Issue no 511 2nd July 2010
The EASSy cable connecting the east coat seaboard is currently in its testing phase and will go live some time around the middle of this month. Its WIOCC shareholder consortium has always promised lower rates and better transit prices and these are on their way. But the new landing stations have energised backbone roll-out, particularly in Tanzania. All of this will leave satellite as a niche transport application in the key East African markets. Russell Southwood looks at the heady pace of change.
WIOCC has already sold somewhere between 7-8 Gbps of capacity and it has been selling at lower prices than previous cables into the market. Chris Wood, CEO of WIOC told us:”We’ve been selling an STM1 IRU for between US$2.3-2.4 million up to London compared with US$3.2-3.3 million from Seacom. Therefore the impact of EASSy will filter through over the coming period.”
“The types of volumes people talk about has gone up rapidly from 18 months ago. There has been a faster take-up of broadband, mobile Internet and data. A lot of companies have now got dedicated teams selling broadband and they’re also talking to the smaller ISPs.” The only obstacle appears to be something regulators need to sort out:”WiMAX spectrum could be a limiting factor.”
The arrival of EASSy is providing further impetus to the roll-out of inter-country and national fibre networks. The East African Backbone System ring (Mombasa-Nairobi-Kampala-Kigali-Bujumbura-Dar-es-Salaam-Mombasa) is under development. The final pieces in the jigsaw are the link to Bujumbura and the link from there to Dar: both will be complete by the end of 2010.
The biggest new advance at a national level is the Tanzanian national backbone which is being built with largely Chinese loan finance and the first part of the first phase has just been completed and the whole of the first phase will be completed by August 2010 Phase 2 will be completed in 12 months time and will give connections to six neighbouring countries. According to the team:”In the near future, small places like Kigoma on the border of Rwanda and Burundi will be connected.” 24 cores for part of the network came from the power utility TANESCO.
The network will cost US$200 million, US$170 million of which will come from a Chinese loan and US$30 million of which will come from the Government. It offers 4 channels of 10 Gbps each on most parts of the network but slightly lower on some of the cross-border links. It will offer customers service level agreements and anticipates offering 99.999% network availability. There will be NOCs in Dar es Salaam and Dodoma. Prices for capacity have been publicly advertised in the local press and the rate structure is a mixture of distance and link-based.
In governance terms, key management staff have been transferred to a separate unit (called the National ICT Backbone) within the Government-owned incumbent TTCL. However, the operating staff of the network will be TTCL’s own engineering staff. In management terms, the National ICT Backbone team are answerable to the Chief Executive Officer of TTCL. Other operators wanted a completely separate entity but the incumbent is financially in such a bad way that the Government chose to leave it with TTCL.
The minimum capacity level being sold is an STM1 and these will be sold to the existing four mobile operators (Tigo, Vodacom, Zain and Zantel) and TTCL itself. The rationale is that the larger operators will resell to the smaller operators. Demand so far has been for 12 STM1s. The overall Government objective is to create a low enough price for connectivity to enable the e-society that forms the backbone of its ICT strategy.
All of this is not good news for those selling satellite capacity. Out of the five markets in East Africa (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda), the three big ones (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) have two links to the landing station (giving a fibre choice redundancy) and are rapidly being covered by extensive national fibre backbones. Both Burundi and Rwanda are also being covered by national fibre backbones linking all major towns and cities.
The shape of the change is best illustrated by taking the example of the distribution of VSAT sites from an existing satellite reseller in Tanzania. 60% of its current sites are in Dar es Salaam, 30% are in towns and cities outside Dar and 10% in remote locations. On the basis of the map of the national fibre backbone, this operator will be reduced to the 10% of sites in remote locations. There may be some additional sites but generally the picture is not promising. WIOCC’s CEO warns:”You can’t back up with satellite redundancy. Operators are realising the need for fibre redundancy.”
Another satellite reseller in Tanzania gave his rather bleak assessment:”A lot of smaller players in the satellite market will go out of business. Capital is needed to invest in WiMAX and most don’t have those kinds of resources.”
“Satellite will always be there for the odd corner you can’t get to. We’re looking at those corners. There are a lot of district level, rural areas with companies in agriculture and mining. Some sections of the country in the North and Central area. The tourism industry depends on lodges that need connectivity.”
His experience of selling redundant capacity does not bear out the judgement of WIOCC’s Wood but this may just be a matter of timing:”Operators do not want to rely 100% on fibre. So they are taking one fifth to one sixth of their requirements for redundancy.” He believes that demand for satellite will fall dramatically by the end of this year or early next year.
The thing that is puzzling the resellers is why prices have not come down yet. All the evidence we have gathered shows major operators getting out of satellite as fast as their feet and contract limits will let them. So there should be surplus capacity in the market. Yet satellite operators and larger resellers are still holding prices up:”The satellite guys are not helping by keeping prices high and have a “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude. All our customers are expecting lower prices and higher bandwidth.”
22 Mozambican and foreign companies have acquired contract documents for the tender of the country’s third mobile telephone licence, the director-general of Mozambique's National Communications Institute (INCM) has announced. A year ago, the government approved the introduction of a third wireless operator to ‘meet demand’. The government now has 60 days to evaluate the proposals and select a winning bid. The successful applicant will be permitted to launch operations within 30 days of licensing, with an obligation to enter the market within a year.
Under the terms of the tender, the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications (MTT) has set a USD25 million minimum bid for the 15-year licence. The regulations also require bidders to operate one or more networks with at least two million customers and to have a local partner. The government has said it will place more value on a bidder’s technical proposal, than its financial one.
Mozambique is home to two wireless network operators: Mcel with an estimated 3.8 million customers at the end of 2009 and Vodacom with 1.63 million at the same date. Wireless penetration stood at 23.8% in March 2010, leaving plenty of room for growth.
iBurst Business lost most of its staff earlier this year when there was a mass exodus as they joined the newly formed Blue Label Communications and moved into the Blue Label Telecoms offices. It is understood that Blue Label Telecoms had plans to invest in Blue Label Communications and take a 70% shareholding in the company.
Former iBurst Business CEO Steve Briggs, who was heading up Blue Label Communications, said that they have been involved in ongoing discussions with potential shareholders from the get go and could now confirm that Blue Label Telecoms would not be involved in their venture any longer.
Briggs however announced that they have secured an investor for their business, adding that the company’s new name and shareholding will be revealed after all the agreements are signed. Briggs said that the new company and its 21 staff will move out of the Blue Label Telecoms offices into their own premises in due course.
Despite the fact that ‘Blue Label Communications’ had a rocky start the company has already signed up numerous clients, and Briggs said that the future looks bright for the company.
Briggs added that while they will continue to make use of iBurst Business’ telecoms offerings, they are a technology agnostic company and will utilize services from a variety of providers to best serve their customers’ needs.
Kenyan mobile operator Zain Kenya has been awarded a 3G licence by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) for a fee of KES815 million (USD10 million). The CCK cut the price from USD25 million earlier this month in order to boost competition. Zain and rival cellco Orange had sought the reduction for some time.
CCK managing director Charles Njoroge said that the purchase of the 3G concession by Zain would ‘increase competition in the telephony industry, and ultimately benefit the consumers’. Back in 2007 Vodafone associate and Kenya’s largest wireless operator by subscribers Safaricom paid USD25 million for the country’s first 3G licence. Safaricom is now planning to seek a partial refund in the wake of the CCK’s decision.
Cell C has asked the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to compel rivals MTN and Vodacom to pay a higher interconnection rate to small operators like itself to help them grow their businesses. Cell C has proposed that smaller companies pay 65c to operators that the regulator has declared to have significant market power, while companies such as MTN and Vodacom pay smaller operators 75c. These are referred to as asymmetric mobile termination rates.
Asymmetry is when companies pay mobile termination rates in proportion to their market size. The mobile termination or interconnection rate is the fee that operators pay each other to carry calls onto their networks.
Icasa has proposed a flat rate of 65c from 89c. The rate is expected to be reduced to 50c next year, and to 40c in 2012.
Lars Reichelt, the CEO of Cell C, said last week during the hearings on the proposed interconnection rates, "asymmetry is an effective mechanism to increase the level of competition".
Cell C, which was also declared to have significant market power by Icasa, has for years been asking for regulatory remedies that would boost its ability to compete with MTN and Vodacom. Reichelt said Icasa must take into account that Cell C cannot exercise market power since it was a small player in the market. Cell C said in its written submission that asymmetric mobile termination rates, implemented for an interim period, would promote long-term competition in the mobile market as this would enable the company to grow its market share and become a more effective competitor.
Bharti will MTN Uganda’s market share as it has the largest subscriber base, estimated at 5.6 million, while Zain, is the second largest operator with an estimated two million subscribers. Its strategy has been to sharply discount on calling rates and improve network quality. Financial muscle is likely to be a major factor as Bharti attempts to grab first place from MTN. It also announced that about 40 new staff will be brought to staff the Bharti Africa operations while 30 people from the company's Africa operations will be taken to India. The company will drive the teledensity from 30% to over 60%. MTN revenues have increased by 140 per cent, Bharti by 120 per cent, over a three-year period reviewed.
* Rwandatel is now set to unveil its 'Mobile Money' service, partnering with the Bank of Kigali (BK) as the receiving bank.The 'mobile money' service enables one to make a financial transaction using a mobile phone or any mobile device with SIM card technology.
* Vodacom pleaded with the telecoms regulator to delay the second round of interconnection rate cuts, saying if the new rate was introduced next month it would "devastate" the industry. In April, Icasa proposed an interconnection rate, the fees mobile operators charge each other to carry calls on to their networks, of 65c a minute in peak and off-peak periods from July 1. This was to be followed by 50c in July next year and 40c in 2012, in a process called a "glide path".That announcement came a month after MTN, Vodacom and Cell C cut the rate from R1,25 to 89c, instead of the government's required 60c, after a compromise agreement with Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda.
Mobile provider Safaricom has set its sights on buying two more data firms by end of the year. They will bring to four the number of acquisitions by the telco in the recent past as it seeks to entrench itself in the data market.
Chief executive Michael Joseph on Thursday said the board of directors had approved the buyout of IGO Wireless Limited and Instaconnect Limited. The intended acquisitions are subject to shareholder and statutory approvals, said Joseph. Data penetration level standing at 10 per cent indicates the segment is yet to be fully tapped.
In its last financial report, Safaricom said data business contributed Sh2.98 billion up from Sh1.5 billion, representing 3.6 per cent of its total revenue. Safaricom acquired One Communications and Packet Stream to give it a piece of the lucrative segment while AccessKenya bought Open View and Satori Solutions.
These buyouts have not only given the firm the better option of starting from scratch, but have emerged as a threat to rivals, notably the Internet service providers. An acquisition removes the headache of hiring local staff and fighting for market share.
The government has moved to tighten grip on the multi-million shilling telecoms deals with the rollout of new regulations requiring owners of ICT firms to get approval for any planned share sale.
Investors seeking to buy or sell shares in a telecoms firm now have to seek the Communications Commission of Kenya's (CCK) green light in a move aimed at ridding the industry of speculators bent on buying companies with the aim of reselling at a premium.
"A licensee shall require prior written consent of the Commission, which shall notify the applicant of its acceptance or refusal within 30 days of receipt of the request," says the legal notice on the new guidelines. CCK can agree to or veto a buyout deal exceeding 15 per cent, according to the regulations published on May 28.
IGO Wireless is a public data network firm operating fixed wireless data services while Instaconnect is in data integration .
The Cable Consortium of Liberia (CCL), which is a public-private partnership comprised of Lonestar, Libtelco and Cellcom, will form the management team for the submarine cable in Liberia.
Individual investments in the project include 8.3 million by Lonestar, constituting 33%, 5 million by Libtelco, constituting 20%, and 2.5 million by Cellcom, amounting to 10%. Through a grant from the World Bank, the Government of Liberia will finance the remaining 37% through the Ministry of Finance.
The Chairperson of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) Angelique Weeks has been appointed as Vice Chairperson of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) Consortium Management Committee.
The appointment was endorsed on June 7, 2010 by the ACE Consortium at its first Management Committee meeting held following the signing of a 700 million United States dollars agreement for the construction and maintenance of a 17,000 KM long fiber optic submarine cable along the West coast of Africa extending from France to South Africa. The 17,000 km-long submarine fiber optic cable will provide broadband connectivity to 23 African countries, including Liberia during the first half of 2012.
Main One Cable Company has announced the launch of its high capacity fibre-optic cable system, which links West Africa to Europe, on time and within budget. The cable spans 7,000km and has landing stations in Nigeria and Ghana with branching units in Morocco, Canary Islands, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire. Main One said the cable system will deliver 1.92Tbps of much-needed international capacity into West Africa, more than ten times what is currently available; in the past rapid growth in telecoms in the region has been blighted by limited global connectivity.
‘Today is a historic day for West Africa. The arrival of the Main One cable proves that much good can be done by Africans for Africans. We are pleased to realise the fruit of our dedication and commitment in the past 30 months,’ noted Fola Adeola, chairman of Main One Cable Company, adding: ‘More importantly, we are happy to be a channel for driving growth in Africa and changing the status quo for the average African as reliable internet connectivity becomes easily accessible and affordable for all.’ Wholly African-owned, the Main One cable is the first privately-owned submarine cable system in West Africa.
*Windhoek — Namibia's largest mobile operator, MTC has described its latest mobile internet provider, Netman as the fastest, most reliable and affordable internet provider in the country.It is powered by MTC and relies on a stable network with recent technology upgrades and provides internet speed up to 7.2 Mbps was launched late this week.
* Econet Wireless is this year's winner of the prestigious Zimbabwe Independent and BancABC's Quoted Companies Survey.
* Kampala — Nokia has rolled out a platform that allows developers of data to sell it easily to its intended users worldwide. Ugandan bloggers, online publishers and website developers can use Nokia's Ovi Store to sell their graphics, music, movies, ring tones, text, software, digital assets and document formats.
The World Food Programme (WFP) Friday donated computers and accessories to the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) at a handing over ceremony held at the Office of the Vice President at State House in Banjul.
The donated items, which include 8-Dell desktop computers, 7HP desktop LaserJet printers, 2HP scanjet scanners and 42-Tapaulins, are earmarked for the NDMA in case of disasters. They came at a time when the agency is getting prepared for any emergency cases during this year's rainy season.
Speaking at the ceremony, Essa Khan, the executive director of (NDMA) acknowledged that the WFP has been assisting his agency significantly especially in response to government's request to support and assist those affected during the 2009 flood disasters.
"WFP provided assistance through the United Nations Emergency Relief Fund with an amount of US$500,000 to provide food assistance to those in need as a result of the 2009 floods. These were targeted to families for a period of three months and the WFP worked with the NDMA to distribute these food items," he said.
He reminded the gathering that during that period, his agency was just beginning and they had the opportunity to test the regional structures that were already in place.He explained that at the end of the day, the overall distribution was successful, pointing out that the WFP and his agency since then came together to look at the lessons learnt during the distribution process."During that period we came up with significant recommendations and one such recommendation was how to improve the capabilities of our regional structures in terms of data collections and assessment," he disclosed, while emphasising that equipment was also mentioned as a key challenge and that today WFP has responded to that recommendation.
Khan described the donation as timely as it will enhance the work of their regional coordinators in collecting data and analysis for submission to the agency on time.He stressed that during the government retreat which was held in Kanilai, the Gambian leader clearly emphasised that data collection is a major concern for government while commending the WFP and other UN agencies for their gesture.For his part, Malcolm Robert Duthie, the WFP representative in The Gambia, gave a brief overview of the projects undertaken by the WFP in response to emergency relief efforts.
According to him, one of WFP's primary objectives globally is to help in strengthening governments and communities' capacities to address climate change, climate issues as well as prepare countries on how to effectively tackle these issues.
He emphasised that WFP is a UN humanitarian agency, whose primary mandate is to work with governments when it comes to responding to immediate needs in countries and that about 60% of their resources globally are given to emergency responses. "That is the nature of the work that we are doing at the moment and we have built up for many years now with quite a lot of experience and expertise in responding to these types of activities," he said, while stressing that they are also concerned about how to avoid such problems in the near future.
The WFP representative told officials that his agency made a very big effort to ensure that their staff works with the staff of the NDMA, especially during last year's flood disaster food distribution exercise, which he described as a very good partnership."We have also made a big effort during the exercise to look at where we could improve and I think we are using those lessons learnt from that exercise to even prepare for this year's rainy season. So it has been a very good partnership and one of our mandates globally is to work with governments as well as to support the people of those countries," he added.
He highlighted that another of his agency's objectives now is to see what they can do about building up resilience's of communities and countries to address these problems as they come, citing the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti, among a host of others as example.For her part, the vice president, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, said the WFP has made great strides in this country and has complemented the efforts of the government in many areas, not just in the field of providing assistance during emergencies but even when the emergences have not happened.She hailed the WFP for expanding its school feeding programme in the country particularly to schools in the Greater Banjul Area, as well as other areas in the rural communities under government's request.
The man behind PesaPay, an online payment tool and founder of Verviant Consulting Services Agosta Liko, has unveiled a new platform that will ease payment of school fees.
The innovation known as SchoolPay was launched at the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association meeting in Mombasa on Wednesday. It is meant to enable institutions request and manage mobile payments from parents electronically.
Schools will be able to receive and track Zap, YuCash, M-Pesa and credit card payments for fees and special activities such as trips, activity fees, fund raisers and other impromptu events through the system. At the launch, more than 90 schools signed up to offer the service to their parents starting next term.
This is up from three schools that piloted the system designed to handle over 50,000 schools Second Term. "Our approach is to enable any Kenyan with a mobile money product to pay online safely. We are in discussions with banks to enable them to allow their customers to pay online using bank products such as Hello Money and Bankika," said Mr Liko.
He said that parents whose schools accept SchoolPay will save up to 80 per cent of the current costs associated with paying school fees. This will also enable those who are abroad to pay fees using Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
SchoolPay uses PesaPal technology to track school fees payments from mobile money, PesaPoint or credit cards. "We are giving schools one free term and then we will charge Sh10,000 per term," Mr Liko says.
Last year, Mr Liko launched PesaPal, which allows people to make payments online. Besides it, other forms of payments include MobiPay, JamboPay and iPay.
Nigerian leading local software application makers, Connect Technologies Limited has released into the Nigerian IT market an e-Lawyer application software solution.
The solution, according to the Managing Director of Connect Technologies Limited, Yinka Tanimowo, the software was designed to automate proceedings from law offices to court provides for the effective electronic organization, administration and management of all core centres of vital information flow (internally and externally) related to the operations of law offices nationwide court proceedings and activities.
Developed under exclusive professional guidance and consistent with best practice principle ,he said that the solution has attained the global required standard and quality.
"e-Lawyer is designed, developed and managed by Connect Technologies Limited and has been under construction and peer review testing for the past 18 months, making it perhaps the most expansive well tested solution for Law Offices in Nigeria today, with well organized database and search engines' he said.
Benefits of our e-Lawyer to customers, according to him will include treatment of individual Clients, Case Management, Registry, Archives, among others.
The e-Lawyer, according to him also helps:
* Automate and optimize their internal business processes--in areas such as Client records, Case Management, Accounts, Registry, Archives, Cause List, and human resource
* Establish a reliable Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence operation - and,
* Free them from some of the minutia found in day to-day operations.
It is pertinent at this point to emphasize that the e-Lawyer Application Software is ready for installation, customization and full implementation. Furthermore, it can be interfaced with the existing Database of your Personnel/Staff Records and accounting Application.
*Gamtel last week donated a desktop computer and an HP laserjet printer to Gamtel Ward at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH).
*Kigali — Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), will receive science equipment from The University of Kaiserslautern (TU-KL), Germany to help the institute improve its science research.
* Rwanda’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education has hailed technical schools in the Southern province, for producing quality graduates who can favourably compete in the East African Community (EAC) labour market. Sharon Haba made the remarks, last Friday, while officiating at a graduation ceremony for over 2,000 students who completed training in various technical skills in the province.
The World Bank last week approved financing in the amount of US$44.7 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to the Government of Ghana as additional funding for the ongoing eGhana Project. The original eGhana Project of US$40 million was approved in 2006 to support the Ghana Information Communication Technology (ICT) for Accelerated Development Program.
The overall objective of the eGhana Project is to assist the Government of Ghana to generate growth and employment by leveraging ICT for growth and development. The Project consists of three main components which seek to: (i) create the enabling environment necessary for the growth of the sector; (ii) support local ICT Businesses and IT enabled services (ITES); and (iii) promote e-Government applications and Government Communications.
The proposal for additional financing is in response to the Government of Ghanas request to bring revenue and expenditure management agencies under a uniform ICT platform, and create an enhanced project impact through inclusion of scaled-up activities for more effective, transparent and accountable government. Additional resources will also go towards the establishment of a Business Process Offshoring Center to position Ghana as a destination of choice for IT business.
The eGhana Project has, therefore, been expanded to include a fourth component that aims to support: (a) the establishment and use of GIFMIS-based Public Financial Management functionality at Government of Ghana treasuries; (b) improved macro-fiscal discipline and management; (c) improved MDA and sectoral management; (d) improved financial management, control and efficiency across government; (e) Development of BPO Center; and (f) Strategic Innovation Centers to scale up diffusion of ICT in underserved areas.
This additional financing brings in positive synergistic advantages in Ghana, arising from the introduction of an electronic platform for the Ghana Revenue Authority as part of the overall public revenue and expenditure management system in Ghana, says Ishac Diwan, the World Bank Country Director for Ghana. It also ensures that access to electronic services can be decentralized at the District Levels, and that Ghana truly becomes a destination of choice for business.
This additional funding extends the original timeline by two years, and will end on June 30, 2014. It involves co-financing arrangements with DFID and the European Union in respect of the fourth component of Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS).
India’s Bharti Airtel has revealed it expects to invest around USD150 million in Zambia, with the bulk of the funds being put towards enhancing both 2G and 3G coverage across the country. According to the Lusaka Times, Bharti, which earlier this month finalised its USD10.7 billion deal to acquire the majority of Kuwait-based Zain’s African operations, has said that the investment will be made over a two- to three-year period. In addition, Manoj Kohli, Bharti Airtel International’s CEO, said that the company would look to make 3G services more affordable through measures such as tariff reduction, with such price changes likely to be introduced in the next six months.
Zain Zambia, which will eventually be rebranded with the Airtel moniker, is the country’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers. At end-March 2010 the cellco had a subscriber base of 3.12 million, representing a market share of 68.8%.
A stand-off between the Kenyan government and France Telekom - its fellow shareholder in Telkom Kenya - has been resolved after three months of disputes, reports the East African newspaper. France Telecom, which purchased 51% of the previously state-owned Telkom Kenya for USD390 million back in November 2007, threatened to withdraw its investment after a failure to trace certain assets that were in the books at the time of purchase.
A joint statement from Treasury Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua and Michel Barre of France Telecom read: ‘The Government of Kenya and Orange East Africa SA, a subsidiary of France Telecom SA, are pleased to announce that they have resolved the outstanding shareholder issues regarding the privatisation of Telkom Kenya in December 2007’.
The shareholders said they will now focus on enhancing their partnership, in order to make the company a world-class player for the benefit of its customers and other stakeholders. The statement added: ‘France Telecom Group further confirms its commitment to Kenya as a long-term strategic investor through its participation in Telkom Kenya, which it continues to support through its global ‘Orange’ brand. The Group will continue to provide strategic and technical expertise in order to transform the company and develop innovative products and services’.
* Rwandatel will invest Rwf900 million in developing the ‘Mobile Money’ service .
Libya African Investments Portfolio (LAP), the investment arm of the Libyan Government which owns 80 percent of Rwandatel is set to invest $94 million (Rwf53.6 billion) this year. It will also invest Rwf900 million in developing the ‘Mobile Money’service .
* Kampala - Bharti Airtel Chief Executive Officer (International) and joint Managing Director Manoj Kohli's announcement in Kampala last week that the company intends to invest US$100 million in network expansion and technology is likely to spark renewed price wars.
Lagos — Nigeria leading software house, SystemSpecs Limited, has introduced Remita electronic payment (e-payment) solution to Pension Fund Administrators (PFA) and Pension Fund Custodians (PFC).
Addressing more than 100 pension-related professionals during a Remita workshop held in Lagos last week, the chief executive officer, SystemSpecs, Mr. John Obaro said the core objective was to introduce the Remita Pension e-payment to stakeholders in pension business.
He also said that it afforded participant the opportunity to go through the process of downloading pension schedules and making retirees' pension payments more effective.
He explained that Remita Pension, is a world class electronic courier service that rides on ePayment platforms to deliver funds to bank accounts and associated schedules to relevant bodies in pre-specified formats.
"It is a one-stop solution that enables organisations, PFAs and PFCs to manage pension contribution remittances, pension benefits processing and payment to retirees," he said.
According to him, the key functionality of Remita Pension contribution allows organisations to make their pension contributions to PFAs/PFCs with matching schedules delivered to these bodies.
On the retiree pensions' payment module, Mr. Obaro said that Remita facilitates PFA and PFC payment to retiree pensioners and their pension benefits.
He said participants in the transaction processing on Remita Pension include employer and the pension managers.
"Employers are the transaction initiators who lead processes and authorize the collation of information of all beneficiaries and also payment transactions. As part of the workflow process, the transaction initiator starts the e-payment process," he declared.
Obaro pointed out that the first level of approval is not only crucial but where the initiated transaction is confirmed through defined approval groups, saying, the final approval stage is the point where all confirmation had been done and the transaction is set for payment.
"Our solution does not allow one user to play more than one role with respect to the processing of any single transaction. The system requires the Personal Identification Number (PIN) and biometric approval before payment is executed," he said.
The SystemSpecs boss equally said that payment execution is effected by the final approver who sends instruction to funding or paying banks to pay into PFC's account.
"Based on the advice received by pension managers, Remita Pension alerts PFC officers that their account has been funded. "The PFA and PFC can log in to Remita Pension to download the associated schedule," he asserted.
He listed some of the features of Remita Pension include the offer of multi-platform, multi-bank debit, multi-party schedule delivery, seamless integration, status of transactions at all times, comprehensive reports, security and control.
In addition, he said that Remita Pension provides detail description of activities of all logged users, just as the report is available to responsible officers in any organisation, including categorization of approvals by amount limits.
Similar to other major towns in Tunisia, the Kairouan Regional Transportation Company has started outfitting its bus fleet with the latest cutting edge global satellite positioning (GSP) system. This system will allow more efficient exploitation of its 120 buses.
The company also digitized electronic passenger information and it is currently working to develop its electronic site to allow its customers to benefit remotely from its services. The implementation of this system is in line with the country's national upgrading program and aims at improving public transport.
*Lagos — Globacom has reaffirmed its leadership in the Blackberry market with the introduction of BlackBerry U, a new package that offers the lowest and uniform tariff structure for Prepaid BlackBerry users on the network.
With the new package, On-net and Off-net calls for users of BlackBerry U now come at a uniform rate of N25 per minute for calls as against the current Classic Plus On-net rate of N28.8 per minute and Off-net rate of N42 per minute.
* Pretoria — Data calls could be reduced by 2.1 percent if Telkom's tariff adjustments are approved by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).
* Nairobi — Mobile phone users will by December this year be able to switch networks without losing their favourite numbers, following the awarding of a license to the firm that will link operators.
*Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda last week announced that Stephen Mncube will be the new Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Chairman, taking over from Paris Mashile whose term expired today.
* Telkom’s spin doctor Ajith Bridgraj has announced his departure from the fixed line provider last week.
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
CAPACITY AFRICA 2010
21-22 September 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
Head of Product Architecture S1 Cape Town
As Head of Product Architecture Team, the incumbent is responsible for the global product architecture of S1’s Payment products and their associated roadmap. Working closely with the Head of Product Engineering, representatives of the regional business units and the Global Product Management function, the incumbent will provide strategic leadership to the evolution of our products and all associated best practices.
Qualification and Experience
An appropriate post-graduate degree (Computer Science or Information Systems) and 10+ years’ relevant experience.
• Day to day management of the Product Architecture team.
• Manage the Product roadmap for S1's Payments and Mobile
products and all product components utilized by the online business units. This is done in close conjunction with the business units and the role therefore requires a good interaction with the business units around the world and an understanding of the key business drivers affecting our products.
• Manage the overall product (business, systems and technology) architecture and all associated standards, policies and procedures. This includes our development and quality management standards, processes and methodologies
• Fulfill the product management function for the core platform and all shared components, including managing the selected vendor relationships
• Represent the Payments’ group on S1 wide product and technology strategic initiatives which are driven by the Group CTO in the USA
• Work very closely with the Product Engineering manager to ensure that the software we build best implements the roadmap and the associated architecture and to ensure that the Product Architecture team adds tangible value to the Product Engineering department.
• Assist in sales and marketing initiatives around the world requiring the presence of the “most senior” payments products’ technology person
• Work closely with the head of our international delivery team and the professional services managers in our various regions to assist in the appropriate application of our product architecture in the context of the customization of our products for clients.
• Assist in the architectural evaluation and integration planning of any Payments or Mobile-related products acquired by virtue of merger and acquisition activities.
• Identify key opportunities to add business value through innovation in our products.
Nikki Blaser on 021 525 5107 or email@example.com
Airtel and Ogilvy Partner - Africa
Lagos — Bharti Airtel Limited ("Airtel") has commissioned Ogilvy Africa BV ("Ogilvy Africa") to provide integrated marketing solutions for its companies across the Africa continent.
This partnership follows the recent completion of Airtel's acquisition of Zain Group's mobile operations in 15 African countries.