Issue no 463 17th July 2009

top story

  • The Seacom international cable is due to go live next week on Thursday and it will fundamentally change much of the underlying economics of the communications business. It will be followed by the TEAMS cable some time in Q4 this year and by EASSy at the end of June 2010. There will be something like full competition for international capacity and prices will fall considerably. The same will also happen on the west coast of Africa but the current reality is that the SAT3 monopoly is still very much in place. Russell Southwood looks at the quickening pace of events.

    The Seacom cable will deliver up to 1.28 Tbps of capacity to landing stations in South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya. So far according to Brian Herlihy, CEO of Seacom it has sold 80 Gbs, including 10 GBs to South African research network TENET. Herlihy says:”People are buying 10-15 times their existing bandwidth. They can get that much for the same sort of cash they’re already spending.”

    But how will anyone get the fibre from the landing station? Seacom has set out to provide the same prices inland as at the landing station so that customers can buy all the way through from say London to the POP in Kigali. KDN is the Seacom POP in Kenya, Uganda and Kigali. Faced with the slow pace of inland network development, Seacom had two choices: either build its own network or become a customer of an existing network. It did not want to compete with its own customers so it has worked with a range of partners to create inland routes. However, in Tanzania and Mozambique it has a small amount of backhaul to get its capacity to its customer in the capital cities.

    For Ethiopia, it will meet ETC who will then take it on from the border and it is discussing partnerships that will give it access into Burundi and Zimbabwe. As Herlihy puts it:”We own rights for connectivity pretty far into Africa. We’re setting precedents so it means educating partners. We have our price bundle and there’s quite a bit in our product. In fact, it contains almost everything. Others quote to the landing station, we go all the way.”

    The new fibre has spurred a growth of network roll-out:”These cables have been a catalyst. I’ve been quite surprised at the level of risk people are taking. There are quite significant metro networks and WiMAX investments. It took the cables to get this going.”

    Meanwhile EASSy, which has been written off time and time again, is ploughing forward for a 30 June 2010 start date. It has its piracy plans in place and because Alcatel is the vendor, the French navy will be providing protection for the ships.

    According to Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC, the consortia of smaller investors within EASSy (of which MTN is one with a 29% shareholding), he’s currently doing pre-sales and will sell all the way to London. The cable will link up with the EIG cable in Djibouti and it is still negotiating to have a similar link north through Port Sudan. According to Wood:”You don’t want to be on one cable through the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Only last year there was a case of an anchor dragging that cut several cables.”

    EASSy had originally planned to land in the Somali capital Mogadishu but has that under review and is likely to land in Northern Somalia with a submarine link to Djibouti.

    In terms of getting the capacity inland, EASSy has ambitious plans to create a series of inland rings. The most advanced of these - dubbed the East African Backbone System (EABS) - will go Mombassa-Nairobi-Kampala-Kigali-Bujumbura-Dar es Salaam-Mombassa. This will mean that if there are any cuts anywhere along the ring, traffic can be reversed down the other side of the ring. Currently the Sudatel link to Kampala is 300 kilometres short of the border and the Telkom Kenya link to Ethiopia is up to the border, leaving a gap for ETC to close.

    Wood says that the majority of these inland routes will be operational by the time EASSy launches: “There will be few major towns not connected by fibre in the next 12 months.”

    And what about pricing inland? Wood believes that EASSy and WIOCC will be able to offer prices inland that are more or less the same as at the landing station:”We’re trying to make the inland differential as small as possible, so that prices are not materially different.” Inevitably, these reductions will force down both African inter-country prices and national backhaul prices.

    Meanwhile back in SAT3 monopoly land on the west coast of Africa, it’s business as usual. For all the talk about the ending of the monopoly, only two countries (Mauritius and South Africa) have really got to grips with the beast. According to an inside source who attends consortium meetings, whatever the legal position, the incumbent operators continue to operate a de facto monopoly:”This won’t change until the new cables arrive. The new capacity is completely sold and it’s been split between the owners. There’s no reserve capacity, only some for in-cable restoration.”

    Worse still the Nigerian incumbent which has been barely able to provide service through its own landing station for both financial and operational reasons tried to stop neighbouring incumbent Benin Telecom from taking diverted Nigerian traffic from Suburban Telecom. The CEO of Nitel himself actually turned up to argue this threadbare case but luckily he was not well supported and the meeting ended without a conclusion on the issue.

    On the positive side, Telkom South Africa has announced that its prices are now almost in line with Seacom’s forthcoming prices. And according to this same insider, prices are also beginning to drop in Namibia.

    And will Seacom get involved in West Africa in some way? According to CEO Brian Herlihy:”It’s a bit of a moving target. We’re still very interested and are still in discussions to see whether Seacom can be a partner to one of the projects. The dust has yet to settle but we’ve not yet decided to participate. However, we’re pursuing it quite actively.”

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Ugandans will now have to press harder to be able to use telecom services as telephone firms increased their call tariffs. Over the weekend, MTN announced a 9% increase in phone rates across the board for callers on PayGo Standard, Yellomax, YelloGo, Yellopersecond, MTN LateChart and MTNZone.

    ­Mobile ad agency, mKhoj has reported that the market share of mobile internet traffic from Nokia handsets in South Africa has dropped from 46% in January to 39% last month. Samsung currently holds 33% of the market, and rose from 20% in January. The iPhone made its entrée into the market, but only contributes 0.06% of the total network traffic, making it a relatively small but growing player.

    The top five handsets by market share are as follows: Samsung SGH E250 - 9.16%;

    Samsung A110 - 4.93%; Nokia N90 - 4.54%; Nokia N70 - 2.93%; Samsung M620 - 2.60%

    - In Uganda Shell, Total and Mogas have entered into a partnership with Zain to enable clients use the ZAP service. ZAP enables Zain subscribers to use their phones to transfer money, pay bills, top up airtime and buy goods and services. Customers will be able to buy fuel, purchase goods in the fuel stations' shops and even get their vehicles serviced using ZAP.

    - Vodafone Ghana has roped in 800,000 more customers nationwide since its launch in April this year, making it the fastest growing network in the country, Major Albert Don Chebe (rtd), Head of Corporate Communications, said in Sunyani last week.


  • The Mozambique cabinet has ordered that regulators begin preparations for the launch of an international tender for the country’s third national mobile licence, Bloomberg reports.

    The Instituto Nacional das Comunicacoes (INCM) delayed the original tender citing financial and technical difficulties after the two existing mobile service providers, state-owned mCel and Vodacom Mozambique, raised objections to the proposal. Luis Covane, spokesman for the Cabinet, said, ‘There is space for the entry of a third mobile network operator and after this authorisation, work related its entry should begin immediately.’

    According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Mozambique’s mobile market grew by 30% in 2008, ending the year with 4.4 million subscribers and a wireless penetration rate of 20%.


  • Be Mobile’s CEO Thapelo Lippe predicts that this latest entrant into the cellular network provider market will make profits in its second financial year. Be Mobile is the third cellphone network provider in the country after Mascom and Orange.

    Be Mobile is owned by the Botswana incumbent BTC which has pumped more than P200 million into it to set up the cellphone network provider. Lippe should know what he is talking about when he says be Mobile will make profits this year. He was formerly CEO of Orange Botswana which made profits when he took over after eight years of losses."We are going to be producing profits before the end of this year even against the hard economic recession," he said.

    "(Our competitors) are trying to hold on to their customers," he said. Lippe added that they are not afraid of competition. He said they have already captured six percent of the market. The be Mobile target is to grow by more than 100 percent by the end of the year. "We are rapidly expanding our infrastructure. We have the fastest infrastructure roll out plan the country has ever seen. Within a year, we have reached over 100 effective towers. We are going to pick up the pace," he said.

    Lippe said they are doing things differently. "We are not giving out trinkets like cars”, he said. He stated that they are currently running a competition in which a winner will take over a P4.5 million farm and this is what Batswana want. Lippe said as a Botswana-owned company, they are better suited to meet the needs of citizens of the country. "We know the mindsets of Batswana. We have a 100 percent Batswana team," he said.

    However, being a state-owned company, be Mobile moves at a slower pace as compared to private sector firms. There is the usual red tape and they have to consult with the government before taking certain decisions.

    Lippe said when they rolled out their programme, they had to ensure that Batswana companies are awarded tenders. "We have to try and empower Batswana." He stated that they are the only cellphone network provider with a reach to Kaundwane, a settlement of about 600 people outside the Central Khalahari Game Reserve. He said if be Mobile was a private company, it would have looked hard at whether providing such a service was viable.


  • In his opening statement to the 7th annual general meeting of WATRA, the West African telecoms regulatory association Alagie Gaye, Director of the public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) said that if there is any point in the history of the world that regulatory interventions are important, that time is now, as we continue to face the challenges posed by the global financial meltdown.

    He challenged all delegates have the collective responsibility to ensure that as professionals, to work in partnership to achieve the objectives of WATRA. This he said is important if they are to speed up the development of seamless communications network and in formulation and implementation sound regulatory policies and programmes across the region.

    Gaye said their key task was to speed up the process of the harmonization of telecommunications regulatory policies within the sub- region, through the ECOWAS supplementary acts. He said a more action-oriented approach towards harmonization would ensure that WATRA plays a more pivotal role as a facilitator and a repository of knowledge of regulatory best practice within West Africa.

    However, he acknowledged that in aligning the work of WATRA to that of ECOWAS, they must through telecommunications regulatory policies facilitate an environment that encourages competition and foster the trade of goods and services within West Africa.

    Foroyaa Newspaper

  • The Independent Communications Authority of SA's (ICASA's) new draft interconnect regulations have not clamped down on high incumbent costs. Smaller industry players have had much riding on ICASA's interconnect decisions and have long lamented the high costs imposed by the incumbents.

    While an interconnect agreement is essentially a commercially arranged contract, many of the smaller operators would have been hoping ICASA would put a price limit on the high interconnect costs in the country.

    "Interconnection is an important way of introducing competition in the electronic communications sector. The authority notes that, while interconnection agreements are in essence commercial agreements, they are always subject to some form of regulation, particularly in absence of a competitive environment," the regulatory annexure explains.

    However, the regulator says it does not intend to regulate the commercial relationships between the operators. Rather, it wants to instruct them on the minimal requirements that will facilitate competition between the telecoms businesses.

    The last set of draft regulations were published in December 2007. ICASA says the new regulations include new concepts and more functional dispute resolution. The current draft of the regulations is a culmination of a consultation process the regulator held with the operators in April last year.

    While ICASA has not specifically called on reasonable pricing for interconnect, the regulator says the idea behind the new regulation is to force the operators to be more transparent around interconnect agreements. ICASA says all agreements must be submitted to it for approval before they are implemented.

    The regulations place a high focus on telecommunications companies being transparent in their interconnect dealings. "Billing and settlement procedures must be transparent." The regulations stipulate that all relationships and parties involved must be clearly identified.

    Transparency is also attributed to the way the agreements are made and the costs that are being charged. "Charges for interconnect must be sufficiently unbundled so that an interconnection seeker does not have to pay for anything it does not require for the requested interconnection."

    ICASA has also made provision for those companies that have already entered into interconnect agreements. The regulations will be backdated so those companies can also benefit from them. "It is, therefore, incumbent on stakeholders who have entered into existing agreements to review and, where necessary, amend them for submission to the authority."

    The draft regulations will go through a public hearing process before they are implemented.


  • - Turkey’s largest mobile operator by subscribers Turkcell has announced that it will bid for a licence to provide fixed line and mobile telephony in Libya. In a statement to the Istanbul stock exchange the cellco revealed its intention to take part in the tender either directly or as part of a consortium.

    - Tanzania has become the first country in East Africa to start registering cellular phone sim cards. The move is aimed at curbing misuse and keeping track of the owners. The six-month exercise that began this month will be difficult but all cellular phone firms would have to meet the December 31 deadline.

    - MTN has been named the telecom company of the year again at the African Business Awards. MTN won the inaugural African Business Awards as the African Business of the Year last year. The award, which was presented to MTN in London by the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) during the African Business Awards, recognises the impact the company has made on the industry and its workforce, the community and on the economy as a whole.

    - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has set July 25 as the closing date for submissions regarding the second draft terrestrial broadcasting frequency plan. The Authority received comments on the first draft which have now been incorporated into the second draft. Interested parties are therefore requested to submit further written representations on the second draft terrestrial broadcasting frequency plan,” ICASA said in a statement.


  • Kenya’s Wananchi Group is to use the national electricity transmission network to build a fibre optic platform expected to open a new front in the bruising battle for control of Kenya's lucrative media market.

    The platform - a product of an agreement between the media firm and Kenya Power and Lighting Company -- puts Wananchi on a converged media highway that enables it to compete in television content, internet provision, data and voice transmission markets.

    "We are deploying the "design unseen" network in key urban areas that enables us to install our fibre network on KPLC's electricity poles," said Suhayl Esmailjeee, the chief operating officer at Wananchi Group.

    A national fibre optic network running on KPLC's power transmission system offers Wananchi the potential to play in TV broadcasting and telecoms markets and a chance to compete in the internet service providers (ISPs).

    Replicating KPLCs power transmission network gives Wananchi access to the more than one million electricity customers and substantially reduces the cost of cable TV transmission that is currently only possible with the expensive infrastructure support involving the digging of trenches to lay terrestrial cables.

    It gives Wananchi a head-start in the race for control of premium TV market currently under the grip of MultiChoice Africa (with its DStv brand) but local analysts warned that Wananchi could also use the massive bandwidth it offers to transmit self-generated local content making it a direct competitor in the Kenyan television scene.

    Wananchi offers cable TV services under its Zuku brand, which was hit by negative publicity after its high profile launch last year yielded strong market interest that consumers said was not matched with prompt delivery. Wananchi said it had lacked the money it needed to drive its plans.

    "There is so much noise about data right now but for us TV is the growth market. We sign up between 50 and 400 new TV subscribers every month," he said.

    Wananchi has been a main benefactor of the Africa Telecoms Media and Technology Fund (ATMTF) that bought strategic stakes in two Internet Service Providers -- Wananchi Online and Simbanet as well as cable TV operator, Mitsuminet in May last year. The company recently completed the purchase of a five per cent stake in state owned undersea fibre optic cable TEAMS.

    For Kenya Power, the fibre networks opens a new revenue stream that will help reverse profitability trends that have been dropping with increasing reliance on expensive thermal power from independent producers to meet rising consumer demand.

    KPLC got the licence it needed to diversify into data transmission in April this year after it met the regulator's conditions.

    The company plans to use its new mandate to create a 1,500km fibre optic backbone helped by the existing electricity transmission network. The Sh2.6 billion System Control and Data Acquisition (Scada) project is being financed by the European Investment Bank with the Swedish firm ABB as the contractor.

    Wananchi's fibre network will run parallel with KPLC's own fibre optic network that the power firm is building for the planned entry into the data, audio and visual transmission market. KPLC entered the telecoms market early this year and plans to launch the service in the first half of next year.

    TMC Net

  • Zambian ISP Zamnet has made the first link to the SAT3 fibre from this landlocked country going via Namibia to the South African landing station. The link opened on 1 July. This is the latest cross-border link to be put in place after KDN’s announcement last week that it had completed its fibre route from Mombasa to Kampala.

    Zamnet is currently running internal tests before the service becomes available to all Zamnet customers. The bulk of ZAMNET Internet traffic is expected to be through fibre by 1st August 2009.

    According to the company's acting Managing Director, Raphael Maseko: “The link performance has been excellent so far. We have been running various tests and doing some optimization to ensure that when we come fully online, our customers will enjoy the Internet as it is meant to be”.

    The link to SAT3 was made using fibre on the power lines of the country’s power utility Zesco connecting to Telecom Namibia which in turn connects to the SAT3 landing station in South Africa.


  • Telkom Kenya has revamped the Orange Internet residential service by utilising the unused capacity in copper wires. Through the new service dubbed Broadband Nyumbani. Orange will focus on providing ADSL services.

    Jean-Michel Chanut, Head of Marketing and Strategy said Broadband Nyumbani will provide fast, reliable and affordable internet solution with high bandwidth capabilities of up to 1MB to home users. The offer promotes the use of landline by waiving the application fee of Telkom fixed line cost of Sh3,395 on application of the Broadband Nyumbani within 30 days from payments of the fixed line. With this ADSL connection a customer can surf the internet as well as make phone calls.

    Broadband Nyumbani’s other benefits, he said, include five free email addresses with large storage capacity, anti-spam and antivirus with additions on request; free parental control; discount on fixed line; dedicated customer help line and Broadband Nyumbani’s equipment known as the Livebox, which comes fitted with a Wi-Fi component that allows wireless internet access within 100 metres of the access point, commonly known as hot spots.

    “With this, customers can set up multiple computers or other Wi-Fi enabled devices in their home enabling them to connect to high speed internet simultaneously without blocking the phone line for voice calls,” Chanut said.

    The parental control CD comes with a service offers content filtering options allowing parents to monitor or limit what can be accessed and even restrict the amount of time their children spend online. The content filter offers a choice of pre-defined blocked categories that parents or guardians can use to protect children or vulnerable dependants within the family home.

    The service targets home users in areas where there is ADSL coverage and Telkom Kenya Fixed line service which are; Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Nyali, Nyeri, Naivasha, Kericho, Kakamega, Kisii, Eldoret, Kitale, Machakos, Diani, Thika, Kikuyu, Busia, Embu, Garissa, Kilifi, Kiambu, Kiamariga, Malindi, Athi River, Othaya, Bungoma, Ongata Rongai, Ruiru.

    Capital Business

  • - ICASA Chairman Paris Mashile recently indicated that the process for licensing the sought after 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum - typically referred to as WiMax spectrum - will be announced towards the end of July. One of the most positive developments is that the remaining 120 MHz of 2.6 GHz spectrum is likely to be divided into four 30 MHz portions and allocated to four new licensees. This is what industry asked for, and ICASA appears to have listened to the operators’ requests.

    - ViaSat announced it has signed two contracts with RascomStar-Qaf, a pan-African satellite operator, to deliver satellite systems for infrastructure communications carrying pan-African telephony and data between regional and national capitals and for rural telecommunications access across the African continent with RascomStar-Qaf VSAT terminals.

    - AccessKenya Group has upgraded its internet core network by ten times as it gears to handle the huge bandwidth capacity upon the arrival of the Seacom and Teams submarine cables. AcessKenya increased the internet core network from1000mb to 10,000mb at a cost of Sh60 million. It is scaled to handle and best manage the large capacities of the international fibre cables and to ensure the core internet network is upgrade proofed for a number of years into the future. Additionally, the company has purchased 2,500mb of capacity on the Seacom fibre optic cable, which together with a similar amount procured on the TEAMS cable will give it a total of 5,000mb of capacity to offer significantly faster speeds to its customers.

    - Angola’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, Unitel, has revealed plans to spend USD1.7 billion over the next four years on expanding and upgrading infrastructure, reports Bloomberg. Projects in progress include deploying a fibre-optic backbone spanning the country.


  • A programme to train students in technical institutions to repair and service computers has been launched by the Ghana Education Service in Accra. The Computer System Support Programme (CSSP) is a two-year pilot programme which will commence in September this year and initially run as a technical institute for senior high school students who offer science programmes.

    Being piloted at the Accra Technical Training Cen¬tre (ATTC), the programme is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and UNESCO. Launching the programme, Samuel Bannerman Mensah, Director-General of the GES, said the CSSP would include relevant entrepreneurial skills content to enable beneficiaries to gain-wage employment or be self-employed.

    As a long term strategy, he said, the GES intended setting up one of such centres in one technical institute in every region to provide maintenance and repairing services to all schools in the regions. "The establishment of these centres in our technical institutions would ensure availability of regular training materials to students undergoing the training and provide some minimal funding to the institutions," he said.

    Bannerman-Mensah said CIDA had provided 6,000 Canadian dollars for the purchase of tools to carry out the programme while UNESCO had also provided 50,000 dollars to cover the cost of training, ICT equipment, as well as for project monitoring and evaluation.

    Ghanaian Times

  • Bushenyi district might lose a donation of over 500 computers if the Government goes ahead to implement a ban on the importation of used computers. While presenting this year's budget recently, Syda Bbumba, the finance minister, announced a total ban on the importation of used computers, freezers and refrigerators, citing environmental concerns.

    Speaking at a function to hand over 100 computers to 18 schools in Bushenyi recently, Walter Zielinski, the chairperson of the Germany-based Charity Network, said his organisation would have liked to donate another batch of 500 computers to the district.

    He said this would only be possible if the leaders could press the Government to lift the ban on used computers. The donation is an initiative of the former Ugandan ambassador to Germany, the late Samson Nyine Bitahwa, under his Rukararwe Partnership for Rural Development.

    New Vision

  • The Electoral Administration Technical Secretariat (STAE), the electoral branch of the Mozambican civil service, says that the repeated breakdowns of computers used in the current voter registration are due to poor working conditions. STAE general director Felisberto Naife told AIM that the equipment is functioning in poor conditions, exposed to dust and rain.

    Naife said that "a computer, even if normally used in an office, will have problems. Now imagine this situation where if it is functioning in the open air, and subject to dust and other conditions. Because of that, there have been operational problems. We are speaking about the real Mozambique".

    He added that "all kinds of equipments, particularly electronic ones, when they are exposed to different types of environments will have their own reactions. There have been poor conditions for storing the equipment. But these are the conditions we have in the districts".

    The problem of poor functioning and repeated breakdowns of the electronic equipments used in voter registration was first noted in the 2007 registration, when the entire electorate was re-registered from scratch. So serious were the problems that the National Elections Commission (CNE) even threatened to sue Insitec, the Mozambican company that won the tender, and supplied the computers.

    This time there have been no threats, and the problem is not as serious because this year's exercise is simply an updating of the registers, aimed mainly at people who attain the voting age of 18 prior to the election date of 28 October.

    Naife said that the equipment that suffers breakdowns must be repaired and have defective parts replaced. But he ruled out a further massive import of new equipment. STAE must continue to use these machines, he added, because the government spent a great deal of money in acquiring them.

    "This equipment cost a lot, and, taking into account the number of voters to be covered this year, it would make no sense to just discard them all and purchase new computers", said Naife. "The production of this equipment takes time. It is not available in the shops, and has to be ordered".

    The current registration began on 15 June, and is due to end on 29 July. STAE's target is to register 483,150 potential voters. This is in addition to the 9.3 million people who are already on the electoral registers, thanks to the registration in 2007 and 2008.


  • - Nigeria’s Senate has begun the process of amending the 1945 Evidence Act to permit the admissibility in court of electronic- and computer-generated evidence. The Act only provides for the admissibility of original of documents pleaded in court.

    - Nigeria’s Federal Government plans to establish science and technology parks across the country in a bid to reduce over dependency of the economy on oil and encourage production of quality and globally competitive products and services through scientific innovations.

Digital Content

  • Mobile telecommunications Giant, Nokia and Digital Mobile Television (DMTV), a subsidiary of Multichoice last week signed a memoranda of understanding (MOU) on mobile TV services. With the partnership, consumers can now watch DStv's menu of TV programs and sports from certain Nokia mobile phones at no cost for the next 12 months.

    It was also revealed that Nokia and DMTV are to partner with MTN in this synergy and this will see only MTN subscribers in Nigeria access Mobile TV through Digital Video Broadcast Handheld (DVB-H)-enabled Nokia phones.

    To receive the DStv Mobile service, the subscribers will be required to have a Nokia handset specially configured to receive DVB-H broadcasts such as the N96 and N77.

    Mobile TV is a technology that allows people to view live television content on their mobile phones or other mobile devices that they ordinarily would only get through traditional cable or pay TV subscription at home and offices.

    Speaking at the signing ceremony in Lagos, Marketing Manager Multichoice Nigeria, Donald Etim said "Activating the Mobile TV service is easy, as subscribers only needed to buy a DVB-H enabled handset, insert their MTN SIM card and activate the service. We are confident that the DStv Mobile service will gain wide acceptance because of Nokia's dominance in the Nigeria market".

    The DStv Mobile broadcast covers Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Ibadan, though reception signals may vary outside the metropolis."

    About nine channels are available for the subscribers. They include: CNN, Africa Magic, NTA International, Magic Plus, Supersports 9, Supersports Blitz, Channel O, Cartoon Network and TBN. According to Etim, other channels are also being considered for the service, including Big Brother Africa, which will begin broadcast on 24th August with the start of the selection process.

    The DStv Mobile service will allow MTN subscribers to watch live matches of the World Cup, English Premier League and Spanish La Liga games LIVE on DStv Mobile when the leagues resumes in August.

    To celebrate the signing of the partnership, a promotion which comes with 12 months DStv mobile access is being run. for MTN subscribers who purchase any DVB-H enabled Nokia handset and activate the DStv Mobile service. They will enjoy the service free for 12 months starting from the time of activation. Promotional packs are available till 31st December 2009. However, consumers who already own the Nokia N96 and N77 only need to insert their MTN SIM to enjoy the service. "This is an exciting time for mobile convergence in Africa,"

    "We are especially pleased that Nokia working together with DMTV and MTN, are able to offer consumers 12 months free access to DStv Mobile when they purchase a compatible DVB-H handset and activate the service. This showcases the enormous advancements in devices technology, now enabling TV on-the-go-for consumers," said Philip De La Vega, General Manager, Nokia Nigeria.

    DStv Mobile is currently available on Nokia N96 and N77, because both have an integrated DVB-H receiver. In addition, subscribers can access DStv Mobile on Nokia N79, N85, N86, N97, E75 and Nokia 5800 Xpress Music devices by purchasing a Nokia Mobile TV Receiver SU-33W.

    On reason behind the introduction, Etim said the partnership with MTN and Nokia was an indication of the companies' responsiveness to customer needs and devotion to continually improve service delivery and international best practices. He assured that the new innovation for Nigerians will become even easier and more affordable, adding that with this development, Nigeria has now joined the first few countries that have a fully commercial DVB-H based mobile service.

    Research indicates that mobile phones will remain the central multi-purpose device for the foreseeable future, especially in Africa, outnumbering any other mobile devices like digital media players and pocket PCs.The Nokia N96 and N77, both DVB-H enabled, are available in Nokia authorised outlets and come with 12-months warranty and after sales service.

    DVB-H Handheld is regarded as the world's leading mobile broadcast technology standard and allows for digital terrestrial broadcast of live television channels to a mobile phone. It differs from 3G Mobile Telephony because DVB-H is a one-to-many transmission on a linear basis and uses broadcasting infrastructure, while 3G uses telephony infrastructure that delivers point-to-point services.

    DVB-H therefore uses scarce bandwidth more effectively. 3G and DVB-H can, however, be complementary, especially in the provision of return path service for live television for instance, viewer voting for TV shows or similar services. It improves robustness in difficult reception environments, whether indoor or outdoor and lowers battery power consumption in mobile phones.


  • African countries are falling behind in building digital libraries and archives to provide continent-wide access to local knowledge - and the poorest are likely to bear the brunt of this, a conference has heard.

    In the opening statement at the First International Conference on African Digital Libraries and Archives (ICADLA-1) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week (1-3 July) Lalla Ben Barka - deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) - said that libraries and archives, which could be crucial in Africa's economic and social development, are accessible to only a few.

    Barka shared her concerns about a growing digital divide which she said may leave the poor more marginalised in the "new global community".

    "Africa is still lagging behind ... in its acquisition and use of technologies [such as printing presses, computers and internet access] to preserve and provide access to its own content," she said.

    Kimbo Mchombu, a professor at the University of Namibia, said at the conference that most African countries are falling behind South Africa. Very few countries except South Africa had explored knowledge management, he said.

    Barka called for the formation of partnerships both inside and outside Africa, to ensure access to local information and knowledge for the people, and for this knowledge to be incorporated into Africa's development strategy to enhance economic and social development.

    "Libraries and archives through the ages have worked to bring together knowledge and information, preserving what Africa has accomplished and providing the fertile soil for ideas. They provide the opportunity to educate oneself, to learn from others and also form new ideas of how to do things better or more effectively within our particular context," said Barka.

    Speaking on knowledge-oriented development, Abraham Azubuike, chief librarian at UNECA, told the conference that an effective national library and information services system for economic, scientific and technological development was crucial for building a national knowledge system.

    Azubuike advised countries to build effective libraries for every community. He said sustainable, knowledge-based development strategies must be based on such libraries as well as a strong reading culture and widespread literacy in information technology.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • France Telecom is reported to have made a new offer to buy all the shares in the Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (ECMS) in a new move to resolve the ongoing row with Orascom Telecom over their joint holding in Egypt's MobiNil.

    In a statement though, the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) said that it has rejected the tender offer represented by France Telecom, to buy up to 100% of ECMS.

    The mobile phone network - which trades as MobiNil - is owned by a holding firm, ECMS - which is in turn owned by three parties, 20% directly by Orascom Telecom, 29% via the stock exchange and the remaining 51% is owned by a company, confusingly called MobiNil. This holding company is in turn 71.25% owned by France Telecom and 28.75% owned by Orascom Telecom.

    Following a ruling earlier this year from the Arbitration Court of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) there has been a dispute between the two main shareholders over a requirement to sell some, or possibly all, of the shares to France Telecom.

    Mobile World

  • Teraco Data Environments (Pty) Limited , the first provider of vendor neutral co-location facilities in South Africa, has topped up its operating capital with a further R50-million in a successful Series-B round of financing, consisting of equity and loans. This follows on the conclusion of a Series-A financing round of R45-million in 2008.

    Series-A investors participated in this second round with one new investor, Guy Willner, co-founder and CEO of IXEurope (now Equinix Europe) who recently joined Teraco’s board.

    About 65% of the funding, making up the bulk of the investment, was provided by Treacle Private Equity a majority black owned South African private equity group. This brings Teraco’s black ownership up to 31%. Teraco is an accredited Level 4 BEE contributor.

    The finance will fund the development of the company’s data centre in Isando on the East side of Johannesburg. Construction is under way and will be complete by the end of the year. A number of Teraco customers have entered into agreements to move their telecommunications and IT equipment into the facility from January 2010.

    World-class data centres are power intensive. Teraco Isando has a power capacity, supplied by dual feeds from Eskom, of 7 MVA (megavolt ampere), which is enough to cater for Teraco’s plan to expand the site, in various phases, to 3 500 square metres. All major South African carriers currently collocated in Teraco’s data centre in Cape Town will also be present in the new Isando colocation facility.

    “The location of Teraco’s new data centre in Isando, more than 25km from Sandton Midrand and central Johannesburg, makes it an ideal disaster recovery site for companies wanting to safeguard their data from power failures in the main business districts. The building also offers an excellent high site for companies looking into utilising wireless services,” says Lex van Wyk, Managing Director of Teraco.

    Meanwhile, this investment into the Ekurhuleni Municipality has been greeted warmly by local councilors. “Teraco is replicating a model that has been successful around the world in attracting investment and innovation into the region,” says Zweli Dlamini, Acting Executive Manager: Media Liaison, Design and Publication and Special Projects from Ekurhuleni Municipality, “By creating an open, neutral hub for IT and telecoms businesses to locate, Teraco will encourage further investment into the district”.

    “Teraco’s truly neutral environment, allows companies within the data centre the flexibility to choose to connect to any carrier and partner. Teraco focuses only on providing the best environment and so we never compete with our customers. They are free to interconnect with each other or any service provider. This brings in a new era in the local ICT sector and enables new types of businesses and a bigger variety of services never before possible in South Africa,” van Wyk concludes.

  • Tunisia's telecom market will be one of the fastest-growing markets in the Africa/Middle East region with total telecom revenue estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.4 percent over the next five years, reaching $2.2 billion in 2014, according to a new report from Pyramid Research.

    Even though Tunisia's mobile and fixed penetration were among the highest in the region in 2008 (82.1 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively), the low broadband penetration rate of 2.2 percent indicates there is still room for growth, observes Sylwia Boguszewska, analyst at Pyramid Research and author of the report.

    "To stimulate competition, the government launched a tender for a fixed-line services license so as to promote broadband Internet access and prop up mobile telephony services," Boguszewska says. "The process of a tender for a technology-neutral license for a mobile and fixed operator was started in May 2009, and a new player is expected to enter the market in 2010," she adds. "This, plus the sale of another stake in Tunisie Telecom, will have a positive effect on market competitiveness and liberalization."

    "Although the market will contract in 2009, it will bounce back with broadband being the fastest growing among other significant market segments," explains Boguszewska. Broadband services will be a considerable source of growth over the next five years, with a CAGR of 15.1 percent between 2009 and 2014, producing estimated revenue of $174 million in 2014, up from $81 million in 2008. "This growth will over compensate for the decline in narrowband Internet services, which will only generate revenue of $4 million in 2014," concludes Boguszewska.

    Cellular News

  • CA Southern Africa has re-entered the technology sector under its new parent, EOH.

    The company announced it had entered into a partnership with EOH in late January, sparking fears that CA had decided to disinvest in SA.

    Speaking at the launch event held last week, CA SA MD Gary Lawrence explained the company needed the change to grow effectively in South Africa and Southern Africa. He noted it has already started to see results from the handover. “In the past four months, we have grown our skills base by 20% and we have set up a local support centre.”

    According to Lawrence, CA in SA needed to change its business model, since it was limited by the internal rules which restricted the number of support centres and skills growth. “In SA, we do business differently. Relationships are all important. That is why we needed to build the support centre locally.”

    CA's senior VP, Gilbert Lacroix, says the international arm has been streamlining its business and centralising aspects like support. He adds that CA has been moving from a direct-to-market approach to an indirect approach. “The deal with EOH forms a part of that strategy.”

    Lacroix says, over the last three years, CA has gone from little-to-no indirect market activity, to 36% of the business moving in that direction. He adds that if the company could create a similar model in other countries, it would.

    CA has made a similar deal in the Middle East. Many international organisations are cutting back on emerging market investment due to the global economic crisis.

    Lacroix says the deal with EOH will help the company cut back on operational costs.

    While none of the employees have been affected by the deal, several of the smaller local channel partners have been cut from CA's list.

    According to Lawrence, the CA business has been physically moved into the EOH office park, which now forms its base of operations. “We have had several hiccups. There were small delays in customer delivery, but our customers do understand.”

    EOH CEO Asher Bohbot explains that even though it is now owned by the company, CA will still maintain all the products, services and branding associated with its former parent. He says CA locally will have access to all of its international namesake's internal skills development, technology and best practice offerings.

    “It will effectively still be a large part of CA.”

    CA SA also released three products yesterday, all focused on managed services. The company's new strategy will focus on service provision, making use of EOH's customer base of 2 500 clients and its data centre space.

    EOH would not disclose the financial implications of taking on the local branch of CA, since it is in a closed period. The company's final results for the year should be available next month.


  • - IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has provided a $90 million loan and mobilized an additional $70 million in syndications to help Zain Ghana expand its mobile telecommunications network and address the country’s growing demand for affordable communications services.

    - Supplier of prepaid telephone cards in Africa, Nasuba Express has said it is set to launch yet another new product for her African market tagged "Nasuba Express card."

    The Nàsuba Express Card is a prepaid and rechargeable bank card for payment and international withdrawals.

    - Warid Telecom is to invest $10m (about sh20b) in the extension of power lines to all its masts across the country. The investment also involves the construction of perimeter walls around the masts; a move top officials said would cut the company's costs by up to 30% in the long-run.

    - Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s largest telecoms operator, has reported a strong improvement in performance due to its accelerated drive to sign on new subscribers.

    While full disclosure would only be given at the end of the half year to August, CEO Mr Douglas Mboweni reported stronger than expected airtime usage. This has driven monthly turnover significantly above the January and February levels. With the accelerated growth in subscriber numbers, turnover is expected to continue growing, he said.


  • - Taha Khalifa has been appointed as new Intel Egypt Country Manager, Elamrawi takes on the role of Regional Director for Enterprise Solutions in the Middle East; Mohammed Amer as Levant & North Africa Country Manager.

  • * Mobile Banking & Financial Services Africa

    20-22 July 2009, Southern Sun Grayston Hotel, Johannesburg

    Building on the highly successful inaugural event last year, the conference will again deliver timely insights into the key business, technical and security considerations that all players in the mobile banking and payments industry in Africa must address.

    For more information and to book your place now, call +44 (0)20 7017


    11-13 August 2009, Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    Tanzania is proud host of the 11th EAPIC, which is the strategic regional event for all stakeholders in the East African power industry. EAPIC highlights new opportunities, provides attendees with the opportunity to renew and build relationships and bring knowledge and solution to the challenges facing sustainable development in the East African power sector.


    11-13 August 2009, Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The 11th East African Power Industry Convention, as part of iPAD East Africa, aims to address crucial issues within the regional power sector and find solutions to enhance growth, productivity and profitability for business as the need for a stable power supply for industry, business and mining is pivotal to the overall development of the economy of Tanzania and the EAC.


    24-27 August 2009, Sandton, South Africa

    Good interconnection regime will help businesses boost their competitiveness in an increasingly competitive and globalised telecommunications market. This 5-day course will provide an insight into various interconnection issues including implementation, pricing models, and challenges faced by operators and regulators.

    For further information about this course download the brochure here


    25-27 August 2009, Livingstone, Zambia

    The only event in Sub-Saharan Africa to look beyond ICTs and how we can bypass the infrastructure difficulties to achieve connectivity? The only event in Sub-Saharan Africa which can boast 3 full days with 30 Government Ministers and ICT Regulators from over 20 countries for you to learn from and engage with.

    * Telecoms World Africa

    31 August - 4 September 2009, Cape Town international Convention Centre - Cape Town

    Telecoms World Africa is an established forum for the communications sector in Africa. The only one of its kind, this event provides a platform for key stakeholders to discover the opportunities for growth in Africa, and establish themselves as market leaders…


    6-8 October 2009, Grand Hotel, Kinshasa, Congo DRC

    The Infrastructure Partnerships for African Development (iPAD) DRC 2009 conference and exhibition is a platform for sound investment and collaboration in the reconstruction of the DRC - under one roof between governments, the public sector and business.

    iPAD DRC 2009 is a one-stop-shop for investigating investment opportunities in the DRC and the region, opening up a previously inaccessible but lucrative market.

    * MMT 09 - Mobile Money Transfer

    26-27 October2009, Dubai.

    MMT 09 is a 'must attend' event for anyone who is serious about remittances. Over 350 mobile network operators, microfinance institutions, money transfer networks, banks and technology providers will converge at MMT 09 to discuss the best ways to make money from mobile money transfer. Nowhere else in the world will you find so many MMT project leaders all gathered in one place.

  • ISOC Fellowship to the IETF

    The Internet Society has announced that it is seeking applications for the next round of the ISOC Fellowship to the IETF program. The program offers engineers from developing countries fellowships that fund the cost of attending an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) meeting.

    Fellowships will be awarded through a competitive applicationprocess. The Internet Society is currently accepting fellowship applications for the next two IETF meetings:

    * IETF 76 being held in Hiroshima, Japan, 8-13 November 2009

    * IETF 77 being held in Anaheim, USA, 21-26 March 2010

    Up to six fellowships will be awarded for each IETF meeting. Fellowship applications for both IETF meetings are due by 31 July 2009.

  • * Absa Bank and ACI Wordwide - South Africa

    ACI Worldwide, an international provider of electronic payments software, has won a contract from South African financial services organisation Absa to deliver the BASE24-eps software for online payments processing. BASE24-eps is an integrated payment engine to acquire, authenticate, route, switch and authorise financial transactions across multiple channels. The system can support payment transactions, including branch transactions, debit and credit at the ATM and point of sale, or telephone banking, as well as the mobile commerce and internet banking.

    * Zain and Tango Telecom - Ghana and Madagascar

    Tango Telecom says that it has won a messaging contract from Zain for its networks in Ghana and Madagascar. iAX SMS, Tango Telecom's messaging platform, enables prepaid and postpaid charging, storage and delivery of A2P, P2P and P2A messages and enables advanced revenue generating messaging services from a single platform.

    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

Syndicate content