Issue no 513 16th July 2010

top story

  • Cloud Computing has been big in Africa for a long time at the consumer level. Think of all those Internet users that use web mail browsers like Yahoo and Hotmail. But now its promoters are seeking to persuade us that it will bring about a fundamental shift for both corporates and consumer users. Forget your desktop PC or your laptop. Just focus on the software and files you need and getting them through Internet access on any machine. Russell Southwood spoke to Microsoft’s Hennie Loubser,  Regional General Manager for West, East, Central Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands about how it sees Cloud Computing developing on the continent.

    The key argument for Cloud Computing in the developed world context is that it enables both the individual and large corporations to pay for both software and hardware in a different way. Instead of buying all that hardware, software and storage with all the security and maintenance that goes with it, you buy a monthly service from a provider and pay the equivalent of a monthly rental for all those things.

    As Hennie Loubser sees it:”Now companies are able to provide data centres at scale which makes it more cost-effective than building it yourself. It’s a great opportunity to reduce the complexity of running these systems plus also the complexity of the security around them. It’s about improvements in productivity and getting new business insights.” According to Gartner, in developed country markets, 20% of organisations may not have an IT infrastructure in three years time.

    Microsoft already runs 23 million Xbox Live accounts and 370 million Hotmail accounts. Using this experience, it’s providing Cloud Computing tools that will allow a range of programmes to run remotely from the server. It has developed a set of productivity solutions including Exchange Mail programmes, instant messaging and VoIP and collaboration solutions like Office Live and SharePoint Online. It also offers SQL Azure for platform storage, management and security in the Cloud. As Loubser sees it:”The aim is to give customers a choice about how they access things.”

    Based on African users being familiar and comfortable with the Hotmail service, Loubser sees the possibility of extending these kind of remote access services to SME companies: This is a massive opportunity to make these services available. You don’t always need a PC. You can use a phone. The challenge for us is how to enable the developer community to see the Cloud as an opportunity and to provide infrastructure to scale to the end user through the SQL Azure programme.”

    It wants to start rolling out these kinds of services in South Africa and strike up partnerships with telcos to provide these services. There are obviously technical constraints like latency so “it’s important to have partners closer to the end user.”

    So how will they provide the level of data centre capacity that they have laid on in other parts of the world?:”We’re partnering with people in the larger economies on the continent: places like Nigeria, Kenya, Angola and then there’s a second tier of economies like Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. This will keep us busy for the next eighteen months. Mobile operators see data services as growing so we have something in common. We both have content and services to promote to the end-user. That’s one scenario we’re ready to go to market with.”

    “We’re talking to those providing data centres, who have storage and management expertise. We’ll bring best practice and help them become our representative in the region. We think it will be a strong value proposition. For example, it can run bank infrastructure. They will then pay for the software and have services delivered through the Cloud. Then they would only pay for what they use. Customers have been asking us for this for a long time.”

    “Somewhere like Angola has big potential but there’s big uncertainty over issues like privacy and data security. So we’re asking what’s the most appropriate model? It may take longer to get there than elsewhere.”

    But what about up-time? The nightmare is being cut off from everything you need because the Internet access has gone down. I’m just back from 4 days in Gambia where the Kairaba Hotel had weak to non-existent bandwidth all week. What guarantees are there about access?:”Good point. No-one can offer guarantees in the foreseeable future. Microsoft data centres in the rest of the world give reliability guarantees.”

    But for Africa, the answer is “one step at time”, a steady build up of services and reliability, starting with things like Instant Messaging in the Cloud. So you would keep the mail server on the premises and make it a staged approach that could be used for learning that would give confidence (to trying) other (Cloud) deployments. It’s a huge opportunity for software developers and some will use our tools to do it.”

    The challenge for making a success of Cloud Computing in Africa is three-fold. Firstly, African users will need to be convinced that the first generation of services are “nice-to-have” rather than “must-have” so that they can become comfortable with using them and knowing they are available. Microsoft has the tools to make it happen but it’s not quite the same as having the “killer apps”.

    Secondly, there has to be steady and consistent bandwidth, particularly from 3G (and its upward variants) and Wi-Fi wireless access points: the kind of dribbling bandwidth that allows you to do e-mail if you can put up with the long pauses while things upload, will not really fly with these kind of applications. Thirdly, the kind of guarantees that form part of the reality of these services in the developed world need to become the same standard that Africa data centres work to. Without these things in place, the African Cloud will remain largely a space for Hotmail accounts and little more.

telecoms

  • Barely four months after it was awarded an operating licence in Senegal, Globacom has received another license that will enable it to operate in The Gambia. Globacom in a statement made available to ThisDay disclosed that the latest licence approval was presented to the company in Banjul, Gambia, on Monday by the Secretary General of the Government of the country Dr. Njogou Bah.

    Globacom also disclosed that the Gambian licence is the sixth the company has so far won in Africa. It now has operating licenses in Nigeria, Ghana, Benin Republic and Cote d'Ivoire. The company started operations in Nigeria in August, 2003, and in Benin in June 2008. It has also concluded plans to roll out services in Ghana.

    The statement disclosed that the country's Minister of Information, Communication and Technology, Alhaji A. Cham and his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Hon. Momodou Tangara were in attendance at the presentation of the approval.
    The licence will also allow Globacom to land its submarine cable, Glo 1, in the West African country with opportunities to extend the infrastructure to neighbouring countries. It also gives the company the right to carry traffic for major operators, the government and wholesale customers in Gambia.

    This Day
  • Bharti Airtel of India, which recently completed the purchase of the African operations of Kuwait-based Zain Group in a deal valued at USD10.7 billion, could be heading into troubled waters in Tanzania, with the news that the government has an acquisition strategy of its own. Local press suggest that Bharti has put in place a USD11 million bid to acquire the state’s 40% stake in Zain Tanzania, but the government now maintains it will not sell its holding, and will instead look to buy back the majority of the company that it does not currently own. The Tanzanian government claims that the acquisition of the Zain Tanzania operation by Bharti Airtel contradicted the partnership agreement between Zain Tanzania and national fixed line operator Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL). Alongside its stake in Zain Tanzania the Kuwait group owned 35% of TTCL. However, an agreement signed in April 2010 saw Zain agree to sell its TTCL stake back to the government in order for TTCL to be wholly owned by the state. Now, in addition to wanting to reacquire Zain's stake in Zain Tanzania, the Tanzanians want to make TTCL a 100% government-owned firm, hoping the company will be able to compete with private operators in the local market. The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Ramadhan Khijjah, is on record as saying Zain Tanzania’s management did not fully communicate to the relevant government authorities information about the Bharti Airtel deal. Earlier this month and as reported by CommsUpdate, the country's minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Prof Peter Msolla, told the National Assembly that the government was still in talks with Bharti Airtel concerning the sale. In a debate on the country’s budget for the 2010/11 financial year, Msolla said: ‘We met with the company’s officials on 21 June to discuss the sale… We have told them to finalise the evaluation of the assets so that we can determine whether the payment made to us is satisfactory.’ The minister went on to add: ‘Since the government has shares in the company, it is imperative that it be involved in transactions regarding the sale. The shares we hold in the company are assets that ensure our role is not underestimated.’

    Telegeography
  • In less than two years of operation, Etisalat, the last entrant into the Nigerian GSM market has hit the four million subscriber mark, and it is itching to become the mobile market leader in no distant time.

    Chief Commercial Officer of the company, Wael Ammar, gave the hint while launching a repackaged all new Easy Starter into the market. The Easy Starter package is the flagship product of the company designed for the mass of the innovative company's customers. The recharged product includes new features such as 'You & Me,' Bonus on Incoming Calls, Homezone and the Receiver Pays.

    The You & Me allows customers to register a preferred Etisalat number as their 'You & Me' number and enjoy N300 worth of free minutes to the number every week, when they recharge with just N200 per week.
    Click to learn more...

    The Bonus on Incoming Calls feature offers subscribers one free minute for every 3 minutes of calls received from other networks within a month. Homezone comes with instant 20 percent discount in any location the customer chooses, especially locations where they spend most of their time doing businesses, while the Receiver Pays allows the customer to make calls without having credit on the phone. The call recipient pays the bill. Explaining the qualities that have contributed to making the all new easy starter a much better proposition for its subscribers and potential subscribers, Director, Products and Services for Etisalat, Lucas Dada, said a subscriber must recharge at least N200 in a week and get the 10 free 'You & Me' minutes, and that subscribers need to register their 'special' number by simply dialing 233 1 08xxxxxxxxx# (the preferred number) to register for free.

    For the Bonus on Incoming Calls, Dada said the one free minute for every 3 minutes of calls could be accumulated over a period of time within the same month and the 1 minute bonus can be used to call any other network.

    While highlighting the rationale behind the recharged product, the Ammar said that the company constantly seeks new ways to ensure customer satisfaction hence its decision to review the product and load it with even more unique offerings all for the benefit of its teeming customers. "We constantly review our products with a commitment to always raise the bar in our customers' satisfaction. We are confident that the all new Easy Starter will surpass the expectation of our customers", Ammar explained.

  • South African mobile operator Cell C is preparing to conclude the sale of its 50% stake in Virgin Mobile South Africa, TechCentral reports. Quoting a ‘well-placed industry source’ the South African technology website suggests that the deal is ‘all but done’. Virgin South Africa began life in 2006, as an equal joint venture between Cell C and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

    It is not known who is buying the Cell C stake. Early speculation centred on pre-paid airtime provider Blue Label Telecoms. However, Blue Label co-CEO Brett Levy has said that despite initial talks, his company has no plans to purchase Cell C’s stake. New rumours suggest that a local cellular handset distributor could be close to sealing a deal to purchase the stake.

    Virgin Mobile will continue to use Cell C’s network even if a sale goes ahead, and hopes to utilise the 3G network the cellco is rolling out. Although Virgin Mobile had a difficult introduction to the South African cellco market, marketing director Jonathan Newman insists that the company has turned a corner, adding that the company now has 300,000 subscribers, 90% of whom are on pre-paid contracts.

  • * The World Cup boosted mobile operator traffic. Vodacom enjoyed a 40% increase in SMS traffic over the month, with 600 million text messages sent. Elsewhere, Cell C saw its traffic boosted to three times the normal levels on in-bound roaming calls. Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt announced that traffic levels were 70% higher than for the same period last year, pinpointing the periods before and after the matches as particularly busy. Meanwhile, Cell C’s SMS traffic increased by more than 15% during the tournament.

    * The ongoing registration of SIM cards in Kenya could be an opportunity for mobile banking as providers are encouraging subscribers to get signed in for both the number and the account. The rationale being floated is that if one is not already on the mobile money transfer service, they can sign up and if they are, but are not on the cellphone account, they can save time by signing up with all of them at a go. This means subscribers can get the phone number registration, mobile money transfer subscription and a cellphone account at the same time. Meanwhile Tanzania will block over five million mobile phone subscribers if they fail to meet a July 14 deadline for registration of subscribers countrywide.

    * The digital network of Angola Telecom, the country’s fixed incumbent in the Central Kwanza-Sul Province, will be inaugurated at the end of this month, an official source has announced. The company's provincial director, José Freitas, said it is already concluded the technical part of the project and interested costumers are signing the contracts for access to the services.

internet

  • The Eassy fibre optic cable will go live on Friday 16 July 2010, marking the completion of its construction, which started in Maputo, Mozambique in December 2009. Eassy is the third fibre optic cable in Kenya, with Teams and Seacom optic cables having been completed last year.

    The cable will be formally handed over to the West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) board by the Alcatel sub-marine networks, who were the sub-contractors, on Wednesday next week in Nairobi.

    Experts expect the arrival of Eassy to increase competition for Internet connection in the region, with the possibility of reduced connection rates. The cable, constructed by a consortium of telecommunications companies, offers a direct route to Europe, and is the largest cable system in sub-Saharan Africa.

    "All the Eassy landing stations have been completed, tested and are fully operational. These are Port Sudan, Djibouti, Mombasa, Dar-esalaam, Moroni in Comoros Islands, Toliary in Madagascar, Maputo in Mozambique and Mtuzini in South Africa," the management said in a press release on Tuesday, signed by its Chief Commercial Officer, James Wekesa.

    The Eassy cable has the capability to deliver 1.4Tbs capacity, making it the largest submarine cable system serving the continent. The cable, which is in 9 countries, will offer transit connection through backhaul networks to at least 12 landlocked countries, providing the greatest area coverage in the region.

    WIOCC, CEO Chris Wood said, "Eassy will be the first east coast system to connect on a direct route to Europe, making it the lowest latency system for traffic to key internet peering points in Europe and North America." The other cable systems have to make connections through either India or UAE to reach Europe.

    Eassy is owned by 16 commercial telcom entities, with 92 per cent owned by African operators and 8 per cent by international operators. The investing parties include: Bharti Airtel, Botswana Telecom Corporation, British Telecom, Comoros Telecom, Etisalat, France Telecom, Mauritius Telecom, MTN International Group, Neotel, Saudi Telecom Corporation, Sudatel, TTCL, Telma, Vodacom, Telkom South Africa, WIOCC and Zambia Telecom. WIOCC is the single largest investor in Eassy with a 29 per cent shareholding. In Kenya, Orange Telkom is the WIOCC shareholder.

    Daily Nation
  • Seacom, said last week that a major fault in its cable north of Kenya would be fixed only around July 22, more than a week later than first hoped.

    Seacom was greeted with fanfare when it launched last July, as South African internet users looked forward to improved connectivity and lower prices thanks to the end of the monopoly on international bandwidth held by Telkom 's SAT3/SAFE cable.

    But the Seacom cable failed near Mombasa on July 5, leaving many households without international Internet access for several days. Connections were restored late last week when Iinternet providers secured bandwidth through SAT3/SAFE, but this temporary solution is understood to come at considerable cost.

    Seacom initially said it would fix the fault within six to eight days, but was forced to lower its sights after realising the depth of the cable at the problem point."We found the cable was about 4700m deep - that's one of the deepest parts of the system," said spokesman Suveer Ramdhani. "The cable ship we'd planned to use wouldn't be able to cope. We needed a more sophisticated ship, which added to the delay."

    Seacom now believed the problem was caused by the failure of a "repeater" - a device that amplifies the signal carried - but a partial break of the cable could also be to blame. Ramdhani said he was confident repairs would be finished by July 22 but admitted bad weather could cause further delays.

    MWeb, one of the internet providers affected by the problem, had now resumed normal levels of service, said Andre Joubert, GM of its business services division.
    (Source: Business Day)

    *Glo1 Submarine Fibre Optic Cable Ready for Commissioning

    The Glo 1submarine optic fibre cable is now ready for commissioning but the company has yet to give a final launch date. A statement issued by Globacom's Group Chief Operating Officer, Mohamed Jameel, made available to Leadership, stated that the telecoms firm was pleased to announce that the end-to-end testing of the Glo 1 facility conducted in London, the United Kingdom, and Lagos, Nigeria, was successful.

    "The over 9,800 kilometer submarine cable which has 16 landing points in Europe, North and West Africa, has been integrated with over 10,000 kilometers optic fibre cable of Globacom nationwide. This means Nigerians from wherever they are, can now enjoy ultra fast Internet services and reliable download and upload of data from anywhere in the world once Glo 1 is commissioned," said the statement.

    Glo is also planning to set up a Level 3 Data Centre with 75,000 square feet space, to offer disaster recovery services, claiming to be the first operator to do so in Nigeria. Data centres can be connected to each other using Glo 1 for disaster recovery across the globe.

    "Glo 1 will aid on-line diagnosis and video conferencing during surgery and research, while distance learning will be made easy by enabling a class of students and lecturers in West Africa to participate in a real time class in Europe, America and any other part of the world," Globacom explained.

    Glo 1 will also facilitate premium video conferencing between multiple locations across the country and the West African region, thus reducing operational cost incurred in travelling by companies.

    Globacom said it will start the commissioning process by mid July by meeting with the different key stakeholders to present Glo 1 and its benefits to them before the official launch.

    Leadership
  • After months of deliberations and planning by the Department of Basic Education, the Teacher Laptop Initiative (TLI) is set to be rolled out on Thursday with a key focus on teacher training and development in ICT, computer literacy and pedagogy. The TLI, which is managed by the Education Labour Relations Council, addresses South Africa's need for a quality education system.

    It also forms part of the cohesive plan by the department and other stakeholders in education to improve the overall quality of education by making resources available to learners and teachers in the public education sector.

    The ICT packages for teachers consist of a laptop with prescribed minimum specifications, school administration, national curriculum and other software as well as internet connectivity, insurance and finance, as per the requirements of Government Gazette 32207.

    Qualifying teachers will receive a monthly allowance of R130.00 (taxable) and are required to fund the difference between the allowance and the monthly repayments of the package. Most of the packages from the provisionally accredited suppliers cost between R250.00 and R390.00 per month and the repayments are spread over a period of five years.

    During the TLI rollout launch to take place at Lotus Gardens Primary School, west of Pretoria, there will be brief demonstrations on connectivity of email and internet and the use of various software packages to illustrate the different ways in which ICT can be incorporated in the classroom. There will also be a display of wide range of products that teachers can choose from.

    Bua News
  • *Nashua Mobile and Internet Solutions (IS) have teamed up to bring a new voice-over Wi-Fi service called VoIS Mobile to market. The two companies have announced a partnership that will see Nashua Mobile resell the IS VoIS Mobile product to its corporate subscriber base while IS will in turn offer mobile contracts from Nashua Mobile to its clients.

    * Kigali — Banking institutions in the country that are connected to Rwandatel's internet network have had their services affected following Seacom's undersea cable failure. The internet breakdown that started early this week is attributed to the fault on an undersea cable running from Dar-es-Salaam to Mumbai in the Indian Ocean.

    * Geneva — President Paul Kagame has arrived in Geneva, Switzerland where he is participating in the first meeting of the recently launched Broadband Commission at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The President and Mexican tycoon, Carlos Slim, will co-chair the commission, whose objective is to advocate for widespread access to broadband for developing countries.

    * The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Development Forum and the 11th Forum on Telecommunications/ICT Regulations Authority (FTRA) opened Monday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi. The two conferences, which aim at dealing on the Fibre optic broadband and sharing capacity and open access principles to achieve Connect Africa Goal, are organised by the ITU on the invitation of the government of The Gambia through the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA).

computing

  • SA's biggest takeover deal so far this year was announced yesterday with Japanese telecom giant Nippon Telegraph & Telephone (NTT) acquiring SA's Dimension Data for £2,1bn (about R24bn). The deal will help Japan's top telecoms operator get into the fast- growing African market for cellphone and IT services.

    Japanese companies have been slow to enter Africa, which offers huge potential growth in mobile telephony and IT, thanks to rising personal incomes, a growing middle class and improving infrastructure. Didata operates in 49 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.

    The boards of directors of both NTT and Didata unanimously recommended the all-cash offer for 100% of the shares, the companies said. Didata, which traded at a high of R70 a share in September 2000, has seen a strong recovery over the past few years.

    Didata chairman Jeremy Ord said that NTT's network carrier capabilities and assets, coupled with Didata's expertise in global system integration, created a powerful and unprecedented combination of capabilities and skills.

    "We believe our alliance with NTT will now allow Dimension Data to accelerate our medium- and long-term strategy at a rapid pace," Mr Ord said.

    Rand Merchant Bank said the deal would lead to a R12bn inflow to SA, which would be positive for the rand. The transaction is expected to be bedded down within the next three months.

    Didata CEO Brett Dawson said NTT would keep the business, including its management, intact and it would remain in SA although it would delist from the JSE.
    NTT will finance the acquisition through a combination of its own cash and debt. The deal would mark the largest acquisition of a firm in sub-Saharan Africa by a Japanese company. Didata said Venfin DD Holdings and Allan Gray, which collectively own 50.95% of Didata's issued shares, and the directors, who own 1.06%, supported the bid.

    Business Day
  • The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and telecom industry stakeholders have called for online protection of the Nigerian child at a consultative forum held in Lagos last week. Put together by the Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of NCC, the forum focused on the need to protect the Nigerian child from potential abuse, while surfing the net.

    Owing to child vulnerability, NCC says it becomes necessary to formulate guidelines for operators to ensure that the Nigerian child is protected online while carrying out school research or having fun with educational games, hence the need for the forum, aimed at identifying child online risk, create awareness over such risk, share knowledge and experiences of the child online hazards, with a view to curb child online abuses and come up with strategies that would enhance online performance of the Nigerian child.

    Speaking at the forum, Chairman, House Committee on Communication, Dave Salako said the internet remained a tool for technology advancement, but regretted that most people were using it negatively, which he said sometimes amounted to child abuse, based on the corrupt nature of contents uploaded on some websites. He said the advantages of the internet remained enormous, just the same way its disadvantages, but warned adults to consider the future of Nigerian youths while uploading, and during online chatting.

    Also speaking, Chairman, Senate Committee on Communication, Sylvester Anyanwu, said "children are leaders of tomorrow, and should therefore be given adequate protection from cyber crimes and other related crimes. According to him, "Nigerian youths make up to 40 percent of the country's total population, and need the protection of adults for a greater tomorrow."

    Describing the importance of online activities among youths, Acting Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Dr. Bashir Gwandu said "Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope that are linked by a broad array of electronic and optical networking technologies."

    He said in Nigeria, Information Technology (IT) and the World Wide Web (www) have brought enormous benefits to Commerce, Science, Medicine and family life, especially with the advent of GSM in the country, which enables people have unlimited access to the internet through their mobile phones.

    Gwandu, however, said that while the prospective for good about internet is acknowledged, it has also raised new and disturbing challenges, especially where children are concerned.

    Another problem of the internet is that it has allowed a great deal of anonymity to a large number of people who may access the different websites, forums and chat rooms available. This has allowed perverted individuals to at times take advantage of innocent people and abuse their trust, he said, explaining that the internet is particularly attractive for a child since it has so much to offer in terms of entertainment. He condemned pornography, describing it as a serious threat in today's world that is causing a lot of problems.

    Speaking on the Nigerian child and internet, Gwandu said "children are among the most active and most vulnerable participants online. The Nigerian population from 2006 census records youth from 10- 24 years to be about 45,400,000 in number and quite a number of children/teenagers in primary and secondary schools possess mobile phones which have internet access on them. It is a universal fact that our children are our future that is why young people's vulnerability in an online environment makes a specialised initiative within the larger frame work a necessity."

    Managing Partner, Technology Advisors (TA), Basil Udotai, while delivering a paper on the theme, "Cyber Safety and the e-Child: a Global Perspective," said child online protection had become a global issue because of the damaging effects it has on children.

    According to him, "the online environment operates in a global domain, and computers and devices are connected and networked across the globe, while criminal laws are basically national, both in scope and effects."

    He said online enforcement requires cross border cooperation amongst countries, but that given the issue of sovereignty, countries can only cooperate based on bilateral or multilateral frameworks.

    According to him, all the challenges affecting cyber crime and cyber security in Nigeria whether in relation to policy, law, capacity building, law enforcement procedures, judicial process, etc existed to worsen the child online protection issue.

    He called for global safety strategies, such as effective cyber safety, commitment on the part of organisations and nations, non-governmental and private institutions, among others.

  • * Windhoek — As part of its efforts to make Namibian laws accessible to the general public, the Ministry of Justice recently placed all the country's laws and other legal documents online. The programme, code-named Namibia E-Laws, is an open source platform hosted on the Internet, allowing individuals to access various Namibian laws dating as far back as 1920.

    * Kampala — The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture have launched the CountryStat, a web-based information system that delivers improved access to better quality statistics on food and agriculture at national and sub-national levels.

    CountryStat Uganda is part of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) initiative supported by $5.6m grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve the quality, accessibility, relevance and reliability of food and agriculture statistics in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Siemens is to spend €200m in Africa in the next two years and plans to double to 10% its share of the market in the regions it serves, estimated to be worth almost €30bn a year by 2012.

    The president and CEO of Siemens, Peter Loscher, said on Friday that the investment would focus mainly on expanding its business and sales structures in Africa, where the group was eyeing business in health, renewable energy and infrastructure development.

    About R1bn of the total planned investment would be spent in southern Africa, according to the CEO of Siemens Southern Africa, Stuart Clarkson. His unit plans to use South Africa as a launch pad for winning orders for renewable energy projects across the continent.

    "Africa offers Siemens vast opportunities for growth," Loscher said. "As a green infrastructure pioneer, we are a natural partner for mastering the continent's major challenges. Renewable energies, in particular, have huge potential in Africa."

    Siemens joins the small but growing list of global companies already doing business with Africa that want to consolidate their market share as part of a strategy to become major players in emerging markets.

    But cash-rich Chinese and Indian companies have been more aggressive of late, stealing a march on their European competitors, who have been focusing on recovering from the devastation in home markets caused by last year's recession.

    Loscher said Siemens wanted to grow its presence in Africa and had already clustered its individual African companies into five sales regions and had changed the setup of its business in oil-rich Angola.

    Siemens last year announced plans to more than triple new orders in Africa to €3bn by the end of this year, from orders of almost €1bn that the group won last year. "In fiscal 2012 the African market served by Siemens will have a total volume of a little less than €30bn a year and the company expects to have doubled its share of this market to 10%," Loscher said.

    Business Day
  • Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has paid US$10 million to its shareholders after declaring a cumulative US$0.14 dividend for the year ended February 2010. The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-quoted mobile phone operator recorded a US$113 million after tax profit during the financial period. The payout will provide relief to thousands of pensioners who are on pension funds invested in the company.

    Econet has one of the largest numbers of shareholders on the local bourse. Finance director Kris Chirairo said: "Our shareholder profile is dominated by thousands of small shareholders and mutual funds that predominately invest for pension funds. "We are a public company, and we are owned by thousands of shareholders. Many people own shares through their pension funds that are invested in us."

    Econet was the first company in Zimbabwe to pay out a US dollar dividend. "Our pension fund shareholders depend on us to provide liquidity and to make pension payments to their pensioners, many pensioners are really desperate. It is one of the reasons why we work hard to pay out dividends every six months.

    "Most of the money invested on our stock exchange comes from pensions and insurance funds. Hyperinflation devastated pension funds, and they can only rebuild through investment in listed companies," said Chirairo. He said a lot of pension funds have had to dispose of investments to pay pensioners. "This is not sustainable, because it weakens the pension funds. They are forced to take such action because liquidity is really scarce. What they need are dividends from their investments."

    Econet Wireless is also one of the largest payers of taxes to the Government. Chirairo also called on Government to implement more policies that speed up the recovery of large public listed companies.

    "We cannot have just one or two public companies paying dividends. This has serious ramifications on the recovery of the pensions sector, and therefore on the welfare of the pensioners themselves.

    "Pension funds can only get real liquidity if the productive sector recovers fully and people are properly remunerated," said Chirairo. During the financial year, the group's attributable earnings came to US$119,6 million and basic earnings per share of US66c.

    The group's aggressive network expansion drive saw their total assets grow from US$182 million to US$397 million as property plant and equipment increased US$137.4 million to US$267,5 million. Equipment deposits surged from US$2.2 million to US$47.7 million.

    Shareholders' funds grew by 86 percent to US$165.5 million despite the company's debt sitting at US$143.2 million. Econet, with a market share of 72 percent closed the year cash positive to the tune of US$13.9 million.

    The Herald
  • The implementer of a Ghana-based project that aims to deploy wireless network connections to provide fast internet access is seeking financing to the tune of $2.5m. The funding would commence the first phase of the project, which involves the acquiring of hardware and soft-ware, and working capital to cover operational and start-up expenses.

    Teligent Wireless, a telecommunications services provider licensed in Ghana, seeks initial funding of $2.5-million to deploy wireless network connections to provide direct access to high speed internet access nationwide. The company proposes to fund the remaining phases of the project organically or via loans.

    The Wi-Fi mesh will be built using high gain Omni directional Base Stations. These Base Stations are self-healing and can provide self-backhauling which will allow continuous communication from the user's equipment to the administrative platform when connected to any base station using CPEs. The proposed architecture is designed with a high density of 500 base stations to provide for more access without CPEs.

    The set-up and technology has been tested with success in Ghana, and is currently performing similar functions in Rwanda, China and Brazil.

    For further information on this opportunity contact the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre. Key contact: Stephen Debre, Senior Investment Officer,  Email: sdebre@gipcghana.com Website: www.gipc.org.gh

    For more information: http://www.tradeinvestafrica.com/investment_opportunities/612815.htm

  • Listed media company Naspers will buy 28.7 percent of one of Russia's leading internet firms, it said on Wednesday. It would purchase the stake in Digital Sky Technologies (DST) in cash and shares, according to a statement.

    The company would  exchange its 39.3 percent stake in its Russian unit Mail.ru which it co-owned along with DST, and it would  also pay a further US388 million (R2.9 billion) for the 28.7 percent stake.

    Naspers comprises a broad-based media group operating in 129 countries. Its principal operations are in internet platforms, pay-television and the provision of related technologies and print media.

    The group's most significant operations are located in emerging markets including South Africa and elsewhere in Africa, China, Central and Eastern Europe, India, Latin America, Russia, Thailand and the Netherlands.

  • * Lagos — House of Representatives is set to grill the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) over the N6.1 billion SIM Card registration budget presented to it by the Commission.

  • * Lagos — House of Representatives is set to grill the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) over the N6.1 billion SIM Card registration budget presented to it by the Commission.

Digital Content

  • The Ministry of Health and Social Services has started the rollout of a new IT network in six regions.

    So far, centres in six regions in Namibia have received equipment as part of the Ministry's Human Resource Information Management System (HRIMS) rollout.

    Gregory Gottlieb, USAID Country Director, said HRIMS is a critical tool to address the shortage of health professionals in Namibia. He said the HRIMS system would help to effectively manage health staffing "in order to quickly answer key policy and management questions affecting healthcare service delivery."

    The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, said he believes this project "is of paramount importance, as it will be providing us with the necessary information to access our human resources needs, make optimal policy decisions on human resources, plan effectively and asses the performance of our human resources".

    In addition to the donation of IT equipment valued at N$1 million, IntraHealth trained 79 ministry staff in computer literacy, 31 in the HR system and others in the maintenance and operation of the HRIMS.

    Ministry system administrator Hafeni Haogongo, a team leader of the project, said the installation of the national information systems would minimise paperwork and possible information loss.

    "All this is very exiting because this new IT equipment and the data centre makes our job easier and cancels chances of lost data," he said.

    The equipment came in the form of computers and terminals and a new data centre, located at the ministry's head office in Windhoek. Gottlieb said the Ministry was in the process of equipping the three remaining regions with HRIMS, "bringing all of Namibia's health workers into one common HR system."

    Kamwi reminded health workers that despite the technical improvements "the quality of health services that are delivered, their effectiveness, efficiency, accessibility and viability depend on those who deliver the services, the health workforce."

    The Namibian
  • The World Cup has brought security improvements to the Beitbridge border post, with Zimbabwean authorities introducing a new scanning system to weed out suspicious travel documents.

    This is the first time that computers have been used at Beitbridge, South Africa's biggest gateway to the north and one of its most vulnerable border posts. The move came after South Africa banned single-sheet travel documents as a security risk ahead of the World Cup.

    The Department of Home Affairs said last month that single-sheet travel certificates were prone to abuse, and while they were issued within the region often turned up in the hands of asylum seekers from as far afield as Pakistan and China. However, the department appeared to compromise when it announced that Zimbabwe would introduce a new form of scannable travel document in booklet form.

    Last month, Zimbabwean authorities arrested two Pakistani citizens heading for SA who were allegedly travelling on fake documents. One of them was alleged to have been on the Interpol list as a suspected terrorist.

    Despite computerisation at Beitbridge, Zimbabwe's state-controlled Herald newspaper said on Tuesday that the new system had led to delays at the border, as many travellers did not have machine-readable documents.

    Home affairs did not want to commenlast week. But last week, deputy minister Malusi Gigaba said it was up to South Africa's neighbours to provide their citizens with the proper documents to facilitate travel and guarantee their safety and security.

    Business Day

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • *Growing use of mobile phones in African countries like Kenya has pushed global subscription to the five billion mark, a new survey by telecoms infrastructure firm Ericsson shows, giving signals to investors on where to put their bets.

    *Dar Es Salaam — Sasatel has introduced the Smartphone that will enable its customers to connect to reliable internet at affordable cost.

    * MTN-Rwanda on Wednesday launched a service centre that will extend various services to it's customers in Rusizi District in the Western Province.The centre, worth Rwf43m, will offer Internet, mobile money transfer, SIM swaps, among other services.

More

  • * South Africa's Telkom appointed Jeffrey Hedberg as Acting Chief Executive last week but its leadership crisis deepened last week when Chief Financial Officer Peter Nelson resigned, following the early departure of CEO Reuben September.The departures come at an inopportune time for SA's fixed- line operator. It has recorded a substantial decline in profit this year after it disposed of its stake in Vodacom and after write-offs from its ailing Nigerian unit, Multi-Links and an impairment on its Africa Online business. It is understood that disagreement over the ailing Nigerian Multi-Link business also influenced Nelson's decision.

  • 5th Annual Connecting Rural Communities Africa 2010 Forum
    17-19 August 2010

    Hosted by: Ministry of Communications, National Communications Authority, Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications

    The CTO will be hosting its 5th Annual Connecting Rural Communities Africa 2010 Forum from the 17-19 August, 2010 in Accra, Ghana. The theme for the conference is Effective Governance, Transparent Public Services and Citizen Empowerment through Information and Communication Technologies. Organised in conjunction with the ICT Ministry of Mozambique, the event will endeavour to bring together Public Private Peoples Partnerships to help achieve Africa's developmental goals through the application of ICTs to governance (e-governance/e-government), electoral processes (e-democracy), food and nutrition (e-agriculture), health delivery (e-health/telemedicine), learning and capacity development (e-education) and trade (e-commerce), among others.

    Contact:  communications@cto.int.

    Telecoms World Africa 2010
    13-16 September 2010

    Telecoms World Africa is an established forum for the communications sector in Africa. The only one of its kind, this event provides a platform for top-level stakeholders to discover the opportunities for growth in Africa, and establish themselves as market leaders.

    Telecoms World Africa 2010

    Managed Services World Congress 2010
    28th-29th September 2010, Movenpick Hotel, Berlin
    Successfully managing network partnerships and increasing ARPU with
    minimal risk
    Limited FREE PLACES FOR OPERATORS AVAILABLE! Email
    Mubenah.khan@informa.com for further information.

    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

  • Tester - Mobile GSM Networks

    Sapientis South Africa
    Johannesburg

    Urgently looking for a technical tester with experience in Mobile GSM networks to support the project team in setting up test environments, developing test tools and executing simulated GSM environment tests.

    Candidates must satisfy the following Minimum Requirements:

    • Degree/Diploma in IT/Software Engineering/Computer Science
    • A minimum of 2 years relevant testing experience
    • Solid Unix / Linux / Solaris operating system skills
    • Knowledge of Perl and Shell scripting
    • Strong SQL skills, including writing SQL queries
    • IP Network knowledge
    • The ability to perform operating system installations and software installations
    • Ability to read and understand C/C++ code, SQL statements and Bash Scripts
    • Ability to critically analyse project requirements and compile test plans.
    • Experience with technical, functional, usability and regression testing methods.
    • Strong root cause analysis and problem solving skills
    • Solid understanding of software production lifecycle process including software testing, factory acceptance testing and customer acceptance testing.
    • Documenting and reporting skills must be well developed. Excellent understanding of testing concepts and the role of QA in the software development

    Salary Commensurate with experience and may be structured for optimal tax benefit.

    For full job specifications, send a detailed CV to info@sapientissouthafrica.co.za

  • Abyssinia Bank and 4 international vendors - Ethiopia

    The Bank of Abyssinia (BoA) shortlisted four international vendors on Thursday, July 8, 2010, of which one will be awarded the contract to help the bank implement core banking solutions at the end of this week.The four shortlisted companies are Infra Soft, Temenos Group AG, Oracle Financial Management Solutions, and Info Sis. They were selected from 11 companies that were invited to bid in December 2009.

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