Issue no 574 30th September 2011

top story

  • While there is a lot of publicity made around mobile payment services launched by mobile operators in Africa (thanks to their very well-oiled PR machine) there is much less emphasis on mobile payment services launched by other organisations. During her recent visit to Congo-Brazza, Isabelle Gross spoke to Alain Ndalla, the CEO of Pata Express about their mobile operator agnostic mobile transfer service and other services that the company plans to launch in the coming 12 months.

    Pata Express has started offering mobile transfer and payment services in Congo-Brazaville twelve months ago. To comply with local banking rules, Pata Express works in collaboration with a banking organisation and in their case, they have signed partnerships with micro-finance organisations. Their service is currently available through three different micro-finance organisations. According to Alain Ndalla, working with micro-finance organisations has thus far been mutually beneficial.

    The partnership with micro-finance organisations has provided Pata Express with ready available routes to market and points of sales across the country. Pata Express offers to micro-finance local outlets a real-time accounting service that runs on the backend of the mobile transfer service. While in the past micro-finance outlets needed a couple of days to reconcile daily transactions which had occurred a couple of days before, they can now access a report of the daily transactions at the end of each day.

    The Pata Express data centre located in Brazzaville monitors transactions going through in real-time. On the security side, micro-finance outlets have to go through a two-step logging process to connect to the Pata Express system. First the micro-finance outlet logs in the system and than via SMS the person operating the service identifies him or herself again.

    To use Pata Express mobile transfer services, people have to open an account with one of the micro-finance organisations that the company is working with. After twelve months of activity, Pata Express has several thousand customers which is not bad considering that the total population of Congo is less than 4 million inhabitants. The company also plans to add more services like bill payments or salary payouts to the “virtual wallet” that they have introduced but their main development efforts are currently going into building a service platform called “PhonePage”.

    According to Alain Ndalla, PhonePage will combine an application store, a market place and an information service accessible via SMS. The company is partnering with a local mobile operator and will officially launch the service next December. The PhonePage platform allows for example people or companies to create their own space where they can list the services and products that they sell.

    A space or an entry in the directory is created via an SMS and queries to PhonePage are also handled via SMS. To test the service, I sent a query to PhonePage about Alain Ndalla. A couple of seconds later, I received a response via SMS with the following information“ passionate about technology, art, architecture and jazz”. The idea at the heart of PhonePage is to build a repository of useful local information that will be easily accessible from any type of mobile phone.

    Combined together, PhonePage and Pata Exrpess have the potential to increase visibility to local services and further facilitate payments for these services. Today, Pata Express is the sole provider of mobile transfer and payment services in Congo but this situation is soon going to change.

    Mobile operator MTN in partnership with Ecobank is planning to launch its portfolio of MTN-Money services in November. Others will follow and the next technical and financial challenges will be to build an environment that enables Congolese mobile customers to make transfers and payments across the various platforms.

    The full economic benefits of mobile transfer and payment services in Africa will only be felt once interoperability between service platforms will be achieved. This will no exactly be music to mobile operators’ ears but let’s face it. It will need to happen sooner rather than later. 

    The idea of combining an m-money transfer service with other useful day-to-day services is a trend to watch. You can listen to Kamal Budhabatti, CEO of Craft Silicon in Kenya talk about its ELMA product which shares some similarities with Pata Express and Phone Page.

    This week on the BalancingActAfrica You Tube channel:

    Richard Bell, CEO, Wananchi Group in Kenya on international fibre connectivity, local TV content for its Zuku bouquet and financing its vision:

    Kamal Budhabbatti, Craft Silicon
    on its banking products and m-money payment product ELMA

    Robert Aouad, CEO Isocel Benin
    on opening a carrier-neutral data centre in Benin

    Arun Nagar, CEO, Spice VAS Africa on launching its African platforms and live streaming

    Lance Dickerson, CEO, TIA Telecom on optimising African mobile networks

    And finally, one from the archive. Herman Heunis on social networking with MXit in Africa before he sold the company to Vodacom last week

    Want up-to-the-minute breaking news? 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

  • A second round of  the mobile tariff war is looming in Kenya following an announcement by Kenyan  mobile operator Yu, the mobile phone brand of Essar Telecom Kenya Limited, that its promotion of on-net calls would be made permanent.

    The promotion, which allows Yu subscribers to make free on-net calls daily between 6am and 6pm was scheduled to end next week, but according to Yu Mobile’s country manager Madhur Taneja, the calls will be permanent subject to regulatory approval.

    The mobile telephony firm is also retaining its 50% SMS offer across all networks at a daily charge of Ksh 2, thus providing Kenyan mobile users opportunities to communicate at a low cost. “We are delighted to take the lead in making sure the calling rates in the market give best value for money to subscribers,” said Taneja.

    “As we respond to the market demand in making communication affordable, we have been compelled to make this offer a permanent tariff, re-emphasising our commitment to always think of the consumer needs. The cost of living has continued to rise but we will continue to ensure the very best for subscribers,” said Taneja.

    The firm currently has 1.4 million subscribers after it lost over 26,266 subscribers according to recent data from the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK).

    The firm suffered a drop in market rankings from 7.4% – 6.7% in October, while rivals Airtel and Orange grew their shares from 9.1% to 13.5% and 2.7% to 4% cent respectively over the period. In the same period, Safaricom’s market share dropped to 75.9% from 80.7%, but it gained 473, 979 subscribers.

    With the latest development, mobile telecoms operator Yu said it is targeting at least Ksh2.8million every day following the introduction of a Sh2 flat-rate charge on subscribers within its network. “In addition, we are retaining the 50 cent per SMS offer across all networks at a daily charge of Sh2,” said Madhur Taneja, YuMobile Country Manager.

    The move comes barely two weeks after Safaricom hinted at a possible review of its tariffs on the grounds that it was carrying a huge burden in increased network maintenance. Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said the cost of running diesel-driven base stations had risen by 27% since January 2011.

    By making the free offer permanent, yu has complicated Safaricom’s proposal to pass the rising costs of production to consumers, given that doing so will give Yu an upper hand on price competitiveness.

    Call rates in the country came down by more than 50% in August last year after Safaricom’s rival, Airtel, under the leadership of former Airtel CEO Rene Meza, halved its rates to Sh3 (less than $1).

    ITNews Africa
  • Uganda’s Communication Commission (UCC) has revoked the licences of six telecoms operators for failing to launch services within their allotted time limit. Uganda’s licensing regime is technology neutral, with concessions divided into two groups, public infrastructure provider (PIP) and public services provider (PSP).

    The former allows its holders to operate telecoms infrastructure, whilst the latter grants permission to provide services only. Mara Telecom, Janu Communications and Ace Telecom held PSP licences to provide voice and data services, whilst Talk Telecom Solutions and Mo Telecom International held PSP licences to resell bandwidth capacity.

    Excellentcom Uganda, however, was in possession of both a PIP and PSP. It is not clear whether the cancellation of Excellentcom Uganda’s concession has freed up wireless spectrum, as its parent group, HiTS Africa, the African telecoms investment arm of Kuwait-based HiTS Telecom Holding KSC, has rolled out GSM-based mobile services in Tanzania and also holds cellular licences in countries including Burundi and Equatorial Guinea, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database.

    Telegeography
  • The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given a grace period for subscribers who were unable to register their SIM cards during the six-month registration exercise. A statement by the NCC and signed by the Head, Media and Public Relations, Reuben Muoka, last week, noted that the commission would begin the collation and harmonisation of all existing registered SIM Cards from across the country, following the successful end of the nationwide SIM registration exercise.

    The NCC said, "Given the vast geographical spread of the country, and the logistics involved in the registration exercise over the past six months, there is need for proper harmonisation of the data in line with the specifications issued by the commission.

    "The harmonisation process will involve the collation, reconciliation, cleaning, and consolidation of the captured data into a central data infrastructure for efficient management of Nigeria's subscriber data base".

    The statement added that the limited period would provide the last chance for all users of existing SIM cards to register, saying that all unregistered SIM Cards would be promptly disconnected without further notice at the conclusion of the harmonization exercise.

    "The commission is fully aware of the clamour by many interested stakeholders, and stakeholder organisations, for extension of the period for the registration of existing SIM Cards.

    "However, the commission believes that the six months period provided for the registration exercise, gave ample time for all phone users in the country to register their SIM Cards with either their service providers, or the NCC-appointed registration consultants, the NCC added.

    It further revealed that service providers would be directed not to disconnect any subscriber on account of the registration until the commission announced the completion of the process after which those who remained unregistered would be disconnected within the limited period of the harmonisation exercise.

    The Leadership
  • According to Business Daily Africa a total of 17 telecoms firms have registered their interest in Kenya’s planned ‘open access’ Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. Of the companies involved, eight are known to be international equipment vendors, although they are all believed to have partnered with as-yet unnamed local companies in order to secure their participation in the project.

    Global vendors include: Alcatel-Lucent (France), Huawei and ZTE (both China), Lollakfi (UK), Ericsson (Sweden), and IBM, Epesi Technologies and Cisco Networks (all United States).

    As previously reported, telecoms regulator the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) was forced to extend the bidding period until 27 September after receiving no bids by the original 13 September deadline. The government indicated that it does not intend to give the incumbent cellcos access to 4G spectrum; instead it called for the implementation of a public-private partnership (PPP), with a view to creating a Universal Access System (UAS) for all of the country’s telecoms operators. The single network, joint ownership plan was put forward as a direct result of the problems Kenya experienced when issuing 3G licences at staggered intervals; Safaricom acquired a concession for USD25 million in October 2007, only to demand recompense when late entrant Airtel Kenya (formerly Zain) was issued with a UMTS licence for USD10 million in June 2010.

    Although the full list of participants has yet to be revealed, Business Daily Africa reports that Telkom Kenya has submitted a bid for the project, albeit after the 11am deadline. Telkom Chief Executive Mickael Ghossein has denied receiving any official communication from the CCK, and the government has indicated that it is willing to overlook the technicality.

    Meanwhile, Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo has confirmed that the CCK will commence its evaluation of the bids next week, and hopes to select the winners by December. Ndemo commented: ‘This process brings structure to the procurement decision and is meant to allow the risks and benefits to be identified clearly upfront and things to be looked at this second stage will be technical and financial capability of the firms to deliver’.

    Telegeography
  • - Essar Telekom Kenya has agreed to pay Kenyan Data Networks (KDN) a lump sum of KES25 million (USD250,000), followed by KES6.2 million until an independent arbitrator can settle the dispute. The disagreement is over KES133 million in unpaid fees to KDN for backhaul transmission services from the Indian-backed telco. KDN began litigation against Essar in May this year, threatening to cut off Essar’s connectivity should it continue its non-payment. In this most recent deal, Essar, which operates locally as Yu, has consented to clear the KES25 million debt incurred for services between May and August this year, and continue to pay KES6.2 million a month whilst an independent arbitrator investigates the case, provided that the Nairobi-based wholesaler does not interfere with its connectivity.

    - Mozambique launches electronic Banking system via mobile phone.
    The mKesh service, run by Carteira Móvel, Mozambique’s new financial institution, aims to be another tool to increase the use of banking services in the Mozambican economy, said the deputy governor of the Bank of Mozambique, António Pinto de Abreu.Speaking at the ceremony to launch the company, the deputy governor said that Carteira Móvel (Mobile Wallet) also aimed to make the use of tools for electronic payment, as an alternative to cash, available to the masses.

internet

  • A high powered cable ship is expected to land at the shores of Liberia next month under the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA), intended to increase government inter-connectivity computer networking and lower cost of telecommunication services here.

    The World Bank funded initiative would help connect Liberia to global fiber optic network with membership of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) consortium. The ACE cable is to connect some 22 countries along the West Coast of Africa via 17,000km fiber optic cable.

    During a presentation the West African Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (WARCIP) Project Manager Daniel Brewer, said 19 Manhole has been built in Monrovia through which cables will run from the Beach Manhole which he termed to be the conductor or path.

    Brewer said the project is the first of its kind in the history of Liberia, adding that it costs US$25.6 million. Following the presentation earlier made at the Liberia Telecommunication Authority office in Congo Town, a tour was made at the PHP Community, down Lynch Street, where the beach manhole is built.

    Also speaking, Finance Ministry Data Center Manager B. Anthony McCritty, said the project will help government agencies and ministries built standard and fast financial data systems. He said upon the installation of the cable here, all government ministries and agencies are expected to be connected.

    Already, the Finance Ministry, General Auditing Commission, Central Bank and other government entities are connected to the system, he said. Touring the other facilities currently undergoing construction at the LTA building on Broad Street, Mr. McCritty told journalists that the WARCIP has installed about four power breaker equipment that could function five years from now, without developing problems.

    The New Dawn
  • Dimension Data division Internet Solutions (IS) is at an advanced stage of planning for a project that could see it investing heavily in building metropolitan Wi-Fi networks to serve business campuses and city streets in dense urban areas.

    Craig Stewart, product manager for Wi-Fi at IS, says the project, which would dramatically extend the company’s involvement in the telecommunications infrastructure access business, is being scrutinised for its commercial viability. Stewart expects IS will launch a pilot network soon using specialised outdoor Wi-Fi equipment.

    “We have looked at it and we think it makes sense,” Stewart says. “I don’t want to commit to any dates but we are at advanced stage and have assessed the vendors we are going to use.”

    He says he expects IS will go ahead with the project. He points to the example of the US, where operators AT&T and Verizon have built extensive Wi-Fi networks to complement their third-generation mobile data networks.

    “We believe Wi-Fi is a strategic technology that can address some of the issues we have in SA from a broadband access point of view, taking broadband to the wider population.”

    Stewart admits, however, that the network will specifically target dense urban areas, at least at first. Other technologies will have to be applied to achieve coverage in more outlying areas, he says.

    The network will use the fast 802.11n Wi-Fi standard and will be designed to be complementary to voice and data infrastructure provided by the mobile operators.

    The idea is to leverage the fibre-optic infrastructure being built by FibreCo, in which IS has a 33,3% stake. FibreCo’s other partners are Cell C and Convergence Partners.

    “Without fibre for backhaul, it’s not going to work,” he says. “You need to provide a phenomenal experience and fibre is the best way of doing that.”

    Stewart explains that the project will involve building high sites to provide connectivity into fibre and constructing access points in the dense urban areas like Sandton’s CBD by installing all-weather Wi-Fi devices in street lights and similar structures.

    The access points would connect wirelessly to the high sites and would interconnect with each other by means of a “mesh network” to provide redundancy to the high sites.

    The plan is to run multiprotocol label switching, or MPLS, technology over the Wi-Fi network to provide improved quality of service, especially for voice calls.

    If IS management gives the go-ahead, the network will probably use a combination of unlicensed bands around 2,4GHz and above 5GHz. This would obviate the time-consuming and potentially expensive need for IS to secure a spectrum licence from the Independent Communications Authority of SA to build the network.

    The Wi-Fi plans are separate to IS’s intention to bid for spectrum in the 2,6GHz band, where it has expressed an interest in building a national mobile broadband network using technology called long-term evolution, or LTE.

    IS is already a big player in Wi-Fi through its AlwaysOn subsidiary, in which it has a 51% stake. AlwaysOn provides hotspots in hotels, airports, restaurants and other high-trafficked areas. It has about 900 coverage areas nationwide, consisting of more than 12 000 individual access points.

    TechCentral
  • Finnish telecommunications equipment vendor Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) has signed an agreement with Bharti Airtel to expand the operator’s 2G infrastructure and deploy 3G networks in seven African countries. Under the agreement, NSN will manage end-to-end network operations, including planning, designing and implementing the 2G and 3G networks for Airtel in the markets of Madagascar, Malawi, Congo Brazzaville, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The vendor will provide its energy-efficient Flexi Multiradio Base Stations to expand network coverage to underserved areas, including smaller towns and villages in the seven countries. Commenting on the agreement, Rajeev Suri, chief executive officer of NSN, said: ‘Subscribers everywhere are increasingly demanding better network quality and superior services. We look forward to working closely with Airtel to expand its network rapidly, and deliver the right innovative products and services to help meet these demands.’

    NSN will use its FlexiHybrid microwave radio to address growing data traffic and provide the platform for a cost-effective transition to 3G, and potentially 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in the future. The company will also provide its NetAct network management system for effective network monitoring and management. In addition, the vendor’s end-to-end managed services will enable Airtel to focus on delivering better customer experience and offer more innovative products and services to customers across markets.

    Telegeography
  • Airtel has launched an online search platform to help Somali refugees find their relatives. The platform includes the use of mobile Internet (wireless application protocol or WAP) and also Android technology while allowing millions to use short message texting to find their loved ones.

computing

  • Ecobank Tanzania customers should anticipate improved services as the bank changes bank management software.

    The shift from Globus to Flexcube, to become effective on Monday next week, will affect all of the bank's operations in the 22 African countries, according to the bank's managing director, James Cantamantu-Koomson.

    Flexcube enables banks to standardise, transform and optimise their business processes. The software enables banks to simplify and streamline processes; track and administer complex multi-step transactions and efficiently distribute workload and improve customer service by using predefined custom processes for different segments of customers.

    Speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam last week, Cantamantu-Koomson said the new design in the Flexcube software is part of the group's plan to make the Ecobank Tanzania a world class Pan African bank.

    "Becoming a world-class bank means totally looking to our products, our platforms and keeping abreast of times....with the Flexcube web-based technology, interface with a customer will be much easier and in a more structured way," he said. He noted that with the change in system, customers should anticipate some few challenges noting however that disruption of banking services will be kept to the minimum.

    "We appeal to our customers that where there are such changes they have to draw attention to...we are confident that the transition from Globus to Flexcube will be smooth," he explained.

    He said the shift in banking software puts the bank in a better place to move swiftly into online age. "It therefore enables us to roll out our online products much easier....these change are happening across the whole group to bring us in line with the world technology, delivery to customers and in line with the changing trend of banking," he said.

    The group has total assets of over $12billion; an equity of $1.3billion; over three million customers across Africa and 1.1 million cards as well as 700 ATMs across Africa plus some 750 branches.

    Ecobank is a full-service bank providing a broad range of products and services to governments, financial institutions, multinationals/ international organisations, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as well as individuals.

    Listed on three stock exchanges, Ecobank is a leading Pan-African bank with operations in 32 countries across the continent. This year, Euromoney which is a recognized financial institution in the world judged Ecobank the best bank in Africa. It started operations in Tanzania over 18 months ago.

    The Citizen
  • Durban North, 30 September 2011 – Teraco Data Environments today opened the doors of its third vendor neutral colocation facility in River Horse Valley. Dark fibre Africa, MWeb, Telkom, Neotel, Bitco, Continuity Solutions, Vox Telecom and Broadband Infraco are current tenants, with several other businesses in negotiation stage.
     
    This facility forms a core part of Teraco’s national expansion plans, creating another strategic regional presence for the company to complement its facilities in Isando, Johannesburg (JB1) and in Rondebosch, Cape Town (CT1). Collectively, Teraco’s portfolio of three data centres now delivers 3000 sqm of floor space across South Africa.
     
    “KwaZulu Natal has a robust economy with an established industrial base, a strong commercial sector and excellent services, especially in the telecoms space. We are seeing rapid growth in office park developments catering to high-tech companies, and expansions to the ports and airports will be catalysts for a local economic boom,” says Lex van Wyk, managing director of Teraco. “The communications infrastructure growth here with Durban’s progressive fibre broadband strategy and the landing of the SEACOM and EASSy cables makes the city an important new operational hub for Teraco.”
     
    The opening of the 600 square meter (sqm) facility is Phase 1. Future growth potential exceeds 1000 sqm.
     
    Critical power of 1MVA is provided via resilient municipal power feeds into the data centre. The data centre is built according to international best practice. With efficient cooling allowing for 5kVA per cabinet and more, the Data center is designed to a 99.999% uptime resiliency.
     
    Van Wyk explains that DB1 offers local businesses easy access to their ‘own’ data centre and lower latency through its regional presence for Internet connectivity.

    “In theory, it’s possible to have a data centre in any location. In practice, companies want to stay close to their data – both for the occasional need to physical access their servers, as well as to minimise latency to ensure online applications are responsive. Teraco’s total neutrality gives companies access to world-class infrastructure for their data centre requirements as the trend towards outsourcing grows, especially with cloud computing. DB1’s location on the fibre rings of major licensed local carriers and our unrestricted choice of providers will reduce interconnection costs for Durban companies,” says Van Wyk.
     
    According to Van Wyk, data centre construction today has become more complex, as accurately forecasting future growth requirements  and managing practical restrictions such as access to power, security and land use regulations can be moving targets.
     
    Van Wyk believes “Colocation offers companies best practice facilities with reduced complexity and predictable costs. DB1’s high quality, high availability IT infrastructure will support Internet infrastructure expansion in Durban, raising business competitiveness in the region.”

  • - The City Council of Nairobi has developed an e-Construction Permit Management System with the help of the World Bank The Director of Planning Tom Odongo said yesterday that the automated system will reduce the amount of time needed to review and approve a building proposal through perks like concurrent evaluation and needed comments by all council departments.

    - In Ethiopia, clients are no longer required to queue up to get their documents processed at the Documents Authentication & Reservation Office (DARO), after it installed online form application software at a project cost of 488,000 Br.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Shares in telecommunications group Telkom slumped R1.60 (Less than US $1) or 4.82% to R31.60 (about US $4.1) on the JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) today after the group announced losses incurred by its mobile business in a trading statement.

    According to I-Net Bridge, Telkom advised that its headline earnings per share from continuing operations for the six months ending September 2011 were expected to be at least 40% lower than previously. “The decrease is mainly attributable to the losses incurred by the mobile business,” Telkom said in a statement.

    Business Day
  • Nigeria’s Communications and Technology Minister Omobola Johnson has again called on information, communications and technology firms in the country to list on the Stock Market in an effort to boost the economy.

    Johnson has urged Nigeria’s ICT companies to emulate Morvest, a provider of business support services and ICT solutions with about N1.6 billion (about US $ 10.1million) investment in Nigeria, which has recently listed on the exchange. She said that listing on the stock market would boost wealth accumulation in the country.

  • - Zain's Sudan subsidiary has awarded a mobile advertising contract to Jinny Software.

    - Sierra Leone’s parliament has approved a concessional loan agreement between the government and the Export-Import Bank of China to improve telecommunications across the country to help develop the country’s telecommunications and security sector. According to AllAfrica.com, which cites a report by local newspaper Concord Times, the loan is worth USD15.314 million and is to be paid within five years with a grace period of 20 years.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • A new deal inked on Monday between Essar Telecom Kenya and Tata Communications will allow yuMobile to route all international voice calls through the Tata communications network.

    “It’s a really smart move that should increase our company’s efforts to bring international calling to more Kenyans,” Andrew Mambiso, an Essar Group manager, told  ITNewsAfrica. The partnership will allow yuMobile, one of Tata’s key suppliers of telecommunication services throughout Kenya, to tap into the company’s extensive voice infrastructure, enabling it to deliver higher quality international calls at competitive rates to customers in Kenya.

    According to a Tata media statement “Tata Communications aims to use the deal to harness from the increasing demand for high quality voice services in Africa generated by a rapid rise in the number of mobile subscribers on the continent.”

    ITNews Africa
  • STARCOMMSPIc has introduced a value added service that will help its new customers who are migrating from other networks to notify their old contacts automatically about their new Starcomms number. Tagged 'I don move' the service enables Starcomms customers to receive calls made to their old numbers by their contacts with their Starcomms phones, while at the same time sending information to the callers that the customer now has a new number.

    The idea is to ensure that the customer does not lose valuable contacts or miss important calls as a result of their migration to the Starcomms network. To migrate to the new package, the customer has to maintain the old network alongside their Starcomms phones for a limited period of time after migration, during which all calls made to their old number are handled by Starcomms.

    Unveiling the service in Lagos, Starcomms CEO, Logan Pather, said: "Lately we have been inundated with enquiries by our new customers on their concern about their old contacts who may not yet know that they have new Starcomms numbers. We therefore devised a method for them that will eliminate the stress of manually notifying them of change of number. We believe this will go a long way in making their experience with Starcomms unique and satisfactory. Customer service is one of the hallmarks of our business."

    To use this service, the new Starcomms customer will need to register by sending SMS: "reg+space+old number" to a short code: 31131. Once the registration is done, the customer will be informed about "I don move' and will be instructed to do a call divert/forward to a Starcomms magic number (07028422222).

    The subscription for "I don move" is valid for one month at time and it is free of charge. After the first subscription, the customer can re-subscribe for the service so that if there are still some contacts that are yet to get the notifications. Each subscriber is entitled to only one SMS in a day.

    Similarly, Starcomms has also launched a new internet modem called IZAP Plus for enhanced data services. The company said that the latest release of EVDO known as Rev B, allows increased broadband data rates, improved network efficiencies reliability and high speed internet access for residential and business users.

    Also, with IZAP -Plus, users are said to be able to achieve higher data rates with download speeds of up to 9.3 mega bits per second (mbps) and upload speeds of up to 5.4 mbps per second. This service offers the best broadband access and delivers existing applications more efficiently and is very easy to use.

    Chief Executive Officer of Starcomms, Mr. Logan Pather, said the introduction IZAP Plus was aimed at providing an improved broadband experience to all Starcomms customers. According to him, the IZAP -Plus will first be deployed in Lagos and subsequently then roll out to the other parts of the country. The product, he said is targeted at consumers who are looking for the best and consistent service.

  • Owners of blackberry phones in the country cannot enjoy the full potential of smart phones until the handset maker, Research in Motion (RIM), awards a license to the service provider, MTN Rwanda.

    Some of the features that are inaccessible to BlackBerry users in Rwanda include watching videos online, Flash players and AppWorld that gives subscribers access to several applications and downloads.

    So far there are about 5,000 BlackBerry users subscribed with the local provider of BlackBerry services, MTN Rwanda.

    According to MTN Rwanda, the delay to activate AppWorld is connected to the lack of an intellectual property law. However, the law on intellectual property was passed in 2009.

    "BlackBerry AppWorld goes through a different due diligence (legal and regulatory) based on countries not operators. MTN is working closely with them (RIM) to get this sorted out," an MTN source said, adding that they have no capacity to push RIM.

    In an email sent to The New Times, RIM's Corporate Communications Manager Africa, Christa Botha, said that RIM's rollout of AppWorld is done on a country-to-country basis.

    "We work closely with our carrier partners to bring the latest BlackBerry products and services to the market. BlackBerry App World is being launched on a country by country basis as part of a phased rollout globally," Botha said.

Digital Content

  • South Africa based wireless data provider, iBurst has presented the South African public with new competitive data packages, available on a month-to-month or contract package.

    iBurst’s new data packages range from R49 (about US $6.2) per month to R879 (about US $111.4) per month. The deals include the playa 5+ package, which offers a total data bundle of 10GB at R149 (about US $18.9), the Pro 10+ package, offering a total data bundle of 20 GB at R198 (about US $25), and the max 25+ package offering 50GB of data at R445 (about US $56.4). At the bottom end of the spectrum there’s the starta+ package, offering 1GB at R49 (about US $6.2), while at the top end  iBurst offers two uncapped packages priced at R599 (about US $75.9) (uncapped) and R879 (about US $111.4) (uncapped+) respectively.

    According to iBurst Executive Head for Commercial,  Malcolm Turnbull, this offering is a standard offering, unlike many of the promotional ones that are currently on the market.

    “This demonstrates that iBurst is not afraid to take the risk to offer the best to our current and future subscribers. These new products also offer the consumer other benefits including the ability for one to control their usage over a month, more data to use, and a free modem on selected 24 month contracts,” says Turnbull.

    Turnbull says the local broadband market had become much more competitive in recent months and iBurst wanted to maintain its reputation as a value-for-money service provider within this much more aggressive telecoms landscape. The new offering therefore provides the company with the opportunity to do this and simultaneously offers great benefits to its subscribers.

    iBurst CEO Thami Mtshali said the company was hoping to further shake up  the market with its new data offering.

    “We’ve radically decreased prices in the hopes not only of getting South Africans to use the internet more, but also of ensuring that we accommodate those potential consumers previously unable to use the internet because of affordability,” says Mtshali.

    Mtshali says the market was constantly evolving making it necessary for companies like iBurst to pioneer consumer-focused products suited both to the consumers’ needs and their pockets.

    ITNews Africa

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  • Emma Kaye, CEO of bozza.mobi was elected one of Africa's top ten women in science and technology- In the spirit of celebrating African excellence, ITNewsAfrica decided to profile 10 African women who have been pivotal in the development of Technology on the continent.

    Local newspaper Frontpage Africa reported that Benoni Urey, Chairman of the Board of MTN Liberia will remain under the "UN travel ban" as his lobbying in the USA to overturn the ban failed. Benony Urey was a close associate of Charles Taylor and is among the local shareholders of MTN Liberia via a company called PLC.

  • The African Child On-line Protection education & Awareness centre (ACOPEA) seeks partners

    Mission and goals:

    ACOPEA aims to promote Africa wide awareness on the importance of child safety in the online world, develop strategies to raise the level of awareness among governments, industry and educators to ensure a safe and secure online experience for children in Africa under the UN Child Online Protection (COP) agenda.
    The overall goal is to:
    Develop awareness resources for educators and all other professionals working with young people in Africa.
    Raise awareness and stimulate action among government, industry and key stakeholders in promoting ITU COP Guidelines.Develop techniques of dissemination and easy access to resources of awareness materials (website, booklets, downloadable materials).
    Aggregate professionals from all around Africa, cascade awareness training inline with the goals

    Achievements:
    ACOPEA attended the ITU WSIS Forum Africa COP sessions and contributed positively. Acopea has also been given an opportunity to attend the 2012 CTO Cyber security Form and drawing attention from key regional and international players in the field of COP.
    Acopea delivered first ever pilot COP workshop on the 25th August 2011 in Addis Ababa for child protection professionals from three African.
    Contacted so far: UN, ITU, & CTO.
     

    Success indicators are available upon request.

    urgent Needs:

    - Acopea needs Partnerships, technical, material, financial support & sponsorships as well as visibility.

    Logistic: - Acopea needs to accomplish the following in the coming months for best outcome of the initiative.
    o       Organisation to assist and facilitate venues for delivering Acopea workshops.
    o       Descriptive list of training methodology & awareness resources produced, under the banner “Africadoyouknow” ADUK: - for educators, parents and children.
    o       ACOPEA portal: - This will be designed to provide links; information and resources for download from a range of stakeholders nationally and regionally. The portal will have an interactive map of Africa so citizens can look for regional ADUK initiatives.
    o       Citizens can have easy access to awareness cascade material through the website.
    o       Professionals can register and apply for ADUK training workshop online. Once registered, verified or trained, ACOPEA Ambassadors (AAs) and those trained can download a number of awareness resources to cascade online.
    o       Within this area every one can participate in surveys, evaluations and research with children.
    o       Regional ADUK Training Workshop delivered for AAs ongoing bases
    o       AA’s and trained delegates can log their own events so professionals in their locality can register and be trained
    Staff: - Acopea currently have three volunteer staff and will need fulltime staff as soon as possible.
    Budget: - Acopea seeks initial funding up to Euros 155,000.
    Two year project forecast is self sufficiency by raising Euro 500,000 through workshops and forums it organises across Africa and internationally.

    Contacts:
    Acopea, 11 Artesian House, 137 Grange Road, London, SE1 3GF United Kingdom
    daniel.asfaw@acopea.org
    www.acopea.org
    Tel: 00447438827005

    Alcatel-Lucent Transmission Support

    Location: Western Africa
    O&M Transmission Engineer – Alcatel-Lucent - Gabon

    My client is a global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions are currently seeking an O&M Transmission Engineer for a contract based in Gabon, Africa. They offer a wide choice of products ranging from voice, data, multimedia and wireless broadband services.

    Job Role & Responsibilities:

        * Provide a deep audit for OMSN equipments and identify physical abnormalities
        * Analyze and interpret the alarms across the SDH network 3 – Much alarms of the NE and the degradation of QoS GSM network reported by the customer
        * Analyze and interpret the alarms across the SDH network 3 – Much alarms of the NE and the degradation of QoS GSM network reported by the customer

    For more information please click here:

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