Issue no 520 3rd September 2010

top story

  • Global Voice Group - An Apology

    In an article entitled; "Life in Africa's Slow Lane- Congo Telecom and Socatel Defend Their International Voice Monopolies, Disapora Callers Ask Why?" published in 491, readers of Balancing Act's News Update might have believed we were alleging Global Voice Group assisted in the commission of fraud by a group we described as "a mafia," adopts anti-competitive practices by taking over all the international phone traffic in Congo and encourages African Governments to impose taxes on incoming calls. We would like to make it clear that it was not our intention to suggest this. We accept that these allegations are false and apologize to Global Voice Data Group for any misunderstandings which may have arisen and any damage our publication may have caused.

     

    Launch of Samung’s Galaxy Tab will spark the beginning of device wars with Africa’s mobile operators offering tablets

    Three million iPads sold by Apple in 80 days is big news in Europe and the USA but something of a distant echo in Africa. However, this week with the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab look-alike and a demonstration of it in Soweto, tablet news may be coming to Africa in a big way. Samsung has the market share with mobile operators in Africa in a way that Apple has not. Russell Southwood looks at what will become the beginning of tablet device wars in Africa.

    The early signs of change are all there. At least two key executives in Kenyan broadcasting have iPads and nearly all the senior managers of a well-known continental broadcast player have them. The early adopters are out there and they are increasingly visible now that iPhone sitings are becoming a more or less every day event in the bigger markets. But there have been three developments recently that may signal the beginning of tablet device wars:

    * This week Samsung launched its Galaxy Tab tablet device and a demonstration of it took place in Soweto. South Korea’s Samsung may not have quite the market share of the mobile handsets that Nokia still does in South Africa but it has a significant chunk in many African countries. Other vendors have released iPad look-a-likies but none of them so far has had much of a potential retail footprint in Africa.

    The Galaxy Tab has a seven-inch touch-screen that is slightly smaller than the iPad's, and uses Google's Android 2.2 operating system. Google Android phones are currently even further back in the field than iPhones in Africa in terms of numbers but in time both will become as significant as Blackberries among Africa’s chattering classes. It weighs 0.8 pound (lighter than the iPad) and is set for a mid-September launch. Tablets give users video, music, games, Internet and electronic books. It will employ Samsung's "Reader's Hub" for e-books and the "Media Hub" for music and videos. It supports Flash video and will be able to stream content to a TV.

    It will be launched in Europe in October and rolled out to other markets thereafter. Vodafone has announced that it will distribute the device through its European operations so it’s reasonable to guess that Vodacom might follow some point thereafter.

    * Last week Orange Senegal launched the iPad as part of its offer and obviously subject to sales, this is likely to be the beginning of a roll-out across its Africa operations. According to Fernand Adjahossou, Commercial Director of its distribution network, this launch is a first for Africa but not quite as we will see below.

    Nevertheless, it is a significant move by a company that likes to offer its customers multiple ways of getting at the Internet and TV programming. The 200 invitees to the launch were told by Adjahossou that iPad users could connect in many places via the companies network of Wi-Fi hot-spots and that the device represented “grande valeur” (big value) given its many functionalities.

    * Almost without fanfare, Orange’s deadly rival in Botswana, Mascom Wireless, pipped it to the post by offering iPads in a bundle with Mi-Fi wireless devices. Now the latter may well be a first from a mobile operator on the continent. The iPad was part of a roll-out that included smartphones like the Samsung M40 and various Blackberry Curves designed to combat Orange’s distribution deal for iPhones.

    The Mi-Fi is a small device that connects homes (or indeed anywhere you take it subject to coverage) to mobile data networks and has the potential to create a local cloud with five users. The device was launched by Novatel Wireless in May 2009. Like many of the new connectivity devices, it claims to be “plug-and-play”.

    The package comes in three capacity bundles as Botswana follows its larger South African neighbour in “slicing and dicing” its retail offers. None of these offers are cheap: Easy with a 3GB capacity costs US$115; Pro with a 5GB capacity costs US$144; and Executive with a 10 GB capacity costs US$187. The names of the bundles clearly signal the intended target audience.

    However, like all devices, they will begin to cascade down to lower value consumers over time. An inkling of where this might go comes from a gift given to us by someone very senior in an ICT ministry in Africa who had just returned from China. It was a tablet device running Google Android in a box with a picture of an Apple iPad on the front. It has a smaller screen and fairly limited battery life but the wholesale cost being offered at volume was US$40-60. So it won’t take long for Chinese to produce significantly cheaper look-a-likies that actually work well. So watch this space…

telecoms

  • Speaking at a press conference to mark the fourth anniversary of converged telecoms operator Neotel's launch, CEO and MD Ajay Pandey has admitted that Neotel has failed the consumer market, and rather than prioritise improving its residential uptake, will instead seek to embrace the more lucrative enterprise market.

    Pandey explained that, going forward, Neotel's ideal revenue mix would be split 60% in the enterprise segment, 30% in the wholesale segment and 10% in the consumer market.

    When Neotel was licensed as the country's SNO, expectations were high that its arrival would open up the fixed line sector, and provide relief for local consumers suffering from incumbent Telkom South Africa’s monopolistic market stranglehold. However, Neotel has failed to make any real impact on the consumer market and has come under increasing criticism from frustrated South African residents.

    Recent reports suggest that Neotel has 50,000 consumer clients and 600 corporate clients, which equates to an approximate12% of the enterprise market. Pandey insisted that although Neotel was positioned as a second national operator upon its entry to market, the company has instead focused on becoming South Africa's first converged communications solutions provider.

    Telegeography
  • Orascom Telecom's Executive Chairman Naguib Sawiris has confirmed previous press reports that his holding company Weather Investments is in talks with Russia’s Vimpelcom over possible merger plans involving assets including Weather’s controlling stakes in the Egypt-based Orascom group and Italy’s Wind. Whilst talking to press on a visit to Orascom’s Canadian subsidiary Globalive Wireless (Wind Mobile), the Egyptian entrepreneur also confirmed that he was open to discussions with any potential strategic international partner for Weather/Orascom, Canadian paper the Global & Mail reported.

    Sawiris said: ‘We are not only talking to [Vimpelcom], we are talking to anybody ... We have two things on our agenda right now – solving the Algerian issue [where the local government wants to block attempts to sell Orascom’s mobile unit Djezzy] and, second, finding a good partner for the group.’ He also declared it was possible that Wind Mobile could eventually acquire other Canadian cellular start-ups such as Mobilicity and Public Mobile.

    Telegeography
  • Cell phone makers are scrambling for deals to supply data-enabled handsets as telecommunication firms intensify their presence in the mobile data market.

    The race to get a share of the Kenyan data market is expected to get stiffer as operators Telkom Kenya's Orange and Zain Kenya upgrade to faster 3G mobile Internet technology by the end of the year with Safaricom planning to upgrade its current 3G network to 4G in the next two months.

    The scramble has seen mobile phone manufacturers who can offer higher discounts on easy-to-use data-enabled phones clinch lucrative supply deals with government agencies, companies and non-governmental organisations on behalf of the telephony companies.

    Despite the drop in margins per handset and increased spend on brand marketing, revenues are set to grow as companies buy in bulk the cheaper handsets and those that consumers can easily use.

    Cell phone makers say they intend to leverage on the high volumes firms are buying to cushion their bottom lines. The biggest winners in the supply tender race are the leading handsets makers, Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson.

    They are targeting companies and government agencies who buy the handsets in bulk as they benefit from heavy discounts and also enjoy the bundling of the handsets with data from any of the operators.

    Recently during the referendum, Nokia clinched a competitive deal to supply Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) with 20,000 handsets that were used by the agents to relay the results from the grassroots.

    Dorothy Ooko, Communications Manager for Nokia in East and Southern Africa, says entering into a deal with telecommunication operators to supply their clients or market with data-enabled handsets phones is becoming more competitive than before.

    "The IIEC deal was the most recent competitive offer in the market and what the clients were looking for is affordable and also easy to use data-enabled handsets," said Ms Ooko. "With the government embracing things like e-health the competition is going to get stiffer as they will require handsets to register things like births."
    Increased use of social networking sites has also fuelled take-up of data-enabled handsets.

    Internet use has grown according to the industry regulator, Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK). CCK says the increase in the number of internet subscribers has been accelerated by the provision of data services through GPRS/Edge and 3G networks of mobile operators. "Mobile service contributed 99 per cent of the total Internet subscriptions during the period under review," says a CCK report.

    CCK attributes the increase in the number of Internet users to innovative offerings such as connectivity to social networking sites through the mobile phones, a service that has gained popularity among young people in the country.

    The deal between the telecommunication companies and the handsets vendors come in a number of ways, a telecommunication operator can be approached by a firm to offer it data services through a range of mobile handsets which will force it to look for the best option available in the market as in the case of the IIEC or they can enter into agreement where the handset vendor supplies the operator with locked handsets, which means the buyer cannot use any SIM card from other operators on the handset.

    Antony Hutia, Sales and Marketing Manager Mobile division, says the company is currently in a deal with Safaricom, but still negotiating with Zain Kenya to supply it with low-end data enabled handsets. "The competition is stiffer and the strategy we are using currently is to offer a phone with as many features as possible at low retail prices," said Hutia.

    "The operators are not going to take just any other phone, which dictates that before we approach them we must do serious marketing on the particular handsets and our brand such that the consumers will have some information about it."

    Mobicom, Telkom's Kenya largest dealer on the other hand has entered into a deal with Nokia, Motorola and Samsung where it is offering free data-enabled handsets for anyone buying its airtime worth Sh1,000.

    Safaricom Chief Commercial Officer Peter Arina said the quest for increased data penetration and usage in Kenya has always been constrained by lack of data-enabled devices.

    Business Daily
  • Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more international fibre projects for Africa, along comes another one. eFive Telecommunications has appointed Alcatel-Lucent to build a system that will connect the west coast of Africa to South America.
    It is raising the $400 million (R2.9 billion) needed for the project.

    eFive Telecommunications was started less than two years ago. Its five major shareholders are young black South Africans, most of whom worked at the Department of Communications at one stage.

    Lawrence Mulaudzi is the MD, with the other shareholders being former DOC deputy director-general Keith Shongwe, Ruth Modise, Lindikhaya Mpambani, and Malusi Magasela.

    According to an Alcatel-Lucent statement, the system will comprise two trunks. One will connect SA to Angola and Nigeria, while the second will run from the Angolan capital of Luanda to Brazil. The eFive system will connect up with the Nigeria-to-Europe cable, being constructed by Main One Systems, completing the leg the company promised a year ago.

    Mulaudzi says the eFive system is targeted for operation by 19 December 2011. While the final capacity of the cable has not been decided yet, it will have speeds of up to 40Gbps, four times that of current and planned systems, he explains.

    eFive will run into direct competition with the West African Cable System (WACS), being constructed by Alcatel-Lucent on behalf of a consortium that includes Telkom, Neotel, Vodacom, MTN, and state-owned Broadband Infraco. This system should be operational by the first quarter of next year.

    The link from Africa to Brazil was originally mooted as part of Broadband Infraco's ambitions three years ago. However, the idea was to run that link from SA to Brazil. It was put on hold while Broadband Infraco concentrated on trying to raise the capital to participate in WACS, which government then considered a priority.

    Mulaudzi believes the Africa-South America link is important in terms of world geopolitics, as SA and some other African nations want closer ties with the Brazil, India, Russia and China block of emerging world economic powers.

    “The planned submarine network will also provide cable route diversity to South America, making the most economical and operational sense in the current landscape,” he notes.

    He says the idea would be to link up the eFive Telecommunications system with the Seacom cable that runs down the east African coast and eventually develop a ring around the continent.

    Mulaudzi says merchant bank Nova Africa Capital Partners will raise the necessary capital. “Our financing model is that of the private model that was used successfully by Seacom,” he adds.

    ITWeb
  • * Freetown: Zain Sierra Leone has taken Cellular Mobile Telephone System (CMTS) technology in Sierra Leone to a more affordable step further with its recent introduction of free internet on mobile phones or WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) service for one month.This free internet service for one month will allow phones with WAP access to browse the internet in terms of searching for information - for students, browsing for football scores, logging onto facebook and much more. There are two forms of configuration (remotely and manually). For remote configuration, you can send the word 'net' as text to the number 141 and follow the subsequent commands. For manual configuration, please visit authorized Zain shops nation-wide for configuration.

    * Brandon Semanda, the Zain Uganda Marketing Manager says the company has about 140,000 active clients using Zap and over 1.4 million customers with enabled sim cards. Whereas Uganda Telecom's M-sente has 29, 510 subscribers as of August 8, 2010. Meanwhile MTN Cameroon has launched its MTN Money service.

internet

  • The Government has disclosed that approximately 50 percent of the works to roll out the fibre optic cable across the country is now complete. This was revealed last week by Dr. Ignace Gatare, the Minister in President's Office in charge of Information Communication Technology (ICT), in an exclusive interview with The New Times.

    "The total distance for the optic cable is 2,300 kilometres across the country and the distance covered so far is 1,380 kilometres in laying the ducts, while fibre blowing has been done on over 730 kilometres," he said.

    He added that two major regional links of Kigali-Gatuna and Kigali-Rusumo are already covered and two more regional routes; Kigali-Kanyaru and Kigali- Rubavu will be completed by the end of this month.

    Gatare said that all the civil works and rolling out the fibre will be ready by the end of December and the entire network will be fully operational by April 2011. "We are targeting to connect 317 institutions in all 30 districts, 97 in Kigali and 220 outside Kigali, and all the nine Rwandan borders will be connected. But as we are working on connecting more institutions, the number will certainly increase," he explained.

    The New Times
  • The arrival of Foris Telecom into the data market has broadened the opportunities for internet consumers as players and offers in the previously secluded market open up.

    Foris is trading under the brand name of IN Uganda. Analysts say data or internet services stands on the brink of completely being demystified and accessible to the mass market if well exploited and its value understood. "And this will open the mobile economy for this country and with it the huge benefits of the information super highway," said an IT expert from Makerere University Kampala.

    "This market is a market of pricing, the solution must be affordable," said Moshe Mitz, IN Uganda chief executive officer recently. Foris is headquartered in Israel. This service is almost equal to what Smile Telecom, a new entrant in the voice segment promised but is yet to aggressively promote where callers do not have to own handsets to make calls.

    Callers using the Smile network also pay for a standard fee across all networks. Orange Uganda is the other player turning the market with offers in the residential and high speed mobile internet. "The revolution of the fibre optics has changed the market. In just two year, there has been a huge change," said Mitz. But what other analysts and consumers have complained about is the consistency of the service because many service providers enter the market with a bang and then quality of service slowly starts to decline.

    "The increasing competition should be able to stamp out those who cannot maintain quality service," said one industry watcher. It will also call for more vigilance from the industry regulator, Uganda Communications Commission to protect consumer interests. The entry of many players in the voice segment did not dramatically translate into lower prices or superior service.

    New Vision
  • Safaricom, Kenya’s largest cellco by subscribers, has announced that it will begin technical trials of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology across its network within the next two months. Safaricom has selected Chinese firm Huawei Technologies to supply its core network requirements, and to facilitate the rollout itself. The two companies have signed a three-year strategic partnership worth KES12 billion (USD141.2 million).

    Speaking during the signing ceremony at Huawei’s headquarters in China, Safaricom's CEO Michael Joseph told the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation: ‘We are going to do a technical LTE trial on our spectrum to see if it suits the Kenyan market and its commercial viability. This is completely a technical trial and not a commercial trial and we are going to do the trials within our spectrum in the next two months’.

    Joseph also said that Safaricom is keen to overhaul its billing system and core network, whilst expanding its 3G network coverage across the country. These upgrades are expected to begin within the next six months and will be completed in two phases.

  • * Telecommunications operator Cell C will launch the first leg of its mobile broadband network in Port Elizabeth. TechCentral has established that Cell C will launch its third-generation (3G) network, on which it is spending about R5bn in 2010, in the Eastern Cape city.

    * Microsoft may eventually build two data centres in Africa, possibly in South Africa, to serve the continent, but no decisions have been made yet. However, the company will aggressively expand its cloud-based (server-hosted) services to the region, beginning in SA later this year with the launch of Xbox Live, its online gaming and entertainment offering.

computing

  • The event was characterised by pomp and splendour. With their arrival into the precincts of Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) in South Delhi being beamed on the screen, heads of African missions and other dignitaries had cause to be ecstatic.

    The occasion: Inauguration of the second phase of the Pan-African e-Network Project. The tentacles of the project have now been spread to 12 African countries, and Zambia is among the beneficiaries. The rest are Botswana, Burundi, Cote D'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia and Uganda.

    Giving the launch a litmus test from the studios of TCIL was India's External Affairs Minister Somanahalli M Krishna.

    This was done through a two-hour video conferencing session with ministers of the 12 African countries during which Mr Kishna extolled relations and common ideals that India and the African continent share.

    When it came to Zambia's turn, Mr Krishna reiterated India's desire to deepen relations between the two countries which date back to the southern African nation's pre-independence days.

    In conversing with Communications and Transport Minister Geoffrey Lungwangwa, the Indian External Affairs Minister described the Pan-African e-Network Project as one of the finest examples of the growing partnerships between India and Zambia.

    Remarked Mr Krishna: "It is a matter of great pride for India to be the driving force for such an ambitious project, which is fully financed by the Government of India and has an approved budget allocation of US$125 million."

    The Pan-African e-Network is the biggest project for distance education and tele-medicine ever undertaken in Africa.

    For Zambia, the project, which will propel tele-education at Mulungushi University in Kabwe, tele-medicine at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka, and the video-conference voice over the Internet protocol component at State House, dovetails well with Zambia's newly-developed ICT policy that recognises information technology as an indispensable tool for development.

    In the area of tele-medicine, whose development has been motivated by advancement in medical science, bio-medical engineering and emerging ingenuities in telecommunication and information technology, affordable healthcare will be the ensuing benefit.

    Operationally, tele-medicine will make possible, among other things, use of ICT between specialist doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

    A platform for continuing medical education for doctors and other health providers is yet another forte inherent in tele-medicine.

    And as global corners get closer and closer and thus dictating the necessity for world leaders' prompt, apt, and regular consultations and interaction on matters of common interest, the video conferencing facility will come in handy for Heads of State. This will be made possible through satellite network connectivity.

    Under the Pan-African e-Network Project, India has made available facilities and expertise of some of its best universities and super-specialist hospitals in India to Africa.

    The core objective of the project is also to support e-governance, e-commerce, infotainment, resource mapping and meteorological and other services African countries.

    This will contribute to enhancement of governance, and promotion of effective decision-making relating to cross-cutting economic, social, environmental and other aspects of development that have a direct bearing on people's livelihood.

    The project is a product of the concept seeded by India's former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam.

    His vision was to connect India with all the 53 African countries with a satellite and fibre optic network for the purpose of sharing India's expertise in education and health care.

    The project is currently being implemented in 47 African countries, with actual commissioning having already been completed in 34 nations on the continent.

    Statistics indicate that, so far, more than 1700 students from African countries are already on board pursuing various courses with Indian universities under the tele-education component of the project.

    Regular tele-medical consultations have also started between African doctors and Indian specialists through this network with nearly 700 lectures having been delivered by highly specialised doctors from the Indian Super Speciality hospitals.

    India has decided to go another mile by offering training at regional level through workshops in tele-medicine and tele-education modules.

    This, it is envisaged, will facilitate better utilisation of different aspects of the Pan-African e-Network Project.

    "I am confident that at the end of the day, both sides will find themselves enriched through mutual exchanges and interactions," carped Mr Krishna, as he interacted with African Heads of Missions in New Delhi who witnessed the launch, among them Zambia's Acting High Commissioner, Brigadier-General Allan Kalebuka (Rtd).

    Times of Zambia
  • The quality of education and health care in the African region is anticipated to improve following the inauguration of an online project at Makerere University last week. The project, known as the Pan-African e-network will mainly be implemented using the video conferencing technology.

    "With this project we hope to get quality lectures since a lecturer can stand in India and deliver a lecture to students at Makerere University, " said Sam Kutesa, Uganda's Foreign Affairs minister who commissioning the facility in Kampala, recently.

    The health sector will also benefit since a doctor in Mulago Hospital can carry out an operation with assistance from a doctor in India through video conferencing."

    Speaking online from New Delhi, India external affairs minister Shri Krishna said the project will further improve relations between India, Uganda and other African countries. "This project will not only boost the education and health sectors but will strengthen India and her partners," said Krishna.

    Under this project, the government of India is helping in setting up a fibre-optic network to provide satellite connectivity, tele-medicine and tele-education to all 53 countries in Africa. At least 47 countries have so far joined the project, including Uganda and Burundi.

    Tele-medicine patient locations have already been set up in 11 Indian Super Specialty hospitals. These have been connected to 33 Patient-End hospitals in African countries.

    Regular tele-medicine consultations have already started in some of the African countries and Uganda's Mulago Hospital will also benefit from this initiative where doctors can consult their peers elsewhere in Africa using video conferencing.

    Another 34 tele-education teaching centres have also already been set up in Africa. The lcentres have been set up in three regional leading university centres in Africa. These include Makerere University, Uganda, Kwame and Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, and Yaounde University, Cameroon.

  • For Nigeria to position itself for the actualization of the goals of Vision 20:2020, it needs to have an important link in the global production chain in technology, innovation, manufacturing and modern economy, the Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BOI) Limited, Mrs. Evelyn Oputu has said.

    The BOI MD made this remark recently while presenting her paper entitled, "Evolving Strategies for Sustainable Financing of Research and Development activities through Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement in a developing country like Nigeria" at the just concluded science and technology summit in Abuja.

    According to her, Nigeria should also expand its trade and investment to achieve faster growth, job creation, improve productivity of the work force and poverty reduction.

    She said, "In addition, as Nigeria expands its developmental space, five fundamental shifts currently taking place in the economy will accelerate primary products to manufacturing with more elastic demand and firmer prices; oil to non oil exports (processed agric products, solid minerals, crafts and manufactured goods) and import substitution to export oriented industrial base.

    She pointed out that innovations that would transform the global economy and the manufacturing sector using more of local Research and Development (R&D) results, should also be given attention.

    "All these developmental strategies will shape the future of our industry; improve value addition to industrial goods and services, and the linkages between R&D activities and the private sector. As a nation with huge oil wealth, we need to take advantage of the opportunities that the new decade presents.

    "We need to use our oil revenues to support and build modern technologies and innovations. We need to work towards building massive industrial sector to actualize the nation's huge potential. For this to happen, we need to sincerely and genuinely have a strong private-public partnership in the development of the nation's infrastructure, agri-business, agro-industries," she added.

    Mrs. Oputu, however, stressed that the objective of the work of R&D activities, is to bring about economic growth and the capacity to diversify domestic production structure through generating new activities, and strengthening economic linkages within the country.

    Leadership
  • * Kampala:A cybercrime prevention centre has been launched in Uganda to fight crime related to the misuse of the internet and such other technologies.

    * Rwanda: The Centre for Treatment and Research and AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and other Epidemics (TRAC plus) has urged nurses in the country to embrace Internet and mobile phone use in giving reports. The call was made during two-day training on TRAC net, an electronic report system designed by TRAC to facilitate information transfer. The training attracted 45 nurses from Huye District hospitals and other health centres last week.

    * South Africa: The information and technology (IT) industry is expected to make a strong rebound, with the value of the sector expected to reach 3,4-trillion by next year, according to Peter Sondergaard, the Head of Gartner Global Research.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Fitch Ratings yesterday gave Telecom Namibia the credit thumbs-up, affirming its long-term local currency issuer default rating (IDR) at 'BBB-' and national long-term rating at 'A(zaf)', with both ratings getting 'Stable Outlooks'.

    In a statement, Fitch said the rating affirmation reflects it continuing expectation of ongoing government support based on Telecom Namibia's strategic importance to the domestic telecoms sector, given its extensive fibre network infrastructure in the domestic market.

    "Telecom Namibia's ratings are also supported by the strong operational and strategic ties with the ultimate parent, the Namibian Government ('BBB' LC IDR / Stable)," Fitch said.

    "In the light of recent trends and Fitch's revised growth expectations for the Namibian fixed line market, the agency has marginally lowered its expectations for Telecom Namibia's revenue and funds from operations (FFO) in 2010 and 2011. Telecom Namibia remains the dominant player in the local fixed-line telephony market and is supported by its incumbent status, given its emerging retail broadband and wholesale markets," the statement said.

    The Namibian
  • East African Cables (EAC) posted a loss in the six months to June due to poor performance of its Tanzanian unit.

    The cable maker announced a loss of Sh56.9 million in the six months compared to a profit of Sh248 million in the same period last year -making it the only listed firm at the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) to announce half year losses.

    Growing optimism over the recovery of Kenya's economy has helped corporate Kenya announce double and triple digit profits, a departure from the flat earnings witnessed in 2008 and 2009.

    The cable maker--which serves the regional market-- said its Kenyan unit was strong and profitable, but added that its Tanzanian unit is suffering from low sales to electricity supplier Tanzania Electric Company (Tanesco) and non-payment of deliveries that saw it write off debts.

    "The significant decline in earnings for the group is attributable to poor results recorded by our Tanzanian subsidiary," the firm said in a notice on Tuesday.

    "Though the company (Kenya) recorded growth in turnover and profit before tax of 59 per cent and 8 per cent respectively, the group recorded a 93 per cent drop in profitability." It announced a Sh23.8 million profit before tax on revenues of Sh1.8 billion, reflecting a 7.6 per cent growth.

    The cable maker incurred a bill of Sh193 million on debt write-offs and restructuring of its Tanzanian unit. The announcement comes weeks after it issued a profit warning on July 17 for this year -- egging analysts to believe that the management is not expecting a swift recovery in the second half of the year.

    This means that EAC will post reduced profits for the second year in a row--a departure from the double digit growth in profits that the firm witnessed since TransCentury bought a 75 per cent stake from investor Naushad Merali in 2003.

    Profits dropped from Sh462 million in 2008 to Sh296 million in 2009 while revenues dropped from Sh3.9 billion to Sh2.8 billion over the same period. The 2010 outlook does not bode well for the firm's shareholders whose dividend growth curve has also remained stagnant since 2008 at Sh1. The firm's operating profits dropped 77.7 per cent to Sh238 million, an indicator that costs are rising faster than revenues. Analysts expect the firm to pay a lower dividend next year on the sluggish performance.

    This will hurt TransCentury most at a time when some of its acquisitions have been posting sluggish returns -- slowing down its cash flow and returns.

    Besides EAC, it's yet to make a return from the chaotic Rift Valley Railways, where it has pumped hundred of millions of shillings since 2007 and its portfolio at the NSE has also faced erosion over the past two years.

    East African Cables' share has fallen by over 13 per cent in the last six months to the current price of 18.85, from Sh19.50 at the close of trading Monday.

    Financial analysts reckon that the firm has trailed their expectations since the entry of the fibre optic cable, the regions vibrant construction sector and the push to connect more East Africans to the power grid was expected to power its profits. But this has not happened.

    Business Daily
  • Market capitalisation of the Nairobi Stock Exchange dipped last week on account of a decline in the Safaricom share price occasioned by the stiff competition in the telecoms sector.

    The bourse shed Sh30.7 billion even as the Safaricom share price declined from Sh5.7 to trade at Sh4.70 on Thursday. "The decline in the equity market capitalisation can be attributed to competition in the mobile telephone industry that has triggered a decline in Safaricom share prices," reported the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in a statement.

    The NSE 20 share index declined by 61.56 points to settle at 4,542 points in August 26 from 4,603.5 points on August 19th 2010. The NSE all share index lost by 2.69 points to settle 97.8 on Thursday from 100.49 the previous week.

    Last week witnessed the most fierce price wars in the country, ignited by a move by Zain Kenya that reduced the calling tariff by 50 per cent. The decision saw Safaricom, which commands over 80 per cent of the market share, witness a loss of subscribers to Zain.

    Safaricom responded with a temporary price cut to stem the mass migration as it contemplated the next strategy. It is, however, the sustainability of Safaricom's huge profits in the wake of lower calling tariffs that has elicited a decline in the firm's share price.

    "The reduction in the share price has profound significance on the equity market, hence this is painting subdued performance on the bourse," said Johnson Nderi of Suntra Investment Bank.

    The 20 per cent dip in the Safaricom share price saw increased share holder flight which buoyed the fixed income securities market.

    This saw the bond market that had registered Sh32.3 billion in trade in the week before rise to Sh52.2 billion last week.

    "The increase in bond turnover may be attributed to possible investor portfolio reallocation from the equity market," read the CBK weekly bulletin.

    Following Zain's price cuts, the counter of the only listed telcom company witnessed massive activities raising the level of shares traded by over 350 per cent last week alone.

    Given that almost 70 per cent of the firm's revenues accrue from voice calls, the market remains cynical that the firm can quickly diversify her revenue base using her huge capital base and maintain the huge profits that reached the peek of Sh20 billion in the first half of the year.

    It remains to be seen if the reduction in calling tariffs will increase the frequency of calls, thus compensating telcom companies' loss of revenue due to a reduction in calling rates.

    During the last quarter, the total number of mobile traffic grew by 19.9 per cent from 4.2 million minutes in the previous quarter to 5.1 million minutes.

    This is an increase of 118.6 per cent compared to the same period the previous year.

    Foreign players like JP Morgan, HSBC, and Alexander Forbes who control over 40 per cent of the stock market are waiting to see the strategy that Safaricom will adopt after the temporary reduction in price. Any move by foreign investors will have an immense bearing on the direction that the bourse will assume this week since they are major players on the Safaricom counter.

    Business Daily
  • Market capitalisation of the Nairobi Stock Exchange dipped last week on account of a decline in the Safaricom share price occasioned by the stiff competition in the telecoms sector.

    The bourse shed Sh30.7 billion even as the Safaricom share price declined from Sh5.7 to trade at Sh4.70 on Thursday. "The decline in the equity market capitalisation can be attributed to competition in the mobile telephone industry that has triggered a decline in Safaricom share prices," reported the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in a statement.

    The NSE 20 share index declined by 61.56 points to settle at 4,542 points in August 26 from 4,603.5 points on August 19th 2010. The NSE all share index lost by 2.69 points to settle 97.8 on Thursday from 100.49 the previous week.

    Last week witnessed the most fierce price wars in the country, ignited by a move by Zain Kenya that reduced the calling tariff by 50 per cent. The decision saw Safaricom, which commands over 80 per cent of the market share, witness a loss of subscribers to Zain.

    Safaricom responded with a temporary price cut to stem the mass migration as it contemplated the next strategy. It is, however, the sustainability of Safaricom's huge profits in the wake of lower calling tariffs that has elicited a decline in the firm's share price.

    "The reduction in the share price has profound significance on the equity market, hence this is painting subdued performance on the bourse," said Johnson Nderi of Suntra Investment Bank.

    The 20 per cent dip in the Safaricom share price saw increased share holder flight which buoyed the fixed income securities market.

    This saw the bond market that had registered Sh32.3 billion in trade in the week before rise to Sh52.2 billion last week.

    "The increase in bond turnover may be attributed to possible investor portfolio reallocation from the equity market," read the CBK weekly bulletin.

    Following Zain's price cuts, the counter of the only listed telcom company witnessed massive activities raising the level of shares traded by over 350 per cent last week alone.

    Given that almost 70 per cent of the firm's revenues accrue from voice calls, the market remains cynical that the firm can quickly diversify her revenue base using her huge capital base and maintain the huge profits that reached the peek of Sh20 billion in the first half of the year.

    It remains to be seen if the reduction in calling tariffs will increase the frequency of calls, thus compensating telcom companies' loss of revenue due to a reduction in calling rates.

    During the last quarter, the total number of mobile traffic grew by 19.9 per cent from 4.2 million minutes in the previous quarter to 5.1 million minutes.

    This is an increase of 118.6 per cent compared to the same period the previous year.

    Foreign players like JP Morgan, HSBC, and Alexander Forbes who control over 40 per cent of the stock market are waiting to see the strategy that Safaricom will adopt after the temporary reduction in price. Any move by foreign investors will have an immense bearing on the direction that the bourse will assume this week since they are major players on the Safaricom counter.

    Business Daily
  • South Africa’s third and smallest network operator has been burdened by interest-bearing euro-denominated debts that drain its cash each month, contributing to its failure to make a net profit.

    The agreement with China Development Bank comes after President Jacob Zuma led a delegation of 300 businessmen on a state visit to China to strengthen relations.

    The move is likely to improve the cellphone network provider's financial position and help raise funds to expand its network. Cell C is 60% owned by Saudi Oger, 25% by empowerment investors CellSaf and 15% by Lanun Securities, also a Saudi company.

    Cell C said the "draw down" (one of the loan agreement instruments) under the facility will be made after the satisfaction of certain conditions precedent over the next few weeks.

    "Any refinancing will be made in accordance with the terms of the indentures (governing both tranches of the company's outstanding notes), and agreements governing other outstanding indebtedness," it said, declining to provide further information.

    The cash injection comes after Cell C shareholders cut the company's debt by half, by converting a R6,4bn loan into equity.

    CEO Lars Reichelt said in May the recapitalisation had decreased the ratio of debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) from 9,5 times to 4,8 times. He said the ebitda ratio of 4,8 times gave Cell C a better option for expanding the network. Cell C grew its full year ebitda by 67% to R1,4bn.

    Cell C's debt situation saw rating agencies downgrading it two years ago for fear that it might not meet its debt obligation. But that changed as it started showing signs of recovery.

    Cell C has 6,9-million subscribers. This year, it plans to spend R5,5bn in network expansion that includes building a high- speed network. The new network will improve its service and also provide other products. It will target high-end customers that it previously paid less attention to. It will launch its high-speed network on Friday in a phased roll-out.

    Business Daily
  • * Nigerian CDMA operator Starcomms has reported a pre-tax loss of NGN2.94 billion (USD19.1 million) for the first half of 2010, news agency Reuters reports. The figure represents a fall from a loss of NGN3.68 billion posted in the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, the fixed-wireless company’s revenue fell to NGN16.12 billion in the first six months of 2010 from turnover of NGN16.92 billion generated in 1H09. Starcomms has approximately 3.2 million CDMA customers in Nigeria, with a network covering 31 major cities, 22 States and covering 175 towns.

Digital Content

  • A new mobile money transfer platform targeting Kenyans in the diaspora has been launched. The new system involves Heart of the City, a Christian organisation, in partnership with yu.

    The payment service dubbed Ushindi Mobile Money runs on the web and WAP through java and GPRS capable phones and is also available as a software download.
    The software will come built in with new yu lines and will provide access to cash through Yu-Cash.

    "Today marks a new milestone in the information and communication industry; 12 years ago, we began to create a secure platform that would enable Kenyans to access various mobile payments services through the internet. Today we see UMM come to life," said Dr Lukas Njenga, Heart for the City CEO during the launch.

    The firm has partnered with local banks, insurance companies and investment banks to enable those in diaspora access their accounts, pay insurance premium and invest without using middlemen. "This allows Kenyans outside not only to send in money but also get involved in investment and development," he said

    Service providers have given a uniform introductory fee of $5 for sending money from the US and 5 pounds for those sending from Britain. "Local transfers will be free for customers, we are looking to drive revenues through the services to our corporate partners," said Rev Njenga.

  • A growing number of businesses are making Facebook a vital part of their enterprises in a bid to find new customers, build online communities and tap into information relevant to them. Businesses in Kenya are taking advantage of social media to build their reputation and brands.

    "Facebook has a large Kenyan community and so it enables us to communicate to people at an affordable cost," said John Karanja, the proprietor of Whive.com.
    Karanja has set up a social media platform, mainly targeting people in the region, to share ideas and react to the content on the website.

    He has set up a page, with at least 2,000 people, that drives traffic to the website. He is one among many entrepreneurs in the country who are utilising Facebook to sell their wares or ideas.

    Facebook has more than 500 million active users, with the average user having an average of 130 friends, according to the site. In Kenya, mobile phone penetration has made it easier for more people to log onto the internet, especially Facebook.

    Insidefacebook.com says that as of March Kenya had over half a million users with an average monthly growth of 2.4 per cent.

    This social networking website has grown in the past few years, from being a campus website to having a global reach with pages translated in other languages including Kiswahili.

    For small businesses, Facebook is the best place to start.

    Companies open pages that are different from personal profile pages or groups to attract fans who get updates on what the firms are doing, especially in relation to new merchandise.

    One can easily create a web presence on the social sites, even if they do not have their own websites or can direct traffic to their sites.

    A growing portion of some of the most valuable demographics is spending more time on Facebook and less on other channels, while the advertising system provides instant feedback with metrics like the number of clicks on items.

    Most small business owners start by asking their friends to become fans of their pages so as to have a crowd before the pages start growing organically by word of mouth or by advertising.

    By starting a group, businesses create a central place for customers, partners and friend to participate in conversations around a product. This is what Cynthia Muyoti, the proprietor of FabGuru, which sells shoes, did. She opened up a page, with friends and family at first, and today she boasts of over 6,000 fans. In March last year Ms Muyoti opened a business selling shoes from the boot of her car. As she went door to door using word of mouth to make sales as well as reach new clients, a friend suggested that she turn to Facebook to market her wares.

    Ms Muyoti opened a personal account on the social media site and began spreading word on her wares. Soon she had 1,000 friends, most of them were interested in her shoes, leading her to open a page for her business from where she advertises her wares. "In the beginning, I saw the site as a gossiping avenue. But my perception has changed as I have seen the impact it has had on the growth of my business," she said.

    Maintaining the Facebook page is not easy especially when there are new wares as she has to take photos, edit, upload, label the shoes, and price them before tagging her friends. "The response has been overwhelming and we still believe it was a sound idea," she says.

    With a focused path, FabGuru has embarked on creating, managing, interacting and reaching a wider client base and has just opened up a physical shop as it works towards enhancing its online shop.

    Many are using Ms Muyoti's model and uploading pictures, comments, videos and business applications on their pages in a bid to reach as many people as possible and keep them informed of the business.

    Companies like Bagalicious.co.uk, which sells handbags, and totallytoto.com, which specialises in children's clothes, use Facebook to market their wares and direct traffic to their e-commerce websites.

    These companies are part of a growing list of websites that are selling mostly foreign made goods to local consumers at competitive prices. They use Facebook as a major marketing and advertising avenue to reach as many people as possible.

    In addition, they have adapted easy payment solutions that allow people to use mobile money transfer methods to pay for the merchandise that are delivered to one's doorstep. This week Facebook added a new feature that will help users share where they are.

    The "places" feature that was rolled out yesterday, though in the US market only for now, will help users declare their whereabouts thus opening themselves up to offers, suggestions or advertisements from nearby businesses.

    This will also help small businesses know more of the demographic of people near them and how they can reach them easily.

    Companies are using different strategies with media firms uploading their stories on social network sites in a bid to create traffic to their publications.

    In the US, Art Meets Commerce introduced a Facebook ad campaign to promote an Off Broadway run of the musical Fela! last year.

    The campaign targeted Facebook users with interest in theatrical shows, particularly Afro beat.

    The company says it generated 18 million impressions, more than 5,700 clicks and $40,000 in ticket sales - all for $4,400 spent on advertising..

    Business Daily

More

  • * Could former SABC CEO Dali Mpofu or former Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig be approached to take the reins at listed telecommunications group Telkom? Mpofu and Knott-Craig are two of the high-profile people external to Telkom whose names have been linked to the job in recent weeks.

  • *MOBIFEST 2010
    NIGERIA

    Nigeria’s first and largest mobile application event will be in Lagos less than two weeks and a key focus for this inaugural event is not surprisingly – Mobile applications in a leading market in Africa where mobile subscription level has surpassed the 50% mark and still counting. The event is targeted at the M-Generation which are upwardly mobile and are ready to go.
    The conference and exhibition will Cover mobile financial services,Mobile Insurance, entertainment, enterprise solutions, mobile govt,tracking services, Health,informational,who will showcase their latest mobile applications and solutions to a ready and willing segment.
    There will also be Showcase highlights sessions from leading sponsors and also connect young innovative developers in touch with industry experts and decision makers.
    More information: http://mobilemoneyafrica.com/mobifest2010
    Speaking and exhibition: emmanuel@mobilemoneyafrica.com

    *VOICE SA

    8th September 2010, Johannesburg SA
    VoiceSA, a free industry conference and networking event provides a platform for industry players to meet in the interest of ensuring a positive future for the SA telecoms industry. This event is for the SA telecoms industry and will address pertinent questions raised by the emergence of this telecoms landscape.
    The event will feature presentations by local and international industry experts, including:
    Douglas Reed (Vox Telecom)
    Steve Song (Shuttleworth Foundation)
    Wayne Speechly (IS)
    Rob Lith (Connection Telecom)
    Frederic Dickey (Sangoma)
    For further information, please visit the company website http://www.voicesa.co.za

    *AITEC EAST AFRICAN SUMMIT

    7-8 September-Nairobi,Kenya
    An ICT Conference and Exhibition in East Africa at The Kenyatta International Conference Centre to cover challenges with current routes,traffic diversion in the event of outagesimproving network resilience and route diversity.
    For further information visit AITEC website
    www.aitecafrica.com
    Contact: seanm@aitecafrica.com
    UK Tel: +44(0)1480-880774
    UK Fax: +44(0)1480-880765
    UK Mobile: +44(0)7973-499224
    Kenya Mobile: +254(0)721-845674
    Mozambique Mobile: +258-82-6181618
    Nigeria Mobile: +234(0)802-0571766
    SA Mobile: +27(0)724-577887

    *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 (http://www.capacitymedia.com/conferences-events.asp?id=66&cat=&subcat=&s...)

  • *Performance Analyst (1000045)
    Parvana Strategic Sourcing (PTY) Ltd
    Job Title: Performance Analyst
    Job Type: Permanent
    Job ID: 1000045
    City: Cape Town
    Country: South Africa

    Description:
    Main Role:

    • Our Client’s Performance team is seeking a well-organized, highly motivated individual to join their team.
    Duties & Responsibilities:
    • Calculating and providing performance returns via Statpro Performance Applications
    • Controlling and maintaining Statpro databases for Performance Measurement returns
    • Calculating Benchmark returns as per excel worksheets and updating in-house Performance Reporting System (RPT) for Client
    • Analysis required on Bond Risk Numbers obtained from Investment System for Client’s Bond Attribution reporting
    • Providing Performance reports i.e. Statement and security level performance to performance clients via Statpro Applications and Performance reporting system on a monthly basis
    • Data input and submission of standardized survey templates to the relevant Consulting Actuaries and verification of each Asset Managers data submitted
    • GIPS report data (Total Market Value and Total Returns as well as cash flow) verification and submission to relevant Asset Manager
    • Assist Asset Manager’s External Auditors with various GIPS related queries on an annual basis
    • Ad-hoc Performance return queries to be addressed in timely manner as well as interaction with relevant internal departments on source data causing return deviations or incorrect returns
    • Analysis and interpretation of return deviations on security, sector and total return levels vs. benchmark return comparison
    • Escalation on Performance System issues and/or Performance Reporting delays via Peregrine System and attending Health check conference calls.
    • Providing accurate Performance return information timeously to clients
    • Client Service focused & client interaction in monthly meetings and team meetings
    • Daily Update of CSX System on client queries / issues logged by the client
    • Ad hoc duties as required by the department Manager and the business
    • Involvement in projects and testing as well as training provided to the rest of the team i.r.o project worked on as well as updating relevant project documentation and SOP (Standard Operating documents).
    • Key Focus on process automation and Standard Operating documentation
    • Ensure all allocated training to be completed.

    Requirements:
    Education & Qualifications:

    • Tertiary qualification with Mathematics/Statistics or equivalent qualification
    • Studying towards a CFA will be to ones advantage.
    • Knowledge of the working of financial markets and performance return calculations.
    Technical Skills & Experience:
    • High level of integrity
    • Proven analytical skills
    • Strong team player and have the ability to work independently
    • Controls orientated
    • Strong systems orientation and previous exposure to Statpro will be to one’s advantage
    • Excellent problem solving abilities
    • Attention to detail
    • Relevant performance calculation work experience.
    Other:
    • Overtime required from time to time

    Please send your CV to Tracy@parvana.co.uk or click here to save your CV with us directly

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