Issue no 464 24th July 2009
Below the radar, a number of companies in a range of African countries have either installed data centres or are gearing up to do so. Some are run directly by operators, whilst others are operator-neutral. As with all of these kinds of shared facilities, trust and high levels of service will be a key issue. Russell Southwood spoke to Teraco’s CEO Tim Parsonson about why data centres and why now?
Formerly CEO of South African ISP Storm before he sold, Tim Parsonson believes that the industry is “ready for a neutral data centre player” and has long-term plans to offer this service in all of the Seacom-connected countries. But his current first priority is developing three data centres in South Africa.
Teraco Data Environments (Pty) Limited last week announced that it had 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.
Its first data centre was completed in February 2009 in the same building as Verizon (now owned by MTN) in Cape Town:”It has got all carriers with redundant pairs coming in,” says Parsonson. Customers include operators like Telkom South Africa, Neotel, Fastnet, T-Systems, Dark Fibre Africa and Vodacom and service providers like Web Africa. Also certain outsourcing companies are using the data centre for back-up.
The Centre offers what is known as 5x9 availability which means almost zero downtime, excess capacity for redundancy, independent power supplies and air conditioning. All customers get a service level agreement guaranteeing these features.
As telecoms markets are liberalised and the number of operators needing to connect with each other increases, they have two choices: either build their own data centres to meet other carriers or go through a carrier-neutral data centre. The problem with the first option is that it is a “nuclear arms race” that only the larger carriers can win. So for example, IS, Telkom South Africa, BCX and Vodacom have all built their own data centres. Vodacom’s is targeted at capturing corporate voice and data.
To some this may sound very much like creating an Internet Exchange Point except much bigger and commercially run. Parsonson responds:”We will have IXPs in our facility and are able to offer very cheap, physical peering. We are keen to remain neutral and not overlap with anyone else. The aim is to start with ICT operators and go after enterprise customers afterwards. We are seeking to replicate what Telehouse and ” He believes that partnerships with existing companies like T-Systems will allow them to expand into this part of the market.
Its second data centre is in Johannesburg on a site near the airport. Currently all existing data centres are in Mid Rand and Centurion where there are mounting infrastructure issues, particularly in terms of additional power supply. Teraco’s new data centre is in Isando 20 kilometres from this area and the local municipality has guaranteed 7MVA of power. It will open at the end of this year with all of the same customers present in the Cape Town centre.
Some idea of the scale of these operations can be gained from their physical footprint. The Johannesburg facility in Isando is 3,500 sq metres and the Cape Town facility is 600 sq metres. It is also likely to build a third centre in Durban that will be the same size as the Cape Town facility. For the purposes of comparison, a data centre in a mid-scale East African market is 110 sq metres.
All of this has so for cost US$12 million. The investors in Teraco are its management and Sir Peter Michael a UK-based tech investor, who was one of the backers of Parson’s former company Storm. It also has investment from a Black-owned private equity firm.
And does he have any plans to invest outside of South Africa?:”Yes, we have plans to expand outside of South Africa but they are not concrete yet. All the Seacom-connected countries are relevant.”
- Comium one of the leading GSM operators in Gambia has launched electronic top ups labelled “E-Credit”. Nyang Njie, the Sales Manager at Comium, who launched the initiative, told journalists that “E-Credit is a product that is very good, simple way of recharging and can be used all over in The Gambia”. He stated that E-Credit is environmentally-friendly as one does not need the use of scratch cards.
- MTN Ghana will soon be introducing MTN Mobile Money in Ghana. The product is designed to enable customers who subscribe to it to create a “Mobile Money Wallet” with authorized merchants and be able to buy MTN credit, transfer money to other subscribers and also to make payments even to non-subscribers.
United Arab Emirates telecoms company Etisalat is bidding for a Libyan mobile license, citing high growth potential. OPEC member Libya is the latest North African state to allow private investors into the lucrative telecoms sector, after government officials repeatedly said the country did not need foreign private-sector involvement. Libya has two state mobile phone operators, Libyana and Madar, to service a market of 5 million.
Etisalat had yet to make a bid for a stake in Meditel, Morocco's second-largest telecoms firm. Portugal Telecom has appointed Morgan Stanley to sell its 32 percent stake in Meditel. In May Etisalat's chairman told Reuters it would bid for the Meditel stake as it seeks acquisitions in the Middle East and Africa as asset prices have declined. 'We are still looking at Morocco, but will it materialise? It's not clear,' its Chairman Sharhan said on Tuesday.
As if all of the above were not a mouthful enough to swallow, Etisalat is now discussing buying the whole of Zain if it can resolve the issues around where their operations overlap.
Zambia has joined several countries in the eastern and southern African region in offering unified licenses to cater to diverse telecommunications services in a bid to attract international service providers and develop the telecom sector.
The country joins Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa in providing one license for an array of services including Internet and mobile telephony. Several international service providers feared investing in the country because of restrictive license conditions.
Zambian Minister of Communication and Transport Geoffrey Lungwangwa said in Parliament last week that the country’s new telecom bill, which provides for the unified license, will attract foreign investment in the telecom sector and will protect the rights and interests of service providers and consumers.
Among the things the bill is seeking to accomplish is the promotion of competition and efficiency among service providers, research, ICT equipment manufacturing and the use of new technologies including 3G services and WiMax.
Several African countries are now focusing on the provision of data, Internet backbone and video conferencing in addition to voice services through harmonization of license procedures.
"The bill is seeking legal framework on how to develop and sustain effective communication and social development," Lungwangwa said. Lungwangwa said the enhancement of communications would help stimulate development in various sectors such as e-health, education and governance.
The new bill gives power to the Communications of Zambia, which will now be called the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), to regulate tariffs for dominant service providers and agreements on interconnection fees.
The new law also stops the Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel), the government incumbent from restricting competition through over-charging for interconnection fees and access agreements.
Zamtel owns the Mwembeshi Satellite Earth Station, which provides an international gateway to private service providers Zain and MTN. Zamtel forms interconnection agreements with these providers for them to route their international calls. The interconnection agreements and international gateway charges will now be done by ZICTA on a nondiscriminatory basis and will penalize any service provider for using unapproved tariffs.
Sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing the most significant build-out of telecom transmission networks that it has ever seen. By July 2009, fixed line and alternative operators had over 400,000-km of terrestrial transmission network which was either operational, under construction, planned or proposed. Laid end-to-end, that is enough to wrap around the world ten times.
Three factors continue to drive this roll-out: 1) the need to reach submarine cable landing points, to extend the reach of national backbones to reach secondary towns and cities, 3) increase the transmission capacity available for the delivery of broadband services.
The first edition of the Africa Telecom Transmission Map published by Hamilton Research is now available as an AO-sized poster wall map. It shows in a detail never seen before Africa's terrestrial, satellite and submarine cable transmission networks as at July 2009. These transmission networks underpin the delivery of all voice, data and Internet services within the region.
This map has taken over five years to research and produce. It shows the extent of national transmission backbones, the scope for rural connectivity, submarine cable systems, GSM coverage, status of terrestrial cross-border links, and the national and international backhaul routes to submarine cable landing points.
Using exploded-view diagrammatic mapping, it separates out the network infrastructure where different operators are building routes, by type of infrastructure (fibre or microwave), and by the status of that infrastructure (operational, under construction, planned or proposed).
The Minister of Information and Communication Technology Nelson Chamisa who said he had instructed that telecommunication charges "need to be on the average of the region."
The regulator POTRAZ has already moved to comply with the policy decision. In a notice published Thursday, 16 July 2009, POTRAZ said acting in the public interest and in response to a public outcry over unaffordable voice telephony tariffs, it had reviewed maximum tariff levels with effect from 1 July 2009.
The review, which saw tariffs fall by between 10% and 15%, struck a balance between "affordability of services to consumers and the viability of operators", said POTRAZ.
Chamisa said these measures were short term interventions, indicating that government was planning to have the country under broadband for a sustainable reduction of tariffs.
To give local operators a chance to recover and expand government would not licence new players in the country, he said. However, this policy could be reviewed in the interest of the public, Chamisa said.
- Telkom Kenya has asked the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to speed up the introduction of a network feature that enables consumers to retain their telephone number whenever they changed the service provider
- Rwandatel officially unveiled its new call centre facility worth Rwf1.2 billion as a way of improving service delivery. The new facility which will not only allow easy handling of bigger volumes of calls is also available for Rwandatel's partners for hire, the company's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Patrick Kariningufu said. "We are very proud to make this significant investment right in our own backyard.
Zain Nigeria is expanding its existing 4,000 km nationwide fiber backbone network by a further 600km, and has awarded a contract to Nokia Siemens Networks for the expansion. Phase 2 will extend the fiber optic backbone, and will be delivered completely within a timeframe of six months.
- Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has directed the Information and Communication Ministry to ensure that all mobile phone subscribers are registered before the end of the year. The President expressed concerns that the current increase in crime was being perpetuated through mobile telephony due to the fact that owners of mobile handsets and their SIM cards were not registered.
- While announcing the first half year results, Zain confirmed that it is conducting a strategic review of its African Assets with the aim of maximizing shareholders value. Dr Al Barrak further adding that, "We have received expression of interest from several parties/other operators to acquire Zain operations in Africa. The Board of Directors of Zain has been discussing such matters and will consider any proposals that may be submitted. Further announcements will be made in due course."
South Africa's satellite, Sumbandilasat, will only be launched after August, following another rescheduling by Russian launch partner, Roskosmos.
While the Department of Science and Technology (DST) had secured a general date, the launch of the satellite will now be subject to another delay. According to Russian space agency, Roskosmos, the launch of its Meteor M meteorological satellite has been delayed and this has affected the Sumbandilasat lift off. No final dates for lift off have been set.
The Meteor M is the primary payload on the Soyuz launch vehicle, while Sumbandilasat is the secondary payload. Time needed to prepare and integrate the satellite on to the carrier vehicle will cause further delays, Roskosmos said.
The low-orbit satellite, which is the second to be launched by South Africa, is scheduled to be blasted into space in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The satellite has been shipped to Russia in preparation for its launch. Sumbandilasat was exported to Russia on 4 June and arrived in Moscow on 10 June. It was then shipped to Baikonur on 17 June for integration onto the Soyuz launch vehicle, as scheduled.
The launch will be the culmination of the DST's three-year, R26 million integrated capacity building and satellite development project. In October 2005, then minister of science and technology Mosibudi Mangena announced the project, and the satellite was delivered to the DST in November 2006.
The Sumbandilasat blast off was supposed to have taken place in December 2006, from a submarine near the northern Russian naval base of Murmansk - but efforts to kick-start the space project were delayed. The launch date was then set for June 2007, but was once again delayed, with the department citing “administrative problems”.
Roskosmos previously stated delays were due to the “rescheduling of programmed launches”. The Russian space agency has failed to launch the satellite twice this year already.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the African Union Commission launched a new Internet-based Monitoring Platform to map investment flows in Africa and offer investors more information for analysis and decision making.
The new Investment Monitoring Platform unveiled at a meeting in Addis-Ababa recently will provide data and information on the characteristics of foreign and domestic investors, as well as their motivations, actions, perceptions, intentions, and impact.
UNIDO Director-General, Kandeh Yumkella, welcomed the initiative, saying that, "the Monitoring Platform will bring a new level of transparency to the investment and business landscape in Africa. It will allow country ranking through investor evaluation and performance. It will also enable investors to conduct analysis and make more informed decisions, better assess business risks, and identify potential counterparts".
The data on the platform will be supplied through bi-annual surveys of both foreign and domestic investors conducted in more than 20 African countries by UNIDO. The first survey will start on 23 July in Kenya and Senegal. By the end of October, 22 countries would have been covered.
"The information gathered will also allow for a better understanding of the impact of the global financial crisis on investment flows in Africa. It will help government and national agencies design more effective investment and business policies, promotion strategies and services that respond to investor needs, and formulate viable industrialization strategies for the continent", he said.
The Investment Monitoring Platform, designed in partnership with Microsoft Corporation is supported by the African Union Commission and financed by the European Union Commission, the Governments of Austria, Italy, Turkey and South Africa. It is the result of the collaboration between UNIDO and the Investment Promotion Agencies Network (AfrIPANet), established in 2001 and currently comprising more than 40 members throughout Africa.
Google SA is in discussions with some telecoms companies to bring local content to South African homes and mobile phones, says new country manager, Stephen Newton.
While he would not disclose which providers he is in discussions with, he says Google's focus has always been to localise content as much as possible. “We want to build a local flavour into everything we develop.”
According to Newton, the company is also working on a few new projects that will sport local context. When the company releases the official version of Google Maps in South Africa, it will come with a local twist and feature some of the functionality already found in the US and UK. Users can look forward to the “get directions function” and more, he adds. “While you can use Maps now, there will be some interesting differences when we have the local launch. You will notice the changes,” he adds.
The company is also looking at completing the development of a South African version of Google Street view for tourists coming to SA during the World Cup.”2010 is a big date. It is important for us as Google to use our products to enhance that.”
Newton says there is also good news for local Android phone users. “We are working towards getting the Android App store locally.”
He adds there are several local manufacturers, which are building Android-based devices for the local market, although he did not indicate which companies are involved.
Newton has been at the helm of the business for less than 20 days. He was internally promoted to the position after a year as the company's head of analytics and commerce for EMEA. He has inherited a few fires, which will need to be addressed as he settles into his position locally.
Last year, the local arm of the Internet giant was accused of anti-competitive practices by local online marketing firm Entelligence. It asserted Google was behaving in a dominant manner, having attempted to take direct control of one of its clients. When this did not succeed, it threatened to close all of Entelligence's accounts with the search engine giant, it alleged. The complaint is under legal scrutiny and Newton says he cannot comment directly on the matter.
However, he says, Google will need local partners and agencies to help it to handle the volume of clients it hopes to attract in the local market. “There will be many clients we cannot support one-on-one, which means we will need local agencies to handle those clients.”
He says Google SA will now sit with agencies, like Entelligence, and talk about how to get more people online. “The more people there are online, the better it is for all of us.” Newton plans to approach the local market through education, which he says has been the primary concern of the people he has spoken to locally.
He says the problem, even for CEOs of large corporates, is an overwhelming number of acronyms which mean little to those who are not entrenched in the tech industry. “They are expected to understand what all the online terms mean, when instead they should be hearing what the product means for their business.”
He says the lack of understanding often turns people away from buying online products. “We will start with education, even before we start suggesting what products would be best suited for a particular business.”
- In South Africa, Telkom Internet ADSL subscribers have been enjoying uncapped ADSL in July. Telkom confirmed that due to a software glitch on TelkomInternet's authentication server, some users have not been capped once they utilised their complete purchased allocation of blended bandwidth.
- Mauritius, has become the second Africa country to host Google Cache Servers after Kenya. The servers which have already installed and configured will be operational from September.
- Officials from the World Bank and Rwanda IT representatives Monday met in Kigali for a three-day conference with an aim of reviewing the progress of its national fibre project, evaluate the challenges encountered so far, and discuss the way forward for the next 18 months when the project ends. Minister of Science and Technology, Romain Murenzi said the project is in line with the government's vision of becoming a regional ICT hub. He emphasised Rwanda's commitment to connect all corners of the country with the 2000km fibre optic that he said will be completed by early next year.
ITU’s African Region Preparatory Meeting for the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2010 (WTDC) concluded last week in Kampala, Uganda with delegates reaching consensus on regional strategies to foster the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) throughout Africa. The agreed strategies and priorities will serve as inputs to next year’s WTDC.
The meeting was opened by the 2nd Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda, the Right Honourable Henry M. Kajura, on behalf of the Ugandan Prime Minister, in the presence of ITU Deputy Secretary-General Houlin Zhao; the Hon. Dr Aggrey Siryoyi Awori, Uganda’s Minister of ICT; the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid; and Chairman of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Eng. Dr A.M.S. Katahoire. Mr Patrick Masambu, Executive Director, UCC, served as Chairman of the meeting.
A High Level Panel took place on the first day, during which participants took stock of the impact of the global financial crisis on ICT development in Africa, and considered how ICT could be leveraged to jump-start growth and development going forward.
An agreement was signed by Al Basheer, on behalf of ITU, and Philippe Njoni, Minister des Transports, Postes et Télécommunications, Burundi, for the development of national ICT broadband networks to deliver free or low cost digital access for schools and hospitals, and for underserved populations in rural and remote areas. This agreement is the first in a series, forming part of a large-scale project for the region launched by ITU as follow up to the Connect Africa Summit in 2007. ITU is currently negotiating agreements with additional countries and working with potential funding partners, including the African Development Bank, to help meet the growing demand for broadband network investment.
Following a review of the 2006 WTDC Doha Action Plan, the meeting set priorities for future development consolidated into five broad programmes and five regional initiatives. It also identified topics to be the subject of study over the next four years.
The programmes cover:
Information and communication Infrastructure
Cybersecurity and ICT applications
Capacity building and other initiatives
Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States
Programmes will be implemented through the creation of tools, the development of training materials, and information dissemination (workshops and seminars), as well as through direct assistance.
Chairman of the meeting Patrick Masambu underlined the need to narrow the digital divide, develop broadband networks, build human capacity, deal with the issues emerging from the increasing convergence in ICTs, and strengthen cybersecurity.
Al Basheer recognized the rapid growth of ICT in the African region but acknowledged the existing gap between the countries that have attained higher growth in ICT and those that still have limited access. He emphasized the intrinsic link between ICT development and socio-economic development and insisted on the need to invest in ICTs despite the current economic downturn, especially to improve broadband access in the region.
National broadcaster SABC has spent hundreds of thousands of rands on laptops and computers to prepare for a possible strike by its workforce, and is setting up a temporary broadcast facility away from their head office, according to a trade union leader.
Hannes du Buisson, president of the Broadcast, Electronic Media and Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu), said workers were angry that the SABC should be spending R700,000 on equipment to prepare for a strike but refused to grant its workers a 12,2% increase. The 12.2% increase is laid down in a multiyear salary agreement signed between unions and the SABC last year.
The SABC’s three largest unions - Bemawu, the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), and the Media Workers’ Association of SA (Mwasa) - delivered an ultimatum to management on Tuesday, after a protest march by 500 employees. If demands for a 12,2% increase were not met, the unions, representing 70% of employees, said they would go on strike.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago refused to comment on Du Buisson’s allegation. “All I can is that they are trying to push us into revealing our contingency plans, which we refuse to do,” he said.
CWU representative Vulture Ntukuli criticised the SABC for not reporting on the march or picketing by employees and said the news department had ordered its staff not to publicise the protests. “We want to make sure the public knows the SABC is hiding information,” he said.
Du Buisson said the SABC’s lack of coverage demonstrated its bias as the protests were receiving international media attention. “Their objectivity is in serious question,” he said.
The Federal Government yesterday said it has stepped-up measures to address the growing environmental problem caused by indiscriminate dumping of used and expired electrical and electronic appliances.
Director-General, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr Ngeri Benebo, said this while briefing newsmen in Abuja, on the Agency's plan to host an international conference on e-Waste control, adding that government is seeking to discourage Nigerians from buying used electrical/electronics products, because of its serious health and environmetal implications.
She said though there are no laws prohibiting importation of near-end-of-life and end-of-life electronic appliances, unsustainable disposal of these products pose not just a threat to the environment, but also to human health.
She said the Federal Government responded to the growing problems posed by e-Waste by setting up an inter-agency committee to proffer solutions to the menace.
According to her, initial studies made by the agency on complaints about the toxic waste showed that our markets is fast becoming dumping ground for used electrical and electronic products, which generates toxic e-waste materials.
"We are mounting enlightement campaigns to let Nigerians know the serious health and environmental hazards posed by continued use of these products. We do not want to commence enforcement of the affected law without letting people involved know the implications of their actions. We want first to get Nigerians enlightened and educated on the problem before embarking on enforcement," she said.
- Police Academy of Information Technologies has been inaugurated in Algeria by General Manager of National Police (DGSN) Ali Tounsi. This new facility is destined to welcome police trainees who have already received training courses in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT), said Daas Omar, sub-director of computer department at DGSN. With 130 educational seats, the academy offers training courses by engineers "trained and certified," he noted, stressing that certification "falls as part of conventions sealed with editors like Microsoft."
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will be sending text messages to millions of Zambian parents this week as part of a new initiative to harness modern technology in the fight to prevent polio.
UNICEF has joined forces with the Zambian Health Ministry and two mobile phone companies, ZAIN and MTN, to encourage parents to bring their children under the age of five to the nearest health-care centre for free polio vaccinations.
"It is about time that we used modern technology to ensure child health and this year is particularly important because of the polio prevention campaign," said UNICEF Zambia Representative, Lotta Sylwander.
Ms. Sylwander also expressed gratitude to MTN and ZAIN for sending SMS texts informing millions of their subscribers of activities taking place during the prevention campaign against the crippling disease in 28 districts bordering Angola, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
"Your child can be healthier! Take your children under age five to the nearest health centre for free vaccinations from 20-25 July," is the message Zambian mobile phone users will read, UNICEF said in a news release.
The campaign at the centre of Zambia's Child Health Week activities is part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a partnership spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the United States Center for Diseases Control and Prevention and UNICEF.
Polio is a highly infectious and incurable viral disease. Contracted through contaminated food, water and faeces, it attacks the nervous system and mainly affects children under five. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs, and among those paralyzed, five to 10 per cent die when their respiratory muscles become immobilized.
Visafone, and Nokia have entered into an agreement to introduce dual band mobile CDMA handsets for consumers through its over 3000 authorized dealer outlets nationwide, Visafone shops and kiosks, as well as through Visafone Strategic Partners (VSPs) in Nigeria. The aim of the partnership is to promote open market availability of CDMA devices with similar features and aesthetics as with GSM handsets.
The Visafone-Nokia partnership is in many ways a vote of confidence for Visafone and an affirmation of the coming of age of the CDMA sub sector according to Ninan Thomas, the Company's Managing Director. He said the aggressive growth in the subscriber base of CDMA operators which has in many ways been led by Visafone, has given mobile handset manufacturers and suppliers the confidence to make CDMA devices directly available to subscribers in the sub sector. Visafone reached a subscriber base of 3 million in less than 15 months of operation.
According to him, Nokia,s choice of partnership with Visafone is predicated on the latter’s aggressive growth, wide coverage, over 3 million subscriber base and sale of over 4 million phones within its first year of operations.
In the pilot phase of the partnership, Nokia will introduce 4 dual-band CDMA models in the mid to high-end range. Each device comes with exciting features: data compatibility, camera, FM radio and music capabilities including 12-months warranty. The devices will be available at all Nokia authorized retail outlets, Visafone branded outlets as well as through Visafone Strategic Partners (VSPs).
According to Phillip De La Vega General Manager Nokia Nigeria, ,,Nokia aims to connect Nigerians in new and different ways. With our CDMA devices and Visafone, Nigerians will be better connected to what matters and empowers them to make the most of every moment,,.
The Visafone-Nokia partnership is expected to help Visafone extend its leadership in the CDMA subsector. Visafone continues to focus on its three-pronged business model of delivering world-class service, wide coverage and excellent voice clarity endearing it to Nigerians as it provides ,,a passport to reach the world.,,
Zain Tanzania, part of Kuwait's Zain, plans to give up its 35 percent stake in Government incumbent TTCL, the east African nation's Technology Minister said last Monday.
"Recently, Celtel has shown interest in exiting. But there's need for consultation before that happens," said Peter Msolla, Minister for Communications, Science and Technology.
Msolla made the remarks while presenting his ministry's budget in Dodoma. Zain was originally known as Celtel when the then-Dutch firm bought its stake in TTCL in 2004, and the Tanzanian government has retained that name in its records. Msolla said Zain, TTCL and Consolidated Holdings Corp, which holds shares in state-run corporations on the government's behalf, met late last week over the matter.
"In principle, they have agreed to end the partnership and Celtel exits. Celtel's 35 percent shareholding will revert to the government. We will continue talks on how to offload those shares," he said. The government holds the other 65 percent of TTCL.
Zain is currently trying to sell its African operation but Vivendi has turned down the idea of buying the operation.
The Mozambican government and the World Bank on Friday signed two agreements in Maputo under which the World Bank is to provide loans of 75.6 million US dollars for projects in health and communications.
The communications agreement, for 31 million dollars, is described as a "Regional Project for Electronic Governance and Communication Infrastructures". According to Cuereneia, this project "will allow a reduction in the prices of international communications and expand the geographical reach of broad band networks to all regions of the country, thus allowing massive access to the Internet".
He added that the project "will allow the establishment of the technological infrastructures that will facilitate and reduce the cost of private investment in information and communication technologies in Mozambique".
The electronic governance component, said Cuereneia, would help modernize the public sector, and make the provision of services to citizens more efficient.
Tavares said that the money would also be used to support the licensing of a third mobile phone operator, and to establish rural "access points" for communication services.
It is part of a regional World Bank communications programme budgeted at 151 million dollars - Tanzania will be the major beneficiary with 100 million dollars, and Malawi will receive the remaining 20 million.
Zimbabwe’s sole fixed telecommunication operator TelOne needs at least US$280 million to upgrade its infrastructure.
TelOne, which also offers various communication services including data communication, Internet connectivity and satellite services is looking for investors to come up with funds, equipment and technical expertise. Major areas to be covered under the exercise include fibre optic national transmission backbone, which would see the linking of Mutare (Forbes Border Post) and Harare.
At Forbes Border Post in Mutare, the link would then be connected to the Mozambican network, which is also linked to the undersea cables across the Indian Ocean. There is also the Harare-Kwekwe-Gweru-Masvingo-Beitbridge link, which will also feed into the South African network.
Another link will be the Mutare-Juliusdale-Nyanga line, which is expected to facilitate better communication in the Eastern Highlands. Other resort towns to be linked also include Hwange-Binga-Gokwe and Kwekwe.
Apart from the laying of the fibre optic backbone, TelOne also has targeted developing soft switching and Internet protocol nodes. Areas to be covered include Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo.
The third lot of the three-stage upgrade would also see access network in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo. Local networks are largely obsolete, having been laid down to cater for voice only and these have been overtaken by technological developments.
Completion of the network upgrade is likely to see an improved connectivity to the internet, reduced communication rates and a widening of accessibility. TelOne continues to face a lot of challenges ranging from vandalism and theft of copper wire and equipment. Over the years, TelOne failed to fully implement various network expansion programmes as a result of inadequate funding.
Mobile phone operator, Safaricom, will raise between Sh10 to Sh12 billion in a bond issue to be listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. The company said it would split the issue into two, with the first tranche of up to Sh6 billion to be released by the end of next month. Chief Commercial Officer, Peter Arina, said the operator would use proceeds from the bond to expand its data services.
"The company is currently negotiating the deal and details on the exact amount and the timing of the bond will be out towards the end of this month," he said. The second phase of the bond issue is expected to be launched in the first quarter of next year.
Safaricom has already picked Barclays Capital, Absa Bank and CFC Stanbic to arrange the issue. Mobile phone operators are increasingly looking at data service offering, to increase their revenue, having substantially covered the voice market.
The mobile network services cover 83 per cent of the population. Increased competition in the sub-sector has also brought down the average revenue per user to Sh4.473 recorded last year, a 12 per cent decline from Sh5.110 in 2007.
Arina added that the company is geared up for the commercial launch of the undersea fibre optic cable, with Seacom expected to go live later this week.
"We will take about four days of internal testing before making the services available," he said. He added that with its shareholding in the TEAMS and the recently acquired capacity in Seacom, Safaricom will have a capacity of 20,000 megabytes per second (mbps) once both cables go live.
In addition, the company was recently issued with a unified license by the Communication Commission of Kenya, allowing it to offer multiple services using the same technological platform. It also signed an agreement with Jamii Telecom, giving it access to over 1,000 kilometres of terrestrial fibre optic network.
- Indian telecommunications company, Essar Group, has announced joint investment plans in Africa with a Dubai based company. The group, which offers mobile services in Kenya under the "yu" brand name, has entered into investment discussions over the telecommunications portfolio of Dhabi Group’s African assets (Warid Telecom). The Essar Group’s move is seen as a strategy to expand its operations in Africa.
Zain has reported that its first half revenues were up by 24% on the previous year to reach US$4 billion - while net income was up 4.4% to US$533.5 million. The subscriber base rose by 37% to 69.5 million. The company's consolidated EBITDA increased by 46.3% for the same period to reach US$1.77 billion.
Orascom Telecom Holding's (OTE) is considering joining one of the consortium that are expected to bid for France's fourth 3G license. In an interview with French daily Le Figaro, Orascom's Chairman, Naguib Sawiris said that he was open to all options, including aquisitions. "Eight million North-Africans live in France and I think it makes sense from an industrial point of view to set foot in the French market," he told the newspaper.
- The Vodacom Group Limited has announced that its Chief Communications Officer Dot Field has resigned. Vodacom Group Limited CEO Pieter Uys said Field had been with the company for over 15 years and had made an enormous contribution to the success of Vodacom.
* 11th EAST AFRICAN POWER INDUSTRY CONVENTION
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.
* INFRASTRUCTURE PARTNERSHIPS FOR AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT - EAST AFRICA
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.
* INTERCONNECTION COURSE
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
* 4th ANNUAL CONNECTING RURAL COMMUNITIES AFRICA FORUM
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…
* INFRASTRUCTURE PARTNERSHIPS FOR AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT - CONGO DRC
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.
Data Implementation And Planning Manager - Ghana
To provide Strategic and Operational Leadership to ensure the efficient and effective planning of the converged IP transport capacity for voice and data networks in line with the business requirements (required timelines, budget constraints and quality standards).
To manage the design and planning of sustainable, future-proof IP services networks that support the present and future subscriber base of MTN Ghana
To map out a technology roadmap for technological migration in line with global technology trends.
For further information click on the following link
Vodafone Ghana and Xintec - Ghana
Vodafone Ghana has announced its decision to install and operate the revolutionary lightweight fraud management platform FMSlite™ from XINTEC SA, the fast-emerging global provider of roaming and fraud management solutions. The newly commercialised fraud management system will bring immediate benefits to the African network with its ability to detect and prevent fraudulent subscriber behaviour and network abuse in near-real time, protecting the operator's revenue and profitability.
Orange and Volubill - Botswana
Orange Botswana has ordered a billing platform from Volubill to unify charging and access control for all mobile broadband access. Volubill's says that its solution is network independent and provides support to adapt to all data and service architectures. It handles subscriber usage of IP services including data, content, messaging, VoIP and downloads, and provides capabilities like deep packet inspection (DPI), access control, policy management and traffic shaping, and user experience management for both simple Internet access or content-rich premium services.
If our correspondent is "off the mark" or you have factual amendments, mail them to us and we will include them in subsequent News Updates. If you'd like to contribute, write and let us know.
If you need information about a particular place or issue, just send your questions in. We are always happy to follow up on readers concerns.
News Update is a free e-letter produced by Balancing Act that covers African internet content and infrastructure developments, It goes out to government, the private sector, education and NGOs. To subscribe, send a message saying "I want to subscribe" to firstname.lastname@example.org