Issue no 502 30th April 2010

top story

  • CDMA operators in Africa face a number of market difficulties and at least one major operator has considered switching to GSM. Only really in Nigeria has the market developed a sufficiently large and diverse ecology of users to succeed. In October 2009 Sudatel decided it was going to add GSM to its offer but has used a 3-in-1 SIM card to ensure that subscribers have the freedom to switch handsets in either direction.

    The Sudanese mobile market is a three-horse race with the runners in the following positions: Zain (which will not pass over to Bharti as part of its acquisition); Sudatel’s Sudani (4.5 million) and MTN (4 million in its latest results). There is pressure on ARPUs as MTN’s latest results show it has only achieved US$5 this quarter, down 16%. This is down from an overall level of US$10-$15 in 2008 and will undoubtedly put pressure on all operators.

    There are smaller operators in the south of the country but these are tiny compared with the national operators. Sudatel’s own fibre network is being extended to the south and will be completed in Q4, 2010.

    Most operators believe that 40% market penetration is achievable over the next 3 years provided there is peace, infrastructure keeps getting extended and the cost of using that infrastructure comes down.

    The second fixed operator Canar would like to get into the market but a fourth licence has not yet been agreed. This additional licence is likely to be in place by the end of 2010.

    Sudatel originally launched its first mobile operation as a joint venture with Celtel but this was eventually sold off to Zain. In launching its second mobile operation, Sudatel has achieved two seemingly impossible things. As a historic incumbent telco, it launched a CDMA operation and managed to get enough subscribers to get into second place in the market ahead of MTN.

    However, in October 2009 it decided to add GSM to its portfolio and in order to give subscribers a choice, it introduced a 3-in-1 SIM card from French company Oberthur that is able to handle, CDMA, GSM and 3G.

    It had around 100,000 data subscribers in Q3, 09, the majority with a data card and a laptop. The mobile broadband is delivered either using HSUPA or EVDO Rev A which it launched in 2006.

    Part of its rationale for making this move was that it wanted to be able to deliver its fixed line network through fixed wireless CDMA, particularly in remote areas. In these circumstances, CDMA provides many advantages in terms of coverage, fast deployment and a cost-efficient technology.

    Sudatel has also set up a pan-African mobile operator called Expresso that has operations in Mauritania , Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana. The Ghana operation (branded Kasapa) was acquired from Hutchinson and was an existing CDMA operator as was its other acquisition, Intercellular in Nigeria.

    It launched in Mauritania as Chinguitel with a 3G CDMA service but it has struggled to establish a foothold. But if things have gone less well than might be expected in Mauritania, its only Expresso branded operation in Senegal (which soft launched in January 2009) has barely got going. Having a CDMA network meant it made almost no dent in a market with two strong competitors in Sonatel (Orange) and Alize (Millicom). As a result, it has decided to introduce GSM in both countries in the near future.

telecoms

  • Orascom and MTN have confirmed that they are discussing a deal that analysts believe could see the South African telco take control of Orascom's African assets.

    In a statement released today, Egypt-based Orascom said it "is aware that its parent company, Weather Investments SpA, is in discussions with MTN Group which may or may not lead to a transaction relating to the acquisition or control of Orascom and or its businesses by MTN".

    Earlier on MTN confirmed that it is in discussions with Weather Investments, the investment vehicle of Orascom chairman Naguib Sawiris, which has a 51% stake in Orascom Telecom.

    Orascom has operations in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Central African Republic, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.

    Orascom has also asked the Egyptian Exchange to restore trading on its stock, after it was suspended following press speculation about the talks with MTN.

    In a further development, Algeria's government has announced that it is opposing a deal under which South Africa's MTN Group Ltd. would acquire the prized Algerian unit of Egypt's Orascom Telecom, the Telecommunications Ministry said Wednesday.

    "The government is opposed to the planned deal between MTN and Orascom" with regard to the unit, Orascom Telecom Algerie, also known as Djezzy, the ministry said in a statement. "Any transaction concerning OTA will be void...and could lead to the withdrawal of the telephone license granted to the company," it said.

    ITP
  • Main One, in partnership with SEACOM and eFive Telecoms have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to launch a project that would develop a pan-African fibre ring solution.

    The new cable between South Africa and Nigeria, if implemented would enable Main One and SEACOM to circumvent Africa; offering redundancy and additional capacity on both East and West African routes. The solution would require a new cable section to link Nigeria with South Africa via landing points in Gabon, the DRC, Angola and Namibia.

    The new addition would follow the completion of the first phase of the Main One cable project which will connect Nigeria to London by June. The SEACOM cable, which became operational in July 2009, currently runs from South Africa along the east coast of Africa and onwards to the rest of the world via India and Europe.

    Funke Opeke, Main One CEO while explaining the partnership said that "Main One's plan in 2008 included building in two phases with phase one connecting London and Nigeria through a 7,000-kilometre cable. Phase two will connect Nigeria with South Africa once the right partnership with the right level of funding is secured.

    "With the first phase scheduled to be completed on time and on budget in June 2010, we believe that the proposed partnership with SEACOM and eFive telecoms is the best way forward," he added.

    Similarly, eFive Telecoms, a South African telecommunications company, will be responsible for the project funding arrangements and plans to join forces with Nova Capital Africa to raise the US$400 million necessary to manufacture and install the new cable. Nova Capital Africa is part of Nova Capital Partners LLC, a New York-based emerging markets investment banking group that serves large and middle market companies throughout Africa as well as central and eastern Europe.

    As with the Main One and SEACOM cables, the solution will be privately funded and installed on an open access basis by 2012, giving it an early timing advantage when compared to other planned systems. Actual ownership structure, construction plans and contractual details are yet to be finalised.

    "We hold the view that a system circumventing the entire continent is the best way to attain adequate redundancy whilst offering customers a comprehensive connectivity solution. The MoU announced shows our determination to find a viable way to extend our system with partners who share our vision for the development of ICT on the continent," Brian Herlihy, SEACOM CEO., said.

    Vanguard
  • The South African Cabinet is forcing the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to grant a second licence to state-owned telecoms agency Broadband Infraco. Last week, the Cabinet said it had approved a policy amendment to allow the licence to be granted, contradicting Icasa, which refused last week to issue an electronic communication services licence to Broadband Infraco to enable it to provide Internet and other data services.

    In refusing the licence, Icasa said that Infraco had failed to show how it would contribute to affordability as it planned to focus on providing services mainly to the government. Although Infraco does not plan at present to offer retail services, the licence will enable it to do so in future, adding to competition in the sector.

    Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka said last week it was not yet aware of the policy directive, but would look into the matter as soon as it received the directive.

    Broadband Infraco was formed more than three years ago to lower the wholesale prices of telecommunications, especially for the long-distance network, which Telkom had dominated. Infraco is 26% held by state- owned investment company the Industrial Development Corporation and 74% by the Department of Public Enterprises.

    By law, Infraco is entitled to two licences. The first, which it already has, allowed it to set up and take over infrastructure such as a 12,000km fibreoptic network, once owned by Transnet and Eskom. At present, it mainly sells capacity on its infrastructure to Internet service providers and other businesses.

    The second is needed for it to provide telecoms services, in particular to government departments, its main clients. Once it has the second licence, it could also expand into providing broadband services to the retail market, and so help to push prices down.

    Icasa's refusal to grant the second licence also highlighted the comparative advantage Broadband Infraco enjoyed. The regulator said that Broadband Infraco could discriminate "unduly" against other similar licence holders such as Neotel, which are obliged to offer services to all consumers and not just "cream-skim" from big clients like government departments.

    Neglecting individual customers and small businesses would mean that Broadband Infraco did not contribute to universal access. It has to provide bandwidth for projects such as the Square Kilometre Array Telescope.

    Business Day
  • Acting Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission Engr. Stephen Bello has announced the intention of the Commission to reintroduce a price cap regime in the telecom sector, while also maintaining that plans by the Commission to begin the registration of SIM cards will commence on May 1, 2010, with a process for the new SIM cards. Engr. Bello who spoke to journalists in Abuja said price cap regime which has existed at the inception of mobile phone services is one of the issues that the Commission will tackle soon to ensure that operators operate within a bar relative to interconnect rates. "In 2001 when GSM started, we said that nobody should charge above fifty naira per minute and that was many years ago. "Now we have the fact that the number of lines has increased, there is economy of scale and you know that as you have advantages of economy of scale the unit price comes down. We believe that the competition in the industry will control prices, nevertheless the situation may arise in which people sometimes cooperate and try to maximize their profit. "Therefore, we in NCC have developed a policy we refer to as price cap regulation where we give a price and the competition can make you to operate within this degree of freedom, but not beyond it", he said. He also said there are many methods of regulating prices in the industry but the current Government policy is that the Commission will not be engaged in direct price control as existed the seventies when government published price caps on commodities. "We have recently reviewed the interconnect rates, which is the rate at which operators pay when they transfer calls amongst themselves, but these are yet to trickle down to the subscriber and we have resolved that we will need to revisit the price cap to ensure that these advantages trickle down, and we will begin the process with consultation with the operators and collection of some data to implement it", he said. On the issue of commencement of registration of SIM cards to which some operators have expressed reservations with the dateline, Engr Bello said: "Our experience in this industry has shown that operators always resist anything that will cost them extra money, even when they believe in it and they believe that its necessary because they are always looking at the bottom line, they want to maximize their profit. The same thing happened with per second billing. “We have been on this thing and we have given enough time to get ready, all the issues have been discussed, we have had many meetings so the issue of publicity we are addressing it immediately so we are maintaining our stand that SIM card registration will start on the 1st of May unfailingly”. "Nevertheless we have given a transition period during which some of the issues will be addressed and with that we believe that that cushion of three months during which we have the transition period is enough for everybody to take care of some of the delays. We still maintain the fact that SIM card registration will start 1st of May but there will be a transition period and the details of that will come out later on". Engr. Bello also reiterated that the Commission under him will not waiver in all the ongoing projects inherited from Engr. Ernest Ndukwe's regime such as number portability, SIM card registration, emergency communication projects and many others.

    Daily Trust
  • - Kenya’s robust telecoms market is set to come under new competition rules, setting the stage for a big shift in the way operators tackle their rivals and relate with consumers on the pricing front. The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) is on Friday expected to gazette regulations aimed at curbing dominant practices and anti-competitive behaviour in the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) industry.

    - Much of northern and central Mozambique has been deprived of telephone and Internet communications since Sunday night, due a breakdown in the fibre-optic cable owned by the public telecommunications company, TDM. A statement from TDM explained further that the breakdown has been located at a point on the cable about 110 kilometres north of the town of Vilankulo, in Inhambane province. At this point, the cable is on the sea-bed, at a depth of over 30 metres. The seriousness of the fault, and the fact that the cable is underwater, has obliged TDM to seek assistance from outside the country. Repairing the fault is expected to take not less than four weeks.

    - Telecel Zimbabwe has filed a High Court application challenging the Attorney General's refusal to grant a certificate after declining to prosecute Mrs Jane Mutasa and three other co-accused persons in a US$ 1.7 million fraud case. The mobile phone operator requires the certificate of refusal to prosecute by the AG so as to be able to institute a private prosecution of the four.

    - Rwanda’s telecoms regulator, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), has announced it will license a fourth national mobile operator ‘soon’, in order to boost wireless penetration. RURA’s director general, Diogene Mudenge, told East African Business Week that the state of the market will determine when the fourth concession will be put up for auction: ‘The date of licensing will depend on the market trends, which will be closely monitored to ensure that the existing operators have consolidated their networks.’

    - Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communications, Dora Akunyili, is due back to oversee the nation’s influential telecoms regulator and other telecoms sector portfolios in a major government review that changes the status quo in the Ministry.

    - Ghana’s telecoms industry regulator the National Communications Authority (NCA) and fixed line operator Vodafone Ghana (formerly Ghana Telecom) will from 1 May introduce new number codes in each of the nation’s ten administrative regions. The switchover will mean that going forward, all Ghana telephone numbers – be they fixed or mobile – will share the same ten-digit format.

    - In Mauritius, the ICT Indicators Web Portal and Newsletter was launched by the Honourable Asraf Dullul, Minister of Information and Communication Technology during a workshop held on the 15th April 2010 at Clos St Louis, Domaines Les Pailles. The objective of the workshop was to take stock of the achievements of the ICT Industry and the challenges facing the ICT Industry for the years ahead. Visit the website at: www.ncb.intnet.mu

    - Leading Kenyan mobile phone operator Safaricom plans to move to an Internet protocol (IP) network in the next two years to help lower costs and reduce outages, its chief executive said. Joseph said in March it was Safaricom's aim to have 25 percent of revenue coming from data services within two years as the number of mobile Internet users and subscribers to its money transfer service, M-Pesa, continued to rise.

    - The Indian government is carrying out a project in Sao Tome and Principe to make the archipelago a part of the pan-African telecommunications network, the director of the Institute for Innovation and Knowledge (INIC). The cost of the project was not revealed, but the Sao Tome authorities have said that the telemedicine aspect of this project is the most important as it will link the main hospital on the island of Sao Tome with more than 10 Indian hospitals.

internet

  • As the internet breakdown enters it fifth day, businesses that rely on internet connection for their operations are counting their losses by the day, with some switching their Internet Service Providers (ISP). Blues Internet Café, one of the busiest internet cafes in the city centre, last week switched from Rwandatel to another service provider. The Café operators, who preferred anonymity, explained that they started experiencing the breakdown on Sunday and that they had since incurred losses since clients were not coming in. "We initially thought it was a minor and temporary breakdown but it persisted, that why we opted to change to another ISP," said the operator. Post Office Internet Cafe, another renowned cafe in town is currently still facing problems and has also lost many clients. Chanella Biseruka, the cafe operator, said that they have not had business for the last two days. Media reports have indicated that the breakdown occurred on April 14 after the SEACOM marine submarine cable was damaged by a ship but repairs did not commence until April 25 and are scheduled to go on to until, Friday, April 30, 2010. Speaking to The New Times, Rwandatel's Chief Technical Officer, Basilio Sadandi, said that several businesses have continuously complained to the telecom company over Internet failure. "The problem came from SEACOM marine submarine cables (SWM4). We haven't known what the problem is but we have received continual promises from SEACOM that they are trying to rectify the problem”. Sadandi said that once they entered a contract with SEACOM, they nullified their agreements with two satellite internet providers. "The breakdown of the fibre cable leaves us with one option of using one channel of satellite that why our clients are facing slow Internet. I am in contact with SEACOM and they have promised me that the problem will be rectified by midnight today, (last week)," he said. Sadandi regretted the misfortunes causes by internet breakdown and hastened to add that Rwanda is currently setting up another satellite link while upgrading the existing one and that by the end of this week the bandwidth should have increased. "We are aware that people's businesses are slowing down because of Internet failure but we have plans to compensate our clients for any damaged caused," said Sadandi. He, however, could not reveal details of his company's contract with SEACOM regarding penalties that would taken in such a situation but said that something will have to be done depending to the reports that will be availed by SEACOM. According to Sadindi, the breakdown is also being experience by all ISPs that have an agreement with SEACOM. "Interestingly, we have another option of connecting to the TEAMS cable which comes through Tanzania via Burundi to Kigali. This means that after the connection, we will have multiple options and our clients will be enjoying the opportunities we will be availing them," he said. Currently, what is more worrying is that SEACOM has clearly indicated that it's not in control of the situation and "that the repair window may be extended to Friday 30 April 2010 for reasons unknown to SEACOM at this point".

    The New Times
  • The Visa application system of the United States of America has now been changed from paper-based forms to online application form. This was revealed at a press conference organised by the U.S Embassy in Banjul on Friday April 23rd at the Embassy Hall.

    Speaking at the press conference, the American Ambassador to the Gambia, Barry Wells, said it is important to change the way of visa processing and application. He said the transmission from paper form application to online application will improve customer satisfaction and cut down cost.

    Ambassador Wells further stated that the new system is more environmentally friendly. Michael Fitzpatrick, The U.S Consular to the Gambia, said for these coming two weeks the Embassy will continue to accept the old paper based forms but that from 17th May, the use of the new online form will be mandatory for all US visa applications. Fitzpatrick said the new online form will be available via a link on the embassy's website (http://Banjul.usembassy.gov) from April 26th for use by applications and after completion of the form, the visa application will submit the form online and the information will be electronically transmitted to the US Embassy. He added that applicants will then print out a confirmation sheet which they will need to take to Standard Chartered Bank to pay for and receive an interview date.

    Consular Fitzpatrick noted that the online DS-160 form will not change any other part of the current application process which is on the paper based form. He said the new online application form will make the visa application process more efficient, secure and accurate and that it is environment friendly.

    Fitzpatrick noted that the change from paper base to online application system applies to all U.S Embassies in the world and that according to some US embassies. He said they have already started the online application and that the people appreciate it as more convenient.

    Foroyaa
  • The internet search giant Google has now introduced driving directions for maps in Africa. Drivers with GPRS navigation systems or mobile phones with such applications can use Google Maps to get directions to their destinations. Google Maps in Ghana According to the Google Africa Blog: “Well, the wait is over - we’ve recently launched driving directions for maps in Africa! So the next time you are in Ghana driving from Kotoka International Airport to Hotel Novotel in Victoria Borg, Accra or you just want to drive from Nairobi to Kampala, visit Google Maps and allow us to help you get to your destination. “We are grateful to our active African online cartographers who have helped make our African maps what they are today, through our community mapping tool Google Map Maker. Try out the driving directions today. If anything is amiss, you can correct it in Google Map Maker.” Google said the addition of this feature is the latest in a series of launches which included local domains for most of the African countries and is testimony to “our focus on improving geographic content in Africa.”

    Africa News
  • - The Association of African Universities (AAU) and the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) have signed a MoU aiming at establishing a strategic alliance, to promote cooperation and the advancement of research, academic and educational exchanges between the Parties. - The Libyan International Telecommunications Company (LITC) is about to sign connectivity agreements with Telecom exhibition (Taqniya Exop) regarding the upgrade of the existing bilateral cable with Italy from 2.5G to 40G and OTEGlobe to land a cable wholly owned by LITC (The Libyan International Telecommunications Company) in Chania/Crete and a backhaul agreement from Chania to the major European PoPs. - Commercial production of oil in Ghana’s Jubilee oil field is set to begin in December 2010, and MTN Ghana is already exploring the possibilities of providing an offshore broadband network for the oil sector.

computing

  • John Tani Obaro is the Managing Director of SystemSpecs, a Nigerian Information Technology (IT) solution provider company. In this interview with Senior Correspondent AjibolaAbayomi, he shares his experience as a software builder and comments on the Nigerian software market. The software expert submits that Nigerian software remains the best for the country. There are excerpts below:

    Less than one per cent of the annual budget is always allocated to the IT by the Federal Government, don't you think industry deserves more than that?

    At the level of government, the question is not just about the quantum of resources available. We need honesty of purpose to influence the quality of investment into the sector. It is not enough to budget some money and somebody just go and buy some disjointed technologies. On paper, money may have been spent but in terms of ultimate value, there would be gap. We need honesty of purpose on the part of government officials and computer consultants not computer vendors that would help us arrive at a desired destination.

    Are you satisfied the development in the software market?

    In Nigeria for now, software is the least appreciated. It would take a while before people appreciates computer technology in that regard. On many occasions, the people don't know that the real engine in the computer is the software and not the hardware. Nigeria appears to be a follower of foreign software whereas our home made software is as good as any other one in any part of the world. Nigeria has a quite number of youths waiting to exhibit the skills they have acquired. It is needless for anyone to start rushing abroad for software technology because we have the very best for our environment here.

    Despite what you have said software piracy is still rampant in the country, how do you think this can be curtailed?

    The laws in the country are not quite squid to protect the intellectual right of software application. The registration of software under our patent laws is not really pronounced. Therefore, the control of software market through law is not sound in Nigeria; this laxity is giving so much room to the pirates. We really need to build in some litigants against illegal copy of software. Across the world, software usage is moving towards Software As A Service (SAAS), with users logging into a hosted application to pick usage. The model is a strong challenge to piracy. In that case, anybody who wishes to use a particular package has to log into the package through internet.

    There have been several complaints from software builders in the country about low patronage and inability of government to give protection to the local software industry through legislation, are you not bothered about this?

    Our association, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) would continue advertise and agitate for what is right to make Nigerians and the government appreciates the potentials of the indigenous software builders based on what is available. I have said at the beginning of the interview that there must be honesty of purpose in the system and on the part of the buyers of software products. Take for instance, the pay roll package, I personally think it would be criminal on the part of anybody to go abroad and get payroll that would comply with the laws of Nigeria. Certainly, you cannot get better software that is designed for Nigerians and suitable for Nigerian environment except from the local system builders. That is the home truth. There are many available packages in the country both in the area of accounting and payroll that are built by Nigerians and are available for purchase. I am not against the patronage of foreign products but I make bold to say that some segments of the Nigerian market did not need to patronize foreign software because of the peculiarity of their operation. My assumption is that many of those that rush after the foreign products may not be aware that there are better home made products that could serve their purpose better or they just want to rush into the comfort of the foreign application because they believe it is foreign, therefore, it is the best. I feel those in that category just need to be encouraged that with good consultancy, they would get the right application in Nigeria as there is nothing to fear about the quality of local products. The recent collaboration between our company, SysteSpecs and Maxi-pro, another Nigerian system builder company has brought about solution to improve the Nigerian market. It is a unique one. Having evolved software to put the Nigerian micro finance bank on e- payment platform, I don't see the need for any Nigerian microfinance bank to search for solution elsewhere. Maxi-pro had already demonstrated its competency by putting about 125 microfinance banks on e-payment platform. With our collaboration, we are expanding the horizon. SystemSpecs is currently working on foreign package to accommodate foreign payment for microfinance banks. We would conclude arrangement with our foreign partners in that area very soon. It is a step to boost the end to end payment concept. That would boost our operation beyond naira to naira transaction.

  • Global software group Microsoft will today unveil a R500m empowerment programme that, instead of selling shares to individuals, will assist black-owned software companies to grow into global entities.

    Microsoft is one of the few multinationals to get government approval to do an equity-equivalent transaction that includes investing in areas such as skills and enterprise development rather than selling 30% equity to black investors.

    Microsoft will spend R472m on skills, product development and leadership training to assist between five and 10 majority black-owned software companies over the next seven years. Mteto Nyati, MD of Microsoft SA, said the investment would directly address some of the key challenges such as job creation, developing enterprises, building the local software economy and developing scarce technology skills. "This is not just another broad-based black economic empowerment deal that features familiar faces and just ticks the boxes," Nyati said.

    "We're looking to take existing software development companies and transform them into companies that compete in SA and around the world. We want to create a new model for entrepreneurship and set a new benchmark for developing talent in the local software industry."

    The selection process is expected to start next month. Microsoft is targeting companies that have been in business for about three years and their software solutions should focus on health, mobile communications, education, and safety and security. Nyati said Microsoft would also train graduates with the intention of deploying them in those software companies.

    Business Daily
  • What happens to a project after IICD support ends? This question was recently addressed at a focus group meeting of the Mbarara District Net project in Uganda, operating independently since 2006. IICD’s Hanna Goorden, Uganda country manager, was there and was pleased to discover the project has booked successes.
    eGovernment Project in Uganda Reflects on Successes and Challenges

    District Net was started in 2002 by the Ugandan Ministry of Local Government. Its aim was to improve communications between the different government levels within a district through ICT. The goals were to improve transparency and increase public information in four rural districts. One of these is Mbarara.

    There, ICT has helped staff to work faster and more efficiently. Meeting minutes, calling meetings, salary requisition are all shared by email. This saves the cost of travelling and stationery. “We do not need to travel to Kampala now and again to brief our superiors on regular financial reports,” says the focal person of Mbarara District Net, Sylvester Timbisiimirwa.

    Despite the successes, the project has also experienced challenges. Not all departments are interconnected. There is not enough electricity in the district, which limited expansion of the project into all the sub-counties. Lack of funding also played a role. “Originally, we were supposed to network all the administration departments, and also network all the sub-counties. This has been delayed due to limited funds at the district’’ said Timbisiimirwa.

    Mbarara now wants to develop an ICT policy that fills the gaps in the District Net. Timbisiimirwa says they first need to harmonise this with the government ICT policy, which has so far been tabled before Cabinet.

    Goorden said, “This was a unique opportunity to learn how the project fared since IICD stopped its support, and to understand where challenges lie to ensure District Net’s sustainability going forward.”

    IICD
  • - A R129 million Motion Control System will track the movement of tourists, ahead of the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.

Digital Content

  • In a communiqué recently released, it was announced that the 29th edition of Tunisia's Rally, the 1st round of the NPO Desert Trophy, which is due to be held from May 1 to 7, 2010,will be the first event broadcast on Web TV.

    The event, which is the largest African rally, will be 100% Tunisian with races entirely held on Tunisian territory. Web TV will provide a summary of the day's stage, subjects on participants, the organization, country postcards, and archives on previous editions.

    Web TV will cover the event thanks to the presence of an editor, three reporters, three cameramen, a soundman and two editors in charge of the race and the backstage Rally.

    To maximize the resonance of the event on the Internet, links and daily summaries of the event will be available on several social utility sites as well as the blogs of partners and competitors.

    "Through WebTV of NPO Desert Trophy, we will distribute our own pictures of Tunisia's Rally and will be able to mediate all participants, from first to last. This is a first in the Rally-Raids, and this brings added value to our events. All NPO competitors will currently enhance their media coverage on this new WebTV with their sponsors", said Emmanuelle Clear Dumont Director of NPO operations activities.

  • MTN has shrugged off the effects of the SIM card registration law, and has recorded subscriber gains across all of its regions.

    However, the average revenue per user (ARPU) has slowed in two out of three regions for the three months between December and March. ARPU was up 7% in SA and 4% in Swaziland, but down in every other country in which MTN has a presence.
    Click here

    MTN this afternoon told the market that subscribers grew by 7% during the quarter, with total subscribers now at 123.6 million, up from the 116 million the company recorded in December.

    In March, when the company presented its full-year results to December, it said operating profit had taken a knock after it lost a million subscribers in SA, because of the requirements of the registration Act known as RICA.

    CEO Phuthuma Nhleko explained at the time that MTN was slow off the mark in implementing RICA and it took time to get the systems right. Previously, MTN had indicated a flat net addition of subscribers for the year, but had underestimated the effects of the legislation.

    This morning, however, the company indicated its RICA woes seemed to be a thing of the past. The south and east African region, which contributes 22% of the group's subscriber base, grew 4% in the quarter.

    SA, which is 60% of the region, grew 2.2%, adding 358,000 new users. MTN says this signals “a more normalised growth pattern following the effect of the RICA implementation in the second half of 2009”.

    The company says growth in South African subscriber numbers was mostly the result of increased brand awareness through its Ayoba and Mahala campaign.

    In the west and central African region, Nigeria continued to gain ground, adding to its position as the group's largest operation. The region accounts for 46% of MTN's subscriber base, and grew 7% during the quarter.

    Most of the growth was thanks to MTN's Nigerian operation, which grew 8% and contributes 59% of the region's subscribers. Nigeria now has 33.3 million subscribers. However, the country is also implementing a SIM card registration law, which could trim numbers.

    MTN says Nigerian subscribers increased as the result of improved network quality and the continuing success of its distribution framework, which gave it a competitive advantage.

    Ghana increased its subscriber base by 5%, to 8.4 million, despite the increasingly competitive market as MTN developed the brand and improved network quality.

    In the Middle East and north Africa, the company benefited from strong growth in its Iran operation. The region grew 8% in the quarter as Iran – which accounts for 64% of the area – grew 9%, to 25.4 million.

    ITWeb

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Free telephone calls will now be possible after Econet Wireless launched its revolutionary "free phone" service in Zimbabwe. Econet’s corporate communications manager Ranga Mberi said people in economically disadvantaged communities will now be able to use phones placed in strategic locations to contact their relatives, asking them to call them back.

    - Comium, one of Liberia’s GSM providers, has introduced a new calling tariff to the United States, China, and India. Customers will have to pay five cent per minute far less than what was being paid.

    - Vodafone Ghana customers on roaming service who were stranded in various parts of the world due to the Icelandic volcano have been credited with token sums of top-ups. This gesture from Vodafone is to compensate its roaming clients for the period which saw most of them overrunning their roaming quotas.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Suburban Limited, a privately owned long distance operator (LDO) has petitioned the Federal Government to probe the nation’s telecoms regulator citing alleged “faulty process and lack of transparency” in a subsidy programme that will benefit two companies, Multilinks-Telkom, a wholly owned subsidiary of South Africa’s Telkom and Phase 3 Telecom, a privately owned telecoms company headquartered in Abuja. According to the petition obtained by Technology Times, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is caught in the centre of fresh row over allegations of non-transparency in the planned disbursement of billions in tax payers’ funds to the two companies under the Wire Nigeria (WIN) programme aimed to subside the build-out of transmission networks in underserved parts of Nigeria. CEO, Suburban Telecom, Bruce Ayonote, said in the petition to Minister of Information and Communications, Dora Akunyili that it has it on “good authority” that NCC has concluded plans to provide the USPF subsidy to the two beneficiaries. Suburban’s key grouse is that Phase 3 Telecom, a company that was not prequalified for the WIN project, has now emerged a winner in the process, in what it cites as the regulator’s lack of commitment to the rules of the game. People conversant with details of the WIN project say that no less than N5billion will be disbursed to the beneficiary to complement the building of optical fibre transmission networks, particularly in areas not considered commercially viable by other telecoms operators. Citing allegations of conducts falling short of NCC’s declared commitment to transparency in its affairs, Suburban has called for a probe: * To investigate the entire process leading up to the award of the WIN Project by the NCC. * To ascertain how a so called transparent process could produce a winning bidder who was never prequalified. * To compel the regulator to uphold its much publicized tenet of “transparency” by adhering to the original process which prequalified three (3) bidders of which Suburban Telecom was one. According to Ayonote, Suburban entered the bids following a February 14, 2007 announcement by NCC calling for bids by long distance operators for the WIN programme and was selected as one of the three pre-qualified bidders. The intention of the NCC was to select suitable companies that would qualify for funding grants to subsidise the rollout of intercity optical fibre backbones to facilitate the penetration of telecoms services, he adds. “Subsequently, we never received any further correspondence from the NCC about its decision on the successful candidates for the WIN program. However, we have it on good authority that the NCC has awarded the WIN Project to Phase 3 Telecom Ltd and Multilinks-Telkom ltd. To date, Suburban has not been informed of the outcome of our bid nor have any reasons been adduced why our bid was not successful. What is more disturbing is that one of the purported winners, Phase 3 Telecom a company which was not prequalified for the final phase of negotiations eventually emerged as a successful bidder”, he added. Phase 3 Telecom has denied being beneficiary of a non-transparent NCC process in the handling of the subsidy to aid the rollout of optical fibre network. CEO, Phase 3 Telecom, Stanley Jegede, told Technology Times in a phone interview that, “we went through a proper and transparent process in which we emerged and that is all that we have say.”

  • Mobile phone operators in the country will continue to engage the government so as to convince it to amend the newly signed Electronic and Postal Communications Act in their favour. Their resolve follows the signing into law the bill whose certain sections they disputed as unfavourable to their operations.

    The two leading telecommunications firms' CEOs told The Citizen in separate interviews in Dar es Salaam yesterday that they were yet to see the new law and that they will continue consulting the government if contentious issue have not been addressed.

    "Our stand is that we will continue discussing with the ministry, regulator and other stakeholders to reach an amicable conclusion," said Zain Tanzania managing director, Khaled Muhtadi. He insisted that the new law would have a negative impact on investments in the telecommunication industry.

    Muhtadi noted that his company has for the last seven years invested about $600 million (Sh780billion) and according to him "this is because the investment environment was appropriate at that time." However, his Vodacom Tanzania counterpart Dietlof Mare, said for the time being they have nothing to do but adhere to the new law.

    "The bill has been passed by parliament and the President has assented to it; so we will just have to follow the new law as required," conceded Mare. Among other things, the mobile operators are contending the section in the law which compels them to publicly float their shares at the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) three years after starting their operations in the country, subject to requirements by the Capital Market and Securities Act.

    In disposing of local shares listed or registered with the DSE, the companies will have to sell their local shares to Tanzanians according to procedures prescribed in the regulations.

    Currently, the three leading mobile companies operating in Tanzania are listed on foreign stock exchanges. Vodacom is enlisted on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange of South Africa, Zain (MTC) appears on the Kuwait Stock Exchange and Tigo (MIC) is on a US stock market.

    The mobile phone operators had earlier sought President Jakaya Kikwete's intervention, saying the Electronic and Postal Communications Bill, 2010, which has since been signed into law, was detrimental to their operations.

    They sent a letter early this year through their umbrella organisation, the Mobile Operators Association of Tanzania (Moat), seeking an audience with the President to have contentious clauses removed from the Bill. In the letter, the Moat members said the Bill reflected Tanzania's inconsistency on policy matters.

    "It is our view that as a country, Tanzania needs consistency, certainty, transparency and stability in such major policies in order to realise meaningful investments," the mobile phone company CEOs noted in their letter to President Kikwete.

    The Citizen
  • Technology group Business Connexion (BCX) is on track to reach its operating margin target of 8% as its restructuring programme is starting to bear fruit. The company's operating margin for the six months to February doubled to 6.1%. In 2008, BCX implemented a wide range of projects and cost-cutting measures to restore its fortunes. CEO Benjamin Mophatlane is positive the target will be met, saying: "We are committed and are aware that it's not going to be easy. But we have to work hard." Operating profit jumped 74.5% to R122m from R69.9m in the six months to November 2008. BCX changed its financial year- end from May to end-August, hence the most comparable half-year period is November 2008. Headline earnings per share rose from 9.6c to 28.1c for the half-year to February. Mophatlane attributed the growth to the restructuring programme and the four outsourcing deals that the company won in the past six months. The company expects to save about R100m a year as a result of the restructuring programme. The benefits of the restructuring are already evident, with operating expenses falling from R499.3m in the six months to November 2008 to R469.3m for the six months to February. Revenue for the six months to February fell 9% to R2.01bn because of a delay in public sector spending and reduced private sector budgets as clients set new priorities for their IT projects. The technology division, which contributed 35.9% to group revenue, was the main victim. The services division performed well as it focused on more profitable businesses. The division's contribution to group revenue is 47.2% and it recorded a 154.9% jump in operating profit to R107.8m. Mophatlane said BCX would continue to develop its intellectual property products with the intention of selling them in more countries outside SA.

    Business Day
  • MobiNil has released its financial results for the three months ended 31 March 2010, posting a 2% year-on-year decline in net profit for the period. The operator revealed that in the quarter net profit was EGP357 million (USD64.4 million), down from EGP366 million a year earlier, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBIDTA) fell 12% against 1Q09 to EGP1.021 billion. Operating revenue, despite the slowing economy, harsher regulatory conditions and increased competition, remained relatively stable, climbing 2% y-o-y to EGP2.546 billion. However, first-quarter average revenue per user (ARPU) stood at EGP32, representing an 18% drop compared to a year earlier. Commenting on the results, Hassan Kabbani, MobiNil CEO said: ‘As expected 2010 is the year of reaching a high level of maturity in the Egyptian mobile market. The first quarter was affected by the economic slowdown, adverse regulatory conditions and intense competition pressuring down prices. However, we succeeded in growing our subscriber base to exceed 26 million subscribers in spite of new dials [phone number allocations] shortages, and our operating revenue growth reached 2%.’ Kabbani also claimed that new legislation could further restrict subscriber growth however, stating: ‘During the coming phase, regulatory pressures are expected to continue and even to intensify in the form of dials shortage until the new national numbering plan of eight digits is implemented by all operators, [and] new regulations regarding uncertified handsets, subscribers' activation and registration process will lead to large disconnections of customers, thus affecting the initial forecasts.’ In separate but related news, France Telecom (FT) and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, MobiNil’s two major shareholders, have announced that the former will pay Orascom a settlement fee of USD300 million as part of the agreements between the two announced last month that ended a long-running dispute over ownership of the cellco. It is understood that the fee is part of the terms and conditions submitted by the two companies to the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA). The accord between FT and Orascom will not see a change to the existing MobiNil ownership structure, with the cellco presently owned by MobiNil Telecom (51%) and Orascom (20%), with the remaining 29% publicly floated; MobiNil Telecom is owned by FT subsidiary Orange (71.2%) and Orascom (28.8%) according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. The French company will consolidate 100% of MobiNil's results as soon as the final agreement is signed, compared with approximately 70% before, while MobiNil will acquire ISP LINKdotNET Egypt and Link Egypt for USD130 million, subject to the approval of the relevant authorities. Both FT and Orascom have also agreed not to transfer each other any other shares in MobiNil Telecom, while Orascom will not raise its direct stake, with the Egyptian group being granted a put option for both its direct stake and its holding in MobiNil Telecom. Orascom does have a window in which it can sell the shares to FT – between 15 September 2012 to 15 November 2013 – while the put option can be exercised at any time until the latter date.

    Telegeography
  • - In South Africa, Bihati Solutions, a telecoms infrastructure provider, has filed a R1.7bn suit against Telkom for its delay in implementing a multibillion-rand tender awarded to Bihati and others in 2008.

    - Econet Wireless Zimbabwe defied all odds, posting an impressive set of numbers for the full year ended February 2010. The telecommunications giant made a profit of US$113 million for the period and it seems to be the main drivers of the industry's growth, whose penetration levels improved from 13 percent in February 2009 to the current 40 percent. Evidence lies in Econet's current market share of 72 percent (or 4 million subscribers).

    - South Africa’s embattled Faritec has sold off one of its business units, and is in the process of selling what was its third-largest revenue-spinner to a former director. The company, which needs to raise R60 million to continue operating and implement a turnaround strategy, last week sold its Microsoft large account reseller business to First Technology. Now Faritec is in talks to sell its managed services division to a company represented by former director Peter Winn.

    - France Telecom has posted a bigger-than-expected decline in first quarter profit with earnings dragged down by falling business services and tighter regulation. Revenues from the Middle East and Africa grew by 7.3 per cent in the first quarter, driven by the French group’s businesses in Cameroon and Ivory Coast. Growth in new start-up services in several African countries was 22 per cent. The figures would appear to validate the plan of Stéphane Richard, the new chief executive, to focus on the continent and the Middle East for new acquisitions over the next five years.

More

  • Jumoke Alausa has been appointed CEO of Lagos based IT company Computec-Plus.

  • WSIS FORUM 2010

    10-14 May 2010, Geneva, Switzerland

    Half way to the final review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and ahead of the two-thirds MDG review at this year's UN General Assembly in September, and ITU's own four-yearly World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-10) in May, the WSIS Forum will look at how far nations have come in meeting connectivity goals and progress in implementation of the 11 WSIS Action Lines set at the Summit in Tunis in 2005.

    For further information visit

    http://www.itu.int/wsis/implementation/2010/forum/geneva/

    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

    http://www.aitecafrica.com/event/view/46

    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

    http://www.afrinic.net/

    http://www.afnog.org/

  • Commercial Director – Burundi

    Scope:
    To develop and manage the commercial and marketing activities

    Main Duties & Responsibilities:
    You will be reporting to the Chief Executive Officer. In addition to the local activities that you will be leading, you will coordinate also with your peer and at the holdings level.

    Your main duties are defined below but not limited to:
    • To develop and prepare the business plan for new and on-going operations.
    • To manage and monitor the deployment of the business plan at commercial level (direct sales or channel sales) with defined objectives and targets,
    • To develop new products and manage revenue generations per product
    • To identify relevant needs such as staffing, call centers, marketing agencies
    • To present management with new ideas on enhancing operations performance
    • To assist in strategy development towards new technologies and newly recognized commercial processes
    • To develop the marketing and promotional strategy using different methodologies.
    • To develop and manage specific budget responsibilities i.e. marketing, sponsorship, branding.
    • To manage other relevant freelance and contract staff.

    Minimum Requirements:
    • 10-12 years of successful track record of sales and/or client account management.
    • At least five years in a senior role, developing and executing the sales and marketing strategy.
    • Previous experience in Telecom market is preferred.
    • Degree in Marketing, Business Administration, Management or any related field.
    • Proven experience of bringing in new business/revenue.
    • Ability to negotiate deals with numerous third parties.
    • Strong communications skills, good attention to detail and a team-player.
    • Ability to be flexible and calm under pressure.
    • Excellent management skills.
    • Fluently spoken and written French language required, English a plus.

    Conditions:
    • Generous housing allowance
    • Local transportation
    • Paid leave
    • Relocation package
    • Health benefits
    • Bonus based on results

    Please send  your CV and salary expectations to k.corinne@africell.bi

  • Gateway Communications, Intercel and ETI SA - Guinea
    Gateway Communications has further increased its presence in West Africa having signed two deals in Guinea, expanding its work with Intercel and agreeing an exciting new contract with ETI SA. Gateway is now working with two major mobile operators and an ISP in Guinea, a country with a mobile penetration of 21.43% (ICT Indicators Database 2007) and five mobile phones for every landline. Guinea’s telecommunications industry is flourishing and this is an exciting time for Gateway to continue to expand its presence in Francophone Africa. Gateway also has established carrier customers in Senegal, as well as Benin, Chad, Niger and Ivory Coast .

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