Issue no 255

top story

  • TeleOne is due to announce its first expansion plan in two years. Its Managing Director Wellington Makamure was appointed as a 'turnaround agent' for the company. He tells News Update what it's like "living on the edge" and what he's planning to do to bring the company back into financial health again.

    When did you start at TeleOne?

    I joined 1 June last year. Previously I was working for Phillips in Zimbabwe.

    How many fixed lines?

    There’s slightly over 300,000 but that’s been stagnant for some while. Our challenge is infrastructure development. In the rural areas, 90% of our exchanges are analog. However in Matabeleland, Harare and Midlands we’re highly digitalised but another problem is that we have old digital technology elsewhere. There’s been no new investment since the early 1990s. The biggest problem for us in Zimbabwe has been the lack of foreign currency. All operators are over-subscribed and the quality of service is compromised. (see story in Telecoms News below)

    Since I joined, I’ve been looking at CDMA-based, wireless local loop with Huawei from China. We should have started implementing in October last year but we havn’t been able to raise the 15% forex deposit to start the contract. The Reserve Bank is now saying that I can get the amount required in April.

    What CDMA will do is provide high-speed internet places like schools and clinics and hopefully we’ll start implementing it in June. We could have as many as 80,000 new subscribers in the rural areas.

    How many mobile subscribers are there?

    We were originally called PTC. This was then commercialised and two companies came out of it. NetOne is the mobile company. The Government owns both of us but we are run separately. The other two mobile operators are Econet and Telecel. There’s somewhere between 300,000-350,000 subscribers in total but overall demand probably exceeds one million. But again there is a forex problem in terms of expanding capacity.

    What international bandwidth have you got?

    We’ve upgraded our Harare-Beit Bridge link through Gweru (where we’ve got our international switch) to an SDH radio link. The next project on the cards will be to replace it with fibre. We also have the Mazoe earth station where we get satellite connectivity from Intelsat.

    Are there other infrastructure providers?

    There’s Powertel which is a subsidiary of the state power utility and it’s got a data licence. We don’t want to duplicate what Powertel is doing. We are also talking to Telkom about getting access to SAT3 and are discussing the problem of access prices.

    In addition, we’re looking at the possibility of joining the East African fibre project EASSy but again there is a difficulty with available FOREX.

    Is there a grey market?

    I think so. I want to try and detect this with outside help. There’s a lot of refilling of traffic which is illegal in Zimbabwe. We can’t detect this on analog exchanges.

    We operate two VoIP gateways ourselves, one provided by iBasis and the other by Teleglobe. There’s not a lot of traffic going over these gateways.

    Why not?

    Telkom SA financed the Harare-Beit Bridge link and so (in order to make the loan payments) we have to commit most of our minutes to that link.

    What are the main links to other countries?

    We’ve fibre through to Chirundu in Zambia and there are radio links to most of the other countries.

    Will TeleOne be privatised?

    I don’t think so in the immediate term. What the Government has said to me is turn it around. I’m a turnaround agent.

    How many employees have you got?

    3900. We’re looking at retrenching 1600 of these and already begun the “right-sizing” process. The Government is 100% behind this process.

    What other elements are there in the process of turning around the business?

    The CDMA roll-out and infrastructure building will give us new customers and increased transmission capacity. And along with staffing costs, we’re going to address the overhead costs.

    Also infrastructure should be foreign currency denominated as everything is bought in US dollars.

    Will you be changing your pricing strategy?

    It’s something I’d really like to do. The current TeleOne pricing structure is too low. I would like to maintain our international prices but raise local prices. A local call in Zimbabwe costs ZWD200 (not even a US cent). We currently have the lowest domestic prices in the region and the need a small increase to match others.

    How do you raise capital?

    We have to raise it on our own, either in the form of loans or credit from suppliers. You look at the balance sheet and you can see that you have a limit. As long as my traffic is so low, I don’t have much ability to raise capital.

    But we also don’t want to fuel inflation by raising prices too much which would hit our potential customers. Therefore it becomes costly to get foreign currency.

    I’m living on the edge. I have to meet payments every month to people like Intelsat and BT. Currently I can’t terminate on one BT Mobile because they’ve cut us off. Most suppliers now want us to pay up front.

    It’s the most challenging job I’ve ever had. You have to balance so many things. The workforce is unsure (because of the “right-sizing” process) so I have to assure those who will remain they have a future.


  • The Attorney-General in Malawi has sacked the Board of the Malawi Communications Agency. The reason? After three years of Malawi Mobile failing to roll out, it had made a second 90 day extension to its licence. The operator was associated with the former President.

    Meanwhile Kenyan regulator the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has suspended four senior legal officers from its board, following the dispute over whether Econet Wireless is financially capable of launching a Kenyan operation. One of the staff suspended was company secretary John Omo. The suspension comes a month after the entire CCK board was dissolved and suspended indefinitely following allegations of illegal activity within the company. However sources close to the regulator say that it looks set to get a new Board next week which will probably be a mixture of former and new members.

  • After unsuccessfully trying to convince the Government to open up the telecommunications sector in the early days of telecom frenzy, Afsat Managing Director, Salim Suleman, did something unusual: he applied for a licence and waited for over ten years.

    "We had the capital but we couldn't obtain a licence because there Was no legal framework for private players," said Suleman, the managing director of Afsat Communications Ltd, a London-based satellite data network solutions company. At the time, and until January this year, only state-run Telkom Kenya could operate high- end services like Very Small Aperture Terminal (Vsat) communications.

    About 11 years later, though, Suleman's dream has come to pass. The Communications Commission of Kenya, the country's telecom regulator, in January issued Afsat with a licence to operate public data communications services after the segment was liberalised last June. With the force of a ram raring to have a go at its opponent, Afsat has hit the ground running with its flagship product, iWay Africa. "We can now provide Vsat services anywhere in Kenya," said Suleman, a tough-taking manager with an eye for big business. "We have the coverage and ability. Kenyan corporates should expect a revolution in Internet communications."

    The company, Suleman said, has invested Sh100 million in Kenya to pioneer Vsat communication in a country where Internet use has hit a growth spurt and related services like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoiP) are beginning to make sense. (VoIP is an advanced way of communicating by using the Internet to carry voice communication from one point to the other.)

    The investment was part of the company's Sh600 million investment in Africa for this year. "Our market is bigger than Kenya and we're sure we will recoup our investment and make a profit," he said.

    In spite of the ten-year frustration in getting a licence, directors of Afsat maintained their headquarters in Kenya in what Suleman says was "a demonstration of commitment to this country and to keeping Kenyans we had employed in jobs."

    It would probably have made economic sense to move the company head offices to, say, Tanzania or Uganda whose governments had issued Afsat with licences as early as 1992 and 1993 respectively.

    Afsat is the first company in Kenya to launch a Vsat product targeting small to medium companies. The iWay product was launched in June 2001 as a complementary to the existing product range Targeted at banking networks, said Suleman.

    Barely four years since its launch Afsat has rolled out over 2,100 Sites in 22 countries in Africa, a highly sophisticated network managed by an army of tech nerds at the company's headquarters at Wilson Airport, Nairobi. It currently employs over 120 people at its headquarters and its subsidiaries, the manager said.

    Suleman said Afsat, through its high-speed satellite broadband Internet solutions, would provide Kenyan Internet users with the Benefits of VSAT. "Most telecommunication infrastructure is mainly found within urban centres and even then it tends to be overpriced, Terrestrial and therefore susceptible to multiple failures," said Suleman, adding that satellite communication is the best way to beat undulating terrains and bad weather that oft-times affect cable networks.

    He said VSAT offers subscribers the ability to own telecommunications centres connecting to the Internet in just one hop ˆ office to an orbiting satellite to Internet backbone ˆ for both net access and voice. "No more clogged cables, no more cables cut by falling trees or road-works," he said, almost with a tinge of arrogance.

    Through VoIP, for instance, users will be able to call the US for just US$0.05, or Sh4, per minute.

    He said most Internet service providers in the country, he said buy bandwidth and broadband from Telkom Subsidiary, JamboNet, and split them to their clients, thus comprising speed and capacity. "Afsat will guarantee clients a speed of 256 kilo-bytes-per-second at a third of the market rates," Suleman said in an interview at the company's offices, accompanied by marketing officer Betty Mwangi, technical manager Job Ndege and customer care manager Nancy Mugo- Matimu.

    The company has 2,000 subscribers across the continent and is looking to grow its roaster of clients in Kenya. He said Afsat has 500 clients in Uganda, 300 in Uganda, 45 in Somalia, 90 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and 100 in Zambia, among others.

    "The market in Africa is huge," he said. "More availability of these services will lower charges, which are currently too high as being charged by the current players."

    Afsat is owned by Modern Africa One LLC, a US government-backed venture capital fund (61 per cent), Britain's Wilken Group (15 per cent) and Kenya-owned Milas Ltd has 24 per cent stake.

    Betty Mwangi, the chief marketing officer, said even though Kenya had liberalised its telecoms market late in the day, the technology would pick up as soon people start appreciating its advantages. "There will a lag period in the short-term," she said. "But Kenya is quite a star in the region and we expect to see rapid growth after the mystery over satellite communication is cleared."

    Mwangi said iWay would service marginalised areas like Lokichoggio and far-flung areas of North Eastern Kenya where ISPs have shied away from due to high costs of installing infrastructure against a small population of clients. "With us you need the service, you get it," she said.

    In the meantime, Afsat is increasing its geographical presence in Kenya and, Suleman said, the firm has already commissioned five distributors to sale its services. "Kenyan customers have been longing for Vsat services. Afsat is heavily banking on this goodwill to capture a huge market before new players come in."

    Before liberalisation of the Internet backbone segment, operating Vsat communication services was illegal in Kenya. Telkom Kenya was the only locally licensed operator allowed to transmit international calls in and out of the country. However, the post-June 2004 era ushered in a free sector where services like VoIP were opened to private players.

    Calls made through the Internet are very cheap compared to the conventional method. For instance, many of those who were offering the service charged as little as Sh10 per minute for calls to the US, whereas Telkom charged over Sh100 per minute, making it too expensive. In the past few months, however, the charges for international calls have dropped to between Sh50 and Sh100 per minute depending on the destination and the time.

    Last June Open Systems Technologies, a local public data network operator, learnt the hard way when its satellite equipment was confiscated by CCK after it was discovered to be offering Vsat services illegally. Other players, cashing in on Telkom's inability to exploit its monopoly, operated illegally and made huge shillings by offering VoIP calls.

    Suleman said: "The government has taken a strong step to liberalise the sector. So far we haven't seen any hurdle. We will work with the government and modify our relations as situations demand."

    Afsat, which has been in the business for over 20 years, has already snapped up storied corporate names like East African Breweries Ltd and BAT Kenya and is gearing up for more.

    "For Internet use to grow at a steady rate," Suleman said, "there has to be some economic change to enable people to afford the service."

  • Zimbabwe, with an estimated subscriber base of 600 000 for its three mobile cellular phone companies, is still lagging behind in mobile phone technology, Econet Wireless' chief executive officer has said.

    Douglas Mboweni told analysts last week the combined subscriber base for his company, state-owned Tel*One and Telecel was still below 600 000. Zimbabwe has a population of more than 12 million people.

    The shortage of new lines has resulted in the proliferation of the black market for cellular phone lines. While the price of a pre-paid line is controlled at ZD350 000, the product is fetching between ZD2.5 million and ZD3.5 million on the black market.

    "We do not question the demand right now. Lines are literally swallowed the moment they are put on the market. It is an embarrassment to us that we are failing to meet demand," Mboweni said.

    "There is nothing we can do about the parallel market. We have approached the regulators for help, but I think there is nothing they can do either," he added.

    Econet, which has embarked on a programme to increase its subscriber base to 500,000 from around 280,000, has emerged the largest service provider.

    The government-owned Net*One was the first to launch its network in 1996 and was followed by Telecel in 1997.

    Mboweni said 75 percent of the planned new base station sites have been built since the company embarked on its network expansion programme intended to double its subscriber base by year-end. The expansion, the largest ever since Econet launched its network in June 1998, is expected to cost up to $200 billion. Econet expects to commission 120 base stations countrywide by December.

  • The Nairobi-Mombasa fibre link has been so long in the planning that people in Kenya often refer to it as if it has already been built. But the intense political squabbling over who should build it is now over. Kenya Pipeline Company had wanted to build it but Kenya Telkom fought a fierce rearguard action to ensure that it maintained control of this essential link between the planned coastal cable EASSy and Kenya's main market, Nairobi.

    This week the Kenya Pipeline Company has pulled out of the fibre optic cable project that was to run form Mombasa to Nairobi. The company's board chairman, Darius Mbela said telecommunications was not part of the firm's core functions. Interestingly former Managing Director Shem Ochuodho was sacked last December on an unrelated matter.

    So now Telkom Kenya can reveal as part of its plans to spend KES5 billion in the rest of 2005 to upgrade its fixed line network that it will build the link. The telco plans to lay a fibre-optic cable between Nairobi and Mombasa, which is due to be completed by April 2006. Telkom said the investment is part of an ongoing plan to improve its networks and services.

  • France Telecom Mobile Satellite Communications and its Algerian partner Wireless Multimedia Satellite Communication (WMCSAT) announced last week the launch of a joint venture to provide satellite-based mobile telephony services. The new service will initially be available to users in the Algiers area.

  • - Sudatel (now partly owned by Etisalat) will shortly have built a fibre cable to a point not far short of Juba and with peace now becoming a reality discussions are taking place about extending it to Kampala.

    - Thuraya is doing brisk business in Chad with NGOs involved in the relief effort in Darfur.

    - Ghana’s regulator the NCA will publish its long-awaited ICT policy next week. It will be interesting to see the speed with which policy translates into action. Sources suggest the NCA will propose that all companies (including ISPs) will pay a Universal Access levy and as a quid-pro-quo VoIP services will be opened to a wider range of operators.

  • - The Communications Authority of Zambia has licensed 800 kms of fibre from ZESCO, the Zambian power utility. There is also a link being planned to connect Livingstone and Kitwe and discussions are under way about creating fibre links to neighbouring DRC and Namibia. It is also setting up a Universal Access Fund with USD2 million and legislation on a new regulatory framework is going to Cabinet shortly.

    - The Nigerian power utility NEPA is about to try and get back into the data carriage business after its unsuccessful partnership with Eskom.

    - Nedjma, the mobile arm of Algerian multimedia operator Wataniya Telecom Algerie (WTA), announced the launch of its roaming service for prepaid subscribers to 'Carte Nedjma' as of 25th April 2005. 'Carte Nedjma' offers subscribers per second billing, while it also operates a flat tariff policy for all national calls (towards either fixed or mobile numbers) from 7.5 DZD per minute. There are six types of recharge cards available for Nedjma's prepaid service: 250 DZD, 500 DZD, 1000 DZD, while for every recharge of card value equal to 1500 DZD, 2000 DZD or 3000 DZD subscribers receive bonus credit of 300 DZD, 1000 DZD and 3000 DZD respectively.

    - Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom has launched a new roaming service. The service will allow subscribers to make calls to Uganda and Tanzania at the cost of a local call - Sh28.50 per minute. Safaricom has signed an agreement with Uganda Telecom Limited and Vodacom Tanzania for the service. During the launch, Safaricom's chief executive, Mr Michael Joseph, said alongside the roaming service, customers would enjoy other benefits including airtime transfer services. In three months, the company will introduce multi-media messaging that will enable subscribers to send picture messages to mobile phones and computers. Kenya will be the third African country after South Africa and Egypt to have the service.

    The company will install 40 new sites and upgrade about 80 in Nairobi to improve its service around Nairobi. Mr Joseph said that Safaricom customers having problems with making calls in the city centre would soon be a thing of the past. The company, he said, would install about 260 new sites outside the city over the next year. "Our growth is expected to result from areas which we are not currently present because experience has shown that we get positive response anytime we move to a new area". He called on the government to grant his company a license to operate international gateway links to enable it offer cheap services to its international callers.


  • Alvarion, provider of wireless broadband solutions and specialized mobile networks, announced on Monday that Microcom, the leading Internet Wireless Access services provider in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has ordered a large-scale BreezeMAX(TM) 3500 system to be deployed in the country in the coming year. When this first WiMAX-ready network in Central Africa goes live, corporate and residential users in the city of Kinshasa will receive high-speed data services. Microcom previously deployed Alvarion's BreezeACCESS(TM) II networks.

    "Wireless broadband is the most cost effective means to provide high-speed data to our customers in the city of Kinshasa, a city of approximately 8 million inhabitants with little wired infrastructure. Our selection of Alvarion as the preferred vendor was easy due to our positive past experience with the company and their equipment," said Mr. Leon NTALE, President of Microcom.

    "Our decision was finalized to expand with WiMAX to offer our customers wider coverage, higher data speeds for Internet access and VoIP, and other services which were not possible with our previous network. Our first deployments will be in the areas where connectivity was proved to be extremely difficult due to the non-line-of-sight conditions. With Alvarion's BreezeMAX(TM) 3500, we believe that Microcom will be in a position to easily expand its service offering in DRC and quickly increase capacity for its customers," Mr. NTALE added.

    BreezeMAX(TM) is an OFDM platform with advanced non-line-of-sight (NLOS) functionality designed for operators to offer broadband IP-based data and voice services, allowing for the easy, cost-effective transition to WiMAX. Its carrier-class design supports broadband speeds and quality of service (QoS) to enable carriers to offer multi-services to thousands of subscribers in a single cell. BreezeMAX networks are already installed in more than 30 countries worldwide.

  • Internet cafes are mushrooming across Algeria as the country returns to normality after more than a decade of violence which kept it isolated and deprived of new technologies and investments.

    The number of Internet cafes across the North African country jumped to 5,000 by the end of 2004 from 100 in 2000, Telecom Minister Amar Tou said in comments published Tuesday.

    "2005 will be the year of the Internet," said Tou, who is spearheading a modernisation of the sector considered key for a country with three-quarters of the population below the age of 30.

    Emerging from years of Islamic-linked violence which caused the deaths of up to 200,000 people, Algeria's growth potential is among the highest in the Middle East and North Africa, analysts say.

    There are 1.5 million Internet users in Algeria out of a population of 32 million, with most not yet hooked up to ADSL or high-speed Internet.

    "We have Internet access at the office but it's very slow so I do a lot of my work from the cybercafe," said 25-year-old Selma Fatnassi, a technical director in the drugs industry.

    Despite wealth largely drawn from vast oil and gas reserves, Algeria lags neighbors in technology and telecoms because authorities spent most of the 1990s fighting militants who threatened the very existence of the state. Armed with a fresh $55-billion, five-year spending plan, the government says it is now determined to pull Algeria out of isolation and compete with neighboring countries.

    Morocco and Tunisia have aggressively modernized technology, with call centers for European firms a strong growth area.

    Analysts say the lack of new technologies has held back foreign investment outside of Algeria's energy sector, but the opening of the economy has led to a boom in telecoms.

    The number of fixed line and mobile phone users has jumped to 31 percent of the population, versus five percent in 2000, while revenues in the sector grew to 150 billion dinars ($2.14 billion) from 2002 to 2004 -- a rise of over 400 percent.

    Algiers recently awarded a fixed-line license to an Egyptian consortium, including Orascom Telecom, that is expected to boost Internet access with a broadband network, and has also sold licenses to firms promoting calls via the Internet.


  • A comprehensive Internet training programme designed to teach tertiary students IT skills was on Tuesday launched in Accra by the Ministry of Communication in collaboration with Cisco Systems, South Africa, a world-wide leader in networking for the Internet.

    The programme to be run under the Cisco Networking Academy Programme would start in May across the 11 local training centres established at the polytechnics and selected universities in Ghana.

    Consequently, the Ghana-Indian Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT commissioned last year as the regional Cisco Academy has started a training of trainers programme for selected tutors and lecturers of the various polytechnics, who would in turn train their students. Under the programme, students and other trainees would undergo training programmes that would be valuable in the building and maintenance of an Internet infrastructure that would accelerate Ghana's progress towards full integration into the world economy.

    Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister of Communications, launching the programme said a nation's ability to accelerate its socio-economic process and gain global competitive advantages depended on the extent to which it could develop, exploit and sell information, knowledge and technology in one form or another.

    He said the Cisco networking programme was, therefore, a welcome collaboration that would help bridge the gap between those who could effectively use new technology and communication tools such as the Internet and those who could not.

    "This is because today networks are an essential part of business, education, government and home communications and Cisco Internet Protocol-based (IP) networking solutions are the foundations of these networks," Mr Kan-Dapaah explained.

    He said such a programme would in the long run help equip graduates majoring in electronic/electrical engineering and computer science for them to be competitive in the job market in the areas of network maintenance and support, network technicians and engineers, systems administrators and specialists in training others.

    Drew Murray, Country Representative of Cisco Systems, said the academic programme had been introduced to help to train people in the IT industry and enable Ghana to have the right people to man the Internet and help make her the ICT hub of the West Africa Sub-region.

    Dorothy Gordon, Director-General Kofi Annan ICT Centre, said trainees would be awarded an internationally recognised certificate from Cisco that would afford them the opportunity to work in any country of their choice.

    She expressed appreciation to Cisco for donating computers for the computer laboratory and providing instructors to train the trainers.

  • - How quickly the incumbent telcos have taken on the new language of IP networks. Sonatel described itself as running an Internet Exchange Point for the sub-region and Nitel has plans for an IXP to underpin the recent launch of its wholesale bandwidth operation. However neither seem to have completely understood what an IXP and the importance of working with ISPs. As one wise old cynic told us:”Telkom runs the South African Internet Exchange (SAIX) but just because it’s called that doesn’t mean that’s actually what it is.”


  • Students, teachers and communities around the Middle East stand to benefit from a series of Microsoft(R) educational solutions Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, announced last week at Microsoft Corp.'s Government Leader's Forum Arabia 2005 (GLF) in Dubai. The GLF was a two-day event that brought together more than 120 high-level government officials and business leaders from across the Middle East. The goal of the forum was to drive discussion around how the private sector can work in cooperation with local, regional and central governments to explore the partnerships necessary for growth through technology.

    The innovative education programmes announced are part of a broad Microsoft effort to increase access to technology and technology skills in schools and communities throughout the Middle East. Three key initiatives -- Learning Gateway for Higher Education, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Digital Curriculum through Microsoft's alliance with the Jordanian government, and the Innovative Teachers Network -- will give this region's educators, students and communities vital opportunities to learn new skills, share best practice and pioneer innovative education solutions throughout the region. In addition, Microsoft also announced that seven organizations -- in Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia -- will receive Unlimited Potential (UP) grants that will support technology education. The company's goal is to bring the benefits of technology and technology skills to more than 250 million people by 2010.

    "Microsoft's goal over the next five years is to help 250 million people worldwide realise their potential through access to technology and technology skills," Ballmer says. "Today's announcement is part of our commitment to this goal. Seventeen countries throughout the Middle East have joined our Partners in Learning program, and are already benefiting from greater access to information and communications technology. Today's launch will mean that even more people stand to gain."

    All three education initiatives are available in Arabic and have been developed in partnership with key stakeholders to ensure that they offer practical support and lifelong learning opportunities tailored to meet the region's needs.

    Learning Gateway for Higher Education is a security-enhanced portal providing a framework for blending e-learning solutions under one fully managed environment. Regionalised in Arabic, the Learning Gateway delivers security-enhanced, web-based collaboration, communication and content delivery services to all levels: Lecturers can manage their administrative workload, learners are empowered to learn at their own pace, and academic institutions can become more involved in the hands-on management of their learning environment across their campus.

    The Learning Gateway is designed to put the student at the centre of the learning experience. Its customisable solutions for self-paced learning mean that students can gain knowledge at their own speed. The lecture theatre extends to any location where the student can be online, allowing for study either on campus, at home or with friends.

    Microsoft Partners in Learning is a five-year programme giving students and educators new training skills and facilitating broader access to technology. Through Partners in Learning, Microsoft has worked with the Jordanian Ministry of Education and local partner, Menhaj Educational Technologies (MET), as part of the Jordanian Education Initiative (JEI) to develop the ICT Digital Curriculum for schools. This curriculum provides 520 lesson plans, localised in Arabic and containing multimedia elements in every lesson for teaching IT skills in grades 1 to 10 in schools throughout the region. Microsoft announced today that 50 lesson plans will be available free of charge on the Innovative Teachers Network as part of their ongoing commitment to education through the Partners in Learning initiative.

    Under Microsoft's broad commitment for Partners in Learning, the Innovative Teachers Network (ITN) is a unique online community of educators in the region. Its Arabic launch in May 2005 will give teachers throughout the region an opportunity to join a regional network of peers and offers educators instant access to a wealth of knowledge and experience along with the opportunity to discuss best practices and continue their professional development. Registered members of this pioneering digital library will have access to virtual classroom tours (VCTs) and a full database of teaching, training and subject materials that they can tailor to meet their particular classroom needs. ITN access is available free of charge and available to all educators with web access.

    Microsoft today also announced seven additional UP grants to organizations across Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco. Microsoft's UP programme focuses on improving lifelong learning for underserved young people and adults around the world by providing technology skills through community-based technology and learning centres (CTLCs). Since May 2003, the company has awarded US$118 million in grants of cash and software to programmes in 89 countries. These include:

    - SME Development, Egypt. Training and skills development for approximately 500 young people from five governorates.

    - MCIT Clubs, Egypt. Providing state-of-the-art technologies as well as education and training for 200 trainers in 100 clubs across the country.

    - Ajialcom, Morocco. Opening 50 new CTLCs to provide technology access and skills training.

    - UNESCO, Tunisia. Opening a subregional technology centre that will provide North African youth with improved access to ICT and ICT skills development

    In Tunisia, Microsoft and UNESCO will establish a sub-regional technology centre that will provide North African youth with improved access to ICT and ICT skills development. The project will draw on resources and best practices from UNESCO's international information and data exchange network INFOYOUTH, and Microsoft's UP initiative. INFOYOUTH organizes national, regional and international consultations among a wide variety of stakeholders to facilitate exchanges of data, experiences and analysis on which national and international youth policies are based.

    "UNESCO is pleased to partner and collaborate with Microsoft and the Youth Observatory to support establishment of the InfoYouth Center for the youth of North African countries. Together we are providing the tools, technologies and skills required by the critical learners and thinkers of the future in our increasingly connected cyber- world," says Mr Abdul Waheed Khan, assistant director general of the Communication and Information Sector at UNESCO. "Our aim in supporting this project is to catalyse learning and skills development for youth through increased access to and use of information and communication technologies. By supporting this initiative, we are investing in future. By providing youth with a stronger background in computers and technology, they will be better prepared for today's competitive and hi-tech economic opportunities."

    Over the past two and a half years, Microsoft has collaborated with 120 local partners to serve more than 250 CTLCs in the Arab region. Through these projects, Microsoft has worked to empower youth, women and underserved communities. To date, more than 450 trainers from 11 countries in the region have benefited ICT training, and they are expected to train 10,000 community members in the next year. 9fd73afff4/

  • Africa should make better use of free and open source software, a group of African information experts in Addis Ababa heard at a session of ECA's Committee on Development Information (CODI).

    Speaking at the opening session last Sunday, Ms. Aida Opoku-Mensah, Officer in Charge at ECA's Development Information Services Division (DISD) said that free and open source software ( FOSS) is attracting a lot of attention from the media, academia and policy-makers. There is an urgent need, she said, to promote the cost-effectiveness of FOSS in Africa's socio-economic development.

    FOSS is non-proprietary "open" software that attracts no license fees, allows enhancements to be shared with all users and can be customised for the user's purposes without major financial outlay.

    "Several developing countries including Korea, China and Argentina have decided to move their entire government systems to Open Source Software," Ms. Opoku-Mensah noted.

    "ECA believes that open source software is an especially useful tool to allow developing countries to leapfrog into the information age," she added.

    ECA is leading by example, she said, detailing a joint project with Addis Ababa University to develop a multilingual e-government platform based on FOSS. She also noted other partnerships forged with ECA's Information Technology Centre for Africa (ITCA) that focus on FOSS advocacy, technical capacity and awareness among policy makers.

    Also addressing the meeting, Ambassador Makan Moussa Camara of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) noted commitments by his organisation to promote and adopt the use of FOSS, particularly in supporting the participation of African FOSS champions in regional and international fora.

    He also urged FOSS advocates to support the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF), an initiative of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, as a mechanism that can fund and promote content creation in the context of cultural and language diversity.

    Many governments in Asia and Latin America now support FOSS applications in day-to-day government operations, viewing these applications as viable and less expensive alternatives to proprietary software. Participants were therefore keen to see CODI-IV make concrete recommendations on the economic value and benefits of FOSS development in Africa.

  • SchoolNet Namibia <> is taking a bold new step to entice teachers and students into the world of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). SchoolNet has teamed up with Direq International <>, Strika Entertainment <> and The Namibian Youth Paper <> to produce and distribute Hai Ti!, a comic strip that spreads the word about the ways that computers, FOSS and the internet can transform learners' and teachers' lives.

    It's a new and highly innovative approach to a universal problem. "Our numerous letters, manuals and trainers have not been very effective in bringing teachers into the computer lab. So we decided to build a character-based drama around the SchoolNet team and teachers and learners at a remote rural school in Namibia," says executive director Joris Komen. "There has also been a lot of controversy <> about the compatibility of Free and Open Source office applications and programmes with similar (and usually very expensive!) proprietary software more commonly used in the private sector. We expect Hai Ti! to finally put such controversy to rest. The skills acquired by teachers and learners to cut, copy and paste, and use office tools such as word processors and spreadsheets, as well as the Internet, must be completely platform neutral, without affecting their career and learning opportunities."

    In order to demystify the computers that have proven so alluring to learners but not so much to teachers, SchoolNet collaborated closely with Strika and Direq to conceptualize, illustrate and produce a full-colour comic. Desiged to address educators' fears, SchoolNet staff - young, technically savvy Namibians - drew from their own experiences to craft the narrative.

    The first 20-page comic interweaves the stories of a learner who uses the internet to prepare for a debate; of a football fan who learns that the Internet can be a better source for sports than the "cuca shop" (Shebeen); and of a young teacher learning computer basics with the help of SchoolNet trainers. The comic, liberally sprinkled with helpful definitions and basic tips, doubles as an easy reference manual afterwards. Each edition will also be published online at Schoolnet's website, The insert will be distributed in The Namibian Youth Paper on a regular basis for the next few years, with bumper Christmas annuals, and loads of local competitions as added bonuses.


    Software development is lucrative with some USD200-billion (about N27trillion) opportunities and huge businesses. Nigeria is however at the outskirt of this new honey pot.

    It is right to say that the richest companies in the world are in the computer industry. Software is the centrepiece of the trillion-dollar information technology industry, an indispensable component of commerce and government worldwide.

    Software is the programs that run on a computer and it is made up of instructions that tell the computer what to do. It is stored on disks in bits and bytes.

    It is believed that some $200-billion opportunities abound in the industry with still a huge amount of business to be won.

    Software development industry has since become a major income earner to many countries in Europe and United States.

    In the US, for instance, the Software development industry is the third-largest manufacturing business, after automobile and electronics.

    The US software market is driven by strong Research and Development efforts from government.

    This singular effort propelled the industry in the United States in the 60s bringing in industrial revolution.

    The reverse is however the case in Nigeria, which has remained a major consumer of finished products including software.

    Nigeria's annual software imports is estimated at some $1billion (N1.3 trillion) annually and concerned citizens insist that the amount is good enough to grow the local sector.

    Instead of importation, Executive Director, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Dr. Evans Woherem, said that Nigeria can be a major foreign exchange earner from software development.

    Dr. Woherem, a leading crusader for the acceptance of locally made software insisted that "One of the most compelling areas of ICT that Nigeria can easily become a significant regional player is the Software Industry"

    Chief Executive officer of Enterprise Information Technology (EIT) limited, Mr. Nap Ogilo, agreed with Dr. Woherem, expressing however, dismay at the shabby treatment of locally developed software.

    Nigeria is the most populous black country in the world and is diverse in people and culture, an advantage which if harnessed can help the mass development of locally made software.

    And as Dr. Woherem found out "the major requirement for the software industry is human capital and with the country's size and abundant supply of relatively low cost software engineers or graduates in related fields, the country can provide highly skilled professionals and an absolute wage advantage to investing international companies in the Software Industry"

    "This means that with proper attention this industry can be one that the country can enjoy a comparative advantage over most other countries in Africa" he added.

    But before Nigeria can turn software to comparative advantage, it appears it must cross many hurdles.

    These include poor development practices and project management, problems of software with dependability, safety, reliability, security, and lack of software quality assurance, poor investment in software development as well as concentration in hardware and software sales

    Dr Woherem went on to say that there is also the problem of poor software quality and do not usually meet the level of ISO compliance (certification) and poor packaging

    Contributing Chief promoter of Zinox Technologies Limited, Dr. Leo- Stan Ekeh, said that it is possible for Nigeria to rise to a level that it can export locally made software products.

    Dr. Ekeh, who had earlier single handedly delivered Zinox, the first internationally certified Nigerian branded personal computer systems, UPS, laptops and server is very passionate about locally made software.

    He called on Nigeria to follow the foot steps of some developing nations like India, South Africa, and Ghana that have vigorously pursued the policy of backward integration in software development, realising the great potentials in the sector.

    India as far back as 1986, formulated a computer software policy for itself and among other things to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, provide, high quality employment for young people, and earn significant revenues from export of software.

    Last year alone, India earned $18.5 billion in ICT export, up from $15 billion in 2003. In both cases, software accounted for about 55 per cent.

    Elsewhere the South African information technology (IT) market is the largest in Africa. It ranks 20th in the world in overall market size, and 8th in IT spending as a proportion of GDP.

    According to the International Data Corporation, their market is forecasted to exceed $10.7 billion by 2004, up from $5 billion in 1999.

    Ghana's GDP is about 1/20th the size of South Africa's, and thus, its IT market is relatively small.

    However, Ghana's business environment provides access to over 200 million consumers throughout West Africa.

    The reverse has been the case in Nigeria. Last year, total software import to Nigeria stood at an estimated $1billion which multi-sectoral industry players maintain is a stupendous waste of foreign exchange.

    Chief executive Officer, Computer WareHouse Group, Mr. Austin Okere, urged Nigeria to borrow a leaf from India which developed its software industry through reform of its educational system from the primary to university with science as the emphasis.

    Government very eager to stem the trend has led the way with a strong political will and encouragement.

    President Obasanjo recently set up a multi-sectoral committee to work out modalities for the cultivation of the nation's software industry currently valued at N15 billion.

    This came after the formal launch of the Nigerian Software Development Initiative (NSDI) and the brand name "Software Nigeria" - two ambitious programmes aimed at leveraging software development in Nigeria from its subsistence level to a major foreign exchange earner.

    Mr. Okere said that the iniitative could have come at a better time than now and commended the government for recoginising the important place of ICT in national development.

    That initiative was mooted by India as far back as 1976 and has culminated in the building of the electronic city in Bengalore, housing software parks and allied shops.

    Today, India has become a major player in the global Information Communications Technology market.

    Chairman of the NSDI, Jim Ovia, said a study undertaken by his team showed that software has the potential for being the single largest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country in the next five years if properly harnessed.

    Already, some made-in-Nigeria software are successfully being deployed not only in Nigeria but in other overseas countries namely South Africa, Mexico and Zimbabwe.

    EIT's Mr. Ogilo also flaunted what he described as totally Nigerian software adding that "We have developed applications software for HR/Payroll Management, credit management and consumer finance, stock/inventory management, all are web based applications. In our own way, we are already following the President's initiatives. We have the manpower, may be we just need more encouragement"

    The benefit of mass development of locally made software is enormous because aside from providing jobs for Nigerians, it would also enhance national security as certain sensitive software especially for the nation's security and intelligence units would no longer be outsourced to foreign firms.

    It is the agreement of all that it would help arrest capital flight both in terms of software procurement and in training of personnel while also boosting computer sales and usage as well as create economies of scale by triggering the emergence of diverse software support services across the nation.

Digital Content

  • VODACOM has introduced the next phase of its third generation (3G) data services in a move designed to give cellphone users something to do with their high-priced, high-speed handsets.

    The latest offering is Vodafone live!, an evolving library of global and local content specifically designed for viewing over the relatively small screen of a cellphone.

    That will make more use of the 3G high-speed network which Vodacom is rolling out in urban parts of the country at a cost of R1,2bn.

    The service will change the way subscribers use their cellphones in the future, says CEO Alan Knott-Craig, who hails it as the finest example of 3G technology in action.

    Part of the service's attraction should be its ease of use, since accessing data over a cellphone has generally been slow, frustratingly complicated, and lacking in useful services for anyone who actually managed to reach a data site.

    "Vodafone live! is similar to browsing the internet on your handset," says Vodacom chief operating officer Pieter Uys. "You can view different pages designed specifically for the handsets and download unique content.

    "There are no settings to be configured, no numbers to call, just one touch access to a whole world of content and services."

    Uys has previously acknowledged that to make money from high-speed data networks, operators must offer a service so interesting, entertaining or useful that it slots naturally into everyday life.

    All the Vodafone live! content is accessed through an icon-based, colour menu on Vodafone cellphones. Users will be able to download full music tracks, send video or picture messages, and download games and polyphonic ringtones.

    There is no charge for the time spent online, so users can window shop before paying for anything they buy or download.

    The service is available to both contract and prepaid customers. It costs R29 a month or R69 a month, depending on the number of ringtones, pictures or games a user wants to download.

  • About 125 million consumers will watch television on their mobile phone in five years from now, a new survey found recently.

    Mobile television is not yet commercially available, but trials are carried out around the world, and consumers are expected to be able to pick up the first TV phones by the end of the year.

    Handset makers will sell 130 000 TV phones this year, rising to 83.5 million by 2010, said research group Informa.

    Mobile TV signals will be handled by special chips on a mobile phone that sit alongside the chips that process the mobile phone's calls, music and streaming video clips.

    The difference between TV and streaming video services will be that the TV signals are broadcast to all users at the same time, while streaming video will be delivered on demand by mobile operators.

    Mobile TV images are also expected to be of higher quality than mobile video streams.

    "The degree to which these networks will become either competitive or complementary will ultimately determine the fate of market," analyst David McQueen said in the report.

    Well-entrenched TV viewing habits and the fact that in North America and Europe the vast majority of people already carry a mobile phone will fuel the market.

    Nokia has said it will introduce a mobile TV phone in the first half of 2006 and expects volume sales as early as in the second half of 2006. Samsung Electronics from Korea has also showed its first TV phones.

    Chipmakers such as Dutch electronics firm Philips and US mobile technology company Qualcomm are scrambling to get energy-efficient chips out before the end of the year.


  • - Nigeria's Benue State government will soon launch its website to make information about the state available at the doorstep of every individual or nation in the world. Disclosing this to newsmen in Makurdi, the governor's Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Tahar Agerzua, said the habit of relying on freelance journalists by some media organisations as a way of getting information will soon be a thing of the past. Agerzua said the website will bear this name: ", noting that the state would ensure it maintains up-to -date information on critical issues of local and international importance. He particularly said the website would eliminate the problem of accessing photographs and other information on public office holders in the state.

    - mCel, the mobile arm of state-backed PTO Telecomunicações de Moçambique (TDM) and Mozambique’s largest cellco by subscribers, has launched a dial-up news on demand service in conjunction with broadcaster the BBC. The service gives mCel users access to BBC World Service news 24 hours a day in Portuguese or English by dialling 0821010200.

  • * A questioner from the floor asked what AfriNIC was and whether it had any relationship to the promotion of broadband. None of the panel seemed to have heard of Africa's newly-formed domain name registry. What was even stranger was that both AfriNIC and the African Network Operators Group (AFNOG) - both internet organisations - were holding their meetings only two buildings away in the same complex. Somehow if everyone is to get to seriously get to grips with promoting broadband in Africa these two parallel universes will have to start visiting each other more often.

    * Ernest Ndukwe, CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission shared a widespread concern when he asked Brian Cheeseman, e-Africa Commision how the EASSy fibre cable would enable new entrants to sign on and have landing rights:”I’d like to put out a note of warning for those planning EASSy that new people should be allowed into the Club.” It’s notable that the only non-incumbents involved are MTN Uganda and South Africa’s Sentech.

    Cheeseman told the meeting that Lesotho, Zambia and Burundi will shortly join the EASSy consortium and that Zimbabwe was interested. The Lesotho regulator is talking of purchasing capacity for the whole country and selling on an equal basis to all companies.

    * Rosa Waldman, CompassRose International talking about creating public-private partnerships on the continent and went through a number of negative perceptions about the continent. One of these she described as the “human in-box” culture. When you turned up and stood in front of someone’s desk, you got their attention and promises of action. When you left, you no longer existed.

    * Kauxique Magnalal of Schoolnet Mozambique explained how difficult it was to connect schools when a 64K line in Mozambique costs USD600 a month. Nevertheless it has plans to put computer labs in 300 schools and set up a students portal. Currently there are only 55 schools with computer labs that have on average 12 PCs. It has also been involved in launching a computer refurbishment centre at the Industrial Institute of Maputo.

    * Bassamaritou Sanogo, Chef de Service of the Ivorian regulator spoke about how the reforms under way to simplify the regulatory structure and make it more effective. He talked about the need to put in place an interconnection regime with rules accepted by all players. The reforms would also put in place specific provisions for consumer protection and define universal access and it would be funded. There would also be a mechanism to guarantee the independence and stability of the regulator.

    * Jussi Siltanen, Systems Marketing Manager, Nokia presented ways that mobile operators could reduce the lowest pre-pay unit to US50 cents, enabling them to grow usage amongst poorer users. Cost savings of around 70% are possible if the transaction is done electronically through the phone. He said that in several countries this kind of micro-payment might grow the addressable market by 20-40%. The catch? It needs specially enabled phones. He also described two “tweaks” to the network software – AMR (Adoptive Multi-rate Codec) and SAIC (Single Antennae Interference Cancellation) that allowed improved network capacity and coverage.

    * Mike Nxele of telecoms training organisation Afalti described how t5he organisation had undergone a process of transformation. Since 2001 it has doubled the amount of courses it runs from 21 to 44. Over the same period participants went from 185 to 776. Better still it had gone from being supported by nine member countries to earning 54% of its own income. It has also begun to extend its geographic reach and will sign an MOU with the Ghana Telecom training college in June this year.

    * Margo Stoeder of Vodacom’s regulatory team gave a feisty presentation protesting that the latest set of competition framework changes in Africa were likely to be off-putting to investors. She argued for a phased and managed approach with no quick changes. In particular she recommended that no changes be made without the commissioning of independent market studies (just watch 2-3 years go by while that happens). She suggested a cautious and managed approach, allowing new markets to develop. Mike Nxele, Afralti rather dryly observed later in the event that the mobile operators were facing new challenges with IP networks and that their comments were very similar to those from the incumbent telcos when they first faced the mobile operators.

    On the more positive side, Stoeder is probably right that “price regulation should not be seen as the metric of ‘successful regulation’”. Regulators tended to try and drive prices down by addressing interconnect and consumer. Instead in our view, it probably makes sense to mandate open access to more mobile operators (in the form of MVNOs) and let competition do the job.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Gateway Communications, pan-African communications company, announced last week that it has agreed to acquire Link Africa, the pan-African satellite service provider and subsidiary of Celtel International, for more than USD50m in cash. The sale is subject to approval by the South African Reserve Bank.

    From its international hub in Belgium, Link Africa has grown into one of Africa's largest international service providers, delivering services in more than 15 African countries, switching approximately 7.5% of the international telephone traffic for Sub-Saharan Africa. Link Africa has achieved revenues of USD68m in 2004 and substantial profitability.

    The acquisition will create the largest African-focused service provider on the continent, delivering the broadest range of connectivity services in more than 25 African countries to 70 telephone companies and 600 multinational corporations.

    Gateway's acquisition of Link Africa will see the company continue to benefit from the explosion of international and regional voice and data traffic within the African continent, the fastest growing communications market in the world. The investment is also a signal Gateway's further commitment to the continent.

    Gateway expects to derive significant synergies from the acquisition of Link Africa through the integration of customers, services and network infrastructure and systems. Gateway intends to combine its applications expertise with Link Africa's exceptional infrastructure and engineering capabilities. Gateway will maintain the outstanding management and support staff at Link Africa creating a combined team with unparalleled expertise and experience in the African market.

    Post-acquisition, Gateway will maintain a strategic partnership with Celtel and continue to deliver services across the Celtel group.

  • Not less than 20 companies have indicated interest in acquiring majority interest in the National Carrier, NITEL, says the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, Irene Chigbue.

    Mrs Chigbue who spoke at the launch of NITEL's IP services yesterday in Lagos said that with the continued interest in NITEL, the BPE was optimistic that the telcom would be successfully privatised before the end of the year.

    She also promised that the privatisation process would be professional, sound and transparent, stressing that her agency would give Nigerians good returns for their money at the end of the exercise.

    Mrs Chigbue explained that the BPE was in support of the NITEL IP wholesale project because of its potential in shoring up the value of NITEL for would-be investors, stressing, that the project is indeed a service that will, all things being equal, add value to the company and the telecommunications market. "This is why the Bureau will support all efforts to shore-up the fortunes of NITEL because a sound and buoyant NITEL will obviously be more marketable than a sick and bankrupt NITEL", she added.

    She said that the project was NITEL's quest to be competitive in telecommunications market and meet the needs and aspirations of its customers as well as the ADSL service for Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

  • - Egyptian operator Orascom Telecom has completed the acquisitions of further stakes in its Algerian and Tunisian subsidiaries, Orascom Telecom Algeria (Djezzy) and Orascom Telecom Tunisie (Tunisiana). Last month Orascom announced a deal with the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) to buy the latter's minority stakes in the companies. However, this deal was delayed by disagreements over a number of issues, including the providing of compensation to PIF for Djezzy dividends in its 2004 fiscal year. According to Orascom, these issues have now been resolved, allowing the telco to increase its direct and indirect stake in Djezzy from 62.14% to 85.21%, and in Tunisiana from 22.47% to 44.5%. Prior to the latest share transaction, Djezzy was already the largest single contributor to Orascom's revenue base. In the year to 31 December 2004, Djezzy accounted for some 37% of its consolidated turnover and an even higher proportion (45%) of its consolidated EBITDA.


  • * Telkom CEO Sizwe Nxasana has decided not to renew his contract after seven years at the helm of the telecommunications provider. Lulu Letlape, Telkom group executive for corporate communications, says Nxasana made the announcement at a Telkom board meeting last week. His contract expires on 31 December. Letlape says Nxasana's reasons for leaving are purely personal and he has plans for the future. “Nxasana was not only a great asset to Telkom but contributed tremendously in terms of driving the organisation to new challenges, and the board has accepted his decision to pursue new challenges,” says Letlape. She says that in the coming seven months Telkom will look for a suitable candidate to fill Nxasana's shoes. “The board does not want to speculate, but Nxasana's decision not to renew his contract gives the board ample time to go through a proper process of appointing someone who will succeed Nxasana,” says Letlape. She adds that Nxasana will attend to his duties as CEO until his contract expires, and that once the board appoints a new CEO, Nxasana will help him or her to learn the ropes.

    * Sheriff Adam has resigned as Director of TRASA. Negotiations are currently on-going with the person who will replace him.

    * The Governor of Jigawa who is well-known as a fierce proponent of ICT has threatened to sack 1400 of the State’s teachers unless they become computer literate. He has given them three month’s to make a decision to do so or they will face dismissal.


    24-26 May, Dakar, Senegal

    The West African ICT Investment Forum, under the auspices of EU‚s CDE programme

    30-31 May, Nairobi

    Global VSAT Forum Advanced VSAT Training Course, in association with Q-Kon

    1-2 June, Nairobi

    RF Networking Training Course, in association with Q-Kon

    12-14 June, Mombasa

    Corporate ICT Strategies for Business leaders, in association with DataCentre

    23-24 June, Kigali

    Rwanda National ICT Convention

    5-7 July, Nairobi

    ICT for National Reconstruction in Sudan & Somalia


    OneWorld Africa (OWA), which is part of the OneWorld network (, are inviting applications for the position of Web Development and Technical Operations Manager as part of their technical capacity enhancement plan. The position holder will be expected to strategically plan, manage and develop web based technical solutions for OWA and its stakeholders and will be responsible for IT operations within the organization.

    Generic Responsibilities

    ß Good oral and written communications abilities

    ß Exposure to multi-cultural clientele spread across geographic locations

    ß Team player with ability to grasp issues quickly

    ß Language proficiency in French and/or Portuguese will be an added advantage

    Specific Requirements

    ß Computer science professional with 3 – 5 years experience; of which at least two years being devoted to the overall management of ICT projects and systems

    ß Qualified with networking fundamentals and network security, RDBMS technologies, programming and web based CMS fundamentals

    ß High degree of comfort with UML and OOAD; and good understanding of PHP and other Object Oriented language

    ß Ability to review, understand and optimize previously designed system architecture and code

    ß Basic Linux and Apache administration experience (comfortable with working in a Linux environment)

    ß Experience with LAMP web application performance testing and tuning; practical experience of web application security

    ß Aptitude for process documentation and technical writing

    ß Exposure to CMM and quality processes are desirable but not mandatory

    Employment terms: Full Time, Contract

    Location: Lusaka, Zambia

    Closing date: 2 May, 2005

    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

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