prizes including a Gainward 6800 VGA card, a Logitech MX510 mouse, Kingston Hyperx 512MB 500MHz DDR RAM and a Doom Collector's Edition box set. "Initially, the competition was restricted to 64 players, but the sheer amount of responses necessitated the need for a larger event. We did not want to turn anyone away from the competition," says Lauren Das Neves, event organiser at Arena 77. The competition is scheduled to start at 8pm and will be shown on a big screen for spectators to watch.
Gamers who have pre-ordered their Doom 3 copies from Budget Technologies and people attending the launch will be able to buy the game at midnight. All pre-orders have been entered into a draw to win a limited edition Doom 3 Legendware case.
Apart from the 96 players competing at the event, Das Neves says 350 RSVPs have been received for the launch. "However, the advertisements placed in the recent issues of PC Format and New Age Gaming for the launch party did not require people to RSVP, so we expect approximately 500 people on the night," Das Neves says.
Gamers who pre-ordered Doom 3 stand in line to win this Doom 3 Legendware case at Budget Technologies tonight. While the event will focus on the multiplayer event, Das Neves says there will be an additional eight PCs in the Budget Technologies store set up to showcase the single player element of the game.Many reviews in the US have questioned the decision by developer id Software to restrict the multiplayer to a maximum of four players. "Consensus is still out whether Doom 3 will be adopted as a multiplayer title," says Das Neves.
"Originally, id Software targeted the game as a single player offering and is relying on the modding community to adapt it for multiplayer. So far, there is no indication among the overseas competitive gaming fraternity on whether they will run it at official multiplayer competitions." According to Jason Borea, marketing manager of game distributor Megarom, Doom 3 will also be on sale at the following CNA stores at midnight:
Light Edge Technology's line of Emerald PCs will be sold online through e-tailer kalahari.net. The offering went live late last week and is an extension of the offering the two companies have had for the past two months selling other Light Edge products such as MP3 players and various PC components, including motherboards and printers.
Kalahari.net has attempted to sell PCs in the past, but says it has struggled to get some suppliers to adhere to the service levels that are needed when selling online.
"We have tried it in the past and learnt from what went wrong," says Gary Hadfield, kalahari.net's commercial manager. "With Light Edge, we believe we have found a supplier who will stick to the SLAs [service level agreements]."
David Musikanth, Light Edge Technology's marketing director, says his company traditionally only serviced the enterprise market through its dealer network but the growing demand for the brand meant more outlets needed to be found.
"Our growing brand recognition at enterprise level - especially since the introduction of our Emerald range of PCs three years ago - has, however, helped drive consumer demand as office workers started buying Light Edge products for private use. At first we simply serviced such consumers via our existing five national offices but we've increasingly become aware of the need for a more elegant retail solution," he says.
Musikanth says an online offering seemed ideal as his customers are typically Internet-enabled. "Kalahari.net was a natural choice, given their proven track record of e-tail success and consumer base of more than 180 000 customers. The new store currently stocks the majority of Light Edge's product lines," he says.Musikanth says revenue doubled during the two-month limited offering, indicating that South African PC owners are more that happy to buy their components online.
ASYST International SA today announced that they have partnered with Zambia's leading IT solutions provider, Necor Zambia Limited, in order to accelerate the introduction of the benefits of Access Accounts software to the African market.
Necor Zambia is already the sole distributor of NCR products in that country and has a high-profile blue chip client base that will be well served by the mid-market products within the Access Accounts suite.
Established in 1948, Necor is the oldest and largest IT company in Zambia, and includes within its portfolio a range of solutions that encompasses hardware, networking, wireless technology and specialised banking solutions.
"We are excited by the opportunities presented by the Access Accounts range of products," commented Friday Mwamba, Managing Director of Necor Zambia. "By offering our customers a powerful financial and MIS system such as Access Accounts, we move one step closer to providing a complete end-to-end IT solution not only to our own user base, but to other potential clients."
"We are looking to emulate the success we have achieved in East Africa, where key accounts such as Deloitte, Siemens and Ogilvy & Mather have adopted Access Accounts as their accounting solutions," added Paul Marketos, MD of ASYST International SA. "The key to success in Africa is finding the right partner, and we are confident that in Necor we have a partner who will uphold the values of service excellence and customer care that have been the cornerstones of our success in both South and East Africa."
Black women have been among the main beneficiaries of the growth in the Western Cape call centre industry, according to a survey recently conducted by Deloitte on behalf of industry promotion body CallingtheCape.
In all 14 companies, accounting for about a quarter of the call centre agents in the Western Cape, answered survey questions about their human resources. In these companies, black women account for 43% of all call centre agents and 42% of supervisors. Black men account for 20% of agents and 29% of supervisors. Overall, black South Africans account for 63% of call centre agents and 61% of supervisors.
Within the ranks of management progress has been slightly slower, although the results remain impressive: black women fill 28% of management positions, as opposed to 33% for white men.
"The figures are very encouraging," says CallingtheCape executive director Luke Mills, "and we think they're probably a fair reflection of the state of affairs in the rest of the industry. The large pool of black agents and supervisors is a good sign that management-level transformation will happen fast in the next few years, because most managers start out as agents".
Mills estimates the total number of call centre agents in the Western Cape at just over 10,000 – and growing fast. Six of the operators who responded to the human resources survey experienced employment growth of 50-100% during the past year and seven expect to employ at least 100% more people in the coming year.
An entry level call centre agent can expect to earn between R2,000 per month (in a small business) and R6,000 per month in a multinational, with the average starting salary being just under R4,300 per month. The average starting salary for a supervisor is just over R7, 200 a month.
CallingtheCape's Skills Development Committee has a specific mandate to increase black participation in the industry even further. One approach they are taking is to target existing students at community colleges and tertiary institutions for a call centre preparation workshop. "This will give students an introduction to the industry, explain the recruiting requirements and tell them how to prepare themselves to work in the industry," says Mills. "We'll also offer site visits to major call centres so students can see for themselves what the job entails."
School leavers will also be targeted. CallingtheCape, together with the Department of Education, will provide career counselling sessions for matriculants at schools in previously disadvantaged areas where there are high levels of matriculant unemployment. "We need to do more to spread the message that the call centre industry could be a career of choice for school leavers," says Mills. "These sessions will encourage school leavers to find out more and give them a better understanding of what they need to do to find work."
Following last week's announcement by the Mozilla Foundation that two serious security issues had been found in its popular Mozilla and Firefox browsers, News.com reports that the Foundation has launched a campaign to pay security researchers for each bug they find. The programme, called the Mozilla Security Bug Bounty Programme, will pay users $500 for every "serious" flaw.
The security bug tracker fund will be funded by Linux software vendor Linspire and South African Internet entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. Shuttleworth is the founder of digital certification company Thawte in Cape Town South Africa. Ironically the flaws announced last week that prompted the announcement of the security bug-tracking programme centred around the failure of the Mozilla family of browsers to deal correctly with digital certificates. Linspire and Shuttleworth have both contributed $5000 to start the programme.
"Recent events illustrate the need for this type of commitment," Mitchell Baker, president of the Mozilla Foundation, said in a statement. "The (programme) will help us unearth security issues earlier, allowing our supporters to provide us with a head start on correcting vulnerabilities before they are exploited by malicious hackers."
"We (the Mozilla Foundation) are moving into our second year, and we are going back and reviewing all the programs in place that we had in the past and setting priorities for the next year," said Chris Hofmann, director of engineering for the foundation. "Security is an area that we are serious about, and we wanted to get the ball rolling." He added that the foundation will continue to look for more contributors to the program. Read the full story here at News.com
- Sun Microsystems says more affordable software is now within reach of developing nations through its new per-citizen pricing model for national and local governments. The unique licensing model available to government entities such as countries, provinces, states and cities in less developed and least developed countries and regions, is based on pricing ranging from US $0.33 to $1.95 per citizen per year.
- About 60% of the 42 thousand Liberian refugees mostly residing in the Buduburam Refugee Camp in the Central Region will now have the opportunity to undergo training in Information Communication Technology (ICT), the Vice President for the Association for the Reconstruction of Liberia, an Accra-based Non-Governmental Organization, Mr. James B. Kollie Snr has said.This is in addition to an estimated 1000 Liberian refugees who are expected to enroll in Ghanaian Universities and Polytechnics throughout the country in pursuit of various disciplines.
- LG Electronics SA has joined with Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), JSE and Bloomberg, to create a complete multimedia experience at Johannesburg International Airport's domestic arrivals terminal. The plasma wall, which measures 3,7 metres wide by 2,3 metres high, will be used to display a variety of business information from the JSE via Bloomberg to all the traffic passing through the busy terminal.
- UNESCO announces the launch of the French language version of eNRICH, a fully customisable knowledge management software for communities to find their way around the mass of information and knowledge resources available on the Internet and to voice communities issues and create relevant content of their own.
Kenyans connected to mobile phones through Safaricom can now get breaking news alerts from BBC World Service on their handsets. The two organizations jointly announced that they had signed a content deal last week. "Our association with BBC is a strategic initiative aimed at facilitating the most up to date news to our subscribers," said Michael Joseph, CEO, Safaricom. The content sharing deal will give their customers headline news services on the Safaricom's GET IT 411channel.
The latest is the seventh value addition service that Safaricom is offering it nearly 2 million subscribers. Currently, the over 1 million subscribers check out their horoscope, traffic updates, sports, local news from the channel. In addition, Safaricom subscribers will access African football news on demand by sending an SMS message with "BBC". The GetiT411 is an SMS-based information service that provides Safaricom subscribers with information either on request or through subscription.
East African Standard
After nearly two weeks of silence over allegations that a Nigerian 419 fraud syndicate had "hacked" into American internet giant eBay's database, the South African police eventually reacted on Wednesday. But there is still no news for eBay clients who have been kept in suspense over whether their credit card details and other personal information are safe.
Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht, police spokesperson, said on Wednesday that after investigations by the Gauteng police and police head office, a decision was taken to hand the investigation over to the Gauteng chief commissioner "for a comprehensive investigation". She said because the investigation was "very sensitive" at this stage, police could not yet confirm whether the 419 syndicate did indeed crack eBay's database. "This will depend on what the investigation uncovers."
eBay previously told News24 that it had "confirmed 100%" that a compromised database with user information did not come from its servers, saying they rather believe the data in the hands of South African police was the result of "phishing" efforts. The US Embassy in Pretoria, speaking on behalf of the US secret service, later confirmed this.
"Phishing," is the act of falsely claiming to be the website for a legitimate enterprise, for example eBay, in an attempt to scam internet users into surrendering private information that could be used for identity theft. Hani Durzy, eBay spokesperson, told News24, "'Phishing' has replaced spamming as the biggest problem on the internet today. While spam is irritating, 'phishing' is dangerous."
Martins-Engelbrecht did confirm that the quasi-police website - www.419legal.org - on which information about the 419 scams and claims about the eBay "hacking" appeared, has been "suspended because it isn't an official police website". Inspector Rian Visser of the police's commercial crimes unit in Johannesburg managed the site and is also in charge of the police's investigations into 419 fraud countrywide. Visser has since been silenced pending the results of the investigation but he said earlier that if he was ordered to shut down the website he would "continue to run in it my personal capacity".
He was committed to do this because of the extent of the 419 fraud schemes. In just three months - May to July - this year, the 419 schemes swindled people all over the world out of about R100m, the website reported recently. A visit to the site on Wednesday showed that it was still functioning, but a disclaimer now appears stating that as of August 6 the service "is no longer affiliated to the South African Police Service but managed privately".
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One of the world's leading telecommunications strategy consulting firms, Cambridge based Analysys, has been bought for GBP12.8 million by South African company, Datatec International, creating a totally new company, Analysys Mason Group (AMG.) Datatec combined Analysys with its existing subsidiary, Mason Group Ltd, to form the new company, which will be headquartered at the existing Analysys base in Cambridge.
Chairman and founder, David Cleevely will leave the company, retained in a consultational role, not as a company employee. Simon Jones, previously Analysys managing director, is now AMG's chief executive. Jones said: "We have no plans for staff reductions. It is a very exciting move forward for the company. "We have worked with Mason before and it is a very complementary union with virtually no overlapping of interests. "We have been actively looking for an opportunity like this for a while, so that we could meet strategic growth objectives. We now have the ability to access new clients both in our existing sector and others." AMG will have a staff count of approximately 300 people worldwide, retaining a presence in five countries. Combined revenue for Analysys and Mason last year was GBP29m.
Datatec International will transfer its shareholding in Mason to AMG as part of a leveraged management buy-out, in which the management of Analysys and Mason can participate in AMG at an equity level of up to 25 per cent. Analysys was advised on the sale by the Eversheds Cambridge office while its financial adviser was Deloitte.
Glynne Stanfield, corporate partner in Eversheds, who led the advisory team, said: "In combining with Mason, Analysys will be able to broaden the services it is able to offer. It will acquire additional IT expertise and will be able to access additional resources." David Cleevely, founder of Analysys, said: "We chose Eversheds from a very strong field and have not been disappointed. "They provided timely advice and kept the process moving and on track." Analysys has a global client base including regulators, governments, network operators, equipment manufacturers and financial institutions. It provides strategy and management consultancy, information services and start-up support throughout the telecommunications, IT and media sector. The firm has offices in Cambridge, London, Glasgow, Madrid, Milan, Paris, San Francisco and Washington DC and works with associates in Auckland, Melbourne and Vancouver. Mason was headquartered in Manchester, UK.
- Al–Mal newspaper reports that Orascom Telecom Holding is considering a LE1.6 billion bond issue to be concluded in September 2004. The probable bond issue would be split in two tranches, the first one pertaining to LE700 million, and the second valued at USD150 million. OTH management have yet to comment on the associated matter, however a bond issue would most likely be undertaken for the purpose of rescheduling existing debt, and / or for the financing of a new cellular license.
Issue 219: West Africa's first VoIP licence - now you see it, now you don't
Investcom is a multinational company. Its main holding company is in the Luxembourg its head office in Beirut,Lebanon.
* Chair of Arivia.kom Nigeria Professor Pat Utomi launched its corporate strategy last week: "The business is characterised by large, end-to-end IT outsource agreements, the deployment of turn-key business solutions and the provision of niche solutions," said Utomi. He stated that the company specialises in solutions and integration, rather than commodities adding that the group's partnerships form integral part of its business model.
The company Chairman further disclosed that the group's focus is high-end business technology solutions that support the public sector and large private sector corporate. Arivia.Kom Chief Executive Officer, Alistair McGlashan remarked the company placed a high priority on the satisfaction and meeting client requirements, and pays particular attention to its ability to provide cost effective and professional solutions, delivering efficient services, and utilizing streamlined processes for managing its outsource clients.
* Women must be encouraged to celebrate and use technology to improve their lives, said South Africa's Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Lindiwe Hendricks told a conference in Kimberly this weekend. Hendricks said at the Technology Women in Business (TWIB) conference in the Northern Cape that women need to celebrate the advances they had made in the field of technology, and that they should work to ensure more women accessed the sector.
* Nigerian telecoms operator Vee Networks, which trades as Vmobile, has appointed a new acting chairman. Vee Networks says Dr Ismaila Adebayo Adewusi has been appointed by the board of directors to replace Oba Otudeko, who has chaired the board since its inception. The appointment of Adewusi, who is the Lagos state commissioner for finance, was announced – along with the appointment of Gamaliel Onosode as a company director – at the organisation's board meeting, held in Lagos last week.
THE SIXTH ANNUAL AFRICAN COMPUTING & TELECOMMUNICATIONS SUMMIT
"BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS TO MAINSTREAMS AFRICA'S ICT SECTOR"
LE MERIDIAN HOTEL, MAURITIUS, 7-9 SEPTEMBER 2004
"If Mauritian enterprises are serious about adapting to the new information-based world economy and support the government's drive to transform Mauritius into a cyber island, they need to take advantage of the rich ICT education programme offered by the African Computing & Telecommunications Summit – ACT 2004." This was the clear message delivered by Sean Moroney, chairman of the AITEC group, which is organizing the even at le Meridien Hotel over 7-9 September.
Over 60 ICT industry leaders will be delivering conference presentations on key strategic topics in ICT management and implementation. In addition, nine leading-edge training workshops will provide delegates in-depth knowledge on selected subjects of strategic importance in business. These include:
- VSAT satellite implementation
- Developing international alliances and strategic relationships
- Enhanced service offerings for telecom operators
- New generation software solutions for telecom operators
- Storage and business continuity strategies
- Developing ICT Entrepreneurship
- Voice over Internet strategies and technology
- Best practices in network security
- Call centre customer service and support skills
The main Summit programme, with the theme "Building partnerships to mainstream Africa's ICT sector", includes a wide range of key topics, many of which have not been covered in previous conferences in Mauritius. These include:
- Business process outsourcing
- eGovernment strategies and systems
- Mobile telephony applications for development
- Open Source applications
- VSAT technologies to bridge the digital divide
The high-level speakers at the conference come from countries as diverse as Canada, UK, USA, Israel, Germany, France, South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. Over 300 delegates are expected to attend from throughout Africa.
The conference is supported by an exhibition focusing on business solutions, with over 20 companies participating – including a group of six companies from India.
AITEC's local partner in the event is the Act ICT Industry Alliance of Mauritius, which represents private sector enterprises active in computing, telecommunications and Internet development in the country. Colin Taylor, Chairman of the Alliance, welcomed the richness and diversity of the ACT Summit programme: "AITEC has created a unique conference programme that has high educational value. We encourage Mauritian enterprises to take advantage of this opportunity of international expertise on their doorstep. As Mauritius moves forward on its 'Cyber Island' national strategy we urgently need international-standard expertise and capacity. I'm confident the ACT Summit will help us achieve that."
Wireless4Development -- 3-10 September 2004, Djursland, Denmark
The wireless4development seminar and workshop brings together many of the people who are doing exactly that. Using low-cost wireless technologies to bring Internet connectivity to parts of the world, and to parts of society, where there are no real alternatives. For one week in September, wireless and free networking activists from around the world, will meet up to share skills and experiences gained in some of the most remote regions of the world. Participants have experience from some of the most innovative uses of Open Spectrum (license-exempt) wireless technologies, ranging from wireless connectivity at the Mt. Everest Base camp, over pedal-powered connectivity in rural Laos, to connecting local radio stations across Mali. These projects illustrate the true power of low-cost, locally run wireless networks.
Some of the most experienced experts to attend include:
- Dave Hughes, Colorado, USA, was responsible for bringing wireless to the Mt. Everest Base camp.
- Dr. Onno Purbo, RebelNet, Indonesia, has helped bring Internet connectivity to hundreds of schools and thousands of school-kids around Indonesia.
- Sascha Meinrath, CU-Wireless, Mesh networking and community wireless expert.
- Ian Howard, Geekcorps, Mali, is connecting local radio-stations around Mali.
- Mahabir Pun, known from a series of BBC News on-line articles on his Nepali village project.
- Dr. Bhaskar Raman, Digital Gangetic Plains, an Indian Institute of Technology project to bring connectivity to the Ganges River Valley.
wireless4development is part of Europe's leading community networking gathering, the Freifunk Summer Convention 2004 - Fresh Air, Free Networks and takes place 3rd - 10th September 2004 in Glesborg, Djursland, Denmark.
Highway Africa Conference, 16 - 18 September, Grahamstown, South Africa
The Highway Africa Conference is the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. The Conference is now in its eighth year and focuses on the role of the media in the information society. This year's conference is focusing on TECHNOLOGY - the interface of technology and development and democracy. The guest speakers include Mr. Adama Samassekou, President of the WSIS Preparatory Committee Meeting, CEs of leading South African broadcasting and telecommunications companies such Peter Matlare (SABC), Karl Socikwa (Transtel) and Dr. Sebelitso Mokone-Matabane (Sentech) and leading academic such Professor Cess Hamelink.
The conference is mix of plenary, keynote addresses, seminars, debates, training workshops, book launches, demonstrations and exhibitions.
Knowledge House Africa Presents LINUX SEA SHOW
In celebration of this year's Software Freedom Day, KnowledgeHouseAfrica is inviting you to attend her maiden edition of a program packed Linux Sea Show. This is also in conjunction with the global Free and Open Source Software(FOSS) awareness drive. The session and short introductory lectures will cover major themes such as the development potential and challenges of FOSS in Education, Capacity building.
Seasoned facilitators with great experience in Linux will take us on a Didactic cruise of the capabilities of Linux in general spheres of human endeavours. The accompanying schedule shows the breath of the Sea Show. Pre-Conference, Mid Conference and Post Conference Ocean cruise and Beach timeouts and picnics is being organized to help participants relax their nerves.
Because of the significance of the day being celebrated (Software Freedom Day) the KnowledgeHouseAfrica has subsidize the registration fee to a sum of N500.00. This will cover the conference materials, feeding, and Speedboat cruises Sea Show Schedule
All events will be held at the KnowledgeHouseAfrica Resource Center, Ibasa Island
11:00 – 12:00 Registration
12::00 – 12:10 Welcome Address
12:10 – 12:30 Opening Speech
12:30 – 1:10 1st Session FOSS: its relevance and its advantages
1:15 – 1:50 2nd Session Relevance of FOSS to Education
1:50- 2:20 Break
2:20 – 3:00 3rd Session: FOSS and the Nigeria Youth in Capacity Building!
3:00 – 4.00 Linux Sea Cruise to Ibeche Island.
- The ICT Business Plan Competition, organized by Deloitte, NIC Bank, and c4IDEA.com, seeks to encourage and facilitate the rapid growth an improvement of ICT businesses in Kenya. The competition is open to aspiring and existing entrepreneurs who wish to start-up and/or expand an ICT-driven business in Kenya. Visit www.ICTpark.com for more information.
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.
If you need information about a particular place or issue, just send your questions in. We are always happy to follow up on readers concerns.
News Update is a free e-letter produced by Balancing Act that covers African internet content and infrastructure developments, It goes out to government, the private sector, education and NGOs. To subscribe, send a message saying "I want to subscribe" to firstname.lastname@example.org