Issue no 579 4th November 2011
The growth in Africa’s Facebook numbers show that it has touched a chord with users at a near mass level. Social media played a part in the Arab Spring and they’ve been arguing about what part ever since. Here at Balancing Act we decided to engage with social media about 12 months ago and this article looks at what we’ve discovered since then.
Balancing Act’s universe of users is about 11,000 people, around 70% of whom are interested in telecoms and Internet in English and French and 30% in broadcast and film: that’s those topics from Africa, not anywhere else. We are a specialist, niche media so bear these figures in mind when looking at the stats below.
Readers sometimes write and talk about “in your blog” and the “the blog you write” but besides the Top Story every week in these e-letters (which are based on facts but are opinionated), the rest is a newsletter. It comes out at a particular time so people know when to expect it and it has sections so they know where to look for things that might interest them. We could do a blog separately but somehow what’s the point when you have a weekly opportunity to say something?
So about 12 months ago we decided to get engaged with social media to see in practical terms what it meant. Since it eats time like some minor addiction, you have to decide what you’re going to do and how much of it. We chose to put time into LinkedIn because it is a site for professionals rather than Facebook that has taken advantage of corporate interest but is still fundamentally individuals.
You can’t appear on all social platforms so we chose Twitter rather than the slightly more long-form Tumblr and we chose You Tube rather than Vimeo. In other words, we made somewhat safe choices on the basis that it’s easier to be on platforms that are well-known and established with existing audiences. So for example in African terms, You Tube is up in the Top 5 most-used sites in those African countries analysed by alexa.com whereas Vimeo and Tumblr are not.
We have 1,816 LinkedIn contacts right across the continent from the smallest most unconnected country to the largest and it is an excellent way of meeting people at all levels in a company. However, its mail lists are amongst the dullest we sample and rare is the week when they produce interesting and surprising information: people use it to promote what they do (as we do) and that is usually less than riveting.
Our You Tube channel attracts just under 2,000 users a month and has just under 4,000 views a month. This has happened in the space of 12 months and it is still growing. These are 5-10 minute interviews with industry leaders about what’s happening in their company or more widely in the business. A successful interview can expect to get 300-500 views. The exceptions have been film-makers: Ghana’s Shirley Frimpong Manso who made Adam’s Apples has got 10,508 views and Tunisia’s Nadia El Fani who made Ould Lenine 5,569 views. In the telecoms field, Kenya’s John Kamau has got 1,437 views talking about Fibre-To-The-Home.
It’s not broadcast quality but rough-and-ready compressed HD video clips shot using a small camera with no external mike or additional lighting. There’s not enough time to edit, except to take out the more obvious mistakes. You soon discover that what you thought was quiet and undisturbed attracts noise and disturbance. Watch Jessica Verrili of Twitter not just because it’s on topic for this article but also because you can see the hotel staff in the background opening and closing the doors behind her head as they are shooed away off-camera:
People are more cautious about what they say in a video clip than they are when they talk in an interview for a print article but there are still plenty of surprises. Although you can put your videos into topic categories, which run down the right hand side of the featured video clip, it feels awkward and it is not designed to create easy ways for people – professional or otherwise – creating categories they can use. Surprise, surprise, you have to use a search engine to do that….
Currently we have only 106 subscribers to the channel and 22 friends but thus far we have promoted individual videos rather than subscribing to the channel. But if you want to know about 2-5 videos a week covering your industry, subscribe to BalancingActAfrica on You Tube.
We currently have 889 followers on Twitter (@balancingactafr) and on the current growth pattern will go over a thousand in the next month or two. We follow 253 other people or companies and tweet about 200 times a month. Twitter eats time if you let it but it’s a good way of spotting things that you might not otherwise have come across.
In African terms, the majority of the users seem to be from South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya with lesser showings from Ghana and Senegal. The outliers are people like Nenna (from Cote d’Ivoire) and George Mpoudi of MTN (from Cameroon). The twitterscape from where we are seems to be dominated by ICT4D (as in development) folk rather than private sector companies, which is a little surprising. The corporate tweets tend to be a little dull and uninformative or aimed at the consumers of that company’s products. The exception is Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom who engages in regular banter with Safaricom’s users in Kenya.
Getting the tone right on Twitter is hard. Some people use it simply to talk about what they’re feeling or what they think. Others describe every last person they’ve met. But we meet people who don’t really want to feature in our Twitter feed and whilst we think our opinions about everything in the whole wide world are riveting, we’re not sure you would. That said, there’s no doubt Twitter users are (awful word) “thought leaders”.
So we’ve come a long way since Balancing Act’s newsletter output used to be a simple e-mail using Outlook Express. Our target readers may not always have the bandwidth to hand for You Tube but they want to be part of it. One person asked us why we weren’t doing audio blogs rather than video clips, with the unspoken assumption that because “this is Africa”. We’ve now passed that point and whilst everything won’t work for everybody, there’s no reason to assume that something won’t work for a large number of people, including You Tube.
In terms of devices, we have below 5% who use mobile phones to access our content because our core audience is in the content and bandwidth business. Nevertheless, the number of smartphones, feature phones and tablets is growing fast so the Internet will allow us to be on all those platforms as they achieve “critical mass”.
The newsletters are done as an adjunct to our consultancy and research business and are supported by advertising. But what is much less clear is the business model for other parts of social media. You can see Twitter as a way of engaging with audiences but there are few ways that it converts into cash, even for the company itself.
Likewise, despite already having just under half the users of the text e-letter, there is no quick and easy way to monetize the You Tube Channel. You make money with Google Ads if you have millions of views, not if you are a niche channel with thousands. Any daring advertiser out there, give us a ring (+44 207 582 5220): it only took one advertiser on the text e-letters for all the others to get the idea.
If you have your own experiences with social media in Africa, send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Balancing Act You Tube Channel this week a Nigeria special:
Adebayo Oyewole, Hd Marketing & Strategy, Main One on its new IP products
Uchechi Chuta on Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's use of social media
Olalekan Olude, Head of Sales, Jobberman.com on the growth of this jobs website
Azuka Ndulewe, Chief Marketing Officer, Helios Towers Nigeria on the business case for shared towers
Ojaye Idoko, CEO, Layer3 on the barriers to broadband expansion in Nigeria
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
France Telecom announced on 31 October 2011that it has finalized the acquisition of Congolese operator Congo Chine Telecom. The deal means France Telecom will own 51% of the company’s stake with the remaining 49% owned by the government.
The French company said in a press statement, that the move is part of expansion efforts and reflects France Telecom-Orange’s international strategy, which aims to stimulate growth by entering high potential emerging markets.
“The acquisition of CCT is an important step in our policy of expansion outside Europe, and contributes to our stated aim of doubling our revenues in Africa and the Middle East by 2015. Orange is already present in over 20 countries in the region and has built up considerable experience developing networks and new services that are specifically tailored to the needs of local markets,” Stephane Richard, France Telecom-Orange CEO and Chairman said in a press statement.
France Telecom will initially pay $10 million followed by a $7 million second payment to the Chinese company for the take over. France Telecom-Orange will also deliver to CCT a capital increase of $185 million in order to finance its operations.
Infrastructure and other services will be provided to CCT by ZTE, France Telecom-Orange has referred to the vendor as a preferred supplier. In addition, China Development Bank will provide strategic financing support.
A statement from France Telecom-Orange promises that the French firm will contribute its marketing, commercial and technical expertise as well as the Orange brand, to leverage CCT’s solid network assets.
The operator acknowledges CCT’s real potential for growth over the next few years, noting the DRC – the fourth most populous African country – has a small penetration rate of just 17% despite its population of 70 million.
MTN has increased its fibre footprint through partnerships with Metro Fibre Networx (MFN) in Gauteng and Neotel fibre and Ethekweni Metroconnect in the Western Cape and KZN.
MTN Business announced on 1 November 2011 that it had expanded their Metro Ethernet footprint through the development of strategic last mile relationships. According to Justin Colyn, GM of Fixed Mobile Convergence at MTN Business, they will also use Telkom Wholesale to connect businesses in areas that do not have a fibre footprint.
Colyn said that the demand for Metro Ethernet is currently very strong in Gauteng, and with Metro Fibre Networx expanding its footprint in high-concentration business areas in Gauteng, it means that their customers will benefit from this partnership.
The company said in a press statement that their MTN Metro Ethernet product offering provides customers with a high speed, high availability and low latency broadband Ethernet service. “Through this offering, customers can choose bandwidths speeds from 2Mbps to 1Gbps in specific intervals,” said MTN Business.
The MTN Metro Ethernet service is based on a fibre network that uses Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology to supply point-to-point, point-to-multi-point or virtual LAN services between customer branches within the Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban metropolitan areas.
According to Morocco’s telecoms regulator, the ANRT, mobile subscribers in the country reached a total of 36.15 million at the end of September 2011, up by 3.4% quarter-on-quarter and 18.5% in twelve months. In terms of market share, at that date the watchdog reported that Maroc Telecom accounted for 46.9% of subscribers, Meditel 32.8% and Wana nearly 20.3%. Also at 30 September, the ANRT said that Moroccan 3G mobile internet services had 2.33 million subscribers, up from 1.82 million the previous quarter and 1.16 million a year earlier.
At the end of the third quarter Maroc Telecom claimed 39.9% of the 3G broadband market, giving it 929,500 subscribers, followed by Meditel with 829,000 (35.6%) and Wana with 24.5%, or 570,000 3G mobile internet accounts. The figures include combined 3G voice and data mobile package users (handsets, computers and other devices). Subscriptions to data-only 3G mobile broadband services (e.g. via USB dongle modem) at end-September amounted to 1.403 million (60.2% of the 3G internet total), up by 9.5% quarter-on-quarter, while combined voice-plus-data package users reportedly reached 926,000 (39.8% of the 3G total), a growth rate of 73.1% from the end of June 2011.
Fixed ADSL broadband lines in Morocco (nearly all operated by Maroc Telecom) saw a quarterly increase in 3Q11 of 4.5% to reach a total of 550,500.
JSE-listed Altech has appointed Shahab Meshki as new CEO of its struggling East Africa business Kenya Data Networks. At the same time, the technology group is reported to be in talks to buy Kenyan IT firm Symphony in a deal that could be worth as much as US$60m.
An unnamed source told Reuters that Altech has been in talks with Symphony “for several months and is now nearing the end of its due diligence”. According to the wire service, Altech is like to pay between $50m and $60m for the company, which also has operations in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia.
According to Symphony’s website, the company delivers IT solutions focusing on consulting, training, infrastructure and maintenance. Meanwhile, Meshki’s appointed, which is effective from 1 November, comes just weeks after Altech CEO Craig Venter said he had replaced the management team in East Africa to deal with the underperformance of the operation, which dragged down the group’s interim results for the six months to the end of August.
According to Altech, Meshki has 20 years of experience in the IT and telecommunications industries, having started his career with Siemens’ automation division where he was in charge of software and hardware development and later led marketing and sales of network analysers.
In 1995, he joined Cisco, and in 2002 moved to Kenya to establish the US company’s presence in East Africa.
According to an unconfirmed report from online news journal Citi FM, a commercial court in Accra will today launch a trial concerning a lawsuit filed opposing the sale of a majority stake in national PTO Vodafone Ghana – then known as Ghana Telecom (GT) – to UK-based Vodafone Group.
The portal writes that the courts have deliberated on the action for more than a year to determine whether or not it has jurisdiction to hear the case, filed by Professor Agyeman Badu Akosah and six others. The plaintiffs are seeking a legal cancellation of the sale of the government’s 70% stake in GT to the UK giant in 2008.
On 3 July 2008 Vodafone agreed a deal to acquire a 70% stake in the PTO from the government for USD900 million and the sale was completed the following month. The state retains a 30% interest. The firm was rebranded Vodafone Ghana in April 2009.
MTN Nigeria, Globacom and Airtel Nigeria are facing possible sanctions from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) if the operators do not improve their services by the end of November 2011.
MTN Nigeria, Glo and Airtel received notice from the Nigerian Communications Commission that the companies had not complied with the NCC quality of service requirements.
According to the NCC, MTN Nigeria had 30 days from 1 November 2011 to meet the set targets as set out in the notice. Failure to comply will result in the NCC directive in the time frame given, will require all new sales of SIM cards to be stopped and the imposition of a financial penalty.
If the companies do not improve their quality of service by the end of the month, the NCC said it would cancel the operators ability to issue new SIM cards.
Mark Ogunba, a Lagos-based IT and telecom analyst, told ITNewsAfrica that the government must be careful not to alienate the companies as they push toward wider telecom and Internet penetration.
“While it is definitely important to improve our infrastructure and quality of service, threats are unlikely to get it done and this could result in these companies deciding it is too costly,” said Ogunba.
“We need incentives instead,” concludes Ogunba.
- Egypt's Mobinil has selected HP TippingPoint solutions to protect its network from external software attacks and viruses.
- The Federal Government may have concluded plans to break up the moribund NITEL and sell it in smaller components, Daily Trust learnt yesterday. The presidency early this week ordered the management of the former telecoms monopoly and its mobile arm, M-Tel, to furnish it with a detailed report of its liabilities.
- None of the four mobile phone service operators in the country has managed to meet Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) standards on network quality, the latest assessment report shows. Despite failing in the overall score, all the operators except Airtel Kenya have improved their network quality according to the report by the regulator. The Cellular Mobile Quality of Service Performance Assessment Report for 2010-2011 by CCK shows that Airtel which emerged the best in quality last year by meeting seven out of the eight parameters set, managed to surpass targets in only six areas this time round.
Google said on 31 October 2011, that through its latest initiative, 5,000 of Nigeria ’s SMEs would move their businesses online in the next five days.
According to BusinessDayOnline.com, statistics indicate that there are three million SMEs in Nigeria and only a paltry 17,000 are online. Analyst say a digital revolution for SMEs is in the offing, as increasing empirical evidence suggests that simply putting a website on the internet, increases the revenue, productivity and competitiveness of SMEs.
Speaking at the Google small business web fair yesterday, Juliet Ehimuan, Google Nigeria Country Manager said small businesses are a key driver of economic growth in Nigeria .
“We intend to remove the barriers that stop small scale businesses from getting online, such as a lack of time, anticipated expense or simply a lack of knowledge. Our tools and resources make it quick, easy and free for businesses to register an online presence and take advantage of internet opportunities”.
Omobola Johnson, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communication Technology, who opened the fair, said SMEs are being used as a strategy for employment generation, economic restructuring for development and growth.
“Some compelling statistics support this view. Globally SMEs provide 50 percent of global employment and 90 percent of registered businesses are SMEs. In Malaysia , for instance, in 2006, SMEs were 99.2 percent of all businesses and contributed 47.3 percent of GDP and 65.3 percent of employment. In Nigeria , the statistics are similar but with some important differences.”
According to Johnson, 70% of the country’s employment is provided by SMEs, but they deliver only 10 percent of economic value added (EVA) compared to an average of 55% and 25% EVA, in other developing economies and 60 percent and 50 percent respectively, in developed economies of the world.
These statistics, according to the minister, show that Nigeria ’s SMEs are not as productive as they can, should or need to be. She listed a number of reasons that have slowed down the growth of SMEs which include: poor infrastructure, a poor skills base, poor access to finance, low adoption of ICT and access to markets amongst others.
With regards to infrastructure development, she said the role of the ICT Ministry is to facilitate the building of an ICT infrastructure that is cost effective, ubiquitous and gives more Nigerians better and faster access to the internet, at affordable prices.
“We are also committed to getting as many devices into the hands of Nigerians, to enable them transact business on the internet and create a demand for products and services offered over the internet. In other words, getting businesses online is a key part of the agenda and policy direction of this ministry.
Google has already registered its presence on the .ng domain name and is by this initiative populating the .ng domain for the benefit of Nigeria .
“I would strongly encourage SMEs to wholeheartedly embrace the internet and take that small first step of having a website on the .ng domain. Today Nigeria has an estimated 33 million internet users and we have targets to double this number in the next three to four years,” said Johnson.
Getting your business online immediately, gives you access to this market, not to talk of the hundreds of millions of other internet users out there – a very strong value proposition in our opinion”, said Johnson.
South Africa’s broadband speeds are still lagging behind the global average South Africa’s average broadband speed of 2.84Mbps is still significantly lower than the global average of 9.18Mbps. South Africa is ranked 103rd in the world when it comes to broadband speeds.
South Africa’s average download speed of 2.84Mbps is also slower than a few other African countries like Ghana (7.62Mbps), Kenya (4.27Mbps), Rwanda (3.74Mbps), Morocco (2.92Mbps) and Angola (2.89Mbps).
This is according to Ookla’s Net Index which uses data from the web based speed test service Speedtest.net.
The Ookla Net Index ranks consumer download speeds around the globe using results from the past 30 days where the average distance between the client and the test server is less than 300 miles.
According to the Net Index statistics, Lithuania had the highest average broadband speed at 33Mbps, followed by South Korea with 30Mbps and Sweden with 26Mbps.
The top 10 countries ranked by download speed are:
1. Lithuania 32.61Mbps
2. South Korea 30.15Mbps
3. Sweden 26.09Mbps
4. Romania 25.80 Mbps
5. Latvia 25.23 Mbps
6. Netherlands 24.60Mbps
7. Macau 22.56Mbps
8. Bulgaria 21.66Mbps
9. Andorra 21.20Mbps
10. Switzerland 20.89Mbps
International and local tourists will from January be able to search and access basic information about places of interest on their smartphones .
Yellow Pages Kenya Limited has made this possible with a new traveller's application software running on android platform that it would make available on Samsung's Galaxy tablet computer, iPhone and iPad. The application will enable travellers to check out hotels with their preferred delicacies, taxis services in particular localities and entertainment spots, among others.
The platform is currently undergoing fine tuning tests before its is released to consumers early next year for free download from mobile phones applications stores.
The company provides travel guide directory on hard copy, but it says the electronic version would not only provide users with an easy option but also eliminate the need of using the Internet since the application would be downloaded and stored on the smartphones for reference.
The Yellow Pages managing director, Rizwan Jiwani, said it took the company five years to put together the content on the visitors' guide and this was mainly motivated by the realisation that most tourists depended on maps or wildlife check lists provided at most game parks with not only very little information but also difficult to obtain.
"There is no enough free travel information both for local and international tourists, however, with this app, travellers can now search for information by area or street," said Jiwani.
"We haven't signed contract with any of the handsets manufacturers yet, however, this should be through by December and the application made available in their stores in January."
Even though Yellow Pages intends to offer the content available on the application for free, it expects to generate revenue through advertisement from hospitality industry. This includes the hotels and restraurants who will have an opportunity to place their content on the platform. Other than exposure, the tourism industry would also benefit from feedback from their clients.
- The United Nations says less than one in five small and micro enterprises (SMEs) has a website in sub-Sahara Africa compared with four of five in high-income countries.
- YouTube has launched in two more local languages: Afrikaans and isiZulu. The announcement was made at the second annual Google South Africa (G-SA) event held in Newtown, Johannesburg.
- Telecom Namibia has apologised to its broadband Internet clients for slow downloads from international websites.
It appears there was method in Gijima’s madness after all. The JSE-listed IT company that earlier this year said it would buy all its employees Apple iPads has signed the first systems integrator agreement in Southern Africa with Apple. Gijima will assist with the support for Apple hardware and software solutions that work with company-managed systems, it said on Monday.
“Industry observers have noted that IT departments are not only faced with the challenge of integrating company-owned technology, but also personal devices that employees want to bring to work,” Gijima said. “Employees recognise that devices, such as the iPad, are excellent productivity tools and are demanding that their personal technology integrates with their organisations’ back-end systems.”
The use of Apple technology has increased substantially in the enterprise space and there is demand for more systems support, according to RJ van Spaandonk, executive director of Core Group, which represents Apple in SA.
As an authorised reseller and systems integrator, Gijima will sell and support iPad, MacBook Pro, Macbook Air, iMac, Mac Mini, Lion and Lion Server for business customers.
“In June this year … we integrated 3,300 iPads into our own organisation, so we have first-hand experience with the requirements and systems needed to support companies with their Apple technology needs,” said Gijima chief financial officer Carlos Ferreira.
Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has provided 110 computers to nine schools and orphanages on the Copperbelt in a bid to enhance Information Communication Technology and the quality of education.
The donation of the 110 computers and nine printers, worth about US$100,000, was a follow-up to another donation of 300 computers to 19 Government schools in the last three years in areas where KCM operated.
According to a KCM statement, several schools requested for the computers, prompting the company to expand its programme to provide more computers to schools and children.
KCM corporate social responsibility (CSR) manager Sampa Chitah said the initiative to provide computers to schools and orphanages was intended to promote computer literacy in learning institutions and enable mainly underprivileged pupils compete favourably with their peers in privately-run schools. "This opportunity will foster an e-learning culture that is good to our education system," she said.
Chitah said the government alone could not achieve the goal of providing quality education, prompting KCM to partner with the government to provide computers to schools.
The project would impact positively on the pupils, particularly disadvantaged children in the orphanage centres as beneficiaries would keep abreast with basic computer skills. She urged school administrators and pupils to take advantage of the equipment to improve their computer literacy.
The schools which received the computers were Matelo Basic School, Maiteneke High School, Mutende Orphanage in Chingola, Chilabombwe's Konkola and Kamenza basic schools and One-way Mission Orphanage.
Rokana and Riverain basic schools and the SOS Children's Village in Kitwe were the other beneficiaries.
The Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Cleopas Angaye, has said the national software policy being developed by the Federal Government will help in making the economy knowledge-driven rather one that is based on revenue from oil alone.
Angaye who stated this at the just-concluded national software conference and competition organised by the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), noted that the national software policy is expected to guide the deployment of local software.
"We have tried some initiatives in enhancing the software industry in Nigeria, such as the national software development initiative, national software development taskforce and the national information technology (IT) policy. Despite these, we have not been able to adequately explore the full potentials of the industry in a way to make Software Nigeria a major player in the global industry," he said.
Angaye reiterated that the software industry had no doubt become a thing of utmost importance to future competitiveness for economies across the globe especially with its halo effect in creating business opportunities.
According to him, Nigeria had not been able to adequately explore the full potentials of the industry in a way to make her software, major player in the global market.
The software industry, he said, was important to future competitiveness across the globe especially with its effect in creating related business opportunities, adding that the critical role of software could not be over emphasised.
Angaye noted that IT assisted in developing globally competitive human capital as it played a key role especially in the areas of teaching aids, research, online education and with opportunity and additional skills that would allow them to secure employment and provides information available job opportunities.
"The role of our youths and students in IT and in particular software development as a major in economic growth and development is very obvious across the globe. The positive implication of this new trend is that job opportunities abound for citizens of countries like Nigeria where unemployment rate very high.
"Through IT, Nigerian youths can be exposed to borderless opportunities, global competitiveness and create wealth for themselves and nation as whole" he said.
Angaye stressed that there was an urgent need for all stakeholders in the IT industry to come together and contribute meaningfully to empowering youths in becoming major players in the global IT market.
A new software service provider “Twenty Third Century Systems” (TTCS) will this week launch its services in Uganda.
The Uganda launch will be the fourth destination for the company among the EAC partner states after already having subsidiary companies in Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya, reports EA Business Week.
According to Stuart Mugabe, the company Chief Executive Officer, the launch of the Twenty Third Century Systems Uganda is a culmination of the strategic alliance forged by local ICT provider Spacecomms Consulting Ltd a company incorporated in Uganda and wholly owned by Ugandans, and a Pan African business solutions provider Twenty Third Century Systems (pvt) Ltd (TTCS) a company incorporated in Zimbabwe.
TTCS is the largest SAP (Software Applications) resource partner in Africa outside South Africa with a Gold partner status.
Mugabe says that the company has been in the business of deploying the world's leading ERP solution (SAP) for the last 15 years, with so many end to end SAP implementations to its name.
"TTCS has spread its operations from Zimbabwe to open other subsidiaries across Africa i.e. Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Malawi, Botswana, Zambia and Nigeria.
"The opening of the Uganda Subsidiary through this strategic partnership represents our commitment to delivering world-class solutions to East Africa using Ugandan resources," said Mugabe in an interview with East African Business Week in Kampala.
He adds that Twenty Third Century Systems has extensive experience in Africa and the Middle East, with successful projects in countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, Malawi, Rwanda, Botswana and Bahrain.
"TTCS has a wealth of knowledge and experience, employing over 130 SAP consultants to date.
"We have invested hugely in providing software as a service (cloud computing) and training Ugandans to replace imported skills, thereby creating local capacity for the delivery and support of future SAP implementations in the region using Ugandan resources," adds Mugabe.
He notes that their strategy is to build on its relationship with SAP to deploy a large number of SAP solutions to the private sector and Government institution, providing complete solutions which cover the full spectrum of ICT projects, i.e. hardware, software , connectivity and implementation services.
- Communication, Science and Technology minister Prof Makame Mbarawa last week launched a state-of-the-art communication and information technology centre, dubbed ‘TANZICT and Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi)’ in Dar es Salaam. The new centre has been designed to encourage and support entrepreneurial initiatives as well as innovations in the application of ICT for economic development and wealth creation for all.
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has put a halt on all future tolling projects.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says the hearing into e-tolling at the Gauteng Legislature will be futile.
After receiving several petitions against e-tolling, the Gauteng Legislature combined them into one and announced it would host a hearing on the matter on 11 November.
It believes it is through this process that parties will begin finding a solution to the tollgates impasse in the province.
However, Cosatu says this process will be futile if the current project is already set to move ahead. Last month, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele put a halt on all future tolling projects, but said this does not include e-tolling, which would definitely go ahead in February. For this reason, Cosatu says the hearing will be futile.
“There will be no solution to the impasse if objectors at the hearing are told the current tolling project is going ahead anyway, and they can only raise issues about future tolling plans, in which case, this hearing will be a futile exercise.”
The federation says it will insist at the hearing that e-tolling has never been properly debated, and has not been accepted by the people of Gauteng.
“The current tolling project must be scrapped. The tolls will mean a steep increase in the cost of living of all road users, especially workers who have no alternative but to drive to work, because of the lack of a proper public transport system. They already pay taxes and a fuel levy every time they buy petrol.”
If there is no change in policy from government, the negotiations deadlock, and tolls are not scrapped, Cosatu will plan marches, demonstrations, pickets and stay-aways.
“We are confident that thousands of other Gauteng residents will be joining us in these protests. We shall also consider court action if people are discriminated [against] on the basis of geography. We shall continue to demand, as the alternative to tolled roads, an integrated, safe, reliable and affordable public transport system.”
Fees initially gazetted for the e-toll system in February were suspended due to public pressure. Cabinet in August approved reduced tariffs for e-tolling in Gauteng, which dictate that motorcycles (Class A1) with e-tags will pay 24c/km; light vehicles (Class A2) will pay 40c/km; medium vehicles (Class B) 100c/km; and “longer” vehicles (Class C) 200c/km.
Qualifying commuter taxis (Class A2) and commuter buses (Class B) are completely exempt from the e-toll system. The reduction for light vehicles without e-tags saw a drop from 66c/km to 58c/km, and from R3.95/km for heavy vehicles without e-tags to R2.95/km. The e-tolling project is an open road, multilane toll infrastructure that allows tolls to be charged without drivers having to stop. There are no physical booths.
The system is set to go live in February, despite strong opposition from labour, political parties and citizens.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says Africa is leading the trend with 51 mobile money systems in place, and as many as 37 of the deployments being in least developed countries (LDCs).
“Mobile money deployments have taken off in the past two years. According to data from the GSM Association, some 109 such deployments had been implemented as of April 2011, spanning all developing regions. Only 11 of these are in developed countries. Africa is leading the trend with 51 mobile money systems in place, and as many as 37 of the deployments are in least developed countries (LDCs),” said the report titled “Information Economy Report 2011: ICTs as an Enabler for Private Sector Development.”
The report released October 19, 2011 adds that “There are now more than 40 million users, according to the providers from whom subscription data are available.”
According to the report, the rapid expansion of mobile money systems is creating new opportunities for small-micro enterprises (SMEs) – particularly in low-income countries – to access financial services.
UNCTAD said mobile money is providing increased access to finance for SMEs, which traditionally have been poorly served by existing lending institutions.
“Banking through mobile phones allows for real-time transfer and the receipt of small amounts of funds at low cost. They can reduce the costs of processing and administering small loans, thereby alleviating a significant disincentive for lenders to extend credit to SMEs,” it said.
The report stressed that existing mobile money systems can become even better if adapted to meet the needs of small businesses saying “Basic money transfer or payment functions can have a major impact on the way small enterprises operate – they can enable them to better manage their cash flow and expedite the delivery of supplies and goods.”
It called on governments to pioneer new legislation and regulations for mobile money and urged the international community to actively support the development of sound regulatory frameworks and relevant institutions, as well as facilitate the exchange of practice and expertise.
“Governments and their central banks should explore ways to absorb small enterprises into the mainstream by means of mobile-based commercial and financial transactions,” it said.
In Ghana, MTN, Tigo and Airtel are the telecommunication firms offering the mobile money services.
Roamware has announced that FETS (Funds & Electronic Transfer Solutions), a consortium focused on increasing mobile payment usage in Nigeria has chosen its Macalla service as their mobile financial services platform and has launched eMoni, a mobile payments service using the platform.
FETS, a non-bank service provider has recently been awarded a license by the Central Bank of Nigeria to roll out mobile payment services to the banked and vast unbanked segments (~80%) of the Nigerian population.
"About 80% of the Nigerian population is unbanked. The policy initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase mobile payment usage will accelerate Nigeria's transition to a cashless economy.", said Oluwadare Owolabi, Managing Director, FETS .
- In collaboration with Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) holds a meeting entitled "Communication for Development". The meeting will be held with more than 800 Egyptian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) working in the sector, in order to announce projects and tenders of L.E. 50 million that extend till June 2012. SMEs can get benefited from and participate in holding these projects and tenders through a number of sectors related to communications and information technology (ICT) in order to develop the domestic demand and enhance Egyptian SMEs work in the field.
- The Central Bank of Nigeria has said that fraud on Automated Teller Machines (ATM) has reduced by 98.5per cent even as it is working to reduce the cost of providing electronic payment services to the public by 30 per cent.
- Durban's public transport system is about to get a 21st century face-lift. The introduction of the city's first large-scale cashless transit tariff system, in the form of the public transport smartcard (the "Muvo card"), is set to redefine the way commuters here pay their bus fares.
Ubuntu Linux, the free and open-source operating system, will power tablet computers, cellular phones, TVs and smart screens in cars and elsewhere, Mark Shuttleworth, the South African behind the software announced in a blog post on Monday 31st October.
The software will support all these new devices in time for version 14.04 LTS, expected in April 2014. Shuttleworth promises the software will connect supported devices “cleanly and seamlessly to the desktop, the server and the cloud”.
He explains that Unity, the desktop interface used in Ubuntu, was specifically designed with this in mind. “While the interface for each form factor is shaped appropriately, Unity’s core elements are arranged in exactly the way we need to create coherence across all of those devices. This was the origin of the name Unity — a single core interface framework, that scales across all screens, and supports all toolkits.”
Shuttleworth believes desktop interfaces will merge with mobile, touch interfaces into a seamless personal computing platform in the future. “Today, we are inviting the whole Ubuntu community — both commercial and personal — to shape that possibility and design that future; a world where Ubuntu runs on mobile phones, tablets, televisions and traditional PCs, creating a world where content is instantly available on all devices, in a form that is delightful to use.”
He says the “opportunity remains wide open but only to products that deliver excellent experiences for users across a full range of device categories”, adding that there is “no winner in place yet”.
According to Shuttleworth, the investment that Ubuntu funder Canonical has already made in the user interface “accommodates the touch scenarios required in some form factors” and “will work equally well in mouse-, keyboard- or stylus-driven environments”.
In addition, Ubuntu’s personal cloud and application centre services will deliver the “storage, syncing and sharing capabilities that are not just a convenience but a requirement as we move to a universe where content is increasingly shared but the devices that access them become more diverse”.
Two Rwandan young innovators participated in this year’s ICT Telecom World 2011 held Geneva, Switzerland.
According to the NewTimes, Joseph Gatete who presented Quickisms in Secondary School Projects and Robert Katabarwa with his Igisekuru innovation, were among 45 of 160 entrants selected to participate in the young innovators competition.
“Their innovative contributions will definitely help bring digital solutions to challenges that we are currently facing,” said Rwanda’s Ambassador to Switzerland, Solina Nyirahabimana.
Nyirahabimana who was visiting the Rwandan stand at the summit, said that Rwanda is an emerging market that has great potential in ICT and the young generation are critical players.
The competition targeted young innovators with fresh ideas that take advantage of ICT with the aim of making the world a better place.
Prime Minister Pierre Habumurenyi also visited the Rwandan stand at the summit.
The four -day summit that marked its 40th anniversary celebrations and was marked in tandem with the Broadband Leadership Summit which entailed highest level meetings on the implementation of broadband worldwide, exhibitions, competitions and networking sessions.
The summit also looked at core issues shaping the future of networks and services; technical symposiums which provided debate and information exchange on cutting edge technological development, Digital Cities ’11.
Patrick Nyirishema, the Head of RDB-ICT said the event provides an opportunity for Rwanda to showcase specific ICT projects in order to harness investment potential.
“This year’s event has been special in that there has been a huge involvement of youth to share fresh and practical ideas and even compete globally,” said Nyirishema.
What is holding back digital stores, such as Apple’s iTunes, in South Africa?
Getting the license agreements in place to sell content such as music and apps seems to be the greatest hurdle for a digital store in South Africa.
While many have blamed organisations such as the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) and the Film and Publications Board (FPB), both organisations have offered good answers to the allegations made against them when it comes to digital content.
Video games on digital content delivery systems
For example, the FPB is responsible for giving age restrictions to not just movies and books, but video games as well. As such, the lack of games in the Apple App Store was laid at their feet.
However, the FPB explained that no game developer or publisher, nor Apple had approached them to express concerns with South Africa’s ratings system.
Curious about why platforms such as Steam and the Android Market don’t seem to have any qualms about delivering content in South Africa, we asked Nicholas Hall from Michalsons Attorneys for his take on the issue. According to Hall, there is an argument for online stores like Steam to be exempt from FPB ratings requirements if they deliver their content through a network provider with an ICASA license.
Considering that many Internet service providers have their own Steam servers and ECNS licenses, Steam could be considered exempt from needing FPB ratings for the games it sells.
Another oddity in South Africa is the lack of music on a large online store such as iTunes while Nokia’s Ovi Music and DStv’s OMusic sell music from international and local artists.
RiSA’s operations director, David du Plessis, said that they don’t enter into the picture at all when it comes to license agreements for online stores to distribute content. Negotiations between aggregators like Nokia and rights holders are not conducted on a collective basis, but individually, du Plessis explained.
Such licensing agreements, conducted across most creative industries, are usually quite an in-depth and involved process, said Nokia service manager, Dominique Silva.
Silva explained that to get local artists on the store we have structured agreements with a few key local digital content distributors; sometimes key labels, sometimes a company with a collection of labels and independent artists.
“We do this so our local artists can come as direct to us as possible and so local labels and artists make as much money from the deal as possible,” said Silva. “If an artist is keen to get on the store, we usually guide them to a selection of content distributors, both local and international, so they can investigate and then select a distribution deal that suits them. This is usually this quickest and most effective way of getting them on to the store.”
If getting content available through international digital stores is just about licensing agreements, then perhaps something else has hamstrung the process.
Something like South Africa’s 33 year old copyright act, for instance.
So what is holding back digital music distribution?
Not so, according to both RiSA and Nokia.
Du Plessis said that in his personal opinion, the digital divide in the country is more likely to make investors think twice, than any perception that may exist about South Africa’s copyright legislation, and that our copyright legislation as it currently stands, does not serve as any barrier of entry.
Nokia’s Silva also said that getting the rights to sell music locally is not more complicated, but similar to other license agreements.
Silva went on to list three hurdles to digital content distribution that apply to SA:
1. Globally, music licensing is a difficult process.
2. Education of both the artists and labels: When a new album is released, everyone in the chain needs to be much more aggressive in pushing and promoting the digital channels for music – from the retailer to the artist.
3. Cost of data and bandwidth.
To the first barrier, Silva said that getting the license agreements is always tricky, but that they have tried to make sure that they streamline it as much as possible and make sure as much money goes to the local label, and hopefully therefore the artist, as possible.
Secondly, Silva said that online retailers can push as hard as they like, but the artists and labels themselves need to push their digital releases as hard as their physical releases to make sure customers buy their music legally.
Finally, cheaper data and bandwidth would go a long way to increasing the consumptions of digital music, “As with so many other digital businesses in South Africa,” Silva said.
- Airtel Nigeria has introduced an international call rate bundle offer worth N8.33 (about US $0.056) per minute to any of the listed destinations. The International call bundle offer is structured into three categories: N500 (about US $3.14), N200 (about US $1.25) and N100 (about US $0.62). It is applicable only to pre-paid customers on the Airtel network.
- Blackberry users in Rwanda can now access online videos on their handsets but at a fee of Rwf 30 per megabyte.
- Absa group chief information officer Len de Villiers is stepping down at the end of the year and says he plans to take time off to “recharge his batteries” before deciding what to do next. The Absa CIO role is one of the biggest and most demanding IT management jobs in South Africa.
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