Issue no 508 11th June 2010
Creating the right weather for Africa’s services and applications entrepreneurs – new money and opportunities open up
With huge amounts of international bandwidth becoming available on the continent, Africa will shortly have enough new economy petrol but it has not really yet got the cars. The wave of services and applications that the new bandwidth can support are currently not yet available in huge numbers. Mobile operators have innovated but they are not really seed-beds of innovation in this area. This week sees two key announcements that may help change the weather. Nigeria’s Adlevo Capital Africa has closed a US$52 million fund aimed at “technology-enabled business models across Africa. And Seedcamp is putting its toe in water, coming to Johannesburg with the aim of filling the gap at the bottom end of the financing chain.
Nigeria’s Adlevo Capital announced that it has raised US$52 million from finance institutions and private institutional investors based in Europe, South Africa and
the US. “We are very pleased to have attracted investments from several of the most
successful Africa fund investors who, like us, see the growing scope for compelling
technology-enabled company investments and believe that investments in this area will also provide positive social development outcomes,” said, Yemi Lalude, founder and Managing Partner of Adlevo Capital.
Adlevo Capital plans to hold additional closings for the Fund over the next nine months with a final closing in the first quarter of 2011. Adlevo Capital is a Mauritius-based fund manager, is the first private equity firm focused on investments into technology-enabled companies across multiple African countries. It is operating from offices in Lagos and Johannesburg.
The Fund will seek to invest in companies that possess the following characteristics: strong management team; large market opportunity; consumer driven growth and a positive impact on WIRED attributes. The latter includes: integration into the global economy; reduction of poverty; environmental stewardship; and the development of skills.
Seedcamp is a European micro seed fund that invests in early stage start-up companies and it will be attending the Tech4Africa conference in August this year to identify African startups for potential investment and an opportunity to attend the Seedcamp Week programme held in September in London, UK. This marks the first time that a Mini Seedcamp programme will be hosted in Africa in Johannesburg.
According to Gareth Knight of Technovated who is heading up the organisation of the African event:”There’s a gap in the investment market. Venture capital companies and institutional investors don’t do seed fund investment. But there are seed investors and some of them are the people who set up Seedcamp.”
“A typical seed investment is between 30-50,000 euros and it’s usually enough for 1-2 people for 3-4 months. Seedcamp has a two million euro fund which means they will do around 50 investments. The investment gap is particularly acute in Africa which is why we’re creating a places for a company to go to Seedcamp in London (from the Johannesburg meeting).”
So a few selected African entrepreneurs will have a rare opportunity to pitch their businesses at a group of people connected to powerful investors, mentors and startups throughout EMEA, with one team being chosen to take part in Seedcamp Week, where its founders will gain exposure to investors and world-class mentors.
Knight believes that the successful ideas will probably be mobile-based or if not directly connected to mobile will be a web app of the kind that can be accessed from fairly low-end phones:”There’s an extraordinary entrepreneurial energy in Africa and you can feel it in places like Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda and South Africa.” He named Ushahidi (http://www.ushahidi.com/) and m-Pesa as the kinds of projects that he thought were impressive. “It will be interesting to see whether people will know how to build a business as well as they can do technology.”
Seedcamp is a programme created to jumpstart the entrepreneurial community in Europe, Middle East and Africa by connecting next generation developers and entrepreneurs from a network of over 400 top-tier industry mentors. The initiative’s flagship event, Seedcamp Week, takes place in London in September every year, and it is here where beneficiaries for the post-3 month programme are chosen.
Following Seedcamp Week, the companies who receive investment stay in London for three months to grow and develop their company, building key and lasting business relationships along the way to help them sustain a viable business.
“In addition to a direct route to seed and venture capital, companies that participate in Seedcamp get enormous validation and access to a world-class network of advisors that help them with every aspect of their businesses,” says Gareth Knight, managing director at Technovated, the company that is organising Tech4Africa.
Says Reshma Sohoni, CEO at Seedcamp: “We want to provide a catalyst for the next generation of African entrepreneurs and help them take risks, think big, and succeed. Our programme provides entrepreneurs with access to seed funding but also more importantly, gives them exposure to the collective experience of people who can help them to build successful businesses.”
African entrepreneurs that want to apply for the Mini Seedcamp Africa programme can apply through the Tech4Africa event Web site (http://www.tech4africa.com/seedcamp/). It is anticipated that 10 teams will be selected to take part in the Mini Seedcamp event at Tech4Africa. A committee may choose one startup to attend Seedcamp Week in London. Tech4Africa runs from 12-13 August 2010 at The Forum in Bryanston. Workshops will be held on 10-11 August. The event is targeted at business professionals and technologists from businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs and start-up owners through to professionals working at large organisations.
The web has and continues to encourage innovation in the services and applications field because (Apple and iPhone notwithstanding) it remains an open ecology with relatively low entry costs. Africa’s mobile operators have the opportunity to open their doors in ways that will create the same flowering of new services and applications but will they see the potential prize as bigger than holding on to a much smaller piece of controlled services like MTN’s Yello? Any mobile data strategy will need constant watering with local content, services and applications. Now is the moment to begin to build the kind of innovation that Safaricom’s M-Pesa and Zain’s One Network show can be done.
To contact Adlevo Capital, e-mail: email@example.com
The Affirmative Action Group, an empowerment lobby group headed by Supa Mandiwanzira, is demanding reinstatement of its shareholding in Telecel Zimbabwe, which it claims to have been allocated when the firm's licence was issued in 1998.
In a letter to Telecel Zimbabwe chairman, Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development Minister Nicholas Goche, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, AAG executive director Dr Davidson Gomo said the group's original 9 percent stake in the company must be given back to the organisation.
The mobile phone company's licence was issued in 2004 by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe and AAG was one of the empowerment groups that was earmarked to benefit from the licence. Dr Gomo said the AAG was under immense pressure to reclaim its shareholding in Telecel because its name had been used in obtaining the licence.
"The national executive committee of the AAG at a meeting held on May 11, 2010, resolved by unanimous decision to claim our portion of the shares as originally granted to us and further assert our right to claim on pro-rata basis any further shares arising from share disposals," reads an excerpt of the letter.
It could not be ascertained whether the letter was written to acting chairperson Jane Mutasa or to exiled Telecel chairman James Makamba, who was recently de-specified by Government after he had been specified in 2005 on allegations of externalisation. Makamba indicated last week that he would return home.
Herald Business also understands AAG was given the privilege to buy a stake in Telecel Zimbabwe when the licence was issued. They, however, failed to raise the funds and the then AAG president Philip Chiyangwa is believed to have bought the shares using his personal funds, which he, however, sold later.
It is believed that the shares were sold to either Makamba or Mutasa, who were the remaining original shareholders in the Empowerment Corporation, as terms of the licence dictated that they had the right of first refusal. Mutasa could not be contacted for comment before going to press last week.
Telecel Zimbabwe has been at the centre of an ownership wrangle with several prospective shareholders, including Leo Mugabe, also claiming a stake. Currently Indigenous Business Women Organisation president Mrs Mutasa and former politicain and exiled businessman Makamba in either their individual or institutional capacities, are believed to own 40 percent of the company's equity through a vehicle called the Empowerment Corporation.
War veterans, the National Small-Scale Miners' Association of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, who were also part of the original Empowerment Corporation, are allegedly in the process of claiming "their" shareholding in the mobile phone operator.
Libya’s LapGreen Networks has had its US$257 million bid accepted for a 75% stake in Zambian fixed line incumbent Zamtel, Dow Jones Newswires reports. The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) announced that the Libyan company had beaten out bids from Russian telecoms investment firm Altimo and Unitel of Angola for the majority holding, with minister of finance and national planning Situmbeko Musokotwane saying of the sale: ‘The government of Zambia has today paved the way for completing the most significant privatisation in the history of Zambia.’ The minister also said that LapGreen’s stake acquisition would provide the necessary resources and experience to turn the ailing telco around, while also boosting access to affordable services including high speed internet.
Under the terms of the offer, as well as the initial purchase price LapGreen is understood to have agreed to invest approximately USD127 million in the expansion and upgrade of Zamtel’s existing infrastructure.
The sale of a stake in Zamtel was first formally announced in September 2009, with the ZDA at that date inviting interested parties to submit applications to bid. The following month the regulator announced it had shortlisted eight companies including South Africa’s Telkom, Indian state-owned pair Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and Portugal Telecom. In the end however just four submitted bids – LapGreen, Altimo, Unitel and BSNL – with BSNL withdrawing from the sale process in March 2010. The government will retain a 25% stake which it may sell at a later stage through an initial public offering on the Lusaka bourse, and completion of the deal is expected by the end of June 2010.
India’s Bharti Airtel last week completed its $8.97 billion acquisition of most of Zain's African assets. The Indian telecom firm has successfully acquired Zain Africa, excluding Sudan and Morocco.
The deal, which values Zain's African businesses - excluding Sudan and Morocco - at $10.7 billion - is the largest ever cross-border transaction between two emerging market players. It expands Bharti's footprint by 15 markets, boosting its customer base to over 180 million users across 18 countries, and gives the Indian telecommunication firm an addressable market of over 1.8 billion people. As part of the agreement, 6,500 of Zain's Africa-based employees will join Bharti.
* Orascom calls time on talks with MTN
Egyptian telecoms group Orascom Telecom has reportedly halted negotiations with South Africa's MTN Group related to the latter’s possible acquisition of part, or all, of Orascom, according to itp.net. In a statement confirming that no further talks would take place between the two companies, Orascom said that the decision had been made ‘to terminate discussions in connection with the sale of certain of its operations as a result of the failure to reach a deal.’
In April 2010 the Egyptian group’s parent company, Weather Investments, revealed it had entered into discussions with MTN over a possible sale of Orascom and its subsidiaries. One potential barrier to any deal however swiftly threatened to derail the talks, with the Algerian government saying it would block any attempts by Orascom to sell local subsidiary Djezzy; with MTN actively seeking to expand its presence in North Africa it was believed that Orascom’s Algerian unit was crucial to any potential deal.
As reported by CommsUpdate last month however, it was rumoured that Orascom was preparing to open negotiations with the Algerian government that could lead to the nationalisation of Djezzy. The development followed the news that the state had invoked pre-emption rights over the ‘entire capital’ of Djezzy in line with legislation that gives it the right of first refusal when a foreign owner wants to sell assets in the country.
*Swedish technology provider Ericsson has begun a new phase of a network expansion project for Econet Wireless Zimbabwe to allow the cellco to increase its capacity to approximately five million users by August 2010, as well as ensuring that central Harare has full 3G coverage by the end of this month. The work forms part of a three-year frame agreement that was signed last year, with Ericsson responsible for expansion of the core and access 2G and 3G networks as well as business support system delivery. Furthermore, Ericsson is proving transport and transmission technologies and services such as system integration and business consultancy.
* South Africa’s he Competition Tribunal yesterday dismissed an interim relief application by internet service provider Gogga Tracking Solutions (GTS) against Vodacom. GTS had filed a complaint against Vodacom earlier this year saying the cellphone network provider was manipulating prices to squeeze it out of business.
GTS wanted the tribunal to order Vodacom to sell its bulk data products to it at the same price as the general public.GTS is 51% owned by Somnium Family Trust, represented by Eugene Beetge, the sole director of GTS. Vodacom subsidiary Vodacom Ventures owns 49%.Vodacom Ventures had in fact withheld its consent, and was opposed to the interim relief application.But the tribunal said shareholders should not perceive this decision as a source of encouragement to draft and implement shareholders' agreements to prevent access by firms with co-shareholders to the competition authorities if disputes arise about competition issues.
* Family Bank's launch of another mobile-based bank account (Pesa Pap) that links up with M-Pesa sets the stage for a renewed competition among telecom agents, especially in urban areas. The product, just like the recently introduced M-Kesho, allows users to access credit, deposit money into their accounts (where it earns interest), and pull money from their bank accounts to M-Pesa accounts.
The Zambia Competition Commission (ZCC) has approved the 100% takeover of Africonnect Zambia by Vodacom Gateway Mauritius, itself owned by the UK’s Vodafone Group, The Zambia Post reports. The regulator said that it would allow the acquisition as it believed that such a transaction would not lead to a negative impact on competition in the provision of internet services in the country, with ZCC public relations director Brian Lingela noting: ‘The board granted final authorisation to the transaction on the premise that the proposed acquisition did not raise any competition concerns as Vodacom Gateway Mauritius had no known presence in Zambia either directly or indirectly.
The board was of the view that the transaction was not therefore likely to lead to a situation that could have any substantive adverse effect on competition in the provision of internet or other information and communication technology services.’ The regulator also said that it expected the deal to both increase investment in the country’s ICT sector as well as bolster competition. No financial details of the deal have been released.
According to the ZCC, Africonnect is the country’s third largest internet service provider, with a 9.3% market share, behind market leader Zamtel (35.78%) and second-placed Zamnet (35.23%).
One of Nigeria’s key ISP players Linkserve has announced that its new product, Blast Broadband Blast was designed to meet the connection needs of homes, small and medium sized businesses and is an integration of the widely-used terrestrial wireless industry technology with the latest in advanced and proven satellite technology based on Viasat’s Surfbeam Broadband System.
Linkserve Chairman, Chima Onyekwere, said ever since Blast hit the market in the last week of March 2010, demand for the product has been on the increase. “We started with a promo and offered the first 150 subscribers the equipment at a reduced price, just to excite the market and I must confess that we were all astonished at consumer response as every single one of the allotted units was sold within the week,” he said.
“This has encouraged us to announce another such promo to allow more people the chance to enjoy this amazing product,” Onyekwere.
Each offering is especially tailored for the use of each client. That means no one service is like the other. Each package is pay-as-you-use with no hidden charges. “Whatever the needs of the user, he gets exactly what he pays for,” he said.
He said educational development in Nigeria would also be boosted by Blast as more students and teachers begin to adopt e-learning, as its service delivery features allows for real time, online knowledge impartation with no disruptions regardless of weather conditions.
Africa is set to receive a significant broadband boost with the news that France Telecom (FT) has signed the construction agreement with Alcatel-Lucent for the new Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable. In a press release, the vendor said its share of the 17,000km fibre-optic link is worth USD500 million and will connect the majority of West African countries to the global broadband network. For its part, FT said the group and its subsidiaries will invest around USD250 million in the cable's construction, bringing the consortium's total investment to more than USD700 million. The ACE consortium is a newly formed group of 20 telecom operators, headed by the French behemoth. The new link is expected to be operational in the first half of 2012 and will connect 23 countries, either directly or indirectly (i.e. for landlocked countries), spanning from South Africa to France.
The ACE cable relies on wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), currently the most advanced technology for submarine cables. With WDM, cable capacity can be increased without additional submarine work. With an overall potential capacity of 5.12Tbps, the system is designed to migrate to the new 40Gbps technology that will support future migration to ultra-high speed broadband networks.
Alongside FT the other consortium members are: Baharicom Development Company, Benin Telecoms, Cote d’Ivoire Telecom, Companhia Santomense de Telecomunicacoes, Expresso Telecom Group, Gamtel, International Mauritania Telecom, Cable Consortium of Liberia, Office Congolais des Postes et Telecommunications, Orange Cameroon, Orange Guinea, Orange Mali, Orange Niger, Portugal Telecom, the Gabonese Republic, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone Cable, Sonatel and Sotelgui.
The Africa Network Information Center, the regional Internet registry also known as AfriNIC, is moving ahead on a pilot project designed to give ISPs security measures along with IP address allocations.
The pilot aims to provide increased value to ISPs by issuing certificates based on public key cryptography. Public keys are widely distributed but private keys are secret -- messages are encrypted with the public key and can only be decrypted with the private key to ensure confidentiality. AfricNIC officials discussed the project last week at the AfriNIC-12 Public Policy Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda,
"The RPKI process allows AfriNIC members to manage Route Origin Authorizations (ROAs) for their address space; (it) provides a public repository of certificates, where people can confirm validity and who owns what," said Alain Aina, special projects manager at AfriNIC, during the Kigali meeting.
Electronic commerce and credit card use online have failed to take off on the continent outside South Africa mainly because of a lack of national laws that govern electronic commerce and data protection. Most countries have no laws that address theft of electronic data or theft of credit card information.
Lack of security and authenticity of online resources has been blamed for the lack of trust. Spam and IP hijacking is increasingly becoming a reality as the region becomes more connected.
"The certificates will facilitate better routing security, guard against IP space hijacking, spam and address the need for trusted data for ISPs and eventually end users," added Aina.
The project will involve investment in infrastructure, servers and an RPKI engine. AfriNIC members have yet to decide whether the registry should offer the services as a free value-add, or whether ISPs should pay extra for them.
"AfriNIC can host the infrastructure for members, where they can connect and enjoy the benefits. If you ask people to invest, they may not be [attracted] to the idea; the more you do for members in the beginning the better," said Nii Quaynor, a member of Africa Network Operators Group (AfNOG).
There is no guarantee that member ISPs will seek certification, especially if there is no requirement that ISPs peer with each other.
* According to a Cisco report, IP traffic in the Middle East and Africa will reach one exabyte per month by 2014 at a rate of 45 per cent. Monthly Internet traffic in the Middle East and Africa will generate 182 million DVDs worth of traffic, or 727 petabytes per month. The Middle East and Africa will have the strongest mobile data traffic growth of any region at 133 per cent CAGR, followed by Asia Pacific at 119 per cent and North America at 117 per cent. The Cisco VNI Forecast also predicts that the growth in traffic will continue to be dominated by video, exceeding 91 percent of global consumer IP traffic by 2014. Improvements in network bandwidth capacity and Internet speeds, along with the increasing popularity of HDTV and 3DTV are key factors expecting to quadruple IP traffic from 2009 to 2014, the report said.
* Internet consumers in Kenya remain a discouraged lot over the non-reduction of prices despite the going live of three undersea fibre optic cables.While the projects, East African Marine System (Teams) and the National Fibre Optic Backbone Infrastructure (Nofbi) are already running and some in the process of being rolled out, experts say internet costs still remain comparatively high.The pricing formula remains unclear, with many consumers saying that while speeds have increased, charges remain significantly high. The most affected are individual internet consumers and small-and-medium enterprises, which cannot afford $500 per month, the current price for a dedicated one megabyte link.
* Neotel will carry out reconfiguration on the SEACOM backhaul. A number of major users rely heavily on this cable alone, which provides a growing proportion of South Africa's international services. MWeb also informed their subscribers about the maintenance on the South African leg of one of their SEACOM links, warning subscribers that there is likely to be downtime on this link of around 30 minutes. This upgrade will give us increased protection against unforeseen events like cable breaks and in light of the outages it’s had over the last few weeks it’s clearly a priority to get this in place.
The rollout of a regional e-learning program and the need for IT supplies in African schools has led Microsoft, Intel, Cisco and the World Bank Institute to form a consortium that will help build capacity for the governance and integration of ICT across African schools.
The formation of the consortium comes in the wake of African governments' increased investment in the e-learning program being rolled out in thousands of schools across the region.
Many African governments are now moving fast to establish e-learning projects in both primary and secondary schools. Initiated by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) seven years ago, the program had not gained much ground because most African countries were reluctant to implement the projects due to insufficient bandwidth. The rollout of the e-learning projects is now moving faster because Africa is experiencing increased bandwidth due to a number of undersea cables that are now servicing the region.
The formation of a consortium is likely to result in stiff competition by international companies providing computers and software in Africa's education system in order to provide critical thinking and innovations in the region.
The organizations said that there is still a significant lack of guidance, professional development opportunities and regional best-practices sharing available to the administrators responsible for making ICT investment a success for local schools. The organizations have further designed a blended learning program, called the "Certificate in ICT in Education for Policy Implementers," for officials and professionals involved in the rollout.
The program is aimed at strengthening the field of ICT governance in education in Africa and to strengthen African governments' capacity in the integration of ICT in schools.
"Localization of content is vital for such a project to be successful. On such projects, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work," said Thabani Khupe, Intel director of the Corporate Affairs Group.
During the eLearning Africa Conference in Lusaka, Zambia, last week, Intel announced the release of the Intel-powered Convertible Classmate PC, which offers improved performance with energy efficiency. Africa and world ICT experts meeting at the eLearning Africa Conference debated how to develop and quickly roll out much-needed educational content, software and hardware in African schools. More than 16,000 schools in Africa are expected to be connected to the Internet by 2015 for the e-learning program, which aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Despite regulations by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and the Basel Convention on the Control of trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal, large numbers of refurbished desktop computers and laptops still enter the Nigerian IT market, where demands for them remain high as a result of relatively cheap prices, CyberLIFE findings can reveal.
As a result of the economic implications of recycling in developed economies, Africa, especially Nigeria, has continued to be a dumping ground for either used or refurbished PCs products.
Although major PC manufacturers, catalogue merchants, and auction sites sell refurbished PCs, the majority of refurbished PCs which offers the most efficient alternative to dealing with the world's growing mound of e-waste from developed economies, a close monitoring of market activities in the largest African ICT market, the Computer Village revealed that majority of these products come in from China and European countries with Africa as the major dumping ground.
Further monitoring of the Computer Village revealed that students, low income earners, IT training institutions, business centres are the major patrons of refurbished PCs. However, some of these systems, according to investigations, are the offspring of cancelled orders and have never even been taken out of the box. But majority, according to findings were returned for some reason by a customer.
In most cases, it is almost difficult to differentiate between a new and refurbished PCs. This is because refurbished PCs, according to findings , are typically cleaned, fixed, and updated if necessary , tested for problems; and reloaded with their operating system after which they are sold 10 to 30 percent below the price of a comparable new system.
In as much as refurbished PCs have continued to be the toast of many low income earners and the students community, one major challenge of buying a refurbished PC, according to findings, is that it is not customized and do not feature the latest technology.
Another challenge of refurbished PCs products is warranty. With this, the best place to buy a refurbished system, experts advised is directly from an established PC manufacturer or mail-order vendor that provides complete product and warranty information and responsive customer service.
For one thing, a lot of users have shied away from buying refurbished systems because of speed gap. For a few hundred dollars more than a used system costs, the reasoning goes, "You can buy a brand-new PC with a top-of the line processor.
That is the still true, and it is 's a compelling argument in favor of buying the latest and greatest. But with chip speeds exceeding an almost unfathomable 2GHz, budget, conscious buyers may consider saving a few by sacrificing some speed," a computer vendor who sells used PCs said last Monday in Lagos.
According to him, there is nothing wrong in buying refurbished PCs given the fact that it will offer the same service like new product. According to IDC analyst, Shane Rau, most users wouldn't notice much of a performance difference between, say, a 1.2 and a 1.7-GHz processor.
"The average PC user surfs the Internet, sends and receives e-mail, tracks finances, and maybe creates modest graphics. None of those tasks require any significant processor power; and by today's speeds, any Athlon or Pentium 4 would be plenty," Rau added.
But the reality, according to sellers of refurbished systems, is quite the opposite. They insist that the extra maintenance and testing refurbished machines undergo make them at least as reliable as their factory-fresh counterparts. And in the case of CPUs, the claims are probably true. "Processors are manufactured to last far beyond a person's ability to wear them out with normal use," Rau explained.
For many buyers, refurbished PCs are as good as new one even without warranty. "But the bottom line is give you the service and nothing more. Nigeria is still embracing IT. We will get there. Things are hard and you not expect student like me to buy new PC. I have been using refurbished PC for one than year now and it has never given me problems" Sunday Okeke, who said that he is a part time student of statistics at the University of Lagos said in an interview last Friday in Lagos.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has gone digital, following the acquisition of 1,000 digital registration kits, worth $5 million, through the United Nations Development Programme.
The kits, also known as people authentication registration kits, will make registration of voters quicker and easier, says ECZ chairperson justice Florence Mumba.
“The commission hopes to maintain a permanent, up-to-date and accurate register of voters,” she explains.
Mumba adds that regular updates of the voters' register during the year would build on the existing 2005 register. The commission will implement continuous voter registration through periodic mobile registration campaigns, equipped with digital mobile registration kits that will be deployed in each of the 72 districts in the country.
The main requirements for maintaining a permanent register are registration of new voters, removal of deceased voters and amendments to the existing voter details. Other supporting activities include periodic publication of the provisional register for public verification.
Continuous voter registration will also allow the commission to replace voters' cards of those who may have lost or destroyed their cards, or are in possession of a defaced card. It also allows officials to change the details of those that have changed addresses or transferred to new polling districts.
The demonstration of the voter registration system showed that, once a person identified him or herself at the registration centre, by producing a green national registration card, a voter registration officer would then capture a digital photo and personal data, including the fingerprint and signature, which is stored on the system. The voter's card is printed and sealed by the officer and given to the person.
“It takes about five minutes to capture data and present an eligible voter with the voter's card,” notes Brown Kasaro, ECZ deputy director of IT. The commission has eliminated the former process of scanning still pictures and also the data entry process of entering information into the computer after capturing it from the registration fields.
The digitalised information will be loaded on to a biometrics database, as it has proved to be more accurate and less prone to manipulation than the current practice of verification through some form of identification documents.
Since the 2006 elections, the ECZ has been using fingerprint and iris scans as part of its biometric solutions. The traditional methods of using an identity document to verify the identity of a voter could in the past not catch up with people who had two registration cards, and they could use both to vote.
The Automated Fingerprint Identification System has stored over four million scanned fingerprints of registered voters in Zambia. The equipment was purchased from Waymark Infotech, in South Africa, in 2006.
The minister of Information and Communication has received an approval letter from the World Bank for a US$5 million grant to facilitate the preparation of a project that will constitute the first phase of a 'West Africa Regional Connectivity Programme' designed to support populations, businesses and governments across the sub-region to have access to quality and affordable information and communication technology services on an open, transparent and non-discriminatory terms.
The letter of approval for the US$ 5million, with the remaining amount to be approved by the Bank's board, was handed over to Minister Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo by the World Bank's lead ICT policy specialist, Doyle Roy Gallegos at the Pullman Hotel in Paris.
The whole programme is been coordinated by the ministry of information and communication with the Alhaji I.B. Kargbo as leader and assisted by his deputy minister, Haja Saidata Sesay and the communication directorate headed by Mohamed Alie Bah.
It could be recalled that during the last AU summit in Addis Ababa, President Ernest Bai Koroma made the request to the World Bank through its vice president, which has now received a favourable response.
(Source: Concord Times)
*Ambitious ICT Company in Nigeria Seeks Finance Partners for Ongoing Expansion
Nigeria-based Voix Networks Limited, an ICT products and services provider is seeking investors to finance its planned countrywide expansion. The company's 1st stage of the network in central Abuja went live in May and covers 125 sq kms of fibre optic.
Nigeria's robust mobile telecommunications market has obscured the urgent need for a fixed line broadband network that can provide stable, high speed, high quality and low cost connectivity. The lack of such a network means services such as 'Point of Sale' terminals for credit card transaction are barely operational and where they are found, they are running on unstable wireless technology. In addition to restricted services and poor quality, consumers are paying top rate call fees via the GSM networks that could be reduced by 60% if carried on both local and international fixed lines.
Nigeria-based Voix Networks Limited, an information and communication technology products and services provider, is one company that is taking full advantage of the existing gap and aims to become the leading fixed line telecommunications operator in the country.
In 2007, Voix Networks acquired a Private Network Lease (PNL) licence, which allowed it to deploy a network of fixed telephone lines in the capital city Abuja and the six neighbouring states. The 1st stage of the network, built at a cost $50 million, went live in May 2010. The network covers 125 sq kms of fibre optic around central Abuja and encompasses an initial target client market of 50,000 subscribers. The company's clients include: shop owners within major shopping malls, complexes and local markets, major hotels, private residences, security estates and compounds, as well as embassies.
Voix Networks is now aggressively marketing the services and expects to have secured over 50,000 clients in the next 6 months.
Voix Networks is looking for financial partners and investors to maximize its strategic advantage. The company is seeking to raise up to $50m in tranches over the next 12 months to support client take-up on current network and to begin the 2nd and 3rd stages of network deployment to extend its coverage nationwide. Debt and equity finance options will be considered.
* Tunisia: A working session devoted to the management of space within the technology centers was held on Wednesday in Tunis. The meeting focused on the need to create a new dynamic in the management of technology centers around the development of lots for the benefit of high technology companies to build their units in accordance with international standards and specifications which will be developed in this sector. Efforts are being made to accelerate the pace of investment and create innovative projects and take advantage of the space provided to set up businesses with high employability. * Nigeria’s Nasarawa State Government has introduced e-payment for pensioners of both state and local government departments as part of the efforts to curb delays and check corruption at the Pensions Bureau.
MTN Nigeria got a boost last week when it received fresh loan facilities from a consortium of banks to enable the company further expand its network across the country.
The medium term loan which is expected to take a five year repayment period was formally signed yesterday in Lagos by the MTN board of directors and chief Executives of the 15 lending banks including two foreign banks.
MTN Chief Executive Officer, Ahmad Farroukh, described the development as "another historical milestone in the development of telecommunications in Nigeria."
The banks in the loan deal which is naira dominated include; Access Bank, Afribank, Bank PHB, Citibank Nigeria Limited, Diamond Bank, Ecobank Nigeria, First City Monument Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank and First Bank of Nigeria. Others are Guaranty Trust Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited, Union Bank of Nigeria, United Bank of Africa and Zenith Bank.
The 15 banks' loan facility amounts to N250 billion while the rest is lend by the two foreign banks. The dollar denominated part of the funding consists of two separate facilities: a $250m export credit facility from KfW IPEX-Bank of Germany, and a $200m Buyer's Credit facility from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) to purchase equipment from Huawei.
The sheer magnitude of these funds five times the budget of Yobe State and nine times the 2010 budget of The Gambia- signifies the confidence local and international investors have come to repose in Nigeria, he said.
He said as at 31 March 2010, MTN Nigeria had recorded over 33 million subscribers. MTN arranged the facilities itself and it was done within six months, Daily Trust learnt. In 2007, MTN had borrowed a whopping $2bn facility which won African Telecoms Deal of the Year by Euromoney. At the time, it was the largest facility granted to a single country telecommunications operator in Africa.
Neotel shows a loss of around R1.5-billion according to results from shareholder Tata Communications, but analysts say it is not surprising
Tata Communications, which has a 49.1% shareholding in Neotel, recently announced its year-end quarter financial results for the fiscal year 2009-10. The company reported a net loss of Rs 598 crore (R983-million) for the year that ended in 31st March, 2010.
According to Light Reading Asia the consolidated net loss for the year includes a loss of Rs 464 crores (R763-million) for the company’s holding in Neotel, South Africa. Considering that Tata Communications holds a 49.01% share in this South African company, the total loss from Neotel seems to be R1.55-billion.
While some speculate that this is an indication that something is seriously wrong at the company, analysts say that it is nothing strange for a new entrant in the telecoms market.
World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says the he would have been worried if Neotel was not running at a loss of this magnitude. “They announced at launch they would be investing something like R9bn in infrastructure during their build-out phase - presumably over the following five years. This means that up to half of that could already have been invested - although unlikely. We can therefore expect them to report even greater losses in the next year or two,” said Goldstuck.
Neotel’s residential strategy seems to be a weak point for the company. Many consumers feel let down by the company, and Neotel appears to have lost its appetite to compete in this market.
“If there is one weakness it is their consumer offering. It appears that the consumer is still playing second fiddle to the more lucrative corporate customer base. Their consumer offerings have been based on poor market insights, and the offerings have been viable for only a limited segment of their target market,” says Goldsuck.
“They will need to invest far more heavily in their consumer offering if they want to prevent it from going the way of Sentech's MyWireless, and they will then have to invest equally heavily in marketing it. This means they can expect to go even more deeply into loss before they start generating substantial profits in this area.”
Neotel was asked what caused the losses and what is being done to remedy the situation, but the company merely said that it “has no comment to make in this regard”.
* Nigerian telecoms operator Starcomms has reported that its revenue for the three months ended 31 March 2010 fell 6.8% year-on-year to NGN7.94 billion (USD51.6 million). Turnover was hit by a 32% decline in average revenue per user (ARPU) from NGN1,002 to NGN680. The fixed-wireless company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) dropped 32% year-on-year to NGN1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2010, while operating costs rose 12.4%, mainly due to higher network operating costs and maintenance charges resulting from the significant network expansion; the telco’s infrastructure now covers 22 states, 31 cities and over 170 towns. Net interest expenses more than doubled after the firm converted a USD60 million loan into naira. Starcomms reported a 16% increase in its total active subscribers to 2.66 million, pushing up data revenues as a percentage of total service revenues to 26% in Q1 compared to 20% in the same period a year earlier. Data revenues totalled NGN1.8 million in the quarter, an increase of 21% year-on-year.
*Zimbabwean government-backed mobile operator NetOne has received a USD45 million loan from Export-Import Bank of China to expand the coverage and capacity of its network, with the aim of more than doubling its subscriber base, Reuters reports, quoting local state-owned media. NetOne, the country’s third largest cellco, said that the loan will ‘significantly impact on service and quality.’ Its managing director, Reward Kangai, announced: ‘We hope that with this provision, we will be able to cover the whole country,’ adding that subscribers will rise ‘from 700,000 to two million by the end of this year.’
Competition in the mobile money transfer business is heating up with the entry of a new money transfer system which allows transactions across Safaricom, Yu, Orange and Zain.
MobilePay, the information technology company behind the Tangaza brand, joins Safaricom's M-Pesa, Zain's Zap and Essar Telecom's yu cash, as the mobile phone becomes the main force in bridging the banking divide.
The firm is carrying out a nationwide agent recruitment drive for entrepreneurs to help it expand go countryside. "We are launching the system countrywide and those who will join will be able to take deposits and also carry out withdrawal transactions through a trust account in Kenya Commercial Bank," Quentin Savage, a manager at Tangaza, said.
Recently Diaspora Investment Management Ltd secured a stake in Community Development Systems Ltd, the holding company that owns Tangaza. According to Savage, the diaspora has endured high costs of remittances from existing international money transfer companies and banks, and the system, while enabling Kenyans to perform local transactions, will assist those abroad to send money back home.
In future, Tangaza will allow dealers to convert into agent bankers once all statutory obligations are met for individual banks and after the Central Bank of Kenya allows them to carry out cash deposits and withdrawals.
Stephen Mwaura, the head of payments at the Central Bank of Kenya on Tuesday confirmed that Tangaza has been licensed to perform money transfer business. "We want to enhance efficiency. We are doing this through increasing competition with the entry of more players," said Mwaura.
Eighty thousand mobile phones have been handed over to the Health and Police Ministries to enable the departments to deal effectively with emergencies during the FIFA World Cup.
The phones were handed over by Minister of Communications, General Siphiwe Nyanda, as part of the 3G (Third Generation) spectrum license. This initiative is in partnership with the country's mobile operators, MTN, Vodacom and Cell C.
Handing over the phones on Tuesday, General Nyanda said out of the 250,000 mobile units due for distribution, 80,000 will be delivered as part of the agreed implementation plan with the operators to commence with the implementation of the outstanding obligations. He said the department was responsible for ensuring that Government's Programme of Action (POA) was achieved.
"I have committed the department to ensuring that Information and Communication Technologies programmes continue to play a meaningful and pivotal role in support of POA," he said noting that the mobile phones will ensure greater vigilance, efficiency and combat readiness during the tournament.
The phones will be allocated to officials who will be part of the FIFA 2010 World Cup operations. Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said the mobile phones came at a crucial time as the two departments needed fast communication. "If you waste a few minutes, something terrible might happen," Dr Motsoaledi said.
He said the mobile phones would assist 9 000 lay counsellors, 2000 volunteers and 4 300 hospitals and clinics, who will need to communicate swiftly, especially in rural areas.
* Econet has become the first Zimbabwean mobile operator to provide prepaid roaming services. ECONET, the country's mobile giant has sealed roaming agreements with four regional mobile operators for its prepaid package Buddie, to extend the service to non-subscribers using pre-paid lines.The international roaming service allows Econet prepaid customers to use their lines in neighbouring countries, a service which had been previously available for contract customers only.
* Following an appeal by mobile network operator Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (MobiNil) against a September 2008 regulatory decision to lower interconnection rates, a Cairo court has overturned the original ruling, The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) had originally said that the fee which Telecom Egypt (TE) paid to connect fixed line calls to mobile phones must be lowered, after the fixed line incumbent complained that the rates at the time were making it less competitive.
However, the latest ruling by the Administrative Court at the State Council has effectively nullified the lower fee, prompting the NTRA to say that it would not take any action until it had studied the details of the court’s decision in more detail.MobiNil drop its interconnection rates to below EGP0.15 (USD0.03) for termination on MobiNil’s network, and EGP0.10 to terminate on the fixed line network. MobiNil for its part claimed that it was willing to accept reductions in the interconnection rates, but only as part of a package including measures in the leased line sector, which the cellco argued was priced higher than its international counterparts.
* Zain Africa has expanded its borderless platform to South Africa in a partnership with Cell C, one of operators in the country. In South Africa, customers would be able to make calls, send text messages and access the Internet at local rates of the visited country and to receive incoming calls at a minimal charge.There is no need for customers to pre-register, no roaming deposits, and no complicated dialling formats.
* Intelsat will be providing global transmission services of the World Cup in South Africa. Intelsat will use its terrestrial platform, IntelsatONESM, to complement the distribution capabilities of its fleet.
Nine Intelsat satellites will provide more than 900MHz of capacity specifically for Occasional Use Services to transmit the World Cup matches. The satellites include: Intelsat 907, located at 332.5°E; Intelsat 11, located at 317°E; Intelsat 12, located at 45ºE; Intelsat 10 located at 68.5°E; Intelsat 702 located at 66°E; Intelsat 904 located at 60°E; and the Intelsat 10-02 located at 1°W. In addition, Intelsat relocated its Intelsat 709 and Intelsat 705 satellites to 55°E and 330.5ºE, respectively, specifically to meet the capacity demand for broadcast services of the event.
*With the World Cup in mind, du is offering those travelling to watch the games in South Africa a 50 per cent cut in roaming rates for the UAE on calls, SMS and mobile internet.
*NetOne Zimbabwe expects to reach 2 million subscriber base at the end of this year.
* MTN has announced the availability of “Find and Follow SA” for BlackBerry smartphones, a new application that lets MTN BlackBerry subscribers find local information and stay in touch with the latest football news and events across South Africa. This local search application makes it simple for MTN subscribers who use a BlackBerry smartphone to stay on top of the latest scores, news, and schedules, as well as make informed choices about the hotel, restaurants, transport and other services during the months of June and July.
*In a press statement, Bharti has announced that the long-standing disputes with the Otudeko family in Nigeria have been resolved. Mr Otudeko will also be appointed as the Chairman of our company in Nigeria.
*Telkom is facing a leadership crisis following the departure of four executives last month and the announcement on Friday that CEO Reuben September is going on forced retirement when his contract expires in November
*The future of Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) councillor William Stucke is hanging in the balance after two legal opinions found that his appointment as a councillor of the telecoms and broadcasting regulator was invalid. Section 6 of the Icasa Act says a person who has financial interests in the communications sector may not be appointed as councillor.
* Attachmate and NetIQ announce the appointment of Michel van der Laan (45) as Senior Director EMEA. In his new role, Van der Laan will be responsible for all sales and marketing activities for the software company NetIQ business in EMEA.
WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA COM
16-17 June 2010, Le Meridien, Dakar, Senegal
Following 2 incredible years in Nigeria, West & Central Africa's ONLY dedicated event telco returns to Senegal.
Join 700+ decision makers and a panel of 50+ visionary speakers including 25 CEO level operators for a pre-event seminar on Fibre Optics, a 2 day strategic conference and 50+ stand exhibition.
Gain all the contacts, insights and ideas you will need for your operations in the region.
For further information visit Informa's website (http://wcafrica.comworldseries.com/)
COMMON RESPONSES TO A GLOBAL CHALLENGE
17-18 June 2010, BIS Conference Centre, London, UK
With the critical information infrastructure of Estonia coming under attack in 2007, the focus of Cyber security was elevated from an individual perspective to a National perspective. Importantly this incident highlighted the need for developing countries to implement robust and effective Cybersecurity frameworks, without which the entire Cyber World will be at risk.
Continuing with the work carried out by the Global ICT stakeholder community, most notably ICANN and ITU, the CTO’s Cybersecurity Conference aims to:
- Create awareness of the many facets of cyber threats and alert stakeholders of the need to adopt robust Cybersecurity frameworks
- Build capacity of the key decision makers in developing countries to implement strategies aimed at preventing and responding to the growing menace of Cyber threats
Provide the key decision makers with the means to adopt resilient technical measures, establish appropriate organisational structures and create robust legal/regulatory frameworks
- Promote international cooperation in Cybersecurity to help developing countries to leverage the strengths of developed countries
- Broker partnerships between the different players in Cybersecurity to facilitate the flow of information, expertise and resources
For further information visit the CTO's website (http://www.events.cto.int/CyberSecurity2010)
CAPACITY AFRICA 2010
21-22 October 2010, Nairobi, Kenya
The most comprehensive African wholesale telecoms conference bringing together local and regional fixed-line and mobile operators from across the continent
For further information visit Capacity Media's website (http://www.capacitymedia.com/conferences-events.asp?id=66&cat=&subcat=&s...)
Job Title: CISCO Voice Engineer
Job ID: 999971
• Our client is a Cisco Systems Technology Development Partner offering advanced software solutions for the fast-growth IP communications market.
• They focus on delivering configuration and service management solutions to the Voice over IP (VoIP) sector, with systems designed for both the Hosted/Managed VoIP and Enterprise VoIP markets.
Purpose of Position:
• Provide on-site engineering support, deployment and trouble resolution for our customers.
• We are looking to hire a mid-level network engineer with suitable Cisco VOIP experience to take on a supporting role and to work closely with the Senior IP Telephony engineers.
• This role will be client facing with an opportunity to work from home.
• Extensive travel should be expected (a passport is required). You will have an opportunity to work with specialized IP telephony equipment and grow into more senior level roles
• Supported Customer(s): IP Telephony customers, Cisco Account teams, Internal and Partner Account/Product Teams
Essential Duties of Position:
• 20% – Performance management for customer supported IPT systems. Ensure that new IPT implementations and current systems perform to customer expectations, contractual commitments and industry performance standards.
• 30% – Provide second level support for problem diagnosis and resolution. Work closely with 3rd party and client operational support staff, project groups, engineering, sales teams, and program managers to ensure proposed and implemented solutions meet customer requirements and are operated in such a manner to meet the agreed level of service.
• 10% – Customer technical liaison for deployed systems.
• 10% – Develop, document, and maintain IPT operational standards
• 10% – Work with Project Managers and 3rd party support personal to develop, document, and manage IPT change management processes.
• 5% – Implement minor system upgrades and modifications.
• 5% – Work collaboratively with engineering on expansions to operational systems.
• 5% – Research and deploy fixes/patches.
• 5% – Work collaboratively with other internal departments to develop product roadmaps.
Minimum Education requirements:
• BSc in Engineering, Computer Science or applicable field required: applicable experience may substitute for educational requirements.
• CCVP, CCNP, CCDA, CCNA, IP Communications, IP Contact Center
• A minimum of 4 to 7 years operating, maintaining and/or troubleshooting Cisco IP Telephony networks employing relevant technology.
• Minimum 2 years experience providing second or third level support.
• Extensive knowledge with Cisco routers and switches.
Must be proficient with:
o Cisco Call Manager versions 5.x+
o Cisco Routers and Switches
o Networking, TCP/IP
o Routing Protocols
Knowledge, Skills & Abilities
• Demonstrated experience in operation, maintenance and implementation of complex voice and data networks with an in-depth knowledge of transport systems; and demonstrated expertise and experience in voice and data communications equipment such as routers, switches, hubs, CSU/DSU, and modems.
• Must have experience in designing, troubleshooting and operating Cisco UCS systems, working large VOIP implementations (>500 phones). Cisco router, switch, Call Manager is also required.
• Candidates must understand the Cisco UCS suite. Strong Knowledge of Cisco Call Manager is a must. Knowledge of other UCS products such as Cisco Unity, Meeting Place, Emergency Responder, etc is desirable. The ability to bring up VOIP and Data at new locations under tight deadlines is required, along with working under limited supervision.
• Candidates should be familiar with the architecture and implementation of modern TCP/IP networks with knowledge of IP routing and routed protocols, IP traffic
• Experience in planning, design, implementation, and operation of QoS in Cisco powered networks would be advantageous. PBX/LEC central office DMS/lucent 5E, Mitel, Nortel, and other traditional legacy telephony experience a plus.
• Must have highly developed written and verbal communication and interpersonal skills as this is a client facing role.
Driving Requirements: Must hold current valid drivers license and passport.
Please send your cv to Tracy@parvana.co.uk
*Vodacom and Openwave Integra – South Africa
Openwave Systems, a global software provider delivering context-aware mediation and messaging solutions, today announced that Vodacom, SA's leading mobile operator, has selected Openwave Integra Service Management Platform, a next-generation traffic mediation and policy management solution, designed to allow Vodacom to effectively manage, monitor and monetise mobile traffic.
* The Ministry of Industry and Technology and technical centers – Tunisia
The Ministry of Industry and Technology and various sectoral technical centers signed a contract for a two year period (2010-2012) to promote their performance in providing them with technical assistance and in setting up quality training systems.
Among the objectives of these contracts is the development of management systems within the technical centers by identifying their future strategies for the management of human resources and funds for investment, as well as the evaluation of results recorded and the establishment of monitoring mechanisms.