Issue no 496 18th March 2010
Madagascar: Despite political uncertainty, two new international cables offer market growth and new BPO opportunities
Despite the continuing political crisis in Madagascar, the worst of its impact seems to be over and the major players are looking forward to further expansion in the market. The arrival of the EASSy and LION international fibre cables will provide a much-needed boost to growth. Balancing Act’s Sylvain Beletre spoke to two of the key players - Telma and Orange - about their views on the development of the market.
Last year was a terrible one for Malagasy incumbent Telma. At the height of the political crisis over the Presidency, it lost a full month’s revenue because its main impact has been on local revenues. This loss of revenue has had a knock-on effect and new investment has been delayed as a result. Nevertheless Telma has fought back with an aggressive marketing campaign that has seen it gain new corporate and residential customers.
Since its launch in December 2006, Telma’s mobile operation has gone from nothing to over a million users, giving it a market share of over 20%, in a market of 4.5 million users. It projects that there will eventually be 7 million mobile users, giving the country a 33% penetration rate. 20,000 of these subscribers are regular 3G users on its EDGE network. Orange is the biggest player in the market with a 60% share of all subscribers with the remainder going to Zain. Orange also offers 3G data services.
Telma’s CEO Patrick Pisal Hamida says that the company will introduce innovations like mobile TV and Triple Play in the mid-term but no immediate service changes are planned. The company has 170,000 fixed line subscribers and it offers ADSL services and sees these as complementary to its 3G offering.
The company’s 300 kilometre fibre network covers 85% of the population and where it does not reach, it uses WiMAX which Hamida describes as “the ideal solution for those outside of cities and remote locations for corporate customers.”
The Orange initiated LION cable started operations in November last year in order to relieve the lack of available capacity on the SAT3/SAFE cable to Mauritius. The cable landing station is at Tamatave in the Toamasina region and it goes on to link Reunion and Mauritius. It will eventually have a 1.3 Tbps capacity but currently only 10 Gbps is available. Orange’s list price is US$1,570 for the minimum STM1 order, a price that seems somewhat on the high side compared to east coast fibre prices from Seacom and TEAMS.
EASSy is expected to land in Madagascar shortly and it is promising to be ready for commercial service in June this year. It will offer 1.4 Tbps and Telma is saying that it will be halve the prices offered on the LION cable, which will no doubt also lower its prices.
Nevertheless, Hamida believes that infrastructure sharing is a sensible route with the national fibre backbone, particularly as operators contemplate costly upgrades to things like LTE.
Orange Madagascar’s CFO Louis Celier believes that the new fibre connections will give the island a tremendous opportunity to boost its productivity and in so doing attract BPO work. "This is an extraordinary opportunity to develop and strengthen links between Madagascar, its businesses and personal ties. The first benefit is for inhabitants to improve communication abroad, get inexpensive high-speed Internet and VoIP calls and to democratize digital tools." explains Celier.
He believes that as in other parts of the world, Internet access is a key factor for the socio-economic development of Madagascar, for which the challenge is twofold:
Firstly, for the general public through the introduction of broadband Internet, a whole world of applications and services will become accessible to all; secondly, for companies, for whom this new connectivity will increase their competitiveness, benefiting from media and trade."
Orange believes that Madagascar can become a French-speaking BPO destination. "If we can develop call centers between local private companies and entities abroad, Madagascar can soon become another Business Process Outsourcing center. The average monthly income is 27 Euros/month compared to much higher figures in other African countries like Morocco, Tunisia or Mauritius. Creating Call Centers is the obvious option. This is a great opportunity for investors" concludes Celier.
However, despite the completion of the LION development, Orange has complained that the Malagasy government has still not completed the necessary legal framework to allow the ‘full exploitation of the cable’. It has called on the state to regulate so that it can begin to offer commercial services. Nevertheless, despite the uncertainty, Celier says, "Orange now provides access to competing ISPs and service providers in the country on a wholesale basis using the LION cable."
Telma’s monopoly on the fixed line sector was due to end on 30 June 2008, but regulator OMERT has yet to legislate to officially open the market. The regulator itself was supposed to have been replaced by a new body but this move has been on hold for over two years. The current political uncertainty adds to the difficulties of getting the matter resolved.
According to official figures from the Malagasy Ministry of Telecommunications, the number of Internet subscribers is 36,000, representing a penetration rate of only 2.1%.
"Concretely, the cable will provide an unprecedented upheaval: the possibility of a true broadband access as the existing satellites were insufficient and too expensive..
There is potential for large growth, as soon as the government secures the investment of private companies," adds Celier.
Telemedicine is the most spectacular example of what the very broadband can bring Madagascar. Key benefits include providing the complex care offered by ICT, avoiding, whenever possible, patient transfers (opinion, expertise, hospital and home), and obtaining all medical information including digital imaging about a patient through a fast access.
The National Communications Authority (NCA) has stated that it will not issue any new licences with the possible exception of data licences to encourage Internet take-up.
Bernard Forson, Director General of NCA, who made this known in Parliament during a scrutiny of the NCA’s audited report for 2005, by the Public Accounts Committee last week, said Ghana’s spectrum for additional operators has been exhausted by the six existing licensed operators, and therefore there was no room for new ones.
David Oppong- Kusi, Member of Parliament for Ayirebi-Ofoase and a member of the committee had wanted to know if the NCA was considering a ceiling on the number of telecommunication operators that could serve Ghana’s over 23 million population.
But the NCA Director General stated that though he did not foresee additional new players coming on board presently, Ghana was not ready to have an extra pure voice telecommunication company in the industry.
He later explained to Business Guide in an interview that with the exception of Glo, which was yet to start operations, 5 of the authorized companies - MTN, Vodafone, Zain, Tigo and Kasapa were competing furiously for customers.
Forson however told the committee that there was avenue for more telecommunication companies who wished to solely offer data services. He said more data services would increase Internet access throughout the country.
When queried about the indiscriminate erection of masts across the length and breath of the country, he admitted it was a real challenge for the authority even though he said that was being addressed.
He informed the committee that an inter-ministerial committee made up of representatives from the ministries of Environment, Science and Technology; Communications and also Local Government & Rural Development, were working on a document to help address the challenge.
In the audit report, the auditors mentioned that the NCA had no data on operators while also there was no monitoring to establish whether they had paid up their initial or renewal fees. Defaulting operators, the auditors said, under such circumstances, could continue to use frequencies without being detected and therefore advised NCA to explore the use of a utility billing system software.
When asked to react to this proposal, the Director General explained that though billing of operators in the communications regulatory environment was complicated, NCA kept files on operators with their financial records and subsequently billed them accordingly. “Payments of the operators are not equal and we also give them some time to do their interconnection reconciliation. We have the date electronically,” he said.
Total revenue of NCA increased by 14.7 percent from ¢79.29 billion in 2004 to ¢90.89 billion in 2005 while general and administrative expenses nearly doubled from ¢24.73 billion in the previous year to ¢44.26billion in the year under review.
In a move that is beginning to be mirrored across Africa, Harare City Council's environmental management committee has resolved that telecommunication companies should pay rent for cables and infrastructure they lay under municipal land.
This move will increase considerably the cost of laying basic fibre infrastructure and ultimately make it more expensive for end users. With national Governments already treating telecoms companies as “cash cows”, this move by local authorities will only increase the already heavy tax burden on the industry. You cannot simultaneously have cheap services and put high levels of taxation on the companies seeking to provide them
To date, 11,038 km have been approved for trenching across Harare, implying that should the committee resolution be adopted by the full council at its next meeting, council would be able to generate additional funding.
At its meeting on 1 March, the committee agreed that the city valuation and estates manager should determine the rentals."All private telecommunication companies pay a rental to be determined by city valuation and estates manager for all infrastructure lying under council land," reads part of the committee minutes.
Following confusion in the approval of applications for trenching and laying out of telecommunication cables, the committee headed by Councillor Herbert Gomba, agreed that the urban planning services and engineering departments should jointly process the applications.
The resolutions by the committee are, however, subject to the concurrence of the finance and development committee. The committee agreed that any company that digs a trench across a road should pay US$300 for every 30 metres, while trenching along road servitudes will attract a fee of US$150 for every 300 metres. Penalties for illegal trenching along road servitudes would be US$1,050 for every 300m and US$1,800 for trenching across a road.
The committee resolved that Econet Wireless and other private companies should regularise all trenching activities with council waiving regularisation penalties. From now on, all companies will be asked to pay US$230 as basic application fees to trench and will be charged US$50 per km for the first 5km. US$30 would be charged per km for the next 5km and there after charges would be US$20 per km.
Parliament refused to hear the Independent Communications Authority of SA's (ICASA's) strategy and budget presentation last week. This could precipitate what could turn into a financial crisis for the Department of Communications (DOC) and its portfolio of organisations. If Parliament doesn't sign off ICASA's budget and plans, it cannot sign off the department's either.
This means thousands of employees at the DOC and its portfolio organisations – such as Sentech, the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the South African Post Office – will not be paid when the new financial year starts on 1 April.
In a late afternoon session, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications chairman Ismail Vadi cut short ICASA chairman Paris Mashile's opening remarks. Vadi asked if the regulator's strategy and budget had been properly tabled before Parliament, and if communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda had signed it off.
Mashile's answer was “no” to both questions, although he added he was under the impression that this should not have been an issue and that the minister was going to sign it all off anyway. However, Vadi and the other members of Parliament refused to allow Mashile and his 26-member entourage to continue.
A letter from DOC director-general Mamodupi Mohlala to the committee was circulated among the committee and the audience, stating ICASA had not met the deadline to submit its documentation to Parliament by 3 March. Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe set this deadline in his capacity as leader of government business.
This letter was transmitted to the committee late on Monday, barely 24 hours before the presentation began. In it, Mohlala states: “We wish to put it on record that we are not in possession of a complete text encapsulating that strategic plan for ICASA for the 2010/13 period.”
Vadi and members of all the political parties represented on the committee agreed that if ICASA's strategy and budget had not followed the procedures laid down in the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act of 2009, then they could not properly assess it, nor approve it.
This law, signed into effect by president Jacob Zuma last year, gives Parliament's oversight committees the power to approve, amend, or even reject budgets and strategies of government departments and their entities outright.
“This is an umbilical chord relationship,” Vadi said. “If one entity does not have its budget approved by us [the committee], then the whole Department of Communications budget cannot be approved... therefore, your staff will not be paid in April.”
The DOC did not have its strategy and budget plan approved by the committee last week, as it had not supplied sufficient detail, or in a format that the politicians could use to assess its performance. It will reappear before the committee next week to re-present.
“Last week, I overheard the mutterings and the sniggers of the ICASA members who were sitting behind me when the DOC was told to go and rework its budget,” Johnny de Lange (ANC) said. “I am very disappointed by ICASA today, just after I thought things were getting better.”
Juli Kilian (Cope) wanted to know if the DOC and ICASA were fighting their turf wars in Parliament, and enquired if all other entities had submitted their documentation on time. Kilian later told ITWeb the DOC had not complied with Parliament's request that it resubmit its strategy and budget this week.
Vadi pointed out that Parliament only had next week left in the current term and that it was already booked. “However, we will make the time to slip an ICASA hearing in at short notice,” he added. Mashile said he was disappointed with the outcome, but noted the authority would meet the deadline set by the committee to have its documentation in by next Tuesday.
The authorities in Senegal have arrested the former head of the national telecoms regulator, Daniel Goumala Seck, on suspicion that he stole funds from the award of a telecoms operating licence to Sudan’s Sudatel, Reuters reports Seck’s legal representative as saying.
The one-time boss of the Agence de Regulation des Telecommunications et des Postes(ARTP) is accused of having siphoned off 2% of the USD200 million received in 2007 for himself and other unnamed ARTP officials, rather than use the funding to expand the watchdog’s operations.
Seck has yet to be charged and no word is given on whether or not it will jeopardise Sudatel’s position at all. Seck was removed from his job in September 2009. The newcomer launched Senegal’s third mobile network last year but has so far failed to make any inroads in a market dominated by France Telecom-backed Orange Senegal with 4.61 million users, or 67% of the sector, at end-2009. Tigo Senegal, a unit of Millicom International Cellular, had 2.09 million users at the same date while Sudatel’s Expresso operation had 203,067.
- In Nigeria, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered an immediate probe into the controversies surrounding the recent sale of the Nigerian Telecommunication Company, Nitel, to New Generation telecom at the cost of $2.5 billion.
- Of the four companies left in the running to acquire a stake in Zambian fixed line incumbent Zamtel only three have submitted final binding bids, with Indian state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) dropping out of the process after conducting due diligence. According to Reuters, the withdrawal of BSNL leaves Libya’s LAP Green Networks, Unitel of Angola and Russian telecoms investment firm Altimo chasing the up to 75% stake that the Zambian government plans to offer in the operator.
- In Zimbabwe, mobile phone operator NetOne has increased its subscriber capacity to five million. The prepaid (easy call extra) platform's carrying capacity had been upgraded to accommodate 3 million subscribers from 1 million subscribers while the short message service capacity was ramped up to 154 SMS per second from 84 SMS per second to enhance message processing efficiency. NetOne, presently the smallest of the country's three mobile network operators, could regain top spot in the industry riding on the financial strength of prospective investor, MTN of South Africa, seeking a stake in the firm.
- Rwanda's mobile money transfer services are set for further expansion following Rwandatel's intention to offer the service to their clientele. It follows in the footsteps of rival MTN Rwanda which was the first telecoms provider to offer the services. MTN announced last week that it had assisted its clients transfer Rwf 60 million ever since it launched the services in January this year.
- Egypt’s National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has once again extended the bidding deadline for two geographically-restricted triple-play concessions, Reuters reports. Having announced in December last year that the last date for bids had been pushed back from January 2010 to March, the regulator has now revealed that bids will now not be due until 15 April, after interested bidders once again claimed that they needed more time to formulate offers.
Ethiopian incumbent ETC will sign an agreement on March 18, 2010, with Seacom for the laying of high bandwidth fibre optic cable systems, which are part of its Next Generation Network (NGN) Project.
The agreement was signed after negotiations with Seacom; SEMEW 3, with cable from Southeast Asia to Europe; TEAMS, from Kenya to Dubai; and EASSy. The project will enable Ethiopia to connect its domestic networks of fibre optics (believed to have surpassed 10,000km and extended to the border with Djibouti) to an undersea cable system they have brought to cable landing point in Djibouti.
ETC, has been providing data and voice services largely connected via a very expensive and slow satellite connection, operated by Hughes International. There is also a low capacity bandwidth connection via Port Sudan. The new network, however, is expected to provide a cheaper and much faster bandwidth connection rate.
Egypt’s National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has confirmed that the country has begun enforcing a ban on international calls made via mobile Internet connections, Reuters reports. So it is now in the slightly strange position of allowing Skype calling from PCs but forbidding it from mobiles, thereby protecting the new incumbents, the mobile operators.
The ban applies to all three of Egypt’s mobile network operators – Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (MobiNil), Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat Mirs – and is expected to provide a much-needed boost to the fixed line revenue of monopoly landline provider, state-owned Telecom Egypt (TE).
Clarifying the situation, Amr Badawy, executive president of the NTRA, said: ‘The ban is on Skype on mobile internet, not on fixed, and this is due to the fact it is against the law since it bypasses the legal gateway.’ Under existing regulations all international calls must be routed via TE’s network. Despite mentioning Skype by name, it is understood that the regulator may extend the ban to other services, with
Badawy noting: ‘We are targeting any illegal voice traffic on the mobile (internet). Any traffic outside the international gateway is against the law.’ It remains unclear however whether such a restriction will be extended to fixed line Internet connections.
More people are accessing the Internet from small medium enterprises (SME's) than from corporate networks, according to the annual Internet Access in South Africa study by World Wide Worx and Cisco.
World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says access of the Internet via broadband connections has grown by more than 50% in the past year and that must of the growth came from small and medium enterprises upgrading to ADSL. "This in turn extended internet accesss to more than half a million South Africans working in small offices, who did not previously have access."
The study made a number of interesting findings, including that cellphone access to the internet had passed dial up for the first time and proposed that the access of the internet by the academic community and by cellular users will be a major market driver of internet user growth over the next five years.
Goldstuck said the study also looked at the impact of the new undersea cables off South Africa's coast which are expected to increase broadband substantially. "If all current cable projects from to fruition, by 2011, the total capacity of undersea cables connecting Africa to the rest of the world will have increased 150 fold over 2008."
Goldstuck said the Internet boom South Africa was experiencing would see the present 5.3-million users growing steadily, aided by broadband accessibility and the new generation of users. He believes it takes about five years for an Internet user to become truly comfortable with the Internet, and that SA will only really see the boom by 2015.
The study found that fixed line ADSL was being left behind by wireless broadband access, with a 88% growth in wireless subscribers in the last year while only 15% of fixed lines become ADSL lines. Goldstuck says while ADSL offers a superior experience of the Internet the competition among wireless providers and the lack of competition with regard to ADSL - with only one provider Telkom in that market - has seen it grow faster. "ADSL and 3 G Wireless were level in 2008, but by 2009 we could already see ADSL being left behind. Unfortunately ADSL is linked to fixed lines and we have seen a steady decline when it comes to fixed line applications."
- According to local Ghanaian newspaper Business Guide, Globacom’s Glo One cable is expected to go live in July this year.
- The ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) has voiced it's concern over too many South Africans registering .COM domains as opposed to .CO.ZA domains. ZADNA GM Vika Mpesani, says the registering of URL names on .com is doing the local domain and Internet industry a disservice. At the moment there are approximately 542, 000 .CO.ZA domain registrations as opposed to approximately 95,000 .COM domain registrations amongst South African users.
- The West African Examination Council (WAEC) has launched online registration and result checking at its headquarters in Banjul. Felix Okaroa, the head of National Office of WAEC said it is important to improve the services of WAEC so that all Member Countries of the Council can embrace the ICT mode of operations and redefine the way they do almost everything.
- The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) through the African Union (AU) e-Commission and the Federal Government are to chart a new course by formulating an enabling policy and regulatory framework for the development of ICT broadband infrastructure in the African continent.
- SkyVision has signed a multi-year, multi-transponder contract for C-band capacity on the Intelsat 14 satellite (IS-14). The capacity will allow SkyVision to expand its satellite cellular backhaul offerings for the growing cellular services market in Africa.
- O3b Networks has signed a contract with Arianespace for the launch of O3b Network’s satellite constellation. This new global Internet backbone provides service access to more than 150 countries. The first 8 O3b satellites will be launched into orbit during 2012 by two Soyuz launch vehicles operating from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Each satellite will weigh about 700 kg at launch, has a design life of 10 years, and provides greater than 10 Gbps of capacity.
- The South African telecoms and broadcasting regulator (Icasa) has issued a discussion document aimed at implementing a regulatory framework for internet protocol television (IPTV). One of challenges faced by Icasa in regulating IPTV was that the Internet was not regulated, whereas broadcasting was. However, Icasa proposed that it would focus on content. The deadline to submit comments is March 26.
- The United Nations has launched a new group of high-profile Internet users to inspire and involve social media audiences in the effort to combat malaria. The group of 24 will utilise their social profile to focus online and offline media audiences on the movement, milestones and resources required to achieve the Secretary-General's goal of providing all endemic African countries with malaria control interventions by the end of 2010. The 2010 UN Special Envoys for Malaria include CNN host Larry King, actress Alyssa Milano, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of Twitter Biz Stone and Randi Zuckerberg, the Director of Marketing at Facebook.
Geoffrey Kiirya, the principal information scientist and spokesperson in the ministry of ICT in Uganda was interviewed by local paper the Monitor and was confidently predicting widespread computer use in 10 years time:
Q: How do you rate IT development in Uganda?
A: Uganda is moving at a steadfast rate. Anything happening in the developed world can easily come here in a second.
Q: Do you mean we are like the developed world in as far as IT is concerned?
A: The only difference is in costs. It is costly for us to access the new technologies but if there are some rich Ugandans, they can bring the technology the moment it is launched in the developed world.
We also lack IT specialists who can develop and design new IT solutions (software).
The software we have here is imported and our specialists here help us in localising it. Every country has its own problems. Rwanda is a small country, and we have gone through many problems compared to Rwanda, so I do not really understand if someone wants to compare us with Rwanda. I know every student in Rwanda has a laptop but there is an initiative by the government to ensure that every youth in the country learns how to use a computer. Maybe after that we shall be able to give them laptops.
Q: Is your ministry doing its job?
A: We have done what we can, but the private sector has done the greatest job. Companies like MTN, Zain, Warid, and UTL have done a commendable job in helping the government offer services to the citizens, and the government is now focusing on reducing costs. We are installing the national fibre optic cable backbone and this is going to help people access cheaper Internet.
Q: What are the costs now?
A: Right now accessing the Internet using the current satellite technology costs around $4,000 but if we get the cable we shall be providing it at around $200.
Q: Won't this affect your relations with the private sector?
A: Those are business entities and they will not reduce the price for our people so we have to come in. This backbone is mainly for rural people who cannot afford high prices. This project will be managed in the same way the government manages electricity.
We are going to get a private company to help us manage the project because as you know the government does not indulge in business and we want to avoid mismanagement. The government through the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda will come in to guide on things like the tariffs to protect the public from being cheated but not management.
Q: What is the main challenge to the ICT development?
A: We have infrastructural challenges. Lack of power, especially in the rural areas, remains the major hindrance to progress.
Q: Where do you see ICT in Uganda 10 years' time?
A: Everything will be fully-computerised and digitalised and people will even be able to work right from their homes.
Limpopo's Department of Agriculture has budgeted R6 million in this financial year to install technology-based information systems that will enable extension officers to provide relevant and accurate information to farmers instantly.
The systems, which will fall under the department's e-Agriculture project, aim to improve emerging farmers' access to information and markets through the use of information communication technologies such as the Internet and SMS messages.
It is hoped that such systems will also help to develop innovative capacity-building models that can be replicated in other parts of Africa.
Since the e-Agriculture project was launched in October last year, 215 farmers and 16 extension officers have been trained in basic ICT skills using Digital Doorways, which are robust computer stations with multiple screens that provide Internet access to rural communities.
"Our desire is to ensure that farmers access information quicker and easier, without having to rely only on extension officers. We have already installed Digital Doorways in all three districts, namely Mopani, Greater Sekhukhune and Capricorn," said department spokesperson Kenny Mathivha. He said the department would also unveil a comprehensive communication and customer care strategy.
"This will ensure that our farmers access us and other services through the Internet, bulk cellphone SMS messaging and other means. For example, our extension officers should be able to SMS farmers to tell them not to irrigate today because it will rain tomorrow," Mathivha said.
Many emerging farmers welcomed the budget announcement. Matome Mabotsa, a vegetable farmer from Ga Sekhukhune, said rural farmers were "far behind" in using modern technology to communicate.
"It shows that the department wants to see farming in the province becoming prosperous, and it happens at a time when competition for markets is strong," said Mabotsa, a tomato and cabbage farmer.
He said maybe the new information-based systems will help them to plant crops at the right time so that they can harvest when the demand is high, which will increase the price they get. "This will be helpful indeed. Imagine being told when to water crops and when not to - we will save a lot of money and this will improve even our spray programme," said Mabotsa.
He also praised the department's extensions officers, saying "they are playing a major role by assisting us with farming information and helping us to export our products to other provinces".
Plans to build a technology city and create 40,000 jobs have run into allegations of corruption and unfair dealings. The technopolis is to be built on a 5,000-acre piece of land near Salama on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway.
The government has already paid Sh1 billion for the land. But now small-scale landowners are complaining that they were short-changed in the transaction and that the land values were inflated. The farmers complained that brokers bought their land at throwaway prices, then sold it to the government at much higher prices. They are now threatening to block the project unless they are paid more.
Although they support the project, they have accused politicians, some Information Ministry officials, and unscrupulous businessmen of using the Information Communication Technology Centre, as the proposed technopolis is formally called, to enrich themselves.
At the centre of the conflict is the distribution of the Sh1 billion paid by the government for the 5,000 acres. The government concluded the deal last December and has already paid the whole amount in two batches of Sh400 million and Sh600 million. Treasury released the second portion in January.
The purchase affected 606 farmers, all members of Malili group ranch, with 7.8 acres each. Each farmer was to be paid Sh1.56 million. However, with lawyers, surveyors, not to mention brokers, involved in the transaction, it was later agreed that each farmer would be paid Sh1.4 million.
According to Eric Mutua, a lawyer retained by the directors of the group ranch, the amount has further been revised to Sh1.1 million. Development on some of the farms is being valued for compensation. Mutua was paid Sh28 million as legal fees.
The farmers claimed that their directors sold their land without seeking their consent and that they have not been paid. "We were told that the we would receive Sh1.4 million for our plots but it seems we have been short-changed," said Stephen Mbuti.
He claimed that their directors left them with no choice, telling them that if they did not do sell, they would lose the land anyway. "The project is likely to provide jobs for our children but we are asking the government to ensure that the shareholders are first compensated for their land," said area councillor Jonathan Katete.
Responding to claims that money has not been paid to the shareholders, Mutua told the Nation that he had released over Sh850 million. " I paid Sh1.4 million to individual shareholders who produced valid documents when I received the first batch of Sh400 million and I am distributing the balance of Sh600 million," he said.
He said the ranch officials had sent over 500 letters of allotment. "I write cheques and beneficiaries will collect them from their offices in Machakos." He claimed he had received death threats over the transaction and had reported the matter to police. "Undeserving people want to benefit from the land sale," Katete, who also spoke of similar threats, said.
Mbuti said 2,347 Malili ranchers bought a total of 22,153 acres from Major Joyce, a British World War 1 veteran. But at an annual general meeting, it was resolved that the land be sub-divided and each member was allocated 7.8 acres. Farmers with more shares got larger plots.
Records show that Josiah Munuka, the former chairman, was paid Sh18 million while Julius Kilonzo and Mr Peter Kanyi, who are directors, received 16 million each. Ranch officials said they used Sh400 million to pay 120 of the 606 members and for other services, a contention that has been rejected by shareholders who claimed that the list of beneficiaries was not genuine.
Other complaints were related to a firm which is demanding Sh111 million for "sourcing and obtaining the buyer". The company has already been paid Sh40 million and Mutua insists that the balance of Sh71 million that it is demanding will not be paid.
In a demand letter to Mutua seen by the Nation, the company says it was entitled to Sh21,000 an acre as agency fees. Even if that were the case, its total fees would be Sh105 million, not Sh111 million. Mutua argues that the company is not entitled to any more money because the tender was awarded by the Ministerial Tender Committee guided by the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.
- South African banks will soon have access to fingerprint data through the Home Affairs department to verify clients. The SA Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has said the new agreement will allow banks to conduct online fingerprint verification of clients, in a move that will also help curb fraud and identity theft in the country.
- The e-Ghana project is on course at providing over 6,000 jobs and has targeted 50% women’s participation in these jobs before the project ends by 2011, officials of the project have disclosed at a day's workshop with the media in Accra last week.
Egyptian telecoms group Orascom Telecom has posted a net loss of USD46.4 million for the three months ended 31 December 2009, compared to a profit of USD180.9 million in the same quarter a year earlier, with the company citing civil disturbances in Algeria as one of the main reasons behind the decline. Orascom claims that its Algerian subsidiary Djezzy was significantly affected by rioting that followed a World Cup qualifier between Algeria and Egypt; according to the company, as a result of the violence it lost approximately USD55 million as a result of lower revenues, stock damage and tax provision, and a further USD41 million related to property damage.
One other notable financial outlay in the last fiscal quarter of 2009 relating to Djezzy was the USD110 million that Orascom paid in order to allow it to appeal an Algerian tax bill, which claimed the company owes USD597 million for the period 2005-2007; the Egyptian company has argued that it was tax exempt during the dates in question. The appeals process is expected to last for at least another twelve months.
Orascom reported consolidated group revenue for the final fiscal quarter of the year of USD1.296 billion, a decline of 0.7% year-on-year, with Djezzy accounting for 34.5% of the total, or USD447.5 million. Revenue from the Algerian unit also fell compared to the previous year, down 12.1% against the USD508.9 million it generated in the last three months of 2008. Consolidated group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) meanwhile fell 18.9% y-o-y to USD495.9 million in the three-month period.
As at end-December 2009 Orascom’s total subscriber base was 92.9 million, up 19% against the 78 million it had a year earlier. Mobilink, the company’s Pakistani subsidiary, remains the largest unit by subscribers, with 30.8 million at the end of the year, while Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (MobiNil) had 25.4 million.
An ownership tussle has split Telecel Zimbabwe after Telecel International announced plans to sell a disputed 11% stake in the country's second largest mobile phone operator, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal. A fugutive from legal charges living outside the country and a person who allegedly defrauded the company are now fighting over this 11% stake.
Sources close to the developments say Telecel International, the largest shareholder in the company, last month indicated that it would sell the 11% stake in its local operation in line with laws restricting foreigners from owning a controlling shareholding in local telecoms companies. Telecel International currently owns 60% of Telecel Zimbabwe but the High Court ordered in 2007 that the foreign group should sell 11% to locals.
Pressure from empowerment laws has also forced the international company to consider selling the disputed stake. Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere recently gazetted indigenisation regulations compelling foreigners to sell 51% stakes to blacks.
It emerged this week that the local shareholders are now at each other's throats over the stake amid indications that Jane Mutasa, a businesswoman currently in custody for allegedly defrauding Telecel, and fugitive businessman James Makamba are both reportedly eyeing the stake.
Sources say although Telecel International prefers selling to Makamba, he is a fugitive after he left the country in August 2005 in the wake of externalisation charges. In order for the transactation to get through, Makamba would need regulatory approval. Sources say his legal problems will stand in the way of the deal.
The fugitive businessman, according to the same sources, is a favourite for the Egyptian-controlled mobile telecoms company. Makamba engineered the partnership and holds more shares in the company than Mutasa. But Mutasa, according to the same sources, has not been a favourite for the shares after she clashed with executives from the parent company earlier this year.
If Makamba's bid for the stake fails, Mutasa stands to get the shares, sources said.
She is also said to have pre-emptive rights for the shares. "Makamba is fighting Mutasa for the stake," one of the sources said. "Telecel told workers and other shareholders of its plans to sell its stake." Telecel is also considering a share option scheme. That way the shares would be in the hands of a neutral party, sources say.
The deportation of Telecel managing director Aimable Mpore last month is said to have also increased the tension between Mutasa, Makamba and Telecel International executives. Mutasa clashed with Telecel on the appointment of Mpore by the majority shareholder late last year. Mpore was deported last month for breaching immigration rules.
Mutasa wrote a strongly worded letter to Telecel International rebuking the group for the senior appointments at the company. She wrote: "Zimbabwe is a proud nation of highly experienced and very qualified people such as engineers and accountants. On what basis does Telecel recruit foreigners and award them top positions? "Why are foreigners being paid more than local managers who have endured and suffered in this country?
This is serious discrimination.... In his address to workers, Mpore indicated that his mandate was to fire existing managers. To my surprise as acting chairperson of the board, Mpore wanted to do everything in secrecy at Telecel without my knowledge."
She alleged Telecel International was "syphoning millions of dollars" from the company.
"To my surprise millions of dollars are being siphoned from the country to other economies. This money generated locally must circulate in Zimbabwe and promote black empowerment. I am bitter to see how these foreigners are working together in cahoots externalising funds generated in Zimbabwe... I want to see that money supporting local people who supported the network during difficult times," read the letter in our possession.
Mutasa also argued that Telecel's competitor Econet Wireless run by Zimbabweans was "very successful". She also attacked her partners Telecel International for not awarding contracts to local companies and opting to engage foreigners.
Mutasa added: "The (Telecel) licence clearly indicated that we must empower our local people both men and women. The licence is wholly owned by Zimbabweans. Why is it foreigners want to manage our company? Is this the reason Telecel is reluctant to cede the 11% shareholding? It was agreed that an 11% stake was to be handed over two years ago. This is now three years. We want our 11% back so that we can manage ourselves." In another letter to Mpore, her lawyers reminded the former Telecel boss that she was a director and shareholder and would not hesitate to resort to disciplinary measures.
Documents show that at least US$15 million is said to have been paid to foreign suppliers from various companies. She also queried why contracts were awarded to foreigners when local companies could have been engaged. "Mobi Factory from Egypt was given US$750,000 to supply towers. Why should we buy towers all the way from Egypt?" asked Mutasa. Mutasa says Telecel Zimbabwe paid US$3 million to foreign companies for the purchase of handsets. She added: "Money was transferred to foreign companies. This was done without going to tender. No single local was contracted to supply handsets."
Telecel appointed Alexander Kiel, a German national, as chief financial officer, Tobias Jack, a Tanzanian as chief technical officer, Mohamed Abdeinkang an Egyptian as a rollout director, and Anwar Soussa, another Egyptian, as head of the commercial department. Mutasa argues there are suitably qualified Zimbabweans for these jobs. She was this week denied bail on fraud charges.
The head of Vodafone, the world's largest cellphone group by revenue, said last week that he would not lose sleep if Bharti Airtel succeeded in buying the African assets of Kuwait-based Zain, because competition from such a cash-rich operator would only be good for the customer.
Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao told Business Day that the investment by Bharti would merely bring more consolidation to the telecoms sector in Africa and force competitors to be more efficient and aggressive in growing and retaining market share - with the customer being the ultimate winner.
In any case, Vodafone, the majority owner of Vodacom, SA's largest cellphone company by subscriber numbers, was already competing with Bharti in India, where it was making money and increasing market share, he said.
"The more we are, the more we will have advanced technologies and services, and costs will be lower for the customer as there will be more competition. Any investment in the telecoms sector is always good as long as it is for the long term," he said.
Cash-strapped Zain shareholders have accepted an approach by Bharti, India's largest cellphone company, to buy 15 of its African assets for a reported 10,7bn. The two companies are in exclusive talks that expire on March 25, by which time a binding offer is expected to have been made.
Bharti, which twice failed to merge with MTN, wants to use its low-cost model to grow in Africa, considered one of the few remaining frontiers for multinational operators facing competition in home markets.
Vodafone is one of the major players in Africa. It has networks in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, where last year it became the majority owner of Vodacom when the company listed on the JSE. Colao, who is in South Africa as part of a routine visit to Vodacom, said Vodafone was also eyeing expansion opportunities in Africa, but there was nothing specific being considered at present.
The group is expected to use Vodacom as the springboard to enter markets in sub-Saharan Africa, where it will face competition from operators such as Zain, MTN and France's Orange as well as companies from the Middle East.
But its footprint in Africa is still small and has operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania. It trails MTN, Africa's largest cellphone company, which yesterday posted a 9,2% increase in revenue to R11,9bn and an increase in subscribers of 28% to 116-million.
Colao said Vodacom, now the fourth-largest operation in the Vodafone group by revenue after Germany, Italy and Spain, was investing to expand particularly its data services in SA. Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys estimated the company's capital expenditure in this financial year was about R5bn.
Colao said data constituted the next major revenue stream for cellphone companies worldwide, and Vodacom was well placed to exploit growth in usage in its markets. "The future of data is incredible and once a customer is hooked to data, there is no going back. That is why Vodacom is and will continue to spend a lot of money on data because that is the next big thing."
Technology group EOH is targeting acquisitions locally and in the rest of the southern Africa region to further grow its operations. CE Asher Bohbot said the company's strategy was to buy companies operating in different technology areas than EOH. But those businesses should be complementary to EOH's operations.
The targeted areas include managed services, and outsourcing of technology products and services by companies that want to focus on their core businesses. In managed services, a company like EOH will manage IT infrastructure and software applications on behalf of its clients.
Bohbot said IT infrastructure and services required by corporations were becoming complex and it was difficult for companies to maintain them on their own as they would be required, among other things, to ensure that they had the required skills.
"They will have to rely on vendors or service providers, hence we see the trend of outsourcing happening more and more," Bohbot said. EOH reported a 29.2% jump in headline earnings per share to 70c for the six months to January. Revenue rose 40.6% to R787.3m. Earnings per share increased 30.4% to 70.3c.
EOH has cash reserves of R213m and no debt. Bohbot said that while all divisions had performed well, the services business generated the highest revenue, R400m, which accounted for just over half of EOH's revenue.
Venter expects that managed services will continue to be a strong driver of revenue growth for EOH. "This is currently one of the most exciting and growing segments in the IT industry. Every company wants to save money without jeopardising quality," Venter said.
- The Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), an international project that focuses on empowering youth entrepreneurs with information and tools to start their new businesses, launched its activities in Rwanda. Speaking during the launch, the Minister of ICT, Ignace Gatare, said that his ministry welcomes DOT's programs and activities as they are in line with Rwanda's vision.
President Yoweri Museveni has launched the NRM communication bureau. The bureau will manage the website where the party news updates, articles, photos, speeches, documents such as the constitution and manifesto, party merchandise and information regarding registration for new members can be accessed, party spokesperson Mary Karooro Okurut said.
Housed on Plot 87 Kira Road Kamwokya, Kampala, the bureau will also run pages on interactive social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Hi5 and blogs to engage the youth and those in the diaspora.
"We are launching an SMS platform to reach 14 million mobile phone subscribers in Uganda. This platform will also ease communication between NRM members," Karooro said on Friday.
Museveni made a symbolic launch of the bureau by clicking send on a computer, which instantly had thousands of mobile phone subscribers' in-boxes sounding alerts for a message from Y.K. Museveni.
To join the SMS platform for news updates and interactions, one has to type "JOIN" and then send to 6760. Museveni, who is also NRM chairman, said the Movement had spearheaded the social, economic and technological transformation of the country. He said it was imperative that the party uses modern communication tools to reach out to the entire country.
"We must take advantage of the mushrooming media which have hitherto become vehicles of negative propaganda with our own cadres not being available to respond," he said.
Uganda's population, the President stated, had doubled in the last 24 years with young people now more attuned to the use of technology. "I am told that a telephone handset is now a young person's TV, radio, Internet and e-mail. The Movement now seeks to employ this facility, using the power of this converged media, to reach our population, particularly the youth, to explain the Movement programme," he said.
The bureau, Museveni said, will serve to document the country's history and compress it into usable formats. "I have heard complaints about how our Movement head office and other structures are not able to regularly interact with the population. This bureau will quicken the flow of information. With the modern technology installed and the ability to reach many people in a timely manner with key messages, we should be able to end the problem of lack of communication," he added.
The Minister for Education, Hon. Alex Tettey- Enyo, has said that the National Democratic Congress government has instituted a long distance education programme, the Technical Vocational Educational Training (TVET), in which all the courses may be taken online and free of charge to participating students.
The programme, which would be launched at Suame Magazine in Kumasi by June 2010, will teach courses like automotive engineering, welding and fabrication, masonry, carpentry, hospitality and tourism, with numeracy and English as a second language.
This, according to the Minister is part of the government's policy on basic school leavers who are unable to make the grades into senior high school or who drop out of primary and junior high schools is to provide them with apprenticeship training in both formal and informal sectors. He added that this will make them have at least a vocation, to make ends meet.
The Minister disclosed this in Parliament while answering a question by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Asunafo South, Hon. George Boakye . The MP wanted to know the plans the Ministry of Education in respect of the large army of basic school leavers who are unable to continue their education to the senior high school to make them productive.
Hon. Alex-Enyo added that plans are far advanced to also establish a National Apprenticeship Training Board that will be responsible for training these dropouts. He said the curriculum of the programme will cover 25 identified skill areas and will include communication, entrepreneurial and numeracy skills.
"Arrangements are being made to source funds from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to enable the apprenticeship programme to begin this year. About 15,000 BECE graduates will be trained under the first phase," the minister revealed.
"It is envisaged that graduates, after the training would be adequately prepared to start small businesses at the level of their competence and contribute meaningfully to national development," said Hon. Tettey- Enyo.
The MP for Atwima Nwabiagya , Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio also wanted to know how the first batch of the one lap-top-per child (OLPC) project was distributed to school pupils and when the exercise will be completed.
The Education Minister said, regional directors and district directors of Ghana Education Service (GES) were invited to identify primary schools that had electricity and secure rooms for the computers. He said a final list of thirty beneficiary primary schools (three per regions) was prepared after which distribution was done through regional and district directors to head teachers of the beneficiary primary schools in August,2009.
"The OLPC concept is in principle a good programme but there are serious sustainability and security issues that need to be guaranteed before the programme can be continued. The ministry is committed to deployment of ICT in the teaching and learning process and efforts are being made to provide class or laboratory solutions and not one-to-one solution at the pre-tertiary level in view of the capital intensive nature of ICT deployment," said Hon. Alex Tettey-Enyo.
He also revealed that last year his Ministry took delivery of 1000 pieces of XO laptops for the OLPC programme under an agreement made between Ghana One Laptop per Child Foundation (GOLPCF) and the One Laptop Per Child Organisation of the U.S.A in 2008 for supply of 10,000 laptops for distribution nationwide.
Meanwhile a study conducted by the Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC)in partnership with Global Development Network (GDN) and Results For Development (R4D), revealed that in the education sector the poor benefits a lot from primary education creating a yearly rise in basic school enrolment. Some of such benefits are the Capitation Grant and the School Feeding Programmes. With less government interventions for senior high schools and at the tertiary level; more pupils competing for the same infrastructure and non-improvement in the provision of educational infrastructure, more children of the wealthy are the beneficiaries of the school system. This makes it difficult for the poor child to continue his education.
According to the study, this can be attributed to the use of education sector budget on recurrent expenditure. The education sector received the highest chunk of government budgetary support. The actual education expenditure as a share of GDP for the period 2006-2008 based on the findings was above 8% of GDP, increasing from 8.3% in 2006 to 9.9% in 2008. In 2006, the recurrent expenditure as a share of total education spending was about 82%, this was reduced marginally to about 80% in 2007 but went up to about 87% in 2008. This means that in 2008 capital expenditure was only about 13 % of the education budget.
Again, even though recurrent expenditure was found to be higher at the lower levels of education than at the higher levels, and despite improved incentive packages teachers at the basic level still refuse postings to rural areas.
Out of this analysis, it can be surmised that the percentage of pupils who drop out of school at the basic level will continue to rise. This is because though there is a rise in school enrolment at the basic level, there is no improvement and expansion in secondary and tertiary infrastructure.
Based on these findings ISODEC, with its partners namely GDN and R4D, has recommended that there should be increased investment on primary education in deprived and rural areas to improve the quality of education at that level.
Secondly there should be increased investment for the provision and expansion of secondary and tertiary facilities in deprived and rural districts to increase their accessibility.
Finally there should be a standard for providing infrastructure at the basic level of education. Computer laboratories, workshops for technical and vocation skills be placed at strategic location for school children to access in case these cannot be provided for all schools.
- Mobile operator Tigo Rwanda has announced a new promotional package for its customers, slashing call tariffs by 88.9 percent from Rwf90 to Rwf10 per minute. The promotion, which is considered the biggest in the company's first year of operation, could last for six months. It is only applicable on Tigo to Tigo calls.
- MXit launched the first multiplayer educational game on a mobile instant messenger (IM) at the beginning of the year and it has already seen over 30,000 players registered for the game and over 180,000 hours of game-play per day. “We provide 30 minutes of free gaming per day, after which we charge a minimal fee of about ZAR 10 cents. The development of these games signals the beginning of our commitment to do our bit for education in this country and we hope to gain substantial tracking in other parts of Africa, such as Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and other countries,” says Herman Heunis, CEO and founder of MXit.
- Zap, Zain’s mobile commerce service that allows customers to use their mobile phones like a mobile wallet to pay for goods and services and conduct banking services regardless of the type of handset they use, was launched in Accra, Ghana.
Zain Ghana is the seventh Zain mobile operation to launch Zap following the successful implementation of the service in Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.
- Ghana is the first African country to use the Free Google SMS - the latest product of the Internet search giant that allows Gmail users to send text messages to mobile phones at no cost. "These people keeps surprising and you never know what they would come up with next," a fascinated Gmail user Adjei noted.
- Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Joseph, plans to step down in 2010 after a decade at the helm, during which he turned the telecommunication company into East Africa’s biggest company by market capitalisation and profit numbers.
CIO SUMMIT 2010 – “FROM PRESSURE TO PERFORMANCE
16-17 March 2010, Johannesburg's Emperors Palace, South Africa
4th ANNUAL E-GOV AFRICA FORUM 2010
23-25 March 2010, Maputo, Mozambique
At a time when ICTs are defining the way the world lives and conducts business, it is important for African governments to evolve themselves to meet the demands of changing trends in order to deliver effective services and to improve the quality of life of their citizenry. This also requires the formation of Public Private Peoples Partnerships to be geared towards achieving developmental goals through the application of ICTs to governance (e-governance/e-government), electoral processes (e-democracy), food and nutrition (e-agriculture), health delivery (e-health/telemedicine), learning and capacity development (e-education) and trade (e-commerce), among others.
For further information on the conference visit the CTO’s website
CRASA 13TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – “BETTER REGULATION FOR SADC ICT MARKET’
25-26 March 2010, Continental Hotel, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
The theme of the AGM have been chosen as it is being recognised that it has been more than two decades since the first ICT regulator was established in the region. We recognise the fact that regulation is essential to achieve the goals of the public policy and therefore better regulation is to be considered in SADC so as to improve the policymaking process.
As we drive towards greater competition, credibility and welfare of SADC citizens, we should recognise the critical need for high quality regulation and regulation that is only used whenever appropriate.
In this regard, the Secretariat in coordination the NetTel@Africa is coordinating a training workshop prior to the AGM on the “Southern Africa Impact Assessment Training Workshop II” This is a follow up workshop on the same theme that was held in Dares Salam Tanzania in September 2009. The workshop will be held from 22 to 24 March 2010 at Elephant Hills Continental Hotel.
SATCOM 2010 AFRICA
12-15 April 2010, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
SatCom Africa 2010 is Africa's only satellite exhibition conference. SatCom Africa 2010 gives you an executive business experience where you meet real decision makers, a content driven and networking focused agenda and new business, new markets, new opportunities.
TMT FINANCE AND INVESTMENT MIDDLE EAST 2010
26-27 April 2010, Sharq Village Hotel, Doha, Qatar.
The TMT Finance and Investment Middle East 2010 Conference and Awards Ceremony is the premier networking hub for executives of telecom operators, technology providers, investors, financiers and advisers active in mature and emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Now in its fourth year, the conference takes place again this year in Doha with support from Qtel, Booz&Co and Clifford Chance. The event features an outstanding academy of expert speakers from across the region and internationally debating opportunities in M&A, strategy, wireless broadband, financing, mobile payments and cloud computing.
AITEC BANKING & MOBILE MONEY WEST AFRICA
11-12 May 2010, Lagos, Nigeria
Technology presents great opportunities for the financial sector to extend reach, improve service and reduce costs. However, in the drive to implement the very best that technology vendors have to offer, the focal point of the banking process is often forgotten – the customer.
AITEC Banking & Mobile Money West Africa 2010 will therefore focus on the customer experience in relation to all technology implementation and services, challenging suppliers and bankers alike to evaluate their systems in the light of customer needs and preferences.
For further information on the conference visit AITEC’s website
NOG-11 AND AfriNIC-12 MEETINGS
23 May-4 June, 2010, Kigali, Rwanda
The African Network Operators' Group (AfNOG) and the African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC) are pleased to announce that the 11th AfNOG Meeting and the AfriNIC-12 Meeting which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda during May & June 2010. The jointly organised two-week events include the AfNOG Workshop on Network Technology (offering advanced training in a week-long hands-on workshop), several full-day Advanced Tutorials, a one-day AfNOG Meeting, and a two-day AfriNIC Meeting. In addition, several side meetings and workshops will be hosted in collaboration with other organizations. Further details are available at the AfNOGand AfriNIC websites
- ITU posting
AfriNIC fees waiver scheme
With support from TENET's FRENIA, the AAU and AfriNIC have introduced a new scheme through which eligible African RENs, academic and research institutions get their AfriNIC membership and resource allocation fees waived for the first year.
This is to encourage RENs as well as academic and research institutions to go for institutional number resources.
O3b and ViaSat - Africa
O3b Networks Limited has signed a contract with ViaSat Inc for the production and installation of Ka-band infrastructure. The value of the contract is approximately $47 million. ViaSat will supply gateway teleports and high speed IP trunking terminals to O3b Networks, including full-motion tracking antenna systems for the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites, high-speed modems, monitor and control equipment, system development, and installation. Teleport installation is scheduled to be complete ahead of the planned launch of the O3b service in early 2012.
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