Issue no 547 25th March 2011

top story

  • Fibre-To-The-Home is beginning to be announced in Africa’s larger markets: Jamii Telecoms in Kenya (see issue 540), i3Africa in South Africa and Algerie Telecom has been piloting it. But for most telcos, the next stage after fibre metronets is rolling out Fibre-To-The-Cabinet. Both offer a route for fixed line telcos to re-invent themselves and position themselves ahead of the competition but there is a need for a good combination of a strong fibre network investment and content services to deliver over the newly created network. Last week Russell Southwood spoke to Sarat Lallah, CEO of Orange Mauritius about its experience.

    Mauritius is part of Africa but is very different from it. There are higher wealth levels and it is a geographically compact island with good infrastructure, including a high level of fixed line penetration. Nevertheless, it has always provided a good pointer to what will happen in the rest of Africa because it has invested in technologies ahead of the pack: for example, it was the first place where a commercial implementation of 3G was carried out. The Government’s Cyber Island strategy can be criticized in a number of ways but its successful focus on outsourcing as a vector for growth shows what can be done and has a number of less successful imitators elsewhere on the continent. Therefore there are lessons which can be learned from its experience even if it is very different from other parts of Africa.

    Orange Mauritius started investing in Fibre-To-The-Cabinet with a pilot test in the west coast resort of Wolmar as far back as 2006 and by 2007 it had 15 cabinets in place and that has been built up to 77 cabinets this year. According to CEO Sarat Lallah:”We’re still rolling out and want to increase the coverage so that it’s island-wide. We place the cabinet on the street and the last mile is copper.”

    The overall objective is to give fibre coverage to all but a very small percentage of the population by 2015. Alongside this network, it has rolled out Fibre-To-The-Company:”We’ve deployed fibre to hotels using our GPON network and to companies in Cyber City in Ebene. All Government offices have four 100 mbps connections.”

    To grow user use on the fibre network, Orange Mauritius has a branded IPTV service called MyT which was launched in 2006 with 400 VOD titles and 18 TV channels. This has been built up over time as it slowly cracked the content rights obstacles: in 2010, it added a Bollywood Bouquet with 5 channels and there will be an additional 10 channels ready for the launch of its Orange Expo later in the year. Furthermore, there are now 500 VOD titles, with 20% Mauritian content.

    When it started in 2006, there was only 60% coverage but this has increased considerably and by 2015 there will be almost universal coverage. The overall download speed on this service is 5 mbps and the upload speed is 684 kbps and it is sold to customers in the three plans: 1 mbps, 2 mbps and 4 mbps with varying contention ratios.

    Africa’s failing incumbent telcos seem mesmerized by the success of the mobile operators and where they don’t have their own operation are in a lust for GSM licences. However, the next phase of Africa’s development (for both voice and data) will be fibre-based IP traffic. Therefore, they need to “stick to their knitting” and invest in creating national fibre backbones, metronets and fibre access.

    Content will be the driver for household services and there is a middle class of a significant size in all but a few countries that will be the first customers for these services. The key choice for the incumbent telcos is whether simply to be transporters of content services (making alliances with existing Pay TV bouquet providers) or to become content providers in their own right.

    But whichever way they do it, this is the route to re-inventing the fixed line assets. Mobile data with LTE will offer so much more but those who can will want to sit at a decent size screen with a keyboard and have a near rock-solid connection. They will want to sit down round a television screen to watch movies and sport, not huddle round an LTE provisioned smartphone. The CDMA 2000 wireless provision was a phase the incumbents went through but now they need to find the money to get serious. There is life after mobiles…



    This week on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    Mauritius Special: The state of the mobile market in Mauritius and international bandwidth and new technology developments (Fibre-To-The-Cabinet and Mi-Fi)

    Sarat Lallah, CEO, Orange Mauritius on the Net PC, Fibre-to-the-Cabinet and International Bandwidth

    Shyam Roy, CEO, Emtel on the mobile market, Mi-Fi and international bandwidth

    Viv Padayatchy, CEO, Cybernaptics on a PC and mobile app for logistics companies

    Plus IPV6 transition:

    Adiel Akplogan, CEO, Afrinic on the transition from IPV4 to IPV6

telecoms

  • Telkom Kenya will partner with China's technology vendor ZTE Corporation to roll-out 3G. The deal worth Sh4 billion will enable the operator to introduce more Internet services once the network goes live with an increased speed to 21 megabytes per second.

    Installation is expected to be complete by May, followed by the official launch of the 3G network in June this year. The partnership includes initial maintenance of the network, staff training on network management.

    The new development is also aimed at meeting the increasing demand for Internet services to enable customers experience improved browsing and downloading speeds, enhance e-commerce, which in turn are expected to boost growth in local content development and generation.

    "For students, 3G on the Orange mobile will make it easy to access to the vast academic resources available in the net," TelKom Kenya CEO Mickael Ghossein said.

    ZTE Corporation vice president for Africa region Zhang Renjun said installing 3G will allow seamless upgrades from 2G to 3G and finally to 4G, without expensive network overlays and infrastructural replacements. Initial 3G coverage targets high population density areas of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa.

  • Cellular operator MTN said on Wednesday that it had launched a mobile phone life insurance scheme in Ghana in a bid to expand mobile financial services for low-income markets.

    The company is touting the service as the first of its kind in the world, saying the new programme would bring life insurance to people without bank accounts who could not previously buy policies.

    “Until now, insurance hasn’t really been made available or targeted at that low-income market. It allows us to reach our market in a fantastic way,” said Jeremy Leach, head of micro-insurance for the Hollard Insurance Group, which partnered with MTN to design the product. “Typically, insurance has been predicated around bank accounts, and in Ghana only 34% of people have a bank account,” he told AFP.

    MTN, which operates in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East, said the service lets mobile phone users buy life insurance by sending a text message to a number that will take them to a series of menus, or by going to an MTN service centre to register for a policy that can then be managed by phone.

    Clients will pay their premiums through the company’s mobile money service, which launched in Ghana in 2009 and lets users — many of whom have no bank accounts — send and receive money on their phones.

    Bruno Akpaka, GM for MTN’s mobile money operations in Ghana, said the policies have been tailor-made for a new market. “It’s not a generic life insurance where we’re using phones as a medium to connect the cash. We’re talking about very, very low premiums,” he said.

    Leach said Hollard Insurance would also explore other kinds of mobile micro-insurance for the low-income market in Ghana, including policies to pay bills and school fees in case of the death or disability of a family’s main breadwinner.

    MTN said it plans to roll out similar products in other countries, citing a 2009 study by insurance services group Lloyds that found the market for simple and affordable insurance in developing countries is between 1.5bn and 3bn policies.

    TechCentral
  • The government of South Sudan (GoSS) notified telecom companies that it will temporarily suspend their work while they issue new regulations governing their operations in the region that is set to become an independent country next July.

    Hesham Mustafa Allam, COO for Zain, largest mobile phone operator in Sudan, told Reuters that this decision could force them to delay some work on cell towers and laying of fibre-optics. Though he expected the company's mobile license to be valid in South Sudan after July, Allam said he could not be "100 percent sure" that would be the case either.

    The South Sudan government last week accused the North of tapping the phones of its senior officials through telecom companies and produced documents to prove it. However, the Khartoum-based government denied the charge.

    Zain launched its network in South Sudan five years ago and in 2008 launched a major expansion initiative that saw growth in towers from a handful to around 150 with a total cost of $300 million. This was made despite logistical challenges and the lack of information on the profitability of the market in a region that is just emerging from a two-decades civil war.

    The company's move south is key after losing its lion's share of Sudan's market in 2007 to fierce competition in the rest of the country from the part-government owned operator Sudani.

    "For Zain, the decision to rollout in South Sudan was purely a strategic decision; it was not a business decision, because at that time we had Zain Uganda and Zain Kenya and so to have one network you couldn't have it without South Sudan," he said.

    "[Having] said this, we believe there is opportunity in South Sudan. We will not say South Sudan is not good for business. There's still opportunity for business in South Sudan when things start to stabilize and infrastructure is there."

    Sudan Tribune
  • The Competition Commission has finally ruled in a case of alleged price fixing by MTN and Vodacom, finding in favour of the two operators. The matter had been under investigation since 2004. The commission has decided not to refer the case to the Competition Tribunal because it could not find evidence that MTN and Vodacom colluded to fix their tariffs.

    The first complaint of collusion brought to the commission was lodged in 2004. Two others were submitted in 2005, one relating specifically to wholesale mobile termination rates, the fees operators charge each other to carry calls between their networks.

    Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille also threw her hat into the ring last year when she spearheaded a political drive to force operators to lower termination rates, adding her name to the list of complaints at the commission.

    The investigations into the complaints have faced several hurdles since the time they were lodged, including a jurisdictional issue the commission faced with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) over which regulatory body had the right to investigate competition matters in the telecommunications market.

    Those issues were put to bed in November 2009, when the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a landmark ruling finally giving the commission jurisdiction to investigate telecoms matters. The commission also signed a memorandum of understanding with Icasa setting out which organisation would investigate which issues.

    Oupa Bodibe, manager for stakeholder relations at the Competition Commission, says the parties that lodged the claims against MTN and Vodacom have been notified that the case has been concluded and have been given the reasons the commission decided not to refer the matter to the tribunal.

    Between 2004 and 2009, there were no regulations governing the prices operators could charge each other for terminating calls on their networks. Both MTN and Vodacom have faced criticism for increasing termination rates at the time Cell C entered the market. The two operators have vehemently denied accusations that they raised the rates to undermine Cell C’s chances of success.

    In 2009, the operators, under political pressure, agreed to reduce termination rates from R1.25/minute in peak times to 89c/minute. The off-peak rate stayed at 77c/minute, with the changes taking effect on 1 March 2010.

    Icasa then introduced regulations which will result in the rates coming down to 40c/minute for both peak and off-peak calls by 2013. The first of these cuts happened at the beginning of this month but few operators have passed on the benefits in the form of retail price cuts.

    Though the commission says it still has some concerns about the rates between 2004 and 2009, Bodibe says most of the matters raised in the complaints have been dealt with by the new regulations and the voluntary rate cut that came into force last year.

    TechCentral
  • -Zimbabwe's mobile phone networks are mooting sharing infrastructure, particularly in rural areas so as to expand mobile telephony. This will be the first time the companies will have gone into co-opetition with each other in a market that has been characterised by rivalry in which Econet Wireless has been the dominant force. The proposal is to share infrastructure such as towers, shelters and even generators. While Econet, the largest network, accounting for three quarters of the mobile phone subscribers in Zimbabwe, appears keen to share resources, its traditional rival, Net One seems lukewarm, perhaps in the light of its own possible merger with an international network envisaged by year end. However, Telecel, which has the second largest number of mobile phone subscribers in Zimbabwe, takes a broadly similar position to Econet on co-opetition.

    -Nairobi — Stiff competition in the mobile telephony market and an active industry regulator have reduced calling tariffs in Kenya to the lowest in Africa. Statistics from individual telecommunication operators show that calls in Kenya average Sh3.5 per minute, compared to an average of Sh11 in the East Africa region. In Kenya, Airtel and Essar Telecom, which trades as yu, charge Sh3 for calls across networks, while it costs Sh3 for on-net and Sh4 off-net calls when using the Safaricom network. Telkom Kenya's Orange charges Sh2 for on-net and Sh4 for off-net calls per minute. According to CCK, the termination rates will fall to Sh1.44 from July 1, and further to Sh1.15 on July 1, 2012.But MTN, Airtel Uganda and Orange charge between Sh16 and Sh17 per minute for on-net calls and Sh18 for calls terminated outside the network, the highest rates in the East African region.

    -Outgoing MTN Group CEO, Phuthuma Nhleko, has debunked persistent rumours that the telecommunications operator plans to relocate its head office to the Middle East, saying its domicile will always be South Africa.

internet

  • Seacom has connected five more African countries to its network even as its network experienced a problem that disrupted Internet connectivity in Tanzania early last week.

    A fibre cable-cut at Alexandria which happened Wednesday night led to interruptions of about an hour yesterday morning but local providers were quick to reroute their clients to satellite backups. However Seacom repair team was quick to fix the problem, according to the company's information in the website.
     
    "We had experienced some interruption in our connectivity in the early hours of the day following the Seacom fibre cable-cut at Alexandria which happened late last night. But to maintain adequate connectivity during the repair process we consequently routed the traffic to our satellite backup as an alternative.

    During that period you might have therefore experienced some slowness in browsing due to congestion," said Sekela Nyange, an Africa Online's executive in a note to customers. The newly connected countries include Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

    The Citizen
  • Expanding broadband, especially in the consumer market, will be one of the key focus areas of newly appointed Telkom group CEO Nombulelo “Pinky” Moholi, who takes the reins at the fixed-line group from Jeffrey Hedberg on 1 April. Other key focus areas will include replacing ageing components of Telkom’s network, focusing on converged services and sharpening the group’s Africa strategy.

    Moholi tells TechCentral that a network renewal, especially in its backhaul network, will play a key part in improving broadband services for consumers. The company plans to introduce faster digital subscriber line (DSL) broadband, beyond the 10Mbit/s currently only on offer at some of its telephone exchanges, she says.

    “We have a lot of legacy networks that add to the embedded costs in the organisation,” Moholi says. “We are looking to renew the network and switch off some of the older platforms.”

    Building fibre to the home (FTTH) is also an option in future, she says, though Telkom has no specific plans yet to build a national FTTH network similar to one being planned by i3 Africa. “Our strategy always has to be commercially led,” she says. “If there is a big need or a commercial need for higher speeds in residential households, Telkom will look at ways of doing that, either through fibre or DSL.”

    Turning to Telkom’s strategy elsewhere in Africa, Moholi says plans to disinvest from the wireless voice market in Nigeria are progressing well. Its Multi-Links subsidiary has turned into a noose around Telkom’s neck, costing it billions of rand in write-downs. Offers for Multi-Links’s wireless business are being considered. But Moholi emphasises that Telkom will remain in Nigeria, but focusing on the data and corporate markets.
    The strategy elsewhere in Africa is also away from retail consumers and to the data and enterprise markets, and helping provide telecoms services to its corporate clients in SA that are expanding on the continent.

    Turning to suggestions that Telkom is overstaffed and needs to begin a new round of retrenchments to remain competitive, Moholi says the group doesn’t compare well to its peers in other developing countries when measured by various metrics, including revenue per employee. “There is a level of overstaffing.”

    However, she says Telkom will “act responsibly” around employee issues. “In areas where we can reskill people to move to the mobile or data centre businesses, we will do that,” Moholi says. “There will, of course, be people we can’t reskill, and hence we have offered voluntary severance packages to some employees.”

    Government-appointed Telkom chairman Lazarus Zim tells TechCentral that as a “corporate citizen in SA” the group does not “subscribe to large-scale job losses”.
    Zim also says he believes Telkom and government, which holds 39.8% of the group’s shares, can work together to address social issues while not compromising the operator’s need to maximise returns for its shareholders.

    TechCentral
  • Cisco has rolled out purpose-built unified communications solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in order to boost skills development and increase ROI.
    According to the company, this forms part of its Borderless Networks strategy to provide the SME market with affordable, business-class collaboration systems to help drive productivity and profitability.
    Click here

    Dr Cherif Sleiman, senior director for Africa, Cisco Enterprise and technology architecture, says the networking company is making big investments into skills development in the local SME market.

    Sleiman says: “Video is no longer limited to large organisations. The Tandberg acquisition allowed Cisco to bring its video portfolio down to the SME and consumer space.”

    Cisco is working with global cloud and service providers to deliver services where telepresence solutions can either be hosted in the cloud or hosted on premise.

    “Cloud-based solutions are going to drive business economy by offering affordable services as SMEs can leverage Web collaboration and video to reduce cost and improve productivity.”

    He says Cisco has identified Africa as a key growth market for unified communications. Despite restrictive bandwidth across the continent, Sleiman notes that broadband costs will come down; which will result in cheaper telepresence operating costs.

    “We've been working with Main One, and we found that all the operators are keen to leverage these cables. And these cables pass through 34 costal cities, with each city having a two million population. This will bring rise to bandwidth and make telepresence available to the middle class in Africa.”

    Kara Wilson: Cisco vice-president of collaboration solutions marketing says telepresence will drive skills development in Africa by enabling business to collaborate with IT experts all over the globe via video.

    Wilson says: “The average age of the technology engineer in SA is 54. This means SA has six years left until those skills need to be replaced. SA has advanced skills in science and healthcare but fallen behind in IT.”

    According to Michel de Beauregard, Tandberg sales business development manager, video will be able to bridge the digital divide by bringing education to those living in rural areas and to those who cannot travel.

    “One of the true values of video is that it speeds up the development of the economy,” says De Beauregard. “We believe that video implementation will have the same effect as the speed of acceleration of the mobile telephony sector.”

    He points to Cisco's telemedicine practice in SA, saying: “We've outfitted a vehicle with modalities for radiology and it has telepresence technology. The vehicle is able to go to remote areas where a doctor can speak to communities.”

    ITWeb.co.za
  • -Nairobi — Internet prices in Kenya can significantly drop if backhaul and last mile connectivity is properly achieved, says Julius Opio, SEACOM's East Africa Chief Executive says the unregulated way of deploying the two important fibre links to end users means ICT companies in Kenya are spending a huge amount of their resources on ensuring the connections are in place. Backhaul fibre connectivity refers to the interconnection between the under-sea and inland cables, while last mile connectivity is the final link that joins the metro cable to the clients. According to SEACOM, iconic inventions like mobile money transfer services, will become web based, even as there will be major transformations in content management with people accessing TV programs and news from the Internet, through Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) solutions

computing

  • India cannot match rival China's massive investments in Africa, but it is using its information technology capabilities and its affordable university courses to stay relevant on the continent.

    "How do you matter to Africa? India cannot obviously compete with either China or the United States, but it was this country which inspired the anti- colonial struggles of the last century and took a stand against apartheid," says Ajay Kumar Dubey of the Jawaharlal Nehru University's department for Africa studies.
     
    Dubey points to the Pan-African e-Network project as a classic example of what India has been doing to win friends in Africa and to also get a share of the continent's markets and resources for its own expanding economy at home.

    Besides providing tele-medicine and tele-education services the Pan-African e-Network facilitates easy video-conferencing among African heads of states across 33 nodes.

    The Pan-African e-Network is "the finest example of partnership between India and Africa," said Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna when he inaugurated the second phase of the 125 million dollar project in August 2010 from the New Delhi studios of the government-owned Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd. (TCIL).

    Kicked off on Feb. 16, 2009 the first phase of the project covered Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Seychelles. With the second phase, Botswana, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, Uganda and Zambia are on board.
     
    "We were able to prove a point with this project," TCIL executive Rajesh Kapoor told IPS. "Here is the practical implementation of a simple but great idea to bring people together."

    There is reason for people like Kapoor to be upbeat. Last year the project bagged the 2010 Hermes Prize for Innovation, instituted by the European Institute of Creative Strategies (EICS), a think tank that promotes strategies for innovation and renewal worldwide.

    EICS described the satellite and fibre-optic communication network as "the most ambitious programme of distance education and tele-medicine in Africa ever undertaken: the first example of large Project South-South development support."
     
    Currently some 2,000 African students are registered - through the e- Network - with prestigious Indian educational institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science, the University of Madras, the Delhi University, the Indira Gandhi National Open University, the Amity University, and the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur.

    Partner African tele-education centres have been set up at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, the Makerere University in Uganda, and Cameroon's Yaounde University.

    Makerere University has devoted two lecture rooms to the programme. They are fitted with state of the art e-learning technology and video conferencing facilities linked to India's privately run Amity University. There is full interaction between the lecturers and the students.

    Davies Rwabu, a second year Master of International Business student told IPS that the programme caters to busy students. "You have online video conferencing once a week for about three hours, and then you can still catch up with the notes online because we have a portal from which we can pick up the notes," Rwabu explained.
     
    Rwabu said the system allows for offline access to the lecture contents, which are stored in a database for review learning and access to lecturers in India.

    Students pay a subsidised fee of 200 dollars per semester at Makerere, which compares well with the regular 1,240 dollars for comparable courses.

    Earnings from running the courses are not sent back to India, they are used to pay local technicians running the learning centres as well as the project's coordinator.

    Amity University courses available through the Makerere centre lead to a diploma in information technology, and master's degrees in financial management and control and international business.

    When the programme was launched in August 2009, 236 Ugandan students enrolled and the number doubled the following year. A third round of enrolment is slated for July 2011.

    The current objective of the project, Kapoor said, is to assist Africa in building capacity by imparting quality education to 10,000 students across the continent over a five-year period.

    Apart from the Pan-African e-Network, India has extended assistance to several African nations by way of training of experts and implementation of projects.

    Over 1,000 officials from sub-Saharan Africa receive training annually under the Indian Technical and Education (ITEC) programme and about 15,000 African students are currently enrolled in different academic programmes in India - many of them self-financed.

    There are plans in the works to establish a series of India-Africa institutes each specialising in specific areas - foreign trade, education, administration, diamonds, and human settlements - as part of future capacity building.

    IPS
  • Education is meant to equip young people with skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will enable them to become productive members of society. However, when a system that is meant to do that has shortcomings, problems wait ahead.

    The Technical, Industrial, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TIVET) initiative is geared to provide practical skills and know-how, especially in technical fields.
     
    TIVET encompasses technical training institutions, micro and small enterprise (MSE) training, and demonstration centres, youth polytechnics, and national youth service skills development centres.

    TIVET programmes are offered in youth polytechnics, technical training institutes (TTIs), institutes of technology, and national polytechnics. They are also offered in several colleges spread across government ministries and in private institutions.

    The trouble is that most TIVET institutions in Kenya are unable to cope with demand for training. The number of graduates from secondary schools keep rising while the capacities of TIVET institutions remain low. A way out is to encourage e-learning in these institutions. This would counter the problem of teacher shortage because e-learning makes it possible for a single teacher to serve more students.

    The importance of TIVET institutions cannot be overemphasised. Their existence must be supported because the studies they offer go well with the government's Vision 2030 initiative, which proposes intensified application of science, technology, and innovation (STI).

    This, it is acknowledged, requires provision of resources for scientific research, enhancement of technical capabilities of the workforce, and the raising of the quality of education in TIVET.

    If these objectives are to be achieved, e-learning cannot be ignored. It will boost the work of educational institutions based on the conviction that the use of technology will ensure better education. Although connectivity and access are key challenges to the implementation of e-learning in most African countries, many governments, schools, and individuals have made available ICT facilities, services, and knowledge for teachers to use.
     
    Unfortunately in Kenya, teachers are still only comfortable with the traditional way of teaching. Many are yet to apply ICT for lesson preparation and delivery.

    The challenge is to find a way to motivate teachers to fully participate in e-learning as a method of delivery. There is also the need to deal with the factors that discourage teachers in TIVET institutions from implementing e-learning.

    One of these could be the fact that most TIVET institutions have no access to ICT infrastructure. They also lack electricity to run ICT equipment. This is made worse by the fact that there is no policy on TIVET implementation plans in relation to ICT.

    If TIVET is to help in the preparation of human capital for Vision 2030, there is a need to address a number of issues in relation to e-learning.
     
    Training of teachers as the key implementers of e-learning should be given priority. This is because no effective training can take place when teachers are incompetent. Their training should go hand in hand with renewed sensitisation on the need for e-learning as a mode of delivery.

    Teacher education curriculum must therefore be in line with ICT so as to motivate the educators to be ICT compliant. This also calls for the need to involve education managers so that they embrace the e-learning approach.

    This could promote innovation in education. The subsequent effort should be to revise the TIVET training curriculum to include e-learning. The promise of ICT in TIVET is the potential for increased access, improved quality, and efficiency. There is therefore a need to improve TIVET systems by harmonising the ICT policy so that there is uniformity in the institutions.

    The government could establish model e-learning TIVET institutions in every district so that other institutions in the area can learn from them. District youth polytechnics could be used as model centres.

    Also, TIVET institutions should establish e-learning centres where trainees can access information based on modules. Students could learn part of the course at the centres and only visit the institutions for tutorials, practicals, and examinations. Since e-learning is an expensive venture, institutions could start with pilot centres.

  • South African start-ups will soon be able to apply for incubation support from Google SA. The international search giant has launched Umbono, a technology incubator based in Cape Town.

    Google SA country manager Luke Mckend says Umbono will bring together seed capital, mentorship, angel investors and business leaders to help selected start-up businesses to “transform their ideas into companies”.

    The incubator forms part of Google’s African initiative to strengthen the Internet ecosystem.

    “The SA tech scene is incredibly dynamic, particularly in Cape Town,” says Mckend. “We’ve seen some terrific start-ups come from this environment, companies like Yola, MXit and Twangoo. Google’s latest investment with Umbono is a great extension of our overall strategy in the region to strengthen the Web ecosystem.” The project is being done in collaboration with the Silicon Cape Initiative and the Bandwidth Barn.

    For six months, start-up teams will have access to free office space and bandwidth. They will also receive between US$25 000 (about R173 000) to $50 000 (R346 000) in funding from a panel of angel investors and Google.

    Google has also called on its employees from across the world to provide mentorship to the new businesses, ranging from product design specialists to legal and valuation specialists. Potential start-ups will also have access to local technology leaders from both the Silicon Cape Initiative and Bandwidth Barn.

    “Google’s Umbono programme is a welcome addition to Cape Town’s tech scene. There’s a lot of talent and enthusiasm for technology here, and many just need that window of opportunity,” says Justin Spratt, a board member for the Silicon Cape Initiative.

    Applications will be live on the Umbono website from Tuesday and the programme is open to all SA residents. The deadline for first-round applicants is 15 April. However, the site will continue to accept applications from interested candidates.

  • - Abuja — Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that it is ready to partner with the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) in the establishment of the national working group on telecommunications software services transactions and billing systems.

    - The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Cameroon, Hosung Lee, says the National Assembly of Korea recently decided to donate computers to the National Assembly of Cameroon and specified that the computers will arrive Cameroon in the coming two to three weeks. Hosung Lee was speaking in Yaounde yesterday, March 22 after discussions with the Speaker of Cameroon's National Assembly, Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril.. He stated that their giant projects in Cameroon are being launched this year, citing the establishment of a Medical Emergency Centre at the Yaounde Central Hospital. Another project will be the establishment of information technology public infrastructure for e-government. Hosung Lee further revealed that the Korean government has decided to provide a concessionary loan to the government of Cameroon. The Korean government will soon start the construction of Vocational Training Centres in Douala, Limbe and Sangmelima, he said.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Stiff competition in the Internet market has pushed listed Internet service provider, AccessKenya into loss making. The firm, whose share price at the Nairobi Stock Exchange, early this month sank past its initial public offering price of Sh10, saw its full year 2010 profit after tax fall from Sh147.9 million in 2009 to a Sh7.9 million loss.

    For the financial period ending December 31, profit before tax also dived from Sh182.3 million to return a loss of Sh5.3 million, while turnover went down from Sh2.07 billion the previous financial year to Sh1.7 billion, by 17.5 per cent. The firm attributed the loss to higher interest costs and a foreign exchange loss, coupled with higher administrative expenses.

    "2010 has been a challenging year for the entire telecommunications and data industry, characterized by extreme competition and price wars," said a statement sent to the NSE by the firm's executive director David Somen. In December, the firm issued a profit warning that has hit on the share price and eroded investor confidence.

    Growing competition from nimble rivals has not given the ISP breathing space.

    Mobile operators led by Safaricom and corporate ISPs like MTN Business Kenya and Kenya Data Networks have stepped up their game, causing a major shift in market shares.
    KDN has put its mass market business into its sister firm, SwiftGlobal, to focus on the wholesale and the corporate business - AccessKenya's strength. Wananchi Group has intensified its activities in the recent months.

    "With most of our investment programme substantially completed, we also expect a reduction in capital expenditure in 2011. We will continue to invest in the areas of maximum potential, in particular our metro fibre network in Nairobi and Mombasa," Mr Somen said.

    In a recent interview, Jonathan Somen, the managing director, said some of the decisions made two years ago have come to haunt the company. "There is no secret about our profitability," he says. "We have learned a lot of important lessons. There were a lot of things we did that affected our business, but we have put measures in place to rectify the situation." One of them was investing heavily in infrastructure then the ground shifted suddenly as mobile phones entered the fray.

    Also, the acquisition of Openview Business Systems turned out to be disastrous, with the unit soon running into the red. The decisions tore the board apart, seeing the exit of the three directors - Ngugi Kiuna of TransCentury, Eddy Njoroge, the managing director of KenGen and Mungai Ngaruiya. They accused the Somen family of making decisions without independent directors' involvement yet the firm had been listed.

    The company says it has implemented a number of cost cutting measures as a way out such as reducing borrowing expenses and renegotiating bandwidth contracts with international cable owners. It has hedged its foreign exchange risks by converting its dollar denominated debt to Kenya shillings.

  • Nigerians at the weekend hailed the decision of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to open talks with Omen International Consortium, the reserved bidder for the privatisation of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), following the inability of New Generation Telecom to pay for NITEL/Mtel.

    BPE last week invited Omen International to revalidate its earlier bid of $956.9 million in order to take over NITEL.

    According to a statement by BPE spokesman, Mr. Chukwuma Nwokoh, the bureau has written to Omen International to revalidate its reserve bidder status for NITEL privatisation with its mobile subsidiary, M-tel.

    Part of the letter read: "If your bid is re-validated, it would give the Federal Government the right to invite your consortium to enter into negotiations to take up the offer."

    In addition, BPE stated that according to Section 3.4.3 of the Request for Proposal (RFP) sent to bidders for the privatisation of the telecommunications outfit, "your offer remains valid for six months after submission date, except the bid proposal is extended. Since your bid was submitted February 16, 2010, it expired August 15, 2010. We, therefore, wish to invite you to revalidate your bid bond of April 4, 2010 if you are still interested in the transaction."

    Consequently, the bureau has written to New Generation Consortium that its position as the preferred bidder for NITEL privatisation has lapsed. The decision is premised on the consortium's inability to pay the 30 percent bid security, amounting to N112.5 billion ($750 million) as a pre-requisite to acquire NITEL/Mtel.

    Commending the decision of BPE, President of the National Association of Telecom Subscribers, (NATCOMS), Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo who spoke on behalf of telecom subscribers, commended BPE for moving swiftly to consider the reserved bidder for the revalidation deal.

    According to him, "Any buyer willing top pay for NITEL should be given without hesitation. What we want is our national carrier to bounce back to life, start working and face the competition already on ground."
     
    Asked if NITEL was worth the $956.9 million that the reserved bidder offered, Ogunbanjo said new developments in the telecom sector have helped to devalue the worth of NITEL, but maintained that it is still worth between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

    President of the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) Titi Omo-Ettu, in 2008, valued NITEL at $2.2 billion at 100 percent sale, long before the preferred bidder for NITEL, New Generation Telecom, offered to pay $2.5 billion in 2010, but was unable to raise the amount.

    Omo-Ettu, who said he was worried about different calculations as figures for the value of NITEL, insisted that the first national carrier remains highly valued because of the worth of its licence as the national carrier. He explained that his calculation of $2.2 billion as NITEL's worth in 2008 was only a guide to investors who were interested in buying NITEL then. He, however, added that the recent emergence of undersea cables for bandwidth expansion, has further devalued NITEL, but maintained that NITEL is still worth about $1.8 billion.

    There was a clearer picture last week that New Generation Telecoms, the Chinese consortium that won NITEL's bid in February, last year, may have over-priced the company, hence its inability to pay for NITEL since last year.

    It was gathered from a reliable source that its financier, after a separate assessment of the value of NITEL, discovered that NITEL was over-priced and would not want to put its money into the deal.
     
    When contacted on phone, Mr. Usman Gumi, Managing Director of Gicell, the local partner of New Generation Telecoms, denied that the consortium's foreign financier backed out of the deal as a result of perceived over-pricing of NITEL. Usman, who was still optimistic that New Generation would get funds to pay for NITEL in future, said if given another opportunity to bid for NITEL, the consortium would bid the same amount, insisting that NITEL is worth more that what other competing bidders are quoting for it.

    New Generation Telecom of China is a consortium of China Unicom of Hong Kong, Minerva Group of Dubai and Nigeria's GiCell Wireless Ltd. It won the bid on an offer of $2.5 billion (N375 billion) for a 75 per cent stake in NITEL/Mtel, while the reserved bidder, Omen International, offered $956.9 million. The third on the list is Brymedia, which offered $550 million.

    Having emerged as the preferred bidder during the opening of financial bids for the privatisation of NITEL and Mtel, since February 16, 2010 in Abuja, New Generation failed to pay up the initial 30 percent bid security, amounting to N112.5 billion ($750 million) as a pre-requisite to acquire the company.

    New Generation was meant to pay the amount within ten calendar days from the date of issue of a demand letter from BPE and then pay the balance of $1,750 million within 60 days from the date of the offer letter.

    But the company kept postponing the payment date since last year, only to return to BPE in December, last year with proof of financial statement from its financiers, indicating willingness to pay, but at no fixed date.
    BPE, not satisfied with the delay in payment, last month, suggested to the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) to revoke the sale to New Generation Telecom.

    BPE finally wrote off the sale of NITEL to New Generation Telecom, when last week, it invited Omen International, the reserved bidder, to revalidate its bid for NITEL/Mtel.

    There are, however, fears that Omen International may not do anything better than New Generation Telecom, since both operators have the same technical partner, albeit different financiers.

    The third on the bidding list, Brymedia, which initially offered $550 million, has written to BPE to surrender NITEL to it, as it was ready to up its offer to $600 million.

    Although New Generation emerged the preferred bidder during the opening of financial bids since February 16, 2010 in Abuja, the government cancelled the sale and redirected BPE to conduct fresh due diligence on all bidders. Government's action was sequel to the denial of China Unicom, a member of the New Generation Consortium, which claimed in a letter to BPE that it had no knowledge of the bid for NITEL.

    Subsequently, NCP, at its meeting of March 12, 2010, set up an eight-member ad-hoc committee under the chairmanship of the Attorney-General of the Federation to review the NITEL/Mtel transaction. The committee came out with a report that the transaction complied strictly with due process as outlined in the BPE's Procedures Manual (PM) and that the necessary approvals were obtained through the Technical Committee (TC) and the NCP at every stage of the transaction.

    Based on the ad-hoc-committee's report, the Federal Government directed BPE to receive initial payment from New Generation to enable the latter to acquire NITEL/Mtel.

    But even at the instance of the orders of government, New Generation was unable to raise money to pay for NITEL, after several extensions given it by BPE.

    Earlier, in 2002, the government tried selling 51 per cent stake in NITEL to Investment International Ltd of London (IILL) for $1.2317 billion, but the transaction failed.

    After that, government entered into contractual agreement with Pentascope of The Netherlands to manage NITEL for some years before the government gets a credible buyer. Pentascope eventually mismanaged NITEL and plunged it into a more deteriorating condition, and the contract was terminated.

    In 2005, government, through BPE, tried again to sell NITEL through a bidding process that eventually saw Orascom Telecoms of Egypt winning the bid, but because government was not satisfied with the $225 million Orascom offered, government decided to cancel the offer and began yet another bidding process, but ended up reaching a negotiated bidding with Transcorp which paid $500 million to acquire the 51 percent stake in NITEL in 2006.

    The Transcorp deal was, however, terminated for its failure to raise the stakes of NITEL as agreed in the contractual agreement between it and the government.

    Following the revocation of Transcorp's licence to manage NITEL, government again initiated another move to sell NITEL in 2008 and eventually, sold it abortively to New Generation for $2.5 billion in 2010.

  • Luanda — The Angolan government expects that South Korean businessmen help in intensifying the economic cooperation between the two countries, based on mutual benefits and advantages, facilitating the transference of technology to Angola.

    The minister of Economy, Abraão Gourgel, said so whilst speaking during an Angola-South Korea economic forum.

    He added that he expected that South Korean investments facilitate the process of technology transference to Angola and improve business management, as well as contribute to the betterment of business environment and increase the productivity, mainly in the sectors of farming and manufacturing industry", he explained.

    According to him, the Angolan market offers many businesses opportunities, therefore the assistances are extensive to the supply of electricity and water, refining of oil by-products, as well as other sectors such as transport, communication and commercial banking.

    "South Korea is a country with a strong industrial background and focussed on exports. With a population estimated at 48 million inhabitants, a GDP superior to 1,243 million dollars and a consequent GDP per capita estimated at USD 25,000 dollars, being a country of high human development level", the minister considered.

    According to the minister, the private sector is the driving force of economic growth, a reason why he asserted that private investments will guarantee the sustainability of Angola's growth.

    Angola Press
  • JSE-listed Reunert’s acquisition of ECN Telecoms will be good for both companies and for the industry, says ECN CEO John Holdsworth.

    Reunert announced the deal on Monday, confirming speculation that ECN had been in discussions over a sale. The value of the transaction has not been disclosed and is subject to approval by the competition authorities.

    The deal is meant to bolster the “converged voice and data capabilities” of Reunert subsidiary Nashua Mobile.

    Holdsworth says using the combination of products available in Nashua Mobile and ECN will give both companies a chance to compete against incumbent players in the converged telecoms space.

    Holdsworth says both he and the management team will stay on board the merged entity. “In most deals like this you would see a reduced headcount, but because of the synergies between ECN and Nashua Mobile you may even see an increased headcount.”

    ECN, which is headquartered in Johannesburg and was founded in 2005, has an electronic communications network with points of presence in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.
    The deal positions Nashua Mobile more strongly against rivals like Altech Autopage Cellular, whose sister company Altech Technology Concepts has built its own network to bolster the group’s converged telecoms offerings as wholesale call prices come down and competition in the sector intensifies.

    ECN will not be integrated into Nashua, but rather remain a separate company within the stable. “We don’t want to dilute the talent within ECN, it needs to be left alone to do what it does best,” says Nashua Mobile CEO Andy Baker.

    He says ECN handles 50m minutes a month on its network.

    Nashua Mobile has a significant number of customers using its least-cost routing service (LCR). Baker estimates that LCR makes up about 20% of the company’s revenue, with 70 000 Sim cards billing about R1,2bn/year.

    Baker says the company can now migrate its LCR base onto ECN’s network and convert them to a newly launched voice-over-Internet Protocol service.

    Brian Neilson, director of research at BMI-TechKnowledge, says the deal makes sense. “The companies are complementary,” he says.

    Neilson says ECN is in a good position to help Nashua Mobile reduce its exposure to the LCR market, which is coming under pressure after recent reductions in wholesale mobile call termination rates.

    The deal is unlikely to reduce competition in the market, since the two companies play in different spaces, says Neilson. “Nashua Mobile has more of a channel focus, while ECN actually plays in the product-making game,” he says

    TechCentral
  • - Nigerian CDMA operator, Starcomms, is negotiating to close a deal that will enable it acquire the troubled Telkom SA-owned Multi-links. A report in ThisDay said that the deal was nearing completion but was being hampered by cost of sale considerations as both parties were negotiating to agree on a final sale that will be agreeable to both parties.

Digital Content

  • Payments to the City Council of Nairobi will soon be made electronically as a way of curbing corruption.

    Head of the ICT department at the council Tim Wanyonyi said that the move is part of a three-year project aimed at improving service delivery for Nairobi residents.

    "Very soon, payment of bills will be done through electronic transfer. When the system is finalised, payment can be made directly to the account or through mobile money transfer services," Mr Wanyonyi said.

    Minimising manual registrations and collection of cash, he said, will also help reduce corruption when done electronically.

    According to Nairobi mayor George Aladwa, corruption at the city council has gone down considerably with the introduction of the investigations department which is headed by senior police officers.

    "Corruption has gone down. The public should ensure that they get an official receipt for every payment made," he stated.

    Wanyonyi further stated that in the next 6 months, major streets in Nairobi will be under CCTV surveillance.

    Roads targeted include Moi and Kenyatta avenues, Mama Ngina and Kimathi streets within the city centre.

    The surveillance cameras, he said will help in curbing traffic offences and will also increase security within the areas covered.

    "The cctv cameras will ensure that the city is safe for its residents and visitors," the ICT department head stated.

    The 3 year project, Mr Wanyonyi said, will cost the council Sh 2 billion but the figure could go down with the input from partners.

    At the same time, Telkom Kenya and CCN entered into an agreement where debts of up to Sh 100 million were swapped.

    Nairobi town clerk Mr Phillip Khisia said that CNN owed the telecommunications company Sh 100 million in phone bills while Telkom Kenya owed the city council Sh 96 million in wayleave charges.

    A team was set up last year to reconcile the accounts from the two institutions before the debt swap was agreed on.

    The remaining balance, Telkom CEO Mr Mickael Ghossein said, will be off set on this year's wayleave charges.

  •  First National Bank (FNB) today announced its Cash Withdrawal solution using Cellphone Banking.

    Cash Withdrawal will allow FNB Cellphone Banking customers to withdraw cash directly from their FNB transactional account at an FNB ATM without the use of any bank cards.

    CEO of FNB Cellphone Banking Solutions, Ravesh Ramlakan says, “Innovation is at the heart of FNB’s core values. It is through constant innovation that we are able to design and deliver solutions that will bring convenience to the lives of our customers and Cash Withdrawal using FNB Cellphone Banking is such a solution.”

    “The increasing number of South Africans choosing to bank via their cellphones is evidence of the channels ease of use, safety and convenience. When FNB developed Cellphone Banking in 2005 it was with our customers in mind and wanting to provide them with 24 hour access to their banking. In developing Cash Withdrawal it was with the intention of providing our customers with 24 hour access to their cash – even without the use of a bank card,” Ramlakan adds.

    Ramlakan explains that cash withdrawal using FNB Cellphone Banking will work similarly to a bank card, except that customers will no longer need to use their bank cards to withdraw cash.

    To withdraw cash using Cellphone Banking, customers need to log onto Cellphone Banking and select the banking option. Customers must then select Withdraw Cash, and then the account from which they want to withdraw cash i.e. cheque account, savings account, etc.

    Once they have completed the transaction, the customer will receive an SMS with a temporary ATM PIN to use at the ATM. “For security reasons the temporary ATM Pin has to be used within 30 minutes of receipt and can only be used once,” notes Ramlakan.

    Ramlakan says, “Technology has enabled us to respond quickly and pro-actively to our customers’ needs by coming up with solutions that will help them go about their business. We’ve monitored customer behaviour and have found that they often have to enter a branch to get cash because they’ve left their bank cards at home. Now, when you forget your purse or wallet at home, or just quickly need cash for life’s little emergencies, you can simply use your cellphone.”

    “Constant innovation of our solutions is another way of living to our brand promise of how can we help you. It is through product enhancement that we empower our customers through a variety of choices. FNB Cellphone Banking has changed the banking playing field,” he concludes.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has fired a salvo across Apple’s bow by taking its popular enterprise server software into the “cloud” and integrating with it Microsoft’s upcoming Office 365.RIM’s plan to move the enterprise server, which has traditionally been a physical server located within a company’s firewall, into the cloud (the Internet) is about providing choice, says Rory O’Neill senior director of business marketing in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region at RIM. Its cloud integration with Microsoft will help its much-anticipated PlayBook compete effectively with Apple’s iPad in the business market.O’Neill says the PlayBook should hit SA shores soon

    - In 2010, approximately 7.8 million Kenyans logged onto the Internet, with the figure increasing to 8.6 million in the first quarter of 2011, says Julius Opio, SEACOM's East Africa Chief Executive.

    -Tigo Rwanda has introduced a dual SIM handset to save its subscribers the hassle of moving with two phones.The phone, which cost Rwf24,700 is a dual standby, meaning it can switch from SIM 1 to SIM 2 without a hassle. It contains two slots one of which is fixed for a Tigo SIM card and the other open for any other SIM card. The phone also comes with a video camera, still camera, FM radio, Internet, MP3 player, Bluetooth, a memory card slot and a colour screen.

    - Dar es Salaam — The growth of the telecommunication sector looks to be heading for a stagnation as the number of new subscribers, registered during the last quarter of 2010, remained minimal despite massive promotional drives among operators. The sector recorded only 386,877 new subscribers in the last quarter of last year compared to more than a million in the previous quarter, according to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).Until the end of December 2010, Tanzania had a total of 21,158,364 telecom subscribers, a 0.4 per cent growth from 20,771,487 subscribers recorded at the end of September 2010.A total of 1,178,692 new subscribers joined various telecommunication companies during the third quarter of the 2010, TCRA figures indicate. In the same vein, some 1.6 million new subscribers joined the telecommunication market between April, May and June 2010.

More

  • - Telkom’s board has appointed Nombulelo “Pinky” Moholi, MD of its SA operation, as its new group CEO, a move analysts say is great news for the partially state-owned fixed-line telecommunications provider. While, outgoing Telkom acting group CEO Jeffrey Hedberg has agreed to stay on at the group in an advisory capacity until its annual results presentation in June.

    - Kenya’s Safaricom announced the departure of John Barorot, Chief Technical Officer and Robert Mugo, Chief Information Officer respectively. Their departments have been merged and Safaricom will source for a Director of Technical/IT division. This and three other top positions will be opened up to the next layer of management, the heads of departments, as well as external candidates to apply.

  • ICT For Development in Africa – Sustaining The Momentum, Extending The Reach
    23-26 March 2011, Ota, Nigeria

    The conference will initiate research and practice agenda where ICTs will aid the academia, organizations - public and private and non-governmental to improve socio-economic conditions and directly benefit the disadvantaged in some manner.
    For further information visit here:

    Managed Services Growth Markets 2011
    4-5 April, Movenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE

    Now in its 4th year and attended by over 200 attendees in 2010, Informa Telecoms and Media’s Managed Services for Growth Markets event will take place on 4th - 5th April at the Moevenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE.With a proven track-record and repeat sponsorship from leading suppliers Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NokiaSiemens Networks and Motorola, this event is truly established as the ultimate meeting-place for the Managed Services industry in the growth markets.A 50% discount for operators ensures a high percentage operator attendance.  Extended break times and additional social functions will guarantee a further enhancement to the already unique networking opportunities. Informa’s Managed Services for Growth Markets conference is the only established event in the region, proven to deliver an industry focussed agenda, the highest level speakers, superior networking opportunities, and top class delegates year on year.
For more information visit here:

    Ghana ICT and Telecom Summit
    28-29 April 2011, Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre Accra, Ghana

    The summit will bring together over 200 decision-makers from Ghanaian operators and international stakeholders with an interest in the market to share experiences, knowledge and ideas with a view to overcoming the industry challenges. The 2 day summit agenda will address all aspects of Ghanaian ICT & telecoms strategies for attracting investment, broadband connectivity for all, solutions to boost operator ROI, Regulatory challenges & opportunities, infrastructure development, VAS and local content for Ghanaians, subscriber acquisition and retention strategies, mobile banking, customer loyalty, future trends and more.
    For further information visit here:

    MMT Africa Conference and Expo
    10 - 13 May 2011, Nairobi, Kenya

    Some of Africa’s top mobile money transfer operators, financial institutions and high-tech innovators will gather for the annual MMT Africa conference and expo in Nairobi, Kenya which is still considered THE hub for mobile money transfer initiative and success. 
    For further information visit here:

    eLearning Africa 2011 - Spotlight on Youth, Skills and Employability
    25-27 May 2011, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The 6th event in the series of pan-African conferences and exhibitions will focus on Africa's youth. Africa has the highest percentage of young people anywhere in the world. How can it unlock the vast reservoir of talent? How can technology support education and training?
    For further information visit here:

  • Manager: Communications, Information and Technology
    Black Sash Trust
    Cape Town, South Africa 

    The Black Sash is a non-profit organisation with a national network of offices which provides rights education, support and advice to thousands of people, particularly in the area of social, economic and consumer protection. Our national and regional offices lobby all levels of Government and the private sector to ensure that socio-economic rights and the fight against poverty stay at the top of the agenda.

    Reports to  the National Director

    Main purpose of the job
    The Communication, Information and Technology Manager will oversee the management of the technology infrastructure, current and archival records and mass communication of the organisation.
    Key tasks and responsibilities 1. Manage Information Unit
    Work closely with the National Director to contribute to the strategic advancement of the organisation

    •Prepare reports for the National Director
    •Manage workflow and budget of the unit
    •Manage the work of the Database Administrator and Tech Support Officer

    2. IT Management
    Manage the technology infrastructure of the organisation.
    •Have a good understanding of trends in technology, including cellular phone technology, and how these affect the organisation
    •Oversee the use of technology in the organisation in terms of hardware, software and internet usage
    •Develop and monitor adherence to policies around e-communication and usage of computer assets
    •Manage the growth and maintenance of Black Sash-owned computer assets
    •Manage strategic planning around procurement of hardware and software for the organisation

    3. Database Management
    Management of all organisation database systems
    •Oversee database development and maintenance
    •Perform a business analyst role in developing systems and workflows for information capturing and reporting

    4. External Communications Management
    Oversee bulk communication from the organisation via electronic newsletters, website, public media and social media platforms.
    •Develop and implement website and social media strategy to further organisational goals
    •Develop and implement SEO strategy for website communications
    •Develop webpages and maintain current website
    •Investigate possibilities for a mobi site and implement if needed
    •Manage the design and technical production of the newsletter
    •Ensuring adherance to Black Sash branding in communications and design style
    •Manage the production of materials, including books, pamphlets and multimedia resources

    5. Records Management

    Management of historical archives and electronic records.
    •Develop management strategy for Black Sash archives, both documents and photographic records
    •Manage current electronic records in terms of storage and retrieval systems
    •Ensure adherence to PAIA

    Job Specification Education                                                                                                                         

    •Relevant 3 year IT degree
    •Additional relevant qualifications will be an advantage

    Experience

    •At least 5 years experience of work in a Human Rights NGO at strategic management level
    •Experience with technology in the non-profit sector
    •A minimum of 5 years experience in web development, usability and social media for Human Rights campaigns and Rights Education.
    •Experience in design, development, implementation and management of a database for case work, events and contacts.
    •Experience in the application of archival standards and procedures
    •Experience in managing a Human Rights document resource centre
    •Experience in staff supervision and management

    Knowledge and Skills

    •High level of technical knowledge, in terms of hardware, software, networking, programming, web development, usability and information systems essential.
    •Ability to multi-task
    •Exceptional administration skills
    •Good communication, interpersonal, teamwork and listening skills
    •Planning and organising skills
    •Creative problem solving skills

    Language

    •Fluency in spoken and written English

    Personal Attributes

    •Ability to meet deadlines
    •Self-motivated, uses initiative and able to work without supervision
    •Integrity, honesty and respect for confidentiality
    •Attention to detail

    For application, please forward a comprehensive CV and a covering letter stating why you would like to work at Black Sash and also what makes you the best candidate for this job to jobs@blacksash.org.za by Tuesday 29 March 2011 @ 16h00 pm. If you do not get a response from us within two weeks after the closing date, please consider your application unsuccessful.

  • Vodacom Tanzania – Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) - Tanzania

    Dar Es Salaam — Mobile operator Vodacom Tanzania has outsourced the operation and management of its network to Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) as part of a five-year managed services contract.Vodacom will hand over control of its network management centre, radio, transmission and core networks to NSN. The vendor will also be responsible for network planning and optimisation.
     
    In a bid to reduce the network's energy costs, NSN will deploy 338 hybrid power generators, which use diesel and solar power to generate electricity for base stations. As part of the agreement, 124 staff employees will transfer from Vodacom to NSN.

    Dietlof Mare, managing director, Vodacom Tanzania, said the deal would help the telco to strengthen its position amid fierce competition in Tanzania's mobile sector.

    Armando Almeida, head of global services, NSN, said the vendor would apply the experience it has gained in other emerging markets to improve the network.

    "Our aim is to allow Vodacom to focus on its core business and deliver greater value to its shareholders," he said. "We look forward to integrating Vodacom Tanzania operations team into our global services team. We are excited about the synergies and opportunities that will be created as we begin to work together," he added.

    With two fixed-line operators, TTCL and Zantel, and at least seven mobile networks, Tanzania is one of Africa's most competitive telecom markets. Among Vodacom's main competitors are Bharti Airtel, Tigo and Zantel.

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