Issue no 349 8th April 2007

top story

  • There are four projects to build an international fibre cable to connect the east coast of Africa. There’s EASSy, the Kenyan Government’s TEAMS, Flag Telecom…and the fourth project? Sithe’s SEACOM has been working quietly on the fringes to put together a privately funded “carriers’ carrier” project. News has been filtering out about it but Sithe’s Brian Herlihy made his first public presentation of the project at a United Stated Trade Development Agency Africa conference ten days ago in San Francisco. Russell Southwood spoke to him about what SEACOM will be and how it will work.

    The new cable follows the same route as the EASSy cable down the eastern seaboard but it will either connect internationally directly into Italy or India via VNSL. The latter is important because the total cost of international fibre transit will include any second leg beyond the point where the cable lands.

    Brian Herlihy is a veteran of Africa One who has learned the lessons of that over-ambitious project. Sithe is owned by venture capital company Blackstone but is raising private equity to complete the cable which will be called SEACOM. It wants to become a carriers’ carrier for what it sees as an “underserved” market.

    Thus far, it has raised money from the following sources: American funding from an African infrastructure fund, an Africa and Middle East Fund based in Europe and two private equity groups in Africa. At the conference presentation, Herlihy told delegates that “50% of the shareholders are African.”

    In order to act as a “carriers’ carrier”, it will outsource day-to-day operations and is currently in discussions with an internationally reputable carrier. It will either invest in terrestrial backhaul directly or buy it from others. It has excess funding targeted at inland backhaul.

    It is talking to ISPs and carriers about Capacity Purchase Agreements. In effect, it is selling IRUs where the purchaser will put 5% of the price down by an agreed date and make the final 95% contribution at the start of operations.

    One of the current obstacles the project has overcome is that the South African Government will not allow it to land the cable in that country itself. Therefore it will make a commercial agreement with an existing carrier (Neotel) and transfer the operation of the landing station to it. Under the ECA Act, it will make sure that the fibre offers open and fair access to all operators and allows co-location of other POPs.

    By contrast, in Tanzania it will obtain its own licence and build its own landing station and a large co-location centre and put a large ICT park alongside if it proves to be feasible. It will follow the same licensing and operating route in Kenya and also build a co-location centre there. It is currently talking to the Kenyan utility companies about obtaining terrestrial backhaul.

    A factor that will affect all four East African fibre projects is the tightening market for optic fibre cable and build capacity. Having been in the doldrums for a number of years, the two main international submarine cable-laying companies are believed to be both short of fibre optic cable and ships over the next three years. There are now a large number of new fibre projects, particularly in the Pacific. EASSy has chosen Alcatel Lucent as its contractor and we understand that it also bid for the TEAMS project. The Kenyan Government chose Tyco as its contractor. Neither Flag nor SEACOM has appointed contractors although Herlihy says it will do so this month (April 2007).

    On pricing, Herlihy told delegates”We have lowered expected pricing twice to unlock pent-up demand.” He said that the company would act as a wholesaler and that it expected that a reseller market would develop for bandwidth in much the same way as already operated in the satellite market. On pricing, he was coy about starting prices but expected prices to drop to US$91 per mbps per month in ten years time. He noted that the price of bandwidth was “killing more business cases (in Africa) than other factor”. Asked whether his company would be interested in building a competitive alternative to SAT3, he replied that there was already interest in Guinea (where it was involved in an aluminium smelting project) and several groups had already approached it.

    It is interesting to note that the countries with more competitive markets like Kenya and Tanzania are attracting new operator interest, whilst South Africa is not really open for business in quite the same way.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Nigerian mobile operator, Globacom has announced a reduction in its International Direct Dialing tariffs. The new tariff structure shows that calls to Zone 1 countries comprising the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Australia and Africa will now cost 65 kobo per second. Before now calls to these destinations attracted 90kobo a second. Similarly, calls to Zone 2 countries are now charged at N72 per minute or N1.20 a second instead of N198 and N3.30 charged for a minute and a second respectively.

    - MTN Côte d’Ivoire is strengthening its partnership with the local agriculture association by offering new mobile services to farmers including access to business directory, stock tracking and real-time prices of cocoa and coffee.

    - Angola Telecom is installing a digitised station system in the UíNorthern Uíje province. The system, whose equipment's assembling process is underway, will ease calls, services such as waiting calls, identifying calls, three-way conferences and deviation of calls.

    - Moiyabana  in Botswana has become the latest village to join the cellular phone club with the installation of a Mascom Wireless Base Transceiver Station (BTS).  The village, south of Serowe, had been without network coverage since the introduction of cell phones.

    - Mobile operator MTN Nigeria ended 2006 with 12.1 million subscribers, of which 100,000 were post-paid.


  • Malawi is expected to have a third mobile telecommunications company operational by the end of the year, says Alex Makhwatha, director of finance and administration at the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra). The communications regulator last year invited applications for a mobile telecoms operating licence. The initiative was a directive from the Malawian Ministry of Information and Tourism.

    Of the 11 operators that received bidding documents, only five submitted applications, says a Macra statement. The companies that submitted their applications and met the appropriate standards are South African-based Econet Wireless, Malawian-based Malcom, Globally Advanced Integrated Networks, Megatel Communications and US-based Millennium Global Telecom, says Makhwatha. With the exception of Econet, none of the bidders have an existing presence in Africa. Of the big three, Celtel is already an operator but neither MTN or Vodacom have bid.

    “The regulator is assessing the potential operators and will make a final decision within a few months.” Makhwatha says the presence of a third mobile operator will create competition that can be beneficial to the Malawian populace. “Competition is an obvious step to bring down high tariffs in the country.” The other mobile operating firms in Malawi are Celtel and Telekom Networks, with around 60 000 subscribers. Makhwatha believes there is scope for a third mobile operator in a country with a population of 11 million people.




    The Department of Communications director-general made this statement after delivering her department's 2007-2010 strategy to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications last week.

    She also attacked the Eassy supplier contract signed on 9 March between Telkom, the network operators and equipment supplier Alcatel Lucent. She said it was outside the policy framework. The South African Government seems to believe that it will run and control the cable consortium. The private sector takes a different view and NEPAD seems to have taken the view that it can impose both its view and the rather heavy-handed governmental structure it envisages.

    The South African Government has (along with NEPAD’s e-Africa Commission) been the driving force behind the idea of a political protocol that sets up a Governmental structure to run the cable. But the reality is that there is no consensus on the current wording of the protocol and many Ministers in the region see it as retrogressive in terms of the liberalisation of the sector. Only 12 countries have signed so far, and only one, Rwanda, has had the protocol ratified by its Parliament. One Minister told us recently:”NEPAD is the servant of the Government, not its master. But it seems to be behaving as if it were our master.”

    This is the most overt statement, by a senior government official, that the state will use the power its 38% stake gives it in Telkom. The entity listed on the Johannesburg and New York stock exchanges in 2002. The Public Investment Corporation, another state-owned entity, owns a further 7.1% of Telkom's shares.

    The Eassy project has been marked by conflicting points of view between government and companies. The former wants open and non-discriminatory access, meaning one charge irrespective of whether the user is an investor. Companies, on the other hand, want it to be run along commercial lines.

    Telkom CEO Papi Molotsane previously said his company's participation in Eassy would be along commercial lines – a stand that has placed Telkom at odds with government's policy.

    The Eassy supplier contract is outside the project's policy framework, says communications department DG Lyndall Shope-Mafole. Responding to concerns that there seemed to be two Eassy processes, Shope-Mafole said the supply contract was not within the policy framework as developed for the project.

    “I have indicated this to Telkom and have had discussions with their CEO, but have not discussed it with the other companies that signed it. That is why Sentech did not sign, because Sentech understands it can't sign outside a policy framework, and I suppose the others will learn.

    “Eassy is not two processes. What we at the Department of Communications have to make businesses understand is that ICT is not just a business, it is far more important than that. Our policy is that it must be an open, non-discriminatory access model.”

    Shope-Mafole said all the governments that had signed the Eassy protocol were determined the cable would not be dominated by one consortium, as had happened with the SAT-3 west coast submarine cable.

    Shope-Mafole said the framework was based on that of non-discriminatory access, whereby investors would benefit from the number of users and not through owning the infrastructure.

    At the next Eassy Intergovernmental Assembly in Zimbabwe, on 30 March, government would propose investor participation in the Eassy project would be limited to $2 million (R14.5 million), so that large companies do not dominate the cable, she noted.

    Shope-Mafole pointed out there was no adversarial relationship between government and Telkom, as the telecoms utility had been involved in the Eassy project since the beginning. “But they are just like any other company and will try their luck.”

    ITWeb and Balancing Act

  • The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has extended payment deadline for provisional licences issued last week to four telecoms companies for the proposed rollout of third generation (3G) mobile services in the country.

    Investigations reveal that a seven day extension has been added to the 14-day period in which the companies have to pay the balance of US$135 million for the 2GHz spectrum lots for 3G services supporting voice, data, high-speed internet, mobile-TV among others on mobile networks.

    The four licensees include MTN Nigeria Communications Limited owned by South Africa's MTN Group; Celtel Nigeria owned by MTC Celtel of Kuwait; Globacom Limited owned by Nigerian businessman, Mike Adenuga Jr. and Alheri Engineering Limited, owned by the Dangote Group promoted by businessman, Aliko Dangote.

    With only these four companies meeting the prequalification deadline for the four licences on offer, the proposed auction slated for next month has been cancelled by NCC, a development that led to last Monday offer of provisional licences.

    Investigations also reveal that the licensees have been notified that payments received by the regulator will determine the priority to be accorded issuance of the four spectrum bands which may be on first-come, first-serve basis.

    The notice is "an indication that one or two of the spectrum may be prone to some interference", an analyst said last night in the wake of the NCC reprieve while noting that it may have been informed by the need to take into cognizance that virtually all the operators had expected a bid next month and may have structured their financing towards that period.

    Hitherto, NCC had said only these four companies that met its prequalification criterion of "qualifying licensed network operators" that will each get a 10MHz lot in the 2GHz spectrum after meeting the March 16 deadline for payment of the $15 million 'Intention-to-Bid Deposit' which represents 10 per cent of the $150 million reserve price for each licence.

    Spokesman of NCC, Dave Imoko had last week said the regulator "expects to receive the licence fees, being the Reserve Price of $150 million less the Intention-to-Bid Deposit of $15million, within 14 business days of Award of the Provisional Licence. Upon receipt of cleared funds, the Commission will award the Spectrum Licence."

    NCC is offering 40 MHz in four equal blocks of 10 MHz allocated within the following ranges: Block A, 1920 - 1930 MHz, paired with 2110 - 2120 MHz; Block B, 1930 - 1940 MHz, paired with 2120 - 2130 MHz; Block C, 1940 - 1950 MHz, paired with 2130 - 2140 MHz and Block D, 1950 - 1960 MHz, paired with 2140 - 2150 MHz.

    However, having learnt a few lessons from the 2G spectrum auctions of January 2001, when Communications Investments Limited (CIL) promoted by Mike Adenuga could not convince NCC to pay in naira, the regulator says that beyond the payment reprieve, licensees can also pay the balance for their licence in the Nigerian currency.

    According to the information memorandum for the licensing, "the Intention -to-Bid-Deposit (IBD) must be paid in US Dollars. During the Auction, Bidders are required to bid in U.S. Dollars. They may, however, effect payment in Naira based on the CBN foreign exchange rate on the date of the provisional award of the licence. Bank account details to facilitate Naira payments will be made available to successful Bidders after the auction upon request. "

    The four provisional licensees emerged out of 17 applicants for what would have been an auction earlier slated for next month. They were the only ones that met the deadline for the payment of the 10 per cent deposit of the reserve price indicating an intention-to-bid-deposit stipulated by the bid rules to pre-qualify.

    This Day

  • The government has issued a telecommunications operating licence to Al-Warid, a Dubai-based telecommunication company. The Minister of Information Communications Technology Ham Mukasa Mulira, officially handed over the licence to the company's Chief Executive Officer Zul Javaid at the Uganda Communications Communication (UCC) offices last Wednesday.

    The company now joins House of Integrated Technology (HITS) Telecom, which was also officially cleared a week ago. Dr Mulira said the Public Service Provider licence allows the operators to provide the cellular (mobile) services, fixed voice services, Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite (GMPCS) services and Internet access services, which include IP Telephony + Virtual Private Networks) and Internet Exchange Services (IXPS) among others. Javaid told Daily Monitor that the company would start operations in Uganda in the next six to seven months.

    "When launch, our services will be in the area of high speed Internet broad band, voice services, data plus the usual telecommunications service," he said. He said they have nine million subscribers and they would be launchng the biggest network in Bangladesh in April. He said the company also operates in Congo Brazzaville and was looking at eight other countries in Africa. Officials said the company had duly fulfilled all the stipulated licence requirements.

    Mulira said the licensing of new players is a unique opportunity for all the operators to open doors for innovation. He said a three-pronged approach has been adopted for the establishment of a national ICT backbone infrastructure through the Rural Communications Development Programme, which would realise its major development targets over the next fours years.

    The Monitor

  • - Major backbone network re-engineering has started in Namibia and could cause limited disruption of telecom services. Namibia Telecom is in the process of upgrading the SDH transmission backbone  from STM-4 (622 Mbps) to STM-16 (2.5 Gbps) in order to meet the increasing demand for bandwidth.

    - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa has allocated frequency spectrum in the 800 MHz band to Neotel, South Africa's SNO. Icasa had earlier ruled that non-broadcasting companies could apply for spectrum in this bandwidth. This clears the way for the SNO to start making a retail offer later this year.


  • MWEB and Internet Solutions (IS), two of the largest ISPs in South Africa, are optimistic about the potential of WiMax to increase the current broadband penetration rate in South Africa.  

    Telkom has recently announced that they have launched an external broadband customer trial using WiMax. This trial is run in collaboration with Internet Service Providers MWEB, IS and Telkom Internet.

    MWEB said that they will be targeting their existing customer base for the trial, and envisage that when WiMax is launched commercially, they will be in a good position to further penetrate the broadband market.

    MWEB also pointed out that they expect WiMax to solve some of the problems associated with getting an ADSL connection and this will enhance broadband growth. These problems are caused by the speed at which Telkom can provision ADSL lines for both itself and its suppliers.

    “Currently we feel that the delays in installing ADSL lines have hampered growth considerably, and with this no longer being an issue, we should immediately see an increase in growth. Added to that, we now have the ability to target areas that don’t have Telkom fixed line infrastructure.”

    Long ADSL installation times are often cited as the reason for consumers opting for other broadband services like iBurst or HSDPA, and the launch of WiMax may result in a faster broadband growth and more customers for both Telkom and their reseller partners.

    IS are also upbeat about the potential of WiMax and predict that it will have a positive impact on broadband delivery in future, but cautions that the current trial is dependant on Telkom’s tower rollouts.

    “IS anticipate a large uptake of the WiMax service in the longer term, the trial however is dependent on Telkom’s roll-out of their WiMax service,” IS said.

    Unlike MWEB which will merely resell the Telkom service, IS will provide their trial users with their own account and bandwidth, very similar to the current ISDSL offerings.

    “During the test phase, Telkom will be supplying the WiMax service to the customers as the last mile portion, and Internet Solutions will provide the users with accounts to make use of IS’ own bandwidth, thereby testing IS bandwidth across their last mile Telkom WiMax service,” IS said. IS further points out that WiMax has the potential of bypassing various problems which currently cause problem with ADSL roll out.

    “The installation is not always simple, however it doesn’t have the issues of cable theft or quality of copper that currently hound a number of ADSL users. We believe that WiMax will help revolutionise last mile connectivity, and bring services to consumer and SME alike as well as offer last mile replacement services for Corporate SA,” IS concluded.


  • ICANN announced in a press release that it has signed an accountability framework with the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) managers for .ly – Libya.

    The Accountability Framework program provides two mechanisms by which ccTLD managers can formalize their relationship with ICANN. The first is an Accountability Framework document that sets out the obligations of a ccTLD manager and ICANN.

    It also covers dispute resolution and termination and is designed for ccTLD managers requiring a formal document with ICANN. The second is an exchange of letters between ICANN and the ccTLD manager designed for those for whom a simple statement of commitment is more appropriate.


  • The fibre optic sub-marine cable project spearheaded by the Government taken a step forward following the completion of a route survey. The East Africa Marine Systems (Teams) undersea cable should be operational in three years, Information and Communications Permanent Secretary, Dr Bitange Ndemo has said.

    "This occasion marks a momentous milestone for Telkom Kenya and the country at large as it takes us nearer to our cherished dream of commissioning a fibre optic backbone network in the next three years," he said. Ndemo spoke on Thursday when he received a route survey report presented to him by the project scientists, whose ship docked at the port of Mombasa.

    The survey started in Fujaira in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ended in Mombasa, covering a distance of 4,726 km, said project manager, Mr Boris Shirokozhukhov. Cruising at a speed of eight knots, the ship took three months to complete the route.

    Following the route survey completion, the Government is now on course to establishing a separate company - special purpose vehicle - to manage laying of the cable, linking Fujaira and East Africa. RV Gelendzhik, operated by Tyco Telecom Company of the US undertook the survey and mapping services to facilitate laying the cable to link the three East African countries.

    On board was a crew of 30, including 22 scientists and two Telkom Kenya officers.

    The PS termed the survey completion as a milestone that would further advance local telecommunication standards. The survey project cost $2.7 million (Sh191 million).

    Immediately the report was received, concerned authorities announced they would work on the modalities for tendering.

    Team's chairperson in charge of the Technical Committee, Projects and Contracts, Ms Atieno Ochola, said they are now working on the design of request for proposals.

    "The survey forms portion of the project and what we are awaiting is the actual construction or laying of the cable under the seabed," she said. A landing base has been identified near the historical Fort Jesus Museum, overlooking the Indian Ocean.

    Alongside other investors, the Government is expected to own 40 per cent of the project.

    Standard Chartered Bank is the project's financial adviser and was represented at the ceremony to welcome the ship by Mr Fred Michuki, a senior lender, public sector.

    Last year, the Government, through Telkom Kenya and the UAE, through its telecommunication service provider Etisalat, entered into a memorandum of understanding for implementing Teams.

    The East African Standard

  • Chairman board of trustees of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) Dr. Adeola Odeyemi has re-iterated the need for all stakeholders in the Nigerian internet community to come together to promote the growth and development of its online presence through the growing adoption of the Nigerian top level domain. A Similar call had earlier been made by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

    Making this call at a press conference held in Lagos, Odeyemi noted that "the signing into law of the NITDA bill is the first solid step the ICT industry requires for rapid growth and relevant contribution to Nigeria's ICT development."

      He explained that only a few users had been aware that there was a country top level domain: .ng which inadvertently had been hosted outside the country by a Technical Point of Contact person authorized by ICAAN (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers) and IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), which are some of the international organizations responsible for coordination of internet activities globally.

    He also stated that in response to the president's call, "we are pleased to return here today to inform the internet community and Nigerians at large that NIRA has been registered with the corporate affairs commission (CAC) and has been issued its certificate of incorporation". He stated that the association is ready to take further steps towards the overall vision of internet growth across Nigerian through private sector participations.

    He stated that persons and organizations that have expressed desire to register domain names in the country have been presented with the opportunities to register under various foreign names including the following among many, .org,, .za etc.

    Dr Odeyemi also gave a breakdown of developments efforts made to bring the management of the nation's top level domain to include "the appointment of two of its own colleagues as Technical Point of contact for domain registration".

    He called on members to note the following activities to get stakeholders in the internet community to make application for registration as members of NIRA and the actions taken so far by NIRA BOT to set up screening committee for membership enrolment.

    Odeyemi disclosed that NIRA "is poised to take further steps towards the overall vision of internet growth across Nigeria through private sector participation".

    This Day

  • AccessKenya Group, the holding company which owns AccessKenya, Kenya’s leading corporate ISP, and BLUE, one of Kenya’s largest Public Data Network Operators, has announced that through BLUE it has paid Ksh 15 million for a Data Carrier Network Operator’s License from CCK and have been given permission by CCK to start offering VSAT services.

    The DCNO license allows AccessKenya to provide VSAT services and contract directly with international providers for their own uplink gateway services rather than through intermediaries. The DCNO license is the successor of the original Internet Backbone and Gateway Operators License (IBGO).

    When asked if this license will mean that new services will be brought to the market by AccessKenya, the Group Managing Director, Jonathan Somen said that they will bring at least one new service to Kenya and possibly more but the first will be a “direct out” VSAT solution for remote sites where a dish can be installed anywhere in Kenya and can connect directly out to the Internet, to cater for clients who have no suitable local network connectivity.  The Group is also investigating other possible VSAT solutions that could be offered to Kenyans that would be of benefit to the consumer.

    Commenting on the purchase of this license from CCK, Somen said, “We feel that this is the last piece of the puzzle in terms of licensing for us.  We now hold all the key licenses for the provision of full data and voice services to all our clients while ensuring that each and every part of the services is completely within our own control.”

    Expanding on what they propose to do with the license, Somen said, “We will be deploying our own International gateways for uplink services to further improve our management of the service and to reduce costs which in turn will benefit customers.  We will continue to operate multiple links to the Internet to ensure we have full redundancy on our services as we do today.”

    The Group’s companies now hold four licenses from CCK, the other three being ISP, PDNO, and Local Loop Operator licenses.

    The AccessKenya Group is awaiting approval from the Capital Markets Authority to list on the Nairobi Stock Exchange and it plans to continue its strong level of investment in the company. “We plan to invest part of the funds we raise from the Initial Public Offering to expand our network even further”, said the Group Managing Director.

  • - The Nigerian communication satellite will be launched on May 14, 2007, Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Turner T. Isoun has said. Nigcomsat had already been completed and moved to the launching site in China.


  • Nine computer resellers have been forced to pay compensation to Microsoft after being caught installing unlicensed software on the stock they sold. The companies in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town were fined a cumulative R95,498 for pirating the software through hard disk loading, when unlicensed copies of the Windows operating system were illegally placed on computers and sold to customers.

    An estimated 36% of business software in SA is unlicensed, and that figure is cause for concern, says Mark Reynolds, the manager of small business partners at Microsoft SA. “We need to stamp out piracy and treat all cases with the same seriousness,” Reynolds says. “It doesn’t matter if the value of the pirated software totals R1000 or R1m.”

    Computer resellers need to be aware that dealing in counterfeit goods is a criminal offence, he says. The Counterfeit Goods Act and the Copyright Act make the crime punishable with a fine of R5000 an item or a jail term of up to three years for a first offence, while the punishment for repeat offenders rises to R10000 an item or up to six years in jail.

    Microsoft has repeatedly run campaigns to protect its revenues by reducing the level of piracy, which denies it the annual licence fees as well as the initial purchase price of its software. The company also argues that using pirated software can hurt the customer, as they lose out on product updates and technical support.

    They also risk buying faulty counterfeits or software that is infected by viruses.

    “Users need to look for the Certificate of Authenticity provided with all new Microsoft software. If the dealer doesn’t provide this, the software is most likely unlicensed,” Reynolds says.

    Business Day

  • The absence of a cyber law in Ghana is frustrating the efforts of the Vetting Crime Intelligence Analysis, (VCIA) unit of the Ghana Police Service to fighting computer fraud and also to prosecute perpetrators of Internet fraud.

    Global statistics for 2005 indicate Americans lost $180 billion to Nigerians. Credit card fraud formed 24 percent of online fraud while the average loss per complaint was $12,000.

    The police are therefore advocating for specific laws to govern the use of computers. "Something must be done to save the image of the country since most of the crimes are being perpetrated by foreign nationals mostly Nigerians resident here," the source said.

    The two forms of computer crimes include crime against computer, which involves the computer as a target in the committing of crime, sending a virus to the computer or sparking an individual's computer. This form however, is not common in the Ghanaian system. Even when they do happen they are often not reported.

    The other, cyber crime involves using computer as a tool to commit crime. This is said to be on the increase in Ghana, a situation, which is gradually earning Ghana the unattractive title as a high Internet crime country.

    A source at the Police Headquarters in Accra told Public Agenda that as high as 19 complaints of cases of Internet fraud are recorded weekly. These include romance fraud, which involves dating through the Internet, 419 frauds which normally involves treasures; gold fraud and wash- wash fraud which involves chemicals used to wash coated money.

    Consequently, foreigners are gradually loosing interest in the security intelligence of the country. Foreign nationals particularly Nigerians dominate in such crimes, while the involvement of Ghanaian youth in the crime is picking up. These youth mainly reside in Nima, Maamobi and Mallam Atta all suburbs of Accra.

    Meanwhile the Police CID is investigating one Abdulai Musah and two others for allegedly defrauding a foreign company of a consignment of books.

    Abdulai Musah, 30 was arrested on March 2, 2007, upon a complaint from a foreign company through the web site of the Police service. Musah is said to have posed as one Dr. O'Brian to order a consignment of books worth £35 thousand from the company and made payment with a credit card which could not be honoured.

    Again he posed as Dr. John Kernick once and as Dr. Prof. J. Joseph to order another consignment worth £7,900. Officials of the company became suspicious and reported to the police CID through its website.

    On March 15, 2007 Musah sent one Adamu Iddrisu for another consignment of 50 boxes with 300 copies of books, mostly medical ones, but was arrested by the police.

    The police said when they conducted a search on him, they found an American passport copy bearing the name Kernick. He is said to have mentioned his brother one Abdulai Rahamani as the manufacturer of the credit cards.

    The police therefore advice the public to be wary of such fraudsters. The police have also urged the media to create awareness of the growing incidence of cyber crimes.

    Public Agenda

  • Somalia's transitional government (TFG) will start issuing new electronic Somali passports to Somali residents abroad from Sunday, 1 April, according to Abdullahi Gafow Mahmoud, Director of Somali Immigration and Naturalisation. Somalis living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be the first to receive new, expensive passports.

    Speaking to 'Awdalnews Network' from Dubai, where he will officiate the issuance of the passport, Mr Gafow said that 87 out of 125 countries to which his government has appealed for the recognition of the passport have so far recognised the new Somali passport.

    "Among the major countries that recognised the passport are the Unites States, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and a number of African countries," he said.

    Gafow, a former Deputy Director of the Immigration Department during the Siyad Barre's regime, said the e-passport made by a Sharjah-based company known as "Best Solutions" makes Somalia the first African country to issue such hi-tech forgery-proof passports.

    Earlier, the UAE press reported that the Somali government had selected the UAE-Emirate of Sharjah as the main centre for issuing electronic passports and electronic identification cards for its citizens around the globe.

    Speaking to the UAE press last Tuesday, Hassan Ahmed Jama, Under Secretary of the Somali Foreign Affairs, said that the UAE was one of the Arab countries that supported Somalis during the 17-year civil war that left millions displaced.

    Gafaw, however, affirmed that new immigration officers to be based in Somali Embassies would issue the Somali passport while the database will be kept with the passport-printing centre in the Sharjah Airport Free Zone.

    "The Sharjah government has welcomed the move and has provided us with the necessary facilities to issue new electronic passports which will help in combating fraudulent identity documents," said Mr Jama.

    Abdullah Sahooh, Director-General of the Sharjah Naturalisation and Residency Department, who attended the press conference along Mr Jama also emphasised, "New Somali passports are recognised in the UAE."

    Abdillahi Congo, a former Somali Ambassador in Egypt, however, described the idea of keeping the database by a foreign company as illegal. "Travel documents are symbol for the country's sovereignty and to give up that sovereignty to a foreign party is illegal and automatically makes the passport invalid. This is pure business," he said in a statement to 'Awdalnews'.

    But Gafaw affirmed that the Immigration Centre would later move to Mogadishu after ensuring safety and security in all parts of the country.

    New e-passports will be designed as per international standards defined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), using the latest 'contact less chip technology', incorporating Facial and Fingerprints Biometric Security Recognition.

    Passports were to be issued in four colours to various categories - red for diplomatic missions, brown for services, black for the public and light blue for travel documents only.

    Gafaw said that other centres would soon be opened in UK, Sweden, Canada and Minnesota in the United Sates, noting that the new passports have already been issued at the Somali embassies in Nairobi and Addis Ababa, while a Djibouti office will be opened soon.

    He indicated that mobile teams would issue the passport to Somali residents in West Africa and other places where Somali Embassies are not found. "Inside the country we have already opened offices in Baidoa, Bossasso, Garowe and Laas Anod," he said, underlining that there will be no need for people to come to Mogadishu for a passport as the case used to be under the previous government.

    Answering a question on whether any foreign visas have been issued to the holders of the new passports, Gafaw said: "I have entered the UAE with the new passport and a visa has been issued to me, and the American Embassy in Nairobi has been the first to issue visas to the holders of the new Somali passports."

    New passports with electronic national identity cards will cost US$150 for Somalis outside Somalia and US$ 100 for Somalis residing within Somalia, making it one of the most expensive passports issued by foreign embassies in the UAE. Passport fees for other nationalities living in the UAE range between US$ 30-50.

    Commenting on this, Gafaw said that the passport was expensive because of the sophisticated technology used in it and other related computerised work. A number of Somali residents in the UAE, however, expressed mixed feelings about the new passport, many of them doubting the credibility of Somalia's transitional government.

    Abirahman Sh. Omar, a long time resident in the UAE, said: "This is a new Isbaaro but this time with international support." Isbaaro is used to describe the checkpoints installed by various warlords in Mogadishu to get money through coercion. Noah Arre, another UAE resident, described the high fees as a rip-off aimed at squeezing money from the poor people who could not afford such outrageous fees.

    Some other Somalis who are stuck with the old passport, which are recognised only in some parts of the Arab world, have welcomed the new passport if it finally could give them freedom of movement.

    afrol News

  • With the launch of the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy for Zambia, it is expected that the regulatory framework will be harmonised and contribute to national development through creation of an innovative market and responsive competitive ICT sector writes Balancing Act’s Zambia correspondent Timothy Kasonde Kasolo.

    Officially launching the national ICT policy for Zambia, President Levy Mwanawasa whose speech was read on his behalf by Vice President Rupiah Banda-said the ICT policy is an important step for the country to be transformed into an  information and knowledge based society.

    He added that there was need to harmonise the existing regulatory bodies that govern the ICT sector through the implementation of the national ICT policy.

    “The challenge that remains ahead is to implement the policy through the involvement of private sector and other partners for ICT infrastructure development,” Mwanawasa said. The President explained that there was need for the development of ICT incubators and ICT business innovation to accelerate local consumer use of ICTs in Zambia. “Through the launch of this national ICT policy the aim is to bridge the digital divide among Zambians,” Mwanawasa explained.

    The President added that the national ICT policy will improve and contribute to economic development of the country through facilitation of joint venture initiatives for local entrepreneurs working with the international private investors in the provision of ICT goods and services.

    “The policy will enhance national development through the creation of a favourable business environment and promote Zambia as an attractive destination for ICT related investments within the region and on the international market,” the President said.

    Mwanawasa called upon stakeholders in the ICT industry to develop infrastructure in rural areas so that access to ICT services is served to many people in Zambia

    And speaking earlier United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Zambia, Aeneas Chuma said Zambia has advanced in the use of ICTs for development.

    Chuma explained that some of the examples of ICT development in Zambia is through distance learning using the Internet and the transmission of election results using mobile phones. The UN representative added that the ICT policy is a crucial enabler of for Zambia’s development.

    He said that the ICT policy will help Zambia in the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) applied to education and health support in relation to ICTs.

    Meanwhile Ministry of Communications and Transport (MCT) Minister, Peter Daka urged Zambia Telecommunication Company (ZAMTEL) to spearhead  the development of the optic fibre in order to ease communication costs in the country.

    Daka explained that ICTs should be made available even in rural areas so that the Zambian people moved at the same wave length in embracing information technology.

    The ICT policy was developed through a consultative process in 2003 and was completed in 2005 by the technical committee that was appointed by the MCT. The MCT website is

    What does ICT policy cover? The ICT policy guides actions in three main areas and ensures coherence among them: Telecommunications, Broadcasting and the Internet.

    The telecommunications sector includes private businesses and public sector organizations that provide telecommunications services (telephone, Internet access), produce equipment (telephones, exchanges, modems etc), define and apply the rules that govern telecommunications operations (regulation), or use telecommunications services and products (consumer groups, interest groups, educators, health professionals etc).

    Broadcasting is the use of radio technologies to send transmissions (programmes: news, public services, entertainment, sports) intended for direct reception by the general public. Transmissions include radio and television. Like telecommunications, the broadcasting sector includes public enterprises such as national and community radio and television as well as private companies.

    While twenty years ago most broadcasters knew their audiences and targeted their services and programmes locally or nationally, today’s television and radio programming often has a regional or global reach.

    The Internet is a collection of networks linked together using a common protocol - a global computer network achieved through the interconnection of smaller computer networks around the world.

  • The Ministry of Mines and Energy will be investing over US$20 million to upgrade the licensing of prospectors. The Ministry has been working for the past 10 months on an Energy Access project using a loan obtained from the International Development Agency (IDA). A consultant hired for the mineral component of this project has completed the design study to upgrade the Ministry information system on minerals.

    The upgrade involves the installation of the Cadastre Data Management System considered to be a principal source of information about ownership rights in land. This system uses land parcel (plot) as the basic unit of record, and the information so collected improves the management of land. Its users range from land owners, surveyors and real estate managers to lawyers and government agencies.

    The Ministry's existing procedure to grant land concession to potential prospectors involves issuing a newspaper notice calling for a response in 30 days from any prospectors who might already have been granted the particular plot by regional Bureaus of Mines and Energy.

    An official of the Investment Commission told Fortune that many foreign investors were unhappy with this procedure, and some even dropped the idea of investing in Ethiopia and left the country.

    The Cadastre Data Management System Software enables easy access of such information as types of mineral resources found in an area as well as ownership rights. This project will connect the Federal Ministry with the 11 regional Mines and Energy Bureaus through a wide area network; the software will be installed at all the Bureaus, avoiding the need for newspaper advertisements. Hunde Melka, Plan and Programme senior expert at the Ministry said that the system will enable the federal and regional Bureaus to easily exchange information on mineral resources.

    The over 20 million dollars provided by IDA will be used for the acquisition and installation of the software and related hardware as well as other IT equipment, a move that would be a great improvement for the Ministry, according to an IT expert.

    The Ministry issued a notice on February 25, 2007, for expression of interest to hire a consultant for the procurement of materials as well as for the networking of the Bureaus and the training of staff for a fee of 2.5 million dollars. Interested companies have until March 28 to deliver their expressions.

    Addis Fortune

  • - Unhappy with the use of proprietary software within the internet cafe manager ZybaCafe, developer AJ Venter decided "fork that" and developed the fully free OutCafe which had its first release this month.

    - The team released version 2.2 of the office suite which is intended to make it easier for Microsoft users to migrate away from Office. Security, Vista integration and good looks are top of the agenda this time around.

Digital Content

  • A website with comprehensive business information about Uganda has been launched, writes Vision Reporter.  “We shall provide reliable information on to enable people decide in confidence. Clients should therefore stop searching, log onto our website and get all the information they need,” Robert Katuntu, the managing director of I know information services, said at a press conference.

    The website was developed after research showed that getting information about business and other facilities in Uganda was a hassle. Most company websites are rarely updated, yet there is a growing need for the information, he said.

    “Unlike our competitors, our website will be updated daily. Our tools and services are designed to ease doing business. The website is written for Uganda’s unique environment,” Katuntu explained.  He said the website will also offer tips on starting, managing and growing a business.

    New Vision

  • The First Tuesday group is hosting an event to explore the technology waved dubbed Web 2.0, as the internet evolves from a predominantly business platform into a more inclusive and interactive way of life.

    The internet has shaken up the commercial world completely, and is now becoming a more personal tool, changing how people interact and communicate. It is also changing internal communications and customer relationship management models in large corporations, says First Tuesday executive Mike Wright.

    A sense of community lies at the heart of this phenomenon, Wright says. "It is all about collaboration. It is about how individuals are doing things for themselves in collaboration with like-minded people on the other side of the planet."

    Blogging, or the creation of personal web logs, for example, is generating structured communities where members are starting to interact more by being part of a self-selected group, he says.

    As blogs go mainstream, some companies are offering blog management as part of their reputation management services for corporations. Monitoring and responding to blog posts that discuss a particular brand or company is becoming part of the job for a marketing practitioner.

    Another aspect of Web 2.0 is collaborative creation, says Heather Ford, a director at iCommons. Research shows that on television and radio, 90% of content is produced by corporations.

    The internet turns those statistics on their head, with the majority of content produced by individuals and communities.

    One famous example is YouTube, where people post their own videos. Another is Facebook, a social tool that connects people with friends and others through separate sections relating to schools, companies and regions. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.

    Such sites force companies to rethink the value and ownership of content on the internet, Ford says.

    The event at Johannesburg's Wanderers Club on April 3 is necessary because the impact of Web 2.0 on businesses and society cannot be dismissed and those who do not understand it could find themselves left in the dark, says Wright.

    It presents both threats and opportunities as it helps businesses connect with their customers and employees better, faster, cheaper and more effectively than ever.

    One of the speakers will be Vincent Maher, a digital strategist for the Mail & Guardian. He will look at services and applications that are springing up, as well as the possible threats involved in this new way of thinking. "Web 2.0 is about the new ways of using web-based technology to interact with people and customers, as well as finding new communication channels. It goes way beyond just the technology," says Maher.

    Details are available from

    Business Day

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • The public will be offered a share of Telkom Kenya before the year ends. The Government yesterday said it will sell 34 per cent of its stake in the parastatal through the Nairobi Stock Exchange.

    A further 26 per cent will be sold to a strategic partner before the other shares are sold to the public. The partner can either be a qualified operator, a financial investor or a group of investors, the ministry of Finance said in the statement released yesterday.

    According to the statement, the shares will be offered to Kenyans through an initial public offer (IPO). Information and Communication minister Mutahi Kagwe yesterday said the transactions will be have been finalised by the end of the year.

    But before the proposed sale, the corporation will hand over the ownership of its mobile phones arm, Safaricom, back to the Treasury. Kagwe said Kenya has to move fast to ensure efficiency in the telecommunications sector and exploit its enormous benefits "because they will not last forever".

    Telkom's privatisation will be similar that of Kenya Airways. The parastatal will first seek a strategic partner to boost public interest and confidence ahead of the IPO.

    After the sale, the Government will become a minority shareholder with about 40 per cent stake. "We need to move fast since we are playing catch-up with our competitors," the minister said. Every stage of the process will be advertised to give all interested parties a fair chance and ensure transparency.

    World Bank's International Finance Corporation will be retained as the transaction advisor. The corporation has been involved in the sale of most of the Government's shares in parastatals. Once a suitable partner is found, a management structure will be agreed on with the Government. This announcement marks the formal launch of the privatisation of the telecommunications outfit.

    The Nation

  • South African institutions can access European Union (EU) funding for ICT research if they are willing to collaborate with their European counterparts. This message emerged in Pretoria yesterday, at the first EuroAfrica-ICT (Start) Awareness Workshop.

    The two-day event is a component of the EuroAfrica-ICT initiative, which aims to connect sub-Saharan African and European organisations for partnerships in science and technology development. Government, academia and industry are represented.

    Speaking yesterday, Karine Valin, project coordinator of the initiative and MD of France-based Sigma Consultants, warned delegates that while the opportunities are immense, the process is difficult.

    “The EU has a budget of 53.2 billion euros set aside for research and development funding through its seventh framework programme (FP7). Some 9.1 billion euros of this is set aside for ICT research. There are opportunities for non-European organisations to access these funds. However, there are challenges like finding partners from three different EU countries to collaborate with,” she said.

    While the EuroAfrica-ICT initiative does not facilitate applications for funding, it promotes awareness of research and development programmes and projects across Europe and Africa.

    This enables the organisation to facilitate communication between potential partners, says Johan Eksteen, EuroAfrica's local contact and manager of the technological research programme at the Meraka Institute.

    “This is a funded project, not a funding project. However, we do have access to information regarding funding instruments and international R&D organisations that are interested in collaborating with likeminded counterparts in Africa. Our role is simply to ‘oil the gears' through supporting, connecting and advising parties.”

    Accessing funding from outside of the country is becoming particularly important, particularly as local opportunities are over-subscribed, says Eksteen.

    “However, with international funding come outside desires. The FP7 opportunity could help local organisations achieve their objectives. But it will only happen if these objectives coincide with those of the EU. The same applies for almost all research funding,” he adds.

    Creating an environment to connect with interested local, African and European parties is in itself an important step, says Eksteen.

    “Innovation almost always takes place at the boundaries; bringing people and organisations together can provide the catalyst for new ideas which go on to become major innovations.”


  • The government will engage a Chinese software company to install an electronic management system for the public service.

    Cabinet approved that the Office of the Prime Minister could secure funding under a concessional loan agreement signed last month between China and Namibia during the state visit of Chinese president Hu Jintao for the implementation of an Electronic Documentation and Records Management System (EDRMS) across the public service.

    This is viewed as a critical project in terms of existing e-governance policy directives.

    China offered over N$1 billion as a loan for projects to be identified by Namibia.

    The EDRMS project team evaluated various appropriate software solutions and found that the system offered by Chinese outfit CA-China SS Software Technology would be best suited for the requirements of the Namibian public service.

    "The system is not only government user friendly, but also offers easy-to-use interfaces and robust application software that will link up with already familiar public service platforms to ensure records and archival compliance," Information Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah told reporters last week.

    Cabinet therefore endorsed the EDRMS under the auspices of the Office of the Prime Minister on condition that it complies with tender procedures.

    Cabinet instructed the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance and the National Planning Commission to discuss the conditions, terms, modality of accessing the preferential loan and credit facility to finance the EDRMS and other priority projects in Namibia with the Chinese Government.

    Cabinet also granted approval for the arrangement of the grant and the use of the concessional loans for the EDRMS project by the Export-Import Bank of China, subject to concurrence by the Chinese Government.

    The company CA-CSS is a joint venture formed by New York-based commercial software associates (CA) and China National Computer Software & Technology Service Corporation (CS&S). The primary goal of the joint venture was to explore the potential presented by the Chinese software market by leveraging the resources and expertise from both parties.

    (SOURCE : The Namibian)

  • Tunisia has been awarded a new international distinction and classified by the World Report of Davos on information technologies first in the Maghreb and in Africa, and 35th worldwide, out of a total of 122 countries.

    Presented on March 26, in Geneva, this report, which is a reference in matters investment in the new information and communication technologies (NICTs), determines its classification on the basis of three key elements: the political and economic environment of the country, the technological development level and the degree of utilisation of NICTs.

    Tunisia, which had organised with success the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), has shown its great determination to move ahead on the path of the construction of the knowledge society.

    Compared with other countries, Tunisia is ahead of many others in the Maghreb and North Africa, Morocco (76th), Egypt (77th), and Algeria (80th).

    In the Arab world it also leads, being ahead Qatar (36th), Bahrain (50th) and Kuwait (54th).

    Tunisia also comes ahead such European countries like Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Poland; and the Asian countries such as China and India; and South American countries like Brazil.

    Tunisia ranks first the world over in some sub-features. It is classified fourth in term of the government's success in the NICTs promotion, 6th in matters of importance of NICTs in the governmental strategy, 12th in celerity with which the firms are created in the sector and 14th in terms of quality of the public education institutions.

    There are also other qualitative classifications in very sensitive niches. Tunisia is 30th in matters of protecting copyright and 32nd in the schools' access to the Internet. This new performance of Tunisia in sector as buoyant as the NICTs is obviously a great success which comes to strengthen its place as a front-runner among the world nations. Additionally, it sends a clear message to attract a new flow of foreign investments in the NICTs.


  • - Pan-African cellular group MTN reported a 49% increase in turnover to ZAR52 billion (USD7.66 billion) in 2006. The rise was attributed both to organic subscriber growth and the acquisition of the Investcom group, which has operations across the Middle East. The group said customer numbers were up 73% year-on-year to over 40 million, including around 16 million in the South and East Africa region, 20 million in West Africa and around five million in North Africa and the Middle East.

    - Black empowerment consortiums headed by Saki Macozoma and Nkenke Kekana have made it onto the shortlist of companies that will get a share of the R7.5 billion stake in Vodacom South Africa that is being allocated to black shareholders, sources close to the deal said.

    - Huawei, the Chinese telco equipment manufacturer is planning to open an office in Mauritius. The unit will deal with all tenders for Sub-Saharan Africa.


  • Justin Morel has been appointed as the new minister for information and communications in Guinea.

    Chris Lundh has been appointed as the new CEO of Terracom Communications in Rwanda. Prior to his appointment, Lundh worked for Gateway Communications Ltd.

    Mardia van der Walt-Korsten has been appointed as CEO at T-Systems in SA. She previously held the position of acting CEO.

    Namibian Cell One has announced the appointment of Lars-Christian Iuel as the mobile phone company's new Chief Executive Officer, replacing founder CEO Mac Allman with immediate effect.

    Willem van Rensburg, head of Business Connexion’s telecoms division has resigned  after 17 years with the company. His department comes ahead of a planned takeover of the company by Telkom South Africa.


    4-7 April 2007 – Cotonou, Benin

    This ICT symposium expects to launch the official discussions to establish the “Pan-African Agency for New Media, advocated to provide training courses in new media management for young people in Africa to bridge the content gap.

    - E-LIBERIA: VISION 2010

    23 April 2007, Morovia, Liberia

    E-Liberia:Vision 2010 will take place in Monrovia the week of 23 April, 2007. The program will include the unveiling of the new National ICT Policy for Liberia; a high-level workshop (on the 26th and 27th of April) with participation from domestic, regional, and international experts; a gala dinner; and a private sector innovation fair.


    23-27 April 2007, Accra , Ghana

    The Free Software & Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) is to host a five-day workshop for African free software developers and media workers.

    The workshop is co-hosted by the Economic Commission for Africa, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Center for Excellence in ICT, L'Association de Presse Panafricaine, the Meraka Institute, the University of the Western Cape, IDC, and Panos London.


    28-30th May 2007, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, Kenya

    The subject is Building Infrastructures and Capacities to reach out to the Whole of Africa, reflecting the significant efforts of African countries to set up their national and regional ICT infrastructures to create access to education, training and services for all.


    28th May – 2nd June 2007, Nairobi, Kenya

    The conference is organised by Fahamu on the use of mobile phones by human rights organisations in Africa.


    June 2007 – South Africa

    The conference and exhibition organised by SANGONeT will be aimed at increasing NGOs’ awareness of the strategic importance of their websites and the online environment in general.


    31st July - 2nd August 2007, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Key decision-makers in South Africa and leading international players will share their expertise and forge invaluable business relationships in a highly interactive environment.

    - WI-WORLD AFRICA 2007

    27 – 30 August 2007, Michelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa.

    In Africa, fixed-line infrastructure is lacking and there is a major problem with copper wire theft. Wireless communication is therefore a great alternative.


    The company is looking to recruit a project manager to supervise the roll of a 3G network. The ideal candidate will have a background on Ericsson infrastructure and will be able to start immediately.


    Jataayu Software, a  provider of mobile Value Added Solutions for the Network Operators and handset vendors, announced that CELTEL, a pan-African Mobile Service Provider, has chosen its  WAP 2.0 Gateway along with its Integrated Service and Subscription Environment (ISSE) to provide highly flexible on-demand WAP services in 12 countries in Africa.


    Moroccan fixed line and mobile operator Maroc Télécom has contracted China’s Huawei Technologies to be its main supplier for the construction of a nationwide 3G W-CDMA/HSPA network. The contract includes the building of an all-IP core network based on IP mobile softswitch technology. The Chinese vendor’s UMTS/HSPA Node B range of technologies will be used to enable Maroc Télécom to offer broadband-speed mobile services throughout its 3G footprint. The unified 2G/3G core network will also be designed to evolve to IMS/FMC smoothly.

    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

Web and Mobile Data_old

  • Multichoice and Sentech could remain the dominant forces in pay-television at least until the end of next year, as licence approvals are put on hold so as not to "undermine" the communications department's implementation of the digital migration strategy.

    This could also mean applicants would have to wait for the end of a moratorium, or change their applications to utilise cable as opposed to satellite delivery, according to the department's draft strategy document released last week.

    "Other than the licensing of the existing subscriptions operators, MultiChoice, M-Net and the introduction of new cable-based subscription services, other subscription television services using spectrum, including satellite and terrestrial means, are not to be licensed... and shall be subject to a moratorium until December 31 2008," the document reads. This is likely to entrench the power of the current players.

    "If the strategy is implemented it is likely to further entrench MultiChoice's status as dominant player in the pay-TV market and will also give Sentech time to set itself up as a market force with control over the country's terrestrial-based broadcasting network," said Renaissance Specialist Fund Managers portfolio manager Khulekani Dlamini.

    At the beginning of next year, the department said, it would review whether such a moratorium should be extended. The department said its draft strategy aimed to give 90% of South Africans access to digital television by November 2011, when the analogue signal would be switched off. The department previously announced it would switch on the digital signal in November next year, giving just three years for roll-out.

    The department did not commit to subsidising the cost of set-top boxes required to decode the signal. It estimated, however, there were 4,5-million people unable to afford a box "at any cost". Department spokesman Albi Modise said the strategy would be open for stakeholders' comment until April 5.

    Business Day

  • The Government has launched a taskforce to spearhead the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in the country. The 11-member committee drawn from CCK, the Media Owners Association, the National Communications Secretariat and other stakeholders is charged with the responsibility of setting a policy and regulatory framework, and mechanisms to facilitate the transition.

    Speaking on March 14 during the taskforce launch, Information and Communications Minister Mutahi Kagwe said that adoption of digital technology would help bridge the digital divide, and enable provision of value added services.

    The transition will also enhance the penetration of broadband access and converged broadcasting. The minister said the government would licence multiplex operators, which would enable many broadcasters to share a frequency.

    This, he noted, will lower the cost of broadcasting through infrastructure sharing and at the same time enhance market growth and socio-economic development. Hon. Mutahi Kagwe said CCK had discontinued the assignment of frequencies for analogue broadcasting in preparation to going digital in 2015.

  • The Department of Broadcasting Services cannot afford to cover all local authorities activities or increase local content drastically in Botswana, says the departments director.

    Briefing a Central District Council on the latest developments at his department last week,  Bapasi Mphusu said reporters have to prioritise on which activities to cover. Mphusu said his department had been criticised by MPs and councillors for not covering their activities. He explained that it was not possible to cover all their activities because of shortage of staff.  He, however, said councils were normally covered during their opening and closing sessions.

    We have noted that we have not been able to cover individual councillors and we have since decided to cover the opening sessions of the full council meetings as well as the last day of the meetings.  Local authorities, he admitted, were key stakeholders in the development of Botswana and deserve media coverage.

    The department came up with various initiatives to improve service delivery such as expanding the terrestrial network to increase radio and television coverage.  On other issues, Mphusu said it was costly to broadcast more local programmes as local producers charged exorbitant prices.

    It is quite a challenge for the department because currently we have more foreign materials on BTV and that is because we do not have the capacity to produce local programmes, he added. He said BTV was already engaged in producing in-house programmes such as Sedibeng and Molemo wa Kgang.

    He said programmes such as Dr Phil and Oprah were cheaper than to produce similar local programmes. Two hundred and sixty episodes of Dr Phil cost P1 million, and it will cost about P33 million to produce a similar local programme, he said.

    He, however, said his department would review some of its programmes on BTV and Radio Botswana to find out if they were still relevant to Batswana. We intend to evaluate all programmes so that they may reflect our cultural diversity, he said.

    Mr Kingsley Reetsang, the chief engineer for radio and television transmitters, said the department was working hard to improve coverage and was aiming at 95 per cent and 70 per cent radio and television coverage respectively.

    BTV General Manager Mrs Banyana Segwe, said her department wished to provide locally produced programmes.  Local content on BTV stands at 20 per cent and our aim is to increase it to 60 per cent and I plead with you to be patient with us, she said.


  • - In Cameroon, private TV operator, Spectrum Television (Stv) has signed a contract with New Skies Satellite that will enable the company to broadcast its two TV channels in 30 West and Central African countries.

    - Tunisian private company Karoui and Karoui have a launched a new TV channel broadcasted over Nilesat, Arabsat and Hotbird satellites. Nessma TV is an entertainment channel dedicated to the promotion of Arabic music.

Syndicate content