Issue no 352 29th April 2007

top story

  • This week saw the first ICT conference in Liberia and the publication of the country’s draft ICT strategy. It was a five day event that included public and private sector slots and a day’s presentations from Cisco. It was one more sign that the country is coming back to life after a destructive civil war destroyed much of its infrastructure, including its electricity supply. Security is still being handled by the UN mission UNMIL but the newly elected Government has expressed a determination to improve things and diaspora Liberians are returning to help. Russell Southwood has just returned and reports on changes in the telecoms sector.

    Like a lot of countries emerging from civil war, developments in the telecoms sector have not been entirely negative. Four competing mobile operators have produced some of the cheapest domestic and international calling rates in the region. They will achieve 80-90% coverage of the country’s population in the next two years despite formidable obstacles imposed by the lack of roads. Each mobile operator has its own network. All operators charge per second and by the end of 2007 will each have some form of Internet offering.

    Although four operators is a lot for a small market, it does not seem to be too many and although prices are now largely settled at relatively low level, good levels of profit exist for three of the four operators. As one told us:”I’ve worked in the GSM sector for many years. I don’t believe there is a GSM company that isn’t making money. It only relates to how much money you put in.”

    The incumbent LTC has largely disappeared but there are plans to revive it. Without a fixed line operator, it has passed to broadband wireless operations without having had dial-up. The regulator, the Liberian Telecommunications Authority will be put on a new basis when the Telecommunications Act 2006 is passed.

    The four mobile operators are: Lonestar Cell (now owned by MTN), CellCom, Comium and Libercell. In terms of subscriber numbers, there is little agreement about subscriber levels as each gives numbers based on a slightly different basis. But any fair outside would probably say that Lonestar was the largest operator with CellCom chasing on its heels. Whilst everyone except Libercell itself agrees that it is the smallest operator in the market.

    Market leader Lonestar says that it has 240,000 connected subscribers. It was originally owned by Lebanese-owned company Investcom until South Africa’s MTN bought the company. For the moment it will retain its Lonestar brand, having narrowly missed changing it to Areeba before the company was acquired.

    It plans to have 100 base stations by the end of 2007 covering around 80% of the population. With further investment, this will rise to 90% of the population in 2009. Geographic coverage will then be somewhere between 40-50%. It has six sites in rural areas linked by VSAT.

    It has just started content services and will invest $1.2 million in GPRS/EDGE, to be launched in mid 2007. No pricing structure has yet been agreed for the new service. This is part of a total investment of $10 million over the next two years to ensure that it retains its market position and increases its market share. Its rates to the USA are US40 cents a minute with bonuses that bring the rate down to US32 cents a minute. It believes that the market could grow to just over 600,000 by the end of 2008.

    CellCom was the last operator but has rapidly caught up and looks set to be the main challenger to the market leader. It is a company set up by American and Israeli investors, operated by the Israeli LR Group. It has invested US$170 million since it set up in 2004.

    Its latest market offer is a phone costing just $27 that is bundled with enough minutes to make it effectively free. It says this is the cheapest offer in the market. On the basis of subscribers using its network at least every month over two months, it claims 174,000 subscribers against 171,000 for Lonestar.

    On network calls are only US9 cents but US19 cents to other operator’s networks. The operators pay each other US12 cents to interconnect. A call to the USA is US30 cents and US35 cents to Europe. An SMS on network is US5 cents and double that to other networks.

    It offers Internet access using Wi-MAX over 2.4 or 3.5 ghz with a flat rate service with 128K per second costing US$120 a month. The data network will be completely in place by the end of June 2007 and it will set up a special NOC with a billing system so that it can charge by bandwidth consumption.

    Lebanese-owned Comium claims 125,000 subscribers and says it is the same size as CellCom. 30% of its calls go to other operator’s networks. By the end of 2007 it claims that it will have covered 90% of the population. It offers a wireless broadband service through a separately owned ISP in the group and says it has 900 subscribers for this service. (Market sceptics believe that the overall size of the market is no more than 1-1500 subscribers).  It will soon be installing GPRS.

    Its international calls cost between US40-50 cents depending on destination and offers a roaming rate of US27 cents between its network and its sister Comium network in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

    It has an external value-added provider that offer data content services like horoscopes and ringtones. Currently there are about 3,000 users for these services and it only provides a very modest income stream. Not surprising considering that only 10-15% of the population are literate.

    The smallest operator Libercell is owned privately by a Lebanese family. It offers Internet access over GPRS for $1 per meg and claims 5-6,000 subscribers, most of whom are business people. It covers 80-85% of the Counties (the name of the local administrative area) and says it will roll out to all larger settlements in the counties before rolling out along the roads to them. It believes the market could grow to between 1-1.5 million depending on the state of the economy.

    It has yet to reach breakeven point but the company says it will go into profit before long and it sees itself as the technology leader with the introduction of GPRS/EDGE.  The danger it faces is that the new owners of Lonestar (MTN) has deeper pockets than a local family and it may find itself squeezed. On the other hand, it may simply become the acquisition target of another pan-African operator if the country stays stable.

    The wild card is the planned revival of the currently inactive incumbent LTC. It has installed a CDMA switch sold to it by ZTE, although the line capacity is relatively modest. The question has to be: why revive an incumbent when you don’t have one? The World Bank and the regulator are both against the move. The company owed $15 million but the current management claims to have got rid of these liabilities.

    It is investigating two options: firstly, it is looking to get in an external investor or if that is not possible, secondly bring in a short-term manager. One of the few carrots is that under the terms of its original licence it has a mobile licence. It will have responsibility for the national and international backbone. There was much talk of connecting to SAT3 which seems very unlikely. Sources say that it is currently talking to Etisalat-owned Atlantique Telecom with a view to the company becoming a strategic investor.

    The only way value can be added to wrecked incumbents after a civil war is by reverting to a “special privileges” or monopoly regime. No-one will put money into a non-existent company in a high-risk country without some kind of monopoly guarantees. There is already some talk of re-instating the monopoly international gateway. But whilst there was much talk at the conference about leapfrogging forward using ICT, moves of this kind will take any idea of a competitive Liberia back 5-10 years. This would be disappointing as the kind of energy found in the local private sector needs encouragement rather than further barriers to be placed in its path.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Zimbabwe mobile phone service provider Econet Wireless has hiked its tariffs by over 150 percent with effect from May 1 2007, barely two months after the last tariff increases. At the same time the Govenment rejected appeals by mobile network operators to allow them to charge for outgoing international calls in foreign currency.

    -Cell One, Namibia’s second mobile operator announced that  it would roll out its network to the northern regions to provide cellular services to people living in Oshakati, Ondangwa, Ongwediva, Oshikuku, Tsandi, Oshitutuma, Oshuungu, Oniimwandi, Omuthiya, Omaalala, Iindangungu and Ombathi.

    - The second national operator (SNO), Globacom Ltd has announced receipt of final approval to commence service offerings on its 3G platform in Nigeria

    - Meditel, Morocco’s second mobile operator has started to offer broadband internet  over its mobile network. The service will be initially available in Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakech . The service will cost 599 dirhams per month ($73) for unlimited access with speed up to 3.5Mbps

    - Madagascar, Telma Mobile has announced that it will offer broadband internet access over its GPRS/EDGE network.


  • One of Nigerian incumbent Nitel’s key sources of revenue, its international fibre monopoly on SAT3, is in danger of being shut down at the end of April because of non-payment of accumulated debts to European telco, Cable and Wireless. According to sources quoted in This Day the company owes about N500 million (about $4 million) for Internet Protocol (IP) services on the SAT -3 optic cable.

    NITEL paid more than N6 billion ( about $50 million) to be  a consortium member of. SAT -3 cable. NITEL records show that the subscriber base of Nitel has dropped from about 450,000 before the deregulation of the sector in 2001 to about 120,000.

    NITEL spokesman, Bala Abdulkadir who confirmed that the company was owing Cable and Wireless for IP services, however said it was paying the debt gradually, based on an agreed arrangement.

    Meanwhile, NITEL's Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Ms Funke Opeke, has sent in her resignation letter to Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp), owners of NITEL. Opeke's resignation closely follows the withdrawal of technical services to NITEL by British Telecom (BT) after one of its consultants, John Weir, was sacked by Transcorp.

    Sources at the NITEL headquarters in Abuja said about 500 members were sacked in five months by the BT management consultants as they continue efforts to streamline the company's various departments. Abdulkadir, however, explained that the sacking of some members of staff was to align the staff strength with the financial reality of the company and its new operations.

    Transcorp spokesman Adebayo Ojo who shed light on efforts to reposition the firm, said the consultants, BT, had diagnosed some of NITEL's problems and was working toward improving its operations. Transcorp took over NITEL in November 2006.

    This Day

  • Richmond Nana Aggrey, CEO and also principal promoter of MTS First Wireless, a Nigerian-based private telecommunication service provider, has indicated his optimism at getting a share of the Ghanaian telecom market soon.

    Speaking in an interview with Business Chronicle over the weekend, Nana Aggrey said a company he is promoting, Afritel Ghana Limited, already has an outstanding application with the Ministry of Communications and the National Communications Authority (NCA).

    He told Business Chronicle that Afritel already has a demonstration network on the ground in Ghana but commercial operations are yet to be embarked upon due to regulatory and licensing issues. He was confident, however, that government means well when it says it wants to have indigenes participate in this strategic national infrastructure and therefore hopeful of a successful outcome.

    Aggrey is famous for two things: the failure of the company he promoted MTS First Wireless to get any serious foothold in the very competitive Nigerian market and for his legal challenge to the former owners of Areeba in Ghana.

    Aggrey admitted that “the management failed to meet set targets, which would have positioned the company to attract additional capital”. He said he stepped down as CEO to allow "what was to be an independent management team to take the company to the next level" but regrettably that did not happen.

    The board of First Wireless accepted the resignation of the entire senior management team led by its CEO, Demola Elesho last Thursday, and appointed Chika Mbonu, former Assurance Bank of Nigeria's managing director as the head of a new management team. Other members of the resigned top management team are Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mezuo Nwuneli; his counterpart for marketing and commercials, Uche Offodile and Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Abiodun Adeoye.

    The rest of those who resigned were: Programmes Management Executive, Niyi Oladejo; Human Resources and Administrative Executive, Tosin Akinyemi and Corporate Service Executive Seni Adio.

    MTS First Wireless continues to be owned by its original shareholders, including: Nana Aggrey, through MTS, Inc, Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs, Prince E. O. Eludoyin and Lt. Gen. Mohammed I. Wushishi (rtd) who chairs the board.

    It is unclear why Richmond Aggrey who has been unsuccessful in the Nigerian market will be more successful in the Ghanaian market as competition increases there.

    Ghanaian Chronicle

  • African companies dominate the Middle-East and Africa region. In terms of annual net additions, we find that no fewer than 22 companies managed to add one million or more customers in 2006. Of these, 14 managed to add 2m or more, while six increased their bases by 3m or more. This strong growth was well spread around the region, with companies from Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Tanzania (to name but some of the markets) all contributing.

    For the second quarter running, Globacom heads the list, with 5.8m new customers year on year, just ahead of TCI, which was fourth at the end of the September quarter. This move up the ranks was facilitated by a spectacular fourth quarter, when the Iranian market leader added 2.5m new customers, taking its total for the year to 5.66m. A second Nigerian company is in third place, MTN Nigeria. This was only in tenth place at the end of the third quarter, but it too enjoyed a strong fourth quarter, with 1.9m adds, to give it a total of 3.9m over the year.

    Saudi Arabia's Ettihad Etisalat (Mobily) is down one place in fourth, with 3.67m net additions over the year. It has managed to more than double the size of its base this last year. Orascom Algeria, which was in second place in September, fell back to fifth place, with 3.42m, only just ahead of Vodacom South Africa, which added 3.40m despite having culled a number of inactive customers after a redefinition of what constitutes activity.

    The two Egyptian operators both come into the top ten this quarter, with MobiNil (+2.57m) just ahead of Vodafone (+2.56m). Close behind them come two other North African businesses, Maroc Telecom and Algerie Telecom, which added 2.5m and 2.4m respectively. MTN South Africa, Atheer from Iraq, STC from Saudi Arabia and V-Mobile of Nigeria were the other 2m+ companies, while Safaricom, Libyana, Wataniya Algeria, Medi Telecom, Vodacom Tanzania, Asia Cell of Iraq, Orascom Iraq and Sonatel from Senegal all recorded net additions of more than 1m in 2006.

    Cellular News

  • Worried over increase in the fake promotions in telecommunications industry, the Nigerian Communications Commissions (NCC) has given matching orders to the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to take disciplinary actions on erring telecom companies to check the trend.

    Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Engineer Ernest Ndukwe who expressed concerned over the growing number of fake promotions said the CPC has to do something to address the problem.

    According him, it is unfortunate for companies to be using text massages as a means of duping people unnecessarily, adding that most of the promotions are fake, dubious and unreal.

    Speaking at the maiden consumer congress and launch of the 'Be an active consumer' by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) in Abuja Tuesday, Ndukwe said fake promos are all over on radio and television.

    Daily Trust

  • - Malian fixed line telco Sotelma, in partnership with Pakistan’s Advanced VoIP and United American Corp, has announced the successful deployment of a VoIP billing solution. As a result of the agreement Sotelma has a complete billing solution for its IP telephony service.

    - Algeria Telecom (AT), the  national telephony operator, has launched in Algiers a new broadband network, Wimax, called "Athir" (Algérie Télécom hertzien Internet radio). This new project, based on Wimax technology, is carried out in partnership with Canadian Galaxia Telecom that has made "an investment amounting to $40 million over three years to expand the network”.

    - Celtel Gabon has renewed its licence for 10 years. Under the new agreement, the mobile operator will have to pay an annual fee and meet agreed targets in terms of network coverage.

    - Local newspaper Wal Fadjri has reported that the Saudi Binladen Group is interested in acquiring  a mobile telephony licence in Senegal. The company is already involved in the construction of the new Diass airport.


  • M-Web is launching a legal challenge to Telecom Namibia's monopoly over the ADSL infrastructure in the country.

    However, Chairman of the Namibia Communications Commission (NCC), David Imbili, last week confirmed that the Commission granted M-Web a licence to operate WiMAX services. Imbili tried to distance the NCC from the upcoming court battle between M-Web and Telecom Namibia. "Telecom claims to have a monopoly on ADSL, but the dispute between the two companies has nothing to do with the NCC," he said.

    If M-Web had a technology-neutral licence it would be able to offer broadband irrespective of whether it was using ADSL, Wi-MAX or any other technology. Incumbent Telecom Namibia remains one of the better protected Government-owned telcos on the continent.

    New Era

  • Nine companies have qualified to bid for the Kenyan national fibre-optic backbone tender estimated at Sh3.5 billion. Information and Communications Permanent Secretary, Dr Bitange Ndemo, said the project would involve laying down of a cable covering 5,000km across the country.

    They are Sagem Communications Safran Group, Huawei Technologies Investment Company Ltd, ASB Company Ltd (Alcatel Luccent (EA) Ltd, Draka Comteq Telecom B.V, Siemens Networks GNBH and Co, ZTE Corporation, Fujikura Ltd and Taihan Electric Wire Co Ltd.

    The PS said 16 firms had expressed interest but only nine companies were invited to collect tender documents in March. "The Government will close the tender on May 3. We hope that the bidding, laying and commissioning of the project will be completed within 18 months," Ndemo said. He was speaking at the pre-bidding meeting at Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) headquarters on Thursday.

    The East African Standard

  • Telkom recently launched their ADSL Resell product which gives ISPs the ability to resell the ADSL access portion of Telkom’s broadband service, but according to service providers they are struggling to actually utilize this new offering.

    Telkom’s new Do Broadband offering which combines the ADSL Access and ISP portions places additional pressure on ISPs to offer their clients a one-price ADSL service, but this is easier said than done.

    According to Rudi Jansen, CEO of MWEB, the processes to do ADSL Resell are still not properly in place which puts them at a clear disadvantage to TelkomInternet. Jansen pointed out that Telkom is working towards creating a smoother process, but until this has been finalized, ISPs other than TelkomInternet will struggle to provide their users with a seamless one-price ADSL offering.

    Another concern among many ISPs is that they will not be able to easily transfer the ADSL Access portion of their existing customers from Telkom to their business. “Telkom has an unfair advantage of transferring the access portion away from a competing ISP as no service interruption in the Telkom Line will be seen (As Telkom already Owns the Line),” said Sean Bezuidenhout, MD at GamCo.

    “Should GamCo want to transfer away a Telkom customer, the customer would have to cancel their Telkom portion, their service will be discontinued with a chance their port being lost etc. This makes it almost impossible to compete fairly as Telkom can transfer clients without any interruption of service where other ISPs would. This subject needs to be addressed by fellow ISPs and ISPA as a whole,” Bezuidenhout pointed out.

    Laurie Fialkov, MD of Cybersmart, shares Bezuidenhout’s frustration. “Most of our customers have asked to convert to this single price model in order to enjoy the further discounts that we are offering. However, in true anti-competitive spirit, Telkom have a "business process" in place which states that in order for an ADSL circuit to be transferred to an ISP, it needs to be first cancelled by the customer and then a new application must be ordered.”

    Fialkov said that while everyone may not be content with the margins, it will be sustainable for them as long as they are allowed to effortlessly transfer their current ADSL ISP customers’ access portions to their business.

    “From our perspective if we were allowed to transfer all our existing customers onto this service I would go as far to say the margins are generous. The unfortunate thing is that Telkom are doing everything in their power to obstruct this,” said Fialkov.

    Telkom’s free modem offer for ADSL self-installs has also raised concern among ISPs. “Telkom is still offering a free modem on their Self Installs, again the saving made by not sending a technician to a customer’s home is passed back as a free modem, this is completely anti-competitive and no ISP can compete with offering free equipment on their own Self Install. Telkom needs to make this modem available to ISPs using the Self Install method,” said Bezuidenhout.

    Fialkov is also not happy about this situation. “TelkomInternet is able to get free modems from Telkom Wholesale when doing a self install. We have been asking for clarity on this for our "one price" ADSL offering, as the ISP effectively does a self install on behalf of the customer. To date we have had no feedback and our assumption is that we will not get the modem free.”

    So while the ADSL Resell wholesale product from Telkom was widely welcomed by both consumers and ISPs, the process still seems marred by problems which may place ADSL service providers at a disadvantage when trying to compete with Telkom’s own ISP, TelkomInternet.


  • The telecommunications industry is watching keenly to see what will happen after the groundbreaking award of a unified licence to Orange Botswana and the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) by the parastatal Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA).

    Until the award of the new licences, Orange was limited to mobile phones while the BTC was confined to fixed lines. Orange has said although they were still working out a strategy to take them into the increasingly converging communications industry, they intended to claim more segments of the market.

    "This new licence means that we will be able to provide more services and cover more areas. Botswana presents a growing market, and this is true of most of Africa. Africa offers the fastest growth of mobile telecommunication uptake in the world.

    "We are glad that we are well in step with that," said Orange's Chief Marketing Officer, Mickael Faurie, who was accompanied by the company's Acting Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technical Officer Keabetswe Segole, during an interview with Business Today.

    Mmegi/The Reporter

  • - The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has announced the launch of its Southern Africa Office and invites experts in the region to join the international effort of developing Web standards at W3C.

    - In Côte d’Ivoire, IT professionals met last week to discuss cyber criminality issues. Although they have recommended the creation of an agency to fight such type of crimes they also said that the country has no legal framework in place to fight Internet crimes efficiently.

    - Cape Town-based technology company, Yeigo Communications, has launched Yeigo, a mobile VoIP software solution. It is the first communications service using VoIP technology for mobile phones to come out of SA and one of the first in the world. It operates on compatible mobile phones that use the Windows Mobile or Symbian Operating Systems with Wi-Fi, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA connections. These operating systems cover a significant number of phones with brands such as Nokia, Imate, HTC and Samsung, which have strong support amongst the mid and upper-end users.

    - Liberian cyber-café, ISP and training organisation Vital Technologies is paying Gilat US$2600 a month for a 640k down/128K uplink service for its city centre site and $750 a month to Sky2Net for a 64K duplex link at its Sinkor cyber-café site.


  • Kenya's legislators have surprisingly added their voice in support of the transformation to electronic governance in their operations, both within parliament and in at the constituency level. During a two-day meeting held in Nairobi recently, the members of parliament (MPs) discussed various issues related to Kenya Information Society including e-government and ICT strategies in the country and what should be the role of parliamentarians in the process of implementation and monitoring.

    The meeting with theme: "Empowering Kenya's MPs and National Assembly staff on Building the country's Knowledge Economy," was organised by the UN's Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Canadian e-Policy Resource Network (ePolNet). e-PolNet aims at supporting the implementation of the African Information Society through the provision of various kinds of expertise.

    The participants, who included 15 MPs, discussed how ICTs can accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and various applications like e-health, e-learning, e-commerce and open platform.

    This is in response to the eighth goal of MDGs, declared during the UN's Millennium Declaration in 2000, which aims to develop a global partnership for development (including a target to make available the benefits of ICTs to all the world's inhabitants). The participants resolved that there is need to take advantage of the on-going restructuring of all parliamentary committees in order to have ICT either accommodated in one of the committees or set up an independent committee on the subject.

    In his opening address, Mathioya MP, Joseph Kamotho, said that through the use of ICT, governments become less bureaucratic, and more efficient. "With deployment of ICTs, several opportunities that corrupt public officials normally use for their private gain are eliminated or greatly reduced therefore increasing transparency and accountability in the management of public resources," said Kamotho.

    Kamotho said that governments in Africa must, therefore, invest in ICT so that the public is able to monitor the performance of their representatives through the establishment of websites where citizens can get information about their institution, leaders and the laws made.

    On electoral processes, participants gave the example of Zambia where the voters register bears the holder's photo to stem vote rigging.

    East African Business Week

  • Salaries in the IT industry have risen an average of 25% in the past year, but 33% of employees still believe they are underpaid. They also know they are in high demand, and a massive 52% have actively applied for other jobs in the past 12 months, according to the latest salary survey by the online publisher ITWeb. The hi-tech brain drain is continuing, with 5% of the respondents having accepted a job overseas in the past few months.

    A global shortage of technology skills is fuelling the job-hopping, as local companies compete to recruit from a scarce pool of talent and as foreign companies seek to plug their own gaps with South Africans.

    The survey found that, overall, male IT staff enjoyed a pay rise of 29% to earn an average of R28340 a month, while women earned an average of R23913, up 21% from last year. The industry is still heavily skewed towards pale males, with 82% of the 3400 respondents being male and 65% being white.

    That probably reflects the demographics of the industry quite accurately, although ITWeb's editorial director, Ranka Jovanovic, said the figures could be slightly exaggerated as ITWeb's readers were largely white and male. The salaries being paid vary enormously. Lowest of the low are help desk staff, earning an average of just R9500 a month.

    The job title that generally pulls in most cash is chief information officer, with an average monthly package of R50000. The specific skills that reap the highest rewards are enterprise architects, outsourcing gurus and enterprise resource planning specialists.

    Among the highest earners were an IT project manager on an annual package of R1,3m and a systems engineer pulling in R960000 a year. Contract workers can fare even better, with a disaster recovery specialist and a software architect both claiming to earn R1,4m.

    Despite those big-buck boasts, Jovanovic said, a high salary was not the key factor determining whether an IT worker was happy in their job. The challenge of the job and the atmosphere at work were cited as more important factors in determining their overall satisfaction, with pay ranking as the third most important element.

    But for those who were unhappy at work, 33% felt undervalued, while 29% said they would switch jobs because they were stagnating and saw no career opportunities with their company.

    Bryan Hattingh, MD of the leadership consultancy Cycan, said the global shortage of IT skills was bad enough to be materially damaging some companies. The shortage had been caused by the negligence of companies in not training people up when the technology sector was in the doldrums. Now that technology had become essential to practically every business and needed people to run it, companies were literally paying the price for their past negligence by having to pay ever-increasing wages.

    Business Day

  • Poor or low technology level is one of the many factors that hinder people from accessing services from various financial institutions in Tanzania. This is because, today, the internet and mobile phone technology is expanding the potential for financial service customers more rapidly than any thing else; lack of it has a direct bearing on people's accessibility to financial services. Only 23% have access to the Internet and a very small 4% can access the Internet in rural areas.

    These revelations are results of a national survey on demand for and barriers to accessing financial services. The report booklet with the findings of a financial survey in Tanzania was launched by Ms. Zakhia Meghji, Tanzania's finance minister last week in Dar es Salaam.

    According to the report, there are other reasons why people are not using the financial system. On having a bank account for example, some think they do not qualify to have one, others say banks are inconveniently located or that the charges are too high. The Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT) funded a collaboration of the FinMark Trust (FMT), Steadman Group and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to conduct the survey in July-August 2006.

    FSDT aims to help provide greater access for more people to a deeper financial sector, and encourage more people-particularly the poor-to use it.

    Lengthy interviews were conducted with some 5,000 individuals, selected to provide a statistically representative cross-section of the populations of the mainland and Zanzibar. "The financial industry needs to educate its target markets if it wants to expand," reads part of the report.

    The report shows that the highest percentage of people make their living from selling farm produce or running a small business (36% and 35% respectively ) Only 5% of the population claim to earn an income in the former sector.

    Of those who are currently borrowing money, only 45% said that they have personal loan from a bank, but nearly ten times that number (38%) choose family or friends.

    Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) are slightly more popular, followed by Accumulating Serving and Credit Association (ASCAs) and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), but each market segment attracts a very low percentage of the total population.

    Of those who borrow, men and women are almost equally prepared to ask for a loan from a kiosk (24% and 27% respectively). However, only 5% of men and 1% women secure loans from a bank, a number which decreases, if they live in rural areas. Loans in-kind are chosen by 23% of borrowers.

    In-kind transaction are used much more in rural than in urban areas. When taking a loan for example, 84% of the rural population does so in-kind compared with only 16% in urban areas. Similarly, 80% in rural areas save in kind whereas only fifth of the urban population (20%) do so. Many goods are used for in-kind transactions including livestock and agriculture and items.

    The study shows that when people want to transfer money around the country, they are seven times more likely to use a personal contact, and three times more likely to use a courier (usually a bus), than any kind of financing institution. Women use any method slightly less often than men.

    East African Business Week

  • Neneh Macdouall-Gaye, Secretary of State for Communications and Information Technology, alongside Dr Patrick Chang, Taiwanese Ambassador to The Gambia, on Thursday, inspected the new Computer Repairing and Maintenance Centre at the Department of State for Communication and Information Technology (DoCIT) in Kanifing.

    The realisation of the centre is a product of discussion between the DoCIT and the Taiwanese Embassy in The Gambia. This centre seeks to lay solid foundation for the realisation of Vision 2020 Silicon initiative that aims at transforming The Gambia into a hi-tech-giant and superpower on the face of Africa. The establishment of the centre is also in line with the National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) policy.

    River Huang, a Taiwanese computer expert, arrived in the country recently to kick start the operation of the centre, alongside Gambian IT specialists at DoCIT.

    Speaking to the press shortly after the inspection, Secretary of State Macdouall-Gaye described the centre as an excellent initiative. She said the centre will be of vital importance when Vision 2020 Silicon Valley initiative takes off. She disclosed that 12 Gambians will be enrolled at a time for a three-month -long training at the centre, saying they will map out strategies for the enrolment process.

    The Daily Observer

  • A software programme for microfinance institutions (MFIs) has found a new market in Iraq. The software, which was purchased by an American Louis Berger group, will be used in three microfinance institutions in Iraq. Hans Verkoijen, the executive director Crystal Clear Software Limited, said recently that he was glad that the programme was going to new markets.

    "We were a little hesitant to go into the Iraq market in the beginning but we were finally convinced and now we have one of our staff training the will- be users there," he said. Verkoijen said that micro finance institutions, rural banks, village banks and NGOs among others, use the software called loan performer, which was developed in Uganda.

    He said that the programme has been in use for eight years and handles savings deposits, shares, time deposits, loans, debtors and creditors among other things. The programme, however, has many options that can be tailored to suit the individual needs of the institution.

    It is now a leading product within the micro finance industry because it the best value for money programme because of its features and low costs.A single user version of the programme costs about US $900 with an annual US $180 for maintenance and updates. However small organisations which have up to 500 clients or loans are offered free use of the soft ware. "This is stimulus for the microfinance companies to increase their growth and serve more clients," Verkoijen said.

    He said that the product was unique because of the various possibilities it offers, its value for money and also because it has proven feasible in various markets. The product is used in over 160 organisations with more than 300 sites with about one third of those located in East Africa; in Uganda some of their clients include Uganda Finance trust and Feed the children.

    The company has contributed a great deal to Uganda's export of ICT, connecting 30 to 40 new clients every year, which has led to a growth of Ush. 511 million in 2006 from Ush 67million in 1999.

    East African Business Week

  • - The operation "a computer per household," called "Ousratic" will come to a close by 2010, Algerian Post and ICT Minister Boudjemaa Haïchour indicated on Monday in Tiaret. A financial budget of AD400bn was allocated for the realization of this operation initiated by the ministry, Haïchour indicated during his working visit to the province of Tiaret.

    - A contest launched last year to support female entrepreneurs is being repeated this year, with the Cape IT Initiative (Citi) looking for 20 women who have a sound business idea but are struggling to make it flourish.

    - Congo has started to introduce electronic ID cards.

    - Refurbished PCs in Liberia (Pentium III) cost $150 and laptops vary between $2-300. A new PC costs $700-850 and a laptop around $1000. Import taxes are still charged on all ICT equipment.

    - Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf opened a new computer lab at the University of Liberia last that was installed by Nigerian company SocketWorks Ltd. The company has made several of these thin client installations across Africa (including Ghana and Uganda) and has plans to install others further afield, including India.

Digital Content

  • Criminals are making such concerted attacks on SA's online banking industry that the major banks and Internet service providers may co-operate to standardise their technologies to keep the thieves at bay.

    At a sensitive and lengthy exploratory meeting last week, key players discussed the best way to present a united front to beat the criminals and educate their customers. While commitments are yet to be firmed up, the delegates agreed to nominate staff to focus on the issue and investigate the available technologies.

    Standard Bank's media relations manager, Ross Linstrom, would only say: "We are participating and we think it's a good initiative." Nedbank, First National Bank, Absa, Investec and Rand Merchant Bank also attended, along with internet service providers (ISPs) Verizon, MWEB, Saix and Internet Solutions.

    The discussion was organised by Striata, a specialist in delivering documents securely by e-mail. The issue uniting them is phishing, where e-mails are sent out asking people to update their personal details online. A link in the e-mail directs customers to a fake website that exactly mimics the bank's website. When they enter their account number and passwords, the details go straight to the criminals who withdraw cash from that account.

    Gilbert Swats, CEO of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), says phishing is proliferating because the banking systems are too secure to attack without knowing a person's account details.

    "The banks are continuously looking at their systems and have very sophisticated security measures to parry any attacks. They are very open to saying if there is a new initiative and protection mechanism it will be welcomed and they will look at its merits," he says. "There needs to be a good partnership between the banks, the industry and customers because there is a shared responsibility to reduce the problem."

    Statistics are shaky, but Striata CEO Mike Wright estimates that every month 1-million phishing e-mails are sent to local customers and up to 100 websites are set up mimicking those of SA's banks. "If you send a million messages and get a 0,01% success, that's 100 people who give you their details," he says.

    The volatile rand and SA's small online banking population have kept the country relatively safe in the past. "Why phish in rands when you can phish in dollars, and why phish for 2-million customers when you can phish for 20-million?" Wright says.

    But the far larger foreign banks have introduced anti-phishing measures and educated their clients, prompting phishers to seek easier markets. "We don't educate clients as much, so we have a virgin client base to phish," says Wright.

    Two agreements were reached at the meeting. The first is for each bank and ISP to nominate a key contact so when any incident is detected the information is shared instantly.

    The second, and no doubt slower step, is to adopt digital certificate technology that guarantees an e-mail is genuinely from the bank. The technology checks which server was used to send the message. If e-mail supposedly from a bank is sent from a machine the bank does not use, the ISP carrying the traffic will not deliver it to the customer.

    That will prevent the bulk of phishing e-mails from being delivered. Moreover, compliant e-mails are marked with a red rosette, and customers could be taught to ignore any without a rosette.

    The banks will not say how much cash has been stolen through phishing. They are taking the pain and refunding victims. That compassion will not last forever.

    "Absa has not lost any money to phishing, but Barclays in the UK has been targeted and lost money," says Carl Louw, the head of Absa's internet channel. The banks have taken a soft stance because phishing is new and customer education is not yet at an optimal level. "Slowly but surely the banks will start pulling in the reins," he says.

    Wright puts it more bluntly: "The banks can't let this go forever otherwise customers will be complacent. They (banks) have to start saying 'you are not going to be repaid if you don't listen to anything we say. You have to take responsibility for your actions'."

    Louw says the industry-wide initiative proposed by Striata would get a consistent message into the market about how customers should protect themselves online. It is also valuable because the ISPs have a major role to play in quickly closing spoof websites, blocking fake messages and raising customer awareness.

    Banks are also suffering from attacks that originate in internet cafes, where criminals download key-logging software on to public computers. The software records each keystroke as a user types in their banking details, allowing the criminal to enter their account and withdraw cash.

    "Internet cafes are not taking the right action to prevent key logging and we are seeing a dramatic increase in those credentials being harvested," says Louw. As well as educating customers not to bank from public computers, the internet cafes could wipe the computers clean between each user.

    Some delegates said there was a "reluctant admiration" for phishers because their attacks were so sophisticated. "These are seriously clever guys. Three or four years ago it was elementary, but telling the difference between a spoof site and real site now requires inside knowledge," says one.

    At the moment the ISPs "black hole" a fake website as soon as the banks alert them, to prevent people reaching the site. In response, the phishers now set up hundreds of fake websites, and each batch of e-mail has a different link to reach them.

    Last week, a two-factor security system use by Dutch bank ABN Amro was flouted and money stolen from customers in a phishing scam. Two-factor authentication sends the customer a one-time number to type in as additional evidence of identity.

    But the e-mails claiming to be from ABN Amro downloaded software on to the clients' computers. When they visited their banking site, the software redirected them to a mock site that asked for their security details. As soon as the hackers received those details they logged into the customer's account before the one-time security number had expired. SA's banks have introduced one-time passwords, but this attack shows they are not infallible.

    Business Day

  • First National Bank (FNB) has extended its wings to encompass cellphone banking to accord its customers mobile banking via secure SMS. Launched on Monday, the bank says this will pave the way for a mobile rollout that is unique to FNB.

    According to the Manager: Advertising and Branding at FNB Namibia Holdings Ltd, Madre Frewer, convenience is the key with Cellphone Banking from FNB.

    Cellphone Banking is a full service banking option which will allow its customers to buy prepaid cell phone airtime, check their balance or get a mini-statement, transfer money between the customer's FNB accounts and pay all their accounts, whenever or wherever on any cellphone.

    "Customers can be at home watching television and pay rent or clothing accounts, gym subscription, top up on prepaid cell phone airtime - all in the convenience of one's own home," she added.

    With this service, there will be no bank charges on prepaid cellphone airtime purchases or balance enquiries on the cellphone.

    "The banking fee per transfer from one FNB account to the other is N$2.50 and to pay any account is N$4.50 per transaction," she said.

    Cellphone Banking is as secure as any other banking channel and FNB has taken all the necessary precautions to make it a safe channel of banking.

    She noted, "Each FNB customer who registers must choose a 5-digit pin, or as we call it, a MOPIN, that allows the customer to access his or her FNB account."

    Like any ATM pin number, this is the customer's secret number, and must be kept secret at all times, she cautioned clients.

    Frewer noted that cellphone banking customers must register in contact with the free SMS or e-mail notification service from FNB, which qualifies the customer for FNB's money back guarantee.

    She advised customers to choose the best 5 digit MOPIN number and to avoid choosing simple sequences like 12345 but rather they should choose a number a customer knows he or she will easily remember, but which other people won't easily guess. Another precaution is never to SMS your MOPIN number to anyone else.

    She explained that customers can only access Cellphone Banking when the MOPIN is entered in the cell phone.

    She noted that a feature of Cellphone Banking from FNB is how easy it is to use the channel. "To access Cellphone Banking, the customer simply has to dial *140*321#" she added.

    FNB is committed to show the customer how it works, and will gladly assist the customer with the first transaction. There are brochures that visually show the process, step by step.

    She added "We have embarked on a national education and awareness campaign, through all available media, as well as our branch network, and our committed staff will travel to the remotest of areas, to register customers and then statistics will be presented ."

    New Era

  • - Ethiopian Airlines announced this week that it now offers online (Internet) booking and electronic-ticketing services in all its 49 destinations as of this month.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Cell C is planning a thorough review of its capital and controlling structure. Shareholders are looking at a number of options, which include the sale by majority shareholder Saudi Oger of its 60% stake in the company. Other options include an equity recapitalisation and raising more funds from Saudi Oger.

    Apart from the Saudi group, the shareholders are empowerment partner CellSAf (25%) and Saudi investment house Lanun Securities (15%). A sale looks likely: recent reports suggest that Saudi Oger no longer regards SA as a key market and would be willing to sell its stake in Cell C - and, in fact, may already be in talks to do so - so that it can concentrate on its telecom operations in Turkey, where it owns fixed-line and wireless networks. Saudi Oger also recently made a bid for Saudi Arabia's third cellphone licence but lost out to a higher bid from Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications.

    Cell C's American CEO, Jeffrey Hedberg, appointed last year with the brief of turning around the loss-making company, says there are a "number of parties" that have expressed interest in buying into the cellphone operator, which is SA's smallest with only 9% of SA cellphone subscribers on its books. "We are a unique asset in a very important market in Africa," says Hedberg. "We are turning the company around and are seeing encouraging results coming from the strategic and tactical things we are doing."

    In results this week, Cell C reported a 19% jump in revenue to R6.5bn. But earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) dropped, from R542m to R459m, on higher operational costs and losses incurred by Virgin Mobile SA, a 50-50 joint venture with Richard Branson's Virgin Group. Hedberg is determined to turn Cell C around and report the company's first taxed profit within the next 24 months. The company has also said it wants to double Ebitda by the end of next year.

    A review of the company's capital structure should help. Hedberg wants to reduce the amount of money it spends servicing debt- almost US$100m in the 2006 financial year - much of it dollar- and euro-denominated and thus subject to the volatility of exchange rates.

    Virgin Mobile's poor performance hasn't helped matters. The company failed to meet its "ambitious" initial targets. CEO Sajeed Sacranie was fired last year and Peter Boyd hired to replace him. "He is reconfiguring a lot of the pieces of the company," Hedberg says. "The new plan is far more realistic."

    Hedberg says Virgin Mobile has improved its performance in the first quarter of 2007. "We've been pleased with the way Virgin Mobile has a new bounce in its step with Peter's appointment. It's a pleasant change to what happened in the last six months of 2006."

    Other than the troubles at Virgin Mobile, Cell C's Ebitda took a hit from increased operational expenditure, especially in call centres and back-office systems. The salaries bill rose in order to offer market-related packages to key employees.

    But the good news is that infrastructure spending should come down. Cell C has 2 150 base stations and Hedberg says the focus has shifted away from network deployment to network upgrades and improving back-office systems. The company is establishing more of its own retail outlets to improve profit margins at the point of sale.

    Under Hedberg, the company has chosen not to focus on the upper end of the market, which he believes is already well catered for by MTN and Vodacom. Instead, he wants to grow Cell C's business in the LSM 3-7 income category and leave the upper-income LSM 8-10 market to Virgin Mobile.

    Hedberg says Cell C made the mistake in the past of simply trying to emulate Vodacom and MTN by offering everything to everyone. "There was no clear strategy," he admits. "As the number three operator, with the balance sheet we have, we need to differentiate ourselves from the competition."

    With this in mind, Cell C will be introducing several new products, the first of which it launched this week - a prepaid starter pack called Hola 7, which is branded by activist musician Zola. Cell C says the new products will give it better access to sales channels that are dominated by MTN and Vodacom.

    Hedberg is confident that Cell C can be profitable relying on lower-income earners, even though their average monthly spend is significantly less than the top end of the market. "In the Philippines, Arpu [average revenue per user] is about R10/month, but they are still making 40%-50% margins," he says.

    The focus on LSM 3-7 means that, for now, Cell C has abandoned plans to build a third-generation (3G) cellular network to compete with MTN and Vodacom in mobile broadband. In its target market, demand is for basic voice, text messaging and occasional Internet access, Hedberg says. Those who do need regular mobile Internet access are served by Cell C's Edge network (Edge is a faster version of GPRS but it is not as quick as 3G). "I think 3G is all about perception and not about financial return. It is not an economically sustainable model. Handsets are expensive and the pull from the market is limited," Hedberg says.


  • Millicom International, Tuesday reported first-quarter revenue of $563 million from $303 million in 2006. Subscribers increased by 94%, bringing total subscribers to 16.5 million, excluding discontinued operations.

    "In the first quarter Millicom continued to deliver the high levels of growth seen in 2006," said Marc Beuls, Chief Executive Officer. "The strong subscriber intake continued with approximately 1.6 million subscribers added in the first quarter taking total subscribers to 16.5 million. Capex for the first quarter was $183 million and is in line with our stated target of spending $800 million for the year."

    EBITDA for first quarter increased to $248 million from $143 million while profit before taxes from continuing operations rose to $129 million from $77 million. Net Profit was $345 million compared with $33 million, including a $258 million gain on sale of Paktel Limited. Basic earnings per common share was $3.43 from $0.33.

    "Central and South America continue to be the fastest growing regions being the first to launch "tigo" and being leaders in offering e-pin," Beuls said. Per second billing was launched in all three countries in Central America in late January, following the success of per second billing in Paraguay in 2006, and the first indications are encouraging, Millicom said. Central America saw revenues increase 59%, quarter-on-quarter, and EBITDA rise by 73%, with a 55% EBITDA margin.

    "The year started well for us and with per second billing, e-pin and increasing capex fuelling growth in most of our markets, we expect 2007 to be another record year," Beuls said. In South America, excluding Colombia which was acquired in Q4 2006, underlying quarterly revenue growth was 70% and EBITDA growth was 98%, Millicom said.

    Revenue growth in Paraguay was particularly strong at 83%, continuing the trend that started in early 2006 following the introduction of per second billing. Progress in Colombia has been encouraging with subscribers starting to rise and the EBITDA margin was higher than expected at 21%, up from 16% last quarter.

    It is expected that revenues will start to rise in Colombia in Q3 when the distribution and the visibility of "tigo" will have improved, Millicom said.

    "In Africa, with revenues and EBITDA up by 55% and 30%, respectively, we are already seeing the beneficial effect of the launch of "tigo" and we believe that in the future our African businesses can achieve similar if not higher levels of growth than those in Latin America," Beuls said.

    In the fourth quarter of 2006, Millicom said it removed a number of low revenue subscribers from the network in Tanzania which affected net subscriber intake for the fourth quarter but in 2007 subscriber growth has accelerated again. Encouragingly the EBITDA margin in Africa as a whole improved slightly from 36% in Q4 2006 to 37% in Q1 2007, reversing the recent quarterly downwards trend, Millicom said.

    In Asia, Millicom introduced per-second billing in Cambodia in mid-January 2007. Revenues were surprisingly strong given the effective tariff reduction from the change to per-second billing, and were up 15% versus the fourth quarter of 2006. Sri Lanka is starting to show positive results following the launch of "tigo" in January. Revenue was up 42% versus the first quarter of 2006 reflecting the investments that have been made on the network in 2006 and early 2007, Millicom said.

    Overall, Asia reported a 22% growth in revenues, an 11% growth in EBIDTA and a margin of 41%. During the first quarter Millicom completed the sale of Paktel for an enterprise value of $460 million and recorded a net gain on the sale of the business of $258 million.

    Dow Jones Newswires

  • A third of Altech's profits should be generated from abroad within two years as the technology group explored opportunities for setting up factories and telecoms operations in emerging markets, the company said yesterday.

    The aim for global expansion is gaining importance as the group wins more orders from abroad and sets up offshore divisions to handle them. Its R1.1bn war chest would fund those initiatives, CEO Craig Venter said when he announced Altech's results for the year to February. Its revenue of R6.8bn was up 12% from R6bn and its attributable profit of R401m was up from R364m.

    Headline earnings a share rose 10% to 418c, and it declared a dividend of 240c a share. Despite the solid figures, its shares shed R2 or almost 3% to trade at R67. Venter has often spoken about growing Altech through acquisitions, but investors are still waiting for any major moves. Some deals were still being explored locally, alongside serious plans to grow offshore, he said.

    "We have grown globally quite significantly in the past year and my vision and challenge to the managers in the next two years is for a third of Altech's income to be offshore." One move is to acquire 50% of a Malaysian company that markets the stolen-vehicle tracking systems developed by its Netstar subsidiary. Netstar's equipment is installed in 30000 Proton vehicles each month in Malaysia, and Altech is buying a direct stake in the Malaysian franchise. Netstar is one of Altech's biggest money-spinners and raised its market share for vehicle recovery in SA to serve more than 400000 users.

    A second foreign venture could take Altech into the Brazilian telecoms market. "Brazil is an emerging market where we see high growth," Venter said. A deal should be announced soon. India is also on the radar after Altech's UEC division won an order for 250000 digital television set-top boxes. It had opened an office in India and was assessing whether to set up a manufacturing plant to meet the potentially huge demand, especially since UEC in SA did not have sufficient capacity, Venter said.

    Altech is also earmarking its cash in anticipation of winning contracts and regulatory approval to set up broadband voice and data networks in several African countries.

    In SA it hopes to win a commercial licence to operate a broadband wireless network to offer voice, data and video streaming services to business. It has also bid to set up a broadband network for the City of Johannesburg. Altech's Autopage Cellular subsidiary already sells voice and data services, but purely as an agent for the cellular networks.

    Venter wants to push Altech further up the food chain by acting as an operator in its own right.

    Another plan is to set up wireless networks in other African countries, where pent-up demand for internet access could make that a "significant" part of Altech's business, Venter said.

    "There are some good opportunities in Africa for us to deploy this technology for low-cost broadband data communications," he said. "We have strong broadband initiatives and we have a strong balance sheet and some of that cash will be required to build broadband networks."

    Business Day

  • - Telekom Malaysia (TM) has formally completed the sale of its 30% holding in Ghana Telecommunications (GT) to the Ghanaian government. In a statement published on 20 April, TM said it had received full settlement of the sum owned in accordance with the terms and conditions of the transaction.


  • Reuben September, acting-CEO of Telkom, on Thursday announced the appointment of Mandla Ngcobo, Telkom's Chief of Corporate Affairs, as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Telkom Media with effect from 1 April 2007.

    In Nigeria, the top management team of MTS First Wireless made up of seven persons, have resigned en masse. The seven members of the senior management team, who threw in their towels at MTS, include chief executive officer, Demola Eleso, chief financial officer, Mezuo Nwuneli, chief marketing & commercial officer, Ms. Uche Ofodile, chief technology officer, Abiodun Adeoye, programmes management executive, Niyi Oladejo.

    One of the ICT entrepreneurs on a panel at last week’s Vision 2010: ICT for Development conference in Monroviatold participants:”I know so much about generators, I could be an engineer. Maintenance is a real issue. Finding competent, efficient mechanics is a real problem. Each time I’ve change mechanics it’s cost me more money.” All of Liberia’s electricity currently comes from individual generators with the exception of some street lighting in the capital. At the Cisco event on the Wednesday of last week’s event, one of those closely involved with organising the conference said:”We must be challenged on the implementation side (of the strategy),” and spoke of the country “making baby steps”.


    23-24 May 2007, Madinat Jumeirah Hotel, Dubai

    Telecom Finance MEAI conference is the premier networking hub for senior executives at telecom operators and supplier organisations, private equity investors, investment bankers, legal advisers, and other financiers and professional intermediaries focused on the emerging markets. The 2-day event will feature more than 30 speakers Issues under discussion at the event will include: Expansion strategies for the Middle East, Africa and India; Accessing local and international capital markets:  How to finance growth beyond the Gulf; Broadband provision for growth markets: Wireless versus fixed convergence strategies; Building a regional platform in the Middle East; Greenfield opportunities in Africa and India: and capturing market share in new growth markets.


    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.


    19-21 June 2007, Gallagher Estate, Johannesburg, South Africa

    IQPC's 2nd Annual High Speed Access Technologies conference is perfectly positioned giving you answers at a critical time offering an objective platform for you to hear case studies on current obstacles and successes of Broadband.  You will also be able to join us for a Site Visit To the Eskom Test Site. This site visit will show you what progress has been made over the past few years and what MainNet is doing to promote broadband over Power Lines.


    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.



    Alvarion,  provider of WiMAX and wireless broadband solutions, today announced that Telkom SA Ltd., the provider of public switched communications services in South Africa, has selected its BreezeMAXTM 3.5 GHZ to roll out WiMAX networks as part of an ongoing deployment project for increasing wireless broadband services on a nationwide level. The first deployments are taking place in the highly urbanized province of Gauteng and along the coastal regions of the country.

    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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