Issue no 577 21st October 2011

top story

  • Liquid Telecom has been quietly building out its Southern Africa fibre network that will eventually be 8,500 kms long and cost US$170 million. Its network is now meeting the fibre networks of East Africa and it wants to go into DRC from Zambia. However, the continent’s other carriers’ carriers are not in bullish expansion mode and the example of Kenya’s KDN shows what can go wrong. Russell Southwood spoke to Liquid Telecom’s CEO this week.

    Liquid Telecom has now got a fibre route from Johannesburg up to the Zambian border. Alongside this network it has two metro rings in Zimbabwe and several in Zambia. Its network in Zambia is through a joint venture with Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and includes the assets of Realtime Technologies, who used to manage the network on behalf of CEC. The CEC network reaches up to the Zambian border with DRC and there may yet be a cross-border link to Lubumbashi. Rudnick says:”We’re working on an arrangement to extend the network in DRC and will make an announcement shortly.”

    In the not yet completed part of phase two and phase three it will: build out customer access in Zimbabwe; and build links into Botswana (Gaberone and Francistown). It is also connected to Namibia via Neotel. In South Africa, it has its own network north of Johannesburg but uses other people’s network for the onward journey south.

    The customers of the network are the mobile operators and corporate customers operating across Southern Africa:”In terms of corporate customers, we have a significant and growing number of corporates with regional branches, particularly banks.”

    As an existing satellite operator across the continent, Liquid Telecom is in a position to see the difference the new fibre network has made to bandwidth volumes bought. Satellite is now less than 10% of its total capacity: it continues to fall as an overall percentage but grow in bandwidth terms:”Data is 8 times greater than it was 12 months ago when everything was going by satellite.” On its network, prices have come down 50% on satellite and early fibre prices:”Now there is sufficient bandwidth but congestion is still occurring”.

    “Costs will continue to come down but volumes will go up. The wholesale reductions have not yet been passed on to the consumer as operators are still investing in local access networks. But retail prices will come down by more than a third and could even come down more. The networks are still trying to understand consumer behaviour.”

    Its competitors are mainly alternative fibre providers, the state-owned electricity utilities like Powertel:”They used to charge as much as they could now it’s swung the other way and they’ll charge as little as they can to keep the business. They don’t have a commercial model.”

    The continent currently has four carriers’s carriers of any scale that offer services to all operators: Liquid Telecom, KDN, Suburban and Phase3 Telecom. The latter only has a domestic fibre network.

    Of these, KDN provides an interesting case study in what can go wrong. Originally launched by the Sameer Group (which also owned the mobile company Celtel bought and is now Airtel), it was bought into by South African family business Altech. The latter had previously bought into a Uganda ISP and set up another in Rwanda. However, towards the end of the period of its previous CEO Kai Wulff, the timetable for investment seemed to slow down.

    The South African co-owners bought in a new CEO, Rykus Matthyser, who had formerly been with Telkom and latterly Telkom Media (before it became Super5 Media). He has recently left the company.

    As Jane Austen might have said if she was in the telecoms business, it is truth widely acknowledged that South Africans and Kenyans do not always get along. On occasions, South Africans can exhibit the tendency to give the impression that they know it all. At KDN key staff left, feeling that they had been treated as if they didn’t know the business and the local market. All of which might have become bar-room gossip if success had followed.

    But as one insider told us:”They thought they could hold the East African market hostage.” According to several sources they put up the prices they were charging the dominant player Safaricom (by some accounts by as much as 10 times) and lost this account which represented 30% of the company’s turnover. Worse still, by seeking to put up prices charged in a highly competitive market where rates were falling, they encouraged operators and other companies to build their own networks and now there is something of a capacity glut in Kenya.

    To add to its troubles, the company has been squeezed from two sides in cash flow terms. Contractor Soliton Telemec went to Court in July 2011 with a winding up petition over payment for the redundant Wajir-Mombasa link it built. KDN claims they have been over-paid. On the other side of the balance sheet, Essar (owners of Yu) agreed in September 2011 to make monthly payments on their debt that settled an outstanding dispute.

    The business case for pan-continental carriers’ carriers is simple and remains valid. For the operator, it means that the investment they might make in terrestrial fibre can be put into other parts of the network and new customer services. This leaves the risk with the carriers’ carriers who have to ride the down cycle of prices and still make money.

    The biggest customers for carriers’ carriers are the mobile operators and as with their attitude to content, they are conflicted about where to place themselves strategically: in or out? It’s very much case of the two conflicting Ts: trust and testosterone.

    Local opco managers will argue to themselves and their investment committees that on certain routes they need to build their own fibre but the approach appears piecemeal. In the main, opco managers are engineers by background and like to control their own networks. On the other side, the carriers’ carriers have to build trust both in how they deliver their service and the way they behave.

    With Liquid Telecom’s  fibre network now joining parts of the east African fibre networks, this is a business case that it is in everyone’s interest to get right.

    This week on Balancing Act’s You Tube Channel

    Nic Rudnick, CEO, Liquid Telecom on its Southern African Fibre Network

    Future mobile content?
    Lippe Oosterhof, CEO, Livestation on live streaming for African news broadcasters and its mobile platform

    Henk Kleynhans, Chair of WAPA
    on TV White Spaces proposals in South Africa

    Steve Song, CEO, Village Telco
    on the TV White Spaces Workshop

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

    Riyaz Bachani, CTO, Wananchi on its Wazi hot-spots partnership with Google

    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:


  • MTN Group, Africa’s largest mobile-phone company, is seeking to buy Vodafone Group Plc (VOD)’s wireless venture in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a Bloomberg report

    MTN is part of a bidding process for Vodacom Congo SPRL, the company 51 percent owned by Vodacom Group Ltd. (VOD), which in turn is controlled by Vodafone, the Bloomberg sources said, declining to be identified because the matter is confidential. Johannesburg- based MTN made a presentation to Vodacom last week, one of the sources said.

    Vodacom has been in a dispute with the venture’s local partner Congolese Wireless Network SPRL over funding and operational structure since at least early 2010, following a $484 million capital injection into the business by Vodacom. Vodacom may sell its stake to end the dispute, Chief Executive Officer Pieter Uys said on May. 16. Vodacom Congo had 4.2 million subscribers at the end of March.

    Vodacom, also based in Johannesburg, is busy with a process being run by London’s NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd. to “explore options” for its Congo unit, spokesman Richard Boorman said in an e-mailed response to questions today. MTN “continues to search for value-enhancing opportunities everywhere,” spokesman Rich Mkhondo said in a text message.

    “Vodacom is apparently convinced it must get out of the DRC, therefore the only thing that would need to be sorted out is the price,” Gilmour said by telephone.

  • According to Business Daily Africa, the Kenyan government is set to unveil a new set of shareholder rules that will ensure international firms are allowed to bid for a share of its planned ‘open access’ Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, overruling strong opposition from local operators. Last month, a total of 17 telecoms firms registered their interest in the open access 4G initiative.

    Of the companies involved, eight were known to be international equipment vendors, although are all were believed to have partnered with as-yet unnamed local companies in order to secure their participation in the project. Global vendors included: Alcatel-Lucent (France), Huawei and ZTE (both China), Lollakfi (UK), Ericsson (Sweden), and three US firms – IBM, Epesi Technologies and Cisco Networks.

    Under revised shareholding rules, international firms will now be able to participate without the involvement of a local partner, as long as they register local affiliates in Kenya before 1 February 2012. However, Business Daily Africa reports that all international firms must cede a 20% stake to Kenyan shareholders after a three-year period.

  • Following reports of alleged service providers tapping on consumers' wires to monitor their conversations, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has denied such claims which appeared in a local daily, linking the Lone Star Communication Corporation.

    In a statement issued Thursday, the LTA noted that it was not aware of any such act, adding that any service providers caught tapping on private communication lines will be dealt with under the laws of Liberia.

    The LTA said a communications company could only be authorized by a court of law to monitor the conversation of individuals in connection with high profile state offenses, among others. But recent reports have alleged that journalists and others' communication lines have been tapped by the Lone Star Cell Communication which has since been denied.

    LTA at the same time has warned against any such practice, as it is against the Liberian Communication Act of 2007. However, the LTA did not include whether it has launched a prior investigation into the allegation and what were the findings.

    The New Dawn
  • Airtel Nigeria announced today that it will offer its BlackBerry customers a service waiver following last week’s global outage attributed to the service provider, Research in Motion (RIM).

    Research in Motion has now fully restored data services to its BlackBerry devices. The BlackBerry outage was caused by a hardware error which halted messaging and Web browsing across many parts of the world, disrupting services for 3 days. The disruptions began in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India early in the week and later spread to North America.

    Rajan Swaroop, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria stated: “We remain concerned about the inconvenience this has caused to all our BlackBerry users earlier this week and we would like to compensate both our pre paid and post paid customers for the inconvenience as best we can.

    “For our pre paid customers, we will extend the subscription of the services for the month of October by three days. We are communicating this to the affected customers through sms,”said Swaroop.

    “For our Post Paid customers, who are customers paying their bills at the end of every month, we will waive three days off the BlackBerry monthly rental for the month of October. The three day waiver will be reflected in the monthly bill sent to all our post paid BlackBerry users for the month of October,” added Swaroop.

    Airtel clarified that although the root cause emanated from the global provider of the services, the telco service provider was willing to offer the extension as a token compensation for its customers.

    Press release
  • Postel Housing Co-operative Society has joined a court case involving the sale of 79 acres of prime land to an investor by Telkom Kenya for Sh1.5 billion. The society is claiming legal ownership of the property in Karen, Nairobi.

    It has been enjoined in the court dispute as an interested party saying it purchased 60 acres from the defunct Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (KP&TC) in 1993 for Sh21 million and entered into an agreement with an agent, Exclusive Estate Ltd, to build 514 houses.

    The latest twist comes in the wake of a dispute between Telkom and Aftraco Limited after the latter moved to court over alleged breach of an agreement involving the sale of the property.

  • South Africa’s telecoms infrastructure is slowly turning hosted or cloud-based PBXs (private branch interchange) into a viable option for small to medium sized companies. That’s according to Ryan Miles, Itec Chief Operating Officer (COO).

    Miles says that the absence of affordable uncapped or high-cap ADSL services for smaller businesses and bottlenecks in the country’s telecom infrastructure have held back the adoption of cloud-based PBXs up until now.

    However, with bandwidth prices falling at a rapid rate and the prospect of local loop unbundling and faster yet cheaper mobile broadband on the horizon, cloud-based PBXs will become attractive for smaller businesses over the next two to three years, says Miles.

    “Telkom’s control over the last kilometre is one final major obstacle to cloud-based PBX solutions,” he adds. “Once that starts to fall away, the cloud model for PBXs becomes more attractive since companies will be able to source their line, PBX and data services from a single supplier and will probably no longer need to pay for the rental of an analogue voice line.”

    In the longer term, hosted or cloud-based PBX solutions will offer a range of benefits to smaller businesses that will prove hard to ignore, says Miles. The first of these is that they no longer need to rent dedicated PBX hardware since the intelligence of the PBX will run on a service provider’s infrastructure.

    This removes a significant capital expense from their businesses, since they’ll simply need to buy IP phones or computer headsets to connect their staff to telephony services, Miles says. The benefits will multiply for companies that have branches around the country.

    Another benefit lies in the rich functionality SMEs can access through hosted PBX services. They may be able to enjoy all the features of an enterprise-class PBX without needing to invest in an expensive piece of equipment. Functionality such as caller ID, voicemail, find-me and call routing is all affordable on a cloud service.

    In addition, the service provider will take responsibility for upgrading and maintaining the system, says Miles. That frees SMEs of the headaches of installing software, firmware and security updates to the system or needing to upgrade hardware when the number of users grows.

    Cloud services are also inherently scalable, says Miles, allowing for new users to be added with minimal inconvenience. They can also be accessed from anywhere, meaning that users can access the same switchboard services wherever they are in the world.

    However, Miles still advocates caution for SMEs that want to migrate towards cloud-based services. They should ensure that their Internet connections are stable enough and offer enough bandwidth to cater both for their data needs and the voice needs of all their users. They should also ensure that call quality will be acceptable for their requirements.

    “Voice telephony is one of those business services that an SME simply cannot afford to do without, which means that they need to plan carefully and stress test any new system they put in place,” says Miles.

    “They must also do the maths to ensure that a cloud-based PBX will in fact be cheaper than their old systems once telephone line and bandwidth costs are taken into account,”concludes Miles.

    ITNews Africa
  • A pilot project to use mobile phones to enable health professionals to collect data, have it analyzed and give feedback is to be launched next week at a projected cost of around 370,000 dollars.

    The project spearheaded by Technology for Change International, a non-governmental organization, aims to use 1,000 mobile handsets distributed to health professionals in four regions -Amhara, Tigray, Oromia and Southern - to collect data on pregnant women.

    The data will be collected and sent to a central server, whose algorithm will analyze and send an alert to the data collector regarding any complications, according to Naoll Addisu, executive director of the organization.

    Addis Fortune
  • - MTN Ghana says that it expects to reach the 10 million subscriber base by the end of this month.

    - Egypt's Mobinil says that the number of customers canceling their account in protest against the actions of major shareholder, Naguib Sawiris have subsided over the past few weeks.

    - Vodafone it is working in collaboration with Sightsavers and the Ghana Health Service to restore the sight of 2,500 visually impaired people suffering from cataract and trachoma across Ghana.

    - Zimbabwe's NetOne has switched on its 3G network commercially, and trialists who were getting the service for free will now have to pay for mobile broadband access.


  • Internet search giant Google has launched its classified ads service, Google Trader, in Kenya, the Forbes Magazine reports October 17, 2011. Kenya becomes the third African country to have the service after Ghana and Uganda.

    Google Trader is a free classifieds service that lets internet users trade products and services and search for jobs, real estate listings or just about anything else.

    As Google enters into the classifieds business in Kenya, it has to compete with the country’s largest classified service, Dealfish Kenya, owned by MIH Internet, a South African Internet services firm which in turn is owned by Naspers, Africa’s largest media company.

    Dealfish also allows Kenyan web users to search for jobs, and buy goods and services. Google Trader will be available on mobile phones, hand-held devices and personal computers, the magazine said.

  • Middle East mobile telecommunications operators, Alcatel-Lucent and Etisalat, have today signed an agreement to jointly develop a sustainable means to deliver mobile broadband to customers using a lightRadio cube.

    The agreement was signed by Nasser bin Obood, Acting CEO Etisalat and Nicolas Bouverot, Alcatel-Lucent Vice President for Middle East.

    Through its collaboration around lightRadio, Etisalat will help define the commercial introduction of this new product family in the Middle East and in other markets, meeting its own subscribers’ demands for innovative new mobile services while providing operators with a flexible path for business growth into the next decade.

    Nasser bin Obood, Acting CEO- Etisalat said “Etisalat is a pioneer in delivering innovative services and applications to our customers to meet their needs in both their social and work lives.  This agreement will allow us to shape the future of mobile networks and define how lightRadio can be best implemented to satisfy our customers growing demands. Etisalat is proud to be the only operator in the Middle East and Africa to join this pioneering program.”

    As global demand for Internet on-the-move services grows dramatically, together with the adoption of the latest smartphones and tablet devices, the need for operators to extend their wireless network coverage and capacity is also growing exponentially to cope with this demand.

    The lightRadio product family addresses both of these needs, enabling superfast speeds and high-quality delivery of applications to a variety of mobile devices, while reducing the size, complexity, cost and power consumption of mobile networks, making it a greener and more cost-effective solution for operators.

    ITNews Africa
  • High Court president, Johnstone Busingye, trains lawyers in using EFS
    Members of the Kigali Bar Association (KBA) were, last week, trained in filing cases online using Electronic Filing System (EFS).

    KBA is a legal fraternity of lawyers and judges dedicated to improving the administration of justice. The president of the High Court, Johnstone Busingye, who trained the lawyers, said that EFS responds to the needs of the legal community as well as the general public.

    "The implementation of the newly introduced system is an effective case flow management method designed to ensure the function of the court is accomplished and enhance service delivery," he said.

    Busingye urged the lawyers to embrace the new system as it provides fair treatment of all litigants by the court, ensures that the time established for disposition is consistent with the nature of the case as well as enhancing the quality of the litigation process. "It instils public confidence in the court," he added.

    The High Court president pointed out that the EFS will be at the heart of all judicial systems and would manage a case from initial filing to final disposition. The EFS enables litigants to file cases online, as well as follow up their cases as they are allocated hearing dates and times and lined up on the court calendar.

    Speaking to The Sunday Times after sensitising the lawyers, Busingye said that filing cases online started last month in the Supreme Court, High courts, Commercial courts and the intermediate courts.

    "We are moving on smoothly to ensure that all 22 courts are covered and the initial phase will digitize files from 2004," he said.

    Busingye observed that, with the new system it's no longer necessary for litigants to come to the Supreme Court, and other courts using the system to file cases, they are now able to file their cases from anywhere as long as there is internet connection and this saves their time and transport.

    "The only reason we think the litigants should come to courts is to hear their cases and perhaps other matters which cannot be delivered electronically, if there are any," the High Court president emphasised.

    According to Athanase Rutabingwa, president of the Bar Association, the new system will streamline the judicial processes of work.

    "This is a very important initiative that optimises processes to reduce associated time and costs and I call upon my colleagues to implement it as we professionalise our work," he noted.

  • It may have taken seven years and numerous legal challenges, but the Competition Commission’s case against Telkom finally made it to the Competition Tribunal on Monday.

    SA’s fixed-line operator stands accused of abusing its dominance by charging excessive prices; refusing access to an essential facility; and engaging in price discrimination thereby making its downstream rivals less competitive in the telecommunications market.

    This alleged behaviour dates back to before 2002, when the initial complaint was lodged, but the commission’s case has since been subject to numerous legal challenges that delayed the case.

    Telkom has denied these allegations and is seeking to defend itself in the tribunal hearing.

    If Telkom is found guilty in the hearing, it could face a penalty of as much as 10% of its 2003 turnover, which could be as much as R3,5bn.

    The complaint was lodged with the commission by 21 entities, which included the SA Vans (value-added network services) Association, the Internet Service Providers’ Association and 19 other value added network service providers.

    By February 2004, the commission had completed its investigation and referred its case against Telkom to the tribunal.

    However, Telkom decided to challenge the commission’s jurisdiction in the supreme court of appeal, a legal move that resulted in a five-year delay to the tribunal hearing, but ultimately was lost by Telkom.

    Some subsequent legal challenges, based on the commission’s decisions to amends its papers, have since been resolved and the case has finally reached the tribunal.

    The commission’s case was laid out on the opening day of the hearing by Adv Martin Brassey, while Telkom’s case was laid out by Adv Willem van der Linde.

    The first witness was Mike Brierley, the former CEO of MTN Network Solutions and now a telecoms consultant.

    The Mail & Guardian understands that Brierley’s testimony will be key to the commission’s case but his testimony on Monday was heavily focused on telecoms technology and the definitions of the various links that create a network.

    Telkom spokesperson Pynee Chetty, when asked for comment on the tribunal hearing said: “We don’t litigate in the media, we won’t comment before the hearing.”

    The hearing has been set down to be heard between 17 October and 28 October and will then resume between the 1 and 9 December. 

    Mail & Guardian
  • - Tanzanian ISP Raha has launched 4 hot-spots in Oysterbay, Haile Selassie, Masaki and city centre.

    - The Angolan airports located along the country's coastline will gain Internet services for their passengers, according to the chairman of the board of managers of the National Company of Airport Exploration and Air Navigation (Enana), Manuel Ceita.


  • The centre will provide an academic and research programme based on the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) curriculum which is expected to start early next year. Carnegie Mellon University is a leading ICT university based in the United States.

    Speaking during a ceremony to mark the tripartite partnership between the Bank, the Government and CMU, Dr. Agnes Soucat, AfDB's Director of Human Development said that the bank is proud to be part of the project.

    "The Bank will continue to partner with the country in ensuring that the Centre is a success. The academic and research opportunities to be offered will be linked to lower levels of the education and training systems, and will provide high quality skills," she said

    Early this year, AfDB signed a $13 million loan agreement with the government for the construction and equipping of the Centre of Excellence.

    Dr Soucat said that the establishment of the centre is in line with the bank's human development priorities which is part of its Medium Term Strategy for 2008-2012, and its higher education, science and technology strategy.

    "We hope that this unique tripartite partnership will inspire others in Africa and become an example for the continent. The Bank is ready to play a catalytic role in the development of science and technology in Rwanda," she said.

    During the event, Bruce Krogh, Director of CMU in Rwanda, presented an overview of the project and highlighted its areas of focus.

    Dr. Mathias Harebamungu, minister of State-in-Charge of Primary and Secondary Education said that the Centre is expected to alleviate the need for students from the region to study abroad in pursuit of high quality graduate ICT education.

    "Students at the CMU Rwanda campus will benefit from the opportunity to obtain a globally competitive, research-based graduate education in Africa," he noted.

  • Microsoft East and Southern Africa has unveiled an online learning platform, a fully cloud-based learning experience to assist students acquire technologies that would enhance their employability.

    Dubbed Microsoft Virtual Academy the platform leverages on Microsoft Cloud Technologies. Speaking during a press conference to announce the 2011’s Microsoft Open Door activities, Dele Akinsade, Developer Platform Evangelist, Microsoft West East and Central Africa said the company has stepped up its partnership with local universities to empower the students with the best technology tools to enhance their learning experience.

    “We are striving to develop a culture conducive to innovation. As we recognize that the potential to innovate must be nurtured early-on, Microsoft will continue to provide appropriate and superior learning tools to encourage innovation,” said Akinsade.

    Open Door is a major technology event where Microsoft showcases its latest generation of technologies to Kenyan professionals and enthusiasts.

    Targeting the student community as well as IT professionals, the Microsoft Virtual Academy is geared towards encouraging and promoting local innovation and improving employability.

    Students have access to a variety of free online training content and are able to learn at their own pace, enabling them to build the necessary Information Technology skills critical to most careers.

    The Microsoft Virtual Academy complements the recently launched Microsoft Student Partner (MSP) programme, an educational and promotional program for undergraduate and postgraduate students majoring in technology related disciplines such as computer science, computer information systems, and information technology.

    Vincent Mugambi, Developer platform manager Microsoft East and Southern Africa said the MSP program aims to enhance students' employability and increase students' awareness of Microsoft technologies.

    “Student Partners are offered training especially in product-specific skills not typically taught in academia,” said Mugambi.

    Following completion of the program, Student Partners are expected to share their knowledge among the academic community through arranging courses, giving presentations and initiating projects.

    The tenure for the Microsoft Student Program is one academic year and can be renewed on acceptable performance.

    “It is a thrilling experience to study Microsoft technologies and advance my career,” said George Mbuthia, a student at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. “By earning points for downloading and studying materials and passing the self-assessment tests the program also keeps me motivated and encouraged, as I can constantly see my progress.”

    Microsoft has already identified 15 student partners in Kenya drawing membership from Strathmore University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agricultural Technology-JKUAT, Methodist University, University of Nairobi and Kabarak University.

  • MTN Business announced the launch of Desktop as a Service (DaaS) this week.
    According to Gartner’s latest research, worldwide hosted virtual desktop market will increase through 2013, reaching 49 million units.

    “Through this offering, MTN Business is addressing the biggest concerns that businesses have today, that of safe, cost effective ICT solutions.

    MTN DaaS offers customers a complete service that not only makes commercial sense, as it requires little reconfiguration, should there be changes to the organisation in the desktop environment, but delivers full security and limited IT maintenance – as the solution is hosted in the cloud,” says Justin Colyn, MTN Business GM for Fixed Mobile Convergence.

    According to a study undertaken by Gartner, on average, companies spend up to $7,000 per PC per year on operating costs, where 77% of this is on service and support alone.

    “These figures strongly suggest that traditional desktop PCs are an expensive capital outlay for a business, even if they are a necessary one. Furthermore, what elevates concerns for organisations is not merely the rising cost, but the heightened security risks that this digital environment brings with it, as often critical company information is lost when a computer crashes or is misplaced or stolen – and we know that managing the complexity of this information can be very overwhelming to companies,” says Colyn.

    “Through using MTN DaaS these costs and concerns can be significantly reduced. In fact, through our own research, we have discovered that MTN DaaS can assist businesses in saving between R60 000 – R70 000 per employee over a three year period. What’s more, MTN DaaS can also assist a business in promoting a greener framework, as currently each PC user consumes between 360 to 500 watts per hour. By implementing MTN DaaS into a business model, this can be condensed down to 4 to 12 watts of power per user/hour – a massive power saving.”

  • - Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS), South Africa's sole air traffic operator, unveiled a new hi-tech three-dimensional air traffic control simulator at its Kempton Park training college.

    - For the first time since the commencement of the World Robot Olympiad in 2004, Nigeria will participate in this year's event, holding next month in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Dimension Data’s Internet Solutions (IS) subsidiary has increased its shareholding in its Kenyan unit from 51% to 80%, as part of a long-term strategy to increase its presence across East Africa. IS initially acquired a 51% stake in Kenyan service provider iConnect in 2005, which was duly rebranded IS Kenya following the transaction.

    The latest deal gives IS the option to acquire the remaining 20% of the company that it does not already own at an unspecified point in the future. Incoming managing director Loren Bosch commented: ‘East Africa is experiencing a boom, with [the] telecommunications sector playing a vital role in fuelling rapid growth across multiple vertical markets.

     This is largely due to the increased international bandwidth capacity supplied via the numerous undersea cable systems’. IS Kenya also serves parts of Tanzania and Uganda, and Bosch said that the ISP plans to expand its scope to cover Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan in the ‘near future’.

    Tech Central
  • Safaricom is mulling acquiring a majority stake in another local IT service firm Seven Seas Technologies (SST) as it races to reduce its reliance on the voice market that is faced with increased competition and shrinking margins.

    The mobile telephony firm is to sign two-year partnership deal with the firm on Tuesday where both firms will contribute Sh1.5 billion in the joint venture and Safaricom has been given option of buying a controlling stake in SST at the end of 2013.

    The two firms had agreed to a buyout plan that was scuttled by the board of the mobile telephony firm which raised concerns over the viability of the business, paving way for the two-year partnership.

    “We have been tasked to demonstrate that’ there is a market for managed services in the next 24 months,” said Silvia Mulinge, Safaricom’s general manager enterprise business.

    “The board felt that we should take a moderate approach and that’s why we are entering into a partnership before we can pursue an acquisition of a majority stake in the firm,” she said.

    The SST has been in operations since 1999 and is a lead player on software developments, network integration, data security and storage as well as cloud computing—the delivery of technology services and software through the Internet to avoid buying hardware or infrastructure.

    Under the two-year partnership, Safaricom will provide its infrastructure (fibre optic network and wireless Internet connection), cash and widen customer base to SST, which will provide its expertise and talent on IT services.

    The companies said they will share revenue in a ratio that they did not divulge citing a non-disclosure agreement.

  • It has a licence to operate, what is it doing with it? First National Bank says it will not be using its ECNS (Electronic Communications Network Service) licence to become the country’s next cellphone operator, but rather to increase value added services for its clients.

    The licence is a fundamental requirement for companies wanting to become cellphone network operators. The bank acknowledges that it has the capability to venture into this market, but says it will use the licence to provide financial services on smartphones. It is currently offering products, such as FNB Banking, Quicksell and Connect Apps.

    The apps allow clients to purchase prepaid airtime, apply for products and services or search for properties.

    App users can now purchase prepaid airtime for – FNB Connect; Vodacom; MTN; Cell C; 8ta; and Virgin Mobile. The bank has also catered for data users by providing the purchase of SMS bundles, ADSL bundles and prepaid 3G.

    Initially the app enabled clients to make free calls to other registered app users and to FNB Contact centres. It also allows app users to make calls to other mobile operators for 79c per minute, and offers cheaper roaming costs – potentially posing a threat to other operators.

    In a written statement from the bank, head of products and markets at FNB Connect, Farren Roper says it is important to offer such products as its customers expect it.

    “But more than that, our prepaid solution offer all the benefits of traditional prepaid and also have some added advantages. For example, when calling from the app, not only can you control your spend, but you can make the cheapest mobile calls in South Africa from 79c. You can also make international calls to the top 20 destinations including the US, UK, Australia, Zimbabwe and the like at only 25c, without having to activate international roaming.”

    FNB bank which is spearheading innovation in the financial services sector received its ECNS licence in 2008, following a legal battle between Icasa and Altech Autopage.

    The legal dispute resulted in all VANS (Value Add Network Service) licensees – including FNB at the time, being permitted to convert their licences to an ECNS.

  • - Air Liquide Foundation, the development wing of Air Liquide SA, based in France, has presented  Ghana’s Eremon Senior High Technical School with a new GH¢25,000.00 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) facility.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage


  • CDN World Summit 2011
    26 - 28 October 2011, Hilton Hotel Paddington, London.

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most
    comprehensive CDN event ever.The full value chain is represented including content providers,broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information visit here:

    Digital Migration and Spectrum Policy Summit
    29 October to 01 November 2011, Nairobi, Kenya.

    For more informtion visit here:

    Africa Com
    9 - 10 November, 2011, Cape Town, SA

    Join 5,000 of Africa's leading telcos in Cape Town this November for what is set to be the biggest and best AfricaCom yet.  The conference agenda has doubled to incorporate a record 150+ speakers presenting across 4 strategic keynotes, 11 in-depth focus sessions and 2 co-located events - AfricaCast and Enterprise ICT Africa.  What's more 250+ international solutions providers will be showcasing their latest products in the networking exhibition. For more information visit here:

    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9-11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

    World Telecom Summit 2011 is the must-attend event of the year. Bringing together top level executives and key decision makers of preeminent telecommunications companies from around the world, this is the perfect opportunity to meet the who's who of the telecommunications and mobile industry.  It is the summit that addresses the evolving needs of telecommunications and mobile community. Get up to date with the latest innovations and technological advancements in the industry and gain access to the minds of the movers and shakers of the industry.
    Take advantage of the Limited Early Bird Rates for Operator Pass!
    For more information please visit here:  or contact Vivian at

    AITEC East Africa East Africa Summit
    2-3 November, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    East Africa has become one of the fastest growing ICT investment markets and the region's ICT Summit it designed as the region's forum to bring together users and vendors of ICT technology in a stimulating educational and business networking environment. The 2011 Summit programme will focus on the following themes:
    ¥    Data Security
    ¥    Mobile Apps
    ¥    Cloud Computing
    For the conference programme, log on to the organiser's website here: To book exhibition space, email

    Mobile Web in Africa 2011
    22 - 25 November, 2011, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Harnessing the potential of the internet and applications on mobile devices. Back for a third year, Mobile Web in Africa is South Africa’s premier mobile conference.  Following on from unrivalled, sell-out successes in 2009 and 2010, no other event on the South African calendar compares in terms of topic, speaking faculty, agenda, interaction and business opportunities.
    Write to to find out about the fantastic discount
    available to Balancing Act readers.
    Confirmed Speakers:
    •    Tomi T Ahonen, Bestselling Author & Consultant
    •    Dr Marc Smith, Chief Social Scientist, Connected Action Consulting Group
    •    Toby Shapshak, Editor, Stuff Magazine
    •    Adam Holtrop, Creative Director, Vidamo
    •    Salim Amin, Chairman, Camerapix, The Mohamed Amin Foundation & A24Media
    •    Alistair Fairweather, Digital Platforms Manager, The Mail & Guardian Online
    •    David Erasmus, Founder, Cubate
    •    Isis Nyong’o, Managing Director - Africa, InMobi
    •    Ronald Bach, Mobile Product Manager, News24
    •    Mark Kaigwa, Partner, Affrinovator
    •    Jean-Patrick Ehouman, Founder, AllDenY
    •    Musa Kalenga, Managing Director, IHOP World
    •    Nevo Hadas, New Media Consultant
    •    Russell Southwood, Editor, Balancing Act
    •    Johan Nel, CEO & Founder, Umuntu Media
    •    Leslie Tita, Co-Founder, Pulse
    •    Justin Spratt, CEO, Quirk
    For further information please visit here:

    G | Angola!
    8 - 9 November, 2011
    Hotel Victoria Garden, Luanda, Angola

    G of Angola | Angola. We will demonstrate how the
    tools for Web and mobile phone from Google is driving the development
    technological and business here in Africa and around the world.
    For further information and to register to attend this free event please visit here:

    ICT Infrastructure Summit: Banking Solutions in Growth Economies
    29-30 November, 2011,
    Kingsway Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2

    Though technology innovation for banks in growth economies is ripe for growth, development is being stalled by some major infrastructural barriers including poor connectivity, a lack of political support, incorrect regulation and a lack of capital. The ICT Innovation for Banks in Growth Economies conference will arm you with the tools to upgrade your telecommunication infrastructure and scale up your branchless banking operations in order to reach millions of unbanked households. For further information please click here:

    30 November - 1 December 2011, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    The leading continental forum on e-health, m-health, health management systems and capacity development. AfriHealth 2011 will focus on current research, development and implementation of ICT technology and resources in the African Healthcare arena. A key objective of the conference, now in its fourth year, will be to share knowledge and experience from practical mobilization of ICT-based healthcare systems and projects, to showcase best practice through practical case studies and highlight potential for scaling up success stories at national and regional levels. For the conference programme log on to the organiser's website here: To book exhibition space, email

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money COMESA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Now in its sixth year, this has become the leading educational, networking and marketing event for Eastern and Southern Africa's financial services sector. In addition to the conference's established intensive education programme covering core banking, mobile money and microfinance topics (over 100 speakers in 2011). For the conference programme log on to the organiser's website here: To book exhibition space, email

    New Media Gathering Africa!
    7 - 8 March, 2012, Lagos Nigeria

    Leading media content and communication company Red Media Group (RMG) and
    frontline ICT consulting firm, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) have
    announced the first edition of the annual New Media Gathering Africa. The
    event will be held in Lagos  and will present to
    corporate, governments, change organisations and small businesses
    practical, outcome-oriented tools to enhance capacity and enrich bottom
    line. Information about registration for the conference will be unveiled on the website on January 1, 2012. For immediate
    enquiries and sponsorship consideration, please contact the Conference
    Lead on

    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Insurers seeking effective performance in service delivery, cost reduction and profit levels need to embrace technology, viewing it not as a support function but as a key enabler of competitive advantage at all levels of operation. InsureAFRICA is the first specialised conference for the African insurance and pensions industry to evaluate the systems and innovative channels needed to compete and thrive in a rapidly expanding industry. With the theme "Effective management strategies and systems for a new era of expansion and inclusion", the conference will be the continent's first forum to gather knowledge and experience for a rapidly growing industry. For the Call for Papers, log on to the organiser's website here: To book exhibition space, email

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012
    14 - 15 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012 will bring together industry experts and representatives from leading financial institutions, mobile operators and solutions providers to provide a strategic insight into mobile VAS while exploring collaborative business models, innovative applications, technologies and straegies. For more information visit here:

    Roaming & Interconnect
    16 - 17 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    RIC Africa 2012 will uncover new strategies to boost roaming traffic and retain existing roamers. During the conference we will look at the innovative roaming solutions and pricing, supplementing roaming with alternative revenue streams, the latest EU regulations and their impact on operations in Africa, as well as the importance of hubbing and convergence.  For more information please visit here:

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money West Africa
    6 June 2012, Accra International Conference Centre

    Now in its fifth year, the conference will cover a wide range of strategic and technology topics to empower West Africa's banking, microfinance and insurance professionals with the knowledge they need to lead their organisation effectively through the turbulent market and regulatory conditions they face. For the conference programme log on to the organiser's website here: To book exhibition space, email

  • - Telkom’s group executive for communications and brand, Brenda Kali, has resigned. She had been with the group for the past three years.

    -  MTN Group has announced the appointment of new CEOs for its Zambian and Cameroonian operations. Abdul Ismail will take over as new MTN Zambia CEO and Karl Toriola will become CEO of MTN Cameroon on November 1 2011.

  • Opening for Site Acquisition(Only from Zimbabwe)

    Posted date: Fri, 21st Oct

    Location: Zimbabwe

    Currently we have opening for Site Acquisition .Client needs someone from Zimbabwe

    It is a 3-6 months extendable contract position.

    It’s a site acquisition requirement, we will need a local if possible, someone with fibre experience and right of way would be preferable.

    If you are interested then please send me your updated resume at here: mentioning the position for which you are applying or In case you are currently occupied with some contracts or projects please pass on this information to your friends or colleagues who might be available and interested for this position.

    Thanks & Regards

    Richa Gupta

    Tel: - +91 9760022914

    Email: -

    Skype Id:- richa.gupta97

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