Issue no 555 20th May 2011

top story

  • May 31st is a date to keep in mind because it is the day Orange Tunisie will launch its apps store. It will be the first apps store to go live in an African country. Isabelle Gross spoke to Nadia Mkhinini, Head of Products and Services at Orange Tunisie about what the apps store will have in for the Tunisian mobile users and how Orange Tunisie will tackle local apps development.

    Orange Tunisie’s says that “the development and the commercialisation of apps are central to their 3G strategy”. According to Nadia Mkhinini, it all started last year when Orange Tunisie rolled out an extensive awareness and training program aimed at local developers and engineers students in ICT. They held 8 workshops across the country’s main cities attracting more than 600 people. They also organised training courses in universities and engineering schools. Orange Tunisie organised for example a first training program at the National Engineering School of Tunis (ENIT) in November 2010. 27 participants enrolled for courses and practical sessions. Orange provided a developer user guide, training support brochures, exercises and 3 iMAC 27. The feedback was: “high potential”, “a real interest for this new market”,  “ENIT asked for a second training program and wanted to create a mobile developers club sponsored by Orange Tunisie”. At Supcom, another engineering school, the mobile operator provided training on mobile apps and APIs to 200 students and this program will be integrated in the curriculum thought by the school. Most of the participants to these workshops and training sessions had little knowledge on how to develop an application but were very keen to learn.

    In parallel to the launch of the iPhone4 last October, Orange Tunisie also run a competition aimed at supporting local developers to develop apps for the iPhone. For the 100 most promising apps, Orange Tunisie paid the US$99 registration fee that is required by Apple to access its development platform. Most young Tunisians don’t have a bank account or a credit card and therefore it is very difficult for them to enrol on any international apps distribution platform.

    At the end of February 2011, the mobile operator also opened a development centre in Tunis with the aim of providing a space to hold training sessions on how to build mobile apps but also to offer access to the equipment needed by developers to develop and test their apps. The centre has 11 MAC, 13PC, a range of smartphones to test the apps on various mobile operating system and 2G and 3G+ mobile internet access. Developers can even book their seat online here. How cool this is!

    The launch of the apps store is the next step in Orange Tunisie’s mobile content strategy. It is quite a bold approach if you consider that it is the latest mobile entrant in Tunisia (until recently a duopoly between Tunisie Telecom and Tunisiana). Orange Tunisie launched its 2G and 3G services in February 2010 and today its 3G network covers 71% of the population.  According to Nadia Mkhinini, 42% of the mobile handsets on the network have data capabilities and 15% of the handsets are 3G handsets. The number of smartphones is still small and represents about 5% of the handsets but the number of handsets running the Android operating system is steadily growing.

    When Orange Tunisie’s apps store launches on May 31st, it will offer a mix of international and local mobile applications. The international apps are sourced via the Orange’s group apps portfolio. There will be applications in French and in Arabic. Nadia Mkhinini reckons that by the launch date, they will have 50 local applications online. They range from cinema, transport, banking to tourism related applications. Most of the local applications fall in the category of utility and so far there are no local game applications. At the start users will be able to access and download apps via Orange Tunisie mobile portal at m.orange.tn until a built-in apps will come pre-installed on the handsets sold by the mobile operator.

    Local developers will get 70% of the revenue generated by the application - the standard revenue share in this industry’s segment. Developers can also choose how they want to sell their applications: free with advertising or as a paid for application. The price of a paid for application will be directly deducted from the mobile subscriber’s calling credits. The ability to offer carrier billing to purchase paid for applications plays in favour of the mobile operator. International apps store still have to solve the problem on how to get payments since an overwhelming majority of African mobile users don’t have a credit card  (some international apps store are trying to resolve this issue: e.g. last week Google announced that 26 African countries could now buy paid applications). Orange Tunisie forecasts it will have 20,000 users by the end of this year with each user downloading between one and two apps per month. The numbers are small but apps developers will also have later on the opportunity to place their products in Orange other operations across the world.

    Through this project, it is not only Tunisian developers that will get the opportunity to showcase their technical skills at building apps but local IT companies too. Orange Tunisie’s apps store has been built by a Tunisian IT startup company as the group’s solution follows a scheduled implementation that would have set back the store’s launch in Tunisia. According to Nadia Mkhinini, Orange Tunisie will continue to support local research and development initiatives as part of a wider commitment to the Tunisian government’s strategy to develop further the local ICT sector (which is already active in the outsourcing segment). Unemployment remains high in Tunisia and the ICT sector offers jobs and business opportunities. It is important to help the developers to earn some money so that they can exist.

    Orange Tunisie’s apps store represents a significant turning point if you consider that many African mobile operators still don’t really care about how subscribers use the data as long as they buy the data package. African mobile operators will sooner rather then later have to engage more with local developers. Supporting them to develop apps is a first step in the right direction but developers need more to reach customers: they need access to the mobile operator’s network and distribution platform.

     


     

    Five videos on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel that need watching to understand where telecoms is going:

    John Kamau, Jamii Telecom
    on Africa’s first Fibre-To-The-Home network:

    Jessica Verrilli on African media using Twitter:

    Ayo Alli, Goal.com on the site’s traffic in Nigeria and African footballers:

    Mark Davies, CEO, Esoko on agricultural pricing systems:

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

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • South Africa's largest cellular operator, Vodacom, will spend R7.7 billion on its network in the new financial year, of which R6.3 billion will go into its local operations as competition heats up.

    Consumers have long complained that South Africa's cellular networks are unreliable, as calls drop too often and data connections are unstable. However, competition for subscribers has increased, with cellular companies investing in networks in a bid to boost data speeds.

    Competition increased last year with the launch of Telkom's mobile arm, 8ta, and the unveiling of Cell C's HSPA+ network and subsequent aggressive data pricing strategy.

    In February, the Internet Service Providers' Association of SA said continued investment in infrastructure and regulatory advances would increase competition in the sector, which would result in decreased voice and data service prices.

    Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys says the cellular operator will pump R7.7 billion into its network this year, up from R6.3 billion in the year to March. Uys was speaking during a media call this morning, presenting the company's results for the year to March.

    Its capital expenditure programme will focus on speeding up the rollout of mobile broadband coverage and self-provisioning transmission, to improve the quality of services and support increasing demand for data.

    Competition has been heating up, with aggressive promotional pricing from all players, which has pushed tariffs lower, says Uys. Vodacom has been beefing up data capacity on its network and now has 4 290 3G towers, with plans to add another 1 000 this financial year.

     The cellular operator has also upgraded 1,000 base stations in major cities in South Africa to allow for speeds of up to 43.2Mbps. The towers now operate at double the previous speed. Another 1,000 towers will come online at the end of this month.

    Vodacom grew group revenue to R61 billion, from R58.5 billion a year ago, and net profit leapt to R8 billion, from R4.2 billion. The cellular company spent R6.3 billion on bolstering its network during the year, of which R5.1 billion was invested in SA.

    Data revenue grew 35.5%, to R6.4 billion, and Uys says this area will continue to be a growth driver in the future. Vodacom invested in increasing its data capacity during the year. However, the company's capital investment as a percentage of revenue slowed, going to 10.3% compared with 11.3% last year and 12.5% for the year to March 2009.

    The bulk of its capital investment last year went into its local operations, where it spent R5.1 billion. Vodacom says it “continued to make substantial investments in the network, particularly to enhance quality and support the 48.9% growth in data traffic”.

    Vodacom's investment mostly went into building a “wider and faster data network” as it added 948 new 3G base stations during the year, it says. “We enhanced the network with the latest technologies, 3 217 base stations have been upgraded to the next-generation long-term evolution-ready equipment and more than 1 000 dual-carrier sites are now live,” it says.

    The company adds that its long-distance national fibre build and investment into its project to self-provide fibre to base stations was slower than planned due to delays in getting right of way approvals and the build freeze during the World Cup.

    Vodacom spent R1.2 billion on its international operations to support the medium- to long-term growth potential of its African units. “The investment was mainly focused on increasing capacity to support higher traffic and expanding the network in Mozambique,” it says.

    However, spend slowed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Vodacom has yet to resolve a dispute with a shareholder in the unit. Uys says for Vodacom the process has been slower than expected, but is on track.

    Vodacom has been locked in a dispute with fellow shareholder Congolese Wireless Networks, which owns a 49% stake in the operation, for several months over a funding agreement between the shareholders.

    Group customers grew 9%, to 43.5 million during the year, with local levels moving back to before the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act was enacted.

    Vodacom now has 26.5 million South African customers. Internationally, the group's subscriber base grew 24.4%, to 17 million.

    ITWeb
  • Initial test runs on the mobile number portability (MNP) system done on May 4, 2011 was successful, custodians of the central database of all ported numbers, Porting Access Ghana (PXS) said.

    Saqip Nazir is the Managing Director of PXS, and he said in March all the manual pre-testing between the central database and all the six operator networks were completed, and in April the networks connected their Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to the central database.“On May 4, 2011, the first end to end porting was done and it took between 10 to 15 minutes out of a possible 24 hours,” he said.

    He said that may not mean the system is absolutely full-proof but it indicates how committed and cooperative the operators have been in the process so far. “I must say the operators here have been pretty fantastic – they’ve all been very cooperative – everyone has mostly done their work – there may have been few hitches here and there, but everyone has played along and they are working very hard to make sure everything is successful,” he said.

    Nazir says PXS has invested more than a million dollars to set up two redundant data centres where a database of all ported numbers would be kept, adding that PXS would serve as a routing centre, dealing strictly with the telecom operators and not subscribers.

    “Our role is mainly technical and never regulatory – all regulatory matters would still be handled by the NCA so if customers have issues they need to report to their network provider and the network would then have to report to NCA and not to us,” he said.

    He explained that PXS would manage the whole porting process by receiving requests from recipient networks and carry on requests to donor networks and when the process is complete, PXS would then broadcast to all the networks and stakeholders which network the ported numbers now belong to.

    PXS also manages MNP in Kenya where it has been accused by one operator, Safaricom, of favouring another operator, Airtel, but Nazir said PXS Ghana is on good terms with all operators in Ghana and would not favour one operator against others.

    “We are on good terms with all operators and we have visited each of them and informed them that we have a job to do in Ghana and we will do it without fear or favour – we invested our own money and we will not favour anyone at our own detriment,” he said.

    But he was also quick to add that the problems in Kenya was because MNP was launched when not all operators were ready, but in Ghana everything is being done to ensure that by the time of launch every operator would be ready.

    MNP Consultant for the National Communications Authority (NCA), Bob Palitz said some NCA staff are being trained to man an NCA desk at PXS and over the porting process and ensure everybody, including PXS are playing by the rules. He said there are still layers and layers of testing that need to be done to ensure that the operators are fully ready before the launch. Palitz said each of the six operators need to do pre-testing with five others so there would be 30 exercises in all and just a few have been done so far.

    He noted there is need for the operators to also test calls from and to ported numbers for billing purposes so they would not bill numbers wrongly because of the network prefix. “Vodafone also needs to configure their fixed line network to be able to recognize calls from ported 020 numbers as outside network calls, and also recognize calls from 024, 026, 027, 028, 023, 054 and 057 which may have ported to Vodafone as on-network calls and bill them as such,” he said.

    He said all that need to be pre-tested, including even calls from overseas to ensure that the international gateways would be able to associate ported numbers with the new networks in spite of the network prefix, and bill them accordingly.

    “It is important to note that when MNP starts, networks will no more be identified with their prefix because you can have numbers with different prefixes on all the networks – but porting is likely to start with a sharp rise to a point, plateau for a while and start rising gradually as subscriber numbers increase,” he said.

  • Could Africa have its own giant cellphone manufacturer like Nokia or HTC? Alpesh Patel, founder of start-up Mi-Fone, thinks so. Patel, who was born in Uganda and holds South African citizenship, launched the company three years ago after leaving Motorola. He says the larger manufacturers have not yet fully realised that Africa is the next growth market for affordable devices. “Africa has been a secondary market for them, it has become a dumping ground for technologies,” he says.

    Devices developed by the company so far range in price from US$15 to $125, with touch-screen Android smartphones at the top end. “There are not many smartphones available for under $125. They’re considered a luxury for the masses in Africa. We hope to change that,” says Patel.

    Of course, Mi-Fone, which still bills itself as a start-up, will face stiff competition. Vodafone, for instance, recently announced the Vodafone Smart, its own branded smartphone, also costing about $125.

    Mi-Fone is 92% African owned, with shareholders from Mauritius, SA, Rwanda and Nigeria. “We survived against all expectations and we are profitable with only three years under our belt,” says Patel, who personally holds 70% of the company’s equity.

    Since its launch, it has distributed 1m phones to the continent’s mobile operators. “It’s not a huge number when you compare it to the larger providers and what they ship annually,” says Patel. But volumes are growing. “We are looking at realistic growth targets,” he says. The company has generated $15m in revenue since its launch.

    For now, like many other cellphone companies, Mi-Fone’s devices are made in China. However, Patel says the company wants to raise capital to allow it to build manufacturing plants on the continent.

    “African businesses need support and overseas companies that would traditionally invest in companies like these see Africa as a minefield of risk. We need the banks to be more serious about investment in these kinds of businesses,” he says.

    Mi-Fone’s head office is in Dubai, but there are offices across the continent, including Ghana and Tanzania. It is set to launch in SA in the next few weeks and is in discussions with both the Independent Communications Authority of SA and a potential SA empowerment partner to open a local subsidiary. Patel will not disclose the name of the partner, saying only it’s a listed business.

    He says Mi-Fone wants to turn traditional handset development on its head, but focusing on what he calls a “bottom-up” strategy. “Why shouldn’t the poor of Africa also have a choice as to what phones they want to use?” he says.

    Mi-Fone’s model is to sell devices directly to cellular network operators instead of using channels to reach retailers and operators. “That way, there are no middlemen and the devices reach consumers as cheaply as possible,” says Patel. 

    For an interview with Alpesh Patel, Mi-Fone on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel, click link here:

    TechCentral
  • - The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation’s (CTO) has presented the  results of a Rural ICT Access Gap Study to the management of the Sierra Leone ICT regulator NATCOM and a number of key stakeholders, including the country’s mobile and fixed line operators.  Ultimately, NATCOM and Sierra Leone’s Universal Access Development Fund (UDAF) hope to use the findings of the Rural ICT Access Gap Study to catalyse the necessary investment and achieve Universal Access.

    - The recipient of Malawi’s fourth mobile licence, Celcom Limited, plans to invest MWK41 billion (USD266 million) in the rollout of its wireless network, Nyasa Times reports.

    - In South Africa, Independent Electoral Commission spokesman Kate Bapela said that parties were allowed to send SMSes on election day, as it did not violate the rules that campaigning should stop at midnight the day before elections. “The rule applies to rallies, meetings and marches, and campaigning inside the boundaries of a voting station.”

internet

  • Despite the landing of submarine optic cables at the shores of the Indian Ocean almost two years ago, Tanzania's Internet access charges have not decreased to levels that end-users initially hoped to enjoy.

    Seacom, which was the first submarine cable to arrive at the Dar es Salaam shores in July 2009, says bandwidth wholesale prices have fallen but retailers were still charging relatively high prices to access Internet.

    This is done to cushion the transportation and value-addition costs.The East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) landed a year later. Seacom sells one Megabyte per second (Mbs) of bandwidth at $230 per month at its landing point in Dar es Salaam. If an Internet service provider wants to use another bandwidth provider, it is possible to get the service for as low as $175 for 1 Mbs per month at the Seacom landing point.

    "Companies that connected their networks to Seacom dropped prices and increased bandwidth speeds," Seacom Tanzania managing director Anna Kahama-Rupia said in a telephone interview.However, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority says there has been a drop in voice and data tariffs by operators connected to fibre optical cables.

    The government is in talks to invite other gateways such as Kenya's Uhuru One and TEAMS. The Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL), which has a 20-year agreement with Seacom for a bandwidth of less than $65 Mbs per month, charges a flat rate of $180,000 per year to transport Internet bandwidth across the country.

    TTCL was the first company to join the submarine fibre optic by Seacom for transporting Internet and data. Later Internet service providers (ISPs) such as SimbaNet and other telecom firms followed suit.

    In addition, to connect to the backbone requires custom Huawei routers. These specialised routers cost $18,000 and take six months to manufacture. By comparison, a similar Cisco router for standard network architecture is $8,000.

    ISPs that want to buy the bandwidth from TTCL rather than transmitting it on their own will pay $700 for 1Mbs per month in Dar es Salaam and $900 in Arusha.

    Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority managing director John Nkoma said: "The connectivity charges in the country have not gone down partly because some players have not finished their contracts with satellite companies. But for the few ones already connected to the optic cables, their charges have dropped significantly."

    The deputy managing director of the University of Dar es Salaam Computing Centre, Dr Respickius Casmir, said: "Actually, there is not any provider that has reviewed the invoices that they were giving their clients since the arrival of the cable [Seacom], most providers have doubled the bandwidth but with same prices, giving customers more benefits than what they need."

    However, telecom companies argue that the arrival of the submarine infrastructure has prompted them to cut mobile Internet service prices by nearly 100 per cent.

    TTCL Solutions integrator Thomas Lemunge said the dedicated Internet product for corporate customers, which the company used to charge Sh900,000 for leasing 64Mbps a month two years ago, had fallen to Sh250,000 per month since the arrival of the Seacom. Speed was also high.

    "The cable is like a super highway. The issue is what layers of services are there to encourage growth. We need more people to develop mechanisms that will stimulate more connectivity usage that will create economies of scale to providers," Airtel marketing director Kelvin Twissa said.

    He said such mechanisms could be attracting learning institutions to access e-books and lecturers as well. However, WiA Group CEO Erick Mwenda said the arrival of the cables and the activation of the national ICT broadband backbone might not reduce Internet access charges significantly because the bandwidth uptake was still low. Currently, they're about 500,000 broadband users in the country, a slight increase of the people that were accessing Internet in the last two years.

    The Citizen
  • President Paul Kagame is a leader who draws sharply divided opinions -- praise from some for rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 genocide and criticism from others over a record of repression of dissent and the press. On Saturday, a tweet critical of Kagame by British columnist Ian Birrell sparked a heated exchange about press freedom between the two men on the social networking site.

    "No-one in media, UN or human rights groups has the moral right to criticise me, says despotic & deluded @PaulKagame," tweeted Birrell in response to a statement made by the president in a May 13 interview with Financial Times Africa Editor William Wallis.

    "I don't think anybody out there in the media, UN, human rights organisations, has any moral right whatsoever to level any accusations against me or against Rwanda," Kagame had stated.

    Birrell's comment drew an immediate rebuke from @PaulKagame, the president's official public account. What followed was an extraordinary exchange, only made possible by microblogs, mainly about the state of press freedom and freedom of expression, or their lack thereof, in Rwanda.

    Soon, Rwanda's foreign affairs minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, fired off from her own public Twitter account in defense of the president. "Ian have u ever heard of Rwa National Dialogue? R u fam w Rwa prez monthly press conf?PK 2 secure 2fear crtics@home," read the first of a series of tweets from her public account.

    Then Birrell made note of a sudden flurry of new tweets attacking him. "Interesting: getting series of critical tweets on Rwanda from brand new Twitter accounts such as @AIToure & @MortonAlex #usualtactics, he tweeted.

    "PK is a widely admired leader on the continent. Rw's progress and peace surrounded by a sea of instability is undoubted," tweeted @AIToure, while @MortonAlex defended the government's restrictions on press freedom and freedom of expression, conflating such freedoms with the specter of stirring interethnic tensions similar to those that led to the 1994 genocide. "Ian do you know that Rwanda outlaws ethnic politics? And "journalism" intended to cause "ethnic divisions"? do you understand why?" read one tweet.

    Two Rwandan journalists have been languishing in jail since July 2010, serving harsh prison sentences under vague and sweeping laws against "genocide ideology" and "divisionism" for columns critical of the government.

    Besides prosecuting critics offline, Kagame's administration has stepped up efforts to counter critics online. Editors of critical news tabloids who were forced into exile after the government banned their publications in 2010 ahead of presidential elections subsequently reported their web sites blocked in Kigali.

    In March, the Kigali-based news website Great Lakes Voice reported that all top officials had been ordered to begin using social media platforms to counter negative or opposition "propaganda."  The Kigali Wire blog also reported increased presence of the government on social media, citing the "creation of a number of new accounts including, @UrugwiroVillage (the official account of the president's office) and @RwandaPolice.

    Eventually, the voice of wisdom of the Kagame vs. Birrell clash on Twitter belonged to @sonjasugira, a self-described Rwandan-American. "Twitter really isn't the medium for these kinds of discussions. only end up talking at (not with) each other," she tweeted to @Minzo, a Kagame supporter.

  • We compare how South Africa’s mobile broadband prices stack up against international rates

    South Africa’s three largest mobile operators have all launched 2GB mobile broadband promotions priced at R149 per month.

    These promotions are priced at less than half of Vodacom, MTN and Cell C's standard 2GB data bundle pricing, begging the question why these lower prices are not feasible on standard data packages.

    Most of the local mobile operators explained that these promotional prices are well below cost, which makes them unsustainable in the long run. At the recent IIR Broadband Summit held in Sandton, Vodacom and 8ta indicated that a price below 10c per MB is simply not sustainable.

    Not all consumers are convinced, arguing that the cellular operators should reduce data prices to levels only seen with Cell C’s broadband promotions.

    But is South Africa really out of sync with the rest of the world when it comes to mobile broadband pricing?

    The best way to establish whether South Africans are getting a good deal is to look at international pricing benchmarks, and the table below gives an overview of comparable prices for data bundles between 1GB and 2GB. Both developed and developing countries were selected in this comparison. The prices below are indicated in Rands.

    It is clear that South Africa compares favorably with its international counterparts when looking at the current promotional offers, but can be considered expensive when using standard data prices.

    An interesting trend which emerged is that there is not a big difference in pricing between the developed and developing world when it comes to mobile broadband.

    With fixed broadband there is typically a significant difference in both speed and pricing when comparing first world and third world prices, but developing countries often have better mobile data prices than their developed counterparts.

    MyBroadband
  • - Main One Cable Company announced the connection of K-NET, Ghana’s leading internet solutions provider, to its broadband network. The company currently has a growing list of major telecom service providers in Ghana which include Tigo, BusyInternet, MTN and Airtel.

    - Almost two million Angolan citizens are using mobile phone internet affirmed the Vice Minister for Telecommunications, Aristides Safeca, on the sidelines of the Angolan Forum on Telecommunications and Information Technologies (Angotic/2011). According to the government official, this number represents 20 percent of almost eight million mobile phone users.

    - Students and academic staff of Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone, will soon benefit from the launching of Wireless Internet Access on campus. The project is the result of a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Sierra Leone and the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), whereby the latter committed itself to the provision of ICT services to aid learning and research on campus.

    - Two Mauritius-based African Top Level Domains (AfTLD) and DotConnect Africa (DCA) are squaring up for the soul of Dot Africa (.africa) over who the Africa Union (AU) should back in pursuit of this continental domain.

    - The Information Technology Association of The Gambia (ITAG), in collaboration with Google held a two-day business forum at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi. The forum targets institutions, to look into how they can use Google products and services to expand their businesses. The speakers at the forum came from different parts of Africa and Europe and presented on various topics on IT.

computing

  • A group of concerned Information Communications Technology (ICT) Professionals has condemned the award of $29 million- that is, N4.49billion contract to HP for the Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMS) project.

    ThisDay sources confirmed that the stakeholders in the industry were bringing out their 'war chest' to petition the federal government against the award of the contract. The Federal Government had last week awarded the N4.49 billion ICT contract , which will be domiciled in the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to HP.

    The project, which has a five year lifespan is aimed at improving the financial processes of the government in its departments and ministries. But the sources argued that such contract award was tantamount to capital flight and if the same had been awarded to local players would have created nothing less than 20, 000 jobs for Nigerians.

    The stakeholders were alleging that the contract in principle between the Federal Government and HP Nigeria Limited lacked credibility, promoted monopoly and Anti-trust and as such should be terminated with immediate effect because it will destroy the foundation of the ICT industry.

    The Group of Concerned ICT Professionals described the contract award as unpatriotic and dangerous and called for its urgent termination. They reiterated that the contract promoted corporate monopoly and anti-trust at the enterprise level and was against international convention.

    The group stressed that with Nigeria currently producing about 1,800 ICT graduates annually, with a potential growth of over 100,000 annually, the consequences of the Federal Government's action will ultimately lead to massive unemployment in the Industry.

    The pool of ICT graduates without job in Nigeria will turn to Cybercrime and multiply the prevailing cyber security nightmare bedevilling the nation. According to the group, based on its professional evaluation and analysis, IT graduates without jobs in Nigeria will eventually constitute to delivering the largest economic, political and cultural damages to the future survivability strategy of the Nation at great cost to children yet unborn.

    The other reason given by the body on why the contract needed to be terminated was that the signed contract was highly risky and may lead to the extinction of the innovations and carrier development in the ICT Industry.

    The contract is also said to negate the Federal Government of Nigeria Laws as stipulated in the CPN ACT 49 of 1993. It also does not conform to the Law on due process. The group stressed that Nigerian ICT stakeholders, professionals were not consulted but clandestinely excluded.

    The sensitivity of the contract, according to the group, portended a great danger to the National Security and the survivability of Nigeria in the cyberspace and negated the 20-2020 mission of the federal government.

    This Day
  • Interswitch, an electronic payment transaction switching company; last week in Lagos, unveiled its business expansion plans into East and West Africa markets.

    The expansion plans, which repositioned the company as a Pan-African integrated transaction and payment processing company, prompted Interswitch to change its brand identity in order to reflect its newly expanded status.

    The expansion plans, it was gathered, came to fruitfulness, through the sale of the company's 67 percent equity to Helios Investment Partners and Adlevo Capital. Helios already had significant investments in financial service firms in East and West Africa while Adlevo Capital has typically invested in businesses where technology and continuous innovation are critical for business success.

    Prior to the sale, InterSwitch had acquired a controlling stake in Bankom Limited, Uganda's only licensed inter-bank switch, and had recently won a competitive bid to partner with the Central Bank and Bankers Committee of Gambia and Sierra Leone to design, implement and manage the national switches in these countries.

    With its multi-channel innovative solutions such as Quickteller, which is a value added service platform; Paydirect, a payment collections, lodgment and monitoring solution; Verve, a domestic Chip and PIN payment card, and MasterCard Verve, a co-branded payment card for domestic and international markets, InterSwitch says it has become a prominent brand in electronic transaction switching and payment processing in Africa, and that it is set to better serve customers with Africa wide aspirations.

    Pleased with the expansion plans, Chief Executive Officer of Interswitch,  Mitchell Elegbe said "we are expanding into East and West Africa, in order to reflect exactly what we do and how we can serve organisations and governments across Africa. The repositioning of our business has given us an opportunity to refresh our corporate identity in line with current times, develop consumer associations in line with our business offering, and create an awareness of our products and services in existing and new markets".

    Addressing the issue of its new corporate identity, Chief Marketing Officer for InterSwitch, Mrs. Tito Adeniyi-Aderoju said, the re-branding would reflect the company's new Pan-African status, while still retaining its name which was rooted from the Nigerian environment. "The refreshed corporate identity forms part of an overall brand strategy to communicate how InterSwitch has, and can partner with businesses to accelerate growth, and reduce transaction costs irrespective of where the business may reside on the African continent."

    With the commencement of operations eight years ago as a small company with a vision, Interswitch has currently grown to become a Pan-African, providing online, real-time transaction switching services, that enable individuals and businesses have access to their funds across banks via a variety of payment channels such as Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale (PoS) terminals, Mobile Phones, Kiosks, Web and Bank branches.

    Elegbe further explained the importance of a robust electronic payment systems, which he said, enhance the commercial reputation of any country, improve the investment climate, strengthen the image of the banking sector and provide the much needed vehicle for increasing economic growth, and improving welfare, assuring that InterSwitch would continually be committed to seeing Africa excel in the global payments landscape.

  • Makerere University students will in July represent the East African region at a global technology competition imagine cup that seeks to address some of the region's toughest challenges.

    Joseph Lutalo and Joshua Kaizzi's QuestO team beat 11 others from Ugandan and Kenyan Universities when it showcased desktop, mobile and web-based system software dubbed CRIMEX that focuses on crime pattern analysis in developing countries in Nairobi on Monday.

    Lutalo is a third year student at the College of Science while Kaizzi is a first year student of 3D animations at the college of Computing and Information science.

    Imagine Cup, an annual Microsoft sponsored student competition, seeks to encourage youths around the world to apply their imagination, passion and creativity using technology to make a difference in the world.

    The two-man team will participate in global competition due to take place in New York in July. "This is an incredible opportunity to represent Uganda. We will compete with students from around the world who like us, are passionate about making a difference in the world," Lutalo noted moments after his team was declared winner.

    The Monitor
  • - The commercial value of unlicensed software installed on personal computers in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), which excludes South Africa, reached $109 million in 2010 as 83 per cent of software deployed on PCs during the year was pirated. This stands at almost double the global piracy rate for PC software, which is 42 per cent, having risen by 3.6 points on the previous five year average.

    - The Angolan government should withdraw the bill on information and communication technology crimes currently before parliament, Human Rights Watch said today. The proposed legislation would undercut both freedom of expression and information, and pose a severe threat to independent media, whistleblowers, and investigative journalism.

    - The third part of the national ICT development plan is set to be rolled out at the beginning of July this year. This was confirmed by top officials at Rwanda Development Board (RDB). "Rwanda has had two five-year plans for its ICT development and previously, focus was on policy and rollout of infrastructure, which is what we have finished. The next course of action for five years is services,"said John Gara, CEO of RDB.

    - The first phase of Ghana’s $30 million Data Centre and Wide Area Network (WAN) project which is over 95% complete will be ready by the end of July 2011, an official of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) has said.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Telecoms giant Safaricom held investors' take home steady at Sh8 billion even as it announced a 13.2 per cent drop in net profits in a year that was marked by vicious price wars, high inflation and exchange rate turbulence.

    That company will pay out 61 per cent of total profits in dividends or 20 cents per share.
    Investors traded 502,000 Safaricom shares at Sh3.90 each, down from Sh3.95 on Tuesday in a market that closed just one and half hours before the results were announced.

    The progressive dividend policy that Bob Collymore, the CEO, announced puts Safaricom in line with other big Kenyan corporations such as BAT, BOC Gases, Barclays Bank, beer maker EABL and Bamburi Cement that have made huge dividend payouts despite a decline in profits growth.

    Safaricom returned a net profit of Sh13 billion compared to the previous year's Sh15 billion on the back of a Sh9 billion revenue growth to Sh94.5 billion signalling that the near halving of key voice call tariffs, though painful, did not push the firm off the growth path.

    "This outcome shows that revenue growth is not all about price - it's about diversification in the provision of both voice and data services," said Bob Collymore, the company's chief executive.

    Collymore acknowledged that the results had been realised in a difficult business environment marked by a steep rise in cost of living that deeply eroded disposable incomes of consumers and a weak shilling that significantly increased the cost of imported equipment.

    The results, however, show that Safaricom is on course to establishing a more diversified revenue base away from voice calls that have been the key growth driver since the company was founded 10 years ago.

    A diversified revenue base was critical to cushioning Safaricom from deep cuts in voice call tariffs in the second half of the year and its impact on the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), the company's chief financial officer, Chris Tiffin, said.

    "Overall rate of ARPU fall was less than five per cent to Sh437 despite tariffs having dropped by more 80 per cent in some segments of the business mainly because of strong ARPU growth in M-Pesa and text messages," Tiffin said.

    Voice calls, however, remain Safaricom's biggest revenue driver that accounted for 66.9 per cent of total revenue last year down from 68.6 per cent in 2009.

    Safaricom is banking on strong growth in internet penetration, whose revenue increased 80 per cent to Sh5.4 billion, accounting for eight per cent of total revenue.

    The combined income from SMS, M-Pesa, data and acquisitions accounted for one-third of total revenue. Tiffin said Safaricom had sold more than 900,000 mobile phone handsets in the year one third of which were internet-enabled demonstrating mobile phone's position as the key platform for internet penetration in Africa.

    The decline in profits despite the growth in revenues signaled that Safaricom walked through the year with a bigger cost burden whose management Mr Collymore promised will be the centerpiece of operations in the current year.

    EBITDA - a measure of revenues less the cost of goods sold, general and administrative expenses - stood at Sh35.7 billion, down from Sh36.6 billion in what Mr Tiffin attributed to enhanced rate of depreciation in the company's assets, while operating expenses increased from Sh36.5 billion to Sh45.7 billion.

    For Kenya's telecoms operators, 2010 must feel a lot like 2008. Three years ago the industry was in the throes of its first major price war but the operators earned more revenues as lower prices encouraged subscribers to talk to each other more. Last year, those same dynamics came into play once again as calling rates fell by an average of 70 per cent or from Sh10 to Sh3 for on-network calls within the network.

    For Safaricom, a new competitor in the form of Bharti Airtel and the continued assault on its market share by Telkom Kenya and Essar meant lower earnings from each call. The average voice revenue per user for voice calls dropped to Sh300 compared to Sh376 in 2008.

    In addition, many of the factors that initially led to Safaricom's fast paced growth - a lack of effective infrastructure and the need for cheaper communication - have been largely resolved over the last couple years, leaving mobile operators with the task of identifying value added services that keep subscribers on their networks.

    To defend its position, Safaricom has increasingly turned to internet services, a segment that grew by 85 per cent over the last year for mobile subscribers and at over 400 per cent for corporate customers raking in Sh31.3 billion.

    "The areas of focus for the company promise to remain data and M-Pesa, where earnings have been increasing over the last few years. This is a company that is looking for new revenue streams," said Eric Musau, an analyst at African Alliance.

    Earnings from the money transfer service M-Pesa - which broke even a year ago and is now contributing to the firm's profits - grew by 56 per cent to Sh11.8 billion, with 81 per cent of Safaricom's subscribers now using the service to send money to each other.

    "Our strategy in diversifying away from voice has delivered strong growth in data. This focus on data is more than just finding a new revenue earner, it is about finding a sustainable business that we can rely on for the next few years," said Mr Collymore.

    As Safaricom works to alleviate its dependence on voice revenues, it will turn to new business segments that analysts say will provide it with a stable income generating machine as earnings from voice continue to shrink.

    Over the last year, the company upped its investments on building its data business, inking agreements with partners and signing up large internet consumers in the corporate world to boost its earnings from the segment.

    A new partnership with Chinese mobile handset manufacturer Huawei has seen Safaricom deepen its presence in the gadget retail sector. It has made aggressive in-roads into becoming a key player in the music industry, with its ringtone business Skiza being used by nearly 4 million subscribers.

    Safaricom also diversified its M-Pesa offering, signing an agreement with Western Union that allows international transfers in 46 countries and moving into the e-commerce space with a M-pesa powered Visa travel card.

    The company also intensified its efforts to become a player in the internet market through a new division named Safaricom Business, which focuses on providing solutions for SMEs and corporates.

    Business Daily
  • The government and three mobile phone companies will jointly construct an information communication technology broadband backbone in major urban areas of Tanzania.The project is expected to cost $80-100 million (between Sh120 billion Sh145 billion) and will be undertaken in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Mwanza, Arusha and Mbeya.

    The government partnership with Airtel, Zantel and Tigo is intended to bring connectivity close to urban dwellers. Since last year, the laying of the national ICT broadband backbone has been carried out in areas other than urban centres.

    The director for Information and Communications Technologies at the ministry of Communications, Science and Technology, Dr Zaipuna Yonah, told BusinessWeek recently that upon completing the work, the three firms would be given a right to use enough fibres for a certain period before the project is handed over to the government.

    Meanwhile, the construction of a national ICT backbone has entered into the last phase and only two regions --Rukwa and Kigoma--are yet to be reached.

    The backbone, which is the terrestrial continuation of the fibre optic submarine cables that landed on the Dar es Salaam coast in 2009, has contributed to a drop in Internet capacity charges. However, analysts see the connectivity charges as still high taking into account the tremendous development seen in the ICT industry in the country.

    The project was started in 2008 and is expected to cost about Sh251 billion when it is completed at the end of this year.The government intends to turn the country into a regional ICT hub. According to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority, the broadband subscriptions stood at four million by the end of 2009.

    The construction of the backbone was divided into two phases. Phase one became operational in July 2010 and covered the northern ring of the network with ten points of presence (POPs), which included Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Singida, Iringa, Babati, Arusha, Namanga, Moshi and Tanga.

    Phase Two is expected to be completed by December 2011 with operational PoPs at Lindi, Mtwara, Tunduru, Songea, Sumbawanga, Tabora, Kigoma and Manyovu.

    The project is funded by a $170 million soft loan from China and Sh30 billion from government sources. However, the government should improve an environment for public and private institutions to deliver services using ICT.

    According to the deputy-managing director of the University of Dar es Salaam Computing Centre, Dr Respickius Casmir, the government should swiftly design arrangement for the country to tap socioeconomic benefits such as a knowledgeable society using the infrastructure.

    Since Phase One of the backbone became operational last July four major locally licensed cellular and data operators were subscribed to services of the national information communication and technology broadband backbone (NICTBB), with other two companies from Malawi and Zambia getting access to NICTBB through licensed local operators.

    The Citizen
  • Zellco Cellular has failed to pay about US$14 million owed to NetOne within the agreed period, prompting the mobile phone operator to terminate the contract.

    According to NetOne, Zellco was given 14 days' notice to settle the debt. April 14 this year was the deadline, in accordance with the provisions of the Service Provider Agreement. Zellco did not pay on time, forcing NetOne to cancel the contract. Zellco had been in breach of contract for the past three years.

    In an interview with Herald Business, NetOne managing director Reward Kangai said Zellco has been challenging NetOne in the courts over settlement of the debt. Efforts to engage the company to honour its obligation to the parastatal proved fruitless. This compelled them to invoke the provisions in the agreement pertaining to breach of contract. "Zellco owes us over US$14 million and it had 14 days to remedy the breach but we did not see any effort on their part towards remedying the breach," he said..

    "Instead, they have been engaged in litigation against us, when we were only pursuing monies owed to us by Zellco.

    "We even offered them an opportunity to submit a proposal for terms to settle the debt (on a without-prejudice basis) soon after the aborted cancellation on April 6 this year. But they did not do that and instead sought an injunction barring us from cancelling the agreement. Zellco has been in breach of the agreement since 2009."

    On April 5 this year, NetOne issued a statement via SMS, notifying customers regarding the termination of Zellco's service agreement. But Zellco took legal action over the matter. An interim relief was granted in favour of Zellco, forcing NetOne to retract the statement, which it did.

    Zellco, through its lawyers, in correspondence dated April 19, said it viewed the move by NetOne "as not only ill-conceived and ill-advised but (also as) a blatant attempt to circumvent the net effect of the provisional order even before it has been confirmed".

    Meanwhile, NetOne has urged all former Zellco customers to update their personal information with NetOne and at the same time to deal directly with it in respect of bill inquiries and payments.

    NetOne invested in Zellco in the late 1990s through a debt conversion agreement which saw it acquiring a controlling 60 percent stake, with TeleNetwork Services holding the 40 percent balance. Zellco was however taken over by a consortium of local businesspeople who acquired the 60 percent stake from NetOne in 2009.

    The Herald
  • One of the world's top handset manufacturers is demanding Sh300 million from a Kenyan businessman. Finland-based Nokia Corporation wants Patrick Musimba to pay the money being an alleged outstanding sum, as per supply agreement. Musimba is the managing director of Musimba Investments, a local distributor of mobile telephone handsets and accessories.

    Through an agreement with Nokia in 2005, Musimba Investments was appointed to buy and resell Nokia-branded mobile telephones and accessories. According to papers filed at the High Court, the handset manufacturer supplied the goods for sale in Kenya and by May 2008, the amount outstanding to Nokia on account of the goods was $3,755,686 (over Sh300 million).

    The Finnish mobile phone maker also asked the court to grant it interest on the amount at 11 per cent per year from June 2008. However, Musimba denied that his company owed the handset manufacturer the money as he applied for the suspension of the proceedings.

    He accused Nokia of failing to adhere to the provisions of the supply agreement, which allegedly provided for arbitration by the Central Chamber of Commerce in Finland. Mr Justice Leonard Njagi gave Musimba's company 14 days to file and serve his written submissions.

    Daily Nation
  • - Kenyan cableco Wananchi Group, which offers triple-play services using the ‘Zuku’ brand, has announced that it has raised USD57.5 million worth of growth capital from a group of international investors. US-based firm Liberty Global Inc (LGI) – which owns cable operations across Europe and Latin America – is one of the key investors behind the latest round of financing; the investment marks LGI’s first cableco-related activity in Africa. Other new investors include Oppenheimer Funds and Sarona Asset Management, a Canadian emerging markets fund manager known for its ‘impact investments’. Existing Wananchi investors include leading private equity firm East Africa Capital Partners (EACP) and Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), a Pan-African private equity firm.

    - In Zimbabwe, mobile operator Econet Wireless is selling its shareholding in Afre Corporation and Rainbow Tourism Group in the wake of financial misdemeanours unearthed at Afre, which prompted Government intervention. In a related news, the mobile operator announced that it has earmarked investment of USD400 million this year to improve its network coverage and performance, its range of services and customer care.

    - Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT), which owns a 35% stake in Tunisie Telecom (TT), has warned that union activity within the telco could potentially give foreign investors a negative image of the country. ‘At this point in time, if potential foreign investors look to Tunisie Telecom as a case study for what it is like to invest in the country, we think that they would have a lot of questions about how secure their investment would be,’ EIT chief executive officer Deepak Padmanabhan told AFP.

    - Telkom Kenya, a France Telecom subsidiary, is looking to raise cash as it continues it restructuring plans that will see the elimination of more than 400 jobs. According to sources close to the company, it is putting up a number of assets for sale in the hope of increasing revenue reserves as competition in the telecom sector continues to grow in Kenya.

Digital Content

  • Much needs to be done to secure human rights in Africa, but "the tide is turning" and mobile phones and FM radio have arguably done more than most other conventional methods to pursue this objective, reports Amnesty International in its annual report.

    "In many countries in Africa," says Amnesty, "there is now a vibrant civil society, which, although often still repressed, can no longer be ignored by those in power."

    The advocacy group's secretary-general, Salil Shetty, says in the report that, across the world, 2010 "may well be remembered as a watershed year when activists and journalists used new technology to speak truth to power... Information is a source of power, and for those challenging the abuse of power by states and other institutions, it is an exciting time."

    Shetty also praises what he calls the innovative use of tracking and recording abuses pioneered by the Ushahidi.com website in Kenya. He says the site has opened up a whole new set of possibilities for conflict prevention.

    But he also points out that "there is nothing magical or deterministic about the Internet and other communications technologies" and warns that technology itself "neither respects nor undermines human rights... Technology will serve the purposes of those who control it – whether their goal is the promotion of rights or the undermining of rights.

    "We must be mindful that in a world of asymmetric power, the ability of governments and other institutional actors to abuse and exploit technology will always be superior to the grass-roots activists, the beleaguered human rights advocate, the intrepid whistleblower and the individual..."

    And while recognizing the contribution of WikiLeaks to promoting human rights, Shetty says the morality of revealing secret cables written by American diplomats was not clear-cut.

    "The dissemination of documents with apparent insufficient concern regarding the security of those exposed and the controversy surrounding the sexual offences case against Julian Assange [the founder of WikiLeaks] made moral clarity difficult."

    He nevertheless says that those who see the behaviour of WikiLeaks as amoral need to be aware that "those who live with the daily abuses of power may understandably celebrate WikiLeaks. Their last hope for accountability is disclosure – however messy, embarrassing and apparently counter-productive it may be."

    All Africa
  • Samsung Electronics has signed a deal with Strathmore University for a three-yearSh36million mobile phone research project to develop innovative mobile phone applications.

    Under the partnership, Samsung will support Strathmore's iLab Africa to train and nurture students to come up with applications that run on the Android platform and Samsung's own mobile platform, Bada.

    The announcement and signing of the agreement was made yesterday as Samsung kicked offs its 2011 African forum in Nairobi. Samsung already has a similar arrangement with the University of Cape Town making Strathmore University the second Samsung innovation lab centre in Africa. "It is a partnership agreement for three years," Dr Joseph Sevilla of Strathmore's Information Science and IT department. "Samsung will support us to do research to help students come up with new and innovative products. It is in form of funding for iLab Africa and Samsung hardware." Strathmore also partners with Safaricom to host the Safaricom Academy at iLab that is also involved in developing mobile applications.

    Among the applications that have come out of these partnerships include: wapi discount, a program that tells users which shops are having promotions and discounts within their area; m-order, a program for kiosk owners to order more supplies from Coca Cola among others.

    Dr. Sevilla said under the partnerships, business minded people who do not have an IT background but have good ideas for applications will also be taught the technical skills to develop them. Samsung used the event to launch its new line of tablets, the Galaxy Tabs and the new Galaxy S II smartphone for the African market.

    Nairobi Star

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - In Kenya, mobile firm Yu has launched a promotion calling rate of 50 cents per minute all day and night. The daily voice bundle promotion dubbed "Amua mdogo mdogo" enables yu subscribers to make calls within the yu network at a subscription rate of Sh2 "As more and more people continue to acquire mobile phones, the demand for affordable voice plans increases hence our latest offering."

    - Despite a tenuous period facing Nigeria’s telecommunications sector, with the country’s regulator the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) continuing to push SIM card registration, mobile companies reported strong growth in the past year. According to figures reported locally, subscriptions rose 16.26 percent over the past 12 months, the NCC said. Overall connected mobile lines grew nearly 13 million to just shy of 90 million in total through March. This growth came despite worries that subscription were likely to drop as a result of the continuing NCC effort to register all SIMs in the country.

More

  • - Mobile operator Airtel has appointed John Barorot as its new Network Director. Barorot was the Chief Technical Officer of Safaricom where he worked for over ten years rising from the position of Network Maintenance Manager in 2000. He left the company in March after the new Safaricom MD Bob Collymore instituted restructuring that scraped some key posts and merged other.

    - All five directors representing Econet Wireless Zimbabwe on the Afre Corporation board, including chairperson Ms Tracey Mpofu, resigned at the weekend in protest over what they termed "excessive intrusion" by Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

    - Business tycoon and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom CEO, Naguib Sawiris, announced he would step down as executive chairman of the company as he begins to move toward more involvement in the country’s changing political sphere.

  • 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:

    SatCom 2011 Africa Conference
    30 May - 2 June 2011, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg

    For further information visit here:

    West & Central Africa Com
    15-16 June 2011, Dakar, Senegal

    For further information visit here:

    Telecoms World Africa
    27- 30 June 2011, International Convention Centre, Cape Town

    For further information visit here:

    VAS Africa
    July 6 - July 7, 2011, Johannesburg

    For further information visit here:

    Tech4Africa
    27-28 October 2011
    The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg, South Africa

    The event is targeted at business professionals and technologists from businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs and start-up owners through to professionals working at large organisations.
    Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, will be joined by Herman Chinery-Hesse who is commonly known as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’, to present the keynote addresses at the Tech4Africa conference. Josh and Herman join a stellar line-up of international technologists including speakers from organisations such as Amazon, HP, Johns Hopkins University, Mozilla, SimpleGeo and Clearleft, and African technologists from SwiftRiver, the African Institution of Technology, Ultinet Systems, Motribe and many more.
    For further information visit here:

  • Ghana: Call for free computers and ICT partners

    Netplus is a cybercafé located in Accra centre, Ghana, on the ground floor of  the 'Ghana  Multimedia House'. The webcafé is one of the capital's most affordable cybercafes, and a meeting point for many students: they can surf the web, exchange in a relaxed atmosphere and get trained on network and software solutions.

    Balancing Act met them in April 2011. Prince Ghanaba, the cybercafe's manager explained that he could expand and almost double up the cafe desks' capacity but they do not have enough money to purchase new computers. Netplus charges very affordably fees for internet browsing, at $0.60 per hour and $0.30 per 30mins. They get about 500 customers daily, and Netplus' yearly turn-over is about Ghana CDs 22K.Most of the revenues go into office rent, expensive internet connectivity from Vodafone, electricity, software licences and small salaries. Prince would greatly appreciate if donors could contact him to supply free working computers. Computers need to be less than 4 years old with clean hard drives. For now, Netplus has no IT classes running due to absence of more working computers, but when there were classes Netplus used to charge $32 per student  per month or US$100 per  term.

    Netplus is also willing to partner with or represent  foreign entities as well as local IT and Phone Companies. Netplus' mission is to provide meaningful enhancement to IT Technology, internet access and ICT training to the local population in Ghana and West Africa. Netplus is blessed with a very strategic location on one of the best business streets in Ghana (the High Street is next to High Court, Bank of Ghana,  Barclays, Standard Chartered, GPO, Accra Metro Office, Nkrumah Mussolleum, Accra Maket Mall, Law School etc. ). It has a huge office space that is readily available for use for any IT business, sales point, resource center, IT out-sourcing center, call center or even as school training premises.

    contact Netplus cybercafe:
    Prince Ghanaba, Netplus Manager
    Tel    + 233-273-167-106 &   +233-684-587
    Email: ghanaba1972(@)yahoo.com

  • - Afriland First Bank Group and BPC Banking technologies - Cameroon
    BPC Banking Technologies, a provider of Open System e-payment solutions for the global financial industry, announced that it has inked a deal to implement its SmartVista suite as a new e-payments platform for Afriland First Bank Group. The first implementations are taking place in Cameroon and at the Group’s head office in Geneva, Switzerland.

Syndicate content